So I had this really science based, fact check blog planned for today about the importance of bodyweight work as THE platform for success or continued success at any level of athletic endeavor. That without it you can’t lift more, or run faster, or yadda, yadda, yadda. Then I boiled it down to Ego Check: volume and viciousness.
Then I started reading some things. You know, articles on the Internet, blogs, lists, and more bullsh*t about New Years resolutions, and Dr. OZ, and quick fix crap, so I decided to switch it up. So this is one part rant, two parts CA philosophy, and one half-part backflip into the randomized scatterings that are my brain. (Don’t worry, bodyweight Awesomeness will post next week!) [Can you say push-up?] 😉
I have a voracious (<- SAT word right there) appetite for books, and knowledge; and the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know anything about anything, and therefore I need to learn more. (It seems like Sisyphus pushing the bolder, but honestly I love it.) When you stop learning you might as well checkout. Quit your job and find something that makes you happy, and a big part of that happiness is a platform for growth.
So here is something to consider.
2+2 =4, but so does
3+1=4, and so does
9-5=4, and well… so does
64 / 16 =4 and then, well… you get the drift.
There are a lot of ways to get from point A to point B, and no matter what you call it. Or how pretty the box, bow, or gift-wrap is. It all boils down to simple concepts. So let me package 2015 Resolutions simply…
Stop to look around once in a while, do whatever it is because it makes you HAPPY!
Learn to be a little UNCOMFORTABLE.
Drink a shit ton of WATER.
Eat a vegetable based dietLIFESTYLE.
Training and exercise are not wars with your body, they SUSTAIN it.
Be EXCEPTIONAL at the simple things, this INCLUDES movement.
Stop judging others for what they do. If everybody is moving then guess what; you’re on the same F*cking team.
Check your ego at the door. If you knew better you wouldn’t be taking direction you would be giving it. (<- Also if you believe that, then you need to read more books)
(Just a snippet of what an evening here looks like)
When I opened Contemporary Athlete I had grand dreams (don’t worry, I still do!) of rows of amazing athletes of all ages doing agility drills, with fast moving feet; much like the fingers of a highly efficient stenographer banging away systematically. The uniform whirr of the wheels of ergometers churning away splits in a harmonious cacophony of acceleration and anguish. The cyclists, and tri-athletes; riding their trainers. The graceful yet mind tricking movement of men and women fluidly powerlifting impressive weights from the floor to overhead positions. This is the CA, this is the dream, and all dreams start on the foundation of a big multi-dimensional base…
(it all starts somewhere)
With that in mind, we live in a fast passed world. Our culture has a desire for instant gratification; and results, yesterday, not tomorrow, with little investment. Social media, fast food, email, smart phones, 5 – minute abs, 3 – minute glutes, perfect push-ups, and no minute guts.
Thursday night I started to teach the Snatch, to a group of 3. For the very first time since I opened almost 2 years ago. The snatch is one of the readily agreed upon 7 fundamental barbell movements for building speed and strength. Now this isn’t the first time I have taught this kind of movement by any means, but what it is, is the first time I have taught it to absolute novice athletes. Normally the situation is one of fixing or forwarding the effectiveness of the athlete. In this case, it is. “This is a barbell, now I am going to help you learn how to use it effectively.”
All we did was move the bar. In systematic and excruciatingly boring ways. Yes, they were sweaty, and probably tired, and likely sore and a bunch of other things you can call exercise. They weren’t hurt, confused, or operating in dangerous patterns all in the good old name of “getting your sweat on”.
(resistance is individual)
Which during my drive home last night I pondered on all of the stupid s*** I hear said and read constantly on memes when it comes to training and exercise. In the case of memes it’s usually emblazoned over a hard bodied, abs ripping, sweaty individual or an ass that potentially was carved by Michelangelo himself.
“Go hard, or go home”
“Engage your beast mode”
“Tears will get you sympathy, sweat will get you results”
“Train like a beast. Look like a beauty”
“When I’m dripping with sweat, I feel bad ass”
“The alternative to boredom is exercise, not food.”
“Keep squatting till your legs fall off”
“Sore Muscles, Happy Pain”
“Sore? Tired? Out of breath? Sweaty? Good. It’s Working.”
