Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 46 - Travis Pollen - SEE OPPORTUNITY NOT OBSTACLES - Part 2 of 3

Yeah. Well, it seems like it's one of those like things where you just have to say, it depends like if somebody approaches you and says how can you help? What can we do? It depends. See, I hadn't thought about this guy and while who is I'll say I he and I are friends.
 Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 46 - Travis Pollen - SEE OPPORTUNITY NOT OBSTACLES - Part 2 of 3

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JESSE: Yeah. Well, it seems like it's one of those like things where you just have to say, it depends like if somebody approaches you and says how can you help? What can we do? It depends. See, I hadn't thought about this guy and while who is I'll say I he and I are friends. I knew him through class but we weren’t like best friends by any stretch of the imagination. His name was Johnny, who also had a congenital ?? 00:29> similar yours. I don't know what it was, but he was missing a leg. And that man was a beast in the weight room. Like we had weightlifting class together, and he played on the football team. And he just, I remember, he was lifting like college kind of weights in high school. I think he was in like 350, 360 pounds from ?? 00:54> press, just bananas. And so we never really like-- Obviously, he didn't wear prosthetics. He used crutches. But like-- TRAVIS: And he played football with crutches? JESSE: He was the kicker on the football team. TRAVIS: With crutches? JESSE: Mm-hmm. TRAVIS: Holy smokes. JESSE: Yeah. TRAVIS: That's incredible. JESSE: So, it was like, yeah, Johnny was missing a leg but he didn't act like ?? 01:23>. We certainly didn't act that way either. It was just like this is Johnny, you know. TRAVIS: I think that I identify with that because that's kind of my mo as well. Like having been born without a leg, that's just normal for me. It's always been that way. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a limb traumatically if I knew what it had been like to have two. And of course, sometimes I wonder like, oh, it would be nice to go for a run with two legs or how fast would I be swimming with two legs? But there are so many other things that I can do that other people can't. Like rock climbing, I’m like a monkey on the wall. Like sometimes it's actually an advantage. So, yeah, I never really thought of myself as different. And that's why, like it was really important to me that I was able to swim with my other high school teammates and just I found a sport where I could compete normally, right. Even though I was at a disadvantage, like if I worked harder then I could get right up with those other kids. I will say that the last six months before time trials for Paralympics in 2012, I joined a club team. And so it was middle school and high school swimmers, mostly. The coach, his name is Charlie Kennedy. He's kind of famous in our area at least he worked with a former Olympian named Brendan Hansen, breaststroker. But anyway, given the various levels of the swimmers who I was swimming with, I was in a lane with like 12 to 13-year-old girls because these girls were amazing, and I was okay. But the high school kids were just too amazing for me to even come close to. But it's funny because to this day, it’s eight years later, now I keep up with two of those girls there now like graduate students in college-- they finished college and it's just like, I made lifelong friends. And it's kind of funny like I was 18, they were 12. But they were just the coolest kids. And so the opportunities that you get when you are able to swim with other people, even if they are younger than you or they have all their limbs and you don't, it's just being a part of a team is really cool. JESSE: Yeah. Well, this makes me think about two things. First, my high school cross country coach, one of them, also coaches girls swim. So, when I was getting into triathlon, he would always tell me-- I'd be like this is kind of where I'm at timewise. And he'd be like congratulations. That's great. Always remember, somewhere out there, there's a 10-year-old that can kick your ass. Like don't get too full yourself. Not that I was trying to, but he would never like, let me live that moment for more than about five seconds before he’d be like there's somebody less than half your age-- that’s faster than you. TRAVIS: That’s great that you got a PR, but I know an eight-year-old who ?? 04:25> JESSE: Right. But also thinking about like the age difference obviously, there's some maturity difference between 12 and an 18-year-old. But there are still things that just as people as athletes, as competitors that kind of crossed those age boundaries that don't seem to have so much difference because of age. TRAVIS: Those girls trained so hard. They had great attitudes and it rubs off like, especially compared to some of my college teammates that didn't always train as hard. And granted, the life stressors in college versus high school are different. I was at one of the top liberal arts schools in the country. I understand that we were students first and athletes second, or most of the people were. I kind of viewed myself as like, equal parts, both just because I had these Paralympic aspirations. But that wasn't the case with most of the people. They were there primarily for the academics and the swimming was kind of the side thing. So, it was refreshing to be able to train with these people who were just, like more blissfully in love with the sport and not as jaded as we tend to get when we’re in our 20s and we've already been swimming for 10 years and life-- ?? 