My Off-Season Reset

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You may have seen on Patrick’s “Physiology Geek Friday” blog last week that he had the pleasure of running me through a Functional Movement Screen recently.  I’ll give you a little background…

I felt like I had a pretty good 2017, with regard to fitness, training/competing, and general health.  But this peaked sometime in September, then life took over.  For the past couple months, I’ve been able to spend many fewer hours running, on the bike, in the pool, or in the gym.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s a cyclical thing that will surely ebb and flow in the future as well.  

As I started to get back into the groove though, I realized that everything was not firing on all cylinders.  There was nothing specific, and certainly no injury.  On my runs, my ankles felt unstable.  I didn’t feel “solid”, and running felt harder.  Efficient running should be comfortable and have a feel of “gliding”…at least up to a certain effort.  This wasn’t present anymore.  On the bike I could feel more low back fatigue and more engagement of my upper body.  I realized that, in addition to aerobic deconditioning, my musculoskeletal fitness had slipped as well.

Athletes are hard-pressed to add aerobic load onto the foundation of a weak body.  It’s a very ineffective process.  Recognizing this, I went back to the drawing board.  I’ve been here before, and I know how to address the issue and ensure gains.  Oh…and this type of advice is what I offer up for a living.

I’m laying out this process as an example of how I think most athletes should address a portion of every year, most often in the off-season.  Here’s what I’m doing to ensure I bounce back, and it’s what I’d recommend most athletes do this time of year.

  1. Start with a formal, personalized assessment of your strength, stability, and mobility.  How well do you move?  We use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which is a well-known, validated test used around the world for this purpose.  There are certainly other ways to accomplish the same thing, but this is a gold standard.
  2. Have a personalized corrective plan created for you based on the results of your assessment.  Generic plans are moderately effective, but who wants to put in the time and effort, only to reap “moderately effective” results?  Have someone craft a plan for you that focuses on your needs and your goals.
  3. Take advantage of the cold winter days to spend time working out indoors.  This is the time of year to build the strength that you’ll use throughout your training and racing in 2018.
  4. Advance your workout. Don’t just do the same thing for the next three months.  Your program should be dynamic.  Just as the first workouts are starting to seem routine and much easier, step it up.

I started into my prescribed workouts last week.  Patrick has created two longer workouts for me (45-60 minute sessions each), which I do 2-3 times per week.  I’ll also add in 2-3 twenty minute “functional” sessions on other days, in addition to other activities.  Here are a few of my favorite (or most hated?) exercises from Week 1:

Try them out and see what you think!

I’ll post an occasional update to let you know how this progresses.  For those interested, we offer the FMS and corrective exercise prescription in our Performance Lab.  Additionally, Patrick is taking a limited number of personal training clients currently.  Workouts will be based on a formal assessment and an understanding of what you want to accomplish as an athlete.  As he told me today, “any trainer can make you really sore.  My goal is to work clients hard, but still leave them able to do their training on the bike or running.”  I’d say he’s hit that nail on the head with me.