“Gonna run till I don’t Jiggle.”
This list goes on, but this should give you enough to start the ball rolling. The idea though, is to do a little more, a little better every consecutive time you train. As an athlete, sometimes in the search of “better” or “best” you might cross your threshold and end up with your head in a trash bin. This is NEVER the goal or idea. It’s a byproduct of testing your limits and if it happens 1:1000 times than your ratio is pretty good. For 95% (<- not a real statistic) of people this should NEVER ever happen though. ELITE is called that for a reason. It’s not EVERYBODY, that’s the point.
So while the new power-lifters work on their range of motion with PVC pipes and the Barbell. Looking for the perfect set up, and motion at a weight/limit that is appropriate for the journey toward excellence. They will get more flexible, and strong, and lean but it all boils down to training smart and efficiently. Which means don’t be a fool and buy into a phrase I recently heard and wish I could coin.
My coffee addiction has a work problem. Or some variable of that statement is appropriate for this post. I recently found myself sitting at the office (Starbucks) for the better part of 6 hours the other day working incessantly on a very exciting but major overhaul of the Contemporary Athlete website. As this community grows and changes I find myself taking occasional observatory steps back so as to see if this crazy awesome ship is traveling in the direction I would like it to; and if not how do I correct that.
(Just a side note: If you haven’t notice lifting is back as the proverbial meat and potatoes of what we do. I got a little lost with all my certification studying and deviated from what I know works. This came from way to much reading of functional fitness, resistance band training, TRX, sand-bells, slosh-pipes, BOSU, and yadda, yadda, yadda…
Then I remembered the last time I went to use the loo and realized I didn’t do a destabilized isometric squat to get to the seat. So yeah, my toilet reminded me what should go in it and that back/front squats are functional.)
Soooooooo a short story long, coffee, I love it. It is good for you. (So is a glass of red wine but that is for another post) I drink my coffee generally as a dark roast, black, in a 12 oz. cup. All in all, boring, uncomplicated and I am pretty sure makes the staff at the ‘bucks I go to bored, annoyed, or most likely just makes me “that guy”. Either way coffee is good for you, or so I read. (I read a lot)
Quick disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist, dietitian, or anything of the like (yet) so this is strictly my OPINION, based on my personal food intake and a ridiculous amount of reading, books, journals, and educational material.
So here are couple quick things:
Potential for Genius! (Ok not quite) but an earth shattering effect, coffee is a stimulant. It has caffeine in it. Which blocks a neurotransmitter inhibitor called Adenosine. By stopping this inhibitor it increases neuronal firing and releases dopamine and norepinephrine. Also it is proven through controlled experimentation that caffeine improves mood, reaction time, memory, and general cognitive function.
Superhero strength and skinny! (<- A freaking gold plated unicorn says what?) It raises your metabolism and the oxidation of fatty acids. This is due to it being a stimulant and the effect it has on the central nervous system. It has been proven through different meta-analyses that it increases exercise performance by an average of 11-12% this is due to it’s affects on several biological mechanisms, one of them being the mobilization of fatty acids from fat tissue.
Type II Diabetes can suck a doughnut! (But, but, can I still have a doughnut? NO, no you cannot) in observational studies, coffee is frequently associated with a lower risk of diabetes. The range of this is anywhere from 25% to as high as 65%. A recent review article I read with close to half a million participants showed that with every extra cup of coffee people had, it lowered their risk by 7%.
If Mayan gods are doing it… (The Mayan people originally made Coffee as a soup, or porridge. They also ate people’s hearts [<- I think, granted that could be a lie though.]) Many of the nutrients in coffee beans make it into the drink when brewed though.
11% of the RDA for Riboflavin (Vitamin B2).
6% of RDA for Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5).
2% of the RDA for Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Thiamine (B1).
3% of the RDA for Potassium and Manganese.
Coffee is the largest source of antioxidants in the western diet; this outranks both fruits and veggies.
Last thing I have to say though. These are great facts but… once you start filling it with 37 sugars, or artificial sweeteners, a half a gallon of milk or creamer, you have then eradicated all that awesomeness with a whole bunch of not goodness. Much like taking a shower in the morning your coffee should be as stripped down as possible. ideally naked.