05:46>. JESSE: Yeah. I mean, burnout starts to like creep up on a lot of people. And-- TRAVIS: Yeah. Well, and I think it happens to like at that level, you're not always, especially for women who will tend to peak somewhat earlier, they're not always-- like they're not on this upward trajectory anymore, right? Versus these little kids, they get a PR every meet. Like ?? 06:12> it doesn't matter. So, it was cool to just experience the love of the sport at that age, or with people, surrounded by people at that age. And I never got to experience that growing up because I didn't start until I was a few years older than that. So, it was a great experience. JESSE: Yeah, and I would guess, I don't know. My coach now has, I think his daughter's in swim. So, he's now a swim parent, but from what I know from him, it seems like swim parents are very supportive, positive group of people in general. TRAVIS: Yeah, I think you have to be to take your kid to morning practice at 5:30 am, right. JESSE: Yeah. Yeah, day after day after day, week after week, year after year. TRAVIS: Just waiting for the kids to get their driver's license, yeah. JESSE: Yeah. Well, that's gonna be a long slog because you can start club at what? Six. TRAVIS: ?? 07:14> could start now. That's another conversation in terms of like early specialization, long term athletic development. I think kids are probably becoming your year-round swimmers too early now. And that's not really a good thing for them. But it's tough. I mean, it seems like you're missing out if you're taking time away from the sport, but it seems and I don't know what the research is like in swimmers, but I know in like the major sports, it seems that you're going to be better off if you continue playing multiple sports like, at least through middle school, if not through high school. JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. I know like anecdotally, I've had another guest talk about having done multiple sports kind of led them to a place of being more competitive because they didn't have the injuries and the burnout, and all those kind of things, even mentally of doing that early specialization, or they had the ability to break and go do this thing and enjoy that for a while and then come back. And they don't-- and some of them I think, I'm trying to remember. I think Ben Martin who is Canadian-- he was on the Canadian Olympic field hockey team in 2016. I think he talked about playing different sports, basically, up until the point he started field hockey late and then somehow made the Canadian team. TRAVIS: ?? 08:42> JESSE: Right. Well, part of it he talked about just like there's not a huge pool and he just slowly, he used that determination to work his way into shape both like skill-wise and physically to be able to do it. God, now I’m trying to remember what he's either doing or finished his PhD on. I have to go back and watch the episodes, it’s either Episode 43 or 44. I just had him on a couple weeks ago. But thinking about specialization though, I saw in your bio you had mentioned, there was a point where you had moved from like bodybuilding type workouts to functional training. So, I kind of want to talk a little bit about that and kind of how you approach lifting now. TRAVIS: Yeah. So, the background here is that in high school as I started swimming, I realized that there was this other thing that I could do on land so it helped me with swimming, lifting weights. And so I got books out from the library. The first one that I got out was called Getting Stronger and it was by a bodybuilder named Bill Pearl. And so I remember going down to the basement of the YMCA with my library book and doing these bodybuilding exercises, which aren't drastically different from the exercises that I do now, but it's sort of the implementation of that, which I'll get to in a minute. So, I did that for a few years and then realized that the book knowledge was great, but I would benefit more from working with a personal trainer myself. So, I hired one, worked with her for a couple years in the offseasons while I was home from college, made a lot of strides in strength during that time. And then that was actually the impetus to after I finished college, going and getting my diploma in personal training from the National Personal Training Institute, which is the same place that the personal trainer that I had hired had gotten her diploma. And now I've been personal training for the last seven years. So, the evolution of the thought process was that, and this is something that I see often with people who are first starting out lifting is that it sort of, people think that all lifting is the same, I guess. And the sort of mainstream thinking is like a body part split. So, Monday's chest day, or chest and triceps, let's say everybody's going to benchpress. And then Wednesday is back day and Friday is leg and shoulders day or whatever. And so the-- But basically, when you do that, you're really hammering one or two muscle groups in a given workout. And then you're waiting a week to hit those again. And so the converse of that would be what I would call full-body training or a full body split. So, it's really the opposite of split training. Instead of doing a couple of body parts at a time, you're going to do exercises for all parts of your body or your upper body, your lower body, muscles on the front