The Lake Placid Ironman is closing in on us, Sunday actually; I started to think about something I am privy to see that many other people are not, unadulterated unwavering confidence. (As a personal note: I interestingly enough do not have this trait.)
As a coach I see a lot, but what I learn most comes from my youth athletes. It reminds me so much of something that I think we forget, or lose track of, or it is drilled/beaten out of us. It’s not always about what you know, or what your level of ability is, or resume, or CV. That sometimes, many times actually it’s strictly about self-confidence, and within that. Many times you just gotta “fake it, to make it”.
Kids are just as scared as the rest of us, but interestingly enough they are masters of self-talk. The thing that allows them to pick up weights way heavier, or run further, or swim harder, or sit in guard on the verge of sleepy time longer than anybody thought, is that they self-coach, they are their best cheerleaders, and they can teach us to engage what I like to call the “Megalodon Affect”
C. megalodon is regarded as one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history, and likely had a profound impact on the structure of marine communities. Fossil remains suggest that this giant shark reached a maximum length of 14–18 metres (46–59 ft), and also affirm that it had a cosmopolitan distribution. Scientists suggest that C. megalodon looked like a stockier version of the great white shark.Carcharodon carcharias.- (Wikipedia)
Athletes are competitive by nature, right? No, they learn it along the way. They learn push their limits, trust others, self-coach and self talk. The hype-up is so important. The Megalodon Affect is all about that. To be a shark, you need to act it, to not be afraid of those swimming in the ocean around them, and to know you can stand with them no matter what. The ability to talk yourself out of your limits, because honestly all those limits are, is fear.
So find that moment, that time when you pushed past your fear, and channel it, talk yourself back onto the cliff, and then run and jump into the abyss knowing that you will land, that there is nothing to fear, and that in order to survive amongst sharks all you need to do is not back down, and to just keep swimming, wide eyed and on the hunt.
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.
Just a brief word, I asked Haley Sive, who does an amazing job with the website why she trained at the CA one day not to long ago. The more that she spoke the more I thought it would be great to have some words printed about the otherside of the coin for once. She wrote this for the site and I only edited a few gramatical things (yep, I edited stuff for once). -Bender
He sat there in the amber light of Starbucks, cradling his black coffee and patiently nodding, as I told him the story. The story of my broken heart. The best part was that I didn’t have to explain it to him. From the very beginning, he understood. And he is a patient listener, calm and open, so he didn’t rush me to an end or dismiss me.
The truth? It wasn’t a lost lover. Or a family member. Or even a place left behind. Just my team. I was just upset about not being on a team. DIII NCAA Championships… Graduation… Summer fun… And then in the first fall not at school, it hit me: I was all on my own now.
It really was just a team – just people to train with. I had no right to be so upset. However, it felt like a whole lot more. Losing my team felt like losing my sport or losing a part of myself. Ten years is a long time when you are 22. I had been rowing with a team for almost half my lifetime.
Now, I was a lone girl, treading water in the great sea of exercise and fitness. Treadmills, ellipticals, bozu balls, 12 lb dumbbells, and yoga mats floated around me. Skinny women wearing expensive yoga tops wiped their brow with crisp, clean white towels. Men in muscle shirts jocundly pounded each other on the arm. Televisions strewn about the gym advertised the body that I should be training for. It all seemed oppressively self-oriented. I couldn’t navigate these foreign waters.
Dave had been listening to my lament for about fifteen minutes. When I finally stopped long enough to take a breath, he took a small sip of coffee, and offered a few words.
He doesn’t speak in long sentences, though I do my very best to draw them out.
“Yep. That’s a team,” he said.
His brevity drove me nuts. I groaned inwardly and went on, “Yes, but what do I do without my team? What is the point if they aren’t there? Seriously. I did it all for them. And now they are gone. I can’t do this alone.”
“Do you like rowing?”
Hesitantly, “Yeah… I love rowing.”
“Then that’s what you should do.”
I stared at him dumbly. What do I even say to that? How can I possibly row? Just row? It took all my inner strength to not throw my hot tea at him. That was far too simple an answer. I felt my quarter hour soliloquy deserved a full on lecture with spreadsheets and flow charts explaining my feelings and how they might be analyzed and how I could carefully go about solving my team-deprivation problem.
He said, “Row.”
— — — — — — — — — — — —
The truth is, for Dave, it is that simple. We – we, humans, that is – are worthy of devoting time to the things we love. The things that make us happy. That give us joy.
And there is a deep satisfaction and reward for devoting time to training. Not the easy fitness thing. Not the I-just-want-to-look-good thing. The real thing. The tough thing.
The just desserts of training hard are the same as those of studying hard or working hard on being a better person. The greatest fruit grows after the season of the most storms and most oppressive heat.
