I utilize a notecard system to help me organize similar material I come across from various resources. My intent over the next few years is to share and continually update these notecards with you.
This notecard is all about building the essential quality of acceleration.
Effective acceleration relies positioning the body to maximize force application into the ground.
“The ground is the well from which you draw speed” ~Dan Pfaff
There are three keys to acceleration:
Rhythm – pace and steps should follow a crescendo (like a slow clap).
Rise – There should be an incremental rise in center of mass (like an airplane taking off)
Projection – the system continues to go forward1
The most important key to accelerating well is a fast and large first step2. It is this first step, and the distance gained from the first step, that initiates the desirable acceleration crescendo.
Keeping the body and shin angle at 45 degrees allows horizontal and vertical forces to merge in a manner that is necessary for acceleration2,3. If short, choppy steps are performed during this phase, then less force is applied into the ground.
Lower Extremity Mechanics
The leg and toe should stay low to generate push-off in the first few steps, though this is not something we wish to cue4. Some sprint coaches will cue dragging the toe to reinforce position, but this strategy is undesirable. Toe drag increases friction and slows the athlete down2.
Equally problematic is staying too low. If below 45 degrees, the athlete will step laterally instead of forward, simply because staying too low minimizes hip flexion range of motion2.
The feet ought to stay relatively underneath the body during acceleration. If legs begin to reach out in front of the athlete, the athlete will then slow down. Feet under the hips are accelerators, whereas feet in front of the body are brakes5
Upper Extremity and Neck Mechanics
From an upper body standpoint, the head and shoulders ought to also stay low, or the body will upright too early4. As the upper body rises, the chest should be visible before the chin1.
Early uprighting is typically related to reduced power output, sport-skill induced (e.g. a football lineman), or a potentially a neck issue6,7.
Arms ought to reach forward and out with each step. These mechanics are called frontside mechanics. This arm action reduces excessive backside mechanics (i.e. arms fall too much behind the body, driving extension) from occurring, which will prematurely upright the body7. Moving the hands first and fast can help create push-off from the backside leg4.
Eyes ought to fixate on a ground point 2-3m ahead of where the individual ought is going. If looking further forward, neck extension will prematurely uprights the individual, diminishing time spent in acceleration3.
Acceleration Energy Systems
Maximum acceleration is alactic in nature, and the longer time we can spend accelerating, the better.
The zone of acceleration is the distance over which one is able to accelerate prior to reaching maximum velocity. In elite 100m runners, this typically constitutes the first 60-80m of the race for males, 40-60m for females; with the bulk of acceleration occurring within the first 30m3.
If one can make their zone of acceleration longer and faster, we can prolong shifting to lactic metabolism as the primary energy system. Glycolysis, the reaction of lactic metabolism, is a slower energy reaction than the ATP-CP reaction of alactic metabolism. Longer time to produce energy begets slower outputs and likely fatigue3. As fatigue sets in, increases occur in ground contact time, amortization, and flight times2.
Fully automatic timing (FAT) is recommended as a measure when training acceleration, simply because the margins for improvement of this quality are minor3.
The error for which hand timing creates is astronomical. You roughly have to add 0.4s to each run to account for this error; 0.24s for basic error, and 0.13-0.16 for reaction time on the start/stop3.
Acceleration in Sport
When not starting from the blocks, an individual still positions oneself in a manner that emphasizes acceleration angles. This maneuver is called a repositioning step. The repositioning step is not a true step, but a drop into a position that allows for effective acceleration6.
As you can see in the above video, these athletes utilize a repositioning step to drop their center of mass at an angle that allows them to effectively propel themselves into the desired direction.
There are many modalities that can be used to drive acceleration mechanics. Here are some of the common methods espoused by various coaches.
Keep the incline at 5-10%3.
Here is a video of the Jamican sprinter Yohan Blake hitting these up
Resistance allows you to remain in acceleration longer, thus can be a useful modality to train this quality4.
Adding resistance cannot conflict with decreasing ground contact time or increased flight time that occurs with progressive acceleration, thus only add as much weight as form allows2,5.
Sled pulls offer the edge of allowing arm actions to drive proper acceleration mechanics
Whereas pushing a prowler maintains the acceleration angle throughout.
The step up from prone allows for emphasis on acceleration push-off3.
Though the guy above doesn’t get as much forward arm reach as I’d like, his first step into the acceleration position is money.
Supine sprint starts are another great method to train acceleration, and may be especially useful in team sports for recovery after a fall3.
With this cat in the above video, I would like a larger first step, but he maintains a good acceleration angle without too early of a rise.
External Cue Sprint
Placing an object in front of the client that he or she must aim to sprint through can help create a larger first step. Ball drop activities can be useful in this case6.
This technique can be utilized to encourage a large first step. A large first step is a reactive action that occurs to prevent the fall.
Typically, this drill was done being from an upright start, but the tendency for early rise and backside mechanics is much higher with this starting position. A better drive angle can occur if the client starts in a low position7:
Acceleration Technique Drills
If you want to improve specific aspects of acceleration that cannot be achieved with coaching or training, implementing drills can be a useful way to break the acceleration skill down into its specific components.
