Quick Tips from Kelly Baggett: Part 1

About the Author: Eric Cressey

This week’s contribution comes from Kelly Baggett, one of the most knowledgeable and versatile guys in the industry.  Kelly and I go back 6-7 years, yet he never ceases to amaze me with his creativity and ability to get results fast.

1.  It’s been said that your muscles don’t know how much weight you’re lifting; they only know tension.  This is true.  I can also assure you that your joints DO know how much weight you’re lifting and will eventually let you know about it if you train heavy enough for long enough.  The large majority of people over the age of 65 have some degree of “wear and tear” arthritis.  That’s without subjecting their joints to 45 years of heavy weights.  Keep that in mind if you want to be just as active at 75 as you are now.  For optimal long-term joint health, not only should you pay close attention to structural balance, but in my opinion, the majority of the time you shouldn’t be lifting anything that you can’t lift with a two-second pause at the hardest part of the movement.  This will ensure you’re directing tension to the muscles instead of the connective tissue.

2.  Anterior pelvic tilt is not necessarily the bad guy most people think.  From an athletic standpoint, you won’t find many fast and explosive athletes without a propensity to have some degree of anterior pelvic tilt because it puts the hamstrings at a leverage advantage.  In contrast, you probably won’t find ANY top-flight athletes with posterior pelvic tilt.  You rarely hear anyone talk about posterior pelvic tilt and weak hip flexors but it is common enough, particularly in women.  Posterior pelvic tilt (also called flat back posture) results in weak or lengthened hip flexors and can also be caused by tight abs and glutes.  Don’t assume you need lots of psoas hip flexor stretching until you’ve verified that you do in fact need it.  Here’s what flat back posture with posterior pelvic tilt looks like:

3.  Insulin sensitivity is kind of overrated for fat loss and a lean body.  A certain degree of insulin sensitivity is desirable, but, from a body composition perspective, being overly sensitive to insulin is just as bad as being insensitive to insulin.  As a “storage” hormone, improved insulin sensitivity allows the body to better store ingested nutrients both in muscle AND fat cells.  Insulin sensitivity improves as one gets leaner and leaner.  That’s one of the reasons it gets harder to shed fat when one is much leaner.

In a given group of people, you can predict future fat gain by measuring both the sensitivity to insulin and the amount of insulin produced in response to a given amount of carbohydrates.  The fattest populations of people and the fattest adults will be very sensitive to insulin at an early age.  In contrast, insulin resistance could be looked at as a way the body tries to rid itself of excess nutrition.  The body senses nutrient excess and inhibits storage. Providing they exercise, an insulin resistant person will tend to have an easy time shedding fat and building muscle because the exercise increases storage capacity in the muscles at the expense of fat cells.  That’s one reason why people with more fast twitch muscle fibers have an easier time getting and staying lean, even though they are naturally more insulin resistant than those with more slow twitch fibers.

The take-home point?  When trying to drop fat, it’s not a bad idea to intentionally manipulate insulin sensitivity…in a NEGATIVE direction.  You can do this by ingesting caffeine and other stimulants and by following a low carb diet.

4.  There is actually less stress absorbed into the foot WITHOUT shoes than with shoes.  Remember that the next time you decide to treat your feet to a huge pair of cinder blocks – otherwise known as basketball shoes.  One of the easiest ways to improve movement efficiency and coordination is to get a hold of a pair of Nike Frees and/or train barefoot on grass.

5.  Look at the wear on your shoes.  If they’re worn more to the inside you probably have pronated feet (you walk on the insides of them).  If they’re worn more to the outside you probably have supinated feet (you walk on the outsides of them).

Stand with your feet about 12 inches apart and look straight ahead.  Hold this position for a few seconds while you take note of how your weight is distributed over the soles of your feet.  Now tip your pelvis forward slowly so that you assume a Donald Duck-type posture with your chest up and backside stuck out behind you.  Note how your weight shifts forward and toward the insides of your feet. Now slowly roll the pelvis backward until your rear end is tucked underneath you.  You should notice that your weight moves backward and toward the outside of your feet.

What you have just proved is that anterior pelvic tilt (rear stuck out) will produce pronation and posterior pelvic tilt (rear tucked under) will produce supination (rolling outward of the foot).  If you have pronated feet it’s usually a good idea to stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the glutes.  If you have supinated feet it’s often a good idea to strengthen the hip flexors and lower back while stretching the glutes.

About Kelly

Kelly Baggett is a sought-after performance and physique coach from Springfield, MO. He has authored three books: The No-Bull Muscle Building Plan, The Vertical Jump Development Bible, and The Ultimate No Bull Speed Development Manual.  You can read more of his articles by visiting his website, www.higher-faster-sports.com.

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