Author: Corey Davis

Fix This in Your Athlete Daughter for Knee Health

People often ask when kids should start lifting weights and that’s a complicated answer that has a lot of variables in it. When should my child start exercising is a really easy question to answer though. The answer is now. There is a misconception that exercising always means lifting weights. Although weights can be a VERY useful tool, the real goal is refining movement and there’s no time where that isn’t useful.

For girls, this is especially true, since they are much more likely to get injured in their lifetime due to poor movement mechanics. It’s not because women are less coordinated or play riskier sports, it’s due to the way their knees connect to their hips.

Due to this Q Angle (see dotted line in the above diagram) being greater in women than in men, they are already prone to having their knees cave in. Women generally have wider hips, as you can see this affects how the knees connect to the hips. This leads to issues with jumping and squatting, but is especially dangerous when they land or decelerate.

This is why the incidence of non-contact ACL injuries is so much greater in women than in men. Without proper practice, it is unlikely to change naturally, so something needs to be done.

  1. Mindful Movement. Have your daughter focus on keeping the knees out while doing squatting, jumping and landing movements. Teaching them the proper position slowly will help it apply to moving faster. These are the basics. These are slow and easily controlled. Start here.
  2. Challenge the Movement. Once you see that she can keep her knees spread on a squat, challenge it with additional weight. A goblet squat is a great option here. Another option is to challenge with bands that are forcing the knees to cave in. This will provide an easy cue to push out and will also strengthen the muscles of the hips that need keep the knees from caving in. This is a suitable progression and mastery here should be seen before it can be reliably put to the test in athletic situations.
  3. Force Absorption. The greatest force your athletic daughter will be forced to deal with isn’t the additional weight of the goblet squat or band tension, it is the force when they are dealing with a quick deceleration. Athletes spend a lot of time practicing running and jumping, but very little time is usually spent on stopping and landing. Work with your daughter on absorbing these forces well on sprints that have a defined stop point with proper deceleration and use box jumps, depth jumps and broad jumps to make sure that as your daughter lands she is landing with her knees in line or outside of her feet.
  4. Or just sign up for our kids class. It’s every day after school at 4 and we’ll work on these things.

Work on these things with your daughter. Help her to stay healthy and happy and strong and injury free. Feel free to email with any questions.

Questions About Kids Training

We get questions all of the time about our Youth Athletic Development class. I’m going to take this blog to answer some of the questions I get asked most often. I’m calling it an FAQ on YAD.

Working on Leg Strength

When is the class?
The class is Monday through Friday at 4pm.

How long is the class?
The class is one hour.

Is my child old enough for the class?
Sure. It’s really less about age and more about attention span. If they have the attention span to do an hour long class then they are old enough to participate. The class is about meeting kids where they are developmentally, so there’s no level that is too basic.

Sled Pushes are an Easy Way to Train the Legs for the younger ones

Will this help my child get faster?
Absolutely. The class is based around improving athleticism and speed is a big part of that. It’s not the only goal of the class, but in my opinion, doing only speed work would be a disservice. Often the reason for their lack of quickness is their weakness, poor motor control, poor fitness, or poor mobility. As such we need to take a holistic approach and try to improve all of the qualities that affect athleticism.

Explosive Work

I think my child should do more speed ladders. You don’t use them enough in your program.
That’s not a question. Here’s a YouTube video about how I don’t like the speed ladder.

What are your qualifications to work with children?
I have an undergrad degree in Physical Health Education and am certified to teach PE in the state of Georgia.

I was probably saying something really important

I don’t want my child lifting weights. I don’t think they’re ready.
Your child won’t lift weights until we feel like it’s appropriate. We challenge different movement patterns and sometimes weight is a way to do it. We also challenge them through additional reps, slow tempo, faster tempo or while focusing on other movements. Based on the research available, there is no reason to worry about a child lifting weights under the supervision of specialists. It does not stunt growth. It does not damage growth plates and often it is easier than bodyweight movements. The forces put on a child during controlled weight lifting (such as found at Core Blend) are much lower than those found in sprinting, jumping, landing, gymnastics movements and sports, so we have no fears in this area. We only want to challenge a child with weights when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

My child is old enough to lift weights. Why isn’t he?
We don’t feel like your child’s movement pattern is refined enough to add additional weight yet. We are confident that with additional time and work they will be ready and they will make better progress long term because we were conservative.

I’m worried that we won’t make it right at 4. Will my child be penalized for running late?
No of course not. They’ll miss out on one exercise and have an abbreviated warmup, but they’ll get a great workout in.