For lower extremity mechanics, a wall drill is commonly used. Here are the components necessary to perform the wall drill successfully:
Start at shoulder height with the wrists
Body is in a straight line
90 degrees hip flexion
heel under hamstring
Piston up/down emphasis6
That said, cleaning up arm mechanics oftentimes takes care of any inefficient leg mechanics, and is much easier to coach7. Since the wall drill fixes the arms onto the wall, the transfer amount to acceleration is questionable.
A perhaps better alternative could be a low box drill, which both allows for arm drive and places the athlete at an appropriate angle6.
Acceleration can be addressed daily because it is a skill. Volume must be modulated accordingly to prevent overtraining and maintain power output8.
A typical session could be 3 series of 5 sets of 10 m (3x5x10m) with 60-120s of recovery; keeping a total volume of 150-350m pending the sport7. Building up volume over time, especially in team sports athletes, may allow for better sport skill performance come end-game7.
Since acceleration is an alactic endeavor, distances trained ought to reflect the point where maximum velocity is hit. Once maximum velocity is hit, acceleration is over2. Capping the durations at 6 seconds is a prudent way to achieve this goal3.
In an overall progression of things, many coaches favor the short to long method. That is, starting with shorter runs, then slowly increasing the distance of one run over time. A recommended acceleration-focused example of this would be starting at 5m and working up to 20m accelerations3.
Supportive Exercises for Acceleration
Quarter squats at submaximal load and/or Olympic lifts are effective exercises to incorporate when performing acceleration training. Single leg jumps and throws with a similar (<80 degree) knee bend are also effective3.
In regards to weight amounts, absolute strength (>90% 1 repetition max) will help with improving the first two steps, whereas power training (fast accelerations, 20-50% 1 repetition max) helps with the first eight steps2.
While far from exhaustive, the references that I have had the pleasure of learning from have taught me a great deal in regards to training and improving acceleration, and have helped me quite a bit with improving these qualities in my clients.
Effective acceleration relies on force application into the ground
Acceleration stops once maximum velocity is attained
Maintain a slow, low rise upon increasing velocity
Cueing arm forward and out arms actions is a simple and effective way to fix most acceleration errors
Distances and durations for training acceleration ought to be short
Which techniques and resources do you draw from to cue acceleration? Comment below and I can add to this notecard.
I’d also be remiss to not gave a shout out to Dave Rascoe for making the entire trip and course possible. You are a dear friend, and glad you reached out to me earlier in the year.
I also must give a shout out to all the wonderful people who I finally got a chance to meet in person, including Lucy Hendricks (thx for helping me wake the sleeping giant called my right butt), D-Wil and Tom Cooper for the greatest training session of my life, Aaron Davis for sparking me to think about a wide variety of things, Brenda Gregory for #explaininglabs and being awesome, Paul Monje for teaching me about all things video , Teo for being the man, Patrick, Michael, and many more.
Check out the video review below, and once you’ve done that, check out my notes.
For those who missed the live course, THE ENTIRE SEMINAR will be available for digital purchase sometime in February, along with Pat’s new website. I’ll keep y’all posted as to when that happens.
Every week, my newsletter subscribers get links to some of the goodies that I’ve come across on the internets.
Here were the goodies that my peeps got their learn on in December
If you want to get a copy of my weekend learning goodies every Friday, fill out the form below. That way you can brag to all your friends about the cool things you’ve learned over the weekend.
Biggest Lesson of the Month
I’ve been thinking a lot about generalism and specialism. Becoming a generalist involves implementing things with an individual that intend to have systemic effects, whereas the specialist implements things that intend to have a specific effect.
Think about encouraging your clients to sleep effectively, eat more vegetables, and move effectively. Implementing these three strategies will lead to system-wide effects first and foremost, and may impact a specific goal that you have. These are the tools of a generalist
On the flipside, consider a surgical procedure, medication, etc. These modalities have a higher likelihood of meeting a specific goal first and foremost, but the system-wide effect is less certain.
Though upon careful reflection on this thought, really anything we implement as a generalist or specialist is riddled with uncertainty.
Both types of practitioners are necessary to maximize health, longevity, and/or performance.
Quote of the Month
“Ego is about who’s right. Truth is about what’s right.” ~Mike Maples Jr
Ego is something I’ve been working on getting control of over the last year, and it has been most impactful in my overall happiness and well being. I just wish I took this quote to heart much earlier in life.
Hike of the Month
Hiking frequency has gone down a bit because it’s so…dang…cold, but I had a dope hike at Joshua Tree.
It wasn’t the most challenging hike, but had a wide variety of things to see. Whether it was an old mine, or climbing a mountain, you could definitely get your nature gains on point.
And the Joshua Trees themselves, Hyoooge. Way bigger than any of the others I’ve ever seen.
I was first made aware of the constrained theory of energy expenditure by Mike Roussell, and Joel Jamison takes the concept to another level. This article made me really think about how I am approaching building my own fitness, and just how important recovery is.
