Completely unrelated (forgive me)

Imagine if from right this second you made a promise to yourself that you would not waste another minute of your life until the moment you die.
Imagine how much you could get done. Who you could become. Where you could be a year from now. How others would see you.
Now this to around 100% of people would be impossible. Why? Personally I don’t know. At what point in evolution did humans develop such a love for doing nothing. For wasting time, and life. It often crosses my mind that a man on his death bed would pay all his possessions to be in the position that I’m in. A position where I still have a great amount of the most precious thing we can even begin to comprehend, and essentially can’t even fully understand. Life. Yet the majority of us treat each minute as if we will never run out of them.
Anyway, I’m rambling (and don’t really give a shit) but imagine instead (more feasibly) the same concept that I have just mentioned but on the basis of an hour. Could you promise to yourself that from now on, for the rest of your life, you will never let an hour pass without doing something you could look back on and say that it contributed to moving you into the right direction. It could be reading, blogging, building relationships, enjoying company, sleeping, training even making a mistake which you can learn from.
Just a quick thought anyway,
Good luck, waste no time
Joe Crawford

Speed training (start with strength)

Ok so let me talk about speed development for a while. A reason why I have such a focus on speed throughout this blog is because, well, what sports player couldn’t do with a little extra speed and quickness? As regards to the development of speed, I will always believe that the first step towards gaining speed in the long term, is through strength. Not technique not fancy feet exercises, STRENGTH.

One analogy to explain where I am coming from is this. A formula 1 driver, now I’m no formula 1 enthusiast or expert, but I’m sure they do A HELL of a lot of technical skills based training, to control the car, to know when to speed up and how to overtake etc. Now, if you take the guy with a shit load of skill & put him in a crappy, 3 wheeler car, and put him against guy with average skill and a top formula 1 car 0-60 in about 2 seconds and top speed of about 300 mph. I know who my money’s on.

Of course, if you take the f1 driver out of his shitty 3 wheeler, supe up the car to a real f1 car he’s guaranteed to be 10x faster. But the fact is, to begin with it’s better to have the physical side than the skills based side.

Anyway, back to training. If you cant do 1 chin up, if you can’t do 10 push ups, don’t waste time on technique and looking an the positioning of your ankles or your elbows, start with strength.

Think about it; we’re aiming to change your body for the better, get the good car and THEN learn to drive.

Good luck

Joe Crawford

Muscular maintenance (what nobody else is doing)

It isn’t a rarity for people who are involved in sport to warm to the idea of doing “sport specific exercises” to strengthen the muscles involved with the movements in their sport. For example if a baseball player’s swing was poor, they might use a heavier baseball bat and swing, or replicate the movement in the gym, therefore strengthening the muscles involved.

I’m here to tell you to LEAVE this idea or anything like it, out of your training. Completely. One thing you need to understand when partaking in strength and conditioning training is that technical training, (hitting a baseball, throwing a football) is COMPLETELY separate to physical training (Speed, strength, power). Think of it like this, to ride a bike you need a bike that works and a rider who knows how to ride a bike. In regard to training, you need a body that works, and a brain & nervous system which knows how to work it. You do the physical training in the gym, at home, in the park; then you do the technical training with the team, at the track etc. For example, a cyclist pumps up the tyre in the garage, then separately busts out some miles on the track.

I hope you’re following this… basically no matter HOW MUCH sports specific training you do, your ability to apply your body to these movements is limited if you haven’t sorted out your physical weaknesses elsewhere.

By physical problems I mean imbalances, muscles which are overdeveloped and tight, or underdeveloped and weak. To address these problems you need to STRETCH the overdeveloped, tight muscles and strengthen the underdeveloped, weak muscles. Make sure you oil your machine well or your sport specific training will come with a limit. NO it isn’t rocket science but it is FUCKING boring. The reason why people don’t talk about this, or emphasise it is because its the non-glamorous part of training. An oblique or hip flexor stretch isn’t exactly what you see in a Rocky IV montage is it?

 

But the fact is, you need to figure out what muscles are fucking up your movements, and WD-40 them. Now its VERY easy to say everything i’ve just said, The next part is to identify what parts of your body are weak/ tight, which brings me to POSTURE.

 

Posture is the biggest giveaway to muscular imbalances that there is. Now posture is a WHOLE different topic which i will cover in the future, but in the mean-time, I’m going to try to invite you to try certain stretches and exercises to help you in upgrading yourself physically and allowing you to apply your body to your sport more effectively.

 

Posture

 

Ok so diagram A is ideal posture, the back of the skull, shoulder-blades and hips lie on a straight line,

 

 

 

If you are diagram B (or this best fits you, as it does for me), don’t worry, the “hunched back” posture is very commonly seen in people who spend large amounts of time working at a desk or computer. But also within people who overwork their chest and abs, ignoring their back and other posterior muscles.

With this posture, upper abdominals are short and tight, and therefore the thoracic curvature is increased. I would recommend sleeping on your back (as uncomfortable as this will be initially) and concentrating on elongating the back of the neck as much as possible (at work/ home/school etc.). A stretch useful to correct this type of posture would be this below thoracic extension stretch.

