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Training for Low Back Strength [Video]

Training for Low Back Strength [Video]

When you think core, you most likely think abs, or how long you can plank for.

The truth is, the core is made up of an intricate system of both larger and smaller muscles around the spine that create stability with or without movement.

Essentially it is too difficult to isolate just ONE area of the core. There are plenty of ways to train it.

In this video, I show an extremely effective exercise, using one of the most utilized pieces of technology at WPT, to strengthen the trunk, specifically the lower back, without overloading yourself, and doing something other than planks.

If you have experienced back pain, golf, lift heavy weights often, or do recreational running, this is an effective exercise variation to try on your own.

What exercises have you done to strengthen your core?

 


Skill Development vs. Athlete Development

Skill Development vs. Athlete Development

There are 2 things that you should distinguish when it comes to really exceling at your sport.

There is a difference between practicing your sport skill, and becoming a better athlete.

Firstly let me say this:

Let’s assume that “Better athlete” here refers to becoming stronger, more explosive, faster, mentally stronger, more endurance if necessary.

Practicing your sport skill would mean doing drills for your specific sport, playing in games, or any time investment to improve on the field or court for game situations.

Secondly I will say that BOTH of these things are necessary for an athlete to become better.

However there HAS to be a balance between the 2.

Sports like baseball and softball are notorious for this, since if you play travel ball, you are going to tournaments and practices the majority of the year, leaving little to no room for actual athletic development.

It is safe to say that EVERY athlete benefits from becoming faster than they are, from being able to throw at higher velocities than they currently do, produce more powerful hits at the plate.

Literally if you ask a team collectively “Who wants to get faster? Everyone will most likely raise their hand.

The appropriate follow up question would be “How are you going to do that?”

This is where the hang-up is.

When you as an athlete neglect the opportunity to train the physical properties necessary to do those things, you won’t truly develop those athletic qualities.

Going to baseball practice every week and tournaments every weekend, yes, allows you to become a better baseball player. You get the necessary experience to play more intelligently on the field.

In a way, yes you can “play” faster because the experience allows you to anticipate better, giving you a mental Jumpstart on the play.

But neglecting INTENTIONALLY setting the time aside to get stronger, more powerful and apply these properties to you sport hamstrings you from your true development.

Let’s say you play lacrosse.

You have perfected your shot to the T. It’s almost impossible to defend, when you are open.

But what happens when you have a stronger defender that keeps you off balance. Or you are not getting to your shot zone quickly enough to make the shot happen.

That’s where athlete development fills the gap. You have to have the structural capacity to stay balanced, and the neural development to become quick enough to get there.

So understand the difference between practicing your skills, and training to become a better athlete.

They each work in conjunction with one another, however minimizing athlete development for the sake of skill development will not allow you to reach your fullest potential as an athlete.

Practice hard. Train smart.

If you are that athlete who has realized recently that you need more athlete development incorporated into your sport practice routine, and looking for additional coaching, we would love to help. You can set up your Athlete Strategy Session with us here.


Should You Do Bootcamp, Virtual, Smart gym, or Personal Training? The Truth Behind Each.

Should You Do Bootcamp, Virtual, Smart gym, or Personal Training? The Truth Behind Each.

I will start this one off by saying that not all training is created equal.

Yes exercise is exercise, but the way that it is experienced can mean a whole different thing for your results.

For the most part, we all realize at some point that we need to be in better shape than we currently are. And with that comes the realization that we sometimes need help in achieving those goals.

Now where do we start?

Should you do a bootcamp class?

Do I get a Pelaton?

Should I try virtual?

Personal training?

The answer depends on a few things.

We will break down each of these options and cover the pros and cons that will help you decide.

We will start with bootcamp.

So what is a bootcamp?

This class is typically a larger class (sometimes with 20 or more people) where everyone is going through the same exercises at the same time.

Typically, they are high intensity and created with the intention of losing weight and burning as many calories as possible.

