Archive for February, 2012

Sports Performance Series – The Posterior Chain

In the third installment of the Sports Performance Series we look at the muscles of the Posterior Chain. I will show what exercises can be used to strengthen these muscles and also how to stretch them. Perfect for youth, high school, college and professional athletes.

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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 Sports Performance Training, Videos No Comments

Perform Better Learn-By-Doing Seminar Recap: San Francisco 2012

Every year I do my best to make it out to at least one of the Perform Better Seminars and this year I was able to make it to the first one of the year which happened to be right in my own backyard.  The 2012 San Francisco seminar was filled with a star studded cast of top fitness professionals, including: Rachel Cosgrove, Lee Burton, Alwyn Cosgrove and Chris Frankel who unloaded their training knowledge on us and gave practical advice and movements that we could put into action right away.  Are you jealous that you were not able to attend?  Don’t worry I have the next best thing;  I am going to hi-light key points each speaker presented just for you.  Sit back and enjoy what I learned.

Rachel Cosgrove: Designing Fat Loss Programs for your Female Clients

In her presentation Rachel Cosgrove dances between the fine line between the difference in training men and women.  For simplicity sake she mentions that when starting to train women it is important to see the big picture by setting goals, constructing a plan and staying on track to get there.  Rachel suggests working backward from an overall goal then going month-by-month, week-by-week, day-by-day right down to the exercise selection.

Rachel mentions that many selectorized machines are not built with women in mind and may want to be avoided when writing a program.  Rachel generally likes to write 4-week programs which include an: introduction week, base phase week, overload (increased volume) week and a shock (high intensity) week.

Rachel emphasizes the loss of power production, especially as we age, as a huge concern for women.  Adding movements like medicine ball throws and slams not only counteract the diminishing power production associated with age, but adding power movements within a program also aides in greater fat loss potential; besides they are simply fun to do.

When constructing a program think not only about the main goal that remains ahead but the smaller ones as well.  She calls them feel good moments in training.  These moments can be smaller goal achievements which may include athletic moments or strong moments, something that has been achieved at a higher level than before.

Lee Burton: Tackling Soft Tissue, Mobility and Flexibility Problems

In his topic Lee Burton looked beyond the function of the muscles to talk about the role the soft tissue plays in dysfunctional mobility.  According to Lee, one type of soft tissue abnormality that inhibits mobility and function are trigger points.  Trigger points are, “hyper-irritable spots in the muscles associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band.” (Travell and Simons)  Trigger points can produce pain either locally or refer it to another area.  They can also inhibit flexibility and cause weakness.  Lee explains that trigger points occur when the muscles remain “on” (contracted) for too long.  They don’t get a chance to remain at their resting length, where they can relax and recover.

There are protocols you can perform to help deal and reduce trigger points through movement screening like the FMS, soft tissue and trigger point therapy using foam rollers, trigger point tools followed up with proper mobility, flexibility and strength work.

Alwyn Cosgrove: Cutting Edge Fitness Business Principles

Alwyn Cosgrove’s talk shifted gears from training and talked about the importance of the business side of training.  This topic is important because it is often overlooked by trainers who spend most of their time focusing on perfecting their craft of training rather than establishing a business system.

One of the first things to consider is how to remove the risk out of training so the potential client no longer focuses on the price but rather the benefits they will achieve from training with you and your place of business.  Clients look to trainers just like they look at other services, as solutions for their problems.  If the trainer keeps that in mind and listens to the potential client’s needs the trainer can offer solutions to the problems they are looking to overcome.  Business is about building relationships with clients.

To sum up his talk, Alwyn gave away his Five Secrets for Fitness Success which included:

  1. Have a Successful Mindset – Always be positive.
  2. Understand the Mindset of the Client – What is their need?
  3. Practice the Principles of The Slight Edge – Think of premium brands like Starbucks, Netflix and Amazon.
  4. Create Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) – The client should think of you and your business first.
  5. Mastermind/Mentorship with Like-Minded Individuals – Create a healthy environment to facilitate success.

Chris Frankel: Functional Conditioning; Energy System Training

The entire Perform Better seminar was filled with great speakers and presentations.  One of the most fascinating presentations came from Chris Frankel the Head of Human Performance at TRX.  Chris’ focus for his presentation was to help us gain an understanding on Energy System Training and its application for Strength and Conditioning.

Chris emphasizes the notion that no one single energy system is at work during strength and conditioning.  You may begin with one energy system; it will shut off and shift to another system.  For example in a 30 second exercise test at least three different energy systems are at work.

The Phosphogen System comprises about 30% of the energy system used, the Glycolytic System is about 50% and the Aerobic System is the remaining 20% (see chart below).

Without getting too wrapped up in all the scientific numbers, it is important to understand that even for an athlete that performs an athletic event for a quick 30 secs should not be compartmentalized into one particular energy system.  Traditional thinking would have athletic durations of 30 secs fall into the sole category of Anerobic activity where ATP, Creatine Phosphate and muscle glycogen are the energy sources.  The chart above shows that this is not the case at all.  There are at least three different energy systems going on and therefore only focusing on training on only one of these systems may severely inhibit the overall optimal performance of the athlete.

Chris says the best way to train these different energy systems is to perform circuits of 3-6 different exercises of varying reps or time intervals of different work to rest ratios.  These circuits can change to make sure they are training and enhancing the different energy systems utilized during the events or sports that the athlete participates in.

