Monday, April 10, 2017

My Biggest Misconceptions Growing Up: Performance

By: Joel Luedke

This is part two of 'My Biggest Misconceptions Growing Up' and this one focuses on the Performance side of these misconceptions.  I didn't have the resources that I do now growing up in my training life (maybe I did but I didn't know how to use them).  My training consisted of reading Muscle and Fitness along with FLEX magazine.  Nothing is wrong with those if you are working towards bodybuilding goals but turns out those don't always apply to athletic performance as much as one would like them to.

I've personally come a long way since that time and thankfully have 'wised up' for at least the time being (we will check back in about 10 years).  The purpose of these is to shed a little light on a) why I thought these ideas were the way to go and b) what I've learned since and how you can apply it now.  On to the first one.

A 5-Day Bodybuilding Split is Good For Athletics
I referenced this one above a little bit but that style of training while it can be good to add some mass and there is a time and place for that it wasn't exactly making me a better athlete and utilizing all the muscles and movements at full capacity.  How the split went.

  • Monday: Chest and biceps
  • Tuesday: Back and triceps
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Shoulders and abs
  • Friday: Anything else repeated
Again, good for muscle but when I look back at what was missing I find a lot of things.  Very little to no explosive work (i.e. pulls, cleans, etc), absolutely no rotational work (i.e. chops, anti-rotation), and no corrective or mobility work.  Straight up try and get bigger. This leaves a lot on the table and things that I would never have the athletes I work with now miss.  It is important to have a well balanced program that is designed to achieve your goals.

Bigger Calves and Quads Mean Jumping Higher
Coming up through athletics I thought plyometrics was just a fancy word for jumping.  I had no idea what it meant and no ideas how to utilize them.  My solution was getting stronger and training your leg in anyway that you can would make you jump higher.  I was so off in this thinking that I thought doing mid distance running would be enough to get bigger legs and then in turn jump higher.  Yeah, that is how wrong I was.  Same thing with lifting.  Knee extensions on the machine and seated along with standing calf raises were some of my favorites.  As you can imagine that did not turn out to an increased vertical.

While I still squatted and did plenty of lunges and got my vertical some what improved I could have done so much more.  Just playing basketball wasn't quite enough.  Utilize plyometrics smartly and you can cut your training time down into the minimally effective dose.  Using plyometrics not only around your workouts but in their own training sessions can make a huge difference and it doesn't always have to big huge movements.  Focusing on the little things such as strengthening ankles and reaction forces can make a huge difference for small movements.  Bottom line: knee extensions only build muscle, not make it jump higher and you also need more than just calf raises.

Look Up When You Squat
This one might be one of the most eye opening ones and one that took me longer than any to figure out.  When I was taught to squat and you were coming out of the bottom you were told to look up at the ceiling.  Little did I know I was probably robbing myself of strength and power just by that simple change in my spinal position.   I'll save you all the reading on this one and check out the video we put together showing the whole process and why:

Never Ever, No Matter What Stop Working as Hard As You Can
I was going to struggle with this one a little bit because I very much believe in hard work and I think it is ok that there is quite a bit involved to get some where that you want.  Then I heard this quote "If hard work was all it took to make champions there would be all kinds of champions running around.  Hard work applied at the right time to maximize effectiveness is what makes champions."  I thin this sums it up quite well and I couldn't have phrased it any other way.  Hard work is great but do it in the confines of a well structured program.  You can't blow it out every single day and expect the progress and gains to keep on coming.  You could potentially set yourself back even by pushing to hard.  Play it smart and listen to your body to help maximize potential.

This wraps up the performance side of the misconceptions series and we will get back with the misconceptions on taking care of yourself and the sports medicine side.  If you have any questions about anything covered in this article please shoot me an email at

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