The motivation factor is generally higher since you are surrounded by others trying to do the same and you are trying to keep up.

The bootcamp classes may use terms like strength building, fat loss, high intensity classes, but essentially are built around the same premise: work as hard and as fast as you can within the time frame of the class.

Pros:

High motivation factor and typically an energetic environment. You always leave with a sense of accomplishment after the class and can parlay with your fellow boot campers.

Because they often target calories burned, you are highly motivated to bust chops to hit your numbers no matter the cost. You are also for sure to get quick results because of the high intensity factor.

For the most part, bootcamps are affordable and don’t really break bank.

Cons:

Can be intimidating at first, especially if you have not been working out at all. You may feel like you are falling behind and can’t keep up, and get discouraged when you do.

Most of the movements in these classes can not be modified for you if you are dealing with injuries and need more individual attention. This in turn will hurt you more than help you.

If you DO have any movement deficiencies, they are often overlooked as most bootcamp instructors don’t put you through a formal assessment. So, poor mechanics or not, you just amplify them through nonstop motions and compound poor posture or movement integrity.

Let’s not forget the pandemic factor. It still exists. If you are uncomfortable being packed in a room full of others, then it isn’t a good look for you.

Classes often lack expert feedback.

My advice:

If you are in decent shape, can commit to a set schedule, don’t have any injuries that you are dealing with, then I would go for it. These types of high intensity classes should be cycled in conjunction with something specific for you, and not done daily. However, if you are just starting out, or recovering from injury, this is not the best starting point for you.

Virtual Training

Virtual training has really taken off in the past 2-3 years, but especially since last year when covid hit.

Gyms were locked down. Businesses had to pivot. People still wanted to work out but could not. In comes the virtual bootcamp.

Gyms decided we can just stream our workouts through Zoom, and people can do them from home with minimal to no equipment. Problem solved at least temporarily.

However, there are some training businesses that were doing this long before the pandemic and offering multiple ways to work out virtually besides zoom, like on demand programming delivered through apps, or google sheets in addition to scheduled coaching calls for the one on one benefit.

Pros:

Convenience. You can wake in do a workout right from your own home. And depending on how the program is structured, you may only need minimal equipment.

If you are working out in a virtual group, then you can still get that motivation factor that prompts you to keep up.

If you are doing one on one virtual coaching, you have a little more customization and a real coaching factor that will keep you accountable. And if using a mobile app, then you have even more resources to help you hit your goals.

Not all virtual coaching programs are created equal. There are benefits to each kind and a range of pricing depending on the coaches level or expertise and approach to training.

Cons:

You most likely don’t want to train virtually forever. Even with a home gym. The motivation factor is different. There is a reason why statistically speaking people who buy treadmills for their home reduce usage of to 75% within their first year of buying. It gets boring and no variety.

With the pandemic, it is also common that people, like “influencers” are taking advantage of this wave of training and see a quick cash grab. They will claim to be an online coach overnight, with pictures of only themselves working out and say “I do virtual programs, DM for questions”.

Sure it may be inspiring at first to look like that, but shallow motivation leads to deep disappointment.

Also, zoom bootcamps can really work, if the instructor is professional and has a real system, but again, the reality is it is tough to stay motivated from home. And if you are a special case like dealing with injuries or are just starting out, virtual bootcamp would be tough for you because of the lack of specificity.

My Advice:

If you are a self-motivated person and already disciplined, then virtual can work for you. This is generally good for Type A personality people as just waking up and getting a task done fuels that self-reassurance.

Again, since not all virtual coaching is created the same, you want to choose the right program. Downloading an app can be good, but it lacks TRUE personalization. Virtual bootcamps can be solid, but you need to make sure you are physiologically prepared for the loads as these classes are more about activity than specifically structured for you.

One on one virtual coaching in my opinion of the best, though depending on the program can be more of an investment. It will be more customized for you, take your current state into consideration, and more personalized accountability.

