Lets Play Captain “Not So” Obvious

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Some random things that people should know, but don’t.

1. Train Barefoot: At Cressey Performance we have all our clients, whether they’re athletes or normal weekend warriors train barefoot 75% of the time. Most people wear Nike Shocks, boots, of high heeled shoes all the time, and as a result, sacrifice a lot of ankle mobility. By training barefoot, we re-learn how to use all of those small, intrinsic muscles of the foot and gain back much of the ankle mobility that was lost.

All of our clients perform their warm-ups barefoot and everyone deadlifts and box squats barefoot.

I usually see an instant increase in the amount of weight someone can pull when they take their shoes off. Why? Well for starters, by taking your shoes off you’re now 1-2 inches closer to the ground, which is 1-2 inches LESS the bar has to travel. Secondly, by taking your shoes off you’re now able to pull through your heels, and as a result recruit more of your glutes and hamstrings to help out. Thirdly, people will automatically think you’re awesome cause you’re training with no shoes on. Unless of course your feet smell like you’ve been walking through a sewer all day, then that’s definitely not awesome.

2. Yoga is Not Great For the Lower Back

I’ve written in the past on why I feel yoga is an inferior form of exercise in regards to body composition. However, what’s worse is that many people will start using yoga to help their lower back pain.

It’s interesting to note that rotation does indeed occur at each segment of the spine from the top of the tailbone (L5-S1) up to the base of the neck (T1-2). However we’re only supposed to get roughly 2 degrees of rotation per segment in the lumbar spine (L5-S1), compared to 8-10 degrees of rotation per segment in the thoracic and cervical spine.

As you can see, more rotation should occur in the upper half of the spine compared to the lower spine. Unfortunately there are many positions in yoga which promote MORE rotation in the lumbar spine then there should be. Ouch. Like it or not, yoga may in fact only be exacerbating your problems, not helping.

3. Protein and Your Bones: It’s important to note that inadequate protein intake is not only suboptimal from a body composition standpoint, but it’s also detrimental to bone; intake at the RDA level (0.8g/kg/d) and below (which many people, particularly women ingest) has been shown to elevate serum parathyroid hormone (PTH), an indicator of the mobilization of calcium and phosphorous from bone.”

***Kerstetter, JE, et al. A threshold for low-protein diet induced elevations in parathyroid hormone. American Journal of Clininal Nutrition. 2000; 72:168-73

I won’t be the first to note that the RDA has missed the boat (repeatedly) in regards to their dietary recommendations, and protein is no exception. The first thing people need to realize is that most of the RDA’s recommendations are to prevent deficiency (ie: to stave off death). I, along with many of my colleagues have long been an advocate of high(er) protein diets. Especially for those who are athletes or who live “active” lifestyles.

4. Don’t Load Your Spine First Thing in the AM:

Ever notice that it’s substantially harder to round your back in the morning than it is in the evening? Our spine is longer in the morning and full of fluid (water in the spine), which results in a narrower space between the lumbar vertebrae, making it easier to herniate a disc or cause injury to the facet joints.

Performing movements that directly load or put stress on the spine (crunches, squats, goodmornings, deadlifts) aren’t a good idea to do first upon rising. Instead, wait about 45-60 minutes AFTER waking up to perform such movements. This mainly applies to those who have home gyms and like to train before work. In doing so, you will allow ample time for your spine to “dehydrate,” and be less likely to injure yourself.

5. Britney Spears is the worst mother ever: lets be honest, a rabid raccoon would make a better mother than Britney Spears.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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