Excited to make it through the series as it comes out.
One of the most challenging aspects I had with sports science is getting buy-in from the coaching staff.
Here, Yan Le Meur boils it down to the most important aspects that a coach wants to know, as well as which variables are most actionable from an intervention standpoint. It’s an infographic I wish I had while in the league.
I love how Dean preached individualization in regards to the assessment process. Many times we seek models that place clients into buckets or patterns, but Dean reminds us to keep the client’s goals in mind. This cannot be emphasized enough.
Ever find yourself having a hankering to watch just one Youtube video only to find yourself watching 6 hours worth of cat videos? This app, which Tim Ferris exposed me to, nips that time waster in the bud by showing roughly how many days are left in your life. Like sand through the hourglass or something, fam (see what I did there?)
Turning 30 is all types of hell…
But my boi Seth Oberst makes the most of it.
Seth recently reflected on the 30 lessons he learned by age 30, and I found the post incredibly inciteful. I’d call it part rehab, part philosophical, part psychological, and full awesome.
Learning from a cat like Seth has made me a much more well-rounded clinician.
More great Robb Wolf podcasts. This time, it was my boi Chris Kresser. I absolutely love some of the solutions he presents to saving healthcare, as well as how salient he creates awareness of the problem of healthcare.
One of my favorite classes of the year, put on by my fam from Resilient. Here we learned all the fundamental keys to effective movement, how to perform the big lifts savagely well, and how to use specific movements to improve joint position in these lifts.
Follow these guys, they are some of the biggest stewards of the profession.
My thoughts on pain education have morphed a substantial degree over the past year. While I think my understanding of pain’s complexities have enhanced, I’ve worked on simplifying my education paradigms.
I’ve often found that going down the neurophysiological rabbit hole is completely unnecessary, and providing simple examples has led to substantial changes in buy-in and client understanding.
Check this talk out to understand the process, and get my updated thoughts.
Here, I outlined the entire treatment process and post-treatment reflections. You get a glimpse in terms of what presentations lead me to making particular clinical decisions. If you can understand what compensatory strategies to look for, and what movements can drive favorable change, you can accomplish a lot without even touching someone.
I guess you guys need some help with sleeping (don’t we all). This post was by far the most popular.
This article discusses my sleep problem that I had with my fellas in the NBA D League, and it was a big one. With early flights and poor travel conditions, sleep was a luxury.
How do you make the most of a terrible situation? Read on to find out, and see the amazing results.
I want to thank everyone for making my return to blogging a joyous occasion. 2017 was a mixture of failures and successes for me, and you wonderful people have made this transition back to the blogosphere so smooth.
I am forever grateful that you have decided to become fam to this blog, and I look forward to seeing you here next year!
I oftentimes get asked what resources I recommend. The resources listed below have been essential at putting me down the path that I am currently going, and have shaped how I practice today.
The cool thing about this list? None of these are set in stone. If I find a better resource, or one of the blogs I recommend starts to resonate with me less, it leaves the list (no pressure).
I want to give you guys the most up-to-date resources as humanly possible, so please check back here frequently.
If you’d like articles and such that are tripping my trigger as of late, you may want to sign up for my newsletter. You’ll also get some access to almost 3 hours and 40+ pages worth of exclusive content on pain and breathing.
Here are my resources:
Makemegenius – A youtube page dedicated to explaining scientific concepts that a kid could understand.
Crashcourse – Another series of short videos explaining complex scientific topics and more in 15 minutes or less. I wish I had this in undergrad.
Gilroy Atlas of Anatomy – Easily the best paper anatomy atlas you can find in the land. The angles drawn, the clarity of pictures, this atlas has it all. Wait until you see the subocciptals from the side. #mindblown
Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology – Easily the best and most comprehensive physiology textbook in the land, the depth at which this book dives into with concepts is otherworldly. If I need clarification on a physiological process, this is my go-to.
Physiology of Training for High Performance – Easily the best exercise physiology textbook I’ve come across. Very few explain the energy systems with such depth, and I absolutely love the sections on the stretch shortening cycel
Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System – Neumann is the gold standard for explaining how each joint works in the human body. There is simply no more of a comprehensive resource on movement than this book.
The Physiology of Joints Volumes 1,2, & 3 – If you want a more thorough understanding of joint structure and function, look no further. Just good luck finding copies that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers – The classic written by the master himself, Robert Sapolsky. This is the gold standard text on all things stress. His writing style makes a normally boring topic exciting to read.
Principles of Neural Science – Prepare to have your mind blown. The depth at which the neurology goes within this book is incredibly challenging, but if you need to reference something neuro-related, this is the book to have.
Apps & Technology
Visible Body Atlas – The gold standard 3D anatomy atlas. The visuals are stunning, and it is incredible to see how the anatomy looks from multiple angles.
Bill Hartman – Daddy-O Pops Bill Hartman is the cat who I look up to the most, not just in the PT realm, but in life. His blog consists of neat little tips to improve multiple aspects of your life, and he is the go-to-guy when thinking about developing your system or model. I appreciate his systematic approach.