Take virtual for what it is, and maximize if you choose to do it. Create good habits from it. If you can, I would encourage starting with a personal coach virtually then explore other options.

A Smart Gym?

Have you heard of the Pelaton Bike?

If you have not, then you have not been on planet earth the past 2 years. It is the craze. And for fair reasons:

Technology. Convenience. Motivation.

It is a cross between virtual and a magnified bootcamp experience. You have an instructor yelling at you to keep going, urging you to not give up as you cycle through challenging workouts that you most likely would not do otherwise.

The Pelaton is one example. Companies like Nordictrack, Bowflex, and others are coming up with training solutions that fill the void of not being able to go to the gym but provide thorough workouts right from home.

Given that the technology is “smart”, they can adjust to you and your needs when necessary. Even controlled remotely by the trainer conducting the session. A piece called Tonal does this.

The other great thing is that the technology can keep metrics of your progress. They can quantify your strength gains, endurance, heart rate improvement and more.

Pros:

They are fun and interactive. If you are not well versed in the gym, it literally takes the thinking away and just serves you the action on a hot platter.

The equipment provides you a variety of different workouts and has a system for staying motivated.

It is like they came just in time for the current climate.

You get options like streaming workouts, live instructors, custom metrics, and adjustments made for you.

The workouts are fun, challenging, and you can do at your pace.

The convenience factor is on one thousand. All this right from your own home.

Cons:

You have to have a high budget, because they are an investment. They often require memberships in order for you to access those streaming classes which is a price on top of the initial investment.

Though the intent of exercise is there, there is still no formal assessment, so if you have underlying issues, you are still only limited to what they have available, and how it is delivered.

For example, if you are already battling low back issues, sitting on a bike hours per week will not help that, and chances are it will take more than just planks. Also, as far as the Peloton, make sure to add programming to combat bad posture created from sitting on the bike.

Even though you do interact with a trainer, the machine and programs themselves lack the social factor you get with going to an actual gym and interacting.

The pandemic will not be around forever, boredom can sink in. Just like any other machine that you buy for the house, after a while you will use it less and less and seek variety.

The future success of your fitness should not be predicated around just a single tool.

My Advice:

If you have the budget, want more out of your home workouts, get motivated from key metrics, value convenience, then the investment could be worth it. It’s fun, it’s different, and has a high motivation factor. Ride the wave…

But just know that all waves hit the shore after a while. Make the most of it, and still aim to stay educated and add variety to your workouts.

The way the world is right now, these things are necessary, but not a means to an end. I am a huge proponent for training technology because I believe when used correctly, you can really unlock your potential.

Personalized Training

Personal training involves committing to a training professional, showing up to a gym or locations, and partaking in a program that is 100 percent customized and made for you.

This can even be done in a small group setting so that you are getting the customization, but also the socialization if you crave.

If you have the right coach, this is the most effective form of training for several reasons; higher investment means more commitment, full customization means you are met where you are and start at your pace, and more accountability.

Pros:

As before mentioned, the customization factor is huge. You have a real person with eyes on you, who if well trained in training themselves, understand the nuances of coaching cues and body mechanics to put and keep you on the right path.

The interaction factor is higher but not quite overload like it would be in a bootcamp.

The accountability factor is higher because you are reporting to a coach that will keep you in check.

Cons:

Not all personal training is created equal. You have trainers, and training professionals. There are so many out there, but many are not the best fit for you. Pay due diligence, research, and choose wisely.

Typically, it is the highest investment for training depending on where and who you choose to use.

There is still that in person factor during the pandemic. If you are not comfortable doing that, then this could be an issue for you.

My Advice:

If you have the budget and are willing to go in person, hiring a training professional is an extremely solid option.

Everyone is a unique individual and that requires unique approaches. A coach can provide this for you.

Doing personal training for at least 3-6 months should set you up to be able to transition into those bootcamps, or maximize your smart gyms, or the virtual bootcamps.

