Sunday, July 31, 2011

Traffic Light Principle and How It Effects Your Training

Just finished watching Dan John's Intervention DVD and I must say that any serious strength coach or fitness enthusiast will highly benefit from Dan's Knowledge. There is nobody in the fitness industry that is able to weave together cutting edge training principles with philosophy, theology and practice life experience like Dan John.  Dan is absolutely one of my favorite presenters in any field. He makes you bring up the bigger issues of life and has a way of speaking straight to your CORE VALUES which in turn makes you question your thinking, training and future. In watching the 3 part DVD sets Dan reminded me of a principle that I originally learned at the CK-FMS back in 2008. The concept is the TRAFFIC LIGHT principle and it is a very clear and simple method of assessing your training readiness.

Imagine you are driving and you pass through a green light at the traffic light. This green light represents forward movement, momentum and speed. There is nothing hindering you or telling you to slow down. When you transfer this to training, a GREEN LIGHT represents a period in your life when things are going smoothly and progress is easy to attain. Let's look at some green light attributes:

  • Sleep is plentiful and restful
  • Nutrition is more than adequate and you are fueling your body to grow muscle and repair
  • General Health is excellent / Immune system function is high
  • External Stress such as toxic relationships, a bad job, being broke is out of the equation
  • Your Social life is good and your have meaningful relationships with friends, family, etc..
  • Mental outlook on life is Positive. MOTIVATION is High! Expectations for the future are Optimistic.
  • Perhaps the fact that you have Medical Insurance gives you peace of mind
Now let's use the same analogy of the traffic light and now imagine you are driving and the traffic light TURNS YELLOW. Immediately you are put in more of a threat mode as you now know that danger could be in front of  you if you do not make a quick decision. Yellow lights signify CAUTION. It doesn't mean that  anything negative has happened but it is giving you a signal that you need to SLOW DOWN!!! In regard to training a YELLOW LIGHT would mean:

  • Your body is giving you some signals that training volume and intensity may need to be altered and possibly reduced
  • Pain and discomfort in your body may be increased during this time
  • Life stress such as increased family and work demands are making it more challenging to recover from intense training
  • Nutritional habits may have taken a turn toward not fueling your body adequately or toward eating the poor food choices on a consistent basis
  • Sleep quality is down. Getting adequate rest seems rather difficult during this time
  • Mental and emotional health is still good but you can tell that you are not as mentally sharp or emotionally stable as you would like to be
  • Pregnancy is usually a Yellow light situation for the mother and for the father
The RED LIGHT represents true challenge in your life and represents  lack of forward movement and progress. There are times in all of our lives when we enter these RED LIGHT periods where because of serious challenges our training needs to be altered in a major way. Here are some potential RED LIGHT attributes and potential situations:

  • You have recently had a major injury that requires bed rest or surgery
  • You have lost a job or perhaps your job has been transferred to a different part of the country and you need to pack up  your stuff and move your family half way across the united states
  • Major health set back (heart attack, disease, you need a serious operation)
  • Perhaps you are getting Divorced or there has been a death in the family
  • You are under an incredible amount of mental, emotional and physical stress
All of these RED LIGHT situations are major players in the sense that they will not only modify your training but they will modify your entire life. We all go through YELLOW AND RED LIGHT situations in our lives and therefore are forced to tackle them head on.  Having been through many red light situations in my life I can tell you that whether you like it or not, training will be put on the back burner for periods of time.  However, that does not mean that you have to STOP training. What it does mean is that you have to be brutally honest with yourself and what you are able to successfully recover from. If you are in a red light situation, it may not be the time to run those 2 marathons you were planning on running or climb mount Everest. Sometimes just doing the basics and bare minimum are enough.

Another very important piece of advice Dan gives is to look at your training or the training log of  your client/athlete and do the opposite. If they are mainly doing  Bench Presses, Pull Ups and Power Cleans, have them work on Loaded Carries, Squatting variations and Hinging patterns, The fact that you are training patterns will alone often get people stronger and more importantly healthier. After all, there is a difference between HEALTH and FITNESS.

Health is having your organs working well, oxygen coming in and out of your body and generally being safe in the manner in which you live your life. FITNESS is the ability to perform a task. Ideally we should have the HEALTH side of things nailed down first if we truly want to be able to sustain our FITNESS.

more to Dan John and his wisdom!!!!

Your Thoughts? Comments?