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)
It’s been a while since I wrote a new article. I know that, much like in academia, in a social media driven world it’s publish or die.
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to…
Run your ever growing business (I can’t say thank you enough, by the way!!!)
Run your training groups
Meet with people to extend your network so as to offer greater service to your clientele (Those things that will set you apart from every other “gym”)
Study for new certifications (Did I mention that I just started the Precision Nutrition Level 1 program?)
Make a new Youtube video of yourself or somebody else doing a front squat (you know, to add to the other 700,000 front squat videos on Youtube)
Get your own training in
Develop your website
Streamline your business
Work on your advertising plan (What the heck is that!?)
Order new equipment and maintain current equipment
Make sure you answer that email you meant to respond to yesterday (10 days ago, sorry Haley! 🙁 )
Oh yeah, and make sure all your I’s are crossed and your T’s are dotted when moving into a larger more awesome facility (Yeah!!!! That is happening!)
So writing a new blog fell off the back of the metaphorical truck. Chalk it up to growing pains though. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s a struggle, sometimes you just want to bang your head against the wall, but sometimes (ok, all the time) you want to high five the random person walking into Starbucks just because, well, it’s awesome out there.
That’s where tenacity comes in. If it were easy everybody would do it, right? Actually though, if it were EASY, nobody would be afraid to do it. This is true for training, for racing, and for losing weight.
Just remember that the simple things that are your habits will carry you through. Lift heavy, push your boundaries, run till your lungs hurt. It’s bumpy, and the hills are long, and the water is cold, and the weights like to stay on the ground, and the paperwork is endless. Encourage others to do the same, treasure the view, revel in the silence that creeps into your ears as uncomfortable exertion drowns out the noise, and just enjoy the ride you’re on.
Enjoy the growing pains, because if they are ever gone, then you are either dead or complacent, and that’s just boring.
When Colleen walked into Contemporary Athlete I was just as unsure about her, as she was about me, and what this place is all about. After the first session I expected, like most people that drop in, never to come back (By keeping my expectations low I get to be really, really excited when you come back!). I didn’t hear from her for a while, then Colleen called me and wanted to train, 1 time, then another, then two times a week, then three… Then there was a goal. With that goal came something so fun for me to be apart of, the unadulterated drive for a goal. Not random “exertainment” but, “Here I am, and this is where I am going.”
Everybody has the potential for greatness. The question is are you willing to suffer just a little to figure out what it is? -Bender
(Colleen @ #115, pulling 265#. Like A BOSS!)
I was really good at setting goals in my business, goals for my children, for my finances, goals for eating healthy and goals for just about every area of my life. They were real, they were defined, and they kept me honest and always striving.
When it came to fitness, my goals were non-existent. I wasn’t really unhealthy or particularly out of shape, so all was trending very status-quo for the past probably 10 years. My standard week included a couple spin classes, some bootcamp-style thingy, maybe a little weight circuit thrown in the mix. I had two pregnancies during that time that yielded two healthy kids (Robby now 6 and Angie, 4). I wasn’t overweight, I had energy, I looked and felt fine. And this is where I could have stayed parked for the next 10 years of my life or more. It would have been okay, not awesome, not epic, not impressive. This is where a lot of people stay very comfortably parked. Why? They either lack goals or haven’t set the right type of goals.
When I first came to Contemporary Athlete, I was a little overwhelmed and I didn’t feel like it was a good fit for me. It was unlike any ‘gym workout’ or fitness environment that I had known prior. I saw people doing pretty impressive things but I couldn’t quite see myself being one of them. I left feeling quite certain I wouldn’t come back. But then it started….this nagging feeling that I should do more than ‘play it safe’, that perhaps I was intended for a greater challenge. I decided to go back to Contemporary Athlete.
That was 10 months ago and I’ve been training regularly ever since the day I made that decision. The work is hard, both mentally and physically. I experience many highs and proud moments and push through the low moments that make me better. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been physically and in the best shape I have ever been in. I discovered my niche in Olympic weightlifting and finally have goals. This coming September I will be competing in my first powerlifting competition. It will be a challenge for me, but I’m feeling more and more prepared to accept the challenge. Deciding to train with Dave at Contemporary Athlete has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself.
I’m on a journey. There are bumps in the road, many challenges, highs and lows, bruises, tears, sweat. But there is a community of people who understand because they are walking (or sprinting, jumping, squatting or lifting) beside me. We all have goals and dreams and every time we walk through the doors of Contemporary Athlete, we are all moving an inch closer to achieving them.
This journey has made me understand a few simple truths…
If your goals don’t inspire you, it might be time to reevaluate them.
Growth will never happen in your comfort zone.
Don’t fear the unfamiliar, you might be missing something amazing.
If all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.
What are you trying to get from a training session? What is the appropriate tool for the job? I frequently find that the barbell is the go to tool for most people. Weightlifting here in America has found itself in resurgence thanks to Cross-fit really putting it in the spotlight with their WODs and Games. I honestly think this is an amazingly exciting thing.
I even think the barbell is an all-encompassing tool for achieving appropriate resistance. That being said is it the right tool? 9 times out of 10. No. No it is not. I love to lift heavy stuff. When I think about the anatomy of a training session what is my ultimate goal for client(s) and for myself.
You would be dead wrong.
MOBILITY is the correct answer.
1.) The ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
(minimum squat to 90 degrees)
Without mobility, you cannot truly develop great strength. If you can’t bend, move, accelerate and decelerate through a full range of motion then there is no reason to attach yourself to an object that:
1.) Limits range of motion. 2.) Requires great range of motion to be effective.
The barbell is your graduate degree. It comes from moving you, your own personal physique effiencently. In multi dimensional planes, under control, then and only then can you really consider yourself capable to move on to adding resistance, this is especially the case in a bilateral activity such as barbell training. So before you decide to go and grab a bar, load it up and then move poorly. Ask yourself. How are my push-ups? How are my pull-ups? How are my mountain climbers? How are my bodyweight squats? Is my full range of motion getting better? Am I capable of doing good squats to 90 degrees without pain, discomfort, or valgus collapse? If the answer is No, then choose what will make you better.
Be excellent at the simple things and everything else will fall into place.
(It’s a goal not a standard, always remember that)
A little while ago, I was asked about fat bar grips, grip strength, and what to buy. As I have finally got back into my regular routine (albeit slowly), I immediately thought about this question. My answer was simple:
Start playing with your food.
As you might imagine, I got a rather questioning look in response.
Here is a really simple and inexpensive way to increase your strength on the cheap, and it’s highly effective: go buy yourself a 20 lbs bag of rice and a bucket. With these tools, you can break through any of your max-lifting plateaus. And, it only takes 5 minutes of work, as part of your warm up, everyday or every other day.
When lifting heavy, generally what fails on you are your small muscle groups; in this case, hands, wrists, and forearms, when it comes to deadlifts, cleans, snatches, and jerks.
Here are the basics:
With your hands, either individually, or together, claw your way to the bottom of the bucket. Reset your hands back to the top. Rinse and repeat.
Knead your way around the circle, both clockwise, and counter-clockwise.
The snowball. Take a handful of rice and pack it between your hands until all the grains no longer remain.
This is more for the shoulders, but treat your hand like a paddle and make big figure 8s in your bucket.
These are a few good starters, but essentially all you have to do is play. As long as your hands are moving and your fingers; you are doing the work.
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.