Resilient Peformance Physical Therapy – My boys, Doug Kechijian, Trevor Rappa, and Greg Spatz, put out a lot of great content. These guys do such a great job of putting problems of the profession into perspective, and looking at things with as little bias as possible.
Mike Reinold – Mike is who I look to for all things post-surgical, pathology, and PT research. I admire his breadth of knowledge base in these areas, and his Ask Mike Reinold show is full of great pearls.
Charlie Weingroff – Charlie is one of those cats who does a good job bridging the gap between rehabilitation and performance. Though I know we practice differently, I find myself nodding my head a lot when he discusses systems and principles. I appreciate his ability to integrate multiple thought processes into his own approach.
Modern Manual Therapy Blog – If I want to learn about manual therapy, TMJ, and more, Erson is my guy. I took his course many moons ago, and admire how well he assimilates multiple systems into his own approach.
Seth Oberst – I love how Seth integrates meditation, interaction, threat reduction, and many other aspects into his approach. When it comes to stress mitigation, Seth is the guy.
Scott Gray – Scott is a PT I admire when it comes to evaluation, testing, and diagnosing conditions, definitely not my strongest suit of things.
Healthy Wealthy & Smart – A podcast put on by a physical therapists named Karen Litzy, Karen goes around interviewing physical therapists from all walks of life. I’m always getting an inspiration to study something further or a pearl of clinical application every time I listen to her interviews. Her advocacy for the physical therapy profession is admirable.
The Ca$h Based Practice Podcast – Jarod Carter was the early pioneer regarding building a cash based practice. Business was never my strong suit, so getting access to the information in this podcast has been clutch.
PT Adventures – How do I learn about contract negotion? What do I look for in a recruiter? OMG where was that picture taken?!?! These guys know all the ins and outs when it comes to travel PT, and are by far the foremost experts on the topic. Their complementary E-book is an absolute must, even if you aren’t considering travel.
Apps & Technology
A Manual of Acupuncture – I was taught dry needling through somewhat of a medical acupuncture lens, and if you dive into the literature you’ll need to know the acupuncture points. I would be lost if it weren’t for this app.
Recognise Apps – Essential for graded motor imagery retraining. This app not only has graded left/right discrimination challenges, but also tracks accuracy and timing. The best on the market, and has all body parts available.
Primary Care for the Physical Therapist – If we push the physical therapy profession to first line providers, this text will become more and more essential. This book teaches you the things you need to know to become a primary care provider.
Orthopedic Rehabilitation Clinical Advisor – When it comes to specific orthopedic diagnoses, this is by far the most user friendly. This book gives you ideas in terms of differential diagnosis, testing, prognosis, and so much more.
Netter’s Orthopedic Clinical Examination – Want to know which tests are most accurate and effective? This text is the one for you then. Love how they look at multiple different assessment pieces, and use evidence to either support or refute their utility.
The Malalignment Syndrome – Want to understand and appreciate asymmetry in the human body? Then this is the resource for you. This book shows many of the common restrictions seen in our movement assessment, and explains from an osteopathic standpoint what is going on.
Pain & Nervous System
Why Do I Hurt – The essential book for understanding basic pain neurobiology in the easiest way. I absolutely love Adriaan Louw’s analogies and examples for explaining pain to patients. It’s a quick read well worth the time.
The Sensitive Nervous System – This is the heavy version of understanding how this whole nervous system and pain works. David Butler discusses the nervous system, central sensitization, neurodynamics, and so much more. Fantastic read. [read the book notes here]
Clinical Neurodynamics – Michael Shacklock looks at the concepts of neural mobility through a more anatomical and physiological lens, and taught me how to appreciate the neural container (the tissues surrounding the nerve). [read the book notes here]
Topical Issues in Pain Volume 1 – Louis Gifford is all about not getting too sciency and more about practically applying this pain science stuff. His early work is essential reading.
Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders – If you want to know all the essentials in applying breathing to treatment, this is the gold standard. Anytime I go to review physiology of breathing, this is my go-to text. [read some of the book notes here]
The Pelvic Girdle – Diane Lee provides the go-to resource for learning all things about the pelvis. The first half of the book is gold—anatomy, kinesiology, etc. The treatment half? Well, it’s not what I would do, but whatever 🙂
Orofacial Pain – This book is incredibly dense, and surprisingly one of the best pain science texts around. But if you want to learn the ins and outs of orofacial pain, it’s a must.
Spinal Manipulation Institute – These guys are the go-to for learning dry needling. I’ve also taken their extremity manipulation class, which was nicely done as well. The consistent theme with all of their coursework is evidence. They do a great job outlining what the research says, and even what it doesn’t say. I appreciate them attempting to minimize their biases.
Active Release Technique – I only took these because I was able to go on someone else’s dime, and I was pleasantly surprised. The preparation and execution of the class greatly improved my understanding of anatomy and movement. The technique and concept itself is simple, yet quite effective. Especially considering the short amount of time it takes. It’s a great soft tissue technique, though pricier than necessary.