Why bother working hard, if not for some end greater than my own looks or my own ego? Rowing for myself doesn’t mean I am pouring time into a selfish endeavor. It means I am pouring out myself to grow stronger so I can strengthen the other people around me. Not that they are dependent upon my health, nor do they even care. But it makes me happy and strong, so I can be strong and happy for others.
It still surprises me how gently I realized these truths while training at Contemporary Athlete. It didn’t happen suddenly. There were no flow charts. No spreadsheets. No dissertations. No journal articles. No formulas. No lectures.
It happened with a simple word. A patient suggestion. A broad smile and laughing eyes when I looked like a fool trying hang cleans. A forgiving spirit when I wanted to storm out of the room. An unassuming posture. A quick demonstration. A dismissive glare when I broke into self-deprecation and self-doubt. A gentle encouragement. A sincere suggestion.
Dave doesn’t think that his person shapes this place, and indeed, he would tell you he doesn’t want it to be about him. What Dave doesn’t know is that what makes the box one worth standing in is that he is there.
He is here telling us that we are worth it.
Most places only tell you that you are worth it if you look beautiful, if you are skinnier than the next person in line, if you have bigger muscles, if you log more hours.
The truth is all you have to do is want to be a little better than the last time you walked in the door.
the big muscles,
the trimmer waistline
they are just the result of a more sincere desire,
one that is knit together with
being worth it in and of yourself – you and you alone,
and wanting to give it away to a team.
Once upon a time on a beautiful spring night after getting out of work, a young, optimistic athlete’s world changed drastically.
A half-mile from his home, a driver who was trying to make a changing traffic light struck that persons vehicle doing about 50 mph.
The vehicle spun around a number of times and ended up facing in the direction of on-coming traffic. Fortunately the victim was wearing his seatbelt and in was in peak performance shape so he thought he might walk away from the accident unscathed.
Six weeks later after a number of medical visits, it was discovered the victim had broken three vertebrae in his spine and was lucky to be walking. The outcome was grim; sports were out of the question and lifting heavy was not to be done.
This devastating news sent the victim reeling out of control. Without sports, this athlete had lost his identity, was depressed, and was slowly drinking and eating himself to death. At the lowest point, he had packed on an extra 1/3 of bodyweight and was barely recognizable.
Does this sound like every world-class athletes comeback story?
Well it kind of is. It’s my story, and it’s the antithesis for
12-12 Reboot, Reform, Reclaim
Ten years ago, I was that person in the car accident and it closed a door to part of my life only to open a much greater one. At one point of time the scale read 225#, which doesn’t seem too bad until you realize my healthy weight range is between 160-170.
As I struggled to get back to the old version of myself, I learned some hard lessons. What it feels like to train as a severely de-conditioned athlete, how to eat smart, hydrate, and ultimately how to push yourself through those bad sessions/days/months. I came out of it a year later stronger, faster, and tougher than ever before.
I was able to “reboot” my own life and reclaim my health, so why couldn’t that same formula apply to others? We’re not talking about a quick fix, Band-Aid, infomercial BS sales pitch but an actual fix.
I started going through old notebooks full of training plans, and food journals, and diaries. The reboot program was born, and it is all about finding that person (possibly again), with a great support system, some solid guidance, and a realistic timeline.
I invite you to consider this journey to make a lasting and permanent change to your health and wellness.
(I wrote and posted this without Haley, Lauren, or any number of people who love to correct my grammar proofing it. So if you want to know what goes through my brain here ya go.) – Also sad fact Haley’s head might explode because of it… 😉
Hi there ninjas!!! So the word on the street is that today is my birthday (31). Which made me think about writing this entry. I hear a lot of people complain about their birthday, getting older, more health issues, yadda, yadda, yadda. I generally turn a furrowed brow.
Your birthday is this great opportunity. It’s when you came into this world, via any number of possible reasons or means. I personally like to think that it was snowing, thundering, and lightning all at the same time on my epic entrance but according to my parents that wasn’t the case. (I’m going with it though.)
So you can cry about being older and blah, blah, blah. Or you can train in any number of ways to make it the entrance into a better year of “racing”. So a few years ago I started the birthday challenge series, for myself. I train for it. I train hard, as it generally is something daunting, mildly stupid, and makes my parents generally laugh at me and ask if I need medication when I tell them what it is for that year. So I thought it would be a great time to do a little reflecting and throw out the birthday challenge for this year. Last year it was all based around entering my 30’s, by doing a lot of awesome stuff including ripping a 600 lbs. (DL) off the ground. I’ll tell you more about that though shortly.
Like my programs: part 1.
So what I have learned: 31 things
Or as I like to say “Smarter…?” (These are in no particular order)
1. Surround yourself with people way more awesome than you. (If you’re lucky, and damned lucky, you can hang onto their coat tails for a long time.)
