Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back Off, Make Progress

Yesterday T-Nation ran an article I contributed to called Get Bigger By Doing Less.

My part was to write a sample week-long program as an example of what to do on a back off (deload) week.

Over the past few years I've really come to appreciate the importance of periodically decreasing volume in order to give our bodies and nervous systems a break so that we can keep making progress and keep from getting injured. Of course that means you have to be training hard in the first place, but that's another discussion.

Most all my programs have some sort of deload built into them, depending on the training status of the person. If it's a 25 year old guy that new to training then he'll be able to go longer without backing off, but for a 50 year old person that has joint issues they'll obviously need to be careful with training volume and intensity.

In other words a person cannot keep doing the same thing and expect to remain healthy, nevermind make progress.

On to the article. Bryan Krahn drops some good knowledge.

1) Going hard all the time never, ever, works

If you try to go hard every single workout, week after week and month after month, you'll end up with a mix of serious and half-assed workouts, and if you don't get hurt, you'll probably burn out completely at some point.

By the end of any given training year, you'll discover you would've been better off taking planned breaks, rather than letting your body and brain decide when you're ready to push toward a peak and when you're not.

2) Your muscles and joints need a break

Not every part of your body recovers at the same pace. You can restore energy substrates in your muscles faster than you can remodel tissue that's been damaged from serious training. Muscles repair themselves faster than connective tissues. And connective tissues might be ready for a serious workout before your central nervous system has fully recovered.

3) Sometimes you get stronger by not training

With full recovery comes supercompensation. With supercompensation come greater gains in size and strength and higher levels of fitness and conditioning. This is why swimmers and runners taper before major competitions in which they hope to break records, and why a lot of serious lifters will describe how they hit PRs right after a deloading phase.

A review published in the NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal compiled this amazing list of benefits that research has attributed to tapering:

• Up to 20% increases in strength and power
• Increases in muscle cross-sectional area of 10 to 25%
• Lower levels of stress hormones
• Higher levels of Testosterone
• Better moods during the day, and better sleep at night

4) Training is a marathon, not a sprint

Finally, unloading is just plain healthy, no matter what your age. Along with pampering the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, a phase of relatively easy training is also good for the immune system. Train too hard for too long, and you'll not only feel tired and unmotivated, but you'll also increase your risk of catching a cold or flu.

But if nothing else just watch the technique of that guy doing kettlebell clean and jerks... ;)

Finally EVERYONE should watch this video of Dr. Stuart McGill demonstrating effective core training movements for a healthy back and strong core.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Couple's Fitness Competition 2 Highlight Video

After many hours of editing I've finished up the long version of the CFC2 highlight video. It was a blast hanging with everyone - the atmosphere is incredibly motivating. A real testament to the quality of people our event attracts.

But next time I WILL compete. Finally.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Train like an athlete

First off, Saturday's Couple's Fitness Competition was a raging success, if I do say so. I'm editing video now and expect to have it up in a day or so.

A local reporter recently went to meet up with my friend Robert Does Remedios. Does is the head strength and conditioning coach at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita. The first article is a story regarding Dos's philosophy in training his athletes, while the second concerns the reporter himself being put through a workout.

I've learned a ton from Dos over the years, and if you've trained with me you might recognize some of the exercises in those articles. That's because I believe in order to lose fat, get stronger, and be healthy in the long term health we can learn alot by looking at how athletes train.

Train like a bodybuilder and your joints will get hammered. Train like an athlete and you'll move better and look better, not to mention out lift all the guys curling in the squat rack. And if you don't believe me I train women that can deadlift more than most guys I see hitting 5 bicep curl variations.

Here is Dos making a room full of trainers do WORK this past weekend in Chicago.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Couple's Fitness Competition in 3 days

Just a reminder that the second Couple's Fitness Competition is happening this Saturday, June 13, from 9-11am on Santa Monica Beach next to the pier.

check out the site for more info and to register.

The new events this time are:

1. Max pullups and/or inverted rows in 60 seconds.
2. Kettlebell jerks. Guys use 2 bells, girls one. Max reps in 3 minutes. Your set ends when you put the bells down. Women will use 1 bell, and will switch hands only once.
3. med ball toss for distance
4. Leg matrix (12 jumping lunge, 12 jumping squats, 24 lunges, 24 squats) for time
5. Spiderman plank hold for max time
6. obstacle course (details super secret)

For those that haven't done timed sets of kettlebells this will be an education in technique, efficiency, and work capacity. I HIGHLY encourage you to check out the following video of some of the best kb lifter's being coached by the true elite of kettlebell sport lifting.

And this is how a one arm jerk should look. Note the leg dip as the bell goes up. She is NOT pressing it, but using her entire body thus saving energy which allows for more reps.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Heal The Shoulders

I'd estimate that 90% of my clients have some sort of shoulder tightness, if not impingement or other similar issue. The same goes for every other trainer I know, so needless to say it's an important topic to address.

Since today I'll be doing a staff training on shoulder dysfunction and fixes I'll throw the notes up here so everyone can take a look. It might be a more technical than you really need to know, but pay attention to the fixes.

Basically everybody needs to be doing foam rolling for thoracic spine mobility, shoulder mobility work, and scapular stability and strength work.

Roots of common shoulder issues with clients

When shoulder issues are present look at posture and thoracic mobility and the scapula. Scapular function is most often the key to preventing shoulder impingement. Kyphotic (rounded) posture prevents proper scapula posterior tilt as the arms are lifted, which narrows space in the AC joint (subacromial space) eventually resulting in rotator cuff issues and impingement. The scapula may become stuck in anterior tilt with someone that has kyphosis, which will shorten the pec minor and weaken the upward rotators.

Poor scapula function and limited T-spine mobility results in weak upward rotators (lower traps, serratus anterior, upper traps) and scapular retractors (rhomboids, middle traps).

Fixes: Improve thoracic mobility through foam rolling and wall slides
Stretch the anterior: Subscap wall stretch, pec major/minor stretch, anterior deltoid stretch.

Activation and strengthening movements
1. Scapular Retraction: Neutral grip face pulls, row variations, band pull aparts, prone trap raises, rev flys.

2. Scapular Depression: wall slides, band pulldowns, chinups, prone trap raises

3. Upward rotators: Overhead shrugs. Dumbbell scaption with a shrug. Normal shrugs will stress the levator scapulae and rhomboids, both downward rotators, which will worsen the problem.

4. Humeral External Rotation: External rotation variations, prone trap raises (Y,Ts), band pull aparts.

3. Pushup variations (narrow hand placement with shoulders tucked) produce a significant increase in recruitment of shoulder stabilizers such as the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and posterior deltoid. Scapular pushups, one hand on med ball, ring/TRX pushups etc…

Exercises to limit or not do: shrugs and upright rows, barbell bench press, military press or any press with shoulders at 90 degrees.

People with shoulder issues may need a 2:1 pulling to pushing exercise ratio. Or possible no benching or overhead pressing at all.

My friend Steve Cotter demonstrates some good shoulder mobility movements in the video below. Alot of his movements are derived from Chinese martial arts, and are quite effective.