Thoracic extension stretch

 

Diagram C shows posture in which the hamstrings and abdominals are short tight and overdeveloped, coupled with the quadriceps and the lumbar Erector Spinae (muscles running along the spine at the lower back) this causes the pelvis to tilt under and the lower back flattening out. Note when strengthening the lumbar erector spinae, I would invite you to try the following: Lie on your front on the floor, lift your torso off the floor, keeping you hips in contact with the ground, and hold for as long as possible. Position the hands behind the neck. The isometric nature of the exercise translates well to holding posture.

 

 

BELIEVE me, I appreciate that this was a long read, but i don’t want to cut corners for you guys. Please like, share comment etc. Sort your posture, fuck up the people who haven’t.

Good luck

Joe Crawford

 

 

 

 

 

Power: For dummies

 

So power is defined as a combination of speed and strength. I.e. moving a resistance quickly. There are a few key things to think about before you go about increasing your power. One is something I call ‘cross sectional muscle recruitment’ (to be honest I don’t know the official term)

Sciencey bit

 

 

When a muscle works it is very rarely using all of the muscle fibres. For example, if an athlete is bench pressing 50% of their maximum lift, the situation is more such that 50% of the fibres are working at 100% than 100% of the fibres working at 60%. This ties into power because if you want to shift a resistance quickly, the more muscle fibres working the better.

 

So to increase power, a common technique is to get the muscles used to needing to recruit a lot of fibres in the cross section of the muscle to move the resistance at all (not necessarily at speed). This is done by using heavy weights; or, by using less muscles, but ill come back to that. The next thing is when the muscles are used to recruiting high percentages of the fibres, to immediately take away the resistance and perform the movement.

 

For example being a  sprinter, a lot of our training sessions use chains attached to  harness that looks something like this:sled(side note: as this blog goes on you will see me post pictures of my own training and training group, but this is the best i can do at the moment :-))

 

After about 4 sets of 30m at 100% BALLS OUT speed, we will take the weight off and do around 60m. At this point the muscles are used to needing to recruit a high percentage of fibres to get moving, and so we can run like a ROCKET. The reason why we go so fucking fast is because we’re using more muscle! the muscle is already there we just need to teach the nervous system to activate it.

 

This explains why athletes like Cristope lemaitre ( let me get a picture)Christophe lemaitre

 

is one of the skinniest white dudes you will EVER see, yet is an ABSOLUTE powerhouse, he doesn’t have a lot of muscle, he just knows how to use it correctly.

Hopefully this has been resourceful to you, please subscribe/ follow so you know when i have something new for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speed: Hip flexor and glute exercises for speed boost?

The first thing that I would tell a guy asking to increase his speed its that the muscles around the hips are KEY. As you probably already know, hip flexors (or psoas major& minor) are muscles which attach from the lumbar spine to the upper femur, making them barely visible and not exactly the sexiest muscle to work out. (Not many people will be strengthening these muscles). They lift the thigh up towards the abdomen and are the prime mover in taking strides when running. Oppositely, the gluteus maximus and medius are muscles which push the thigh downwards, against the floor when running.
Anyway, science lesson over, the point is, the stronger & more enduring these muscles are, the quicker you will be able to move your legs from the top and obviously the faster you will be able to run. Thankfully, you will not need any retail equipment to strengthen these muscles or weights.
Hip flexors
You will need: something or someone to hold your feet down
Exercise:
Hook your feet under something which can hold your body weight down and sit it a ‘sit up’ position. Your feet need to be about shoulder width apart.
The important thing at this point is the angle of your knees, you should be sitting so that your knees are at a 90 degree angle when lying down
The motion is rater like a sit up with a slight variation. you should raise your body up, making sure that you lift your whole back off the floor at the same time. This ensures that the strain is placed purely on the hip flexors.
Arms can be placed across chest for light, behind head for medium and straight & above the head for heavy.
Try to complete 2 sets of 25

Gluteus maximus

You will need: A bed, sofa or the arm of a chair. You will be able to apply this to any platform you want.
Exercise:
Place both of your hands and your left knee on the platform. Facing parallel to the side of the platform so that the whole right leg is over the edge and the right knee is resting.
Straighten the right leg and raise it at the hip. the range of motion should be from the foot touching the ground to the foot being higher that the hips (all the while keeping a straight let at the knee.
try to complete 2 sets of 25.

These two exercises will increase your speed, stride length and also your stability. Try to get these in weekly and you will see results fast, gaining an edge on your competition
Good luck and run fast

Strength: The truth about weight and resistance training (to the root)

A misconception that I have come across often in my time involved in sport is that if you want big muscles, if you want strength, if you want power, you NEED to use weights in the gym. One thing that you have to understand if you’re planning on building strength is that muscles are charged more by the nervous system than the strength of the fibres within a muscle. What i mean by this is that when we build strength it is not always the break down and repair of the muscle fibers themselves, but the exercise of charging as much energy, electricity if you will, through the nervous system into the muscle to make it contract.

That said, it seems ludicrous to me that some people will claim that “If you want strong legs you need weights”… interestingly the same guys can’t do ONE single leg squat; but that’s for another post. The point i’m trying to make is that the element of resistance training which develops strength isn’t at all exclusive to a gym, and you can carry out extremely high resistance exercises using very basic, if any, equipment.