Just perform your due diligence on the trainer and program.

*******

Hopefully this insight provides you some guidance on where the best place for you is to start.

Yes, all people can benefit from exercise, but not every exercise benefits everyone.

Keep the long term in mind when making your decisions, be consistent with your efforts, and trust your body and don’t work too far out of its capable range too fast. Build up to it.

Convenience is great, but don’t compromise your training integrity for the sake of it.

Exercise in a mode that is best for you and add variety. There is no such thing as one best way when it comes to exercise, and your overall fitness.


Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sacrifice: A Few Things We Can Learn from Two GOATs

What are you willing to sacrifice?

If you have not already accepted Tom Brady or Lebron James as ONE of the greatest to ever do it on their respective sports, then you should.

TB is in his forties, literally one of the oldest in the league, and just brought home his 7th SB win.

LeBron is 20 years almost in the league, with multiple championships, and is currently playing some of the best basketball of his career. STILL outmaneuvering players who were 5 years old when he made his NBA debut.

What Tom Brady and Lebron are doing is unprecedented among athletes who play high caliber sports at that level.

They have cracked a long term human performance code the WE ALL should take note and learn from.

They are creating a blueprint for high performance longevity.

One aspect of their high performance 2 decades into their career that is most notable is how much time and resources they invest into their own personal health.

Their sleep regimen.

Their eating regimen.

Their recovery and regeneration regimen.

Their training regimen.

What they each realized is that in order to KEEP playing at high level, then EACH of these facets of their lives have to be sharp.

Investing in specialist like nutritionists, performance trainers, performance and recovery measures, supplementation strategy, all of it matters and contributes.

Its the ONLY reason they are able to play this well for so long.

Its a commitment that requires an investment, where the return equals an extended career.

Tom Brady’s TB12 Method is no secret. Its literally outlined on how to do the self care that he does.

Now will people do it?

No not most.

But will they admire his accomplishments in bewonderment?

Of course.

Now you don’t have to be a high caliber athlete, or need to have millions of dollars to spend on self care like they do, BUT the principle remains the same:

If you want to be at your best both mentally and physically for a long time, that means you need to invest in your own self care now.

That looks like eating less fast food, cutting out the sodas, getting to bed on time, cutting your cell phone off before bed, going to workout..

These don’t require millions of dollars to do, but represent the investment of self care equity necessary to just live a better life. To truly be a better more fit you who can do more for longer.

The Age-Fitness continuum: the more you age, the more time investment you need in your fitness for a better quality of life.

Now you most likely wont be competing in the Super Bowl, or NBA finals, but you have to get up and go to work, be there for your family, and you want to feel good I assume.

What are you willing to sacrifice ?

You are either admiring or being admired for what you do.

**********

If you are ready to take charge of your health, make the investment in yourself and work with a real training professional, fill our success form and let’s set up a call!


Axe in tree stump and smoke from campfire in morning at summer forest

The Exhausted Woodcutter: A Short Story on Production

There was once a strong woodcutter who was hired by a timber merchant.

The woodcutter was very excited about his new job and was determined to put forth his best effort and show what he can do.

The boss gave him an axe, and took him to the work site.

On his first day, the woodcutter cut 20 trees down.

His boss was thoroughly impressed.

“Keep up the good work!”

The next day the woodcutter tried harder, but this time, he could only cut down 17 trees. on the third day, despite trying his hardest, he only took down 15 trees.

Day after day, the woodcutter would only bring down less and less.

Confused and sad, he went to his boss and apologized for his performance. He said although he worked really hard, the results were disappointing.

His boss was silent for a moment and then he asked, “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?”

“Sharpen?!” the wood cutter responded. “I had no time to sharpen my axe. I was too busy cutting down trees.”

*********

It hits all of us.

Even professionals like myself who make their living helping other people get on track.