I love a project and fortunately athletes love to bring me slightly unreal timelines for their impending greatness. Let me start by saying I too suck at time management. It is generally because I think I can do way more than I physically or mentally can do in a reasonable amount of time. Training goals can also operate like this. When emily came to me with her Tough Mudder goals, and timeline, I knew the happy go lucky conversation was going to shift drastically to something that sounds a bit like this.
“Well, I think what you have are great goals. Here is what it is going to take to get there and just so you know I am more than commited to helping you; but this is going to suck. A lot. I mean a whole lot. I want you to go home and really think about this because the next conversation we have might be a bit overwhelming.”
With that being said Emily came back a week later and we went to work. Sometimes we all just need to let it settle in that there is no quick fix, and that getting from point A to point B is gonna take serious mental fortitude (In Mudder language, that’s called Grit) – Bender
Mudd? No Big Deal. Electrocution… uh, can I skip that part?
Monday morning. Do I want to get out of bed? No. Do I want to get out of bed and go work out? Definitely not. Do I suck it up and realize that champions are not made by sleeping in? yes!
Over the course of 5 months I’ve become what some might call a “gym rat” I love the gym and if I’m not there I legitimately miss it. My teammates became my family. My trainer became my friend. My favorite place is Contemporary Athlete. But lets be clear, sometimes you just don’t want to get out of bed…let me rewind for a moment.
My name is Emily, and I’m a Ninja. I started coming to Contemporary Athlete because I was sick of hiding my bad decisions in layers of sweatshirts. I wanted more. I wanted to have muscle definition without flexing. I wanted to eliminate the muffin top, but seriously who am I kidding – I was smuggling more than adorable muffins. From bad break ups to a serious car accident, I had stopped any physical activity and began to wallow in self pity and depression. Eating tasted good and its not like I was ever going to be skinny, it just wasn’t my “body type”. So when my friends decided that running a Tough Mudder race was a good idea, I surely didn’t want to be left out. It can’t be THAT hard, and there’s no time limit. I could do that. And then it hit me. “I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded” “I can’t lift more than 10 lbs” and “was college the last time I worked out?”
The competitor in me flared up and I started talking to Dave Bender about a SERIOUS plan to get in shape. I had barely 5 months to go from eating a box of doughnuts on the couch to running an 11 mile course full of obstacles and not die.
(Scale is the same but the body is not…)
The first few weeks were brutal. I am not kidding. There was swearing. There was crying. There was whining and there were incredulous looks shot at Dave regarding what he thought I could accomplish. Initially I lost weight. 11 lbs by week 3 and 18 pounds by week 6. No one was really noticing, but I found I didn’t need them too. My pants would not stay up. My endurance slowly but surely improved and my favorite part was that I was getting stronger. Things I thought I could never do were starting to happen but OH MY GOD was it slow. My patience is heinous and I’ll be the first to admit I’m quick to quit if I don’t get immediate satisfaction. I began to do 2-a-days training, starting at 7am and then coming back at 5:30pm. People called me crazy. I loved it. I felt good. I felt like I could do anything. I would push through the exhaustion and I found this beautiful potential to go further than where I previously felt like I had to end. My mind had flipped from doing the least amount possible into how much can I do? The possibilities seemed endless.
Then the weights got heavier. the workouts got harder and there were days when I would get so frustrated not understanding how I could still be so out of shape when it had been 3 months of training. I wasn’t losing weight and that felt like such a failure. Those days Dave was able to quietly remind me of where I had started. I got lost in the desire for what I thought perfection was, and how far from an airbrushed model I was, it would pile up and it all started to get me down. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I would try to articulate my poorly thought out and for all the wrong reasons desires to be skinny. I’m a firm believer that no matter how great the plan, you will always have bad days. I had plenty of them and I still do, but I get through them with the help that Contemporary Athlete provides. What I found to be the most important factor in my training was that I was never alone. Dave is the best trainer I’ve ever worked with and while he instructs and inspires, there is something more magical happening at Contemporary Athlete. Something I had never experienced before.
