Archive for authentic movement

Fast Racing and Personal Fulfillment: Are You Ready to Learn What It Takes?

Coach Al Lyman, Pursuit Athletic Performance, Discusses Brick Run in Triathlon Training

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

Musings from Coach Al

Hello Everyone!

It is my opinion that the work we do at Pursuit Athletic Performance (PAP) likely requires a paradigm shift for our athletes. Before we begin to talk about training plans with clients, we reeducate our athletes on the importance and ultimate power behind “authentic movement.” Restoring authentic movement through balanced mobility, stability, and strength is the basis of what we do. From where I sit, each and every athlete, no matter what the ability, should–no, must–approach their training from this fundamentally powerful place.

I cannot drive home forcefully enough how authentic movement and balance in the body results in better quality training, phenomenal recovery, better overall health, and faster racing! Balance, as we talk about it at PAP, is not standing on one leg or exercising on a BOSU ball. Rather, it is an holistic balance of muscle length, mobility, stability, and strength. Our sports, coupled with our lifestyles–sitting, driving, computers work, etc.–create imbalances in the body. These imbalances lead to compensation and dysfunction, and, ultimately, to injury. Make no mistake, dysfunctional movement patterns diminish performance, extend the time needed to recover from training and racing, and absolutely shorten an athlete’s lifespan in sport. As we age, it certainly negatively impacts quality of life as a whole.

This philosophy is also the foundation of the way I coach. Discovering dysfunctional movement, and working to rid the body of compensations and restore balance is what I first do with any and every athlete I coach, whether it be Lisbeth Kenyon, 3x consecutive Ironman age group world championship, or Debbie Livingston, women’s champion at the Grindstone 100 ultra run, to a pure novice. My coaching philosophy is based upon restoring authentic movement and building a base of balanced strength from the ground up so that athletes can train and race to their true potential.

You simply cannot train and race to your ultimate best with a body that is unbalanced and broken.

Cultivating speed and outstanding personal performance is what we expect all our athletes to be able to achieve–and they do. By rebuilding the athlete’s body from the inside out– so that it is injury resistant and able to withstand more training load, and teaching them how to properly recover and maintain optimal health–we create the perfect confluence where fulfillment in sport and personal happiness is greatly enhanced. When this holistic balance is attained–and I see the power of it in my athletes every day–it is the most fulfilling and rewarding aspect of my coaching.

I hope this explains where I focus my efforts as a coach, and how dedicated I remain to outstanding results for my athletes–on the race course and in their daily lives. It may take a bit of relearning on the part of some athletes–the paradigm shift we talked about earlier–but it is a place of true power in our lives and outstanding performance on the race course.

Gluteal Amnesia? Here’s Your Rx

Functional strength training activates the gluteal muscles

Gluteus maximus (Anv?ndare:Chrizz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Gluteal amnesia” is a great phrase coined by Stuart McGill, PhD, one of the world’s foremost experts on spine biomechanics. And you know what? Based on the athletes we see coming into our Gait Analysis Lab every day, you probably have it. And it’s not a good thing.

So much of athletic performance depends on the optimal functioning of your butt and all the gluteal muscles–maximus, medius and minimus–in concert with the functional integrity of your hips and pelvis. This is the powerhouse that generates propulsive athletic movement, and when functioning properly, is majorly important in helping to prevent injuries.

“Gluteal amnesia” is particularly detrimental to athletes. Many of us in modern society have lost our ability to engage the butt muscles and hips during exercise due to lifestyles that include a great deal of sitting, driving, being hunched over a computer, etc. When the ability to move correctly and with functional integrity is lost, performance is adversely affected for sure, and the risk of injury rises exponentially.

Functional Integity of the Pelvis & Hips: Gluteal Activation Enhances Athleticism and Injury Prevention, published in Dynamic Chiropractic, is a great article that goes in-depth on the importance of the function of the glutes, hips, and pelvis. It’s worth your time to read it for a deeper understanding of how important the issue is to your athletic performance.

We want to make clear, however, that overcoming “gluteal amnesia” is about more than simply strengthening the glutes. We encourage you to revisit our posts on functional strength training and authentic movement to learn more about the importance of establishing and owning a neutral pelvis, achieving muscular balance, and becoming stable. Getting functionally strong, activating your glutes, and strengthening your hips is far more than just throwing a bunch of exercises at your body, especially if you do them with bad form, or if they’re an incorrect exercise for you. We hope to help you put the pieces together to learn how exceptional athleticism is derived, then have you take action. Conquering overall “functional amnesia” is how to unlock your potential, and become the best athlete you can be.

Learn Something New About How You’re Moving!

Coach Al Lyman

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. ~Chinese Proverb

Matt Kredich, the women’s swim coach at University of Tennessee, gave an excellent talk at the American Swim Coaches Association convention I attended. There are many things I could expound upon from Matt’s talk, but one thing he said about setting goals for dryland training rang especially true for me:

If we move the body through the RIGHT sequence of movement, the body learns something. ~Matt Kredich

That simple statement is a summary of what my partner Dr. Kurt Strecker and I emphasize daily with our Pursuit Athletic Performance athletes and clients in our Gait Analysis Lab. It is what I preach to the athletes I coach in regards to proper, authentic movement in strength training, and in all sport skills. This is how I see it:

  • Moving authentically = quality learning = improving skills = more efficiency, economy and better production of force = more power = more speed!
  • Moving poorly or not correctly = poor learning = less skill development = less power AND increased risk of injury = stagnant or lack of improvement, or worse, injury and burnout, mentally and physically.

I fully believe that my enthusiasm for what I do as a coach and athlete is grounded in the idea of continual LEARNING and growth, NOT in simply training hard and racing.

So I encourage you–this week, go out and LEARN something new about how you’re moving! The year is new, and it’s great time to do so. Since this post was inspired by a swim coach, let’s stick with the sport of swimming. Here are a couple of suggestions that can help you learn about how you’re moving in the water:

1. Find a coach in your area who is versed in training on the Vasa swim ergometer. (The Vasa is such a great training tool, and we’ll talk more about that in future posts.) Being on the Vasa with someone who can give you appropriate feedback is a great way to LEARN about how you move when you swim. We have no reason when on the Vasa to NOT move correctly. Swimming or any other movement starts with executing some basic proper skills. The Vasa is great for this skills-based learning.

2. Videotape yourself in the water. Video work is essential! How else will you know what you’re doing? And if you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you know what must change to improve? Start videotaping yourself, and do it routinely. Start now.

We spend so many hours training, yet so few of those hours are spent really trying to understand what we should do, vs. what we are actually doing. In my mind, that adds up to a fairly large amount of wasted time and energy.

Think it’s time for me to schedule another swim clinic….