of your body and muscles on the back of the body all in one workout. And so the thinking behind that, as it pertains to athletes is that the body works as one unit, not as isolated parts. And so that's one thing. So, we should train it that way in the gym. And then the other piece to that is that if you do full-body training each session, then you can train each muscle group more frequently. Like maybe I have two days per week that I'm doing lower body or two days per week that I’m doing upper body or however many days you're training. And so that increased frequency might be better depending on a lot of things but might be better for athletes. I know for me like I would do my chest and triceps day on Monday, but then my triceps would be so fried that when I would go to get in the pool later that or the next day, like my performance is at like so decreased because my-- I had fried those muscles. And then I couldn't do those types of workouts the day before a competition because I didn't want it to impair competition. So, in hindsight, what I should have been doing all along was full-body training. And so what full-body training entails like I said, it's doing exercises for your upper body and your lower body on one workout. But it's also doing the exercise selection is slightly different. So, it's focusing on exercises that would have a more systemic approach or systemic impact on your body. So, instead of doing bicep curls, I’d do pull-ups. I shouldn't say instead, in addition to doing bicep curls, I should first prioritize pull-ups which are working my biceps, add my lats because that's working two joints at once. It's also working my abs from a stabilization standpoint. And so that's where like, I'm trying to connect all the different body parts together. So, pull-ups, push-ups, squats, deadlifts, benchpress is great, any sort of rowing variation. So, those are like the meat and potatoes exercises. And then you can supplement that stuff with the single joint exercises with the shoulder rotator cuff sort of prehabilitation exercises that you would want to do from a swimming standpoint to keep your shoulders healthy. So, that I've over time, I've learned more about how to choose the exercises to give me the desired training effect like way more now than I knew them. And of course, I wish I knew what I knew now when I was swimming. But all I can do now is pass that knowledge on. So, I'm working with one Olympic hopeful actually, for this coming Olympic Games whenever they happen. But she's a 200 butter flyer, and I've been riding her dry land for about a year and change. And she actually, she did her first muscle up like three days ago without ever training to do a muscle-up like we do-- I have her do pull-ups all the time, and her boyfriend who's, he had been working on muscle-ups for a while, and he finally got his. And she was like, I'm gonna, I'll try one. Of course, she gets it and her boyfriend's pretty salty because he's been trying to-- he's been working on them for so long. And then she's just so strong and lean that she did it on a try. But that's sort of the idea is like, okay, we're gonna get really strong so that we can do anything that we try to do from a sporting standpoint or from a movement standpoint. JESSE: So, if you're gonna make it like a generalization, obviously if you want to become a bodybuilder and be into bodybuilding and be the next Arnold, then you should do like probably more isolation to kinda build-- TRAVIS: Yeah. Train like a bodybuilder. If you're an athlete, then there's bodybuilding training and then there's like, you could call it functional training, although that's kind of a bastardized buzzword term now. Because if you look at functional training, you'll see a lot of like, weird instability exercises. You could call it sports specific training, but that's also a buzzword because there-- you can take it too far. Like, let's say you're a tennis player, like attaching a resistance band to a tennis racquet and trying to mimic your strokes. Like there's a fine line between too much sports specificity where you're actually like doing that actually probably impairs your motor performance on the swing when you take the resistance band off because you're changing the force-velocity relationship. And anyway, so basically sports specific training is really about identifying like the general movement patterns that are required for your sport, and then mimicking the energetic demands in the weight room. So, for a sprint freestyler, that's gonna be like pull-ups are really, you can see the transfer between pull-ups doing this and doing this in the pool. And then doing them with added weight to have more of a power development standpoint, or if you're a distance freestyler doing band-assisted chin-ups where you’re doing higher reps because that's going to have a little bit more carryover to longer races to train the endurance aspect of the strength of your like back musculature. But it doesn't have to be like I don’t know, trying to do weird things in the gym that looks like the freestyle stroke or whatever. It's like all these movements like the same movements that I mentioned before pull-ups, push-ups, deadlifts, squats, rows, overhead press, like all of those things are going to be beneficial for almost any athlete in the appropriate dosages and with the appropriate parameters surrounding those things from like a sets, reps, load, speed standpoint. Go to Part 3 Go to Part 1

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