My Journey to the Optimal Training Shoe

I have searched for years to find the perfect training shoe. When the Vibrams came out I thought they would be the shoe. Unfortunately, they did not have my size. I have tried Nike, Under Armour, etc. They all look good and feel good for awhile but I could tell something was missing.

I happen to be reading a post from Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance (www.cresseyperformance.com) talking about the New Balance Minimus shoe. I did not get my hopes up because I assumed they did not have a size 15. So, I decided to take a look at the website (www.newbalance.com) and I could not believe my eyes. They actually go up to a 17! I decided to go with the NB Minimus 20v3 in a size 15. The past 2 weeks have been just awesome.

I had some SI joint discomfort and it has gone away. My feet feel “open” and very functional. I honestly cannot remember when my feet have felt this good. I guess the 4MM heel works well for me. The training shoe makes a world of difference. I think everyone should try to find their “optimal” training shoe. Just a thought…

In strength,


Price of Fitness vs Cost of Fitness

Everyone is concerned about the price they pay for products and services they use.  Normally people assume the price they pay for something is directly related to the value received.   If that is the case what is the cost of a product or service? Costs includes the development, manufacturing, and all expenditures associated with the product or service.

So, in regards to the price of fitness or the cost of fitness, you really want to examine the true costs of fitness.  Here is why. If a gym membership price is $30 a month and personal training is another $250 per month, the numbers show a total of $280 a month as the price paid.  Now the question is, how do you measure the cost of this monthly amount?  It depends on your current age, goals, and health status.   If you are overweight, have diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, or recovering from surgery the cost of not having fitness can be greater than you think long-term.  Being proactive about your fitness levels can pay future dividends in your quality of life. In most definitions, this now could be called an investment.

When you are considering the price you pay for fitness or the cost of not having it, think about trying to retire without saving. You can do it, but at what cost. Just a thought…

Best in health,

Shannon Wallace, Jr


Friday’s Fitness Tip 2/15/13

Just starting to run? Running is a natural thing most of us learn to do as kids.  Unfortunately, as we get older our bodies change and we have to prepare more for this basic exercise.  After sitting at a desk all day or even waking up in the morning our bodies are not ready to just start running efficiently.  Strength training is a very important component to your running success.  It involves hip mobility, active and static stretching, upper and lower body strength exercises, and overall core strength.  Training your posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, glutes, thoracic spine area, etc.) will help your stride length, foot strikes, and overall running mechanics.  Your shoe choice is also very important! Some people pronate, some supinate, some are heel runners, some are toe runners, etc.. It may be best to consult a store or place to analyze your running before buying a shoe.  When you get stronger and become more efficient your shoe needs may change. Find a local running club, coach, or trainer to help you with the process.  All the best in your running and strength training! 

In strength,

Shannon Wallace, Jr


Quick Note: Olympic Lifts for Athletes and General Population

What are Olympic lifts? Traditionally they are the snatch and the clean and jerk; some contemporary lifts include power clean, hand clean, muscle clean, etc.

Triple Extension

Some athletes prefer not to do Olympic lifts because they are not in the sport of Olympic lifting. Then there are some that feel like if they do not play football, hockey, or some other contact sport they do not have to do Olympic lifts. This mindset could diminish your output in your chosen sport and minimize your fitness levels. Here is why.

The Olympic lifts can be some of the most demanding, explosive, and dynamic displays of power by an athlete. I think they are thought to be too complicated this is why so many people avoid them. I have to give Crossfit credit for the resurgence of Olympic lifts and how they have made them seem “cool.”

A sport that spans over 100 years and originated in Europe had the same uses then, as it has now. They are to produce hypertrophy, improved strength, improved muscle fiber recruitment for greater force, and to increase force production at a high rate of speed. Some of you are like what does that all mean? In the simplest terms you may get bigger, stronger, faster, and create leaner muscle.

As an athlete or person in the general population, training in Olympic lifts with the right training regimen, you can yield greater results. For further information find a certified coach or go to http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Weightlifting.aspx

Stay tuned for more “Quick Note” subjects.

Train strong,

Shannon Wallace, Jr. NASM-CPT, CKT, CNT


Optimize Results with Fiber Training

Fast twitch fibers, slow twitch fibers, intermediate fast twitch fibers. While we may have heard these terms before, we need to understand the practicality and applicability of them in regards to training for sport. In order to train the right muscle fibers, we need to first discuss what constitutes fast and slow twitch muscles.

