Accessibility Tools

Athleticism Requires More Than Just Strength & Speed

 
There's no single blueprint coaches follow when building an athlete. There are no shortcuts. Those cool looking, cookie-cutter programs found online, they often result in failure. In the training world, athletes aren’t built by copying the same program and applying it across the board. At GP, we are in the business of individualized architecture – intelligently designing personalized programs for each athlete. Whether in the weight room or on the field, it should be individual-specific.

We dial in to specificity instead of just saying let’s just go train hard and get bigger, stronger, or faster in the generic sense. Coaches and athletes can be obsessed with bigger, stronger, faster. Yes these are important elements of training but not at the expense of movement skill.

Sometimes athletes need more specific work when it comes to the quality of their movement in regards to stabilization, sequencing, rhythm, relaxation, timing, etc. Developing movement skill is often ignored or disregarded. The problem is there can be a huge disconnect between what an athlete thinks they are doing during a specific movement and what they are actually doing. We must improve their perception and awareness of movement. When combined with proper strength and conditioning, Improving an athlete's body awareness and movement skill will yield far greater results than just focusing solely on strength and speed numbers.

Movement skill acquisition should increase with as strength and speed development increases. This will only enable the athlete to move more efficiently and with less risk of injury.

There are different methodologies, philosophies, systems and styles used in the strength and conditioning industry. Reality is there is no gold standard by which everyone should follow. It’s about finding the right fit for both athlete and coach. Every athlete is slightly different and there won’t be one method that will work for every athlete. That's exactly why individualized decisions should be made for the athlete.

 
For more related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/thinking-of-taking-your-child-to-a-trainer-read-this-first/

 
https://gallagherperformance.com/understanding-the-benefits-and-concerns-of-youth-strength-training-programs/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-essentials-of-speed-training/

https://gallagherperformance.com/how-do-you-build-an-athlete/

https://gallagherperformance.com/guidelines-for-selecting-a-strength-coach-or-personal-trainer/

 
 

Training to Maximize Athletic Potential

When it comes to athletes, critical developmental stages begin at an early age. As children mature, they progress through these important developmental stages during their growth and maturation process. If long-term athletic development is of any importance to the coach, parent, or athlete, specific aspects of athletic development must be addressed at appropriate time periods, otherwise the chances of the athlete reaching elite status is reduced.

The model used at Gallagher Performance began with a review of research and methods utilized in child and athletic development around the world. Through the review of current and past training methods used with elite athletes, it was concluded that to truly address athlete development, a new way of looking at how to properly structure “Strength and Conditioning” programs must be considered.
The reason is because early specialization in sport is becoming increasingly more common amongst children in the United States, and it’s not working. The rationale behind such a decision typically being if a child plays one sport, year round, they will be more advanced than their peers, more likely to be the ‘star’, get recruited, and/or possibly go on to make millions.

Recent research from UCLA reveals that early specialization in sport has very poor connection with young athletes achieving elite status. A survey of almost 300 NCAA Division I athletes found that 88% played two or three sports as children and 70% did not specialize in one sport until after the age of 12. These findings were already understood in former East Germany and USSR within their youth development programs.

Studies in former East Germany and USSR found that children who went through an early specialization program did have more immediate improvement in their performances. But these children also had their best performances between the ages of 15-16, had greater inconsistencies, many quit or ‘burnt out’ by the age 18, and they had greater rate of injuries because of forced adaptation compared to children who played multiple sports and specialized later in life.

Long-term athletic development is a process that occurs over many years. This is not an “8 week program”. Rather, it starts at an early age and continues on into adulthood. Long-term athletic development is about progressive development and must be approached accordingly. It is not simply a linear process, but is one that must be highly individualized to assist the athlete in reaching their full potential.

The greatest challenge to coaches, parents, and athletes is the understanding of how difficult this process is. Young athletes are continually dealing with massive changes in physical attributes, brain function, and sport skill acquisition. These all must be managed simultaneously while stressing the concepts of hard work in a positive environment.

For more reading on how we approach sports performance training for athletes, click on the links below:

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-value-of-in-season-training-for-athletes/

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-specificity-in-your-training-plan-matters/

https://gallagherperformance.com/early-specialization-in-sports/

https://gallagherperformance.com/guidelines-for-selecting-a-strength-coach-or-personal-trainer/

https://gallagherperformance.com/commonmistakesindevelopingyoungathletes/

https://gallagherperformance.com/3-benefits-of-integrated-training-and-therapy/

Summer Grind, Summer Blast

Lately it’s hard to find time to keep up with our blog. Life and business have a way of keeping you busy. Ignoring our social platforms may happen for a period of time, but we always revisit them. If there is one thing I’ve always hoped is that our blog would be informative, educational, and entertaining (at times).

The summer months bring on increased work load. Once May rolls around, we take it up a notch or two at Gallagher Performance. Summer is a grind, but it’s also a blast. We love the grind, love the process. With the volume of high school and collegiate athletes training for strength and performance, along with the patients we see ranging from acute care to rehabilitation to return to play, summer provides tremendous learning opportunities.

Reflecting back on the past several weeks, there are some friendly reminders and lessons learned or re-learn that I wanted to share:

  • Power-speed athletes thrive on power-speed drills and exercises. Just because one can squat or deadlift 500+ doesn’t mean they are explosive and fast. Yes athletes need strength and for many they will need a primary focus on strength training. However, those newly acquired strength levels must also be displayed in more power-speed dominant means such as sprints, jumps, throws as they have greater specificity to athletics than anything barbell related.
  • Athletes need to rapidly absorb force and rapidly generate force and do it on a level of unconscious activation. That brings me to another point of muscle activation. Muscle activation is a craze nowadays and rightly so. The overwhelming majority of the population will benefit tremendously from learning how to activate and integrate muscles such as their tibialis anterior, glutes, and scapular stabilizers to name a few. A lost art in muscle activation seems to be the use of isometrics. There is always an isometric contraction during the amortization phase of movement. Even during the most explosive movements, there is an isometric contraction. Isometrics are also awesome for reprogramming and generating a powerful mind-muscle connection, making isometrics a great tool for performance as well as rehabilitation. We have been utilizing a select few isometric drills for uprighting, motor control, and priming for improved force/strength generation. In a relatively short period of time, they have more than demonstrated significant value.
  • There is a right way to go about training and a wrong way. The right way will always be dependent on the needs of individual and their specific goals. Don't get caught up in hype, trends, and empty promises. Trust the tradition. There is magic in the basics of the barbell, free weights, sprints, jumps, and bodyweight drills. They have stood the test of time. Fads and trends come and go, the basics remain. Using these exercises is one thing, understanding how to structure them in a training plan is another animal in itself. Find a trainer/coach that understands training specificity or else you are simply wasting your time and money.
  • We are problem solvers. Either as a clinician or trainer/coach, the heart of what we do is problem solving. Maybe it’s a matter of ability or effort, but clinicians or trainers either have the ability or they don’t. The ability to problem solve comes from knowledge and experience and even instinct. When it comes to effort, frankly some are just lazy and don’t care to think hard as it complicates their job. Whether it is listening to what a patient/athlete is telling you or just simply watching, you’ve got to process the source of the problem and how you’re going to solve it. When it comes to performance or rehabilitation, everything makes sense. If it is happening there is good reason for it. If we don’t understand it, it doesn’t make sense to us, but it always makes sense. Never dismiss a client or patient as not making sense. Make the effort to make a change. Change your perspective. Learn more.
  • We all need a coach. No one gets through life all on their own. We all have needed mentors and coaches at some point in our life. These may have been parents, family members, close friends, teacher, professors, bosses, etc. If we pursue something of significance, chances are someone helped us along the way. We need the help of others than have more knowledge, more experience, more accomplishments. I have had a number of mentors and coaches. For everything they did for me, I hope I can pass that on to those that I work with in the role as a coach.
  • Take time to get to know your clients and athletes. Show you care about them. We do more than just simply get kids bigger, stronger, or faster. We have an opportunity everyday to connect with our clients and athletes and hopefully make a positive impact. The reward goes far beyond cash flow. It’s about making a difference for the better.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and enjoy the grind!

