Monday, December 19, 2011

Keep on rockin'...

Believe it or not, we're on vacation. And yes, that means that I will not be posting any exercises until we return in January. The supplementary workouts are meant to be complementary to the workouts we do in coached sessions, so since those are adjourned for a couple weeks, there is nothing to complement. Furthermore, hopefully many of you will be traveling, skiing, resting, relaxing, resting, relaxing, resting, relaxing, feasting, resting, sleeping, roasting chestnuts on an open fire, napping, etc.. so I don't want to get in the way of that with seemingly obligatory exercise.

But, for those of you who's bones start itching without some exercise, it just so happens that I've posted a solid 100+ posts all with various workouts included. So dig through the archives and enjoy some of the classics. Or you can conjure up your own.. A deck of cards can be priceless.

Here's some advice:

- If you're going to go for a jog, enjoy it. Make it scenic.
- If you're in the mood for metcon, keep it short and brutal. Anything more than 10-12 minutes and you're just huffing and puffing. Sprints work well. Tabata anything. Go all out.
- Calisthenics/gymnastics are always good. Check out if you draw a blank.
- Strength is best bang for buck. If you don't have weights to squat/press/throw/pull then use slower and harder movements like pushups and lunges. If you have access to pullups, even better. You can split it up and throw them into a metcon. Here's an example: 10 rounds of 10 brupees + 10 Overhead Lunges on each leg (20 total, hold something in ONE hand overhead.).. Get creative... Or: 12 minutes AMRAP of 5-10 pushups, 10-20 situps, 20-30 squats, 30-40 jumping jacks.. Something like that. I literally just made those up without much thought... Keep things simple. 100 pushups and 100  jumping lunges for time ain't a bad idea either. Or do one thing for a minute, then rest a minute and do another thing for a minute. Repeat a bunch of times..
- There's no ONE magic workout to rule them all. So don't think, just move.

Please enjoy yourselves and be safe over the holiday. Keep us posted. Post pics of yourselves doing fun (appropriate) things on facebook. Post questions to the comment threads and I'll try to answer them.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Strong or die: The Lions' lesson.

First things first: watch this video. It's hilarious. If you're offended by other people making jokes about cultural differences using absurdities, then perhaps this isn't for you. The mechanical stuff is legit though.

I've been Watching a lot of big cat documentaries lately. Pretty awesome. Here's one thing (among many others) I picked up: for predators, survival and prosperity correlate to where they as an individual or a group lie on the strength spectrum. A healthy cat is a strong cat. A sick cat is a weak cat. That is how it breaks down in the wild. They don't take genetic predisposition into account and they don't care who has what kind of family history. The cat is either strong enough to bring down a large animal to eat, or too weak to survive. There's very little middle ground for them. This is even more true for solitary cats. If a cat isn't strong enough to impose its will upon a prey animal, it dies. Simple as that. There's no reasoning or excuses. You're either strong or you die. If you can't even tear off a piece of meat, no one will spoon feed you. If you can't fight for a feeding spot on the carcass, you die; there are no leftovers. If you can't outrun a bigger cat, you die. If you can't hold your ground in a fight, you die. They don't play nice. The researchers never refer to any other features other than "strength". How that strength is used is up to the cat. Side note: brawn is not without brain as the strength takes a lot of intelligence to apply correctly.

The funny part is that you'd think that lions would not be so ruthless as they roll in prides and can potentially provide for each other. Quite the contrary. They seem to understand that if an individual is not an asset to the pride, then he or she is a liability. There are no social programs to support them into old age. Once a female's cubs are old enough to find a spot on a carcass and hunt, her work is done and if she can't keep breeding, then she's just a mouth to feed now. What she does is pretty amazing. Without any drama, she'll disappear into a remote clearing and will simply pass and the rest of the pride moves on. The cubs may call for her, but they understand that she's gone.

The moral is that in the wild, there are no excuses or medical studies to fall back on. You're either an asset or you figure it out otherwise. Being strong(er) makes an individual or a group member a valuable asset if not a leader and there is nothing objectionable about that. We, humans, have learned to stop rewarding true strength to instead reward pity points.