The Perform Better workshops never disappoint and I always learn some new and practical information that I can use for my athletes to make them the best they can be.

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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 Articles No Comments

Is Your Toothpaste Doing More Harm than Good?

This past week I was away at a workshop to learn more about flexibility, fascia and stretching (future fascinating article coming soon).  I was sharing a room with another friend and when I was washing up one evening I noticed his toothpaste on the sink counter and it got me thinking about the controversy surrounding the popular brand-name tubular tooth polishers.

It’s been about five years now since I have used conventional toothpaste.  I am a bit of a contrarian by nature and have a deep drive to buck society’s trends, especially when it comes to the topic of what the main-stream considers healthy.

I too was originally captivated by the fancy toothpaste commercials guaranteeing fewer cavities, a barrier against gum disease and a whiter smile.  Years ago I was brushing my teeth one night and got bored and started reading the label and something caught my attention.  The label explained that only a very small amount should be used and the paste itself should never be swallowed and children should be supervised while brushing so they do not swallow excessive amounts.

This didn’t sound like a health product but more like a potentially dangerous cleaning product.  The toothpaste warning actually made me more alarmed because at least most household cleaning products have an intended use that does not involve accidental ingestion.  With toothpaste, the label specifically states not to swallow, however it is a product that goes directly into the mouth, so the chances of swallowing even a small amount are high.  Was I potentially harming myself by using this product?

Problem Number One: Conventional Toothpaste May Not Protect Your Teeth    

I’m going to skip over discussing the dyes and artificial ingredients found in the popular toothpaste brands and simply focus on the two main ingredients that are touted for health that are a healthy façade in my opinion.  Upon researching conventional toothpaste I found that the claims made by the big companies that their product helps protects against cavities might not be entirely true; in fact, the ingredient advertised to do just that might actually do the exact opposite.

One of the primary ingredients in big-brand toothpaste is “glycerin” which gives the paste its silky smooth texture, a slightly sweet taste and makes brushing a breeze, however this convenience my lead to the slow demise of dental health.  Glycerin leaves a coating on the teeth that seals them and may prevent teeth from remineralizing by not allowing saliva to penetrate the teeth with the minerals it contains.

Over time the teeth may become softer, cavities may form and gum degeneration and bone loss may occur.

Problem Number Two: Don’t be Deceived by Fluoride

We have been bombarded by the idea that fluoride is necessary and healthy for us especially when it comes to the health of our teeth; this notion could not be further from the truth.  We are exposed to dangerous amounts of fluoride from all angles not just from big-brand toothpaste but even in our drinking water.  An article from The Weston Price Foundation put it best when they said:

Fluoridation is not about “children’s teeth,” it is about industry getting rid of its hazardous waste at a profit, instead of having to pay a fortune to dispose of it.


Only calcium fluoride occurs naturally in water; however, that type of fluoride has never been used for fluoridation. Instead what is used over 90 percent of the time are silicofluorides, which are 85 times more toxic than calcium fluoride.


They are non-biodegradable, hazardous waste products that come straight from the pollution scrubbers of big industries. If not dumped in the public water supplies, these silicofluorides would have to be neutralized at the highest rated hazardous waste facility at a cost of $1.40 per gallon (or more depending on how much cadmium, lead, uranium and arsenic are also present). Cities buy these unrefined pollutants and dump them–lead, arsenic and all–into our water systems. Silicofluorides are almost as toxic as arsenic, and more toxic than lead.1, 2


The dangers of fluoride are numerous and quite alarming.  The major threats to our health include:

  • Kidney Problems
  • Brain Damage
  • Thyroid Damage
  • Bone Disease
  • Bone Fractures
  • Cancer

As I mentioned earlier in the article, the toothpaste label warns about not swallowing the product, however, the label does not give the specifics as to why you should not swallow it.  The reason why is because of the known harmful effects of fluoride.  If you need more information about the dangers check out The Fluoride Action Network.

Safe Toothpaste Alternatives

It does not make logical sense to me to avoid consuming a product that is intended to go into your mouth.  I decided that I wanted to avoid this harmful type of fluoride all together I stopped consuming my local tap water almost entirely and looked for a toothpaste alternative.  I read about making my own toothpaste using baking soda and coconut oil but I never really had the strong desire to put the effort in.  What I did find was a product I had seen my grandfather using years ago when I was a young kid: tooth powder.

The brand I have been using for years now is Eco-dent (note I do not make any money recommending this product).

Eco-Dent is composed of baking soda, sea salt, herbs & essential oils to deliver its cleaning benefits.  Carbonic acid is also another key ingredient in the product which dissolves the minerals in the sea salt and allows for the effervescent, low-abrasive cleaning.  The sea salt provides more than 70 coral minerals, necessary to optimal human health; the minerals are found in the same proportions as those found in our teeth, bones and blood.


Call me a cynical person but I always use a critical eye when it comes to major household products, especially when it comes to my health.  My suggestion, look at your products, read the labels and understand what’s really inside and make the best decision for you.


Fluoride Action Network:

George Glasser, Journalist, St. Petersburg, FL, “Fluoridation: A Mandate to Dump Toxic Waste in the Name of Public Health,” July 22, 1991.

R.E. Gosselin et al, Clinical Toxicology of commercial Products, 5th ed., 1984. U.S. EPA Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) EPA/NSF Standard 60.

Shattuck, Anita: Fluoridation: The Fraud of the Century, Weston Price Foundation, 2004.

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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 Nutrition 1 Comment


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