We get so caught up in the automatic flow of things, and we neglect the very agent of production that moves us forward daily: ourselves.

You are the axe.

And it is important that you MAKE the time to recalibrate yourself when you have been on autopilot too long.

It’s too difficult to be at your best when you are not intentionally declaring each day as your best, and producing on purpose.

Eventually that gas tank gets lower and lower, and just runs on fumes.

When we talk about fitness, most people perceive it as a chore that requires more energy than you are willing to give to achieve.

It’s easy to make the excuse of, I just have no energy by the end of the day.

OR, I’ll do it tomorrow. or the next day, next week, next year.

In the mean time, you aren’t operating as your best self because you aren’t creating the conditions for you to be.

You don’t need to be a woodcutter to realize that your axe has to be sharpened after long bouts of strenuous effort.

You have to find a way to invest in yourself so that when you are navigating through life’s unpredictable forests, you are sharp enough to thrive through the wood and keep it going.

You can not produce if you are mentally, and emotionally at your sharpest.


4 Ways to Increase Your Speed

4 Ways to Increase Your Speed

Every athlete can benefit from increasing speed, power, and or explosion.

Some athletes are “born” with natural speed while others have to really work for it.

But here are a few things about creating speed that you should know:

1.) Even though some people are naturally fast, speed can definitely be trained and developed.
While the majority of athletes have a genetic ceiling as to HOW fast they can get, you can
always get faster.

2.) There has to be balance in the weight room and field. There are a few components to speed
that will help improve it. One of those being strength. If you are able to generate and tolerate
more forces at the joints and muscles, then you have a better foundation with which you can
build speed. This is mainly done in the weight room, outside of general plyometric activity. More
strength=more power=more speed.

3.) Strengthen your feet. This is your first point of contact with the ground. Therefore, the
stronger you are at the feet and ankle, then the more ground contact forces you can tolerate.

Feet/ankles that cannot tolerate high impacts can cause “energy leaks” throughout the gait cycle.
This means over compensation patterns, and an inability to successfully direct forces straight
ahead every step.

Strengthening your feet alone can increase your speed.

4.) Don’t forget to train your backside. Once you start to hit top-end speed, then your glutes,
hamstrings, low back complex play a heavy role in moving you forward.

The common practice is to train front side heavily, like quads. While they are still of extreme use
during top speeds, they play a heavier role during acceleration phase where your center of mass
is in front of your hips.

As you begin to hit your top speed, then your Center of Mass is almost directly over your feet,
therefore cyclical action of the lower limbs is required to maintain velocity accrued during
acceleration phase.

*****
If you attack your speed training, utilize and balance these concepts you are guaranteed to
enhance your speed.

Train hard. Train Smart.

And if you are interested in really developing your speed, and would like to work with me, lets set a time for us to get together and make you faster. Click here to set up your Success Session


A Few Words on Winning the Day

A Few Words on Winning the Day

Are you calculating your day? Your week?

How do you know if you are edging closer towards your goals?

As a competitive athlete, or simply a competitive person, finding ways to dominate the day is not optional.

Whether you are trying to outdo your competition, or outdo yourself from the day before, finding ways to win the day are critical to your daily improvement.

Winning the day means you are intentional about your own development.

In this video, I break down what it means to set up your day to winning, and going to bed content that you got better.

 

 


Is there a BEST exercise in fitness?

Is there a BEST exercise in fitness?

I am asked frequently “What is the best exercise in order for me to [fill in the blank]?

People want that ONE simple answer to a very complex question.

The reality of it is, is that there are many considerations that go into this question.

In this short video, I talk a little more about what those considerations are, and if there is even A BEST exercise for anyone.

Drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

-Coach Willis

 

 


4 Reasons Why Your Training Program May Be Failing You

4 Reasons Why Your Training Program May Be Failing You

There is no shortage of fitness training and methodology floating around in world. People’s idea of what it means to be fit has been predominantly dispersed from unreliable sources, like “social influencers”, or the first article that pops up on a google search, or some shaky piece of information that was passed along from a friend.