I can't tell you how often I hear about a person's genetic background every day. Then I get to hear about how all of their bones are somehow different than others' and their metabolism is as unique as a snowflake. Their hands can't hold things because their skin is special and the sun causes a strange response that no one has ever seen before. Doctors can't explain what's wrong with them and they've already seen the Dali Lama. I'll tell you what ails them: WEAKNESS. Weakness is a debilitating terminal illness that infects every part of the body, including the mind. We are not designed, biologically, to reward or to be weak. Our bodies, minds, and spirits don't like it. Weakness is why your body breaks down. Nothing stimulates growth and as such you do the opposite to conserve nutrients. Also, we make movies that glorify strengths and overcoming obstacles, not decrepitude.

Folks, you get the picture. Be honest with yourselves. Are you strong? Are you an asset or a drain? Instead of feeling guilty about being a drain, perhaps you can start by addressing your weaknesses. Any one of them. We all have some or a lot. Start somewhere. You'll have a few weeks to do it until we reconvene in January.

Maybe these pictures will inspire you:

There is a good reason that every culture I can think of uses images of big cats to symbolize strength, power, and ferocity. Not weakness. Alas, to make it in their world demands at least that.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Still raining.

It's wet, rainy, cold, wet, miserable, wet and wet. So the rest of the sessions for tonight are canceled.

Please take this opportunity to either exercise on your own or lick your wounds if need be.

Enjoy your evening and we'll see you on Wednesday hopefully.

here we go again..

Welp, a fourth cohort has completed the 12-week. on ramp. In hindsight it might seem easy, especially compared to some of the other things we've done and the progress that many have made, but it really is no easy task. 12 weeks of mandatory exercise?? Yikes. That's worse than prison. Kidding.

So this week and into the new year we will be welcoming new people and making friends with them. You guys can all compare stories and discuss which on ramp had it harder..

All kidding aside, I want everyone to remember how this works. The on ramp is for learning. Learning to perform skills like squats and push ups properly under higher intensities than normal. The main goal of the on ramp (from a coach's stand point) is proficiency and conditioning. The actual BHIP program (you guys have 58 different names for it and I'm not sure which you all decided on..) puts a much greater emphasis on STRENGTH. Simple as that. Personally, I wish we had more strength-training but that might be a future option. So we get really strong in our training and then you guys get to decided what to do with that strength. The options are limitless. Just ask around and find out what your fellow bhip junkies are doing in their spare time.. From what I've gathered, more people are doing things that reward strength. Even the runners are starting to see the value in strength.

What we don't do is anything that can be labeled as "cardio". All "cardio" means is that your heart-rate is above resting. THAT'S IT! So you're breathing heavier.. big deal. It's sub-maximal anyway so it doesn't really matter anyway. And no one has ever been too impressed with how huffy and puffy one can get. More people are impressed with feats of strength. I swear they show "Worlds Strongest Man on ESPN every other weekend.

The problem is that many people are led to believe that the degree of a good workout depends on how depleted one feels at the end of it. Such nonsense. A good workout is one that stimulates physical/mental/metabolic progression. The fact that you finished a workout in a pool of sweat, blood, and tears means nothing if it keeps you couched and recovering for 8 days with rhabdo and shin splints.. Been there, done that.

Anyway, please keep that in mind when you train. Every couple of weeks ask yourself: "Am I stronger than a few weeks ago?" Answer that question truthfully. If the answer is 'yes', then well done. If it's a 'No', then you need to change something.. Think about that for a while.

Here's something to help the stimulus:

for time-
- Run 400m
- lunge 25m
- broad jump 25m
- lunge 25m
- bear crawl 25m
- lunge 25m
- duck walk 25m
- lunge 25m
- bear crawl 25m
- lunge 25m
- broad jump 25m
-Run 400m

I suggest marking off 25m and lunging out, then doing whatever is next on the way back.

Pull ups are hard for guys too. I can attest to that and I do a lot of them. The first one is hard every time. They never get easy, just more doable. So do hard things. Read this:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

squat therapy and tuck jumps.

Hi everyone. I wanted to add another video to demonstrate some things with issues I've been seeing. 