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/do-you-really-need-more-mobility/

https://gallagherperformance.com/faqs-frequency-avoided-questions-of-strength-conditioning/

A POWERFUL, INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO IMPROVING HOW THE BODY FUNCTIONS

The Gallagher Performance approach will improve the way your body moves and functions.
Simple yet effective changes to improperly functioning muscles and joints will allow the body to make immediate shifts toward working as a functional unit. Thus reducing pain and enabling higher levels of strength, speed, and power with greater resilience.

The results are incredible. Time and time again, our patients and athletes quickly change from a state of pain and tension, to a state of relaxation primed for performance. This all comes back to assessment and knowledge. When we do the right thing, the body responds immediately.

The methods used at Gallagher Performance are utilized internationally by elite athletes, sports teams, and health practitioners. Not only are we able to efficiently and effectively treat injuries and enhance sports performance, our methods are also powerful tools for stress management, quickly breaking common patterns of movement dysfunction related to chronic pain. The methods have international recognition and no provider, therapist, or trainer in the Pittsburgh area has the training and background in these methods that Gallagher Performance offers, making us truly unique.
HOW DOES THE GP SYSTEM WORK?
Our body is designed to breathe and move. In order to breathe and move, our body finds ways to accomplish these tasks, and it’s willing to do so in efficient or inefficient ways. Our breathing and movement can develop compensation patterns or “key dysfunctions” that become the target of successful musculoskeletal treatment.

These compensation patterns cannot be ignored, as they put us at risk of poor sport performance, tension, or pain. Our body’s ability to overcome the stress of life can result in reduced movement quality and energy levels. Measurable reductions in stability, strength, power, mobility, and stamina are often the result. Our body becomes less resilient, increasing the chance for fatigue and breakdown.

If you experience a traumatic event or injury, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Post injury, you’ll notice the slow and gradual decline in energy, function, and performance. Compensations begin to manifest in order for us to avoid pain and accomplish daily tasks. The result may range from noticeable decline in energy, to impaired function of muscles and joints, to chronic pain which long outlasts the initial injury.
It is almost inevitable nowadays for the majority of us to experience the effects that stress, injury, and/or compensation has on the human body. And it can be simple to reverse those effects when you focus on what your body needs to regain ideal function.
The system at Gallagher Performance starts by testing how your body is currently functioning, so that changes can be clearly measured. This is accomplished through evaluating joint restriction, muscle activation and strength, and functional patterns of movement.

Once compensations are identified, we target “zones” to help activate the body to perform better. These “zones” can be a specific muscle, group of muscles, joints, or a combination.

Once we activate, we have to integrate. In order to do this, we run through the body’s movement patterns, testing and activating along the way to enable muscles and joints to regain their ideal function. Then through cueing and exercise, the brain can integrate improved patterns of movement, allowing you to move effectively and efficiently.

A body that moves better has less stress and less pain, allowing you to work at greater capacity and with greater energy.
That doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be indestructible for the rest of your days. That would be too good to be true. After all, it you enjoy being active and testing your body’s limits, you are going to feel it. Our movement patterns need reminding and that’s why we use targeted home exercises to help the body reinforce ideal function and keep compensations from returning.

The methods and techniques used at Gallagher Performance are proven to be effective in getting people out of pain and elevating performance. We truly offer unique, powerful tools for control over your own health and performance.
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/chiropractic-rehab-dns-treatment/

https://gallagherperformance.com/tendinitis-changing-treatment-and-improving-recovery/

https://gallagherperformance.com/improved-approach-chronic-pain-management/

Prevent Re-Injury with Integrated Training and Rehabilitation

The majority of us will not get through life without sustaining some degree of injury. The joints of the back, shoulder, hips, knees and ankles are all very common injury sites for not just athletes, but the general fitness population as well.

Most injuries that develop over time tend to have one thing in common, a breakdown in the human movement system. Meaning it could be that you are performing specific movements with sub-optimal technique or perhaps muscle imbalances are responsible for your symptom presentation. Regardless of the reason for injury, the goal is the same; to make movement more efficient to ensure that once training or competition resumes, the chance of re-injury is minimal.

Efficiency of movement is rarely a goal achieved in therapy. Incomplete rehabilitation in athletes and the general fitness population has lead to a re-injury epidemic. The problem is rooted in either the push to return athletes to the field as quickly as possible or rushing patients through the rehabilitative process.

With the ever changing landscaped of health insurance, the overwhelming majority of athletes and patients deal with increasing out-of-pocket expenses and limited number of therapy visits. Ultimately, many patients never complete their rehabilitation process.

This may be for a number of reasons, but in most cases athletes or patients are discharged once specific objective and ADL (activities of daily living) measures are satisfied. Sure you may have minimal to no pain, full range of motion and seemingly adequate strength resorted, and basic activities are easy to perform, but this does not ensure you are ready to resume training and competition.

And this is exactly where most get stuck.

They are lead to believe they are ready to resume sport training or their exercise program, but soon after resuming they realize they aren't as ready as they thought they were.

The transitional period between rehabilitation and performance-based training is the most critical period to ensure complete rehabilitation and that the transition back into training and competition carries minimal risk of re-injury.
Sadly, due to points made previously about the state of healthcare, many personal trainers and strength coaches are finishing off the rehab process.

Why do I say sadly?

Frankly, the majority of personal trainers aren’t educated enough to be overseeing such a delicate process, yet many position themselves as psedo-therapists. I’ve lost count of how many personal trainers I’ve seen giving “massage” or performing “joint mobilization” during their training sessions. They have no training or qualifications to perform such work and ultimately the person at most risk is the individual they are working on. Word to the wise: if your personal trainer is performing such work on you and has no license to perform such work, run the other way and seek out a qualified professional.
Within the fitness industry, there has been a large growth in facilities that blend rehabilitation with prevention strategies within strength and performance based training programs. Done well and overseen by qualified professionals, this is a great way to manage what is seen both in a rehab and training setting. This process should not be handled improperly. Implementing “corrective” or therapeutic exercises strategies into a performance-based training program should be lead by qualified professional(s). There used to be a gap between the professionals in the therapy and strength & performance world. Progressively though, that gap is slowly closing as more therapists crossover into the world of strength & conditioning.

Returning from injury isn’t and shouldn’t be a quick process. It’s far better to train smarter through the process. Improving on the function of the body while adding qualities such as endurance, strength, reactivity, power, etc. will help ensure successful outcomes. It’s less about isolation and more about training systematically to re-groove movement patterns. For anyone who has suffered an injury, they all want to get back to their previous level of function while also building the confidence they will not re-injure themselves. It can and will be a detailed process that involves rest, manual therapy directed at specific joints and soft tissues, as well proper exercise progressions. And yes, this means regressing, substituting, and even just slowing down exercises until they are owned.

Once movement and exercises are owned, it opens the door to further progressions in a performance-based setting to help ensure a more complete rehabilitation resulting in reduced risk of re-injury. This has become a huge part of what we do at Gallagher Performance as we successfully help our athletes and patients resume an active, pain-free lifestyle.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/technique_and_performance/

Before You Go To A Chiropractor, Read This First

Imagine a world where patients get the advise, education, and treatment they need. Imagine doctors who:

  • Make sense of what a patients says
  • Know exactly what a patient needs
  • Confidently provide gold standard advice and treatment interventions
This world is obtainable, but it must first begin with better quality, order and structure to our thinking patterns. One of the fundamental challenges with healthcare is that the human body is amazingly complex and adaptive. In response to the complex nature of dealing with the human body, doctors and therapists may have the tendency to routinely provide services that serve their own skill set better than appropriately addressing the patient's needs. Often times this leaves both the patient frustrated with lack of response to care.

Improving the Quality of Physical Medicine Care
The last 15 years have been great for musculoskeletal healthcare. There are several new treatment procedures and we have developed a deeper understanding of how the body works and how it breaks down. This has had tremendous impact on the world of physical medicine care, and chiropractic profession is no exception. The advancement of musculoskeletal care education has fueled a growing speciality within the chiropractic profession, sports injury & rehabilitation.

While physical therapy is often the first choice for medical doctor referrals in rehabbing an exercise or sports-related injury, there is a growing trend among athletes and individuals who enjoy an active lifestyle to turn to sports injury & rehabilitation chiropractors.

You may be thinking, “I thought chiropractors were only good for treating low back and neck pain and headaches.”
Just like the medical profession, there are many areas of specialty in chiropractic. Those who specialize as a sports injury & rehabilitation chiropractor have undergone the traditional education on joint manipulation or adjustments. However, in addition to their core curriculum, sports injury & rehabilitation complete hundreds of hours in continuing education learning about exercise and sport-related injuries, manual therapy, and functional rehabilitation methods.

