Best of October 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 October 2016.
Here are a few of the big takeaways that we got from the info this month:
- CrossFit is no more dangerous than most other forms of exercise/training, but we still need to do our best to modify workouts and movements to match our bodies and our current levels.
- Caffeine can be a helpful aid in increasing our ability to train hard and perform, particularly when we’re mentally fatigued.
- No one method works for everybody’s pain and dysfunction, but building general strength (even if it means loading dysfunctional movement or working around pain to get there) is a huge step towards solving most problems.
- When it comes to the best lifting tempo for reducing injuries and building strength we need to make sure that, as Zach Greenwald says “The ‘Up’ is always faster than the ‘Down’.”
- We need to stop perpetuating a culture of physical mediocrity and unhealthy people. The more we coddle people, the further they get from health, strength, and truly feeling good about themselves.
We hope that you enjoy this information as much as we did, and you’re able to learn some things that will be of benefit to yourself and/or the people that you work with. Here is our Best of October 2016!
- To the lay person, CrossFit is oftentimes seen as being a breeding ground for injuries. I’ll even admit that prior to doing CrossFit, I had these beliefs as well. You watch enough #CrossFitFail videos on YouTube and you’ll think that too. But is this really the truth? Are there really more injuries in CrossFit (and similar programs) than in other forms of exercise/training? This month we saw some research that shows that “extreme conditioning programs” (CrossFit), are just as safe as any other form of weight-training:
Everyone knows that strength increases by more than muscle size, after resistance training. Historically, this was believed to be because of increases in neural drive. More recently, there has been a greater awareness that improvements in coordination are also very important for strength gains in multi-joint movements, especially when using free weights or other unstable loading types. Even so, strength still increases by more than size after resistance training with single-joint exercises, like knee extensions. So is this caused by increases in neural drive or not? This very important study calculated the changes in specific tension after a long-term period of resistance training with a knee extension exercise. Specific tension is a ratio of strength-to-size after correcting for agonist activation and antagonist coactivation, as well as moment arm length, and muscle architecture. So it describes the increase in the maximum possible muscle force, irrespective of neural drive. The researchers found that specific tension increased, which suggests that neural drive is not mainly responsible for the greater gains in strength compared with the increases in muscle size. This increase in specific tension could be caused by changes in muscle fiber type, by increases in the packing density of myofilaments within a single muscle fiber, or an alteration in the connection between the muscle fibers and the surrounding connective tissue, which would increase lateral force transmission.
- A lot of us find the results and conclusions of research interesting, but we don’t enjoy spending hours dissecting research studies just to get to the take-home message. For that reason, it’s always awesome when knowledgeable people do the hard work for us and then package and present research to us in an easy to consume format. You guys know that we love YLM’s stuff (scroll down for more of it), and this month we also got into Chris Beardsley‘s stuff. His Instagram is such a good resource, as it’s full of charts and graphs along with explanations for much of the latest sports science research. If you don’t already, follow him on Instagram by clicking on the link below:
- Even more evidence showing that you should lift before doing cardio (particularly intense cardio) and not afterwards:
- Another study looking at the acute benefits on lifting performance of ingesting caffeine (in a number of different forms):
- A couple of interesting new research infographics this month from YLM Sports Science. He looked at why injury prevention begins with getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy foods. He also looks at the performance benefits of caffeine supplementation for times where we’re mentally fatigued:
- This is a huge compilation from some of the very best in the fitness and sports medicine world. For most people, when the shoulders flare up, the course of action is to simply take some time to rest. People are afraid to make it worse, and frankly, they just don’t know how to train around it. This article is one of the best guides that we’ve seen for training around shoulder pain, complete with tons of awesome demonstration videos. A big thanks to Dr. John Rusin for putting this together:
- For a long time the prevailing paradigm regarding pain was to stop strength training, address dysfunctions, and then slowly start to build back into progressively loading that area and returning to strength training. But what if this isn’t the best approach? What if we didn’t have to stop all strength training and “fix” dysfunctions in order to get people out of pain? Greg Lehman brilliantly explores this idea and presents his case for putting strength on top of dysfunction:
- Very rarely can someone write an article in which they start by saying essentially that nobody knows exactly what causes a problem (and each person’s problem is completely different) but then they finish by giving you an effective template for approaching that problem in the majority of people. Somehow, Tony Gentilcore did just that this month with his article looking at low back pain. Not only does he expose the trap of “my approach works and yours doesn’t”, but he also gives a damn good way to approach and treat low back pain that would work with the vast majority of people:
- We’ve been standing beside the placebo effect for some time now, trying to help it to recover it’s image after the science-as-gospel people tried their best to attack and dismiss it. Why are we such strong supporters of the placebo? If there’s a way in which we can put an input into the mind/nervous system that creates a positive output/outcome, whether that be a decrease in pain, an increase in performance, or a feeling that something is easier/better, then we think that it needs to be explored. Why would we not want to use the mind as an ally as opposed to something that just gets in the way of good science or “real treatments”? Craig Pickering does an awesome job of exploring the role of placebo in sport and why we should be harnessing it’s power to make athletes feel and perform better:
- Everybody should read this post from Lee Boyce. He exposes our society’s bullshit attitudes towards health and fitness, and why we continue to lower the bar and encourage physical mediocrity. We need to draw a line in the sand, and Boyce has done just that with this well-thought out post:
- Nutrition is one of the toughest areas to understand. Everywhere you look there are people (lay people and experts) vehemently defending completely opposing views. Even worse, the science changes every five minutes and what was previously preventing cancer is now the primary cause of it, and vice versa. It’s frankly exhausting just trying to keep up. John Berardi uses an awesome infographic to explain why nutrition science is so confusing:
- As we saw in the research article presented above, CrossFit doesn’t cause anymore injuries than any other form of training. That being said, for a lot of people, the regular programming of CrossFit workouts just doesn’t work well for them. Being able to adapt CrossFit to fit your own body’s needs is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy and making your goals a reality. Dave Dellanave explores exactly why and how to do it in this stellar post:
- We at HPN usually try to highlight positive things that you should be doing and not all of the things that people are doing that are wrong. That being said, every once in awhile it’s good to bring awareness to ways in which we need to improve. This month, some of the top fitness professionals got together with T-nation (probably not literally) to present what they feel are the worst current fitness trends, and what we can do about them:
- Andrew Millet and friends explores all things related to ankle mobility and give us ten great ways to improve it, both passively and actively:
- At this point, everybody should be on board with the benefit of eccentric training. We know that this phase of contraction is great for building strength (particularly of tendinous tissue), creating mobility and stability. Zach Long and Zach Greenwald explore tempo in this post and give us a recipe that allows us to not only spend more time under that eccentric load, but then also to build explosive power on the concentric end:
Excellent Podcasts & Videos
- Very rarely do you find someone who claims to have superhuman powers, and then can actually back them up. Most of the time people fall apart in their claims well before they are even subjected to scientific scrutiny. Wim Hof is one of the few of these people that not only has been scientifically proven to do what he says he does, but who also repeatedly redefines what’s possible with the human mind and body. Joe Rogan has Wim on the podcast for a second time, and they have yet another entertaining conversation on the mind, the body, and pushing the boundaries of human performance:
- Dr. Quinn Henoch has been putting out these ‘Mobility Myths’ videos on the Juggernaut Training Systems Youtube Channel. They’re awesome 10-15 min videos looking at, and dispelling, common myths in the movement and mobility world and what to do about them. This month, he explored the idea of scapular winging, where it comes from (most of the time it’s not truly a nerve problem), and how to address it:
- Dr. Perry Nickelston has Dr. Mike T Nelson on the Stop Chasing Pain podcast to discuss movement assessment, “good” and “bad” movement, looking at the body globally, getting clients to restructure the way they talk about their bodies, and much more. So much of effective treatment is about the psychology of pain, dysfunction, and self-perception, so it’s always great to hear two veterans of the game explore these topics:
- Rarely do we talk much about the business side of things here on HPN. We did, however, really enjoy this podcast with the guys from Barbell Shrugged, and Ambition Athletics founder Max Shank. They explore making it in the fitness/gym owner world, assessing time/energy required to complete something with the payoff for completing it, and balancing risk/reward when making big business decisions. They also talk daily habits and ways to maximize productivity and efficiency:
- Michael Gervais‘s podcast Finding Mastery is one of our absolute favorites. Month in and month out he presents incredible conversations with some of the most accomplished people in the human performance world. He gets into the depths of the mental game in a way that not many can, and you always come away motivated and a little wiser. This month we particularly enjoyed his conversations (very different but equally good) with former superstar QB Drew Bledsoe and super coach Vern Gambetta:
- Another awesome Barbell Shrugged episode, this time with Strength Ratio‘s Zach Greenwald. In this episode they explore listening to your body, using biofeedback to determine workout volume/intensity, and navigating the waters of training for gains and performance while also decreasing injury/dysfunction. This was a great episode that will give you new things to try with yourself and with your clients:
That’s it folks. I hope you enjoyed our Best of October 2016 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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