A hard-charging former pro discovers a new way to feel and perform better.
Just about every athlete on Earth wants to be faster. So they run fast, train fast, and play fast. But there’s a problem with that mindset: speed can conceal weakness.
When you perform drills and exercises at full-tilt, your body’s stronger muscles overpower the small-but-all-important stabilizers. Those little muscles play a huge role in keeping you upright and helping to protect you from injury.
If you slow things down and force those tiny muscles to work, the results can be profound—as 27-year-old former pro lacrosse player Roy Lang discovered.
“Slowing down is the hardest thing,” said Lang. “The lacrosse mentality is that if you aren’t moving as fast as you can all the time, you aren’t working hard. Everything I did throughout college and high school was about how to be the fastest and how to do the most reps.”
So it was surprising, to say the least, when Lang launched into his first-ever Elev8d workout and “got my butt kicked.” How could that happen to a guy who trains sometimes twice per day? Because when you focus on movement quality, rather than quantity (of reps), resistance (how much weight was on the bar) or speed, you challenge your body in an entirely different way. It’s a training technique that Lang wishes he’d tried years ago.
“The reason I got injured after college was because I wasn’t paying attention to those little things,” Lang said.
Like many gifted athletes, Lang got by on raw talent, strength and speed for years. Those traits took him far: He earned all-everything honors as a captain at one of the top-rated lacrosse high schools in California, and then All-American distinction as a collegiate player at Cornell. Before he knew it, he was playing alongside the athletes he’d watched on TV in LAX’s big leagues. But early in his pro career, he paid a hefty price for his all-out, all-the-time approach to training.
“My lower back gave out at 24,” Lang says. “It was the off-season. I was doing a workout with heavy power cleans and heavy squats when a shooting pain went through my left leg. I’d never missed a game in my life, but suddenly I couldn’t lift my leg for a few months.”
The injury, along with some of the financial realities about playing lacrosse at the pro level (let’s just say there isn’t NBA money in it), led Lang to switch careers. He’s now a salesman at a Silicon Valley software firm. And while he walked away from the pro athlete life, he’s just as demanding on his body as ever, regularly competing in basketball and club-level lacrosse, and training in the weight room to stay sharp for both.
Lang’s hardcore workout regimen is evident when you meet him. He’s tall and chiseled with formidable shoulders. Visible veins run down his arms and marble his forearms. How could someone who’s already in such great shape benefit from adding Elev8d’s short workouts?
“An extreme athlete can view this training as a ‘work-up’ rather than a ‘workout,’” says Brian Bradley, the designer of Elev8d’s training protocol. “Consider it like the dynamic warm-up soccer teams use in Europe.”
There are two elements of Elev8d that make it even more effective than a typical dynamic warm-up. First, the moves help you develop better body awareness. Second, they are distinctly effective at improving your posture. So not only do you get a great workout, but the benefits last long after your training session ends.
Lang, who did an Elev8d workout before training and games with his club team, says he noticed big differences.
“[During workouts] I noticed that I was ready to go a lot faster,” Lang said. “I used to need the first 5 to 15 minutes of a game to loosen up. But having those muscles activated helped a lot. I definitely plan on using it before lacrosse from now on.”
Meanwhile, off the field, Lang is standing a little taller, feeling more energized, and generally has a better idea of what’s going on with his body overall.
“I’m slowing down and actually listening to my body,” Lang said. “You start to realize how you’d let some things go, like hip mobility and alignment. Now I can tell when my hips are tight—and I know how to fix it.”
Those are a lot of benefits to reap from workouts that can take as little as 8 minutes to complete. (Some old habits die hard, however, so of course Lang consistently took on the 16-minute versions.) As his new job has taken up more of his time and led to some travel, he found that Elev8d’s workouts gave him a way to stay in shape on those days.
“I think I’ll be doing Elev8d even more as I get older and I have kids and can’t spend an hour and a half at the gym,” Lang said.
Lang wanted to be clear, however, that he’d recommend Elev8d Fitness to any athlete—especially younger ones. In fact, it may be even more important for up-and-coming athletes, because Elev8d’s program helps strengthen the things that other training methods miss.
“My advice would be to take it slowly and seriously. I would recommend [Elev8d] even more than yoga because it’s strengthening the joints. And the joints are what go first,” Lang said. “You’ll find a lot of value in correct posture, hip strength and mobility. This is 100 percent about taking care of your body.”