What's so special about a sports injury & rehabilitation chiropractor?
Chiropractors who utilize a sports injury & rehabilitation approach incorporate joint mobilization/manipulation, soft-tissue treatments, various manual therapies, and functional rehabilitation techniques to provide a gold standard of care in treatment for individuals with exercise and sport-related injuries.

If you choose to visit a sports injury & rehabilitation chiropractor, you can expect a comprehensive examination before treatment begins. These examinations generally include:
  • A detailed history, orthopedic and neurologic examination, and functional based examination to create a working diagnosis.
  • Functional based examination to focus on the spine, shoulders, hips and feet, as these joints and their respective functions serve as the "key joints" of the human body.
  • Joint and muscle palpation to assess the quality of your joint movement, trigger points, and muscular imbalances.
Once the examination is completed, we want to discuss your specific goals in order to create a customized treatment plan for your road to recovery. The more accurately we assess, the more accurately we can apply treatment. Four types of treatment used at Gallagher Performance for exercise and sports-related injuries are:
  1. CHIROPRACTIC MANIPULATIVE THERAPYGallagher Performance provides the latest techniques, including joint manipulation (adjusting), designed to treat musculoskeletal complaints. The purpose of joint manipulation is to release restricted joints of the body, primarily in the spine and extremities. Joint commonly become restricted as a response to poor posture, imbalanced muscle activity, and/or trauma. By releasing a restricted joint through manipulation, improvements in the quality of motion of the joint are gained that may not be possible with exercise or other interventions. Manipulation also serves to reduce pain and relax tight muscles.
  2. FUNCTIONAL REHABILITATIONIn addition to providing relief through manipulative therapy and treating muscular adhesions, it can prove to be incredibly valuable to identify the source of a patient’s symptoms. The functional approach to rehabilitation includes identifying joint dysfunction, muscular imbalances, trigger points, and faulty movement patterns. These are often the hidden causes of injury. Observing how a patient moves and functions allows us to identify improper movement patterns that become contributors to pain and poor sport performance. By placing an emphasis on strategies to improve movement and function, functional rehabilitation is effective in improving qualities of endurance, strength, stability, balance, agility, coordination, and body awareness.
  3. DYNAMIC NEUROMUSCULAR STABILIZATION (DNS)By applying principles and techniques rooted in the study of child development, DNS aims to improve activation and neural control of muscles and ideal movement patterns. DNS promotes the ideal postures, movements, and degree of body awareness that is essential not only to athleticism, but to also treating the underlying causes of several pain syndromes.
  4. MYOFASCIAL RELEASEGallagher Performance offers a number of soft tissue approaches to treat painful or tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments. We have extensive training in identifying and treating muscular adhesions that compromise quality of motion and contribute to pain symptoms or reduced sports performance. Many overuse or repetitive use conditions respond well to treatment of soft-tissue structures, including back pain, shoulder pain, shin splints, runner’s knee (IT band syndrome), and plantar fasciitis.
If you have any questions or have been struggling with pain related to your activities, exercise or sport, Gallagher Performance offers customized treatment plans to get you our of pain and performing better.

To schedule your appointment, call (724) 519.2833

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/options-dont-take-insurance/

https://gallagherperformance.com/powerful-innovative-approach-improving-body-functions/

https://gallagherperformance.com/resetting-bodys-function-post-injury/

Q&A with Quad City Strongman

Quad City Strongman is the premier strength training gym in the QC area. From their experience and knowledge to community involvement, QC Strongman is first class all the way. Learn more about QC Strongman in this interview.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3Tq1PTzWEI[/embed]

Understanding the Benefits and Concerns of Youth Strength Training Programs

Benefits of Strength Training for Youth
Numerous studies have been published on the benefits of strength training in regards to overall fitness and health markers, muscular strength, injury reduction, sports performance enhancement, and confidence. Scientifically proven adaptations from strength training include increased neural drive, increased synchronization of motor units, and hypertrophy of skeletal muscle. These adaptations not only create a bigger, leaner, and stronger individual, but one who is able to express improved control and execution of complex sport skills while performing them at greater force and velocity outputs. So as a young athlete, if you have a desire to run faster, jump higher, or throw harder, you must first become stronger. Strength is the foundation on which all other physical abilities are built.

Experts also agree that there are many health benefits associated with strength training with research suggesting that strength training in youth can result in increased bone density, healthier body composition, and improved blood lipid profiles. Other benefits from participating in a strength training program also include reduced chance of injury during sport participation and increased self-esteem and confidence.

Now while to what degree strength and improvement in the weight room transfers into an athlete performing better on the field may be left in question, one thing that will always transfer to a competitive environment is confidence. I'm not talking having a massive ego or being cocky. Confident and cocky are completely different. Confidence is extremely important and strength has a unique way of improving confidence in children.

Concerns of Strength Training for Youth
Roundtable discussions including strength coaches, medical professionals, and researchers have focused on questions of concern pertaining to the strength and conditioning programs for young children. These concerns include injury rates, efficacy, and safety.

Among these experts, they have agreed on one common theme:

When a program is well supervised, form and technique are properly instructed, and the program is administered by someone who holds an appropriate certification, there should not be a concern for the child’s safety.

When it comes to weightlifting injuries, a large number of the reported injuries took place in a home gym or involved children who were unsupervised while they were lifting. In regards to minimizing risks in the weight room, many of the experts agreed that there should be an appropriate coach-to-athlete ratio (smaller ratios are ideal), proper education on strength training technique, and proper progressions for their training age.

Appropriate Age to Begin Strength Training
It is generally accepted that there is no specific age at which it is best to start a strength training program. However, it is recommended that children must be mature enough to accept and follow directions while also possessing an understanding of the risks and benefits associated with strength training. It is commonly accepted that if a child is participating in an organized sport, then this is an appropriate time period for them to begin a strength training program. Typically, for the majority of children this would approximately between the ages of 6-8.

Final Words
There are numerous benefits for youth to begin a strength and conditioning program. The program should be led by a qualified strength and conditioning professional and tailored to meet the needs in regards to age appropriate training, gender, and primary sport(s) of participation. Children should be willing and ready to follow instruction to ensure safety, quality training, and to meet their performance goals.

For more information on the topic of youth strength training and athletic development, please click on the links below:

Guidelines for Selecting a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer
Gallagher Performance - Staff Bios
Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes
Success or Failure: What Are You Setting Your Young Athlete Up For?
References
Faigenbaum, A, Kraemer, W, Cameron, J, Blimkie, R, Jeffreys, I, Micheli, L, et al. Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(suppl 5): S60-S79, 2009.
Haff, G. Roundtable discussion: Youth resistance training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 25(1): 49-64, 2003.

Sports, Training, and Life After

When it comes to writing and keeping up a blog, demands of life and business can make it challenging to find time to sit down and put some good thought into something you hope your readers will either find a degree of value or connection with in reading. Sometimes the best inspiration for writing comes through simple conversation. In this case, I was having a conversation with a parent that generated some thought that got me to thinking I should sit and put my thoughts down.

Knowing some of the physical ailments I deal with on a regular basis from sports, this particular parent of one of our athletes asked me, “Would you do it all again?”

Essentially their implied question being, “Was it worth it?”

Easy answer. I said, “Yes.”

The sports of ice hockey, powerlifting, and Strongman have provided me numerous friendships, lessons, memories, and helped shaped how I approach life. I would never change that.

Keep in mind, while some injuries I sustained playing hockey were severe, what I deal with to this day is relatively minor compared to other athletes.

In fact, while I did sustain injuries during sport participation, I received just as many injuries and set backs in the weight room or in training. This is what I would have changed the most. I would want to go back to change my training habits and attitude when I was in high school and college.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, I was fully invested in training for hockey and had minimal resources. The Internet did not provided the amount of information it has today. I was using magazines or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding to find guidance on what to do when it came to working out and lifting weights. There was truly a lack of training info out there. Similar to most kids my age, reading over the monthly Muscle and Fitness was the closest thing we had to authority on all things bigger and stronger.

There were no seminars. No YouTube tutorials. No blogs or online forums. No ebooks. These didn't exist as a reference to help young, aspiring athletes guide their understanding of training.

