Why Health and Performance are Mutually Exclusive

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Health Does NOT Equal Performance 

By Adam Menner 

As sports performance coach, your demographic is primarily 12-20 years old, with a handful of pros, adults, and youth athletes in the mix.

When you think objectively, these athletes experience stress DAILY.

Fights with parents, lack of sleep, lack of nutrition, break ups with significant others, multiple practices, skill sessions, and games each week.

This past week, I had two reimburse TWO parents their money for this children.

Why?

They said the training wasn’t “hard enough” and that their child was not (verbatim) “dying” when they left.

I was very polite, I asked why, how could we make it better, etc.

Then, I let it rip, my life’s work of stress, health, youth performance,

the sports injury epidemic all in one.

The look I received back on her face was as if I JUST KILLED HER CHILD.

I was respectful of course. Parents just lack education (which is part of our job.)

This is Why it’s important to Understand

Health Does NOT Equal Optimal Performance.

Every wonder why cavemen, the ancient greek men, vikings, and native americans all look like this?

Survival.

There were no barbells, dumbbells, cable racks, sleds, and chains.

Around the year 1760, the species changed. There was a major turning point in our history. This is where modern fitness should have begun to emerge.

It is over 250 years ago but by evolutionary standards, it barely makes a dent.

Fast forward to today.

The rapid advancement of technology has been making life easier and easier. We no-longer need to walk everywhere or ride a horse. We can get in a car and drive eighty miles an hour.

You can go anywhere you want in the world in less than twenty-four hours by literally flying in the air.

We communicate through hand-held devices.

Jobs have gone from mostly labor jobs to mostly desk jobs and with it, our bodies are now facing dramatically different demands than they ever have.

I’m not sure, but I imagine greek gods, cavemen, native americans, and the vikings did not suffer from tight low backs, headaches, stiffness, and nearsightedness.

Today, we experience all of those symptoms

Think objectively, not like a strength and conditioning coach.

Do you think these ailments that are “so common” in our society today are more likely a product of society or just a part of human development?

Think about nutrition.

Years ago, crops grew naturally and without chemicals.

Meat was obtained from animals that were living in the wild or contained in big open spaces.

Organic labels you see on all your food in the grocery store did not exist. The world was Certified Organic.

Think about this, exercise by definition, did not exist.

You didn’t have to “park far away” from the office to get extra steps in.

Vikings weren’t hitting the weight room to get their bench presses and curls in before a big fight.

Life as a human was daily exercise and fitness.

Today we have created means for exercise as an outlet from our down-sized lifestyles. We’re sitting at desks all day, standing in the same places, walking less, and finding ways to get things done in as little as effort as possible.

It takes a very “effortless” action to type into google to see how our ancestors used to live.

We hunted for many hours trying to track, outlast and kill our dinner. We needed to have a lot of aerobic capacity and variability.

We essentially needed to be pretty good at many different things.

Today, we have goals.


We want to be extremely strong, powerful, lean, and muscular.

Some just want to be healthy while others are training for a sport, an event, or something specific.

As a sports performance specialist, you understand the principle of specificity in training.

A baseball pitcher should not train the same way that an NFL linebacker would. Their jobs are completely different so their needs in the gym are also completely different.

Your fitness level is determined by how fit you are to perform a certain task.

The World’s Strongest Man has high levels of fitness for that competition but very low levels of fitness for a marathon. By improving our fitness for a specific task or goal, we are taking ourselves away from what the body was designed to do and into today’s world.

I can hear it now, strength and conditioning coaches reading this and cursing me out as we speak.

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I always want to bring real world application back to our jobs as sports performance coaches.

We know weights are good for youth athletes. Resistance training increases bone density, tissue structure, tendon health, neurological intent, and athletic performance.

Look, your goals are your goals.

They aren’t good or bad.

There is nothing wrong with trying to become the world’s strongest person, but you have to realize that you are floating away from optimal health with the farther you push your body or your athlete’s body into the ground with every deadlift, bench press, and squat you perform.

If you’re still angry, you’re not listening.

If your goal for your athletes is OPTIMAL HEALTH & PERFORMANCE, you need to find a balance.

If your goal is to push the body to its ABSOLUTE LIMITS, you are going to have to sacrifice health.

Lets strip down the science, literature, and all the reading.

Again, think OBJECTIVELY.

Have you ever met someone who is extremely strong, who hasn’t suffered injury?

Have you ever met an elite level athlete who has never suffered an injury?

Have you ever met a bodybuilder who dieted down to single digit body fat and said it felt amazing?

Have you ever experienced any setbacks in your pursuit of peak fitness?

Would we need extensive warm ups, rehabilitation protocols, PT’s AT’s if we weren’t trying to push our body’s to the absolute limits?

Pushing the envelope of peak performance will come at a detriment to your optimal health.

That provokes the palpable question, how much is enough?

Adam Menner

Adam Menner

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