Best suited for elite performers who want to take their athleticism to the highest level, “Every Day Is Game Day,” is the philosophy of world-class strength and conditioning coach, Mark Verstegen. Best known for his work with hundreds of National Football League players, he was also behind the scenes improving the skills of the German Men’s Soccer team, who won the World Cup in 2014. The U.S. Department of Defense also trusts him to shape-up their most highly touted strongmen, Special Operations. The philosophy deals with the daily requirements, some might say sacrifices, that must be met in order to be the best version of yourself. My list included afternoon naps, breathing practices, drinking less, strengthening my core more, and creating an “IT” statement. I had a weakness in all four “pillars” that must be mastered to be elite: Recovery, Mindset, Movement, and Nutrition.
Probably the least practiced of the four pillars, but perhaps the most beneficial to anyone who reads this book, is the Mindset section. This is where you will develop your IT statement. An IT statement is five words or less and it is your “purpose.” These are the words used to govern all your behavior when you are not training. My IT statement is: “Spiritual Confidence leads to Freedom.” I developed my statement by choosing the 10 words that meant the most to me from each of the nine following categories: physical performance, health, emotional well-being, pain, relationships, work performance, appearance, energy, and challenge, and then I narrowed the list down to my top three. The top three were then arranged to create a story about being my best self. Whenever I feel frustrated, bogged down, or in the least bit defeated, I think of my IT statement. Remember, “Training for an hour a day is the easy part. The challenge is living a high performance lifestyle the other twenty-three.” An IT statement can help you do just that. Remember, mindset is what keeps you exercising so it is just as important as nutrition and practicing the right exercises.
Nutrition was the second pillar discussed and this section of the book had the least to offer. I understand it is an obligatory part of any fitness book, but how many times have we heard: eat breakfast, hydrate, eat clean and eat often. Fruits and veggies are good for you. Check the labels of all supplements, avoid caffeine and eat these “superfoods.” However, I did like the section on “how alcohol negatively affects performance” because it helped me understand that my daily cocktail was still too much. “It [alcohol] increases the release of the stress hormone cortisol, impacts the immune system, and decreases protein synthesis for muscle fiber repair. Alcohol diminishes water-soluble vitamins required for hormones to do their work, impairs reaction time up to twelve hours after consumption, disturbs REM sleep, and decreases the body’s ability to recover.” Seven cocktails per week is too many if I want to achieve elite status. “If you’re going to drink, limit yourself to one or two drinks per week.” This advice is the most important thing I took away from the Nutrition section.
Because of my love for all things athletic, especially athleticism at the highest level, my favorite section of any fitness book is always the movement or training section, and this book has one of the best I have seen. Not only was I was able to increase the number of quality movements in my skills library with new core exercises like quadruped thoracic spine rotation, quadruped weight shift or supine fallout at 90 degrees, but I also learned a few new moves involving medicine balls, kettle bells and resistance bands. And the best part of it all, Mark and his team have designed programs for you to follow using the above exercises and more. Thus insuring that you are combining the exercises in such a way that your workouts are more efficient, more productive, and more exciting than they otherwise might have been. The training section of this book is in-depth and more thorough than most you will find.
All of this and yet there is more. Recovery. The enlightening moment for me here was when Verstegen says we should recover “for it” (our workouts) and not “from it.” Yes, you must train as hard as you can during your hour long session, but you need to be able to do this on a daily basis and the only way to do so is by preparing for it. Gone are the days where you train till you puke and then recover from it. We take a more proactive approach instead and immediately after our training we eat or “fuel,” nap if possible, take supplements, get massages, use hydrotherapy, and foam roll, so that during the next day’s training session we are once again performing at our highest level. Keep in mind that “every day is game day.”
Warning: this book is only for those who want to be the best version of themselves. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed you must act as if “Every day is game day.” This is a hard-driving, no excuses, “I want to perform at my highest level and be the best version of me” type of book. I recommend this book to anyone who is fascinated with excellence and interested in performing at his/her highest level.