Monday, 28 December 2009

Show me overwhelming evidence, and I will change my mind.

*Note: Written by Russ, posted by Jacob.

Last week my mother trained at CrossFit Monterey for the first time. I took her through the standard warm-up and Beginner WOD. Though she swore that she wouldn't be able to complete the workout many times, she nonetheless completed over 100 squats, 15 ring rows, 27 push presses with 30 lbs., 45 jumping pullups, 3 tuck holds, and 15 knee pushups. It meant a lot to me to be able to show her what we do at CrossFit Monterey. Most people have no idea what an intelligent personal trainer does; the stereotype of the semi-retarded globo-gym trainer is far more prevalent in our culture.

My mother and I talked after the workout about CrossFit. She asked me an important question: how is it that, after seven years of CrossFit, I still am able to learn new things? I told her that I learn more about training every single day. I believe that I will continue to learn more about physical training every day of my life. Consider the fields of knowledge pertinent to effective coaching: psychology, nutrition, physiology, kinesiology, physics, logic, statistics, rhetoric, and more. Specializing in even one of these fields will fill a lifetime of study and practice. There is certainly enough material to keep a trainer constantly busy.

It would be impossible for any one trainer to be an expert in all of these fields. A good trainer must therefore draw on the experience of experts in other fields to supplement his own understanding. But how is a non-expert to know which methods to choose?

At EYF we evaluate methods in two principle ways: the performance data of athletes who use a particular method, and our personal experience with that method. Though we are very assertive of our own points of view, at the same time we are constantly experimenting, reviewing performance data, and tweaking our methods correspondingly.

Last weekend is an excellent example of this. I had the opportunity to work with Jeff Alexander of Network Fitness. It was my first professional introduction to Self-Myofascial Release (SMR). I had a little experience with this method from the folks at Balance Gym and the other trainers at CrossFit Monterey, but I had never put much stock in the method. I hadn't seen enough evidence to change my mind. Now I have.

The picture at the top of this post illustrates the difference that Jeff's SMR techniques made. After about 20 minutes of work on my right side's shoulder and pectoral muscles, I decided to test out what difference the work had made in my range of motion. You can see the result below. I had 3-4 inches of additional ROM in my right shoulder that was not present in my un-treated left shoulder. For someone who has often struggled with maintaining proper overhead position, this is a big deal.

Moving forward, I am going to research SMR more deeply and experiment with it more on my own. How else should I act when confronted with overwhelming evidence?

Post to comments any breakthroughs that you've had in fitness recently. It could be a nutritional strategy, exercise technique, programming method, or anything else. Post also anything you've changed your mind about, and why.


CrossFit Christchurch - Pete said...

It seems the more I study,coach and train, the more I learn how much more can be learnt about the fundamental movements.

Its incredibly exciting!

Would love to hear more about your SMR experiences - have you got any good links for further info?
Many thanks - you've got a great blog!

Russ Greene said...


I'm no expert so I'll defer to Jeff Alexander's intro to SMR:

Thanks for the kind words.

CrossFit Christchurch - Pete said...

Thanks Russ!