(Sometimes outside the box, sometimes on it, but always improving)
Everyone and I mean EVERYONE is pulling for you. There has never been a group of more supportive, sincerely caring, and downright helpful people ever. Every single one of us had to start somewhere. Some have been athletes since pee wee soccer, and others might have stumbled into an athletic hobby, but I kid you not we were all beginners. I know, I know, you watch Jim do pull ups, and Ryan do push ups, and Lindsey do planks, and Leigh Ann do suicide drills and its easy to think Ok they are freakishly good at those things, but the way they got there is by doing them, over and over and over again. Next time you end up whimpering next to one of them, ask them how they do it. I did. I was floored at the fact that they HELPED. They shared tips and tricks to make the most effective work possible and what not to do to avoid injury. These people are NICE. The bonds get stronger, and the knowing laughs during things like turkish get ups, are what will keep you going. It’s what got me through 5 solid months of training. Team CA runs deep.
(sometimes you just have to start somewhere)
This is not by any stretch of the term “easy”. But it was easy for me to understand that if I didn’t change anything about the way I was living, my life would not change. Food is no longer comfort. Food is fuel which your body needs to go beast mode the next day. I found that no matter how much I trained, if my eating reflected a scene from Animal House….my progress suffered. That being said, I quickly realized how awful I felt if I ate anything close to junk food and not because of disappointment in falling off my path, but because junk is junk. If I ate garbage I felt like garbage and it made training SO much harder when I didn’t have the proper fuel.
(6 months of work, but these pull-ups happened)
There is a champion inside each of us ready to emerge victorious over a slothy lifestyle. So when I started, did I want to get out of bed and jump on the ski erg? no. no I did not. But I did it and you can too! I finished the Tough Mudder in the Poconos, got through every obstacle, and not only did I not die, I was back at CA training in less than 48 hours. Day by day its one more workout down, one more goal accomplished and its beyond amazing to look back on the progress you can make. The only thing standing between you and your health is your mind. So start now. Make the decision to be better, run faster, jump higher, and tackle life with the remarkable ability to keep going. It just comes down to that very first step. At Contemporary Athlete, we take that step together, and we go a lot further.
In the last 72 hours a lot has been going on in both my personal life and business life. What has been interesting is the thread of connection back to a place some 1,800 miles away and 10 years ago, I called home. I have been privileged enough to be part of a successful program and what I learned during it and my time at SMU has given me an edge on life, and business. In this I have been taking solace/escape in the trials and tribulations of my alma maters basketball team during their March madness run.
(surprising nobody has yelled at us yet for not warming up)
I wear a lot of college gear, (thanks to all of my collegiate athletes hooking me up with hoodies that I wear proudly). If you didn’t know though I am a proud pony. What that means is a bit different than most though. I am part of the Mustang Nation not just as an alumnus, but also as a letterman. I was fortunate enough to be part of a highly successful program, one that continues that success everyday. Being part of four championship teams I got to ride high. So watching your fellow athletes, train, study, train, eat, study, train, get hurt, get healthy, compete, and not be able to see them succeed is hard.
Rough days of training. Endless trampoline/dry board work, weight training when my body was already wrecked, the Nat, Eddie’s always good natured temperament, Jim’s constant push, dragging my a** to evening classes barely able to stand, studying with one eye open knowing I needed a nap but my course load didn’t care. Long trips across Texas in vans, competing on the road and knowing you have to go back to a mountain of work when it was all over, good or bad. These are the things fans don’t quite get. While I was there the “big” sports struggled while the rest of the teams were producing conference champions and championships, All-Americans, world-university games competitors, national team members, national champions, and Olympians.
(This was my world for a long time)
Yet some of the hardest days were standing in the student sections with all the other athletes from the other teams, and the rest of the school body watching yet another blowout on the gridiron or the court. Those were the hardest days as an athlete. Not the close loss but the ruthless beating. It wasn’t the coaches, athletes, facilities, it was just something that was off and it seemed nobody could figure it out.
