Quick Tips from Kelly Baggett: Part 2

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Six More Tips from Kelly Baggett

6. Improving performance is not that complicated. When looking to improve our own athletic performance or that of the people we’re training or coaching, what most people fail to understand is that the basics are responsible for 90% of the results and way more people screw up due to over-complication, or improper application of the basics, than those that screw up due to lack of cutting-edge material to insert into their routines, diet, or recovery protocols. All the fancified mumbo-jumbo offered by the countless gurus of the profession usually exists to:

A. Make them sound smart

B. Separate people from their money


C. Appeal to the curiosity of readers who like to delve into the 10% that isn’t covered by the basics. (note: A lot of stuff I’m writing here falls into that 10%)

If athletes are somewhat coordinated on their feet, have decent posture, flexibility, and muscular balance, are lean, relatively strong throughout their body, and can accelerate a lot of weight through either a clean or weighted squat variation, they’re going to be good athletes. It shouldn’t take long to learn “general” concepts related to proper flexibility, coordination, injury prevention, body composition, strength, explosiveness, reactivity, and conditioning.

7. Acid Buffers are a very useful and under-rated supplement when it comes to increasing work capacity and tolerance to high intensity activity. If you’re trying to avoid or improve “neural fatigue,” this is where it is. The body will maintain its PH range in a narrow range regardless of how you eat, but the important thing is what your body has to do to maintain that proper PH. Sub-clinical low-grade acidosis increases cortisol and occurs in most people due to the increased consumption of grains and reduced consumption of veggies and fruits. It also tends to naturally occur in response to stress of any kind. This includes: caloric restriction, intensive activity, and lack of sleep.

Low-grade acidosis is, in my opinion, one reason why people dieting are more prone to lose strength. So how do you fix it? Eat your veggies and fruits. One pound of green veggies per 50 pounds of bodyweight per day is ideal. Vegetable juicing is a good idea. Additionally, a couple of extra grams of sodium and potassium bicarbonate (baking soda or Alka-Seltzer) can be useful, as can extra magnesium, glutamine (a teaspoon with each meal), and l-carnosine. If you pay attention to how you feel, you can eventually get to a point where you know when to supplement with extra buffers. The acidic state is associated with a “wired out” anxious stressed out type energy. The alkaline state is associated with relaxation. If you’re feeling too relaxed, lay off the buffers. If you’re feeling stressed, add them in.

8. Genetic variants in the RAS/Angiotensin/ACE gene have a lot to do with individual differences in body-fat distribution patterns, insulin sensitivity, muscle fiber type, and health. Variants in the ACE gene cause some people to produce more or less ACE than others. The high ACE variant makes some people naturally strong with a lot of fast twitch fiber. They tend to respond to weight training with great strength increases. On the other hand, it also tends to make those same people more susceptible to high blood pressure, depression, visceral fat accumulation, and heart disease. Having the lower ACE genotype makes some people have a propensity to be scrawny and better at endurance activities with soft looking muscles and subcutaneous fat storage patterns. Here’s a high-ACE poster child – lots of visceral fat.

9. Studies showing that anabolic steroids don’t increase aggressiveness and other abnormal psychological characteristics are nearly always university studies using typical college males as subjects. Steroids are known to amplify existing psychology. If you’re naturally happy, you get more happy. If you’re aggressive, you get more aggressive. If you’re prone to mood swings, you get more moody. The problem is, there are probably quite a few baseline psychological differences between a typical university student and a typical bodybuilder. I’d like to see a steroid study using prison inmates as subjects. Bottom line: Despite how steroid users like to point to this and that study showing steroids don’t have any effect whatsoever on the “asshole meter,” in the real world, I have my doubts. People who derive enjoyment from self-inflicted torture (a.k.a.- lifting weights) aren’t always exactly normal in the first place!

10. I get a lot of questions from athletes writing me asking what to do to improve their unilateral jumping. Some people simply can’t jump off one foot worth a darn. As I discuss in my Vertical Jump Development Bible, although strength qualities and bodyweight do play a factor, based on my observations and experience, a lot of this is due to structural balance and posture.

Basically, it has to do with your style of gait and how that impacts your natural leverages and muscle recruitment. Some people walk and run with a tendency to pull their center of gravity. They take big steps forward and tend to walk (and run) way back on their heels. Other people have a tendency to chase their center of gravity. When they walk and run, their feet stay more under their body. There will still be some heel strike, but not to the same extent. This style of gait lends itself to better use of the hip extensors and better top running speed and unilateral jumping. If you sit in a mall or other busy place and just observe people walking it’s pretty easy to see the difference in gait patterns. The point is that if you struggle with your unilateral jump you also probably do not to move well on your forefoot and activity in your hip extensors is minimized in your daily activities due to your posture.

A good way to cue correct posture is to stand on a stair step, place both heels off the edge and lower the heels, like doing a calf stretch. Push the heels fairly hard and tighten the thighs and keep them tight. Keep contact with the rail for balance. Make sure you stand up straight and you will line up in “perfect posture.” What it does is bring the center of gravity where it belongs and forces the body to align itself correctly. Additionally, it never hurts to get in the habit of contracting your glutes at heel strike whenever you walk around.

11. Everyone is aware of the importance foam rolling and stretching for soft tissue health, but few people are aware of the impact of nutrition. I challenge anyone with multiple chronic adhesions, trigger points, or tendonitis to give up all wheat (gluten), corn, legumes, and dairy products for a week. Eat as many whole meats and veggies as you like and make rice-based foods your only source of starchy carbs. See if your tissues don’t feel better.

Our consumption of Agricultural era foods is still relatively new for humans. We can’t fully digest and assimilate many of the proteins, lectins, and other components of these foods unless they are processed and cooked beforehand. If a food has to be highly processed and cooked before we can eat it, it’s logical that it might not fully agree with us. Thus, many of us will have some degree of subclinical inflammatory reaction to these foods. These reactions are generally “hidden” allergies that cause symptoms like muscle pain, joint pain, tendonitis, fatigue, gas, and moodiness. If you eliminate the aforementioned foods and feel like crap with hardcore cravings for the first few days, you’re on the right track (note how many people literally feel sick when going from a standard “eat whatever ain’t nailed down” powerlifting diet to a clean diet). The withdrawal symptoms prove that you are “food addicted.” Ninety percent of the time an addictive food is a reactive food. Fortunately, the craving will pass after a few days and you’ll feel much better.

About Kelly

Kelly Baggett is a sought-after performance and physique coach from Springfield, MO. He has authored three books, including, 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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