Books on training were just as hard to find. As a kid, I absolutely hated to read books. But I had one exception. I loved reading autobiographies on athletes I looked up to. Athletes like Jerry Rice, Herschel Walker, Jaromir Jagr, and Mario Lemieux.

At times, these athletes would discuss what types of workouts they did growing up or still performed in the offseason. I recall reading that Jerry Rice, as a kid, would run after horses to get faster. During his career as the greatest receiver in NFL history, Jerry Rice was well known for always coming into the season in phenomenal condition from brutal offseason workouts. Herschel Walker did 1,000 push-ups per day and was an absolute force on the football field. Jaromir Jagr did 1,000-2,000 bodyweight squats per day as a kid growing up in the Czech Republic and he attributed that to the speed and strength on the puck which made him the arguably the greatest European-born player in NHL history.

At 14, I remember being obsessed with what highly successful athletes did as young kids and I put it all down on paper, writing up my own workouts based on what they did. Lots of bodyweight squats, push-ups, running hills and biking for miles.

So I got to work. I biked 11 miles around my hometown on some days. Others I would run a hilly 3-mile course. And everyday I did bodyweight squats and push-ups, working up to eventually doing 2,000-2,500 squats and 400 push-ups within 75-90 minutes. Plus, my brothers and I would just go outside and play for hours. Didn’t matter what it was. We just played for fun.

I got my first weight set and bench around that same time and took on more of a bodybuilding focus thanks to Arnold and Muscle and Fitness.

The mentality was pushing yourself as hard as you can. More was better. Soreness meant you were doing something right. Complete exhaustion or puking meant you had a good conditioning workout. This was my mentality through high school and into college. I figured if it worked for some of the best athletes on the planet, it surely had to work for me.

The problem became I wasn't getting much bigger or much stronger. Sure there were initial benefits during the early years. See when you are young; if you show up, train hard and keep adding weight to the bar, it works! It works so well that it’s what I figured I could keep doing. But what no one ever told me was it only works for so long. You eventually reach a point of diminishing returns.

At a certain point, I had to seek out the help of a sports-trainer and that was hard to find back in 2000. My brother and I were heading into 12th grade and had a big showcase tournament coming up that summer. My dad was able to track down a guy for my brother and I to train with in preparation for that tournament. Under his guidance and direction, I was able to see improvements in size, strength, and speed that I was unable to achieve on my own.

What did he do for me that I couldn’t figure out on my own?

He knew that I needed to get more explosive, more dynamic, better conditioned for my sport. What I didn't understand is that sometimes success from things you have done in the past is the worst indicator of what should be done next.

Lesson learned.

Then I think back on my college hockey career and the years I have spent competing as a strength athlete in both powerlifting and Strongman. The muscle imbalances and movement restrictions that started to creep in because of poorly structured training programs. There were plenty more lessons I learned about intelligent training structure and program design from a number of various injuries and setbacks.

Hockey, Powerlifting, and Strongman have all influenced me somehow from a training perspective. I wouldn't change anything about participating in these sports; I would change my preparation for them.

I feel bad for kids these days. I feel they have it worse then my generation. They have been duped into thinking they will be better athletes from participating in one sport. They are being sold speed ladders, specialty camps, and mass marketing fitness trends. I grew up with out any experts, now kids today are growing up with “experts” everywhere. They are being robbed of the option of playing multiple sports by coaches who demand their involvement in one sport throughout the calendar year. They are forced into specialization too early. And when it finally is time to specialize, they have no base of athleticism or strength because those attributes have been ignored due to lack of free play. You can’t build upon a poorly established base and that is why youth sport injuries are continually on the rise. I share the opinion that this is why the fastest growing surgery is pediatric.

So to answer the question of a concerned parent, don't be concerned about the game or the sport or whatever your kid chooses. You should be concerned about the lack of free play, the lack of movement and variability, the lack of smart training. Take interest in that. I believe this to be the important part.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/interview-with-mike-odonnell-dc-ccsp-cscs/

https://gallagherperformance.com/attitude-is-everything/

https://gallagherperformance.com/performance-training/athletic-development/

Warm-ups, Stretching & Mobility

What is the purpose of the warm-up? How important is the role stretching and mobility during the warm-up process? Plenty of clinicians and trainers preach mobility, mobility, mobility. Is mobility truly the answer? We answer those questions in this short video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-mlmqBmNyg

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization: Advancing Therapy & Performance

Here at Gallagher Performance we not only strive to provide the best in chiropractic, rehabilitation and manual medicine treatments for our patients, but we also utilize comprehensive diagnostic methods and tools to help determine which treatment is best for you. This allows us to apply to most ideal therapeutic interventions. At GP, this could include any combination of the following: chiropractic manipulative therapy, manual therapy according to Lewit and Janda, Vojta Therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, neuromobilizations, and dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS).

Despite many of our patients having previous experience with chiropractic or physical therapy, they are unfamiliar with DNS. Gallagher Performance specializes in DNS therapy. Dr. Gallagher has been studying and utilizing DNS since 2007. His extensive training and background allows him to provide a level of care that is unique to the Pittsburgh area.

Since DNS has implications in both physical rehabilitation and training, we spend a great deal of time educating our patients and clients on DNS and answering some frequency asked questions. With that in mind, the goal of this article is to help educate our readers about DNS and the significance this intervention has as it relates to pain or sports performance.

What is DNS therapy?
DNS is a revolutionary European approach in the treatment of back pain and several neuromuscular conditions. DNS therapy is based on the neuroplasticity of the Central Nervous System and targets the cause of pain/dysfunction rather than its manifestations. DNS therapy evokes ideal movement patterns by manual stimulation of developmental reflex zones and utilizes specific exercises to improve neuromuscular control. The therapeutic benefits become significantly expanded from previous standards of rehabilitation. Any one from infants to adolescents, chronic pain patients to athletes can all benefit from DNS therapy.

How does DNS compliment chiropractic adjustments?
DNS therapy favorably compliments traditional chiropractic adjustments in several ways. When patients may be apprehensive about receiving an aggressive or forceful chiropractic adjustment, DNS offers gentle, non-forceful, low velocity manipulation that is well tolerated and safe. For those that receive traditional chiropractic adjustments, DNS works in concert to normalize joint function and restore muscular balance, leading to more sustainable improvements in reduced pain and improved function.

Often times, symptom relief experienced from a chiropractic adjustment can be short-lived with symptoms returning rather quickly. In contrast, when DNS is applied in a chiropractic setting, the approach allows for longer-lasting symptom relief due to therapy’s ability to improve Central Nervous System (CNS) coordination and joint stability which is then maintained by performing prescribed home exercises.

DNS therapy simply enables a chiropractor to effectively treat and manage a broad range of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. While traditional chiropractic may be limited in what can be done through chiropractic adjustments and passive modalities, DNS represents a powerful alternative to chiropractic care when dealing with pain syndromes and more complex structural pathologies where the effectiveness of traditional chiropractic is highly limited.

How is DNS therapy able to get me out of pain and moving better when other conservative therapies have failed?
The results achieved by DNS therapy are often difficult to achieve with traditional methods used by chiropractors and physical therapists due to the physiological phenomenon that occurs during treatment to minimize muscular imbalances, relieving painful protective muscle spasms, resulting in a more stable musculoskeletal system with improved spinal stability and postural awareness.

During DNS therapy, induced movements are controlled not locally, but by the higher levels of the Central Nervous System. This then results in faster and longer-lasting improvement in function and pain relief. When combined with exercise, the promotion of joint stability and ideal movement becomes habitual and independent of conscious effort.

How are DNS exercises different from traditional physical therapy or physical training exercises?
In the majority of physical therapy and chiropractic clinics, as well as in personal training settings, exercises are performed that simply train muscles in isolation. The patient who has shoulder pain and is only prescribed shoulder exercises illustrates this concept. The fault in strengthening weakened muscles through isolation training is that isolation training will fail to unify the painful or problematic joint with the entire locomotor system. Sure you can perform all the isolation exercises you wish, but this does not guarantee that the strength or coordination gained will automatically transform into adequate performance.

DNS exercises are applied in accordance with development kinesiology or essentially how we develop motor function during childhood. As we develop, reflexive movements (primitive, postural, locomotor) become more refined and coordinated, ultimately leading to specific movements we produce later in life such as walking, running, jumping, reaching, throwing, etc.