With the NCAA non – decision for the tournament, you can say a lot of things. One way or another they didn’t make the field of 64. So be it. To the NIT they go, and watching them struggle and rally has been something all athletes no matter their colors understand. For me getting text messages from friends, teammates, family, with score updates while at work reminded me of so many great things but biggest of all some key lessons.
(Lets be clear, this sucks)
Being an athlete teaches you how to get knocked down and how to get up again. Learn from it, and to perform no matter what. How to manage your time, stay cool under pressure, multi-task, depend on others to do the same, risk big, fail often, and understand that all you can expect on any given day is to be average. You just have to make sure your average is better than everybody else.
So as schools both public and private, universities and grade/high schools look at their budgets and slash and burn sports (and the arts but thats for a different post). You forget that those things are what teach character, and at the end of the day, it’s the athlete that is going to stand naked in the thunderstorm with a metal rod in hand because if that’s what they have to do to get ahead then they are going to do it. They just want it more, and they might just do it to beat you.
The 22 point run SMU went on Tuesday night against Clemson in the second half to win and head to the final is a true testament to their character. It comes from years of being kicked when you’re down. To great teachers like Coach Brown, a supportive community, and the best thing that could have happened, was for them to not make the tournament, now they have something to prove, and that makes them dangerous.
(nothing like getting snowed in on the road)
On Thursday night in a packed Madison Square Garden in their final game of the season against Minnesota this show down will be epic. No matter how it unfolds every athlete that will be watching that game will feel both the pain of defeat and the joy of success; because at the root of it all, we just want to be there all over again.
Personally I’ll be in the second row, behind the goal with the rest of the Red and Blue.
In the health and fitness world, metabolic conditioning is a term used loosely and frequently. It is generally associated with Cross-Fit; intense workouts, derived from lifting heavy weights in great succession, racing against the clock, or against other athletes. Now in some cases this is true. I have also heard it used to describe a workout consisting of a series of time based work dictated by minimal rest. Another word I hear a lot is “Tabata.” Tabata consists of very quick bursts of work followed by very short amounts of rest, done cyclically, until exhaustion. Then, given a longer rest period to recover before beginning the next cycle. These are two very different workout styles, amongst many, within the metabolic conditioning realm. The truth is this current hip thing is really an old concept that has finally trickled down to the general public.
High intensity interval training, also known as (HIIT) is all the rage, but it is something all athletes have done, and probably done a lot of. It is generally best to balance the rush with the gush, and leave a little room to siphon off some of the workout steam generated -which is where athletes can really gather speed when not working on their aerobic capacity.
I would like to try to decipher this. A metabolic conditioning workout should be based on a desired outcome dictated by the level of fitness and ability of the individual doing such a workout this has been researched in depth by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning. The human body has several different methods of getting energy. In order to tap into those different energy systems, different ratios of work to rest must be implemented in order to cause adaptations in the body for a desired performance goal.
A desired goal to maximize efficiency of a particular energy system is usually the response one is looking for from the body; so the way the patterning of work and rest are structured makes that exercise “circuit” metabolic conditioning. For example, a person looking to “bulk up” should have a different amount of rest in relationship to work, than a person looking to become leaner or run farther. Structuring a workout where timing is disregarded and getting through it as quickly as possible is not nearly as effective for performance goals as a planned attack, with regimented work to rest ratios.
Here are the basics of Exercise Metabolism:
Everything we eat must be broken down into smaller things in order for the body to use them. This means of creating energy is known as metabolizing, and in layman’s terms is known as the metabolic system. There are three pathways that are primary to making this happen and each has their own place and purpose. By tapping into them correctly for performance or physical goals should be the idea behind writing the training circuit.
The Immediate System: (ATP-CP)
Think of this as explosive energy your Olympic lifting, sprinting, and jumping. Any exercise that takes less than 10 seconds to accomplish is utilizing this system. What is important is how long the work to rest ratio is. The exercise is so physically taxing that it can take roughly three to five minutes to fully recover.
The Intermediate System: (Anaerobic system)
It is used for shorter duration high intensity work such as your middle distance running (400-800 m) or swimming (100-200m) and your middle range weight lifting. This could be any exercise that takes anywhere from one to four minutes to complete. Depending on the ability of the athlete recovery time can take anywhere from one to three minutes.
