Its that time of the year where we have the opportunity to reflect back on the past year. If you are anything like me you’ve read some books, listen to some podcasts, and been to a couple seminars/conferences. As a result some of the thoughts I had on strength and conditioning have changed over the course of the year.
“Great teachers are first and foremost learners, who improve their skills with each passing year. “
With all that said, here are 4 takeaways from the past year.
Do More Get Ups
There are a lot of reasons as to why I feel everyone should do more get ups, going as far as saying you should do get ups every single day. I took some advise from others and added get ups to my warm up every single day. Some days I did them loaded, some days I practiced bodyweight get ups. In both cases, I made sure to emphasize the movement and not worry about the weight. Result? I move better, much, much better, and feel better.
Coaching Yourself and Coaching Someone Else Are Two Different Things
This may sound hypocritical, but I by no means would recommend everything I do in training to either athletes or the adult population I work with. As coaches, we have to always remember that people come to us for our professional advice and expertise to help them reach their specific goals.
Let’s look at me as an example. For the last year I have had left shoulder pain on and off. Sometimes it bothers me a lot, sometimes it doesn’t bother me much at all. Did that stop me from bench pressing even though it would cause pain and aggravate my shoulder every single time I benched? Nope. For about half the year I just kept on benching and walking around with a achy shoulder. By the time it would start feeling a little better it would be time to bench again. In retrospect, pretty stupid.
On the other side of the things, if an athlete or an adult client told me that bench pressing was hurting their shoulder, they wouldn’t get close to a bench press (for the record I wouldn’t bench press adults even if it was pain free but we can essentially insert any exercise we want into this example).
If you personally choose to perform an exercise that causes pain, that’s fine, but if an exercise hurts a client, they are done with that exercise for the foreseeable future. If we choose to make stupid decisions about our own training that’s one thing, but we have to make appropriate choices for the people that look to us for advice and expertise.
Do More Push Ups
I’ll keep this one short, sweet, and to the point. I think push ups have become my favorite upper body pushing exercise for all populations. I think it trumps the bench press as well as any dumbbell pressing exercise you may perform. Push ups allow for a free moving scapula and more serratus anterior development. They have a core component that can’t be duplicated with traditional bench pressing. And this doesn’t necessarily make push ups better then other pressing movements, but it is amazing how many people, both males and females, can’t perform a proper bodyweight push up.
For more take a look at Eric Cressey’s website, he’s been banging this drum for a long time.
An Aerobic Base is More Important then we Realized
Joel Jamieson has been banging the aerobic drums loudly for the last few years. On the other hand, the fitness industry has been banging the anaerobic drums for as long as I can remember — and Joel has been correct in a lot of ways.
An aerobic base will improve an athlete (or anyone for that matter) in a lot of ways. An aerobic base will increase the size of the left ventricle which leads to an increase in stroke volume, increased cardiac output, decrease resting heart rate, decrease sub-maximal heart rates at a given absolute intensity, and reduce the heart rate recovery period. Additionally, aerobic exercise increases parasympathetic activity, leading to better recovery.
Long story short, an aerobic base will allow the heart to work more efficiently and effective at all intensities and allow you to be more efficient in times of high intensity conditioning and/or competition. All athletes will benefit from an increase in their aerobic base. Fatigue changes everything. We know when athletes aren’t conditioned well they are at a higher risk of injury in the later portions of their competition. A fit athlete is able to perform greater amounts of high quality work when compared to a less fit athlete. Build an aerobic base.