On my mind #3

It’s been awhile since my last post, and let’s just say that balancing a full-time post-doc with completing a full-time physiotherapy degree hasn’t left much time for the site. It’s been a tough two months, and after sitting down and really thinking about what my priorities are right now, I’ve rebalanced my projects which should hopefully lead to more articles hitting the web over the next couple months. In the meantime, here’s a few updates on what I’m up to and thinking about.Continue Reading

Essential Reading #1

I’ve worked with plenty of people over the years who have achieved impressive levels of strength and physique development without ever knowing what a myosin heavy chain is or the names of any of the muscles that attach to the scapula. You’d be surprised how far you can go with a barbell and lots of hard work and dedication.

But for those who work in the field professionally, that’s not good enough. In the information age your clients are bombarded with health information daily, and they often turn to their trusted trainer to help translate this information into strategies that help them achieve their goals and improve their overall help. How can you do that without a sound understanding of the underlying concepts on which many of these studies are based?Continue Reading

On my mind #1

I’ve received some good feedback on the Strong Science series, but wanted to create some posts that aren’t necessarily tied to a theme or filled with science. My thought process is best described as anything but organized so I thought I’d throw together a random thoughts style of post as a good way to put some shorter content on the site, link to articles I like, and talk about stuff other than exercise science.Continue Reading

What’s more important?

My family always had dogs, so the concept of dog training wasn’t foreign to me when I got my own, however being a kid at the time I don’t think I was nearly as involved in the process as I should’ve been. Only as an adult have I realized the amount of behind-the-scenes work with the dogs my parents were probably doing.

So having adopted my first dog two years ago with my wife, we set out on the internet to get some basic info. We were confident that we could get it done without obedience classes, but still needed to find a good method to help us systematically attack the problem. We read books by Stanley Coren, watched episodes of Cesar Milan and ‘At the end of my leash’ but at the end of the day it was a forum post on manipulating four key variables that helped us the most with our puppy-sized problem.Continue Reading

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21 Days

Why is 21 the magic number? Do a quick search for anything on habit forming and you’ll find that the ‘experts’ agree that it takes exactly three weeks to form a habit. If you can do something for 21 days in a row, it’s likely going to stick with you for life.

The origin of the 21 day rule is unclear, although other sites have attributed it to a surgeon working with amputation in the 1960s. I’ve been working on a habit-formation guide for my online clients and through my search for some empirical research on habit formation I found that it may take a little bit longer than 21 days to get those habits set in stone. Here’s one study that took a look at how long it takes for certain behaviours to become automatic.Continue Reading

Not all actions are equal

I swore when I started this blog and using twitter and Facebook more regularly that I wouldn’t become one of those chronic motivational quote posters. The fitness industry certainly doesn’t need any more, and I’m starting to suspect that 90% of all fitness-related tweets are really just quotes from someone else followed by the hashtag #killingit or #crushingit. That being said, when I came across the following quote from Ernest Hemingway while researching another post, I couldn’t keep my paws off it:

Never mistake motion for action

-Ernest Hemingway

The lesson here is that not all actions are equal and it’s important to make a distinction between activities that, while marginally related to the goal, do not actively contribute to successfully attaining it (Motions) and those which help you achieve your goals (Actions).Continue Reading

Publicize your learning process

Every fitness professional, exercise scientist and kinesiology student should have a blog. I know this seems contrary to opinions on the more popular fitness blogs, those telling everyone to filter their info and criticizing people for pushing articles online without at least a decade of experience. We’re putting limits and qualifiers on who can contribute, but really who has the right to decide what you can or can’t do online? If the fitness industry spent more time fostering a collaborative online environment, we’d all be better off for it. I might be new to the blogging world but the concept of collaborative environments and ‘learning out loud’ is not a new one to me. Collaboration is a necessity in the scientific world, and my experience teaching anatomy in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences (Physiotherapy Program) at McMaster University has shown me how these cooperative experiences benefit everyone involved.Continue Reading

Going to the dogs

Thanks to a collection of family dogs, only two of my years on this planet have been spent dog-free. Two too many as far as I’m concerned.

Four years ago, after a heart-breaking farewell to Pascoe, the family dog (who stayed with my parents), my wife and I packed up and moved to Hamilton so I could continue studying the effects of strength training on muscle. Due to a “no animals” clause in our lease, we survived two years dog-free but spent many days missing the family dogs. After threatening to leave the apartment to find animal friendly living, our landlord came around and let us get a dog.

A quick trip to the SPCA later, my wife fell in love with a wiry, energetic dog called ‘Darnell’, which we quickly changed to Griffin. We couldn’t leave without him, perfect timing as his ‘roommate’ was adopted minutes before we arrived. Fast forward a year later, we moved into a nice house with a yard that’s close to big (and underused) fields for the dogs to run in. Best of all, Griffin now has a ‘tall drink of water’ to spend his days with, a playful lab cross named Daphne. Having two 40lb speed machines can be a handful at times, but the ‘terrible two’ have added so much to our lives that they’re definitely worth it.Continue Reading