Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Here's a few more things to remember:
1. Strength increases incrementally and very slowly. If you lift 135 one day and then 136 a few weeks later, and then 137 later still, you're heading in the right direction regardless of the time interval. In my opinion the slower the better. Fast gains don't last long unless they're cemented with a lot of intensity and believe me, you don't want to go through that. Imagine putting like 40 pounds on your dead lift in 5 weeks and then spending another 5 weeks beating the gains deep into your bones and muscles with very heavy and high intensity repetitions. It's excruciating. So the more incremental and progressive, the better.
2. Take small bites. This relates to what is above. If you know your max is 150. Don't shoot for 200 out of no where. You're going to fail, most likely, and you'll be demoralized and too tired going into your next attempts. Let the strength express itself surely and confidently. Trust me on this. Don't go for broke until you've secured yourself.
3. Aspire for excess strength. This is a little harder to grasp so I'll draw an analogy. Imagine young Billy (that's you). Young Billy is saving up to buy a new bike (a goal.. like running a fast mile or doing a lot of push ups or setting a new PR.) He's working hard and stacking his ones (money = strength). He opened a savings account so that he can keep all of his money in a safe place. Also he knows that as his money pile grows, it accrues interest and keeps growing. So every time he throws a buck or two into his account, he's not only moving closer to his goal of purchasing a bike, he's also making more off of what he has already earned. So if young Billy is smart and takes his dad's (Me) advice and saves a bit more than what his bike will put him out, he'll have some left with which to keep building his savings. If he blows it all out on the bike with nothing left, then he has to start from scratch. So it would be in Billy's interest to save up a lot more than what his bike cost. How much more? That depends on how much that bike means to Billy. In any case, is there such thing as saving too much? No.. Spending too much? Yes. If Billy is at Zero or very low and has a lot of bikes he wants, then he's outta luck really quick and will be frustrated. If he saves a ton of money, he can buy his bikes and skateboards and just about anything else he wants and still maintain a surplus. But that requires the foresight of savings and investing.
Read that a few times. It'll click.
Remember, strength feeds conditioning. Conversely, conditioning eats away at strength. Has anyone ever felt stronger after a couple hundred slam balls? Hopefully not. So the more strength you have at your disposal, the less taxing a set of slam balls will be and the more you can do in general without having it kill you.
** Your lungs are a different story, but strength helps avoid metabolic fatigue as well. **
What this means:
You can't have it all. If you want maximal strength, you have to give up maximal conditioning. But we're not working with polar ends so we can play with it. If you want to gain strength, you'll have to surrender some conditioning and visa-versa. But since strength is an investment, it's probably a good idea.
You're gonna have to eat to get strong. No two ways about it. Strengths comes from systemic stress and recovery. Stress is short (workouts) and recovery is longer and consists of sleep, rest, water, and food. If you're not eating to get stronger, you're not going to get stronger. Period.
Next week, many of you will get an opportunity to meat our new Dietitian and she's going to present some awesome info that will help you all out a lot. Trust me. And trust her.
Here's a glimpse at my approach: These are just the simple rules I follow for myself. It's not what I WANT to eat. It's what I NEED to eat. Trust me, I like what I eat, and the things most people want make me sick and knock me out for hours.
Protein: Most important. Eat in abundance. 1 gram per pound of BW. 30% of total intake. Building blocks of recovery. What your body is made of. Invest in quality. If you can afford the best, buy the best. Avoid incomplete proteins. Flesh builds flesh.
Fat: Super important. Fuels the recovery. Helps the central nervous system recover. Composes hormones. Makes me happy.
Carbs: Fuels effort. Makes workouts possible. Earn them. Only things that grown in the ground count. Nothing in a wrapper. Greens and tubers mostly. Limit fruits. No grains, ever. No legumes. Limit nuts. Nothing that sticks to my teeth. No sugar added, ever. I love sauerkraut.
Coffee: Yes, please! May I have some more? I'll just take the whole pot, thanks. I'll definitely reduce the intake sometime soon though as I feel like my adrenal glands are completely shot and I'm incompetent without it.
