Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fitness for your lifestyle - What you can learn from Tiger Woods mistakes

As I highlighted in the video above, all of us have to consider how our lifestyle relates to our fitness and dietary practices.  Tiger Woods is a high profile, very visible example of what can go wrong when your goals do not match up with what you are doing on a daily basis with your workout program. 

Golf is a sport that calls for a balance between finesse and technique.  Historically the golfer who hits the ball the farthest is not the one who wins the most tournaments.  A proper golf swing involves a delicate balance in combining the inertia generated through the torque force created by the hips and lower body in conjunction with the angled swinging motion generated by stabilized operation in which the head, neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists are all involved.  There are physiological and technical reasons why some people are better at driving a ball off the tee compared to putting the ball on the green.  Golf reminds me a lot of playing Billiards: there is a lot of physical and mathematical science behind the execution within the confines of the game.

When you understand the sport science involved in golf you see how it relates to Tiger Woods.  Tiger is arguably one of the most fit and athletic golfers to ever play.  He also has one of the most violent swings in the history of the PGA Tour.  Tiger’s workout regimen over the years is comparable to that of a two-sport college athlete who plays football in the fall and baseball in the spring.  His physique is comparable to Florida State University Quarterback and Pitcher Jameis Winston.

 The biggest difference between Winston and Woods is their age.  Tiger is so driven, a perfectionist, that he keeps hitting the weights like he is still a younger man.  The body can only take so much “abuse”.  To have a physique like Woods, the individual spends at least 66 percent of their workout building and developing slow twitch muscle fibers.  The problem with this is that if you do not incorporate other forms of strength building exercises (cross training, flexibility training, balance training, etc.) when you go to execute athlete feats that involve the torch, balance and technique found in golf, the body is not built to respond fluidly to those actions.  Without enough diversity in an exercise program the individual limits the ability to maximize their physical potential and can potential hurt themselves.

Bruce Lee wrote in his books 50 years ago about understanding the difference between “Functional Strength” and “Visual Strength”.  A major example of this difference has to do with our Core Muscles.  The human core muscles is a group of muscles that stretch from the bottom of the hip complex at the top of the Quadriceps and extends up to the Diaphragm just below the Pectorals’ Muscles.  In order to “Strengthen your Core” you must strength more than just Abs, it also includes your lower and middle back.  Bruce Lee wrote about how many athletes only work on the top level of their Abdominal muscles and neglect the interior abdominal muscles along with the back muscles that are crucial for stability and protecting your organs.  Sometimes you see Models and Actors/Actress on TV with “Sexy Abs” yet if those same people with “Sexy Abs” get punched in the gut, they drop to the ground gasping for air just like a person who has a “flabby gut”.  Having Functional Muscle means your Core is Strong, Stable, Flexible and Sustainable for life.

When you see on the news Tiger Woods having “back problems”, “back spasms”, etc. and then they show on TV him swing the club followed by Woods immediately grabbing his back; this is a sign that Woods lacks the fluidity and flexibility to sustain his high torque golf swing.  In order to be able to execute and sustain such a golf swing, Tiger should cut back on the upper body resistance workouts and transition to more Flexibility and Core Synergistic Training.  Exercise routines found in Yoga and Pilates are general examples of Flexibility and Balance training.
The same goes for all of us concerning how our workouts affect us.  Ask yourself these questions:

1. What are your fitness/health goals?  How does it relate to my exercise program and nutritional habits?
-These questions are very important because there is no generic, “cookie cutter” program out there that works for everyone.  If you are skinny and trying to build muscle, you should not exercise and eat the way someone who is trying to lose weight and tone their body would do.  Some people have faster/slower metabolisms; some people are naturally athletic while others athletic achievements happened in middle school during Recess.  The reality is that in order to reach your goals you must understand what your body can handle and what you really want from your fitness program.

You have to take into account how what you are doing relates to your body and your goals by taking into consideration your lifestyle.  Do you sit frequently at your job?  If so, try to avoid the stationary bike at the gym.  Sitting for long periods of time puts pressure on your lower back and hips causing back spasms and relative flexibility which can lead to injury.  Instead of the stationary bike, switch to the Elliptical.  Are you a parent with kids?  Then you need to do workouts that enhance your ability to keep up with your kids and their activities.  What’s the point of working out if you are too sore to pick up your 6 year old? Understand how what you do daily impacts your fitness and health goals and Vice Versa.

2. What are your physical and metabolic strengths and weaknesses?
-This is very often overlooked by many people, even those in the fitness community.  Let’s use myself as an example.  My “Physical Strengths” are muscles such as biceps, abs, pectorals, quadriceps, and hamstrings.  My “Physical Weaknesses” include a history of knee, shoulder, and back problems.  I have to consider my strengths and weakness with my workout program.  Usually I plan the days I work on back and legs in the days right after my rest day so I can let my body reset before I go after muscle groups that can give me problems.  Also some cardio programs I have to modify because my knee lacks the stability to do certain explosive movements.  I have to take into consideration what my body can handle.

Similarly, my “metabolic Weaknesses” include Lactose Intolerance.  In the Nutrition and Supplement world many people and companies push the use of Whey and Casein Protein.  Whey and Casein Protein are derived from lactose proteins in Milk.  So, I have to watch the foods and supplements I ingest so I do not have an allergic reaction.  I substitute the use of dairy-based protein by increasing my consumption during the week of Beef.  It may sound very simple but think about it: Whey/Casein comes from Milk proteins, milk comes from cows, and beef is cow meat.  Lean Beef is an excellent source of protein and has all the nutrients my body needs without having to put a bunch of extra powders in my smoothies.

So before you start a new fitness or nutrition program consider these two important questions.  Improving your health and fitness is supposed to be a positive process, a journey towards a better overall standard of living.  It should not be a pathway to injuries or new health problems.  If you can discuss your options with a Personal Trainer, Health or Fitness Professional you can trust. 

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