Hill Sprints Improve Acceleration for the athletes, and skin tone for the trainer

Do we have to sign up for specific days?
No. We need to know how many days a week your child will show up for pricing purposes, but they can show up whichever days are convenient.

Do we have to sign a contract?
No. We don’t have contracts.

Do we get a discount for additional family members joining the class?
Yes. We have a family discount that applies to classes or personal training.

We’re going to miss a few days, will we lose out on those sessions?
No. We will roll them over for you.

My Experience with Reese’s Massage

Now that Hoffa Massage Therapy is up and running I’ve been able to use Reese as a massage therapist regularly for the last six months. I’ve used him for my clients, for my wife and for myself and I think there are 5 reasons that Reese gives the absolute best massage. 

  1. Reese is strong. For some reason I was scared of this part. I don’t know what I was picturing, it’s not like Reese accidentally rips the door off of hinges when he goes to open them, but for some reason I was worried he’d accidentally push too hard and break something. Instead, because he has the strength of 10 men, he just does all of the massage work effortlessly and tirelessly. Where other therapists would need to really lean in, use an elbow, or worse of all just give up on stubborn knots, Reese just kneads his way through them.
  2. Reese is knowledgeable. Reese really knows his stuff when it comes to massage. It was frustrating when he couldn’t go out to dinner for about 8 months while he was studying for massage school, but now his devotion to his study has really paid off for me. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about the human body and is constantly studying to continue making himself better.
  3. Reese is well versed. Reese was a professional athlete for well over a decade and has received every sort of recovery treatment you can. This shows when Reese stretches a muscle while he massages, it shows when he brings in special tools for stubborn areas and it shows when he refers people out for a different style of treatment. Reese is my go to authority when I need to know how to treat some small issue.
  4. Reese actually works out. Reese knows about exercise and what sorts of movements I do, so in addition to knowing where I’m likely to be tight, he knows when I need to do more or less of a certain exercise. This knowledge has been invaluable not only with my own training but when I send him my one on one clients for a touch up.
  5. Reese is stubborn. You don’t get to be a world champion without having some patience and willingness to work. When my shoulders were tight and I couldn’t figure out why, Reese was on the case. He didn’t stop poking and prodding until he actually solved the issue. It meant that he went past our hour spending time continuing talking to me, but it was worth it to him just to figure out the real cause.
  6. BONUS REASON One of my biggest pet peeves from therapists is they always ask what I want to work on then they do an extra thirty seconds on that area before going into the same massage they always do. With Reese, he was willing to spend the entire time on the areas that actually bothered me. I thought the knots in my back were just a permanent part of life until I had enough time with Reese for him to fix them.
Strong, Healing Hands

A Note on Contracts

We don’t do written fee contracts lasting months at a time, here at Core Blend. We are committed to earning your business month after month. You should stay at our facility next month because we’ve provided value, not because you signed a contract. We advertise our actual price and don’t use a contract as a way to artificially decrease our price. We don’t see a reason that it’s beneficial for our clients to sign a contract, so we don’t make them. We’re committed to providing the best exercise experience possible, we’ll let other people worry about sales tactics.

Why Doesn’t Corey like Running Shoes at Core Blend?

New members often come into the gym wearing running shoes. It makes sense. I get why people do it. Running is exercise. They are coming to exercise. They should wear running shoes. Makes perfect sense. There are a couple of flaws to this kind of idea though and I have a couple of different solutions.

First, let’s talk about why this is an issue. Running shoes are really good at decreasing the amount of force going into your heel when you run. Most people do a heel to toe stride, so a lot of the force goes from the ground up into your foot at the heel. Your running shoes are designed with a big foam pad there to absorb that force. This is great for runners.

The issue is when you’re NOT running and instead trying to squat or deadlift or do something else athletic inside Core Blend (or whatever non Core Blend gym you’re mistakenly going to) your goal is to put force into the ground. The same material that is keeping your body from feeling the impact from the ground is now keeping your body from being able to exert force into the ground. You may have a coach repeatedly telling you to get your weight on your heels during the squat, but if you’re in running shoes they’re missing the point and so are you. You are instinctively going to feel like you can’t push through your heels (because you can’t, at least not very efficiently), so of course you are going to lean forward and push through your toes instead.