With unchecked information coming in from every direction, it is understandable how some people’s views of fitness are shaped.

The quagmire of unreliable sources and information serve as a backdrop of the following 4 reasons why your training program might be failing you.

1.) Unrealistic Expectations

You may have become a victim of thumb-scrolling on Social Media. A constant river of images showing people with edited photos and the appearance of being happy and owning everything they could ever want in life.

You see this, and whether you acknowledge it or not, on a subconscious level you begin to compare yourself to this false image. Whether that is a specific body type, or being sucked into the message that “YOU CAN LOOK LIKE ME TOO, JUST FOLLOW MY ONLINE COACHING PROGRAM”, you’ve decided you want a body like that and you want it fast.

This is not realistic.

Real results take time, but they also require that you evaluate your motivations for starting in the first place.

When your expectations are not in sync with reality, you tend to look for short cuts, jump from fad to fad, or give up more quickly.

It is a vicious cycle.

Keep it real with yourself. Do not get caught in the hype.

2.) Going through The Motions

Let me start off by saying that any exercise is better than doing nothing in the first place. So if you are doing a routine, awesome.

However, I will also say this: There is a difference between going through the motions of exercises, verses being intentional and focused while doing them.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say you start off your workout by riding 5 minutes on a stationary bike. You are ON the bike yes, but you have your phone out and are looking through tik tok rather than in tune with your body and concentrating on how your body feels.

You can’t possibly be giving your best effort if you are scrolling aimlessly through your phone.

This happens often.

If you are going to exercise, then exercise. For the little time that you are in the gym, focus on what you are doing. Don’t go through the motions.

3.) Too Many “Cheat” Meals

You are on a hamster wheel.

You work extremely hard in the gym, but the only reason why you went hard in the gym is because you go on daily dieting tangents.

You carry a guilt with you and find yourself thinking “I have to work out extra hard today because I had 3 apple pies!”

Exercise should not be a punish-reward experience.

It is a habit you are trying to create for an overall better lifestyle.

Punishing yourself for eating is in fact, not healthy.

If you think it is ok to eat poorly because you workout hard, then you negate the work you are putting in.

4.) You Don’t Have a True Program

Being knowledgeable about how the body responds to specific training will give you a huge advantage in the gym.

Doing 3 sets of 10 for every exercise every week will only get you so many results.

When you google a program real quick or do the same cookie cutter program that your friend handed to you, there is a good chance that it will not work the same way for you as it did for him.

First and foremost, you have to be clear on what it is that you are training for. Weight loss? Strength? Power? Less joint pain? Physique?

Each one of these goals have specific ways to accomplish them.

Training back and biceps one day for that 3 sets of 10, and then calves and shoulders the next is not going to be good for increasing power. It is more conducive for hypertrophy.

You must be sure that the program that you are doing is moving you closer to your goals and can be measured (not just on the scale).

While I could easily make a list of at least 10 more things that could be detracting from the effectiveness, these 4 components are pretty heavy.

Before you decide to take ownership of your body, performance, or health, these are great places to start.

And if you need a little more guidance on exactly where to start and need more accountability, we would love to connect with you to see if our coaching program could be a good fit for you. We can schedule a discovery call here and point you in the right direction.

You can subscribe below for more training insight from us below.


Exercise Video Breakdown: Banded Crossover Step

Exercise Video Breakdown: Banded Crossover Step

Resistance bands can be key implements in adding dynamic motions to exercise.

They are also simple to set up, and effective in muscle recruitment.

In this video we are going to break down the Banded Lateral Crossover Steps, the benefits, and the mechanical breakdown.

A great one to incorporate into your program whether and athlete or fitness warrior.

 

If you are interested in finding out more ways on how you can greatly improve your training program, let’s set up a call and see how I can help you.