Here's another video of Liz making life look really easy. She's did a good job of showing us poor form. It can be That subtle, but it will surely eat away at you. Make sure that you set yourself up for good posture before you begin the movement, even if it's something as simple as sitting down at your desk. Obviously you can transfer those cues into a squat. Make sure that you're putting yourself into the proper position rather than just collapsing under gravity. Use your HIP FLEXORS especially the psoas and the iliacus, collectively known as the iliopsoas. Take a look where they connect. Ever wonder why the lower back rounds at the bottom of your squat? Loosen your hammies and strengthen the iliopsoas and you won't have to wonder.

Standing up/driving up from the squat also needs a bit of attention. I really wanted everyone to see how little forward lean there should be in the squat. Old people lean into their knees when standing up. They do this when their lower backs are completely worn out. Let's prevent that as long as we can by keeping the hips well-oiled. take some time and use a box and emulate Liz by sitting down completely and then driving the upper body straight up and vertically without any forward lean at the chest. you can easily put a quick workout together with that. Did someone say tabata?

*People kept jump-roping all around us. That's what that ticking sound is.

I put this second video together a moment ago and I just got to the office from the track. Just wanted to clarify the tuck jump. Keep in mind that if you are modifying it to scale for yourself, that's absolutely fine. Just use this as a reference. And yes, they are supposed to be THAT hard.

Have fun!

Here's that beautiful iliopsoas for you all to enjoy:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Exercise or exOrcise?

When did eating become a regrettable and sinful act? All I heard last week (and will continue to hear) is how much people ate and how "BAD" or "GUILTY" they are. Am I the only one who sees the problem here?

After breathing and hydrating, eating is the most important thing we do. Let's not call it eating for a second, but instead refer to it as consuming nutrients vital to existence.. What do you think would happen if you stopped "eating"? YOU WOULD DIE A SAD AND PAINFUL DEATH!!! 100% guaranteed.

Somehow, a few years ago, someone decided that exercise is the magical antidote to this deplorable act of "eating". So the fitness craze started. We're a good 20+ years into the fitness revolution. Coincidentally, we're also in an obesity epidemic.. perhaps a "pandemic".. oooooo..... Strange how those two are coinciding in what seems like a nice linear fashion.

So if exercise is the cure for this disease called eating, why hasn't it worked for more than a couple notables that have their own show about it on TV? Wait.. Even Oprah failed at it... Odd.

We're lead to believe that NOT exercising is bad for us. You know what would happen if you never exercised again? YOU'D LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER! Nothing would happen. Nothing. Don't believe me? My grandfather is a holocaust survivor (all of my grandparents are, but my paternal grandad is especially cool) who has not exercised a day in his life. In fact, he did the opposite. After surviving for a few years looking like a Halloween decoration, he didn't really have much desire for any exercise as he luckily avoided military duty since he was freed at the end of the war (in the soviet union, exercise was called military prep). He doesn't speak english, so none of our current health advice has ever entered his thoughts. He has been prescribed every medicine known to man and was told by every doctor that he needs more activity in his life and that he's not what they consider to be "healthy". He was always too lazy or preoccupied with collecting random things to heed their advice or even fill the prescriptions. All he did was go on walks and when I was around, he'd drag me with him. I'm fairly certain that he has outlived many of these medical professionals at this point. He is one tough guy who refuses to let life get in the way of him sitting on the couch and watching TV and reading nonsense tabloids. "Health" was never his priority, but living is. So he does just that. He lives.

I can go on for a while about this, but consider this: Jack LaLanne was supposedly this healthy super-strong and fit guy. He died at the age of 97 this past January. He was a beast of a man and a role model for many. The dude was awesome. George Burns, on the other hand, was not a beastly man. He lived to an easy 100 years with a healthy diet of stiff drinks and a daily cigar. Bob Hope also lived a century. We all know who he was.. explain that one to me.

I digress. But as we move towards this special time of regrets and resolutions, please understand what it is that you're asking of yourself and perhaps you can prioritize a little. Maybe you'll enjoy it a little bit more.

Here's some exercises for the exorcists in all of us:

For time:
50 Jumping Jacks
50 Pushups
50 Tuck jumps (squat, jump, tuck the knees up, land into a squat, repeat)
50 situps
50 Mountain Climbers (each leg)
50 squats
50 Jumping Jacks