The 3 Key Components of Performance and Recovery are now 4!

SLEEP DIET EXERCISE - Nutrition and Fitness

My kids have heard since birth, “There are three components of Health and Fitness.” (these are the same components for performance, injury recovery, well-being, life, on and on…)




These are the ingredients of how you get and stay healthy. If any of these three main spokes are off, the body suffers.

With an imbalance in the homeostasis of these, Performance is handicapped. Not that you will experience failure, but more along the lines of your work capacity, and hence your God Given performance peak (pyramid) is shortened.

I follow and work with some of the best in the game of human performance, rehab, treatments, and recovery. Of course, I’ll see regular “back pain/rib pain” patients in my clinic, but my passion is human performance. What makes a kid make the varsity a year earlier, how do they get a college scholarship, and why do the professionals have that extra “X factor” that allows them to explode on the court? That’s what I love.

Because of this and how “what, the pros do” translates to every aspect of what my clinic’s protocols are, the seminars I seek to improve our clinic never follow “How to get a dozen clients in your door” or “How to get Attorneys and Medical Doctors to refer clients.”

Nope, my continuing education is along the lines of “How to work with athletes,” “What’s new and improved at the NFL level of human performance.” and “What we know about the knee in regards to running techniques, etc.”

These three components are as important to my kids’ development as you and my athletes. Both for health and everyday performance. Even mental clarity and well-being. Academics, Recovery from Injury, Performance, Clarity, Digestion, and Pain are all directly related to these critical factors.

Over the last year, another factor has become increasingly popular in my discussions with the top Trainers and specialists in the country. It’s obvious now that I’ve heard it said a dozen different ways with unique examples at all levels of sports. My awareness of this has made it much more noticeable.

Stress – is the new sleep!

Stress – is the new diet!

Stress – is the new Exercise!

You need to acknowledge and appropriately deal with stress. Social stress, divorce, worry, family matters, finance, sports, Love, weddings, and kids. Both the good and bad stress. They matter! Your relationship with the realities of everyday LIFE counts and tremendously affects performance and ability. I heard it more over the last 3 months and even saw an entirely new way one University deals with and monitors their athlete’s levels. It is incredible and,

I’d say, the most significant change I have seen since I was a college player.

-and just think on the statement that for a second.

Imagine the changes in Nutrition (supplements/diets/timing) and Exercise (rehab/strength/speed/recovery) and I’m telling you, the way the top universities and pro sports teams deal with stress is the most significant change!?

In sports, stress is often written up as “readiness” as its significance with performance is intertwined.

Here’s WHY.

Your body will get good at whatever you ask it to do. It constantly is adapting to your life and attempting to evolve to the demands you ask of it. Your body builds muscle to accommodate the new demands when you lift weights consistently. If you Clean up your diet, your body sheds fat and starts to process food better. Get some solid sleep for a few weeks in a row, and you’ll see the changes everywhere as your body repairs and regenerates.

The workouts, runs, food, reading, music, friends, and alcohol are all different external stressors that your body uses as an input to make these adaptations. Your brain pays attention to this and also if you have injuries that need to be repaired, pain, stiffness, and a million factors you are unaware of.

They are all stressors that act as influencers to create change and adaptations. This is good. In fact, it’s truly a miracle. It’s what is supposed to happen so you can get better and better each year!

But the body can only handle so much. Too much stress starts to prioritize and triage like a busy ER clinic.

I’ll put it this way,

The brain doesn’t prioritize laying down better muscle if your workout isn’t the primary stressor to your body that day, The recovery will be poor, and there may be NO or very little adaptation.

The body will never prioritize proper movement and systematic adaptation patterns over systemic body stress. The pre-workout, nutrition, ATP, and 225 bench press don’t have the influence they should because the brain is trying to put the fire out and keep some sort of homeostasis on the body as a whole.

Appropriate Stress to the body = good.

Overwhelming stresses = shutdown.

Mental and emotional stresses?…well, the brain picks the priority. It’s going to take care of itself and deal with #1.

Here’s how the latest D1 universities are handling this. This idea blew my mind as I was a college athlete just a generation ago, and I don’t even think applications like this were considered.