**These are my personal approaches to eating to get strong. I've seen huge fluctuations in my strength from various dietary experiments so it plays a huge role. Again, this works for ME and may not work for others.
I trained my metabolism to prefer fat as a fuel source, so yes, I thrive on bacon but I really don't eat that much of it since it doesn't take much. But not everyone does. Also fats have a higher satiety and may make me too full, too early in my eat-a-thons.
I "Earn" my carbs. Meaning I use them for training. So if I'm sitting on the couch all day, I don't eat any. If I'm blasting around the track for sprints and lifting and hustling around at work, I'll eat like 3 potatoes and ask for more. If I only lifted, I might not need to eat more than half a potato and a small salad (I hate vegetables anyway).
I never limit my intake. I eat when I'm hungry or try to at least and I eat till I'm full or run out of food/money. I never waste food and I'm grateful for every ounce. I'm grateful to the rancher for raising a good animal and I'm especially grateful to the animal for dying so that its nutrients contribute to me and my productive efforts. I try to express the gratitude by investing the nutrients into my strength and into being awesome. No one has ever been deemed "too strong" or "too AWESOME", so I'll keep at it for a while.
Hope that helps a little. Again, stay tuned to your emails about a cool things we have coming up next week with our new dietitian.
Monday, January 30, 2012
- There are object that are being thrown on the infield and very powerful men and woment propelling themselves around the track. If any one of those object comes in contact with you, death would be the most pleasant result. You might end up as a vegetable because your spine was shattered along with most of your internal organs.. Kind of graphic, but necessary.
Watch this video.. If you don't, then you're WRONG!
I highly suggest following along with the video, but I DO NOT suggest wearing tight jeans; you may regret that. The entire MOB shouldn't take more than 5 minutes.
Make sure you breath and RELAX. There will come a point where you will feel your muscles relax and you will "fall" through the tight tissue into a new range of motion. You have to remind yourself to exhale and relax. Try each position a couple times on each leg and see if you can find any more ROM.
Otherwise, enjoy the weather and if you want do this:
6 individualy timed rounds:
15 V-UPS (watch the video)
20 tuck jumps (land in a low squat)
rest 2 minutes
* time each round individually and stay consisitant.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The friendly folks at http://www.myorope.com/ are extending a 10% discount to us.
If you decide to invest in one of their products, type in "BHIP" in the promo code section during checkout to receive the 10% discount on your purchase. And since they're in LA to begin with, you can go pick it up and save on shipping costs as well. Not a bad deal for a surely brutal... err.. effective and therapeutic product.
Just look at how excruciating.. I mean.. pleasant this looks. Seriously though, this things looks like it will hunt down your knots with a vengeance.
Monday, January 23, 2012
This is a great opportunity to do a mobility "mob" or 5. Go to www.mobilitywod.com and find something fruitful. I highly suggest the big joints.. Hips, shoulders, ankles.
Also, I highly suggest investing in some therapeutic muscle release and recovery "devices". Everyone is familiar with the foam roller and it's a great tool. Here are a few other devices.
http://www.rumbleroller.com/ - Hopefully your pain threshold is higher now.
http://www.thestick.com/ - This one you can buy at many running and cycling shops.
http://www.lacrosseballs.com/ - You can buy these at just about any sports store.
http://www.myorope.com/ - This is basically a few balls on a rope. Never used it though.
http://tptherapy.com/ - I have the whole kit. It's brutal. It works. But very pricey, very complicated to follow the instructions. Can't stand the guy that made them. Nothing special here. Just nifty.
I'd say my favorite tool of these is the stick. But it takes a good deal of pain tolerance, Patience, time, and tenacity. You can't just skim your surface and expect anything to happen. You have to really go hunting with it. Rolling an inch at a time with increasing pressure until tears come streaming out of your eyes. You'll know when you hit something good. The pain is intense, but you'll know to do it again and again. Things will get tender and the next day you will be sore. I spent 4 hours last Wednesday with my roller stick and was limping through Friday. But in the end, the gains are well worth it. Therapy shouldn't feel good now, it feels good later. So be patient, stay on those knots, and enjoy making those painful faces and comparing with others.