We have over 600 muscles in our bodies, all made up of a mixture of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. We are going to start with the big picture, dive briefly into some physiology, and go back to big picture. This will help you to better understand fiber type training.

Within one motor unit (muscle), we can have anywhere from 10-1000 muscle fibers, depending on which muscle group we are talking about. The glutes, a large muscle group, are going to be on the higher end in terms of the amount of muscle fibers it has, while the orbicularis oculi (muscle around the eye) is going to have fewer fibers. While the actual ratio of fast:slow fibers depends on a variety of factors, let’s keep it simple and just know that every muscle has a both types of fibers. Now, within a motor unit, individual fibers contract when they are stimulated to do so. However, the type of fibers that contract are dependent on the stimuli, or type of contraction you are doing. Here is a quick description of the 3 pure fiber types.

Slow twitch type I– Smaller muscle fibers in size. High aerobic capacity and high resistance to fatigue. Anywhere from 10-180 of these fibers per motor unit. Generally, you would think of long distance runners as the athletes having a large percentage of slow twitch fibers.

Intermediate fast twitch, type IIa– Larger muscle fibers in size. Moderate aerobic capacity, higher (relative to type I) anaerobic capacity. These fibers fall somewhere in between the long distance runners and the high intensity, explosive athletes. You may consider these your strength/power endurance fibers.

Pure fast twitch, type IIx– Largest muscle fibers in size. Low aerobic capacity (fatigue quickly), high anaerobic capacity. Great at producing high force for short amounts of time. Football players are an example of an athletic population with a high percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers (plays generally last 5-10 seconds at most).

If you are training for a marathon, which places a high demand on your aerobic energy system, your type I fibers, how often should you be performing squat jumps?

In contrast, if you are a shot putter, do you think running 5 miles a day, or performing 20 rep bench press  are going to help improve your max distance? Of course not!!!

You need to train the right fibers more often than the “wrong” ones! Every athlete needs to train all fibers, but some more-so than others depending on your goals. If your sport requires you to be fast, train fast. If you want to be powerful, then you must emphasize your fast twitch fibers, with the majority being type IIx. A volleyball player has no business running 3 miles at a submaximal pace (not often at least). Just as a cyclist should not be squatting heavy 3 days a week. When you do this, it is not only inhibiting the necessary energy systems from developing, but it is often counterproductive. Think about how effective an 18 wheeler would be with a 4 cylinder engine…

What about the athletes that need to be fast and explosive, but sustain that over long periods of time? These are your soccer, basketball, hockey players. The majority of their fiber training needs to be focused somewhere in the middle of the continuum, but more towards fast twitch. The intermediate fast twitch fibers are most effective for their sport. Eric Cressey, a highly respected performance coach, spoke in regards to off season training, saying that you have to learn to go fast PERIOD before you can sustain that speed for an entire game. Therefore, a basketball player needs to focus on fast twitch training and getting stronger more before he worries about his strength endurance.

Here is video of an exercise where the athlete starts out using mostly type IIx fiber  (type I are always recruited first as we saw in the graph) , but starts relying more on his intermediate type IIa and type I fibers as fatigue begins to set in.

While fiber type training is extremely important to the principle of specificity, we still need to have an open-minded approach and train to be optimal. An optimal athlete, whether you are playing an aerobic or anaerobically demanding sport, has to train all fiber types by utilizing all energy systems. If a football player NEVER imrpoves his strength endurance, he will get beat in the 4th quarter when it counts. If an ultra-marathon runner NEVER lifts a heavy weight to strengthen fast twitch muscles (the largest muscle fibers in size as previously noted), it is impossible for them to be as fast as possible for as long as possible.

The take home message is to allocate your time spent training muscle fiber type according to the of the demand of your sport.

In regards to calorie expenditure and weight loss, fiber type training is king. Because muscular contraction yields energy expenditure, wouldn’t it make sense to contract as many muscle fibers as possible? If your body allows you to do so, and you have no functional limitations, it makes sense to train your muscles to experience fatigue so that you HAVE to recruit more muscle fibers.

Next time you hit the gym, consider your goals. Do you want to be fast and explosive? Enduring? Fast for a long period of time? Toned? Muscular? All of these goals can be attained if you adhere to the principles of fiber type training. But remember, to be optimal, a complete 360 degree circle, you need ALL 8 of the essentials…


Train smart!