However, developing these skills does not happen magically. Learning to control the body and developing fundamental skills make up our motor milestones. These milestones mark critical points in our development and there is a progression that these milestones follow. This is known as developmental kinesiology. In simplistic terms, we need to be able to lift our head and support it, roll over, crawl, support ourselves upright, walk with assistance, and then walk without support.

The understanding of developmental kinesiology and critical motor milestones allows the provider to make exercise progressions and regressions during the course of therapy in order to appropriately address the underlying locomotor system dysfunction(s).

These exercises are applicable for patients with variety of acute and chronic conditions as well as for athletes who are trying to improve their performance and also prevent or rehabilitate injuries.

Often DNS exercises are conducted with active support from the clinician to insure that the patient maintains proper support and executes ideal movement. DNS exercises could include the use of stability balls or bands to further facilitate the desired response of the exercise. These exercises are not only used to improve the stability of the spine, muscle coordination, balance and strength, but also to increase the body’s awareness and sensory integration.

Conclusion
All of a sudden, conservative management and treatment of patients and training of athletes looks a lot different than what is traditional accepted.

DNS is not only a magnificent approach for preventing and rehabilitating pain syndromes in the movement system it is also becoming extremely popular in sports performance circles. The same ideal patterns that keep an individual out of pain also maximize the efficiency of the movements, which not only reduces risk of injury but improves performance.

When you consider the principles of DNS, it truly is not about what exercises we prescribe or what exercises we perform, but rather what we are actually getting from those exercises when we perform them that is important. DNS provides a system of evaluation and treatment which follows motor development, thus providing an effective way to help our patients get the most out of therapy and our clients get the most out of training.

Sources:
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization & Sports Rehabilitation, Frank C, Kobesova A, Kolar P. Int J Sports Phys Ther. , 2013 Feb;8(1):62-73.
A case study utilizing Vojta/Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization therapy to control symptoms of a chronic migraine sufferer, Juehring DD, Barber MR. J Bodyw Mov Ther, 2011 Oct;15(4):538-41.
Cerebellar function and hypermobility in patients with idiopathic scoliosis, Kobesova A, Drdakova L, Andel R, Kolar P. International Musculoskeletal Medicine. , 2013, 35(3): 99-105.
Effects of shoulder girdle dynamic stabilization exercise on hand muscle strength., Kobesova A, Dzvonik J, Kolar P, Sardina A, Andel R. Isokinetics and exercise Science. , 2015;23:21-32,
Developmental Kinesiology: Three Levels of Motor Control i the Assessment and Treatment of the Motor System. Kobesova A, Kolar P. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies., 2014;18(1):23-33.
The Prague School of Rehabilitation, Kobesova A, Osborne N. International Musculoskeletal Medicine, 2012;34(2):39-41.
Postural - Locomotion Function in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Disorders, Kolar P, Kobesova A. Clinical Chiropractic, 2010;13(1):58-68.
Analysis of Diaphragm Movement during Tidal Breathing and during its Activation while Breath Holding Using MRI Synchronized with Spirometry. Kolar P, Neuwirth J, Sanda J, Suchanek V, Svata Z, Volejnik J, Pivec M. Physiol Res, 2009;58(3):383-92.
Postural Function of the Diaphragm in Persons With and Without Chronic Low Back Pain. Kolar P, Sulc J, Kyncl M, Sanda J, Cakrt O, Andel R, Kumagai K, Kobesova A. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 2012;42:352-362.
Stabilizing function of the diaphragm: dynamic MRI and synchronized spirometric assessment, Kolar P, Sulc J, Kyncl M, Sanda J, Neuwirth J, Bokarius AV, Kriz J, Kobesova A. J Appl Physiol. , 2012;42(4):352-62.
Importance of Developmental Kinesiology for Manual Medicine, Kolar P. translated from Czech Journal of Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, 1996;4:139-143.
Surgical treatment and motor development in patients suffering from cerebral palsy, Kolar P. Translated from Czech Journal of Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, 2001;8(4):165-168.
Long-Term Efficacy of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization in Treatment of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain, Bokarius AV, Bokarius V. 12th World Congress on Pain. Glasgow, Scotland. Aug 17-22, 2008. Presentation # PF225.
A case study utilizing spinal manipulation and dynamic neuromuscular stabilization care to enhance function of a post cerebrovascular accident patient, Oppelt M,Juehring D,Sorgenfrey G, Harvey PJ, Larkin-Thier SM. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies., 2014;18:17-22.
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/solving-pain-influence-czech-rehabilitation-techniques/

FAQs: Frequency Avoided Questions of Strength & Conditioning

It’s time to understand what training for an athlete is all about. Parents and athletes are seeking out training services in great numbers and are confronted with more options year after year.

A real problem for people is that they see stuff like P90X, Crossfit, bodybuilding style training, or any kind of general fitness training and they get confused into believing that it is good training for an athlete. What they need to understand is that these training styles do not necessarily give you high performance. Many times adults and their young athletes fall into the trap of pursuing training without truly understanding if it will be beneficial or detrimental to their athletic development. What we have compiled below are some common FAQs or Frequently Avoided Questions that should be answered before you begin an organized training program aimed at developing a young athlete.

1) What are the demands of the sport?
Does your strength coach/personal trainer actually account for the sport you participate in, understanding the biodynamics and bioenergetics of the sport and adjusting your training accordingly? Or do they simply plug you into their system and make you workout based on what they know how to do, not what you need as an athlete? Understanding the anatomy and physiology of sport is highly critical in the design of athletic and sport performance training. If you’re coach or trainer does not understand these concepts as they relate to your young athlete’s sport(s) of participation, they will fail to produce significant results.

Don't buy into "functional training" hype. Simply ask them, how exactly is this functional for my young athlete? You'll be surprised at the sales pitch you may hear.

Read more:

What is Functional Exercise?
Training for Elite Athletes
Identifying Strength Needs for Athletes
Guidelines for Selecting a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer
2) How does training impact a young athlete’s muscle fiber typing?
Muscle fiber typing is specific to slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. Understand that slow twitch muscle fibers are highly resistance to fatigue and do not produce much force, making them more favorable for use during distance/endurance training and lighter resistance training workouts. Fast twitch muscle fibers are more easily fatigued but they produce a great deal of force and are needed to be fast, explosive, and strong.

Coaches and trainers can run the risk of any transitional muscle fibers being pushed to low threshold, high endurance-based muscle fibers when they make power-speed athletes do far too much distance endurance training or high rep weight training. Power-speed athletes make up the bulk of team sports such as football, hockey, baseball, basketball, and track & field events such as sprinters, throwers, and jumpers. This is not a comprehensive list, but none the less provides you with an understanding of just how many sports are highly dependent on power-speed qualities.

Athletes need to utilize training methods that push transitional muscle fibers to a more high-threshold, fast-twitch muscle fibers. Transitional muscle fibers are highly sensitive in the young athlete, especially in the teenage years. If improper training methods are utilize, you will lower their ceiling of athletic potential.

Read more:

Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes
Success or Failure: What Are You Setting Your Young Athlete Up For?
Two Common Misconceptions in Endurance Training
3) Does quick feet training make sense for an athlete?
The majority of quick feet training involves the use of dot drills and speed ladders. These drills do nothing to reinforce proper mechanics of sprinting or ice skating. Just watch for yourself. When these drills are performed, kids are standing upright with minimal hip and knee bend utilizing short, choppy strides that impart very little force into the ground. This is completely contradictory to what any sprint or skating coach would demand from their athletes. The fastest guys are the strongest guys because they put more force into the ground. Quick feet training makes no sense.

Read more:

Don't Fall for the Speed Trap
Choose Consistency and Intelligence in Training, Forget the Rest
4) Does high rep weight training for time make sense?
The whole point of strength training is to improve the efficiency of how your nervous system works. The heavier the weight, the more motor units and muscle fibers your brain needs to call upon to execute the movement. The more motor units and muscle fibers in use, the more force you produce. But we just don't need force, but athletes need to produce force quickly. The faster they produce high amounts of force, the faster and more explosive they become. Pretty simple.

Your brain will not call upon a lot of muscle fibers to execute a movement against light weights. This process of selection exists on a continuum and you don’t get to high-threshold, fast-twitch muscle fibers until you start hitting close to 80% of your 1RM (rep max) or higher. It doesn’t matter how many reps you can do against light resistance. So while the P90X and Crossfit people are doing tons of reps with light weights and little to no rest intervals, you’ll never tap into those muscle fibers that power-speed athletes thrive on for success in their sport.