So now  you’re stuck in a lose lose situation. Squats feel unnatural, your coach tells you you’re doing them wrong, but it doesn’t really feel like you can do it the way they’re telling you to. So what’s the answer? I have a few different solutions:

  • Go Barefoot.
    • Pros
      • This is by far the cheapest option. No additional steps are needed to do this. Just slip off your shoes after getting loose and then put them back on after your last set.
      • This works incredibly well. Here’s Jordan Clarke deadlifting 650 pounds barefoot. Here’s a photo of me squatting 435 barefoot. You would be shocked at the number of people i’ve worked with that hit large PR’s just by me cueing them to push through their heels after taking their shoes off.
      • It can actually make coaching the lift easier because you can see whether or not the athlete is rooting into the ground properly and pushing through the foot in the right way.
    • Cons
      • You can’t transition as seamlessly from one exercise to the next. If you’re doing a superset of Squats and Box Jumps, this wouldn’t work nearly as well. If you were doing a squat or a deadlift as part of a larger circuit, it’s not realistic to take shoes on and off constantly.
      • People will worry that you will hurt your foot if something gets dropped on it. You will have to endure this completely unfounded concern, as if the person offering this advice is wearing steel toed shoes in the gym. That 45 pound plate is going to crush a foot whether you’re barefoot or wearing running shoes. This isn’t really a con…it’s just a pet peeve of mine.
  • Get Lifting Shoes
    • Pros
      • Easily slid on and off for lifts. Just put your running shoes back on for the rest of your workout.
      • These shoes should be the best option for big lifts. That’s what they are explicitly designed to do.
    • Cons
      • As Louie Simmons says “Don’t have $100 shoes and a 10 cent squat.” At least in the beginning that money might be better spent on additional coaching time with an expert. Barefoot works well enough for a long time.
      • The shoes might not be the most comfortable way to lift for you. Some people prefer a raised heel, some prefer a flat sole.
      • You might need/want different shoes for different exercises. I’ve met guys that deadlift in one pair of shoes, squat in another, and have a third pair for cardio. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it can get expensive.
  • Get Multi-Purpose Shoes
    • Pros
      • These shoes work really well for a wide variety of exercises. I squat, bench, olympic lift, row, ski, push a sled, and play sports in mine. You wouldn’t need to change shoes during your workout and they would work very well.
      • These will be about the same price as a pair of running shoes, so if you just buy these instead of running shoes next time, you’re not looking at an additional expense.
      • Examples of these would be shoes from No Bull, Nike Metcons, or Reebok Nanos. I’m sure there are more. If you’re confused, pop me an email or swing by the gym and I’ll answer questions.
    • Cons
      • These shoes are by definition not THE BEST at any one activity. That shouldn’t be an issue for most people though. For the broad fitness done in warehouse style gyms, these will be fine.

So there you go. Hopefully this helps your lifting and fitness.

You Can Be Fit

The person that you know that effortlessly fits exercise into their week? They enjoy it.

Our role as trainers at Core Blend is to help you find that form of exercise that you’ll look forward to. We want you to exercise for the rest of your life and the best way to do that is to make sure that it’s enjoyable. So many people are busy trying to sell the EXTREME workout, or shove you into a one size fits all box that they forget that you showing up every week for the rest of your life is the real goal.

No matter what your goals are and what you enjoy doing, we can help you. If right now you think that you don’t like working out, we can find something you do like. I’m positive of it. You can enjoy exercise and you can be fit. A lot of these blog posts run longer, but this message is about as simple as it gets. You can be fit, and we can help you get there.

IF Hugh Jackman Trained in Watkinsville

I do not speak for Mr. Jackman. If he or one of his representatives reads this article and would like to dispute it, I am open to that discussion. Full disclosure though, my lawyer can dunk and run a sub six minute mile, so I feel pretty good in any litigation.

If Hugh Jackman, the jacked actor that played Wolverine for 17 years in the X Men movies, worked out in Watkinsville, I feel very confident in saying that he would train at Core Blend. After watching him workout on Instagram, researching his personal trainer (the very sharp Dieter Roylance) as well as the facility that he trains at in Australia, I have no doubts about this. Let’s dive into the evidence.

  1. Hugh Jackman deadlifts. A lot. Here look: That is a lot of weight. I can’t tell for sure, but that’s somewhere between 445 and 465 pounds. That’s a legit lift. You know what other gym deadlifts a lot? Core Blend. We have over a dozen guys that have pulled over 500 pounds and another half dozen that are pulling over 550. Hugh would want a place with a deadlift bar. He would want a place with plenty of weight. He would want a place that had other lifters and trainers that knew what they were doing to help keep his form right. He would fit right in at Core Blend.
  2. Hugh Jackman can row 2000 meters in 7 minutesThat is a legit time. What other gym has a lot of guys that can row 2000 meters in 7 minutes or less? Obviously it’s Core Blend. We have videos of guys doing it on Youtube. You can see guys doing them on Instagram. We have 13 men that can beat 7 minutes on a 2K row. When the Wolverine walks into the gym and needs to get some cardio, he’s hopping on a rowing or ski machine with us. He wants to do entertaining cardio, he wants to push himself. He’d definitely be hitting intervals on the sled and ski and row with us. No doubt.
  3. Hugh Jackman does curls.  I won’t name any names, but there are a lot of gyms that think they’re too good for curls. A lot of facilities that would welcome someone hitting up some deadlifts and some rowing would turn their nose up at a man that wants to work on having great biceps. A lot of places that preach functional fitness don’t see the functionality in having big arms which is something that I really can’t abide. Core Blend has curl bars. Core Blend has Dumbbells from 2.5 to 125 pounds. Cable machines. Fat Gripz. Fat Bells. Fat Bars. Ropes. If you want thick arms, I think it’s clear that this is the place to train.

