Tag Archives: Mark Verstegen

Mark Verstegen on Glutes

By Pete Williams

U.S. soccer standout Abby Wambach, who has trained at Mark Verstegen’s Athletes’ Performance, featured in ESPN’s “Body” issue

I’ve had the great fortune to help Mark Verstegen write five Core Performance books. Mark, perhaps more than anyone, popularized core training, the notion that we should be training our hips, torso, and shoulders for functional movement rather than looking at our bodies as a collection of parts the way bodybuilders and fitness models do.

Mark spends a lot of time getting everyone from elite athletes to everyday people competing in the Game of Life to fire their gluteus maximus muscles, these marvelous muscles of locomotion that we abuse all day by sitting on them.

Why is this such a big deal? By sitting on our glutes all day, which we do in our technology-based society, our glutes shut down, our hips become tighter, and we become vulnerable to back problems and a host of other injuries and ailments.

Mark suggests firing your glutes all day long. Squeeze your left cheek and then your right as you’re walking along or, yes, just sitting around. This will go a long way toward countering the effects of sitting on your ass all day, though obviously it takes a little more than that. The Core Performance program is a great place to start.

For an article in ESPN the Magazine’s terrific new “Body” issue, writer David Fleming approached Mark at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February and asked Mark what’s the most important part of an athlete’s body.

Mark’s response is both informative and amusing and he sums it up by saying “it’s all about the ass.”

You can read that story HERE.

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ESF’s Pete Williams on ABC 28 Talking Elastic Power

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Why Do You Race?

By Pete Williams

Many reasons to race

Recently I wrote a story for CorePerformance.com where I asked a bunch of my endurance athlete friends a simple question: Why do you race?

I thought I’d get a bunch of similar responses along the lines of fueling the competitive fire, staying in shape, etc. Instead, I got some varied inspirational advice.

CorePerformance.com is a terrific Web site that grew out of the Core Performance books I’ve had the honor of writing with Mark Verstegen.

I’m guessing we’ll revisit this topic in the future. Why do you race?

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ESF’s Pete Williams on ABC 28 Talking Movement Preparation

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Chipotle Empire Grows

By Pete Williams

Chipotle's newest location: Countryside

Chipotle will open a new restaurant on Tuesday, which isn’t exactly headline-grabbing news. The Denver-based chain is up over 1,200 stores and now is in London and coming soon to Paris. The company recently opened a new Asian-themed restaurant in D.C. called the Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen.

But this particular new Chipotle will be in Clearwater, Florida, across from the Countryside Mall, much closer to my home than my current six-mile commute, meaning I’ll somehow eat at Chipotle more than I already do.

Chipotle has close ties to the endurance sports world, even though the company does precious little in terms of advertising and marketing. For starters, it’s a favorite among endurance athletes because it’s tasty, high-quality performance fuel.

Company founder Steve Ells believes in using only meat and dairy products from animals that have been raised in family farms, not factory farms, which means they haven’t been confined and injected with hormones. Veggies are organic and locally sourced, wherever possible.

Ells, a classically-trained chef who starred in the recent reality series “America’s Next Great Restaurant,” is changing the way Americans eat fast food and for that he should be commended. Heck, he’s already receiving accolades for forcing the food industry to go back to nature and away from the processed food model that is making Americans fat and killing them. Last month The Wall Street Journal named Ells the 2011 Food Innovator of the Year for “bringing sustainable agriculture to the masses.”

Still, there are two myths about Chipotle still out there. The first is that it was created by McDonald’s. Nope, Ells launched Chipotle in 1993 out of a tiny property near the University of Denver. He did, however, take about $300 million in McDonald’s money as an investment early in the company’s history to fuel Chipotle’s growth. McDonald’s had no influence on the company and was happy to walk away with triple its investment when Chipotle went public in 2006.

The second myth is that the food is bad for you. Admittedly, it can be a lot of calories. The key is to opt for the bowl, skipping the tortilla, and go with just one scoop of rice. Choose either sour cream or guacamole, not both. Drink water instead of soda. Voila – world’s healthiest, tastiest fast food.

I get that exact burrito bowl with black beans, mild and corn salsas, light cheese, lettuce, and chicken, for $8.31. It’s tough to eat the processed, semi-fresh stuff coming out of Subway or Quiznos for that price.

Mark Verstegen introduced me to Chipotle in Phoenix in 2002 when we began work on our first Core Performance book. Since then I’ve eaten at Chipotle between 500 and 1,000 times, which brings us to our third Chipotle myth: that you’ll get sick of the food. Chipotle does not have many food options, but apparently there are more than 1,200 taco and burrito combinations they can make.

I’ve eaten at dozens of Chipotles and I’ve yet to see one busier than the one just off Wall Street, which makes sense since CMG has been one of the hottest stocks over the last three years – and one of my biggest non-investment regrets.

