So we talked about the combined effects on genetics and hard work, and then how to optimize for your own sporting success. This final post will get in to how you can apply this to your own life. Now, I will introduce to you the radar graph:
This graph shows my basic concepts of the different areas of physical performance. Strength is how much force you can produce, power is how much force you can produce in a short period of time. Mobility is how well you can move overall (think an elderly person compared to a ballet dancer). Conditioning is how much work you can perform at a moderate intensity. Coordination is your ability to control your body and move from one position to another. Finally, body composition is simply how lean you are. The goal here is to get as high of a score as you need for your sport and above if you can. Sports like the shot put require huge amounts of strength and power, but very little conditioning. Marathon running requires low levels of strength and power but huge amounts of conditioning. Finally things like Crossfit actually aim for you to have each of those areas highly developed. (This was meant to illustrate a point, not induce nerd rage).
How does this pertain to life?
You need to have adequate levels of each of these, to have not only independence (strength and conditioning are highly related to independence later on in life), but to quality of life. I’m not here to tell people how to live, but take a moment and figure out what is an adequate amount of each for your quality of life. There is a good post in the art of manliness about different base skills required for a healthy man. I like the list that they have, and I have a few of my own that I’ve added.
Having poor mobility leads to chronic pain and having a hard time doing things like getting down to sit on the floor. Low levels of strength can make in impossible to climb stairs or carry things. Low power and you won’t be able to catch yourself if you slip, or move quickly. Poor conditioning and you will have to catch your breath at the top of a flight of stairs. Bad body composition (too much fat) and you have a built in weight vest to wear everywhere you go, along with increased risks of a variety of diseases of affluence. Take a look and find out what your weakness is and then start working on how you can improve it.
How long do you want to play the game of life?
Your genetics have you set up to live for a certain period of time. None of us are getting out of this life alive, but your choices each day are either speeding up or slowing down when that end comes. If you come from a family where heart disease is the norm, your diet and exercise can have a huge effect on how soon that end comes. The same idea of auditing your program along the lines of:
1) Training optimally (which is different from maximally or minimally)
2) Recovering optimally
3) Fueling optimally
4) Skill optimization
5) Tactic optimization
I posted in the previous blog different ways to optimize your sports performance. Take and apply that to your life and it gives you a simple framework to see your own life as a sport. Look at your life and find which one(s) are you falling short? Are you doing a poor job of getting sleep, working out, eating, learning, or planning? Turns out if you aren’t saving you probably aren’t going to retire. If you aren’t learning anything your brain is not improving and possibly backsliding. Look at your life and figure out where you should be trying to improve so that you can have a higher quality of life.
I haven’t touched on the genetics of intelligence, and honestly I don’t want to at this venture. I do, however, want to make sure that I bring up the cognitive part of life. Sports are great and I enjoy playing them, I also enjoy reading, learning, and working. This blog has mostly covered different aspects of health, training, and coaching, but I would be remiss to not bring up the brain. Take the time to push yourself intellectually from time to time. This might be a new skill, a project at work, or some way of challenging your own personal beliefs. Doing so will help add to making you the greatest total person that you can be.
Life is a full contact sport. We can make as many “safe spaces” as we want, but the reality of life will hit us literally and metaphorically on occasion. The key here is to prepare. Now I don’t want to turn this in to some type of apocalyptic preppers post or fight club, but everyone is going to get hit hard at least a few times in life. This typically comes in the form of a fall or car accident. Most of us are going to get in 3 or 4 car accidents in our life along with figure you are going to fall and hit the ground. What can we do about this? Aside from the obvious of not text and drive, on the physical side literally strengthening your body especially your neck helps you avoid things like concussions (which I wish I had done more of in hindsight). Having a body that can move quickly, and either catch itself or roll with the fall will keep you safer. Now if you get in a 90mph car accident, no amount of neck strength is going to keep you from getting hurt, what I’m talking about is this is going to help decrease how much damage you take.
The average person also has back pain, knee pain, and neck pain. If you strengthen the muscles in those areas and keep them appropriately flexible you will have a higher quality of life, and that is what my goal is. As a strength coach one thing that we do is find out what are the common injuries in the sport and then design a program to keep those injuries from happening to our athletes. If you can read this you are currently on the field and in the game of life. What are you doing with your training so you can be successful here?
So ends my little thought experiment with genetics and sport. I hope that you enjoyed this and as always leave a comment on anything you like, or want me to follow up on in the future. My next few posts will be random. I have two friends with different training needs that I plan on posting on what my recommendations are for them.