So what does this mean to you? Why would I take the time to prove my case that hypothetically a famous Hollywood actor would train at my facility? It’s simple. If you would like to be fit and jacked into your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s then it’s time to come train like it at Core Blend.

10 Tips on Speed Training For Kids

“You can’t coach speed” is a well worn adage by coaches that aren’t very good at making athletes faster. In fact, I don’t think there’s a bigger gap in fitness between what parents think good speed training looks like and what it actually is. It’s a shame too, because there are a number of training practices that are very effective with youth athletes that are not nearly as effective with teen and college athletes. Sadly, most parents don’t get their child involved in smart effective training until they are in their mid teens, where it is much harder to have an impact on certain aspects of speed. Although I see a lot of mistakes in speed training with teen and college athletes, I’d like to focus this blog post on the specific training practices that should be used on youth athletes.

Here are the Do’s and Don’t’s of Speed Training for Youth Athletes:

Overspeed Training. Overspeed training works by having an athlete sprint faster than they are currently capable of. Towing, Band Work, Downhill sprinting, and contrast training would all be a part of this. The developing athlete’s turnover/stride rate can be increased by changing the activity of the CNS. The developing brain makes this an ideal time to make real changes to the athlete. This work is not NEARLY as effective later and is a huge priority of youth training.

Mobility: Developing athletes have great flexibility (typically), but must work to get their mobility to where it should be. Learning how to control positions rather than “falling” through them is key for maximizing efficiency as well as safety.

Focus on Safe Movement Patterns: Youth athletes should be taught how to apply force and from what angles. This ensures that they get into good positions and don’t get hurt.

Rehearse with Cone Drills: Cone drills can be used to rehearse movement and confirm that athletes are getting into the proper positions. This is especially useful for youth athletes, but with every rep we as coaches need to make sure that the athletes are getting into safe and efficient positions.

Use Plyometric Drills: Developing athletes need to learn how to produce force quickly and maximize their own strength prior to beginning true weight training. Plyometric Drills focusing on short ground contact time are an ideal way to do this.

Use Drills with Reaction: Great speed and agility in sports involves decision making. Put the athletes in situations where they need to decide where to sprint and how, as opposed to just letting them do rehearsed movements. (Expanded on below in the “Don’t Rely on Cone Drills” and “Don’t Rely on Ladders” below)

Have Fun: Kids are kids. Everything should be fun and enjoyable so that they want to do more. Competition with others will also get them to push to their fullest.

Do Too Many Reps: Too many reps will turn it into conditioning rather than speed work and the young athletes will get too tired to be effective learners. Conditioning can look like speed work, but it isn’t. If the athlete starts to make mistakes out of fatigue then they are probably working too hard to learn movements. These fatigued movements will also not be as fast and explosive as we would like.

Rely on Cone Drills: Sports are chaotic and too many cone and ladder drills don’t allow athletes to react to what they’re seeing. Rely instead on drills with human movement or decisions. Cone drills often rely on rote memorization rather than decision making. Equip the athletes with the tools to move properly and let them make decisions.

Rely on Ladders: Ladders don’t teach quick feet, they teach feet that don’t move anywhere. Good technique on a speed ladder is to touch in different positions while not applying force. The feet must apply force every time they touch the ground. Speed ladders teach the OPPOSITE of what we need athletes to do. Every plant should have a purpose, not leave the athlete motionless at their center of gravity.

Raise the Bar: How my Friendship with Reese Helps Me

If you know me, you know that one of my closest friends in the world is Reese Hoffa. He’s had a huge influence on me both professionally and personally in a myriad of ways that I probably don’t even realize. If he hadn’t seen something in me and given me a shot at writing his workouts in 2011, it’s likely I don’t open up a gym in 2012. If I don’t open up that gym, I don’t meet most of the groomsmen in my wedding or my wife. Without his faith, I am probably stuck in a job I hate, rather than writing this blog post from my office while my dog takes a nap at my feet. He’s a great husband and shows me how to be a better one and a great friend, showing me daily how I can be a better one of those too. You might know someone like Reese and I hope that you learn lessons from them too.