Chipotle has an upscale-yet-casual decor that’s perfect for business lunches. Brody Welte and I did much of the work for our Paddle Fit “vook” on stand-up paddleboarding at Chipotle in St. Pete. Mark Verstegen and I worked on a chunk of each of our five Core Performance books at a Chipotle in Phoenix.

I can’t wait to get started on another – perhaps from the new Chipotle Countryside.

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Jessi Stensland Brings ‘Movement U’ to Florida June 25-26

By Pete Williams

Movement expert Jessi Stensland

Seven years ago, Jessi Stensland was on the verge of retiring from triathlon at the age of 27. Knees hurting, joints barking, she no longer could stand the constant pounding of endurance sports.

Then she met Mark Verstegen and his staff at Athletes’ Performance, who showed her not how to train better for swimming/biking/running but to train her body to move better.

Twelve weeks later, she had the race of her life. These days, she competes in endurance sports of all varieties – many off road – and teaches “Movement U,” one- and two-day seminars around the country geared toward showing athletes, as well as chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists, how they can optimize movement for performance and injury prevention.

Stensland, whose Web sites are gojessi.com and movementu.com, will be holding a two-day seminar in Melbourne, Fla., on June 25-26. Based in Boulder, she wrote the foreword to Core Performance Endurance, one of the five Core Performance books I’ve had the honor of writing with Mark Verstegen.

We spoke with Jessi on The Fitness Buff Show today. You can listen to that interview HERE or read an edited transcript below:

Q: What was your a-ha moment with this?

A: When Mark Verstegen and the staff at Athletes’ Performance took me under their wing and made me understand that I can train my body to be injury resistant and more efficient by working on movement-based training. One movement I’ll never forget is when they had me do a one-leg, one-arm, dumbbell row. I’m on one leg in a T position, bent over at the waist, heel kicked back. They’re cueing me to keep my hip, knee and ankle in a straight line, hips parallel to ground, and keep straight lines before I moved my arm. It took all of my effort to keep everything in line before I could think about moving my arm. I thought, wow, I have to get this right and then I can transfer so much more power to my hands. Twelve weeks later I finished a race with tears coming down my face because it all came together.

Q: You blogged recently about the starting line at a cycling event and seeing everyone all curved over on their bikes.

A: It was a pre-ride for an Xterra triathlon and you saw people hanging on their tissues, slouching with rounded backs. It’s so easy to relate that to the squat position. If ever you get into that position while squatting, with a rounded back it never looks healthy. To get the most out of your legs, you want that strong flat back and then you can power through your legs – glutes, quads – and to relate that back to the bike it’s how you apply force and power to the pedal stroke. Take simple those same principles and why would you sit on the bike slouched hanging on your tissues instead of being strong with good posture? It’s common sense and that’s what I hear all the time from people at Movement U. “I’ve had this body for all these years, how did I not know that?”

Q: What’s a Movement U weekend like?

A: They are very much interactive and a bit of lecture. We arrive, meet and greet, and head right into a movement session. Before you listen to me talk I put you through a movement session, not a strength or swim/bike/run session, but you go into your body in an athletic way, similar to yoga, but we’ll be more dynamic and athletic. It’s more Movement Preparation, preparing your body to take on swim/bike/run demands and then we head into a lecture. The main thing we talk about is posture, glute activation, spinal stabilization, and if these aren’t common terms to you as an endurance athlete they should be. They’re simple and we apply every point we give you to swim/bike/run and that’s why I started Movement U. This bridges the gap between the information you know is out there and how to actually apply it to move our bodies most efficiently. Most people never realize, for instance, how poorly their bodies are rotating.

Q: Why is it endurance athletes can’t get past this mindset of training harder and longer for races of longer and longer distances and not step back and think of how they can train smarter and more efficiently to go faster – even at shorter distances?

A: It’s hard to get that message across. Recently I read a publication and a well-known coach said the way to run 26 miles faster is to run 29 miles. And people are slugging out four, five, and even seven-hour marathons and thinking they’re somehow getting faster. It takes more intensity and some level of pain threshold to want to do those shorter distances faster. I was doing 5x5s, five-second intervals five times. I was putting so much power into that treadmill and it’s so much more fun. People want challenges as endurance athletes and if I could challenge you in that way so many people would crave that to get faster but it’s not in our culture yet. The smarter you train, the better your movement patterns are and the fewer injuries you’ll have. What movement-based training will do for you is speed up the time, making you time efficient and getting the most out of your body. That way you can make the same changes in two weeks that you might otherwise take two months – and you’ll be injury resistant. So it’s about showing people how to be more efficient. What if you could make those changes faster than slugging though a couple months and risking injury?

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