It’s the complete opposite training you want to do for athletics like football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and just about every power-speed track & field event. Especially for teenagers because you can influence the muscle fiber make-up and the ratio of slow twitch to fast twitch fibers of young athletes. This will have tremendous impact of the athletic development or destruction. Again, high rep weight training with little to no rest serves no purpose for a young athlete and contradicts the demands of athletics.

Read more:

Drop the Confusion, Athletes Need Consistency for Efficiency
Have You Mastered Your Movement?
3 Reasons You Should Train for Maximal Strength
Why Athletes Should Avoid HIIT Programs
 

Quotes and Insights From Buddy Morris, Strength Coach of the Arizona Cardinals

Buddy Morris is the Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Buddy has a way of telling it like it is, not shying away from speaking his mind when it’s against popular cultural opinion within the world of sports performance training. I was fortunate enough to learn form a mentor of mine, Dr. Mike O’Donnell, who worked under Buddy at the University of Pittsburgh.

To this day, I enjoy reading and learning anything I can from Buddy. I have come to learn that when Buddy speaks, you should listen.

Why?

You are going to learn something.

Below is just a short collection of his thoughts that I have provided me with some insight into what it takes to better yourself as someone who works with developing young athletes.

Buddy Morris on the current state of the personal training and sports performance industry:
“(Personal training in the private sector) is one of those professions that’s about who you know, not what you know. If it was about what you know, there’d be a lot of guys on the street right now.”
“These days, everyone is looking for the top secret program and the “easy way” to lose weight, get in shape or become a better athlete. Here’s the secret: THERE IS NO SECRET! It’s all about things like commitment, effort, dedication, perseverance and WORK! You think that might be why it’s referred to as, “working out”?”
“It’s also become ridiculous with the athletic population. Every guru is out there trying to sell his miracle top-secret never-seen-before program to make you a super athlete. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times; “a good coach gets a lot done and goes a long way without gadgets, gimmicks or toys to enhance performance.”
Buddy Morris on the qualities of a great coach:
“The best coaches are the ones that can make adjustments.”
“The real magic will be in how you make adjustments on training day and use your heighten powers of observation and problem solving to make the training optimal on the training day.”
“Training readiness: The maximum amount of stress the body can handle or tolerate at any given time will fluctuate on a daily, hourly, and minutely basis.”
Buddy Morris on the importance of continual learning and development:
“I am far from an expert and I still have a lot to learn even after more than 3 decades in my profession.”
This is a personal favorite of mine just because there are far too many people marketing themselves as THE expert. The best trainers and coaches are humble and they are always trying to develop their craft. They don’t believe they know it all, so they actively pursue more knowledge. Buddy Morris more than gets this and it's exactly why several other coaches learn from his example.

More related reading:

 
https://gallagherperformance.com/thinking-of-taking-your-child-to-a-trainer-read-this-first/

On The Use of Deep Squats and Intense Conditioning with Athletes

Lately, we have faced a number of questions regarding two subjects:

1) Why don’t we make our athletes perform full, deep squats?
To be very clear on the subject, it all comes back to the understanding of how different movements and work outputs affect your training goal.

Technique manipulation can have a tremendous impact on training outcomes. When it comes to the training of athletes, training outcomes must ensure high level of competitive performance in their primary sport(s). The considerations one makes when training for pure strength and power will be completely different from the individual training for maximal muscular hypertrophy. When training for strength and power, you want to set yourself in a position for the greatest mechanical advantage. An individual’s greatest mechanical advantage will also be influenced by their anthropometry. This becomes the context of making coaching decisions that will dictate technique and variations used in movements such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and Olympic lifts.

In sport, one can argue that there is some level of sport-specificity in utilizing ½ and ¾ squats as they may provide a greater transfer of training into the dynamics of certain sporting movements. Keep in mind that auxiliary or supplemental work in the training program must ensure muscular/connective tissue health and balance.

This is not to say we don’t utilize a full, deep squats. Some of our athletes are more than capable of performing them. For others, there is a greater risk to reward ratio and greater sporting outcomes can be realized with squat variations that impose less structural risk.

It really comes down to selecting the best tools for the job and removing the variables that don’t have a place in an athlete’s long-term goals.

2) Why don’t we use intense conditioning work with our athletes?
Understand that the adaptations an athlete undergoes from both a neuromuscular and energy system (aerobic and anaerobic) viewpoint will always be influenced by the structure of training load and volume in a given program.

“Explosive, not tired.”
At GP, that is a concept we communicate to all our athletes, but still this is a concept many of them have a hard time understanding. Many come to us with the goals of being bigger, stronger, and faster. They want it all and convincing how the process really works, through intelligent conversation, is a challenge.

Flash forward several weeks into the program and these same athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster through intelligent program design and execution. All aspects of the training program align with their goals and their bioenergetic (energy system) demands relative to their sport. There is conditioning work, but it is structured best to according to their needs. Conditioning work doesn’t have to push you face first into a pile of your own sweat and vomit.

Nowadays, young athletes assume conditioning and speed are the same and that by improving their conditioning, they will get faster. For many athletes, suicides and gassers come to mind. Intense practices run by coaches for no other reason that to make their players work hard also comes to mind. Players are instructed to sprint with minimal rest, pushed to exhaustion. Many trainers and "programs" utilize high-intensity conditioning methods. Sure you want your athletes to last an entire game and not get out worked, but this will not get them faster. Actually, it is counter-productive if speed is the objective since it is physiologically impossible to perform at your maximal effort without adequate rest. And it doesn’t ensure that they will be in the best condition either.

There is such thing as training parameters and workload capability. These concepts demand consideration when training athletes. Sadly, if you asked the majority of trainers and coaches what those two terms mean, you learn pretty quickly that you are talking to yourself. True speed is only developed at near maximal effort. Maximal effort depletes energy systems and strains the nervous system. All these need adequate time to recover between sprints. This must be monitored closely to ensure that a speed training session does not become a conditioning workout. Conversely, conditioning work must follow guidelines designed to help athlete’s maximize their conditioning without disrupting other aspects of performance. If conditioning training is performed at too high of an intensity, the training not only inefficiently conditions the athlete but can also interfere with speed performance and development. It will also interfere with strength and power development as well.

Are you getting the picture?

The very same athletes who want speed, strength, and size must understand that intense, non-directed conditioning only serves to inefficiently condition you and interfere with the goals and needs required for sport success. This is not our opinion; this is fundamental sport and exercise science.

Conditioning is a primary component in our training programs, for any athlete. However, conditioning takes on different looks due to the various energy system demands for the individual athlete. Conditioning is tailored to their needs. Just because a coach crushes them in practice with endless gassers, it doesn’t mean they are suddenly out of shape.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/guidelines-for-selecting-a-strength-coach-or-personal-trainer/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-essentials-of-speed-training/

Does Practice Make Permanent? How Practice Rewires Your Nervous System

In our younger years, many of us likely heard the expression “Practice Makes Perfect.” This usually came from a parent, coach, or teacher. Some took the saying a step further, adding “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.” Some even say, "Practice Makes Permanent". Regardless, still the message was clear – if you want to improve, you need to put in some time and focused effort. You need to practice.

But is all about simply practicing or do we need to have a different focus?

Research has provided a better understanding of how practice influences skill development, helping us understand how the nervous system is rewired during the process. While there are many components to consider during the process of motor learning and skill acquisition, in this article we will be discussing how a unique tissue to the nervous system called myelin plays a critical role in the acquisition and mastery of skills.

Practice Rewires the Nervous System
When we are exposed to a movement or sport skill that is new or unfamiliar, the result is typically feeling awkward and uncoordinated. To some degree, we may be apprehensive. This is normal and to be expected. But, as we practice, something happens. Things get smoother, we feel more comfortable, and the movement/skill becomes more natural.

What is happening?

What practice is actually doing is rewiring your nervous system to become more efficient during complex movement tasks through a process called myelination.

The Role of Myelin
Understanding all the intricacies of the nervous system is not the point of this article, but a little background will be helpful. Myelin is a tissue that covers our neurons, the cells that make up the nervous system. Myelin is mostly a fatty substance, with cholesterol being an essential component. It serves to insulate nerve cells and has a characteristic “white” appearance. This is why most people refer to myelin as “white matter” when discussing the nervous system. What science has helped us understand is that myelin improves the speed and strength of nerve signals, meaning that myelinated nerves transmit signals faster than non-myelinated nerves. Myelin helps our nervous system function at a higher level.

