I'm talking to you - yes you! Your posture sucks and your training isn't helping! Your shoulders slant forward, your head is hanging, and your thoracic spine is bent like an old man (or woman). You spend hours and hours each and every day sitting behind a desk or in a car and then plant your butt on a couch and binge-watch television shows. No wonder you look like something only halfway up the evolutionary ladder...
Several years ago Dan John mentioned that we need to do a lot more row-like movements to balance out all of the pushing movements we do in training. I distinctly remember him demonstrating the "Bat Wing" in a bar in Orlando, Florida... but that's a story for another time! Anyway, ask any guy how much he can Bench Press and you'll get a number. But ask them the same question when it comes to Rows and you'll get a blank stare.
Rows aren't sexy and they aren't going to make you look good naked - but they are going to keep you standing tall and allow you to move pain free. Recently we did a little experiment in our gym and took all pull ups out of the training regimen for about six weeks; this was completely voluntary, and if you wanted to do pull ups you were on your own to do so. Instead of pull ups we replaced all of the pulling movements with various types of ring rows, kettlebell rows and Renegade Rows. At the end of six weeks something interesting happened... everyone got better at pull ups without doing them. In my own situation my pull ups improved (no change in number or reps but range of motion and comfort increased) and I was able to do them without pain at the top and the bottom for this first time in several years.
So why should you do Rows instead of Pull Ups? First and foremost, most people who are training in a CrossFit gym have no business whatsoever doing Pull Ups. Using Bands, counterweights and kipping to get a Pull Up is just going to lead to problems down the road. Doing high repetition kipping or butterfly Pull Ups are going to cause problems for inexperienced athletes who don't have the requisite strength and depth of musculature to handle the rapid acceleration and deceleration the technique requires. Second, overemphasizing the overhead pull, without a balancing pull to the rear, is going to create imbalances in the chest, shoulders, biceps, upper back and neck. Adding tension to these areas is going to create dysfunction in any overhead pressing motions as well... just what you need! Finally, people who have compromised posture to begin with, which is most if not all of the athletes you are going to be working with, are just going to be reinforcing dysfunction by doing Pull Ups, especially high rep Pull Ups. They are starting off with poor thoracic stability and mobility, tight pecs and biceps, and poor head alignment... and they are going to end with more of the same.
So... how do you reverse what poor training protocols and bad posture are creating? I know this is going to be hard but... STOP DOING PULL UPS for a while. Seriously, stop completely and work on getting some strength in the Row. There are enough variations of Rows using Rings, the TRX or Jungle Gym, and Kettlebells to keep you busy for quite a while. Make sure that you are spending the time productively and not just blasting through the movement to get your reps in. Spend time locking down the ribs before pulling and working on getting as big of a range of motion as possible on each and every rep. It goes without saying that you should also look into how you can open up your pecs and biceps as well. There are a lot of things you can do with Kettlebells, Lacrosse ball and Foam Roller to improve the quality of these muscles and how they interact.
For more information on how to improve your posture be sure to check out Dr. Jon Rusin's article ("The Posture Cure") on the T-Nation website.
Thanks and be sure to update your calendars to reflect the changes!
Marty Gallagher is living legend in the Powerlifting community. He is not only a World Record holder (multiple) but he has coached others to the same lofty heights. Marty also wrote for the Washington Post and Muscle & Fitness and has well over one thousand articles published on strength training. In addition, he has written several books on the subject of weight training, including "The Purposeful Primitive" and co-author of "Strong Medicine". He is also a SME (Subject Matter Expert) for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Secret Service, and the British SAS and SBS.
If you want to run faster you go to a sprinting coach. If you want to get more flexible you go to a mobility coach. But if you want to get really strong there is only one person you can (or should) turn to: Marty Gallagher. He has, and still does, train some of the strongest men and women in the world. He works with some of the toughest athletes in the world, our Spec Op warriors, and they bring him back time and time again. Why? Because what he teaches them works...
For more about Marty Gallagher and his training methods check out this excellent article by Nick Collias on the BodyBuilding.com website entitled "How to Instantly Unlock Perfect Pressing Form".
For every task there is going to be multiple ways to get from the beginning to the end. If you want to get strong then you have to lift weights - but there are countless methods and protocols dedicated to getting stronger. If you want to get flexible then you have to stretch - but there are countless methods and protocols dedicated to enhancing your flexibility. If you want to enhance your cardiovascular capacity then you have to do cardio - but once again there are countless methods and protocols dedicated to increasing your aerobic capacity. So, it comes as no surprise, that if you want to increase your mobility there are going to be countless (and oftentimes conflicting) methods to do just that.
In the case of enhancing an athlete's mobility I have always taken a two-prong approach: foam rolling to release the underlying tissue and mobility drills to stabilize and realign the structure. Doing one or the other works quite well but the combination of the two, done consistently, seems to pay off for our athletes. It's not easy, and it's often an uncomfortable process, but like most things that are worthwhile there has to be a price to be paid. We've had people come into train that are pretty beaten up by life (and by unsafe training practices) that are now moving pain free. These same people were under doctors care and on steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs; but have learned that the most powerful drug out there is listening to your body and learning how to mitigate the abuse that life and training dish out.
Check out this article from the Breaking Muscle website entitled "Foam Rollers Don't Work: Understanding Myofascial Release". It gives some great information on the science behind how tissue is composed and how it responds to work and injury. While it refutes the benefit of Foam Rolling, which I have personally used successfully for many years with athletes, it does point out some alternatives to explore in order to get the most from your body.