Why you're in pain:
I warned you all a few weeks ago about the workouts. I told you guys how intense they will get. I gave you all plenty of heads-up.
AND YOU GUYS TORE THEM UP!!! I don't think I've ever seen the motivation this high before. Everyone pushed themselves and each other. Everyone worked together as they made new friends. The motivation was contagious. Everyone got after it and did the work. These last few weeks have been a lot of fun to coach. You guys took big bites, chewed it up, swallowed, and asked for more. That is awesome. I suspect that had more to do with the challenge of the workload. Instead of cowering, everyone just attacked the work and did it with a level of vigor rarely seen in the exercise world. You guys looked like a bunch of real athletes training for the big game.
As we (the coaches) make the transition to the next on ramp, I am beyond confident that you all are on top of your stuff. I always look forward to coaching the on going or the expressway (or whatever you guys call yourselves) sessions. Keep up the good work!
In addition to mobility:
Run 1 mile for time. (4 laps)
*If you know you can run a sub 7 minute mile, then you will do a 1.5 mile run (6 laps).
** This is not a jogging pace pleasant run. This is a full blown, as fast as you can, maximal output effort.
Start it out hot and finish hot. It's only four laps so there's nothing to save for. Just go for it!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
What is this shape you speak of? Did I miss that day when you momentarily became an Olympic athlete? A god or goddess perhaps where you somehow magically didn't get huffy and puffy? As if you didn't have a metabolism and your blood never ran out of oxygen and substrates. When the nuclear fusion and fission of thousands of suns powered your ceaselessly hammering heart. That awesome day where your legs didn't get heavy at all and you could just keep on pumping them with bottomless vigor? That was a fun dream. Let's look at it realistically...
We are human. We are all subject to the same rules of physics, chemistry, and biology. We all get breathless and tired and thirsty and feel like a used up piece of toilet paper. Even yours truly has collapsed on the track on many occasions. It's always the same thing.. You go into a workout imagining yourself doing it completely immune to fatigue. You see yourself floating around the track and doing 30 push ups without skipping a beat. Then, when that doesn't happen, the mental image shatters and you get demoralized. You feel like a failure and want to quit to try again a different day. You don't realize it yet, but that's the workout doing exactly what it's supposed to do.. Break you down so you can rebuild later... But the key is to finish it strong.
So check your egos and accept reality. Chances are you were never and will never be an Olympic star. The quicker you can come to grips with that, the more successful you will be. You should still dream big and shoot for that stars, just make sure you shoot your own stars and not someone else's. That's not fair to them or you. Become the best that YOU can be. Be happy with YOUR progress. Take responsibility for YOUR life and everything that YOU did to get you to where you currently are. Everyone is capable of great work and should hold themselves accountable to it. Everyone will break down and collapse at some point, but it's nothing to be frustrated with. It's what you set out to do. The sooner the better, right?
This brings me to the next point. How long do you think you can spend in a maximal output state? The reality of it is that it's not very long. That's why I've been saying "good" in response to those that said that they're out of shape. I mean that. If you're at suboptimal levels, you can progress up. If you're at your max, there is no more progression, you have reached a limit and will now hold yourself to constantly staying there. The problem is that you can't stay there without deconditioning to establish a stronger foundation. Think about professional athletes. They do not stay in competitive shape all year round. They peak during their season or for their even, and then decondition to a normal physical state. Staying in a maximal state will cause your body to break down and deteriorate from constantly high levels of stress hormone. Stress hormone is released during high output training and it needs to be cycled out. If not, it (cortisol) will eat away at you, pump you full of glucose, which will in turn jack up your insulin for no reason and make you store fat and you will die.. well, maybe not die, but you won't be well. Life will suck.
Here's a very scientific model of what I'm talking about.
