10 Things I’d like to Share from 2012

As I opened my computer this morning, it didn’t take long to realize I had a list of non sequiturs running around my brain. As 2012 is drawing to a close, why not allow them to run around on paper, forming a random thoughts post. Here are 10 things I either remembered, learned, or simply felt like sharing from the past year: 

1. Taking the time to teach an athlete to “sit into the hip” during the foundational phases of jump training in the frontal and transverse planes will do wonders for their athletic development, as they progress onward to more “advanced” stages of change-of-direction training and force transfer outside of the sagittal plane.

Notice how in the video above, I use a “soft knee” during each landing and and push my hips back to decelerate. This displays the proper utilization of the glutes and other active restraints of the hip to create “tri-planar”  stability: eccentrially controlling flexion, internal rotation, and adduction of the femur upon each ground contact.

However, the video below shows how you’ll typically see people perform lateral hurdle (or cone) hops. Note how I rely much more heavily on the passive supports of my body – namely, ligaments, menisci, and other joint structures – to decelerate each landing.

Many athletes will land with a “double step,” or even fall over, when learning how to decelerate correctly for the first time. Investing ample time in mastering this entry-level progression will pay huge dividends later on within the realm of injury risk reduction, change-of-direction speed, and rotational power on the field.

2. I love coffee, and, as a result, one of the best parts of my day (other than a good poop) is preparing and enjoying a quality brew early in the morning. Either that, or visiting my favorite local coffee shop, Caffe Amouri, where I settle down to do computer work alongside my faithful squire, Aragorn.

The best decision I made this past year to enhance the morning experience of home-brewing coffee was to purchase a Clever Dripper to prepare my morning elixir. Some of you may recognize it as the “pour over” or “hand pour” method.

With it, you receive all the benefits of a french press – full extraction of the flavors and sugars of the bean – but without the “mud” that typically resides at the bottom of a the mug. The Clever Dripper also WAY easier to clean than a french press. 

I highly recommend it for you coffee-lovers in the crowd.

3. Here’s an important classification I like to use for differentiating between main lifts in and accessory lifts in program design: Any main movement can also used as an accessory movement, but not all accessory movements can necessarily be a main movement.

It may sound simple and borderline obvious, but it bears repeating for those that are unsure of how to set up their programs.

4. The wrong and right way to hip hinge during a squat. Be careful of overemphasizing the familiar “hips back” cue too much when either squatting yourself or teaching someone else how to squat, especially if an anterior-loaded squat pattern like a goblet squat or barbell front squat is being performed.

If you push your butt back too much at the start, then your body has nowhere to go but forward on the way down in order to find its center of gravity with respect to the bar position. I think it goes without saying that this is unfavorable, with regards to both safety and that whole getting stronger thing.

See the video above for a brief demonstration of what I’m referring to. The first two reps show what happens when you overdo the hip hinge at the start, and the third and fourth rep show how to properly push your hips back as you descend to the bottom.

5. I read through the Harry Potter series this year (yes, admittedly it was fantastic), and jotted down some memorable lines as I went along. Here are a few of them:

- “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” ~ Dumbledore

- “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals” ~Sirius Black

- “It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.” ~ Dumbledore

 

6. Speaking of literature, I’m currently reading A Game of Thrones, and it is spectacular, to say the least. The author, George R.R. Martin, does a phenomenal job of reeling you into the story relatively quickly, and the world he creates is a different than most fantasy stories in that he veers away from the typical character archetypes (few are totally good or wholly evil, you don’t have the classic hero who overcomes impossible odds and is immune to corruption, etc.) and he breaks many of the “rules” of stereotypical fantasy.

Hint: Don’t read it if you’re afraid of your favorite and/or likeable characters to die.

Not to mention, Martin is an absolute master of metaphors, description, and overall wordplay. Read it, and thank me later.

And, while I’ve heard good things about the HBO series, it still doesn’t count. Sorry. However, that still doesn’t mean this picture is not awesome:

7. One of the most rewarding parts of my job, by far, is helping people to train around injuries. It’s extremely humbling to have the opportunity to help countless individuals – be they just coming out of surgery or simply dealing with a “tweaked” ankle or knee – continue to get stronger despite an injury they recently received.

Below is a video of Conrad, a 64-year-old who recently underwent not his first, but SECOND, total knee replacement surgery within the past year. Instead of wallowing in misery over the fact he couldn’t do lower body training for a while, he barged through the doors of SAPT, with a battering ram, asking us to prepare him for a powerlifting meet. Keep in mind this was just weeks after his total knee replacement.

We put him on a bench-specialization program, and the end result was him hitting a bench PR in an official meet.

He serves as such a great example to those – way younger than 64 years of age, mind you – who make excuses as to why they seemingly can’t take time to care for their bodies.

 8. The Hobbit was an excellent film. I honestly don’t see how Peter Jackson, or anyone for that matter, could have possibly done a better job with it. Yeah, people are upset he’s splitting it up into three parts, but to me that just shows how Jackson pays attention to detail, and wants to ensure they leave no stone unturned during the film. It also means we still have two more excellent experiences in the theater to look forward to around Christmastime.

I didn’t want to read any of the reviews before I saw it, so I looked at them a couple days after seeing the movie. Upon reading just a few of them, it confirmed my notion that the opinions of movie critics are worthless and overrated.

9. When you set up for the basic plank (and its variations), choosing to go from the “bottom up” vs. the “top down” actually has significant impact on how much iliopsoas is recruited. Considering that heavy recruitment of the iliopsoas is generally unfavorable in core stability exercises, try setting up from the bottom up rather than the top down.

10. An admittedly strange and ungrounded pet peeve of mine is when people use the words “jealous” and “envy” interchangeably in conversation. They don’t mean the same thing! 

To clear the air: Envy generally implies a sense of covetousness or a desire for something that someone else has. Jealousy, on the other hand, relates to a sense of resentment due to rivalry or the fear of being replaced.

I readily admit I don’t have grounds from which to stand upon this sense of annoyance, as I am far from a grammar expert myself, and I make grammatical errors all.the.time. but for whatever reason I can’t get this one out of my head.

Note: If you enjoyed this list format, feel free to check out this post or this post that I wrote in 2011.