Coach Guyer's Top Books of 2019
Although I never “make” the time to read as much content as I want to each year I did still find enough time to consume some really great books in 2019 that deserve sharing with you all. My goal for 2020 is to read more “fun” books, as my wife told me the other night that I don’t do this enough. She’s not wrong, (I hate it when she’s right!), as I glanced over at the stack of books on my bedside table and not one of them was a “fun” read. My excuse was that I didn’t want to “waste time” reading something that wouldn’t make me smarter…She just gave me those “wife eyes” (I hate those too!) and went back to her own book. In my defense the book she was reading was out of my stack and she was enjoying it so I can’t be that boring!
1) “Why We Sleep" By Matthew Walker
This book was recommended to me by a longtime client, also my doctor, during a conversation on how important sleep was for performance. Years back a mentor of mine told me that he would rather his athletes slept 8-10hrs each night and ate McDonalds or some form of fast food all day, rather than athletes who were chronically sleep deprived and ate perfectly. I didn’t disagree, however at that time I didn’t know enough to agree or disagree for either side. After reading Why We Sleep I now understand where he was coming from. My short and dirty on the book is that since reading it my feelings on physical activity and a person’s fitness have become much less important in looking at improving one’s health. Sleep literally impacts everything we do at a more extreme level than we could even imagine! Trust me I spend my life trying to find strategies for improved health and performance and I was blown away at the adverse effects that a lack of sleep can have on the human body and performance in every way possible. We must recover each and every day if we want to perform at our best, and that means we gotta sleep. Many people look at sleep as though it’s just an added bonus "if" it happens, but in many cases it’s the difference between life and death…Go read it, you will be blown away by what you learn and it will have you scrambling for strategies to help you start getting more and better sleep today!
2) “Fascia Training: A Whole System Approach” by Bill Parisi and Johnothan Allen
For years I have intuitively trained athletes with the notion that moving dynamically and reactively was what would lead to the best performances in competitive sport or just the sport of life. Training for sport is far more intricate and complicated than just increasing the weight on the bar each week and this I knew, mostly from having spent so much time training and performing as an athlete myself. Strength and power is a part of the performance training puzzle, but once you start to understand how the body moves and what actually allows dynamic movement to happen you realize that lifting heavy weights is really just a small part at best. Anecdotally I have personally watched athletes experience diminished athletic success as they continued to focus on their lifts as opposed to a focus on developing and enhancing the innate elastic potential their bodies possessed. Don’t let this be you! Intuitively I also knew that I wanted my athletes to be known for their ability to move dynamically and elastically on the field of play or in the sport of life. Nobody cares if you lift a bunch of weight if you move like a robot and lack the ability to bounce and move dynamically in sport or any athletic movement for that matter, even mowing the lawn or playing in the back yard with your kids. After reading “Fascia Training” it all made sense, it all came together, and I finally felt as though I had answers to my questions. This book needs to be a staple in all undergraduate Exercise Science programs, as it will challenge students and professors to have meaningful conversations about science that has eluded us for far too long as we approach training for the human body.
3) “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by John J. Ratey
This was a “fun” read, as it provided some really great science and case studies on the importance of exercise and cognitive health and performance. We all know that exercise is important for maintaining our physical health, but what about how it impacts the brain and learning? Or how exercise impacts the cognitive performance in the developing minds of children? Spark tells the story of a school system in one state that used physical activity to help boost testing scores and athletic performance with some very simple but highly effective strategies for success. We can’t let our children continue to fall victims to the sedentary trap as the world we live in continues to become less and less physically active and humans less and less intelligent as a race...