2. Be a great friend (I struggle with this one. The CA consumes me.)
3. Smile! (It’s not hard and it will make you and anybody around you happy.)
4. Eat more cookies. (Seriously, as long as it’s not a whole sleeve of Oreos your good.)
5. Be a good son. (My parents are generally right, just don’t tell them I said that.)
6. Set crazy awesome goals, for yourself, and for others. (If they seem doable, you are being a wussy.)
7. Ask for help. You can’t do everything alone, and people make the journey better.
8. Be confident, even when your not. (If your not using it, you’re losing it.)
9. Listen, don’t talk, just LISTEN.
10. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable, that is how growth works.
11. Lift heavy sh*t. (Do it often, make it hard, and don’t worry what you look like in the mirror. If the bar is bending everybody is watching whether or not you want them to or not.)
12. Read, voraciously (<- that’s and SAT word, I learned it in a book 😉
13. Give, give until it hurts a little. It will come back to you, and it will make you happy.
14. Cry, it’s ok, really. (Just make sure you are muttering some words that make no sense. Then you can pass it off to yourself as being a moment of temporary insanity.)
15. If you use an elliptical. Stop they are stupid. Go run outside. There is sun, wind, rain, trees, real air, and occasionally pretty girls will pass you, make sure you smile! (Those things will make you happy)
16. Dark Beer, and IPA’s. (If I need to explain this your not of age yet.)
17. Cook and eat real food. (Stop running around like a crazy person and enjoy something simple like making something for yourself and others that keeps you alive.)
18. Dance. (I generally do it naked after I shower. If your going to make an a** out of yourself you might as well do it naked, it’s more fun that way.)
19. Buy the person next to you a coffee. Just because. (Thanks Heather)
20. Ask good questions. (Think before you speak)
21. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (Thanks Coach!)
22. Own less stuff, things don’t make you happy, awesome people do.
23. Own less clothing and only that which fits. (I know I’m a little special but 100 articles.)
24. Wear a helmet. Yeah I said it. It protects your skull.
25. Plan one crazy trip, expensive or not; and then figure out how to make it happen.
26. Race. Why? Because it’s fun.
27. Figure out who your alter ego super hero is and channel that bada**.
28. Skinny jeans negate your war beard. (Also if you can fit into them do more squats.)
29. Tell people you love them. Just because; they need to hear it, and you need to say it. It’s a win win.
30. Lists. Why? Because they make you accountable to yourself. (I keep mine in my shoes. 5:56 has been at the top of mine for a long time. If you don’t know what that means buy me an IPA, I’ll explain it.)
31. High Five. (Your awesome, and anybody you touch is gonna be awesome, so make sure everybody can hear it. Also aim for the elbow, then you never miss.)
Birthday Challenge: 30 year-old Combine:
Last year: The concept, go big, then go home.
1 RM Push Press: 285#
3 minute push-up challenge: 127
1 RM Back Squat: 525#
1 RM Front Squat: 485#
1 RM Clean: 365#
1 RM Snatch: 265#
1 RM Deadlift: 600# –Boom slam dance
Sub: 6 minute 2k: 6:03 – Damn close but not there yet
Sub 19 minute 5k (Run): 18:57 – I am pretty sure part of my soul died on that one
So I passed solidly into my 30’s stronger and faster than I have ever been before.
This might be the scariest one yet for me. With being out of training for the last 7 weeks thanks to the good old Lyme’s. It seems a bit like climbing up the slide at the playground covered in baby oil. (This could make for a good Youtube video)
Erg for time: 31,000 meters: For time.
(Well I won’t die right now at least)
Lift heavy things, a lot.
(This legitimately scares me)
Combined weight: 31,000 lbs.
(It’s a little more but it makes the bars easier to load)
5 x Snatch @ 115
4 x Bent Row @ 135
3 x Push Press @ 185
2 x Back Squat @ 275
1 x Dead Lift @ 405
For time: or 31 minutes, which ever comes first.
A quick Follow up:
31k erg: 2:12.4
( I learned a lot about myself and how much I hate the color white that the walls are painted)
31K Club: 29:20
(got in in under the 31 minute mark but definitely had to channel my inner bada** to get it done.)
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
In the last couple of weeks I have been collecting information from my youth and collegiate athletes regarding their strength and conditioning programs. Knowing their current training plan at school, I can build the structure for their training plan while they are at CA over break. Talking with all these student athletes revealed a new trend in the world of exercise and fitness that I have to comment on, because it debunks one of my favorite exercises: The Back Squat. (Cue the epic drum roll… Dun, dun, dunnn)
It seems that the back squat has become a dirty word in some schools; it is essentially banned in many of my student-athletes’ training facilities. The front squat has become the go-to lift. When I interrogated them about this, none of them seemed to have an answer to my persistent “why?!”. (This made me rather aggravated, because whenever they train at CA they generally want to know the “why” for every exercise and ask a fantastically annoying amount of questions. <-This is a good thing!)