So your "shape" will peak and it will drop into a valley and then you will get all pumped up and it will jump again and then you'll find yourself peaked and you will burn out for a bit and you will be good at sitting on the couch. Then you'll see someone doing something freakish and you'll jump out of your seat and start hitting it hard again.. and so the cycle continues. And that's how life works.. in cycles. Nothing is stagnant. The seasons change. The tides shift. And your "shape" follows suit. But as long as the peaks and valleys are gradually sloping up, then you're moving in the right direction. If they're not, then you may want to reevaluate your priorities. You need the valleys to grow the peaks. So enjoy your time in "less-than-superhuman" performance. Just be mindful of your current state and quit calling it a "shape". No reason to be a victim of your own imagination. Act accordingly.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Lately, I have spent a little more time pondering this. I thought about where the most vulnerable areas of the body are to weakness. Essentially, it boils down to the very top of the upper body since it's the highest point of the axial skeleton above the center of gravity. Imagine balancing a baseball bat on your palm. The very top of the bat is the tipping point, thus the most susceptible to the demands of mean ol' Mr. Gravity. That is why over-head movements are so challenging. So developing and maintaining control through the shoulder girdle is key. Many people simply call it "upper-body strength". We call it scapular control.
So scapular control may be the most important to general strength. This is easily done by strengthening and utilizing all of the shoulders' ranges of motion. Especially external rotation. Meaning: keeping your shoulder blades in the back pockets during movements like push ups and pulling them back during rows. Keeping the elbows in and forward during presses and in and tight during push ups and prowler sprints. This is why we put our finger at 11:00 and 1:00 during the push ups. It's why we push our chests through the arms during a dead lift. Why we pull our chest up during a squat. It's all in the shoulder girdle, and strength there becomes strength almost everywhere.
There is one last piece of this puzzle, without which, the puzzle would fail altogether. Upper-body strength expresses itself through your upper limbs. Those are called arms. Think about a boxer throwing a punch. The power of that punch comes from the body pushing against the ground, but expresses itself through the fighter's arm and ultimately the fist before transferring into the opponents body. That leads me to believe (along with many others) that hand strength and wrist control are absolutely, positively vital to developing any other strength anywhere else in the body. Seriously.
Think about it. When you go to lift anything, the first thing you do it feel its weight with your hands. At this point, you're actually establishing a neuro-kinetic pathway through your central nervous system (CNS) to transmit vital information for performing a specific task. Essentially, the CNS needs to be able to trust the body. Guess what; your hands are going to determine that and often times, they are the weakest link in the kinetic chain. If the CNS can't trust the body, it will shut down the output that you were counting on to perform the task.
Think back to that dead lift or that clean that you missed. It was only a pound or two heavier than your max that went up seemingly easy, but when you went for it, it was as if there was nothing in the tank. Ring a bell? That's your CNS saying "forget about it, it ain't gonna happen, so don't waste precious energy on inevitable failure." And it cuts off the output. No joke. The CNS is the driver and your body is a vehicle. The CNS just slammed on the breaks.. hard. Lift failed. And it slips through the hands as your back rounds out as if to rub in what a failure your are.
Now think about a successful dead lift or clean. Usually, your hands hold tight the entire time and it just goes up. You're not over-gripping the bar, but it's not dangling in your finger tips either. It's sitting just right in the hands and it's secure. This is your hands telling the CNS "Trust me, I can do this. Hit the gas!" And sure enough, it happens. Long story short: If you can hold it, you can move it. Hand strength is the most important in the context of lifting.
How to make your hands strong? Use them. Challenge them. Develop them. Grip things. Squeeze things. Hold heavy things. I like hanging from a bar for period of time. This makes my hands strong and stretches the shoulders. I have a bunch of grippers that I use while sitting in traffic. Makes my hands strong and helps tolerate traffic. I palm heavy things. I squeeze things tighlty for periods of time. Basically, I try to challenge my hands and wrist throughout the day. That way, when I go to lift something heavy, my hands are confident and ready.
Anyway, hopefully you get the point that hand strength leads to general strength, especially the elusive and vital scapular control. Everyone likes a good hand shake, anyway.
