Archive for December, 2011

Achievement, 10,000 hours, Grit and why you’re not a pro athlete…..

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

First things first, your best predictor of lifetime sporting achievement is your parents….Genetics matter, a lot. the talent pool at the truly world-class level is deep and wide. Those without the basic prerequisites, height, size, strength, speed etc. will not make the cut. Just trying hard doesn’t get you a $120 million dollar contract.

Tried realllly hard?...Yeah, ummm, he still wins...

That said, practice can go a long way to getting the most out of the abilities you do have.  the old

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

has a lot of truth to it…but lets face it there are not too many 5’6 point guards in the NBA or 5.5 second 40yrd dash guys playing cornerback in the NFL…genetics do play the largest part.

But what does account for the “overachiever”? Those athletes on the fringe who overcome and make it? The ones who are a tad too slow, short, weak, but they overcome  and become professional level performers. The Doug Fluties, the David Ecksteins. What allows them to overcome their fringe (for the professional level) talent and still excel? What accounts for the can’t miss prospect who never develops their talent, who seems distracted, aimless and lost?

Some  suggest that it’s 10,000 hours of directed goal oriented practice based off of this guys research….some says this is not an adequate way to discern talent vs. practice. Any way, there’s a lot of practice involved with achieving world-class performance so there must be something that allows these people to continue on in this race when others stop, slow down or become distracted…the answer might be akin to what I wrote about in this (unpublished, only for a grade in grad school) paper, How Mental Toughness and Hardiness Interact to Provide the Necessary “Will and Skill” in the Development of Elite Athletes.“.

Then I saw this video today, hat tip Kevin Neeld.

Seems like “Grit” is exactly what I was looking for when I wrote that grad school paper… appears “grit” is what allows us to make the “most” of our innate abilities…It’s majic really, if you stick with something long enough and you are willing to work hard enough, good things happen……sooooo obvious, yet so many miss the boat.

It looks like that’s probably what separates the top end performers (regardless of the field), relative to their genetic equals, from everyone else.


Heart beats like a rabbit? Yeah, that’s BAD

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

That super fast resting heart rate that you think is, “normal” or “genetic” or “the way it’s always been”…yea, that shit’s killing you…..No, seriously…it could be

Increased heart rate may signal higher death risk– Serena Gordon, USA Today 

Compared to people whose heart rate was consistent at less than 70 beats per minute at both readings, those whose rates increased from less than 70 beats per minute to more than 85 beats per minute had a 90 percent higher risk of death from heart disease. In those whose heart rates started at between 70 and 85 beats per minute, an increase to more than 85 beats per minute at the follow-up reading signaled an 80 percent increase in the risk of heart disease mortality, reports the study.

This seems really bad (Hint: it is) so what to do?

“For people who’d like to improve their heart health, she said the standard advice still holds true. “It’s always beneficial to increase your fitness level, so exercise more. Maintain a healthy weight, and eat healthier foods, and don’t smoke,” she advised.

Wheww…I thought it was gonna be waaay more complicated than that….Exercise, eat right, generally take care of yourself….

So ummmmmmmmm, yeah…you might want to do something about that whole “gonna DIE cause I’m out of shape thing“….and no bitching whining, moaning, complaining and making excuses doesn’t count…..Get off the couch and get moving…

HT Mens Health……

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The Voice of Reason: RIP Ron Smith

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

This post has NOTHING to with fitness/ training/ sports performance etc. etc.

It has to do with the world becoming a little less informed, a lot dumber and much less entertained….and in Baltimore we need all of the above we can get.

“Radio Man”, WBAL’s Ron Smith died Monday night.

The Ron Smith Show was BY FAR my favorite talk radio show, and as anyone who knows me understands, how I love talk radio. It wasn’t just because of Ron’s political leanings, which I must admit, are very much in line with my own. It was because when I listened to his show I learned something.  He always welcomed actual, true debate on any issue….he never cut callers off, called them names, talked over them (or down to them) or used straw man arguments to make a supposed point, which wasn’t the point at all, then drop them off the line and grandstand in their defeat at awe of his own all-encompassing intellect.

When he had a guest on they talked about relevant topics TO THAT GUEST….economists talked about…the economy, climatologists…the climate. They didn’t get away with spewing political talking points or talk about how they felt about x,y,z subject which the guest had no specialized knowledge of because Ron kept them on the subject and asked relevant questions to that subject. They talked about that guests area of expertise or relevance…and we all actually gained knowledge we, the listener, could use to make decisions for ourselves.

 From Ron’s bio,

“Whatever you talk about, someone out there knows more than you do.” 

…..Ron’s show made us smarter….  

He had political adversaries on regularly (when they would come on), be it with a R or D in front of their name and they would have an actual debate on an issue. He treated them with respect and didn’t pull the whole “gotcha” thing and try to make you look uninformed or stupid on some minor point or esoteric subject just because you disagreed philosophically. Maybe that’s why people like Ben Cardin and Peter Franchot went on the show… adversaries were challenged, not attacked. 

Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin issued the following statement Monday night:

“I have been on Ron Smith’s show many times over the years and he had a unique voice that made him a Baltimore radio icon. While Ron and I often disagreed, he was always fair, he was always insightful and he was always honest with his listeners. Today, I join the many, many fans of Ron Smith in mourning the passing of someone I had enormous respect for and who I counted as a true friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, June, and his family.”

It’s no coincidence that columns are popping up from both liberal and conservative outlets mourning the loss of Baltimore’s “Voice of Reason”. Granted, I listened to his show a lot less in the last year and a half since he moved from the drive home (3-6pm) to the mid morning (9-12pm,) I still tried to listen a few times a week and I missed having his show on driving home from work, the drives were always more interesting with him on.  

His show was refreshing, entertaining and mostly informative and will be missed…

From Ron’s final Baltimore Sun Column:

“What is a mere individual to do? Live as sane and decent a life as you can, love your family and friends and understand that everybody is in this together.

My work here is done.”

Team Reason is without their captain……

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Who Knew!

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

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Beginners and Desk Jockey Syndrome

December 21, 2011 1 comment

I’ve been doing this whole training thing for a while now and I can honestly say that 99% of all the people I train have the same problems when they first come to me. Mainly they sit toooooo much.

This results in (from head to toe):

Upper Cross Sydrome: Extended cervical spine (head pushed forward), tight pecs, weak underactive scapular retractors  and tight upper traps

Poor pelvic alignment: Usually to the anterior…

Caused by weak glutes, hamstrings, tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors and weak abs.

Basically everyone gets “desk jockey syndrome“. We sit in front of a computer hunched over waaaay too much and end up with like this…

This is your spine...on work.

 As a trainer we have to balance giving people what they want, looking better with no clothes on, improved sports performance, feeling better (which is usually a distant third on the list when they start but becomes #1 after 3 weeks) with what they need.

The only good part is that what they need at this point will almost always make them look better, perform better and feel better…

think about it……. all these problems (upper cross and anterior or posterior pelvic tilt) make us look, perform and feel like crap.

Correcting the upper cross syndrome: ie..getting the scapular retractors to do something (think shoulders back and down), loosening the death grip the pec major and minor have on the upper arm (humerus) and getting some thoracic extension will make anyone “open up” and stand taller.

Once the pelvis is on the correct plane the “duck butt” is gone and the stomach looks smaller because your standing up straight and the pelvis isn’t throwing the  stomach forward resulting in the “pot belly” look.

Basically, you don’t look like a bloated human tick anymore…..

Next installment….exactly how to correct the upper half of  Desk Jockey Syndrome: Upper Cross Syndrome


December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I love this business….

Hat Tip Dave Tate @

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“The Legs Feed the Wolf”- Herbie

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Herb Brooks was a modern messiah of sorts to anyone who plays hockey. For those not in the know, Herbie was the coach of the 1980 Olympic Hockey team:

Yeah, that team…..Herb was the mastermind…

Well, Herb was known to be a little eccentric. one of the things he is most remembered for was his sayings, known to his players as “Brooksisms”. Players kept a notebook of “Brooksisms,” sayings the coach used for motivation, such as: “You’re playing worse and worse every day and right now you’re playing like it’s next month.”– AP

One of the most memorable “Brooksisms”:

“Red line, back. Blue line, back. Far blue line, back. Far red line, back. And you have 45 seconds to do it. Get used to this drill. You’ll be doing it *a lot*. Why? Because the legs feed the wolf, gentlemen. I can’t promise you we’ll be the best team at Lake Placid next February. But we will be the best conditioned. That I can promise you.”- Herb Brooks Foundation

Obviously, legs and hips are important in elite level sports, or any level sports for that matter. But Herb’s advice should be a guide for everyone to follow. It appears that strong legs KEEP YOU ALIVE!

Targeting Leg Fatigue in Heart Failure- “leg muscle dysfunction is related to the severity of symptoms in heart failure patients. These findings suggest that daily activity in patients with severe heart failure may not simply be limited by the failing heart, but also by an impairment in the leg muscles themselves.”

actually the article is about warmups….they seem to increase the tolerance to exercise, which is usually limited by the fatigue of the legs.

That said, I don’t think it’s a jump to conclude that a stronger lower body before heart failure would lessen this fatigue of exercise after heart failure….Pluuuuusssssssss, if the legs are becoming fatigued early on when resuming an exercise program following treatment for heart failure that kinda, sorta tells me there is something going on there……Like, they might be important for total body function? Me thinks, yes….

Ohh, and a word about warmups….my younger self would punch me of today in the balls for this but….DO YOUR DAMN WARMUPS!…..Especially if your closer to 32 than 22…that’s all I’m saying about that for now.

And now a moment of zen:

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