Autor: markyoung

~ 31/08/09

In my head I can often here my grad school statistics professor saying “68 percent of the population fall within one standard deviation from the mean”.  What this means, besides the fact that I’m a total geek, is that whenever there is an average response to something (such as a training program) this only applies directly to approximately 70% of the people you use it on.




That is not to say that it won’t work at all on the others, but that it has the greatest chance of success with the majority that fall closest to the average.  The further you are away from the average the less likely the plan is to work on you.


Of course, this assumes a normal bell curve and, without getting into too much statistics, I can tell you than not every physiological phenomenon occurs like that.  Sometimes the results are skewed more to one side or the other meaning that a lot more people or less people are responsive to a certain program.



And finally there are people that scientists like to call “outliers”.  You can see in the picture above that these are people who don’t fit the rest of the data.  They stand out by themselves and their results are not typical of the rest of people being tested.  These are the people that scientists like to remove from the data because they make statistical analysis more difficult.  However, these are the people who are more likely to respond to a specific plan that may not work for everyone else.  On the flip side, they are also less likely to respond to the program that does work for everyone else.


My main point here is that everyone in the fitness industry has their philosophy.  For nutrition some people like to tell you to eat for your blood type, others will tell you to eat based on your ethnic background, and some will tell you to eat based on your skin caliper measures.  Still, others will tell you just to eat the same thing as everyone else they train because they don’t know any other way.


High Suprailiac Skinfold - Low carbs for you tubby!

High Suprailiac Skinfold - "Low carbs for you tubby!"


With training some people will design your program based on fiber type, others will base it on a Functional Movement Screen, Z Health, or other type screen.  And some will exclusively use kettlebells, strongman equipment, other implements in their program design.


As an intelligent trainee or coach I agree that it is important to have a base philosophy to work from.  This will provide a starting point for yourself or your clients.  However, even more important is not being too attached to your program or your ego to let it go when it possibly isn’t the best plan for up to 30% of the population.


No matter how much science you have backing up your program, it doesn’t mean squat if you’re not getting results.  Ultimately this leaves me with two take home points.


1.  Measure your progress.

If you’re not measuring your progress you don’t know if you’re moving forward, backwards, or staying the same.  Of course, this assumes that you already you have specific and measurable goals to work towards, but you already knew that because you’re too smart to be training with no goals…aren’t you?


2.  Use Results Based Programming

If you (or your clients) are not moving towards your goals then you need to revise your system.  You need to look at your previous measures of results to find out what brought the biggest gains.  This means looking back at your training and nutrition logs (you have these too right?) and seeing what worked.


*As a side note to trainers and coaches, this is also the point for you to evaluate YOUR system.  Have you been pursuing one system for a long time to the exclusion of all others.  Maybe it is time to look at something else for a while.  Don’t worry…your system will still be there when you get back.  The more resistant you are to this idea, the more you probably need to follow the advice.*


In the end, systems are great tools, but results are paramount.  Explore and read all you can about as many systems as you can and select the one the brings results for the specific person or situation.  Better yet, take elements of many systems and create your own.  No one system is perfect.  Except mine, of course.  Just kidding.

Autor: markyoung

~ 27/08/09



Let’s be honest.  We all want to have the newest hardcore training tools, but it just isn’t a reality for everyone.  Sometimes when you’ve spent all your hard earned money on Mylie Cyrus tickets and Soap Opera Digest there’s just nothing left to purchase the coolest implements around.


That’s when my incredible wife drops me a link to a website that contains all sorts of sick information on how to build your own sled, tornado ball, thick handle dumbbells, or how to get your very own giant tire.  I can’t vouch for any of these as I haven’t tried any of them yet, but some of them look pretty cool.


Check them out for yourself HERE.


Give some of them a try and let me know how it goes.

Autor: markyoung

~ 24/08/09



As many of you may know, I believe that reading for an hour per day is paramount if you hope to become a leader in any field.  Fitness and nutrition are no different.  Here are a few things to get you started for today.


The following 4 articles are written by Thomas Myers (the brilliant guy who wrote Anatomy Trains) and cover anything and everything to do with the psoas.  If you’ve been taught to believe that the psoas is solely responsible for anterior pelvic tilt, you might reconsider after you read these articles.  The reading involved is a little bit heavy, but well worth every second.


The Opinionated Psoas – Part 1

Is the psoas a hip flexor?  Does it cause internal or external rotation?


The Opinionated Psoas – Part 2

Does the psoas rotate the pelvis anteriorly or posteriorly?  GREAT READ.