However, your friend isn’t the best in the world at what they do, and that’s something that Reese brings to the table. When I was in college, I read about Reese Hoffa. He was in the middle of a phenomenal run that ended with him being ranked in the top 3 in the world for 10 years in a row. He was a mythical type of being to me. I knew that he wasn’t a regular guy because if he was he wouldn’t be the best in the world. I remember seeing him eating at a Mexican restaurant and being amazed that a guy like that would be eating in the same place as me, a regular guy. He was the best in the world and he was doing something that a regular guy like me would do.

Fast forward a few years and my perspective is different. I still think Reese is great, but now I see that he’s a regular guy just like me. That doesn’t diminish who he is or what he accomplished, but it does make me think that I could do the same thing. Reese worked incredibly hard. He wasn’t a world class athlete as a high schooler. He wasn’t a world class athlete in college. He worked multiple jobs and pushed himself to be his absolute best and never let any limitation hold him back. There’s no reason I can’t do the same thing. There is someone in the world that is better at training than everyone else, why can’t it be me? Why can’t I operate the best gym in America? I think it’s easy to look at someone successful in their field and think there’s something different about them. They were just born lucky and that’s why they’re in that spot, but I know the best shot putter in the world so I know that isn’t true. Reese earned his spot. He wanted to be the best in the world and he did it. Being the best gym in Athens is not enough for me. I want to operate the best gym in the world and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Being friends with Reese has made me raise the bar on what I expect from myself. I can’t sit back and delude myself into thinking that I can’t be hugely successful because I’ve got to watch Reese do it.

I have no idea what your goals are. I have no idea who you look up to in your field. I do know that they’re regular people and you could do what they’re doing. If you’re reading this and think I’m wrong, then it’s because you don’t have a friend like Reese.

Tools in the Trainer’s Belt: The Right Tool for the Job

Let me start this post off by saying that the metaphor of a tool belt may be a terrible choice for me to use. The work uniform I’ve worn 6 days a week for the last 5 years has consisted entirely of elastic banded shorts. I rarely wear shoes in the gym and when I do, they’re a pair of sliders. I’m positive I’ve never owned an actual tool belt. As a trainer though, I have a giant tool belt. Depending on the situation, I can pull out powerlifting routines, bodybuilding routines, group circuits, one man (or woman) circuits, group competitions, cooperative workouts, stretching, injury prevention, mobility, sport training and a variety of other workout methodologies depending on the situation. I think that any good trainer SHOULD have a lot of different areas to draw from so they’re ready to get good results with any client that walks through the door.

Be smart with your exercise selection and you’ll be happy with your workouts.

The issue then comes from using the wrong tool for the job. I see people trying to use a hammer to drive in a screw all the time in the fitness world. The fact is, some tools are just better suited to jobs than others are.  I think that for the majority of situations, dumbbells work better for hypertrophy work than barbells. Good lifters make subtle tweaks to exercises to allow themselves to “feel” the exercise to a greater degree. If I’m targeting growth in my biceps I’d much rather go with a DB Curl than a Barbell Curl. I think barbells work fine, but personally I’m going to select a better tool.

I think Olympic lifting is a poor tool for conditioning. I feel the same way about deadlifts. Can they be tiring? Absolutely, but I think that rowing, skiing, pedaling a bike, or pushing a sled is a much better option. I want to be able to encourage someone to push as hard as they can without fear that they’ll compromise form and hurt themselves. The rowers and skiers are also very low impact and give automatic feedback every single stroke so there is no opportunity to delude yourself. If you see a 2:01 pace, you’ve slowed down from the 1:55 you were pulling at. There is no way to deny that one. I love it. Can olympic lifting serve as conditioning? Absolutely. Can you dig out your swimming pool with a spoon? Absolutely. You’re just not going to catch me doing it.

A few simple rules for my thoughts on which tool is right for you.

  1. Trying to get stronger? Select a compound exercise where the limiting factor is your strength in the area you’re trying to bring up, i.e. don’t select a heavy overhead squat to make your legs stronger if your shoulders are going to be the limiting factor.
  2. Trying to get fitter? Pick exercises where you can focus primarily on pushing harder. Don’t select exercises that are overly complicated and will exhaust you mentally or are likely to get you injured if you move the wrong way.
  3. Trying to work on hypertrophy? Select an exercise that you can “feel”. Don’t feel the bench press in your pecs? Don’t use it to try to bring up that muscle group then.