It's the biggest night of the year for good ole' Kris Kringle. Tonight he dusts off Dasher and Dancer and begins what can only be described as a grueling ultra-endurance challenge. Tonight he will fly all around the world, delivering toys, presents and maybe a little coal to people all over the world. As Santa's Strength & Conditioning Coach, we must look at the demands of his sport to make sure we have prepared him for when it matters most...game-day.
Over the years, Santa's knees have grown cranky. Millions of body-weight squats, hopping in and out of the sleigh have wrecked havoc on his patellar tendon. All year, we have been working on hamstring tension through nordic oscillations and some great squat patterns, particularly unilateral squatting, to get that rectus femoris to stop being such a cotton headed ninny-muggins.
I've also noticed that he always gets out of the sleigh on the right side. Because I know what that will do once that pattern becomes repetitive and ingrained, I have spoken with him about alternating how he gets in and out of sleigh in order to continue to promote the ever-important variability.
As sleigh-boy's strength coach, the biggest headache I have had is his diet. This dude is a Hoover vacuum when it comes to sweets so we have been implementing some intermittent fasting to limit the amount of time he has available to consume non-essentials. My primary goal is to keep things SUPER simple so we have enlisted one of the elves to start making him regular fruit-vegetable smoothies which Mr. Claus has said is "tolerable."
Next we have the coracoid process. What a disaster! After every house, Santa grabs a hold of his reigns and wacks the reindeer with an aggressive, dynamic shoulder flexion to extension move. His lat has really become a mess. We spend a lot of time making sure that there is a lot of freedom there from a soft tissue perspective. The pec minor has joined the party and has needed quite a bit of soft tissue release and his subclavius has a very hard time staying mobile. He does a lot of overhead waving to crowds and admirers, which lends itself to questionable apical expansion as most of his inhalation airflow goes to lower portion of his ribs.
On the performance side, we have spent a lot of time working on his explosiveness so start shaving some time off of how much time he spends at each house. We want him to be able to squat jump more efficiently up the chimney on his way out but, of course, not forgetting his landing mechanics on the way down.
Lastly, there is nothing more important than Santa's aerobic capacity. He has A LOT of volume coming his way tonight. We have been working extensively with the North Polar HRV Strap and improving his eccentric ventricular contractions (how much blood can his heart hold) as well as his cardiac power (how much blood can his heart pump). 80% of our work inside the weight room is tempo'd. Aerobic is where we want him to be. He needs long lasting energy for the big night.
Santa is jolly fella', but on Christmas Eve, he's locked in. He wakes up early and downs two big glasses of water right away. Then he bundles up a bit and him and I go for a casual walk around the North Pole Village. Our goal is to just get up and get the blood pumping.
Next we head back to the house where we have the perfect breakfast. A fistful of protein (typically fish) and a whole lot of veggies.
After breakfast, he goes into his office to check the list.....the second time. This is his version of watching film. He needs to make sure he's making all the right moves.
Santa usually takes a few hours to check over the list, which by that time it's about noon. At that time we turn all the lights off in the house and close all of the blinds. It's time for Santa to take a long nap. He starts with a thirty-minute meditation to clear his mind. We wake up extra early on Christmas Eve so that we can easily initiate an afternoon nap. During this meditation, Santa focuses on the present....not presents. His preparation over the year is done and it's time to focus on being free, removing the neurological emergency brake. Santa, of course, works under the genMAX Training Model and knows that he must ensure his neurology is operating on all cylinders in order to be at his best.
We gradually wake Santa up at 3pm by slowly adding light to his room. I want to slowly wake him up so that he can complete his final sleep cycle. Dusk is around the corner in certain parts of the world and its time for his final prep work.
Around 3:30pm, he begins another thirty minute meditation. This time his focus is on his task. He imagines every move he will have to make and he imagines executing it flawlessly.
At 4:00pm, it's one final meal. This time we load it up with healthy fats and veggies. His sleigh is loaded with coffee mixed with Kerrygold butter and coconut oil, as well as another meal to have midway through the night.
At 4:30pm we start the warm-up. I want to raise his core body temperature but more than anything I want to give him a ton of awareness of his hamstrings and obliques. We do some 30 yard jogs, some dynamic stretching and a very light exercise circuit (Sleepy Sloth, Nordic Hamstring Oscillations, Side Planks for 4 rounds).
At 5pm, he's off!