Johnny Owens Bloodflow Restriction Training – I thought this was a gimmick at first, then my boy Johnny Owens dropped research bombs on me left and right. I was amazed at how effective this was, and I’ve personally seen some nice changes both in myself and clients with utilizing BFR. Johnny hosts the gold standard class.
Dermoneuromodulation – ART is a bit more aggressive of a manual technique, DNM is much much lighter and quite effective. Diane also has the best explanation on manual therapy mechanisms I have ever come across, and that is worth the price admission alone.
Therapeutic Neuroscience Education – Whereas Explain Pain is more science-heavy, Adriaan Louw’s iteration is all about practical application. He has some of the simplest and most effective ways to explain how pain works to clients. A must take.
A Study of Neurodynamics: The Body’s Living Alarm – While I haven’t taken this class formally, Adriaan’s version of Mobilisation of the Nervous System had way more practical applications that other iterations of the class I’ve taken. When it comes to neurodynamics, you need treatment ideas. Adriaan is the guy who I got that from the most.
Graded Motor Imagery – What do you do when all movements hurt? That’s where GMI comes into play. This class takes you through introducing someone into movement by teaching left/right discrimination, visualization, and mirror therapy. I use this quite a bit in early phases of rehab; especially if someone is not allowed to move the affected area.
Blogs & Podcasts
Mike Robertson – Mike was one of the first dudes that got me inspired to dive into this field. He has some of the most in-depth coaching posts like ever. Period. We also think very similarly from a coaching standpoint. Head to his site if you want to learn how to design a comprehensive strength training program for general population to athletes alike.
Eric Cressey – Been a big fan of Eric for a very long time. His book, Maximum Strength, was one of the first training programs I used that led to appreciable gains in strength. His knowledge of the upper extremity and shoulder is unparalleled, and that includes the rehabilitation
Darkside Strength – This is a good compilation site for a wide variety of performance topics. Ranging from med ball throws, to thorax rotation, to posture, you’ll find just about anything you’d like to learn about on this site.
YLM Sports Science – Yann Le Meur is awesome. What he does is takes important research articles, and disseminates them into useful infographics. If you want to get a quick summary of relevant research articles, here’s the site.
Joel Jamieson – Joel is the foremost expert on all things conditioning. I love how he integrates sports science (namely heart rate variability) and many other measures to make logical programming decisions.
Lance Goyke – Lance is one of my dear friends who writes on a wide variety of topics; ranging from building mass, to how overrated stretching is, to excellent physiology lessons. I love his 4 point Friday that he sends to his newsletter peeps, as he exposes you to very cool reads and listens on a wide variety of topics.
TD Athletes Edge – The place my boy Tim Difrancesco built. Here, Tim discusses all factors that are relevant to performance, such as diet, sleep, stress management, and movement. I really like the stuff Tim puts out because we have very aligning philosophies.
Tony Gentilcore – Tony is a guy who I refer to quite a bit regarding coaching cues and the like. Cat has one of the prettiest deadlifts in the game, so have to throw mad respek his way.
Dean Somerset – Dean is my go-to guy for post-rehab training. Love how he incorporates a wide variety of things into his training, and he always writes posts that make me think.
Bret Contreras – I admire how much Bret is a steward of the science and all things evidence-based. He’s also the guy who pioneered the hip thrust exercise. While not something I incorporate much in my training, definitely a great move if gluteal hypertrophy is your goal.
Chaos & Pain (NSFW, or most anyone) – With many of us emphasizing recovery, high/low methods, and not going too hard, sometimes you need a swift kick in the teeth and someone to tell you to get after it. That’s why I go to Jamie Lewis. The guy is also an encyclopedia when it comes to old time strength people and cooking stew. Definitely an underrated site.
Apps & Technology
Polar Beat – If you play with heart rate training, this app is a must. Here it’ll track your heart rate, time spent exercising, and so much more.
Tabata Pro – My favorite app for interval training. Simple, easy to use, and effective in both visual and auditory cues for when to go!
All Gain, No Pain – Yeah, I’m a little biased (I did write the foreword after all), but Bill Hartman’s first book is an instant classic. I love how all-encompassing this book is. You’ll get an understanding of pain, stress, performance. But most importantly, you’ll be able to design a program that is specifically built for you. If you are post-rehab and looking for a way to get back into training, this book is a must.
Ultimate MMA Conditioning – Aka energy systems and application made ridiculously simple. Joel Jamieson’s classic book teaches you most of what you need to know when designing effective conditioning programs. It’s an essential read.
Starting Strength – If you want to enhance your understanding of the mechanics of basic lifts, this book is essential. My favorite section is the squat chapter.
New Functional Training for Sports – Mike Boyle has some of the best progressions that are simple and easy to execute. I like this book a lot because it is all practical application. His jump progression makes up a bulk of how I introduce the concept of jumping to my clients.