NOTE: check out the picture above one more time. That's John Kalil and he is an RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certified Instructor) who teaches eight to ten classes a week, and at least that many private clients. He is 73 years young and moves better than most people half of his age. His secret? Daily training with Russian Kettlebells, mobility drills... and foam rolling!
It seems that in today's fast paced world, where everyone want results yesterday, that there are still people falling for the same swindles that our parents and grandparents fell for ten, twenty, fifty, even one hundred years ago. Snake Oil salesmen have been around for thousands of years selling products that are guaranteed to relieve gout, grow hair, reduce your waistline, and make you attractive to the opposite sex. I know that you are too smart to fall for this kind of blatant BS marketing hype... but I'm going to guess that you've thrown down your hard earned cash more than once for something that was too good to be true. I see you out there, shaking your head "no" while wrapped up in your Snuggie! Work with me for a minute and I think you'll see what I'm right...
I can easily think of about ten things that would fall into this category and I challenge you to pick up any fitness related magazine and not come up with a substantial list of your own. The list would include home training courses, training equipment, and most blatantly - supplements. They all show ripped athletes, both male and female, in amazing shape and it's the direct result of using "Super Powered Android Formula X"... or something like that. Guaranteed to make you stronger, bigger, and obviously drop-dead sexy. Just take this pill, powder, shake, etc., and in no time you will be a Mr. Olympia contestant or CrossFit Games winner. Hey - where can I get some of this stuff for myself?
The fact is the supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is, for the most part, unregulated and out of control. There are no restrictions on the claims they can make, as long as they don't claim to cure any illness or disease, and the science they use to substantiate their claims is questionable at best and completely fabricated at worst. If you are really interested in enhancing your performance, and not utilize illegal pharmaceuticals to do so, there are only a handful of supplements that will give you a push in the right direction. The most potent thing that any athlete can do to really give themselves an edge over the competition is to eat as healthy as possible, get as much sleep as possible, get a good coach or training team, and be consistent day after day and year after year.
My friend Andrew Read wrote a great article for the Breaking Muscle website about this subject entitled "The Most Memorable Fitness Swindles of the Last 30 Years". It's a great read and one that will give you some insight into some other things you need to avoid... not to mention saving you some time and money!
NOTE - still interested in learning more about supplements that actually work? Well I'll post something in the coming weeks that will give you some solid information to work with before you head to the supplement store and spend your hard earned cash.
Date: September 11th to 13th, 2015
Location: CrossFit Koncepts in Gaithersburg, Maryland
CrossFit Koncepts is hosting the last RKC of 2015 in the Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia area! This outstanding certification opportunity is being taught by Phil Ross, Master RKC and Michael Krivka, Senior RKC and is destined to be the best training opportunity of the year. Phil and Mike have almost twenty years of combined experience teaching and training with Russian Kettlebells and over eighty years of combined experience of teaching and training in the martial arts. There is not a teaching team out there that can offer you this much experience and training know-how!
If you are a trainer or coach and want to bring a whole new level of training to your facility then you need to attend this certification. If you are an athlete and are looking for a proven training methodology that will give you an edge on the field then you need to attend this certification. If you are a member of the armed services, a law enforcement office or firefighter, you need to attend this certification to give you a strong fitness base that won't let you down when you need it most.
Ready to sign up? AWESOME! Go to the Dragon Door website and sign up now! NOTE: early bird discounts have expired but there are still significant discounts available fro groups of five or more.
Marty Gallagher, the author of "The Purposeful Primitive" is a legend in the Powerlifting community. He not only held World and National titles, he has coached others to those lofty heights as well. As a writer he has penned over a thousand articles on training and has written two other books in addition to The Purposeful Primitive: "Coan: The Man, The Myth, The Method" and "Strong Medicine". He is currently working on several other projects that will be released in coming months - all with his trademarked "in your face" style of writing that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until you understand what he is trying to impart.
The Purposeful Primitive is Marty's "magnum opus" and contains the seeds of greatness. His dissertations on training, periodization, nutrition, and related subjects are required reading for anyone who is serious about developing absolute strength and keeping it. Let's put it this way: Marty is a SME (Subject Matter Expert) for the U.S. Navy SEALs and works with them several times a year on their strength and conditioning requirements - and has been doing it for a number of years. He also does consulting for the British SBS and SAS as well as other Tier One Spec Ops personnel. If you are thinking that you want to have the same "insider knowledge" that these guys have then you should get a copy of The Purposeful Primitive and study it from cover to cover!
Do you want a copy of The Purposeful Primitive for you yourself? Great! Head over to the Dragon Door website and pick up a copy... and one for a friend!
Convict Conditioning (Volume One and Volume Two) were best sellers not only on the Dragon Door website but with online retailers as well. Coach Paul Wade reinvigorated the art of using your body weight as the primary tool for the strength athlete. Inspired by the success of the two books Dragon Door teamed with the Kavadlo Brothers (Danny and Al) to create the PCC (Progressive Calisthenics Certification). The certification has been well attended from coast to coast and worldwide, with events held in Australia, England, and soon in China.
So, after two volumes on body weight training was there really something left to be said about the subject? Hell yes! There is a whole body of dynamic and explosive calisthenic techniques that needed to be presented in a manner that athletes could follow and progress on to more challenging skills. Explosive Calisthenics sets the foundation for a whole new level of athleticism that you can explore and add to your training program.
What are you waiting for? Head on over to the Dragon Door website and pick up a copy for yourself!