Ok, so how do we get myelin onto our nerves?

To begin with, the majority of myelination occurs during the early stages of development. These stages of development occur during the 2-3 years after birth and into early childhood. Children are myelin-generating machines. This can be seen not only in respect to movement, but also with language and comprehension skills as well. Where there is development, you will find myelin. This is why there are critical developmental stages that exist in long-term athletic developmental (LTAD) models. LTAD models help us understand that we cannot make up for lost time. Sure, as we get older we can continue to generate myelin, but it happens at a slower rate and requires more effort. This is why most young athletes who miss critical developmental stages tend to get passed up later in their athletic careers.

So what’s the big deal about critical developmental stages?

It provides children with graded exposure to skills through practice and repetition. The process of practice and repeated effort triggers a pattern of signals through our nervous system. With time and repetition, myelin is produced to increase the speed, strength, and coordination of these nerve signals. It’s a streamlining effect that your nervous system undergoes due to exposure to a repeated sensory stimulus and motor (movement) output.

Practice Makes Myelin, So Practice With Purpose
Understanding the role of myelination in skill acquisition has tremendous implications. Yes, volume and frequency of practice matters, but myelination makes a case for understanding why quality of practice matters. Practicing with an extreme focus on quality is equally, if not more important, than simply practicing a lot. Don’t just practice to practice. Corrections should be made as they are needed. You don’t want to spent the majority of your time practicing bad habits, as bad habits are hard to correct. Bad habits arguably are not permanent. However, the longer they exist, the harder they are to unlearn. Myelin is a big reason why.

In the context of training and sport skill development, if you lift/sprint/jump/practice with poor technique and no one corrects your mistakes, you will be myelinating those nerve pathways – which does you no good and only serves to lowering your athletic potential. Sure you may improve, but you will never reach your true potential. And the longer your bad habits remain, the harder it is to correct them.

The takeaway: practice of movement skills over time causes specific neural pathways to work better via myelination. To improve your performance, you not only need to practice FREQUENTLY, you also must practice CORRECTLY and receive plenty of feedback from a qualified coach so you are able to properly develop your movement and sport skills.
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/unlock_your_potential_with_this_powerful_tip/

https://gallagherperformance.com/movement-improves-brain-function/

Gallagher Performance - Staff Bios

For many of our readers, you may not be aware of the specialized background that Gallagher Performance has in personal training, athletic development, chiropractic rehabilitation, manual therapies, and sports-injury care.

Whether you are pursuing professional services for personal/performance-based training or you’re thinking of seeing a health professional about a sports injury, Gallagher Performance has two board-certified specialists who are capable of addressing your goals and needs.

Meet the Staff

Ryan Gallagher LMT, NASM-CES: Head Performance Coach
Ryan Gallagher is the Head Performance Coach and a Licensed Massage Therapist at Gallagher Performance. Ryan has quickly established himself as a highly sought after coach for athletic development, helping athletes achieve new performance bests while implementing specialized strategies along with manual therapy to keep his athlete’s healthy during their competitive and off-seasons.

Ryan has been involved in the fitness and sports performance industry since 2007. During that time, he has worked extensively with youth, high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. He has also worked with competitive strength athletes in powerlifting and Strongman, as well as physique athletes (bodybuilding, figure, and bikini).

Ryan is certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and is also a Nationally Certified Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management with a concentration in Wellness and Fitness from California University of Pennsylvania.

To compliment his educational background, Ryan is an accomplished athlete in the sports of ice hockey, bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Strongman. HIs diverse athletic and educational background provide Ryan with an highly extensive and unique skill set that allows him to efficiently and effectively help his clients achieve their goals while staying healthy in the process.

Sean Gallagher DC, DACRB, NASM-PES: Director of Sports Therapy, Performance Coach
Dr. Sean Gallagher is the Director of Sports Therapy and also serves as a Performance Coach at Gallagher Performance. In 2009, Sean earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA. Prior to attending Palmer, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sports Science from Ohio University.

After graduating from Palmer, Sean entered a residency program in Palmer College of Chiropractic’s Sports Injury & Rehabilitation Department. The residency is the only one of its kind within a chiropractic college in the United States. Under the direction of former Olympian, Dave Juehring DC, DACRB, CSCS and Ranier Pavlicek DC, ATC, DACRB, CSCS, the residency provided Sean the opportunity to further the development of clinical skills in the realm of diagnosis, treatment and management of sport-related injuries. During this time, he received extensive training in manual therapies and developmental stabilization methods influenced by the German and Czech rehabilitation schools.

Sean graduated from his residency and completed his board certification in 2012, making him one of a select few chiropractors in the country that have successfully completed a rehabilitation and sports-injury residency. He is a board certified rehabilitation specialist through the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board (ACRB) that abides by the standards set out by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

To compliment his clinical training and experience, Sean also serves as a Performance Coach with years of experience working with athletes of all abilities and is a certified Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) through NASM. He is an accomplished athlete in the sports of ice hockey and Strongman. During his time at Ohio University, he was part of the 2004 ACHA D1 National Championship team. In 2001, he was named to the NHL’s Central Scouting Service “Top 10” High School players in the US and was ranked among the top players in North America (US and Canada). As a competitive amateur Strongman, he has won or placed in several NAS sanctioned competitions since 2010 and was a National qualifier in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Our staff welcomes the opportunity to get you back to 100% and help you reach your fitness or performance-related goals. When you think of sports performance training and chiropractic rehabilitative care in the Pittsburgh area, remember the team of experts at Gallagher Performance.

 

Random Thoughts on Sports Training

Had a couple quick thoughts on sports performance training that I wanted to share, so here it goes….

1. Advanced athletes don't always need Special Developmental Exercises (SDE)
One of the more popular trends in the fitness industry is “sport specific training”. While the training of advanced athletes must always consider the specifics of their sport, this does not always mean they need advanced exercises. For the young athlete and athletes with minimal training experience, there is no need for advanced exercises or the “Train like the Pros” mentality. This is generally well understood. However, when it comes to high-level athletes or athletes with several yeasrs of training experience, coaches/trainers may assume that they need highly innovative, cutting edge training. Parents can also fall into this trap as well due to marketing tactics. The truth is that they need the basics too. They need the basics just like everyone else. In some cases, they may need a lot of the basics. It can be surprising how poorly some high-level athletes move when they are removed from sport.

With that said, keep in mind that high-level athletes generally have the ability to adapt very quickly to repeated exposure to a given stimulus. They have the ability to make dramatic improvements from week to week in terms of quality of movement, strength, and power development. This ability is a huge reason as to why they are such gifted athletes. The value of Special Developmental Exercises (SDE) in the preparation of high-level athletes for sport competition cannot be understated, but nothing can take the place of sound coaching that utilizes effective program variations and additions to meet the ever-changing complexities of the individual. When it comes to high-level athletes, programs may need to be updated at higher frequencies to promote continual development of the desired physical attributes the athlete needs. These updates should never be random, but applied with purpose and intent to promote continual development.

At the end of the day, some high-level athletes may be better served by training that focuses on the basics and laying a foundation for continual development through proper periodization rather than concentrating their training on fancy, innovative training methods.

2. Where you “feel " the exercise is just as important as how the exercise “looks”
We all know therapists, trainers, and gym gurus who preach “technique, technique, technique”. The importance of technique does not need repeated, but the idea of textbook technique may be more of a myth than fact. Technique, like exercise programming, should not be handled "one-size fits all" fashion. How an exercise "looks" is important, but what is too often forgotten in regards to exercise is where that individual "feels" the movement. For example, you observe an athlete performing a movement with what appears to be “perfect technique”, yet they do not “feel” the movement activating muscles in the right places. This example also highlights why feedback from an athlete can be extremely valuable. It is extremely valuable to know where your client/athlete “feels” the exercise. Don't just assume they are feeling proper muscle activation all because the exercise “looked good” from a technique viewpoint. Helping the client/athlete to "feel" the exercise while maintaining proper technique simply comes down to coaching, tweaking technique, and/or finding the right cues to promote the visual imagery necessary for them to connect their brain to the movement.
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/quotes-and-insights-from-buddy-morris-strength-coach-of-the-arizona-cardinals/

Learning Through Misconceptions

After the recent posting of Two Years at Gallagher Performance, we received a generous amount of positive feedback. You all are too kind and please know that we truly appreciate it. Along with your feedback, we received a number of messages from people wanting to know, "What have you learned?"