Some fun in the sun:
10 rounds for time:
- 25m Butt-kickers (put your hands faceing out on your glutes. Run and kick yourself in the hand with your heel during each stride. Take short steps and kick back hard.
- 15 situps
- 25m Broad Jump (as few jumps as possible.. keep track)
- 15 leg levers
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
So watch this video that took me way too long to make, splice, and upload (so you better enjoy it!) and figure out where you stand.
I'm a big fan of slam balls because they transfer into so many other things, but only if they're done correctly. Otherwise, they're great for training the wrong, injurious form.
P.S. These are long-standing issues, so the time off isn't a factor. Everyone knows how to do them right. Right is better.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Good to see everyone back. The classes are large. The freshly trained on ramp graduates have joined up and are looking like seasoned veterans. So take this opportunity to make some new friends and mix the groups up a little. If you are part of a email list with others for supplementary workouts, make sure others know, it's more fun.
Form is pretty important. By "pretty", I mean priority. a good looking squat is the right squat. If the form is off, then it's wrong. If it's wrong, then it's probably weak at best, but more importantly, injurious. If it is wrong or looks poorly done, then something isn't doing it's job. A joint may be hinging incorrectly, and we know what that means. An entire group of muscles may be on vacation and completely inactive.. Either way, proper form must be ACHIEVED. It's not magic, it has to be worked for and it's never easy.
Lets take a look at a few examples.
This is LOLO JONES! She's amazing! Look for her redeeming herself in London this year. Take a look at her form. This is her full-blown power lunge out of the blocks. Note the perfect line that is formed by her shoulders to hips through the ankle and out through the block.. It's perfect. Now look at the other leg.. Note how perpendicular her femur is in her flight. Her shin is perpendicular to her thigh and parallel to the other side of the body, indicating balance. Look how dorsiflexed her right foot is, ready to land and bite at the track as she mirrors her left side in explosion. Look at he left arm. The humorous is perpendicular to the body and parallel to the opposite thigh, again, indicating balance. Her shoulders and hips are absolutely square, being fused together by an incredibly cinched up mid line. Her rib cage is tied down low to the hips. Every ounce of steam that this amazing athlete has is directed at her forward propulsion because that is how she will win. It's not a coincidence that her form is perfect. Think about that.
USAIN BOLT! This guy needs no intro. I have watched this video about a thousand times. I have frozen every frame and stared at each one for hours. This is the best slow motion video of them all. Every time I analyze it I find something new. A new piece of the puzzle to explain why he is so fast.
Look at his head compared to the bleachers and crowds. There is almost zero vertical displacement. All forward velocity. Look at his shoulders shrugging up, much like in a clean or a snatch, to keep his feet lower, closer to the ground. Look at his hips and shoulders staying absolutely square. Look at how relaxed he is. Look at how his hips always stay under his shoulders. His legs look like wheels, just spinning on an imaginary axis. His feet come straight up under his hips and land directly under his center mass for a millisecond before springing back up. Everything is so balanced and he can look that relaxed. Look at the others. They look funny. Some are reaching. Another keeps driving his head forward. A couple keep breaking the hips and shoulders off square. When you compare the minutest little details, it becomes fairly obvious why the winners win. Their form is perfect.
I use sprinting a lot because it is very accessible to us as humans. Humans run. Plain and simple. We are designed for it. The achilles tendon is a dead giveaway. If a doctor ever tells you you aren't designed to run, ask them why you have tendons that mimic running animals rather than a grizzly bear's.. Sprinting is the most refined form of running. A sprinter takes the running form and refines it to near perfection be removing obstacles and optimizing efficiency. As incredible as it may seem, mechanically, it's still simply running. Your joints and physiology is still the same regardless of speed and intensity. Think about that when you go on a job. Just because you're not sprinting to win, doesn't mean that your form can suck. Because of the volume of work per time, it is even more important to maintain form. With running being the most injurious activity by a huge margin, that's something to consider..
Here's some fun stuff if you get bored in the office..
6 rounds for time:
- 200 meter sprint
- 20 squats
- 200 meter sprint
- 20 leg levers
Friday, January 6, 2012