It’s interesting that in this day and age we still look at athletic accolades in any sport like they were brought upon with will or heart. As if will itself guided an inhuman response to the increased performance of this individual. Sadly though we are also being berated with fallen heroes in this respect, such as the influx of PED’s in the cycling world, the fight community, both in MMA as well as boxing. It almost seems like what we used to look at in wonder in the athletic world, now seems to be replaced by Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s). As if Will or heart just isn’t enough anymore; anything that will take the athlete one inch further, make them a half a second faster, and so forth. It almost puts this next BLOG in the right place though when I ask, was it heart or cardio?
Let’s understand that I’m not attacking this generation of athletes regardless of the scandals that have surrounded them. Whether you look at baseball, Tour de France, or the myriad of weightlifting athletes or countries banned from Olympic competition this past year. I’m just trying to prove my point, that although we’d like to see the underdog come out on top with the will to beat his record time or the enhanced opponent in front of him/her, the reality is that at any stage of an athlete’s career, it will be his properly conditioned body that will take him further.
Cardio comes from the Greek word ‘Kardiac.’ Another way of reading this is “heart” in English. That’s right, maybe it’s not the valiant effort that pushed certain athletes over the pinnacle rather it was their conditioned heart that helped them. Now please don’t mistake me when I generalize cardio, by thinking that all athletes should be running on the treadmill or riding a stationary bike or any other apparatus you can think of. I am saying that every athlete should take their conditioning, sport specific of course, very seriously; it can be the deciding factor at the right moment in their careers.
So let me digress for a moment. I’ve been privy to conversations with coaches in the past that have let me know that their teams’ failures are because of the lack of heart on the ice or pitch. Or recently a coach mentioned that someday he was going to try these exhaustive exercises he’s prescribed to his athletes and see how tough they really are! Well, one coach is running his athletes into the ground as punishment for losing and not having the hearts to win which contradicts the science behind recovery and in season maintenance training. While the other is throwing together exercises that he thinks might improve his athlete’s conditioning without forethought or even asking why? These are examples of people that should stick to the sport specific aspects they actually are really good at, such as drills and techniques for their particular sport, and let the professionals step in and teach the strength and conditioning factors involved in said sports.
There is one caveat though and I include myself in this boat, there are a lot of strength and conditioning coaches that lack the understanding of how to properly condition athletes in many sports. I add myself in here because there was a time early in my career as a strength coach I was trying to find my bearings and allowed certain influences dictate my philosophy on what conditioning truly should be. As time passed I realized that I took for granted what I’d learned in school and later realized that the basic pillars of understanding training in all of its aspects were right in front of me; energy systems! Sometimes we focus so much on the newest and latest that we forget the basics. Mike Robertson once said recently in his Physical Preparation podcast, “you have to learn Bompa before you learn Issurin.”
A truer statement could not have been said better. I learned the hard way that to truly better these athletes and improve my performance as a coach, I needed to go back to the basics. Therefore I needed to understand that if you want to condition your athletes to the best of your abilities, you need to:
1. Breakdown the sport they play
2. Breakdown their position
3. Breakdown their playing time
4. Finally; understand the energy systems involved in that sport
That’s correct, The most important factor is understanding the energy systems involved in that sport. Here is a question to most MMA coaches, and I don’t want to pick on you specifically, but I feel that this is an ongoing problem. To simplify, in MMA, you stand, kick, punch, grapple, and groundwork, correct? Then why in the world do you persist in training HIIT or circuits on a constant basis? MMA coaches, if your fighter loses, it’s not because he lacked heart. He might not even lack the skills needed, but he did lack the right conditioning (cardio). So, I guess, in this respect, he did lack heart.
I’m 45 years old and I’ve recently just walked back into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after a 4-month break and I’m positive that a 20-year-old kid off the street in shorts and a t-shirt will give me a run for my money on the mats just because my conditioning isn’t there. So when someone says to me, I got no heart, they’re correct, but give me a little time strength and conditioning, combined with BJJ practice, and the kid in shorts and a t-shirt better pack a lunch.
When confronted with the question, “was it heart or cardio?” I have to say yes, to both as they are synonymous. PED’s aside, you take two athletes competing for the same accolade, both in perfect conditions, perfect skill levels, in a perfect environment I might say the winner showed more heart or let’s call it will. The rest of us though, need to up our conditioning, but we need to train smart and understand our sport. Because if there’s one thing that truly sucks, is injuries and in most sports, this happens in lieu of bad conditioning coaching.
My friends, if you take your training seriously and would like advice on how to up your game, feel free to contact me; email@example.com. I’d be happy to help you get to the next level of your sport. Until next time;
Stay healthy my friends, and work that heart muscle!
Oscar Wilde once wrote,”Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
I stop think; what were the self image problems of that time in comparison to today to make such a bold statement?
As I scour the internet for a good article to read in relation to training, movement, and health I see a lot of “Laudanum” being sold everywhere I stop! That ever potent snake oil sold by a new age snake charmers and I think to myself; wait this isn’t the wild west! This isn’t the 19th century where alchemy competes with real medicine!
Nope, this is the the 21st century and yet the snake charmers of today aren’t much different, they’re self helpers with no back up proof trying to give you the the answer you want rather then the one you need.
The truth is the brands representing protein powders, fat burners, and any other ridiculous diet of the week limiting you to 800 Kcal/day, is not sold because there’s too many frauds in this world that are willing to sell you these products. NOOOO! It’s because there’s too many people willing to buy said products or services believing that there’s an easier way then training, eating right, and getting a great sleep!
It’s because there’s too many out there who are still looking for the ever elusive fountain of youth that’s filled with six packs and biceps; I don’t like mine so let me try that one on for size! Looking at this situation in our society, I’d say Oscar Wilde was on to something. I’d say whatever was going on in his world probably wasn’t too far from ours.
Looking back at my company and clients, it’s taken some of them a long time to realize after training for years with me that there’s more to reaching your goals then a bootcamp 2 or 3 times a week. There’s a discipline that follows the training;
1. there’s a good diet
2. portion control
3. breaking bad habits
4. creating good habits
5. sticking to your programs
five examples of factors involved in getting you closer to that fountain you see on the magazine racks at the grocery store, or trolling through the internet.
There’s words we cringe at in this millennial era; commitment, accountability, discipline… So on and so forth. But words we forgot were instilled in us through our parents. These aren’t words that we should run from, because these were values that were passed down to us to make us better reflections of ourselves.
At the end of the day I can’t look elsewhere for what I want, or what I want to look like. I have to dig deep within myself and venture the long hard path to achieve that holistic happiness we search for.
I run because I train for a race, I improve my cardiovascular endurance and burn a load of calories. I lift weights because I want strong muscles, tendons, ligaments, and core; so that I can stand tall and live healthy. I sleep like a bear so that I can continue training the way I do and recuperate faster. I eat with the intent of enjoying my meals, fuelling my workouts, feel healthy and at 42 keep the weight down as well. I don’t do this for any other reason, but ironically enough, the other reasons people look for just happen as well because I do these things.
I am myself, everyone else is taken…
Be happy with you, inspire others to be themselves, have a few beers on the way, and stay healthy my friends.