Is this the new fitness trend?
Is this the groundwork for a war with the back squat?
For the love of all ninjas, I seriously hope not.
::Now, dragging my jump box to the front of the lecture hall to stand on. (These boxes are heavy!)::
In Defense of the Back Squat
As a foundational movement of the body, the squat is one of the most basic components of most athletic weight training programs. Debate on effectiveness of squatting techniques and variability of muscular engagement is frequent (and heated) between those with the PhD’s and us, nuts and bolts guys (and gals).
When you look at the hard scientific numbers behind different squat techniques, there isn’t a whole lot of difference. These numbers are based on electromyography (or EMG) activity. Whether it is the front, back, wide, narrow, partial, or full squat, there is minimal change in the muscle groups engaged.
Change in gluteus maximus (butt muscle) engagement is really only effected by squatting depth and stance width. The hip adductor (muscles of the hip, crazy you have muscles there right?) and vastus intermedialis (middle muscle of the thigh, yup the front of your leg isn’t just one muscle) activity can be increased using half squats and a wide stance, but this change is minimal. Often, the front squat is given preference over the back squat in order to decrease compressive knee forces.
So, yes, definitely do front squats, for the love of all things, PROTECT YOUR KNEES! I partially agree with the highly paid professionals in our university systems. (Note: This is said tongue in cheek. Most of them are underpaid in my general opinion.) However, simply erasing the back squat isn’t the answer. Let’s break it down.
The Front Squat
Deep front squat, heels flat, knees pushed out over the toes, elbows in line with the shoulders. Still inside of the knees. As you can see, I prefer using clean grip. This forces the athlete to firmly rest the bar in the crux of the shoulder and helps build confidence in a deep squat position for the catch phase of a floor “power” clean. (I also see a lot of rotator cuff inflexibility, so they try to hold the bar instead of support it. That is for another post though.)
I prefer the knees to flair out so as to increase development of the vastus lateralis (inner quad) through the drive phase of the squat, and to counteract valgus collapse (knee falling in) for those that suffer from that very fixable and over looked issue.
By placing the barbell across the shoulders, you load the front part of the body and force the body to pull forward. This increases knee flexion as the athlete descends into the squat. This puts greater load on the quads rather than the glutes. In addition, this requires the lower back and spine to remain engaged to prevent the upper body from falling forward and dropping the weight. All of this means that front squats are great for working on deep squats, stability, and core development.
The Back Squat
Deep back squat, heels flat on the floor, knees pushed out over the toes. Glutes close to the ground. The bar sits directly over the ankles; and the line created from the knee to the ankle is parallel to the line created from the shoulder to the hip.
By placing the bar on your back you load up the posterior half of the body. This creates a compressive force that causes the hamstrings, hip abductors, and glutes to engage in order to protect the vertebrae of the spinal column. Many people argue that the back squat will lead to back issues later on because of this large load on the spine. However, the spine is a pretty amazing thing. It can actually take huge amounts of compressive force, as long as you don’t compromise it by flexing or rotating it under load.
The real issue is this: any exercise can cause trauma, if done incorrectly. By maintaining a strong upright torso and not collapsing during the drive phase (bottom to the top), you ultimately can lift heavier weight over time because the spine is such a strong support. The back squat will also develop a hugely under appreciated power source: your butt. As some of my youngest athletes like to say, “There is nothing wrong with a big dump truck!” (<- This means butt.)
Note: To be clear, we do a lot of body weight squats at CA. My deep-rooted belief is that until they can move themselves; there is no reason to add resistance. This rule applies to adult athletes as well.
When front squats are used exclusively, I often see underdeveloped glutes and hamstrings and over developed quads, generally vastus medialis (outer quad). In women, this imbalance is far more prevalent as all women are quad dominant. (It’s that whole making babies thing. Yay biology!)
In my youth athletes, I frequently see front squats that aren’t deep enough for increased range of motion as their ankle flexion is not nearly good enough to develop good lifting posture and depth. Their core strength is not well developed, so they tend to dip forward from the upper torso to “get deeper”. This sacrifices the whole getting stronger thing that they are trying to work on. This dip also comes from trying to lift too much weight.
The back squat is my go to lift at CA when it comes to lower body development for both the posterior and the anterior. It increases flexibility, without demanding it. It balances development between the quads and the glute/hamstring system. And finally, it supports large loads, without damaging the spine. This means faster, more powerful, and more explosive athletes. It may mean you have more developed glutes, but there is nothing wrong with a big dump truck, right?
So, Sir Mix-A-Lot had it right… long live the back squat.