That question really got my mind going. Honestly, another year in business teaches you a great deal. Certainly a simple sentence or two would not be sufficient to answer the question.

All things considered, this past year has provided several friendly reminders of why we do what we do at GP. Some of the biggest lessons learned came in the form of routinely dispelling common misconceptions when it comes to owning and operating your own business in the competitive health and fitness/training industry.

So, for your entertainment, we present to you our thoughts on a few misconceptions that we routinely encounter.

Misconception #1 – We work “Banker’s Hours”
One of the biggest misunderstandings we have come across is that professionals in the fields of health or fitness work Monday-Friday, 9-5 or that they work minimal hours a day to operate and fulfill the needs of the business. In reality, owning your own small business is a 24/7, 365 days a year responsibility. When you are not handling daily business operations, you are either working countless hours answering emails and phone calls, programming for clients, filing necessary insurance paperwork, updating social media and blog content to creating an Internet presence, etc. When it’s all said and done, days can add up to 10-12 hours real quick. This becomes especially true during the peak seasons of spring/summer when our schedules fill up with high school and collegiate athletes.

People get into the health and fitness industry all the time because they claim how much they love it and that it’s their “passion”. Others get into to make a fast buck, never once realizing that it’s a job. It’s a fun job, but it’s still a job. You better love what you do because there are certainly easier ways to make more money while working less hours. With that said, we have learned over and over again that we love what we do.

Misconception #2 - Success Comes Quickly
Believing success comes quickly is another huge misconception, especially within the fitness industry. It seems as if no one wants to put in the real work. The honest, hard work earned through time. Earned through experience. Earned through the professional growth one gains by working with a number of clients of various backgrounds and developing a track record of success. The traditional approach to professional development appears to be old fashioned. Nowadays, newbies to the fitness industry would rather focus on growing their Facebook or Instagram following by creating the “appearance” of success rather than truly earning it. We have a small number of likes on our Facebook page and even fewer followers on Instagram, yet we continue to grow. We grow because of the track record of success we continue to develop, not because of some selfie posted online. If business success had anything to do with selfies and hashtags, we would have been finished long ago.

Similar to other successful businesses, our growth stems from putting in the work and building our business from the floor up. We did not build our business backwards by first creating a huge following while having little to no experience. Rather than focusing on creating a huge following, we prefer to focus on quality of service and building a track record of success, thankful that those who have worked with us are more than willing to tell others about our business. The process never goes as quickly as you'd wish, but there's more satisfaction in the climb than being at the top. We've learned that we love the process. We love the grind. We recognize that nothing meaningful ever came from quick and easy. Besides, the individuals hoping for "quick and easy" seem to be the ones who enter the industry and are out within a couple years. Likely because their "image" of success could not longer compensate for their mediocre results and what they lacked in knowledge and experience.

Misconception #3 – Knowledge Doesn’t Have Value
This misconception probably bothers us the most and it stems from the typical, “Let me pick your brain....” scenario. Keep in mind; we realize that being part of the health and fitness industry is about helping others by providing sound advice and guidance. Ryan and I both went into business realizing that we will be providing a lot of free advice, but there is a fine line that must be respected. The health and fitness industry is both knowledge and service based, so a genuine respect for one’s knowledge would be very much appreciated. I would argue that the industry is primarily knowledge-based, as services (program design, nutrition structure, etc.) are dependent upon knowledge. However, unlike services, It becomes difficult to attach value to knowledge.

When it comes to receiving advice, it’s as it people assume advice should be given away freely. After all, it’s just information, right? Wrong. We field so many questions on a regular basis from people who are ultimately looking for free information. They are looking for guidance from a knowledgeable individual, in hopes of better organizing their own training or nutrition for their self-betterment. Usually it goes a little like this, “Real quick, how would you structure my workouts or my eating/macros so I am able to achieve ABC goals” Quality, experienced coaches understand that there is no “quick” answer to this question. If you have respect for a coach/trainer, please have respect for their knowledge and appreciate the fact that it supports their livelihood. It’s how they earn a living; it’s what they get paid to do. Respect the fact that you are receiving knowledge from them and there is value attached to that. Don’t be a serial freeloader.

Wrap Up
Misconceptions can prove to be a great learning tool. We recognize that dealing with these common misconceptions and many others is a part of job. So let's hear from you. To our professional colleagues and friends in the health and fitness industry, what are some of the common misconceptions you encounter on a regular basis? We welcome your responsible replies and comments.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/are-you-promoting-independence/

Two Years at Gallagher Performance

April 2015 marks two years since Gallagher Performance opened and with the anniversary on the horizon, I thought it was time to start reflecting back on our second year in business.

All our services from chiropractic to massage to personal training to sports performance training continue to experience steady, consistent success. Sure we do not operate at the volume of more established businesses, but our business model places a greater focus on individualized instruction over pure numbers. To us, business success is not simply measured in terms of client volume or monetary gain. For us, success is also measured by identifying how others have been positively impacted by their experience at GP. This could be in the form of clients experiencing improved self-image and confidence that extends beyond the weight room, improved markers of health, improved ability to perform activities without pain or limitation, avoided surgeries, or learning how you inspired a young athlete to pursue a career in chiropractic or fitness. This is exciting to us and it is humbling to learn how you are making a difference.

In regards to our services, it has been another great year. GP’s chiropractic and rehab therapy has been recognized as one of the best in the Pittsburgh area. Our personal and performance training services continue to generate tremendous results for our clients and athletes. The results keep our clients loyal and the referrals coming in. We have truly cared about delivering quality in all services since we opened. It’s a great feeling to see how much our clients appreciate the attention, know-how, and confidence they receive while working with us. When you focus on quality of service and improving the consumer experience, only good things can happen.

Of all our services, this is most easily observed with our sports performance training. In only two years, we have seen our sports performance training services utilized by a variety of athletes from a growing list of amateur/club organizations, high schools, and colleges. In addition, GP continues to direct the Strength & Conditioning program for the Franklin Regional Hockey Organization.

Here is a glimpse into what types of athletes we have worked with and where they are coming from:

Sports/Events

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Physique (Bodybuilding, Bikini, Figure)
  • Powerlifting
  • Soccer
  • Strongman
  • Track and Field (sprint event focus)
High Schools
  • Franklin Regional
  • Greensburg Central Catholic
  • Hempfield
  • Penn Hills
  • Plum
  • Seneca Valley
College Athletes
  • Andrew Brncic, Alderson Broaddus University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Colin Jonov, Bucknell University (NCAA DI) - Football
  • Colin Childs, California University of Pennsylvania (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Jake Roberge, Northwestern University (NCAA DI) - Soccer
  • Ben Dipko, Slippery Rock University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Christian Wilson, Mount St. Mary’s (ACHA DIII) - Hockey
  • Ryan Grieco, Lake Erie College (NCAA DII) - Baseball
  • Evan James, Penn State University Greater Allegheny (NCAA III) - Baseball
  • Dante Luther, Washington & Jefferson University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Charan Singh, University of Massachusetts (NCAA DI) – Football
We could continue on about each of these athletes, but suffice it to say that we are very proud of each of them, their work ethic, their character, and what they’ve accomplished.

Another Year in the Books
In wrapping up, we acknowledge that GP would not be what it is without the consistent support we receive. A sincere thank you goes out to all you – clients/athletes, parents, family, friends, social media followers, and professional colleagues – for your continual support over the past two years. Special thanks to our marketing firm, 4C Technologies, for their continual support and expertise. We also want to extend a huge thank you to Diamond Athletic Club for being second to none and providing us the venue to operate as a business. Without you all, GP would not be what is today, and we look forward to many more years to come.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/four-years-gallagher-performance/

We love to hear your input. Tell us about your experience on Google.

Connect with Us

Contact

  • 4484 William Penn Highway

  • Murrysville, PA 15668

Hours of Operation

  • CHIROPRACTIC
    Monday-Thursday: 9am-1pm, 3pm-6pm
    Friday: 9am-1pm, 3pm-5pm
    Saturday: by appointment only
  • MASSAGE & TRAINING
    Hours are by appointment only