At a recent lecture I spoke at, the other presenters were reviewing their university’s workout system. They talked about how the idea of “how much weight you’re lifting” has changed into “concentration and focus,” yielding better results. (more on that later…mind-blowing stuff)

That’s big! The most significant change – something I never saw before was this app that each athlete “checked in with” before every workout/practice/game.

Each athlete fills out a brief survey, graded on a 1-10 scale, asking things like?

“How has your diet been today?”

“The last 3 days?”

“Water intake?”

“Sleep last night and last week.”

but also unique ideas I hadn’t seen before such as…

“Have you been through any personal issues lately with family, girlfriend/boyfriend?”

“How do you feel?”

“Are there any big tests coming up you are stressed about?” (college students)

“How would you rate your day today?”

“How ready are you for today’s workout/game/practice?”

The algorithm then tallies the information and displays the athlete’s name in a green, yellow or red block. There aren’t any details – just colors.

I can’t emphasize how important this is. It helps the coaches and medical staff, but most importantly, it’s just a new angle of how to look at performance from the athlete. It’s a given fact that athletes have a desire and ability to push. Willpower, yes, but I mean really push. The best example I can give is to talk about the personality of many marathoners, triathletes, and cross-fitters. They can block it out. Everything. And still, push on and deliver. Pain, weather, money issues, family matter…like an energizer battery commercial, they keep going and going.

Willpower is not the question. For pro athletes and college players, it’s about how to maximize success. That is what analytics is. I spoke to a highly successful GM a few months back about what I think is the next wave of sports careers being Performance analytics from a health standpoint. He agreed.

Do you remember Moneyball with Jonah hill and Brad Pitt? Ideas such as, “Billy hits right-handed batters better than left. Take more balls and swing less for more on-the-field success?” That’s standard in sports these days. The next wave is, “Billy hit’s .200 points less on the week his mortgage is due.” “Braylon runs .14 sec faster in afternoon practices than morning.” and “Nikki can explode on power drills with 15% more efficiency when her name is in green vs. when she’s in red!”

The “Check-in ap” idea is unique and works in that if an athlete’s name keeps coming up in yellow, the staff can go into the system and see what’s troubling them. Not as an expert in stress and psychology but as a coach and somebody paying attention to other factors than performance. It’s such a great tool. Incredibly needed for the staff as well as the athlete. It ensures a better relationship between the “sports performance team” -medical, coaches, and athletes.

If times are tough and a player shows 2-3 days in Red…the coach allows, suggests, or demands the player take a day off. A day off! That didn’t happen in sports even a few years ago. In the sports performance world, we just assumed that even a crappy half-assed practice would give some benefit. Now realize that “gutting it out” isn’t helping. At best, the athlete in red is getting nothing out of practice and may, in fact, be diminishing their ability. It’s chalked up as a “recovery day” – a beautiful and perfect term for all 4 factors of performance!

It’s the most significant change I’ve seen in how an athlete and coach interact, and I would guess, however, probably not integrated fully yet; is a HUGE component of the missing link giving accurate data that affects on-the-field performance analytics and can be used in real-time.

Here’s another real life example from the world of baseball or softball.

“How ready are you to pitch today?”

Let’s say the coach has two pitchers in the rotation that could go for that game.

One answers 5 “Meh- “I’m ok.”

One answers 10! – “I’m so ready I feel like my pants are going to fly off!”

That makes for better, easier coaching decisions, likely a better team outcome, and a much better outcome for the player who answered a 5. Most likely, #5 needed an extra day and will kick butt tomorrow! It’s better intel than the big 3 of diet, exercise, and sleep – that, let’s be honest, probably wasn’t addressed anyway.

So here’s the whole point.

The biggest change I’ve seen in sports performance this decade is… It’s the BIG 4 now. More importantly, the ability to use the information to provide better intel and help us all as a “TEAM” make better decisions. The big 4 affect us all, whether as a pro, college player, rec runner, or gym rat. Better Intel gives better results. There is a new way to use these ideas in your own world rather than waiting a few decades for these ideas to trickle down into everyday use.

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