January 2013

I can’t take credit for the research on this one, but have been promoting it for quite a while.  The original article is written by Dr. Lance C. Dalleck, Ph.D and Dr. Jeffrey M. Janot, Ph.D.  Static stretching really doesn’t do much for you, except to force a muscle somewhere that it didn’t want to go in the first place.  If you were an elastic muscle and were forced to stretch where you didn’t want to be, what would your natural tendency be to do?

A myth can be defined as an untrue explanation for a natural phenomenon. Unfortunately numerous myths remain pervasive and deeply engrained in the health and fitness world. In this first of a two-part series, we take a hard look at four longstanding myths to determine if they can withstand the weight of scientific scrutiny.

Myth #1: Stretching before exercise reduces the risk of injury.

Historically, it has been generally accepted that stretching decreases the risk of injury. Accordingly, it is common practice for stretching exercises to be included in a warm-up session. In fact, it has been suggested that stretching is the most common routine recommended by sports coaches and sports medicine professionals (Witvrouw et al., 2004). This myth is based on the idea that pre-exercise stretching reduces the risk of injury through improvements in range of motion and blood flow, better proprioception and decreased stiffness in the muscle (Fredette, 2001).

The fact that authority figures (e.g., coaches and sports medicine doctors) have long advocated pre-exercise stretching for lowering injury risk is likely the reason it has been so widely accepted as standard practice. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, however, researchers began to more closely scrutinize the evidence supporting this practice. For example, a review of existing literature led one group of researchers to conclude that pre-exercise static stretching does not lower the risk of local muscle injury (Shrier, 1999). Similarly, another group of scientists (Pope et al., 2000) reported no significant reductions in the incidence of lower-limb injuries in people who stretched before exercise compared to those who performed no stretching. More recently, Witvrouw and colleagues (2004) concluded that pre-exercise stretching has no beneficial effect on injury prevention for activities such as cycling, jogging and swimming. Finally, in a current review (McHugh and Cosgrave, 2010), the general consensus was that stretching in addition to aerobic warm-up does not affect the incidence of overuse injuries.

Clearly, the scientific literature of the past decade fails to support stretching before exercise as a successful strategy for injury prevention. Does this mean stretching has no impact on risk of injury? Absolutely not! In fact, it has been reported that stretching at other times, including postexercise and in the evening, can reduce injury risk.

The Bottom Line: Stretching before exercise DOES NOT reduce the risk of injury

One of the most basic premises that we teach our trainers has to do with the Principle of Overload.  It’s simplest definition says that if you want your body to experience adaptation and change, you constantly have to be pushing your limits and testing your body to do more than it is used to doing.  If you remain inside your comfort zone forever, you’ll never get anywhere (not very far, anyway).  For example, the person who walks on the treadmill and complains that they don’t get any results.  They walk for 20 minutes 4 or 5 times a week at about 3 mph on the treadmill and wonder why nothing changes.  Well, what do you do all day long?  You walk around to do stuff.  Around your house, your office and your errands.  And, I’d be willing to bet that it’s at about that pace, too.  Your body is telling you “I’ve got this.”  The problem is that you’re only doing more of what  you normally do in the first place.  Instead, walk up a hill.  Walk faster.  Climb stairs, jump rope, bike.  Do something different!  Something more!  It’s the same in the weight room.  If you start lifting a 5lb dumbell, you will get results….for a while.  If you’re still lifting that same weight 6 months or a year later, then you’re really not getting anything new out of that.  Your body is already past that.  Pick up the 10’s.  Do more reps.  Something.  So push your limits.  Every day.  Get better.  Every day.  Don’t be afraid to challenge your body.  It just might surprise you.


So.  One of the hottest dietary fads lately is the cleanse.  Master cleanse, juice cleanse, medical cleanse, etc.  The premise being that if you do this cleanse (7-day, 10-day, month, whatever) that you will magically detoxify your body.  Release all the bad stuff that you have spent a lifetime accumulating, lose a ton of weight and be healthy.  C’mon!!  You know the way to detoxify your body?  Don’t cleanse, clean.  I mean eat clean.  Get rid of all the processed, genetically modified junk food in your diet and eat good wholesome food.  Your body only builds up toxins because you eat food that it doesn’t know how to deal with.  If you eat whole food, good food, your body can process it the right way, and there is no toxic buildup.  Imagine that.  And the nice thing is is that it’s never too late to start.  If you start eating cleaner today, your body has the amazing ability to re-balance itself from wherever it is.  It may take more than 10 days, but you can return to a state of health.  Put good things in and the bad things will move out.  I’m not saying that the diet has to be perfect, and there’s no room for a treat now and again, but  you could make an effort.  Eating clean for a day doesn’t entitle you to an entire box of Munchkins.  But what about the weight loss that people see on cleanse diets?  That simply comes from the fact that you aren’t eating ANYTHING!  Literally.  Most cleanses are liquid-based.  So the caloric intake is completely limited.  Your body sheds a ton of water, lean body tissue, and yes a little bit of body fat.  Guess what happens when the 10 days is over and people start eating their garbage food again.  “Hello 10 lbs, good to see you.  Oh, you brought 4 lbs of friends with you?  Great, the more the merrier.”  You can fool your body, but not for long.  You have to be good to it.  Eat clean and be healthy.  Live well.