Essentials of Strength and Conditioning – Yeah, the exercise and nutrition sections are lackluster, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better overview of all things S&C. Some of the basic science chapters are easy to understand, which is incredibly valuable to me.
Spark – This book will make you rethink just how powerful aerobic exercise is.
FMS Level 2 – While I’m not an avid FMS/SFMA practitioner, I thoroughly enjoy their intelligent exercise progressions and coaching styles. Some of the variants taught at the level 2 in particular are things I readily incorporate into my practice.
Derek Hansen – One of the best sprinting coaches I’ve ever come across. His seminar that I attended was all about practice application, and his simple coaching cues to improve sprinting have made a huge impact in my clientele. Want to learn sprinting? Here’s the guy.
Tim Gabbett – The acute:chronic workload is a fundamental principle that we must all consider in both the rehabilitation and performance realms. No one teaches it better from an application standpoint than Tim Gabbett.
ALTIS Apprentice Coach Program – How does getting to learn from the likes of world class track coaches Dan Pfaff and Stu McGill for a week sound? One of the best investments I’ve ever made, you learn basically what you want to learn from this apprenticeship program. The biggest takeaways I got involved the art of coaching, resiliency training, plyometric programming, and that’s just a small taste.
Certified Speed and Agility Coach – Lee Taft is the foremost expert when it comes to multidirectional training. This online cert provides a great overview of all the skills one must possess when playing a multidirectional sport.
Nutrition, Functional Medicine, Sleep, & Wellness
Blogs & Podcasts
Mike Roussell – Mike is one of my favorite nutrition peeps in the land. Responsible for the great book the Metashred Diet, a diet I used to drop my first 20 pounds, Mike is all about practical application in regards to dieting. His steps are simple, easy to use, and require easy changes in behavior. Definitely a guy to learn from.
Chris Kresser – Chris hosts one of the most comprehensive functional medicine combined with ancestral diet resources I have ever seen. Many of the things he has posted on my site have helped me a great deal with some of the health issues I have experienced, and his practioner program is very intriguing to me. You will not be disappointed by what he has to say.
The Paleo Solution Podcast – Hosted by Paleo extraordinaire Robb Wolf, I amazed at how well versed he is in the wide variety of topics discussed in this podcast. Whether he’s interviewing a sleep expert, paleo enthusiast, or
Rhonda Patrick – RP (#bae) has gotten me so much into genetics, fasting, sauna use, and many other topics. The papers she puts out for her newsletter peeps are beyond comprehensive. Definitely check out her site, listen to her podcast, and consume as much as possible.
Peter Attia – This blog is technically retired, but Dr. Peter Attia is a wealth of information when it comes to all things functional medicine. I admire his approach and emphasis on blood sugar management, hormones, and many more things. If I were ever to go to medical school, I’d want to turn out like this guy did.
Apps & Technology
Zero – This is the go-to app to use if you are experimenting with fasting. It times how long you’ve gone without eating, and keep you on target with the desired duration you wish to fast.
The Oura Ring – By far my favorite tracking device, and I’ve experimented with the best of them. The Oura ring is by far the most accurate sleep tracker you can buy. It also measures HRV, body temperature, activity levels, and the newer model do things for finding your circadian rhythm. All within a sleek looking ring. You’d be amazed at what you can learn from wearing this ring, especially in terms of what late night behaviors can impact sleep.
BrainWave – The best white noise app in the land. Also combines calming sounds with various waves that supposedly stimulate various brain states. Does it work? Who knows, but I’ll hedge my bets.
F.lux – An app that blocks blue light, the stuff that keeps you awake at night, on your screens. Essential for anyone who has to work on their computer late.
The Metashred Diet – Just do it. That could be the mantra for this great read by Mike Roussell. Here, he just lays out a plan of attack to execute an all-out war on fat loss, and it is quite effective. I was able to drop close to 20 pounds staying militant on the 56 day plan, and I’ve kept up with many of the principles on a consistent basis.
Sleep Smarter – A little bit heavier on the esoteric sleep strategies, but I was blown away by how effective implementing these strategies have been. The biggest takeaway for me from this book was the importance of light exposure. A great read.
Take a Nap! Change Your Life – Who knew effective napping could be so scientific? If you want to get the most out of your naps, or question just how important napping is, let this be the answer.
Precision Nutrition Level 1 – An excellent combination of overview, depth, and application of nutritional coaching. The emphasis on behavior change is critical, and I admire how that makes up the backbone of this great certification.
Personal Development & Entrepreneurship
Blogs & Podcasts
Barking up the Wrong Tree – Probably my favorite blog on the internet. Like…for real. Why are you still here??? Eric Barker is a guy who researches many different topics, and breaks down the information into 3-5 applicable points. My favorite? How to be James Bond of course!
The Tim Ferriss Show – One of the most popular bloggers of all time, Tim goes around interviewing a wide variety of people, seeking answers on how to get the most out of life in the fastest manner possible. He also has great q&a’s and talks on building business and more. An essential listen.