The Long-Duration System: (Aerobic system)
This is your marathon running or century bike riding or 1500m swimmers or triathletes. The work is low to moderate in intensity and can go on forever as long as the athlete does not run out of energy (fat). The recovery for this kind of work is a mere seconds.
Now with those hard guidelines for energy usage detailed in the human body there is always crossover and interplay. No one energy system operates all by itself within exercise. The ratios at which they are called upon generally work in one primary system or another.
Developing the appropriate Met-Con Circuit:
The idea is to create efficiency for a specific energy system, one that will allow performance enhancement or physique. Also thanks to great amounts of research done by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, this system creates increased EPOC. So the metabolism runs higher after a Met-Con session for a few hours.
Now once you figure out what it is that you are training for then you can really tailor your training program. The key factor for making this all work is your rest periods. Not enough rest you risk taking your anaerobic training session and turning it into an aerobic one. Too much rest and you leave your ATP-AC phase and create an anaerobic or even an aerobic workout. In order to make this really effective use large non-isolated actions. Start with bodyweight activity and remember when lifting weights to use proper form at all times and self regulate. If it doesn’t seem safe don’t do it, or find a facility or trainer that can help you learn those actions correctly and safely. Getting hurt training will not only ruin race day, it will put a huge chink in the armor of invincibility you once had. To remain competitive, it’s usually best to stay out of the ranks of the walking wounded. After all, health trumps strength any day! So stay healthy, and stay strong, with smart workouts!
Starting February 6th, 2014 Session one is designed to teach you the proper technique and basic principles for using the ergometer. (So as to get the most bang for all that sweat!)
4 90-minutes sessions.
Every Thursday night 7:00-8:30pm
Only 9 spots available RESERVE A SPOT NOW
Starting March 6th, 2014 Session 2 is all about putting that hard mental training to work. This is geared toward developing your Zone 2, interval training, and that ever so precious VO2 capacity.
4 90 minutes sessions.
Every Thursday night 7:00-8:30pm
45$ (Introductory price!)
Only 9 spots available RESERVE A SPOT NOW
Introduction to CAIR
Want to know what those people are doing 3 days a week? All that sitting and sliding back and forth? It has to be better than deadlifting and kettlebells, right? Well, you are correct. Here is your shot to try it out.
Starting February 11th, 2014 Intro to CAIR is designed to teach you the proper technique for using the ergometer, so as to get the most bang for all that sweat, and ultimately, if your up for the challenge to join the team. 😉
4 90-minutes sessions
Every Tuesday night 7:00-8:30pm
45$ (Introductory price!)
Only 9 spots available RESERVE A SPOT NOW
Lately, I have been considering getting a part time job. It would give me more income to towards buying more/better equipment for the facility. (I like stuff, especially awesome stuff, and the kind of stuff that makes you more awesome!) It would also give me freedom to leave the facility, make some coin, and interact with other non-CA-going individuals.
Some job options I have considered:
1. Waiter/Bartender (Yep, been there done that)
2. Mailman (I generally have the middle of the day open. I look great in grey, too.)
3. Grocery Store Shelf-stocker (They work nights. And, I am really good at putting stuff away.)
4. Babysitter (Seriously, I have no idea why, but kids love me.)
5. Wal-Mart Greeter (It will help with my personal skills. And, I get a sweet vest!)
Then, it hit me like a ton of Palačinkes! (Swedish Pancakes filled with jam <- Epic. The only thing that could make them better is if they had bacon in there too!)
Here it is…
A part-time gig as Hans or Franz.
Here is why:
My dashing good looks (thanks mom and dad!), my calm cool demeanor, charming bedside manor, constant desire to have an awesome foreign accent, love for grey sweats, but, most importantly, I am pretty freaking good at deadlifts. If it’s heavy and on the ground, I can pick it up! (It’s a gift. lol)
In reality, I can’t afford to take time away from the CA, so a second job is out, but it does let me build on the idea of picking up heavy stuff. So, let’s talk about it:
Picking Up Heavy Stuff:
The deadlift is possibly my favorite exercise. There are many reasons for this. I am going to elaborate on why and then really delve into the technique of a deadlift and the reason we do so, so, so many of them here in the CA. (Other than my absolute love for them.)