Eat Clean Eat clean 2

“If you’re afraid of failure, then you don’t deserve to succeed.”  Pretty powerful quote.  You’d probably never in a million years guess who said it.  Charles Barkley.  I said the same thing, right?  The guy is crazy, but his sentiment here is right on target.  Those people who are afraid to fail at something are fundamentally unable to succeed at it.  It is mental self-sabotage.  Nobody goes through life without failure.  Athletes fail.  Parents fail.  I’m pretty sure that Donald Trump was broke at some point and ran failed businesses (not to mention failed haircuts).  But you can’t be afraid to fail.  Even in something as simple as exercise, failure is inevitable.  It happens.  They key is to not let it get inside your head and eat at you.  People don’t try because they are afraid that if they do they won’t be good at it.  Or they’ve tried before and failed.  Then try again.  This time might be your time.  If you get knocked down seven times, get up eight.  Every failure teaches you a lesson of what doesn’t work.  Take that, build on it and take one step closer to success.  You will succeed, I promise.  But you can’t be afraid to fall down in order to do so.

success vs. failure(2) success vs. failure

Did you know that the average American consumes almost 70 pounds of sugar per year?  It boils down to about 22 Teaspoons per day.  Yikes.  Now, we know that a lot of good natural foods contain a fair amount of sugar to them (fruits, milk and honey to name a few).  But let’s be serious.  Are we getting our sugars primarily from natural sources, or may we just as well spoon it out of the bowl at home?  Sugars aren’t inherently bad by nature.  We just need to be more conscious of where we get ours.  Are you conscious of where you get yours?


This is a re-post from a peer of mine, Chad Hackler.  Chad is an Instructor at NPTI in Dallas, a great trainer and a friend.  I know it’s sort of long, but read it through.  I really enjoyed this post, and hope you do, too!

 As a lifelong athlete (3 national flag football championship all achieved in my 30′s) and former martial artist (TKD and more recently a Keysi Fighting Method instructor–you saw Christian Bale use KFM in all the Batman movies and Tom Cruise used KFM techniques in Mission Impossible 3 and Jack Reacher), I grew up understanding that you have to push your body beyond your mental limits if you really want to be the best, physically.

This often means teaching your physical capabilities to surpass your mental & emotional limitations.  We’ve all been there and my senior year of high school I won the Fighting Heart Award for demonstrating leadership in my approach to hard work and commitment to my football endeavors.  At one time in my life, I would have done ANYTHING to my body in the name of physical improvement.  I am not alone.  This is the mentality of ALL high level athletes or people wishing to train like one.

When I was training pro athletes in Valley Ranch (next door neighbors to the Dallas Cowboys) at an exclusive athletic club and physical therapy clinic, I taught a tuesday night group exercise class that was designed for my athletes but allowed any of our club members to join.  Everyone knew that the class description said, “advanced intermediate to advanced class.” People loved the intensity paired with the excitement of training alongside NFL, NHL, Olympic and collegiate athletes they had seen on tv.

CrossFit has done an excellent job of informally organizing high intensity training and making a business model out of it.  Gym Jones in Utah became famous after training the men in the movie, 300.  Every guy wanted to know how to train the way they did. Enter HIITHigh Intensity Interval Training.  CrossFit has also done a phenomenal job at making people feel like they belong to a special club, not just physically but emotionally.  This is where most large clubs FAIL miserably.  I remember a national director of fitness of a particular gym chain tell me that over 80% of new members quit within 6 months if they do not have a personal trainer.  As magical as it would seem to have a trainer, the reality is that the new members need direction AND a sense of belonging and accountability in order to continue to pay for a membership they deem as valuable.

A popular local gym here in town called Psycho gym advertises routines that burn at least 20 calories per minute as well as guaranteeing 1-2 lbs of fat loss per week.  I can appreciate the desire to make every workout a tremendously difficult routine. However, I can also appreciate that only certain individuals can tolerate accelerated advanced fitness in a short period of time without experiencing injury…and they’re usually an ex-athlete of some sort.  Kudos to gyms and trainers who’ve realized the key to physical transformation is hard work…but there is a proverbial line that oftentimes requires experience, in-depth knowledge and maturity as a health professional to correctly manage.

