The more and more sports performance training (not to mention the fitness industry as a whole) is becoming available to not just athletes but the general public, the more and more we are seeing “gimmicks” and “catch phrases” being used to attract the attention of the consumer. Not only is this an issue, but because their are few regulations on who can call themselves a performance or fitness professional (unlike Athletic Training or Physical Therapy), anyone (in this state) who has a pulse can market themselves as a Sports Performance Coach or a Personal Fitness Trainer. This leads to these “gimmicks” and “catch phrases” as well as a decrease in the general quality of training in the industry.

I am going to address a few of these gimmicks and catch phrases:

  1. The CORE: Every trainer specializes these days in training “The CORE”. Recently I have seen a few programs people have brought me that has a CORE session which involves 100 crunches…is that core? Just abs? The word “CORE” is a catch phrase people use to attract the consumer. Next time someone tells you their training focuses on The CORE, ask them to define The CORE. Most people with define it as abs and low back or even just balance. My definition is usually very broad, I define it as any muscle that connects to the pelvis! That’s a lot of muscles!
  2. Functional Training: This one gets me too! Everyone is functional these days. Just because they advertise as functional, are they really functional? Functional Training is defined as a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life. Are all trainers who promote functional training really providing their clients with functional training as it is defined or are they using a “catch phrase”?

In the Sports Performance industry, there are a few I like as well:

  1. Plyometrics: Not only are plyometrics very dangerous to an athlete who has not gone through the general preparation required prior to a plyometric program, it is often defined wrong by many trainers (unless they have been properly trained and educated themselves). By definition, plyometrics are exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximal strength in as short a time as possible. That usually means a lot more than just doing squat jumps (which really are not plyometric in nature). But then again, we are just dealing with semantics! There must still be an appropriate level of preparation prior to any athlete’s (specially a young athlete’s) involvement in a plyometric program.
  2. Speed and Agility: The desire to improve speed and agility is the number one request by most athletes I see. Unfortunately poor speed (which most people mistake for the need of acceleration, track is speed and sports in acceleration) and agility is a symptom of some other issue, rather it is strength, coordination or movement skills. Many athletes believe if they perform game-type agility, they will become more agile. Another issue, is that many agility and speed programs become”drill based” with little transfer to the field. An example of this would be Ladder Drills. If you are proficient at ladder drills, it only means you are good at ladders, it does not mean you have improved you movement skills or agility.
  3. Dynamic Warm-up– EVERYONE knows you need to do a dynamic warm-up prior to exercise. The problem is what is a dynamic warm up and what is its purpose? I have seen teams perform a dynamic warm-up of sorts and it turned into a workout. They actually performed the exercise for 50 yards! I have seen a dynamic warm-up followed by static stretching!!?? My favorite is watching teams perform static stretches on the field at half time which actually suppresses the nervous system, decreases core temperature and impairs maximal force production which can all lead to injury. Again, everyone says they do a dynamic warm-up, but do they really?

Recently, I have seen many so many ads on either the internet or magazines with the best, most innovative way to get bigger, faster or quicker. It may be a new drill, piece of equipment, or some new supplement (which is a whole other topic). Guess what? The principles of improving performance is nothing new!! Stick to the basics, educate yourself, and don’t fall for the gimmick or “catch phrase” and don’t be afraid to question what someone is providing for you. Don’t be afraid to ask “WHY?”.