Firstly, I think everybody loves to load up a bar and see what they can do. Seriously who doesn’t want to see the garden hoses (veins) come out and bar bend like crazy? Here are the reasons I LOVE (<- yup using the “L” word again.) the deadlift.
When doing the deadlift, you engage all of these muscles: deltoids (shoulders), pectoralis major (chest), latissimus dorsi (low back), trapezius (Upper back), bicep brachii (biceps), brachialis/ extensors (upper arm, forearms, grip), rectus abductus (abs), gluteus maximus, hamstrings, vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, vastus medialus, adductor longus, Sartorius… Let’s just say the legs as a whole. In a nutshell…everything. The deadlift works everything. (Also, it is difficult to read a magazine while deadlifting ;-))
The deadlift is pretty simple in theory: pick heavy weight off floor. However, I see them done wrong frequently. Doing a deadlift wrong generally leads to unnecessary strain on the lower back and ultimately injury. In minor cases, this injury leads to not being able to train for a couple of days. In more severe cases, major trauma, sometimes life altering, can occur.
It’s worth it to do a deadlift right. Here at the CA we work on doing them right all the time, and some of the technique we use cuts against the grain of traditional teaching on deadlift.
Firstly, prep the body to be ready to engage and pry the bar off of the floor. This all starts with setting the spine in neutral; but more importantly getting the right muscles to “turn on”. In order to set your stance, take your index finger and place it into your belly button. (Good news, we all have one. If your client/or you do not have one… Run. Run fast. Seriously, that person is an alien. They are probably going to try to harvest you for food.) Once you have located the belly button with your index finger, engage your abductors (stomach muscles) by extending it forward. When doing so the chest will rise and your posture should elongate (straighten).
While your stomach is engaged, align your hips into a posterior position to engage your lower back, and help you sit down into the deadlift, as opposed to bend over. This is first major mistake I see made when doing a neutral position deadlift: athletes bend and arch their back, collapsing their posture. (The Sumo style, or Romanian/straight leg deadlift work in different ways to be discussed in a later article). Sitting down into the set position allows for the shoulders to remain above the hips and for the arms to hang down naturally. This compresses the body in a similar fashion as the back squat and front squat, discussed in the previous article.
Next, (this is where the hate mail will begin, and the threats of endangering clients amongst other things I will hear from people) the head position should be to look up. This is how I teach it and want it done at the CA. Many trainers teach you to keep your head neutral to decrease strain on the neck and lumbar spine. There are some good reasons and benefits to looking up though.
Early on, I learned something really interesting by just being a kid… It was reinforced through athletics, and then there was this whole education and teaching thing: The body will go where the head will go. (Simple right? If you don’t believe me test it out. Go out in your yard or to a park. Run as fast as you can, then abruptly look left or right. Then tell me what happens. <- This is homework ;-))
Looking up helps engage muscles in your neck, which will allow muscles in your posterior chain to engage. When you look down, your back disengages and you “round out” allowing for unnecessary strain on your lower back, as this is where the load from the bar is now compressing.
By looking up, you also help keep the shoulders from rolling forward, a common mistake in heavy lifting. (This chain reaction – head up, shoulders back – is based in biomechanics and leverage.) When looking up it is also easier to keep the hips below the shoulders allowing for the vertical climb of the body: driving with the legs and not “lifting” with the muscles of the back. Finally, it keeps the shoulders from traveling too far forward and it will help you from getting stuck just above your knees.
As a nuts and bolts guy, I tend to do a lot of reading. That is the beginning of perfecting deadlift technique for the CA. Then, I look at who is at the top of the food chain and what they are doing. There are a number of lifters that “look up,” including the likes of Kirk Karwoski, Andy Bolton, and Ed Coan. (If you don’t know these names, take a trip to YouTube. Also make sure you put on some popcorn because you are going to watch some awesome stuff happen over and over again.)