And THIS is where we see a glaring problem that I just can’t seem to overlook.  No matter how much we try to keep a competitive spirit and push our body to the limit…WE STILL CANNOT IGNORE THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFETY.

There!  I said it.

I can agree with much of what the above CrossFit video states.  However, the “physiological adaptations” this video speaks of seem to ignore the fact that CrossFit doesn’t systematically build true progression into their programs.  It’s up to individual gym owners to enforce good progression techniques and from what I’ve witnessed at numerous HIIT (high intensity interval training) gyms, that is NOT happening.  I love that they show an older woman in the video in addition to a few not-so-lean individuals.  This implies to the viewer that customized and ability-appropriate programs are the norm…just like any gym with personal training would offer.  In most settings, the workout is the slave to the person using it.  In these other HIIT scenarios, the person using it is a slave to the workout.  Complete the workout in the fastest time possible.  Speed and stabilization are on opposite ends of the training spectrum because of the level of force involved but that’s another conversation.

It would be great if there was a mandatory provision that stated that all new CrossFit’ers have to do “entry-level” routines for the first 4 weeks.  Then from weeks 5-10 they are allowed to graduate to a more difficult paradigm of training focus that considers all 3 planes of movement (instead of being so sagittal-biased).  This gives the joints time to adjust to what the muscles are already primed for.  After this “priming” period, the body is more readily able to handle the (random) joint forces thrown at the exercises.

After 22 years of working with athletes and olympic lifting, I have no problem with teaching people advanced exercises.  I do have a problem exposing people to exercises that produce high forces on the joints.  When I was gobbling up old journals of the NSCA back in 1991, I remember seeing their position statement on plyometric force and depth jumps.  As a general guideline, athletes should not be allowed to perform plyometrics unless they can squat 1.5 – 2.5 times their body weight.  Also as a rule, athletes weighing more than 220 pounds should not depth jump from a platform higher than 18 inches.  Unfortunately, unless a CrossFit gym owner has extensive experience like Mike Burgener, many of these guidelines are largely ignored or just unknown.  Many are just former athletes who have a passion for exercise and want to make a living by combining work and their passion.  I commend this and recommend everyone bring their passions into their vocation!  Let’s just raise the standard of excellence in the process.

Let me swing away from one of my certification bodies and towards another one, The National Academy of Sports Medicine.  Here is a visual representation of their approach to teaching trainers to design proper exercise programs:

OPT Model

NASM created their OPT Model to accomodate the plethora of exercise modalities and goals that people are attempting to accomplish.  Much of the curriculum of NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine and one of the most highly respected personal training certifications in the U.S.) was created by physical therapists and other health professionals who were tired of uneducated and under-qualified fitness professionals injuring people through exercise training.  They have made an incredible impact on the quality of personal trainers coming out these days.  Likewise, many of the large fitness chains prefer the NASM certification because of it’s inclusion of special populations and the obese or injured individual.

opt model (1)

I have much admiration for the template they designed because it seeks to avoid what CrossFit doesn’t…putting people in positions for injury or Rhabdomyolysis (through excessive exercise intensity on ill-prepared exercisers) before they’re physically ready.

Health professionals are trained to assess a person’s physical readinessbefore they begin an actual program.  This allows the trainer not only the opportunity to locate a person’s structural limitations but also to customize (hint: PERSONAL trainers make personalized programs) something specifically for the benefit of the client’s needs and goals.

We spend 6 months at NPTI (National Personal Training Institute) teaching trainers about the body as well as how to implement workouts that take people to FAILURE…but they have to do so SAFELY.  That’s one of my oft-repeated phrases in class and whenever a student’s program oversteps the bounds of safety, I’m right there to discuss it.

This brings up one of the saddest parts of the fitness industry:  CERTIFICATION

Our industry began as a certification-centered industry rather than being license or board-centered.  I challenge anyone to go to a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, chiropractor, or even dietician who practices without a license.  Let me know how that works out for you.  There is a reason why individuals entrusted with the health and well-being of another person’s body must be thoroughly trained and heavily scrutinized en route to becoming a health professional.  Usually this process takes anywhere from 6 months to 4 years.

You see, certification usually happens after someone has begun the education process in some field or vocation.  For many trainers, this “school” was simply going to the gym and learning how to exercise…never knowing whether the form they used was correct or incorrect.  Most people figure that spending numerous weeks in a gym lifting weights and doing cardio exercise is adequate preparation to teach others to do the same…for a fee, of course.  This is where GYM SCIENCE (you know, the science of whatever happens in the gym must be the right way to do things) rears its ugly head and where many under-qualified trainers injure their clients.

Ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath?  The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by physicians and OTHER healthcare professionals (like personal trainers and group exercise leaders) swearing to practice medicinal pursuits ethically and honestly.  There isn’t really an emphasis in most certifications to hold new trainers to this standard because the certification is only a test not a training process. There are a few weekend or 5-day trainings but there is way too much to cover for this type of training to teach new trainers to avoid injuries.

Most everyone in the fitness industry has heard of the SAID principles, aka Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.  For example, if I have people jump up and down on boxes, I am utilizing the entire body to perform the exercise.  Metabolically I am burning more calories and teaching the upper limbs to coincide mechanically with the lower lower limbs through the core.  Unfortunately, it’s not just going to burn calories.  It’s also going to put a tremendous strain on the skeletal and ligamentous structures of the body.  Tendons and ligaments lack the vascularity of muscles and bones and therefore adapt at a much slower rate.  This is why Crossfit and other similar HIIT gyms all run into the same problem.  Bad form with loading puts the joints at risk and creates more problems than just someone being out of shape or overweight.

PDS [Pink Dumbbell Syndrome occurs when trainers unknowingly understress a client and never achieve real physical transformation.

PDS [Pink Dumbbell Syndrome occurs when trainers unknowingly understress a client and never achieve real physical transformation.

So, do your homework before you start a new fitness routine.  Get a physical and even consider finding a gym that utilizes extensive physical evaluations before beginning a workout routine.  I will write a future article about software that allows us to do this with the greatest of ease here in the next few months.  It will truly upgrade and transform the fitness industry once it’s finalized but I’ll save that for later.

TRAINERS…commit to educating yourself on anatomy and physiology if you are not already doing so.  Go to continuing education seminars on biomechanics and begin by researching anything by Dr. Stuart McGill.  The impact of all exercise on the spine is crucial and is going to become a major influence on our training methods over the next decade.

Have a great day and remember, Leadership starts in the mirror!


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About the Author

Chad has been ascertaining, evaluating, refining and creating leadership solutions for over 21 years. Trained as a professional strength and conditioning coach specializing in NFL and collegiate football players, Chad has also been a psychology nut which has aided his ability to create personalized solutions as a leadership specialist. Chad is also a passionate Christian speaker who challenges leaders and groups to perform at high levels of achievement.

Everybody is always wondering how they can squeeze the most productivity, enjoyment and life out of every given day.  Well, at least if you don’t, you should.  Yet, most people don’t take the necessary steps in order to do so.  You can’t just WANT to have a great day and just expect it to happen.  You have to participate!  Here are some helpful steps to get you on your way to a better today and therefore, a better tomorrow:

1.  Eat Breakfast.  Listen, for all intents and purposes, your body is a machine.  And just like any other machine, it runs on fuel.  If you are not a person who eats breakfast, what are you doing?  You are forcing your body (machine) to run on an empty tank and fumes until you decide to put something in it.  Also, on that note, coffee and a donut are NOT breakfast.  You need something substantial.  It is shown repeatedly that people who eat breakfast are more productive in their days.  Getting food into the system helps to kick start the neural function in the brain.  Makes you think better and reason more efficiently.  Not only that, but it also gets your metabolism going for the day.  Therefore, you burn more calories and lose more weight.  Studies confirm that breakfast eaters have an easier time losing weight.  So get some FOOD.  Eggs, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, fruit, milk, etc.   Get that body going.

2.  Exercise your body.  Of course you have to exercise your body.  That’s just silly.  If there were no benefits to exercise, then the purpose of this blog would be relatively moot, now wouldn’t it?  I won’ t belabor this point too much.  We’ve talked and talked about the benefits of exercise.  But just as a side note, exercise has also been proven to improve brain function, as well.  Physical activity excites the neural centers in the brain, and in a ground-breaking study (done right in Naperville), showed that physical activity improved students’ test scores.  Those results transfer to a work environment, as well.

3.  Exercise your mind.  In addition to working out your body, you have to work out your brain.  Treat it just like any other muscle in your body.  If  you work with it, it will stay strong and healthy.  If you don’t it will atrophy and deteriorate.  People who keep their brains active run less risk of mental decline, dementia and alzheimer’s.  I like to read.  Try to do so every day.  I’m one of the few who still gets the newspaper delivered every day.  I also like the crosswords (almost finished the whole thing yesterday without the help of the internet…..mother).  Never got into the Sudoku much, but that works, too.  Anything that makes your brain work, works!

4. Sleep.  In order to function properly, you know that your body requires recovery.  The brain needs its rest, as well.  Gotta get ample sleep every night (at least 6-8 hours depending on what you read) in order for you to function at an optimal level.  Get your rest and recharge your batteries.  Wake up, eat a good breakfast and start all over again.

Have a great day tomorrow and keep pressing to be a better you!

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