Andrew Simpson IYCA-YFS

368 Athletics


Hamstrings, Hamstrings, Hamstrings

I’d like to start this post out with a conversation I had about a week a go. The names are not important (John is a fictional character), however it is the ignorance and context of the conversation that inspired me to write this. I’ll pick up right around when it started getting interesting…

John: We are wasting “valuable” time in the gym doing these leg lifts (referring to a single leg supine bridge).

Me: The benefits of the supine bridge and strengthening our hamstrings is far more important than I think you realize.

John: Nobody cares about the back of our legs. Quad strength is where its at, not just for looks but on the field too. If you think about it, the only place you feel fatigued during sports is your quads anyway.

And that is where I stopped the conversation. It truly did not dawn on me until that conversation that a large number of people, whether it be the general population, athletes, weekend warriors, and so on, still do not understand that the hamstring muscles are more than just the posterior part of your thigh.

Knee pain…any of you ever had it? People often attribute knee pain solely to overuse, such as walking, running, jumping, or being “too” active. While overuse may be a contributing factor, I will make the argument that the majority of knee-pain will come from not training the posterior chain like it should be trained. And in particular, you guessed it, the hamstring group, composed of three important muscles: the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the bicep femoris. The general rule of thumb is to have a 2:1 quad to hamstring strength ratio. If this were the case and people trained there lower body this way, I assure you there would be less people who suffer from knee pain/injury.

In regards to athletic performance, the hamstrings are crucial. Evidently, based on my conversation with “John”, many still have the misconception that quad strength equals speed and power. All of the “Johns” out there could not be more mistaken. The potential speed and explosiveness that every athlete strives for is not being reached because the glutes and hamstrings and not focused on nearly as much as they should be!

Think about the hamstrings from a functional anatomy perspective…

  • Origin: ischial tuberosity (posterior side of pelvis–or the bone you sit on)
  • Insertion: tibia and fibula (bones that make up your lower leg)

What all that gibberish means?

Your hamstrings are extremely important in both flexing you knee and extending your hips. The applied functional significance of this is evident in EVERY sport.

  1. Running: Two key players in optimizing your running form are your knee drive, and being able to put power to the ground. If we revisit the physiology of the hamstrings, we see what? A direct translation to running.                       Knee flexion–>knee drive            Hip extension–>driving the ground away from you.
  2. Jumping: An optimal jump is no more than squatting down and exploding into the air as quickly and forcefully as possible. Again you will see the physiology of the hamstrings translating perfectly to the jump. Knee and hip flexion–>loading phase of the jump          Hip extension–>driving the ground away from you as you explode into the air.

These concepts may seem simple and monotonous, however I feel that if people have a basic anatomical and physiological understanding of what it is that the hamstrings do, then they will be more incline to train smarter and work there posterior chain.

You have seen that training the hamstrings are important not only to enhance athleticism and power, but for preventative maintenance as well. Now that you are more educated, its time for the implementation.

  1. Work the Posterior Chain
  • The squat is perhaps the most renowned exercise known to man. But, until you have fully activated all three hamstring muscles, and in turn improved the flexibility in your hip flexors, the squat is going to continue to over-target your quads and minimize the important recruitment of the hamstring and glute muscles.
  • My suggestion is to begin with bodyweight hamstring exercises, such as the supine bridge. Laying on your back, flex your knees at a 90 degree angle. Keeping the heels of your feet in strong contact with the ground, raise your hips (push your butt up) as high as you can into the air. Perform this as an isometric hold, or with repetitions.
       2. Work Unilaterally
  • Before your can walk, you must crawl. Starting out bilaterally, or with two legged exercises, may be necessary depending on your fitness level. However, once you master your bodyweight bilaterally, moving on to single leg work will further improve your hamstring strength. The single leg supine bridge can be performed the same way as the traditional bridge, but with one leg raised in the air.
       3. Balance Strength with Suppleness
  • Muscles are meant to contract, but not to the point that they are contracted permanently. You want to equally stretch out your hamstrings as much as you strengthen them. Too much of one without the other will result in pain, injury, or sub-optimal performance in sports. Partner stretching is ideal, however stretching your hamstrings with a band can be just as effective.
Now that you know that what you are currently doing or not doing in the gym can be easily fixed or improved…what will be your next move?  Will you continue to neglect one of the most vital muscles in your body? Or will you get out of your comfort zone, train your hamstrings like they should be trained, and reap the benefits that strong and supple hamstrings can provide you?
The choice is yours…make the decision to get better today!

Andrew Simpson IYCA-YFS

368 Athletics


Just want to say hello to all the fitness pros at IDEA in LA this weekend. Be invigorated and inspired to change your life and others.


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