Best of May 2016
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 May 2016.
This month provided us with a ton of new information and things to think about and try on our journey to higher performance. We saw new research looking into exercise as a treatment for concussions, supplementing BCAAs, the biopsychosocial aspects of posture, and more. We read articles on reducing our assumptions and biases, the importance of play in becoming a better mover, how to clean up our squat mechanics, and the role that genetics play in strength and conditioning. Podcasts this month covered “carbtroversy”, why sitting is so devastating to our health and performance, the mental game of one of the best surfers in the world, and much more!
We also want to give a shout out to the hosts (Chris Ritter and Zach Long) and all of the presenters behind the Global Performance Summit that took place online from May 9th-16th. This week-long online symposium featured some of the best minds in the performance world, discussing a wide variety of athletic training and human optimization topics. Even if you missed it, you can still get a VIP pass to view all of the presentations by checking out the link below:
Without any further ado, here’s our Best of May 2016.
- While this isn’t shocking news to anyone, it’s still important to continually promote the importance of strength training, not only for increasing performance, but also in reducing injuries. This particular study looked at the injury rate of soccer players who performed strength training versus teammates who did not. The results (although in a relatively small sample size) were pretty dramatic:
- The best practice for concussion recovery has long included rest, minimal stimuli, and a break from athletic activity. New research, however, is showing that exercise may actually be an important post-concussion treatment. This study interestingly found that “Exercise within seven days of injury was associated with nearly half the rate of persistent post-concussive symptoms, or those that last beyond a month.” :
- A new study, from the Journal of American Physical Therapy Association, found that neck posture was more associated with biopsychosocial differences than with neck pain. Not only is this interesting because it continues to support the idea that posture and pain are not necessarily related, but also because it supports the idea that posture is a window into who we are and how we think and feel:
- Lactate, and “lactic acid”, has long been one of the most contentious aspects of exercise physiology. From it being thought to be the cause of burning in muscles and the reason for DOMS, to it being a helpful fuel during intense workouts, the perceived roles of lactate are all over the place. This month the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research released an article looking into the effect of moderate blood lactate levels on endurance performance:
- There’s a common belief that ingesting branched-chain amino acids during a fast, or period of calorie restriction, can be beneficial for sparing muscle and allowing people to lose fat while maintaining muscle. The research data, however, may not agree with this view:
- A couple of interesting new research infographics from YLM Sports Science looking at the some of the best ways to prevent injuries, the effect of alchohol on muscle growth, and why increasing rest time between sets may make a difference in building muscle:
- The basis of everything that we do comes down to what we believe. And while we, as humans in 2016, know a lot, in the grand scheme of things, we don’t know much at all. Ideas that are on the forefront of thinking today will be overturned in the future and we’ll look like idiots for believing them. But the hardest thing for people to do is to reevaluate their beliefs and make changes to them. We are conditioned to pick a team or side, and fight to the end to support it. And this failure to mentally adapt to changing information has become our biggest roadblock to progression. Steve Kamb, of Nerd Fitness, looked at all of these ideas, and why the best way to combat this is to reduce our assumptions as much as possible, maintain an open mind when hearing/assessing new information, and to not be afraid to admit when we’ve gotten it wrong:
- Play is one of the most underrated activities in our adult world for a number of different reasons. In this very well-thought-out post, Todd Hargrove gets to the core of what “play” actually is and why we (and other animals) do it. He also addresses why play is not just for children, and how it’s one of the best ways to solve any problem:
- Squatting is arguably one of the most important exercises that we can do. With tons of possible variations, and one of the highest levels of functional applicability, it’s no surpise that more and more people are adding squats into their workouts. But creating pain-free and biomechanically-sound squat technique can be difficult. This month Dr. Zach Long looked at two of the most common issues with the squat. First, with the help of Michael Mash, he addressed hip pain during squats, what commonly causes it, and how to fix it. In his second article, Dr. Long took a look at the quad dominant squat pattern and how to activate the glutes and create a more optimal hip-focused pattern:
