Best of February 2017
Welcome back to our Best of the Month series. This month saw the beginning of the CrossFit Open 2017. If you’re participating, good luck, have fun, and take care of your body! February provided yet even more great information, and the front lines of human performance continues to be pushed forward.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best new performance-related research, articles, podcasts, and videos that we found on the internet over the past month. By no means is this list exhaustive, just some of the things that we came across and liked from February 2017. As always, we appreciate all of the love and critiques that we get from you guys, and we appreciate your continued support and passing along of this information!
Here are a few of the big takeaways that we got from the info this month:
- Understanding breath and having the ability to modulate breath to match our desired goals will be the next frontier in human performance (and human health).
- Bands and foam rollers can do more than simple passively decrease feelings of tightness. When used correctly, they can effectively create mobility, strength, and stability in almost every major area of the body.
- The best way to reach any goal is to reverse engineer our activities/behaviors specifically with that goal in mind. We must also find a path that we can sustain over time, finding a balance between pushing to get a result, but not to the point of burning out.
- Being able to consistently overcome fear is what separates successful athletes (people) from those who fall short. It’s not easy to do, but just like any other mental skill, we can get better at it with practice.
- Recovery matters. Supplementation, breathing, recovery movement, whole-body cryotherapy, etc., all play a role in keeping our bodies and minds functioning at the highest level possible both in training and competition.
Here is our Best of February 2017:
- This is the time of year, more so than any other time (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) that we should be supplementing with vitamin D. And if optimal tissue health, immune function, and mood boosting don’t entice you enough, a new review of the research is showing that vitamin D supplementation also can improve muscle strength in athletic populations:
Most studies devoted to figuring out how best to help athletes improve their performance have explored physical training methods. In contrast, very few have tested ways to improve mental qualities that are also strongly associated with sports performance, such as mental toughness or self-efficacy. This study assessed the effects of a very low volume of psychological skills training delivered over 4 sessions of 1.5 hours by sports psychologists to a squad of high-level athletes. The training was able to improve measures of mental toughness and self-efficacy, which likely had a beneficial effect on sports performance. ——————– #sandcresearch #strengthandconditioning #strengthtraining #strength #sportsscience #biomechanics #research #mma #kickboxer #kickboxing #athlete #sport #sports #psychology #sportspsychology #mindset #success #selfefficacy #staypositive #positive #positivethinking #positivevibes #positiveenergy #positivity #success #mentaltoughness #tough #toughness #growth
- The last couple of months, we’ve been profiling some of Chris Beardsley‘s work with interpreting strength and conditioning/muscle physiology research. His Instagram is an incredible resource, as it’s full of charts and graphs along with explanations of results and conclusions. This allows us to save tons of time and energy by not having to dissect and reread these articles over and over again to come up with a takeaway point. If you don’t already, follow him on Instagram by clicking on the link below. This month he looked at tons of interesting research on mental toughness, mental training, eccentric contractions, and much more:
- The research regarding whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) has been controversial, with some studies showing benefits and others showing no major physiological benefit. This month, another study was thrown into the mix. In this study, they found that while other physiologic blood markers were neither improved nor decreased, testosterone levels were significantly increased at both 2- and 24-hours post WBC:
- We often have set ideas about what optimal rest time should be between work sets. But does individual difference play a role? You better believe it. This study looked at trained vs untrained athletes performing upper-body power training and showed that trained individuals need less rest time between sets to still be able to perform at their peak level:
- Yann Le Meur moved his sports science infographics over to a new site this past month, and we highly recommend that you check it out- YLM Sports Science. This month he put out some really interesting new infographics looking at diet/supplementation for athletes as well as the differences between carryover from Oly lifting vs. power lifting:
- So many different recovery modalities are getting a bad rap today, and many are being overlooked. Banded compression with flossing seems to have some effect, not only on active range of motion, but also on performance. In this case, the researchers looked at the roll of tissue flossing on ankle ROM and jump performance, with a positive outcome:
- A lot has been said lately about the idea of “functional fitness”. This month, Dr. John Rusin took an interesting approach to the topic. Instead of just supporting or dismantling functional fitness, he instead had a conversation with the “godfather” of functional training, Dr. Craig Liebenson. They look at not only discuss how we got to this place, but also what the future holds. This is a poignant and fascinating exchange, and we loved how Liebenson was able to highlight most of the major players from the past and the present and explain how each helped to shape our understanding of the body and functional training. This is an awesome interview and worth reading for any trainer, coach, practitioner, or athlete:
- James Clear takes a look at behavior change and what habits and approaches actually lead to lasting change. So often we get caught up in an all-or-nothing approach to improvement that works for a short while but then we invariably end up burning out and dropping off. Clear explores a different path, one that acknowledges a long-term vision and supports a truly sustainable road to getting there. This article comes at a great time as the shine often wears off of our New Years goals about now:
- Breath control is the next frontier of human performance (and health). It allows people to not only train and compete harder, but also to recover better and to de-stress better as well. Kyle Ruth, from Training Think Tank, wrote up this awesome piece looking at the different breathing patterns for relaxation and excitation. He also addresses proper breathing mechanics, and the benefits of positional breathing. If you aren’t putting time into breath work, you’re missing out not only on performance, but also in feeling better in your everyday life:
- All training should work backwards from our desired outcome. Too often we spend time focusing on the method over the goal, and we end up never getting anywhere. Dean Somerset explores goal-driven training in a smart, yet simple, way and he also breaks down five of the most common reasons for training and how each should affect our approach to training:
- The foam roller has gotten a bad rap as of late, and for good reason. It was being used incorrectly by too many people and the explanations that we had for what it was doing have mostly been found to be false. But hold on before you throw your foam rollers away. Just because they don’t effectively “break up scar tissue” or “lengthen muscles” doesn’t mean that they can’t be helpful. Dr. Zach Long put together a great list of upgraded uses for the foam roller, complete with videos and explanations:
- Dr. Craig Liebenson (check out the interview that he did with Dr. John Rusin that’s above) put together a killer list of prehab exercises for the low back. Not only does he explore some cool variations on traditional low back rehab exercises, but he also expertly threw in some power lifting variations as well. Whether you’ve had low back issues in the past or not, these exercises are worth checking out:
- With the rise of social media and online marketing, practitioners and coaches have had the ability to share their unique expertise and ideas with more people than ever before. This has been a great thing not only for spreading new ideas, but also for highlighting the truly special people who are changing the performance world. Unfortunately not everyone who has a loyal following is a true expert in their field. Todd Hargrove explores the difference between experts and gurus. Not only will this help you to hopefully differentiate between the two in the future, but it may also make you look at your own beliefs and practices, and strive to do better in the way that you develop and present your expertise to the world:
- Eric Cressey always seems to hit the nail on the head with not only his ideas/approaches, but also in the exercises that he comes up with. This month he posted a two-part series looking at some great uses for the J-band. These exercises are designed to create transferable mobility, strength, and stability, and from the few that we’ve tried, they are also pretty challenging:
- Carries are one of the simplest and most effective exercises that we can do for both strength and stability. But that doesn’t mean that we also can’t add a number of variations to the carry to make it an even more effective exercise. Chris Cooper explains and demonstrates a number of slick new variations to the traditional carry:
- The conventional and the sumo deadlift variation both have their place, and depending on the individual, one may be better than another. Rarely though do people understand the differences between the two from a biomechanical perspective. Kevin Cann breaks it down for us:
- We live in an age where complicated is the status quo. Oftentimes we think that to make something better, we have to out-complicate the competition. We see this particularly in the performance world. Tony Gentilcore tears down this way of thinking and gets back to why simple oftentimes is the best path to take:
Excellent Podcasts & Videos
- A couple of awesome podcasts this month from Doug Larson and Mike Bledsoe over at Barbell Shrugged. They discuss the incredible role that fear plays in our lives (and how to overcome it) with Tony Blauer. They als0 had coach Ray Regno on to talk movement, coaching, cueing, learning, and much more. Both are worth checking out:
- Michael Gervais has a truly unique individual, David Goggins (or just “Goggins” now as he puts it) on the podcast for one of the realest conversations we’ve heard in awhile. David Goggins is known as the “Hardest Human Alive” and his resume fully supports that. But he wasn’t always that way. Gervais brilliantly explores Goggins’ mental journey from being a bullied and unsure young man to being one of the toughest individuals on planet Earth. If you’re offended by realness, this podcast isn’t for you:
- Another brilliant video from Dr. Quinn Henoch, this time addressing some of the most common deficiencies with the overhead squat movement and how to improve them. Awesome for coaches, athletes, and practitioners:
- Lewis Howes has Rise of Superman author and Flow-expert (and personal favorite author) Steven Kotler on the podcast for an awesome conversation on the role of altered states in achieving peak performance. If you haven’t already read Kotler’s new book Stealing Fire, please check it out. I’m halfway through it and can’t put it down. At the very least, give this fascinating podcast a listen:
- As usual, Best of the Month regular Scott Iardella made the list with two awesome podcasts this month. First, he sat down with Dr. Craig Marker to talk a variety of different topics in the strength training world. Then he had an awesome podcast with Katy Bowman looking at movement beyond exercise. Katy has led the charge to reclaim basic human movement (as opposed to exercise/sport) as a means for being healthier and feeling better:
That’s it folks. I hope you enjoyed our Best of February 2017 and can use this information to further your own (and the people you work with’s) pursuit of higher performance! As always, we appreciate your feedback and comments, so either comment below or hit the contact button up top and shoot us an email. If you enjoyed this edition of our Best of the Month, or any of our other awesome original content and compilations, please subscribe to our free email service below!
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