The Opinionated Psoas – Part 3

What happens when the psoas is tight on only one side?  More importantly, how do you read compensations that occur?  Can you see it when you look at someone?


The Psoas Psubustitutes – Part 4

Thomas introduces the concept of locals and expresses.  Which muscles can substitute for the psoas?


As much of what is written in these articles is speculative and based more on practice than theory, I invite you to leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Autor: markyoung

~ 18/08/09


Recently I received an email asking me if there was a difinitive test for core stability.  The very real truth is that I think there is no single test, but a combination of tests should reveal a lot about what we want to know.


Personally, I’ve been heavily influenced by Stuart McGill and Shirley Sahrmann.   I’ve also taken some great ideas from bright guys like Mike Robertson,  Bill Hartman, and Gray Cook to formulate some of my core testing tools.


To start let’s just address the fundamentals.  Strength is the ability to produce force and stability is the ability to control it.  So doing crunches on a stability ball with a hundred pound dumbbell on your chest might make you strong (although I think it makes you look ridiculous), it isn’t going to improve your core stability.  To be stable you must be able to RESIST the applied force without movement.


Going hand in hand with this notion is the idea that is currently being promoted by many educated coaches and trainers that repeated spinal flexion is a bad idea because it increases the risk of spinal disc injury.  In other words, crunches suck!


Finally, lets remember that the core doesn’t just include the rectus abdominus or the anterior core muscles.  It essentially forms a belt around us and includes more muscles than I’d like to count at this very moment.  Knowing this, it is essential to investigate the muscles all around the core to determine stability.  More importantly, we are not going to test the strength of these muscles, but the ability of them to support the core under load.  In the case of the lower back, endurance is actually far more important than strength for injury prevention.


Here is a quick little protocol that I like to use as a starting point:


1. Front Plank

While doing this movement I like to place a dowel on the person’s back and have them maintain 3 points of contact.  The dowel should remain in contact with the glutes, upper back, and head.  If one of those points is lost then the timer stops.  (Note: I swiped this tip from Mike Robertson)

You should be able to hold this position for 2 minutes.


2. Side Plank – Should be able to hold for 90 seconds

This is as easy as it sounds.  The body should be held straight in a full side plank position for 90 seconds per side.  Note any assymetry between the sides as this is a strong predictor on injury risk.  Work on bringing the weaker side up to match the stronger side before trying to increase the overall time.

You should be able to hold this position for 90 seconds.


3. Back Extension Hold

Set up at though you’re going to do a back extension and hold yourself in the extended position.  As with the front plank, use the dowel along the spine to ensure proper alignment by maintaing 3 points of contact.

You should be able to hold this position for 2 minutes.


4. Double Leg Lower

To perform this test you want to lie on your back and raise both legs straight up into the air.  From here, I’d suggest placing your hands on your external obliques or crossed over your chest.  They cannot be on the floor.  Now slowly begin to lower your legs while concentrating on keeping your lower back flat on the floor.  (Note: a hard floor is more effective than a mat for determining success on this test)

If your feet hit the floor before your lower back raises you have passed.  If not, you suck and you should check yourself into the wimp hall of fame.  Just kidding, but your ability to control your core is probably lacking in this respect.


5.  Rotational Stability

I also like to assess rotational stability by using a test from the functional movement screen.  If you’re going to fail only one of these tests, this will probably be it.  You can check it out HERE.


Again, these only serve at starting points and there are obviously other factors affecting stability of the core, but these tests should be enough to get you rolling.


In the coming weeks I’ll be releasing an audio interview series that will detail how some of the world’s leading experts test and train the core for performance and just plain looking sexy.  Keep your eyes peeled for that.


In the meantime, drop me a note in the comments to let me know how you make out on the tests above.

Autor: markyoung

~ 17/08/09



As many of you may know, I believe that reading for an hour per day is paramount if you hope to become a leader in any field.  Fitness and nutrition are no different.  Here are a few things to get you started for today.


My Ah-Ha Moments – By Mike Boyle

I especially like points one and two.  While many believe that the nervous systems governs the body (which it obviously does) I concretely believe that if the body has been in a certain state for some time, the muscle itself will have adapted and needs to be addressed as well as the nervous system for optimal function to return.


Self Ankle Mobilization – By Bill Hartman

If you’re having pressure or pain with your ankle mobility drills or your ankle mobility just isn’t what it should be you should check this out.  And just to save you time, this is a short video instead of making you read more.   I know…you’re welcome.


Thoughts?  Comments?  Light up the comment section below.

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