Jocko Podcast – The podcast of former Navy Seal Jocko Willink. My favorite podcasts are his Q&As, where he problem solves listener questions with incredibly practical advice that you probably don’t want to hear, but need to hear. Definitely a life changing person to learn from.
Seth Godin – He writes a short blog every day that will either inspire you, make you rethink what you are doing, or be just the thing you need to hear.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich – Ramit Sethi promotes a message that really resonates with me. He writes profoundly on topics ranging from personal finance, entrepreneurship, and marketing. Definitely check this cat out.
Extreme Ownership – One of the most impactful books I have ever read in my life. Consider it the practical guide for controlling the things that you can control. You’ll be amazed at what making this shift in mindset can do for you.
The Obstacle is the Way – I read this book during a rough patch in life, and it helped me appreciate how impactful adversity can become. It can break us or shape us. Use those hard things in life as opportunities to grow. This will help you along the way.
The Ego is the Enemy – Something I’ve struggled with through much of my life is squashing ego. This book was essential for doing that. Realize that you aren’t that important, keep a beginner’s mindset, and be humble. Understanding these three concepts will get you far in life.
The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck – After you’ve squashed your ego, read this bad boy to bring it up to appropriate levels. This book is essential in helping you understand just how frivolous most things in life are. I sweat so many fewer things thanks to this phenomenal read.
The Millionaire Fastlane – This book will forever change how you think about running your business, running your life, and why it is important to strive for a business that makes you millions. It’s more of a selfless reason than you think.
Unscripted – Another great in-your-face book by MJ DeMarco. This one makes you really think about striving for that 40 hour work week until your dead. Another life changing book.
The 4-Hour Work Week – Elimination, automation, and many more outstanding principles occur in this book. The biggest key I got from this was a guide on streamlining many of the processes I have in place from a business standpoint. It’ll definitely make you think about how you are currently running your life.
Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual – On those days you lack motivation, or when you feel like blaming others for problems, or are experiencing tough times, just read one page. Never did a book exist that helped me refocus as well as this one.
The Definitive Book of Body Language – Nonverbal communication is essential to effectively communicating with a wide variety of people. You will be amazed at some of the relative nonverbal “mistakes” we make when interacting with others. Mastering this book will enhance your relatability to a high degree.
How to Talk to Anyone – Another great key read in maximizing verbal and nonverbal strategies to become an effective communicator. One of my favorite tips? Taffy eyes. Get it to learn more.
Apps & Technology
Evernote – My go-to note taking app. Syncs with most every tech device you own, and is pretty easy to use. Love how easy it is to categorize things, and you can even copy paper notes onto this bad boy. Essential for tracking many of my upcoming projects.
AllTrails – If you are an avid hiker, this app is a must have. I can’t tell you how many times this app saved me on questionable hikes, or given me access to hikes that I didn’t know about. In a class of its own.
Freedom – For those times you need to be immensely productive and the internet does nothing but distract you. This app will kick you off the internet for however long you so desire.
Deathclock – Another procrastination killer. Download this Chrome extension, and each time you open a new page you’ll see how many days you approximately have left to live. Morbid? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.
You wake up, make your bed, do your ahem, bathroom business, then slowly sulk your way to the kitchen to get some coffee brewing.
While the good stuff brews, you open up your computer and decide to check what’s going on in the good old internet today.
Then it happens.
You see 20 new blogs on your blogroll, Facebook has shared 13 different posts that sound unbelievable, but oh wait, check out that tweet showing Tim Ferriss finally interviewed Zac Cupples (#dreaming), and then oh snap, Eminem just dropped another new song on Spotify!
And then you accomplish nothing.
I see this problem time and time again with many of the mentees that I work with, and I occasionally fall into the trap myself. We see so many interesting articles coming out on a regular basis, and the pull from FOMO is real.
With so much to consume and so little time, what are we to do?
The short answer: consume at the right time.
Yes, the learning process has to involve impeccable timing with consumption. I’ve spoken about just in time learning ad nauseam (here and here), and it is key to both solving problems and retentaining new information.
Consuming a cornucopia of random posts, articles, podcasts, and Youtube videos without direction is a recipe for time wasting. You fleet from one cool article to the next and…oh wait, what was that last article about?
We’ve all been there, and the struggle is real.
So how do we overcome this nerd FOMO that we all at some point give into?
What we have to do is give in to that little dopamine hit that comes with every click, but repurpose what we do what the new information.
Instead of consumption, we shift to accumulation.
The Death of Consumption
When you accumulate and store articles, posts, etc, you not only satisfy your nerd craving, but also build an arsenal of things to reference when the learning time is right.
Here is an example of one of my accumulation folders that I have for research on a specific topic.
One of my future areas of study is going to be in nutrition, because I know how powerful supportive nutrition can be, but it’s just not in the cards for me right now.
When I come across a study that sounds incredibly intriguing, I sock it away in the nutrition folder, knowing that I’ll be able to pull that relevant study when the time is right.
Or perhaps a better article will come out that makes the former study irrelevant, which means I save time by trashing the outdated article.