Now here is the one thing I will say concerning neutral head position: moving the head from the “looking up” position back to a neutral at the top of the deadlift will help to lock out. Should you ever want to compete in the power lifting world, the last thing you want to have happen is to throw up a big number and then have it disqualified for not locking out at the top. This can happen if you continue to look up as you reach the apex of the lift, as sometimes the knees will remain bent.
It only took only took 11 months for me to plan an open house. (When I say me, I really mean all the awesome people that helped me in SOOOOO many ways put this together!)
What to bring: Bring Friends! Lots of them!
Some people say I am slow. I like to think about it as tactical. All the pieces had to be in the right place and I think that they finally are. So on the eve of my initial lease signing almost a year ago I am quite ok with saying, hello public. Contemporary Athlete is here and Team CA is ready to change the Capital District.
Here is your opportunity to show off the place many of you call home.
Meet my friends and associates while you nosh on some awesome healthy food from Nancy and her staff at Good Morning Café (The Good Karma Ninja, oh and my favorite Thursday Breakfast Ninja); Robin Morgan of ANew Nutrition who I trust with all my nutrition (“What do you mean no more cookies?” The Food Ninja); Paul Jensen of Albany Therapeutic Massage and Sports Performance Center (“Paul I did this…so can you fix me?” Ninja) oh and ME (Humble Ninja)!
There are going to be some awesome door prizes to win, for anybody that’s interested, a 3pm “Warm Up”, and something I am really excited about, and have been for a long time now…
The Official Launch of…
Don’t know what it is? Well, hopefully the anticipation will make you excited enough to show up!
Success is measured not by what lies behind you but what lies in front of you.
One of the biggest reasons I opened Contemporary Athlete was to give people a place to help them get to the next step. Both my rowing athletes and everybody else who is amazing that I get to work with. This is a story of that next step for one of CA’s very own leading athletes.
Mark Rotondi is poised and ready to take that step to the next level. Today, Mark and I are driving to Boston to a US Rowing, Jr. National Team identification camp. This is one of those opportunities to see how you stack up on the National level and see if you have what it takes to represent your country, hopefully on the international level.
When I first met Mark I had just been hired as the boys rowing coach at Niskayuna High School, prior to the thoughts of Contemporary Athlete beginning. It was a new adventure for me, and ultimately a big part of why I decided to open the facility. It’s something that I am excited about everyday both in the gym and on the water.
If you have ever met Mark he is a very enthusiastic young man. Always looking forward to whatever fun challenge is put before him. Whether that is a 5k-road race, a lifting session, Spartan Race, or pretty much anything, including push up contests outside of Chinese restaurants. His enthusiasm never ceases to amaze those he is around. This trait, that everything is fun also makes him a great team leader. For this very reason (fun) he found himself training frequently with the Saturday morning 9 am Contemporary Athlete group. His roles as both a pace setter and motivator for all that are around him, have lead to so much growth for all that are involved in it.
(Spartan Race 2012)
With FNR/Niskayuna Rowing being in its 25th year I thought it would be a great time to push us to the next level on the boys side. Mark is currently the one to lead that charge. Leaving the comfort of the Mohawk and going to Boston to row and compete with some of the regions best oarsmen to find out where he fits in the National development process.
This also is a proud and validating moment for me as a trainer and coach. On some personal level you doubt everything you do. Always unsure if you’re pushing too hard, not hard enough, or you have unrealistic goals for you and your clients/athletes. At least this is my struggle as a trainer and coach, always trying to improve my craft. In order be better for those around me, so they can become the best that they can, and to have fun while doing it.
(Lightweight Finals at indoor worlds)
Contemporary Athlete is one of those places where athletes of all levels and ability can come, and take personal risks for their own gains mentally, physically, and emotionally. That will be able to set them apart from their competitors. It’s a place where goals can be set and discussed openly.
Mark’s trip to Boston is going to be stressful, physically taxing, and an emotional roller coaster. He will weather the storm just fine and knowing him as I have gotten to do over the last 2 years (roughly) will come out excited about the next part of the journey and smiling about it the whole way. That is why he is the current CA athlete profile, if it’s not fun, even when awfully hard. Than why do it?
(Royal Canadian Henley)
Good Luck Mark! Not that you need it; as luck is for those that are not well prepared, and we definitely do prepared.