- A nice article from Kevin Cann looking at the anatomy and mechanics of the shoulder as well as some of the most common issues people experience with the shoulder joint. He also looks at some awesome exercises to fix shoulder problems (and to prevent them from happening in the first place):
- This is one of the few articles that really gets it right when it comes to both the positives and negatives of chiropractic spinal manipulation. As a tool, it’s one of the best. As the only tool, it leaves a lot to be desired. Regardless of your views on chiropractic, this article from Dr. James Spencer is a must-read:
- To often athletes and bodybuilders don’t get the most from their training because they aren’t making the most of their rest days. For some it’s slipping with the diet (or skimping on the diet because they fear gaining excess weight), for others it’s not getting the proper amounts of sleep and rest on off-days, and for others it’s not taking enough rest days to begin with. Christian Thibaudeau explains how these mistakes are keeping people from getting the results that they desire, and why rethinking the way that we approach our rest days (from now on called “growth days”) can make a huge difference:
- One of the most talked about, and least studied, aspects of human athletic performance is the role of genetics. Are genetics just an excuse that people use for not working hard enough, or do genetics really determine how our bodies are going to look, feel, and perform? Greg Nuckols dove into the genetics issue this month, and gave us one of the most in-depth and well-thought-out articles that we’ve seen on the subject. Definitely worth reading:
- By now, we all know that stress is one of the most detrimental things for our athletic performance and overall health. But many people don’t understand just how wide the variety of stressors are that can add to this effect. It all comes down to the hormones- what keeps them balanced and functioning optimally, and what throws them (and us) off. Alex McMahon explores stress, hormones, and some things that we can do about it:
Excellent Podcasts & Videos
- The always-awesome Dr Mark Chang sits down with GMB Fitness‘s Jarlo Ilano for a great conversation. They start by diving into Mark’s unique background and experiences that have led him to become a martial arts expert, respected TCM practitioner, and human performance coach. They then move on to talk about the often underappreciated role of movement as a form of self-expression and what that looks like. The conversation finishes with a discussion of the importance of the subjective and artistic aspects of getting people out of pain and towards performance:
- Big wave surfing is one of the few sports that the consequences for failure can be death. Because of this, big wave surfers are some of the most interesting case studies in sports psychology, particularly with dealing with fear. This month, Finding Mastery‘s Michael Gervais talked with one of the best big wave surfers in the world, Ian Walsh. Gervais is one of the absolute best at asking the right questions to highlight the mental processes of the highest performers on this planet. In this conversation, they discuss risk-taking, needing failure in order to succeed, being content, giving back, and of course, what the path to mastery looks like:
- Dr. Jessus Chappus and Marni Wasserman of the Ultimate Health Podcast, sit down (or hopefully stand up) for a great conversation with Dr. Kelly Starrett on the why sitting (and an overall lack of movement throughout the day) is keeping us in pain and away from performance. They talk about how to add movement into your day and the difference between movement and exercise/training. They also dive into tips for better sleep, building strong feet, and a number of other interesting topics:
- This month we found another great podcast to add to our arsenal, Scott Iardella‘s Rdella Training Podcast. We particularly enjoyed a couple of his new episodes this month. First, Scott sat down with high performance coach David Joyce for a conversation on training and injury prevention for elite athletes. They talk about concepts from Joyce’s books as well as the idea that to get the most out of athletes, we oftentimes have to address and fine tune every aspect of their lives. The second episode is with Dr. Zach Long. They discuss the role of movement assessment in strength and conditioning, the new role of mobility work (it’s not meant to be an hour a day) and the importance of having someone else program for you:
- Carbs have become public enemy number one for many people. And there is certainly something to that idea. But are all carbs really as bad as we’re making them out to be? Is there still a place for carbs in our diets or is the anti-carb hysteria warranted? Onnit‘s Orlando Rios sat down with one of our favorite nutrition guys, Alex McMahon, to discuss all things carbohydrate:
- Here’s another awesome interview with Dr. Kelly Starrett from this month. In the first podcast we highlighted, he looked more into healthy behaviors and lifestyle practices. This podcast is the perfect compliment as Jake Schuster from Well Traveled Wellness talks with Kelly about the performance end of things. They get into how Kelly sparked the mobility revolution, and now that it’s happened, what’s next for injury reduction and performance maximization:
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