It is this accumulation, this nerd stockpiling, that has me prepared to dive into any topic at a moment’s notice.
I call it, Zacmed™.
Here is how you can build your own.
Research Mining 101
Research accumulation where I spend a bulk of my stockpiling time. Gotta stay #EBP if ya know what I’m sayin’.
This process works not just for journal articles, but basically any downloadables. That means ebooks, powerpoints, JPEGs, anything goes through this process.
Here are the mining steps.
Step 1: Subscribe to journal article email alerts
This piece is critical. It’s hard to keep up with the latest and greatest of research with just a Pubmed search. Hell, you may not even know what keywords to look for.
If Pubmed searching is shopping on Amazon, email alerts is going to Barnes and Noble. Yes, you limit your selection, but your browsing can be much more focused. Fewer options make for easier selection.
If you want a quick an easy way to subscribe to mulitple journal alerts, get a free account at ScienceDirect. Just sign up, go to manage alerts, and you are in business.
Journal selection is going to be totally dependent on what you do and what trips your trigger, but here is a list of the journal I subscribe to (I’ll add more as time goes on, I sometimes forget which ones I subscribe to):
Another possible option is scouring social media, which I sometimes do, but you have to watch not getting sucked down cat videos for multiple hours.
Yeah. It’s a lot of possible information coming into your inbox, but the key to not being overwhelmed is in the screening process.
Step 2: Screen the email alerts
Once the floodgates open on your email alerts, you must slow the information flow by properly screening useful studies.
The simple solution is to scan the titles. If your interest is piqued, click on the article, scan the abstract, then decide whether or not you need to pursue article acquisition.
I try to get each email done in under 60 seconds. If nothing is intriguing, delete.
Step 3: Project PDF Procurement
Now the fun begins. Many journals will have open access (yay), some you may have to go with like a google scholar or other type of search to get access (meh), and of course you’ll have some brilliant pieces that deny easy access (boo).
How’s a fam supposed to stay #EBP in this case?
Well I can’t tell you directly how to get article access, but this blog does a great job of explaining the many different ways you can retrieve articles. Some legal, some well, more along the Robin Hood side of acquisition. It’s your conscience, not mine.
Once you get the “physical” article copy, move on to step four.
Step 4: Place the PDF in the organized folder
Here is the key. As you are downloading articles left and right, you need a place to store them. Download Dropbox and get your 1TB subscription, that way you can access the articles whenever you so desire.
From here, I have 3 folders in which I place my articles:
Reading List – Articles I haven’t read
Highlights – Articles I’ve read, but haven’t formalized into my notecard system
Evidence – Articles I’ve read and that made it to the notecard system
Organize each folder based on the topic of study. Again, this will be individualized, but here is a look at what my reading list folder looks like:
In order to simplify titles on my notecards and expedite study retrieval for reviews, I have a classification system I use. Like some Dewey Decimal kinda stuff #throwback.
Say I read an article that’s in the ACL folder. I’ll then retitle that ACL7 (if it’s the 7th article I’ve read), then any notecards attributed to that article will have ACL7 in the title space.
Step 5: Scour the folder when a problem arises
Here is the implementation and consumption part. Once you have a problem or question, you browse related folders, pick titles that seem like they would help you, read, and repeat. This is exactly the process I went through for my pain and breathing talks.
Saving Blogs and Articles
The process is a bit different for internet articles; namely because it’s a bit more work to get “physical” copies. For these, I have a few separate strategies.
But first, how do I access blogs?
I have two means of getting blog access. One is email subscriptions. Not only with these do you get access to exclusive content, but generally if products come out from people you respect, you’ll get some solid discounts. Definitely worthwhile.
I also have an RSS feed through Feedly. Here I can see all the newest blogs that my peeps have put out, and it makes reading selection go much faster. If a post is irrelevant to my tastes, I can checkmark that I read it, and it goes away.
If the post is relevant, then I have a couple options:
Option 1: Read/skim immediately
The only reason I do this is because I want to share current stuff with my newsletter fam. Unless it’s like something super fascinating. Sometimes you have to give in. People write interesting stuff it turns out.
If something really resonates with me, and I need to know it for later, I’ll notecard it immediately or take notes on Google Keep and notecard later.
Option 2: Download to Evernote
This is by far my favorite option and most used. If there is a post or article that I know I want to read, but don’t have time when it comes out, I’ll simply copy the text and paste it to Evernote.
What’s nice about this strategy is that I can then read the article offline on any device, greatly enhancing portability. And if you are a Feedly user, you can save the article immediately to Evernote.
Pocket is also another potential option, but what’s nice about Evernote is I can categorize articles in a manner similarly to what I do for research articles. That way when a topic comes up, I just go through Zacmed™ and Zacnote™ for inspiration.
Accumulating and categorizing is the key to saving time, staying focused, and being prepared when a problem comes your way.
Accumulate first, consume second
Subscribe to journal alerts
Design categorical systems to place your information
Scour when the time is right
What strategies do you use to accumulate knowledge? Comment below and let us know!