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December 2013

Taming the Beast!

One of my goals for this year was to do a Get Up with the Beast on both sides.  Had a couple setbacks but was able to do it on the right side with the Beast (48 kg) and the left side with the 44 kg.  I'm confident that I'll get both sides as soon as I get my right leg straightened out.

Why is this an important goal for me?  Because I look at the Get Up as one of the best demonstrations of positional strength, transitional strength, mobility, and mid-line stability that there is.  Perfecting this movement and its composite elements should be an important part of any athletes training protocol be it as a warm-up, cool down or as part of a WOD.

NOTE: what should your goal load be?  For men it should be about half body weight and for women about one-third body weight.  Work towards these numbers and watch the "magic" happen.

Here's a good demo of what the Get up looks like when using the Beast!


Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis (PF) can be caused by a lot of things ranging from poorly fitting shoes to bad movement skills. Simply put PF is inflammation of the connective tissue of the soles of your feet from your heel to your toes.  If you've have ever suffered through PF you know that it is near debilitating at times and downright uncomfortable at best.  Can it be cured, prevented, and/or avoided?  The answer to all three is yes!

If you've already got PF then there isn't a whole lot you can do to prevent it, but there are things you can do get through it and avoid future occurrences.  There are a number of treatment options from massage (both self administered and via a massage therapist), using balls or rollers to mobilize the tissue, and even anti-inflammatory drugs and ice.  All of them will give you some relief and may even completely cure this occurrence.  In most cases that I've come across the PF is the result of a combination of bad movement mechanics, mobility issues, and external factors like running on hard surfaces and poorly fitted or cushioned shoes.  Any and all of the above should be looked at once you are over the latest flare-up and before you start running or loading your feett.

Check out the following vdeo (and this article from Outside Magazine) for some ways to get through PF and keep from having future problems.


Good Posture Counts!

It seems that I am constantly reminding my two boys to sit up at the dinner table - posture counts and people are watching how you carry yourself.  Sit up straight, move with purpose, and look everyone in the eye when you talk to them. NOTE: sorry, went into a little parenting rant there. Please forgive me...

I also find myself constantly reminding my athletes that posture counts when you are lifting, doing body weight techniques, and even stretching.  Putting your body into the correct, well aligned, and "stacked" position allows you to be stronger, safer, and create good body awareness.  Unfortunately most people sit way too much in their car, behind the computer, or in front of the TV.  We're talking about the majority of the day in a position that puts tremendous stress on the spine and puts connective tissue into a position that cause compensations that lead to pain, tightness, and even injury.

So what can you do to combat this?  First and foremost is to move and move well! Learn to pay attention to how you move and how your body reacts to load and positioning.  Second, and almost as important, is to work on your mobility on a daily basis.  I don't mean that you have to spend hours on it because a few minutes will do wonders.

Want a simple way to loosen up your neck, shoulder and chest? Check out this video by Max Shank to see a simple and effective technique to make you sit taller and feel better in a matter of moments.


Less Is More...


I took the following ("7 Reasons to Become a Fitness Minimalist") from my friend Pat Flynn's website and re-posted it because it reflect not only his philosophy but ours as well.

While most gyms, and people, want to do more work, learn more (techniques or skills or "tricks"), and hit PR's every workout I think the pursuit of the mastery of a small number of powerful techniques will give you much more in the long run.  The ability to take a technique, be it a Kettlebell, Olympic, or Body Weight, and spend the time to truly master it is something that we try to instill in our athletes.  Sure, it's a lot easier to find a way to do something that "looks" like the real thing - but it is always a cheap imitation and will not give you the results you are looking for.  Shortcuts are for the drive home (or the gym) and do not apply to strength and conditioning.

7 Reasons to Become a Fitness Minimalist

  1. Saves You Money The minimalist knows he doesn't need anything fancy to reach his goals. He knows he just needs to do the right things (be effective).
  2. Saves You Time The minimalist knows she doesn't need much to to reach her goals, just that she needs to do things right (be efficient).
  3. More Freedom The minimalist learns to listen to his body, and he operates on a flexible training schedule. He goes hard on the days his body gives him the green light, and takes a brisk walk on the days it doesn't.
  4. Better Movement The minimalist understands the importance of high-quality movement, squeezing the most out of each and every rep. She moves with grace.
  5. Less Risk of Injury The minimalist understands the importance of good alignment and never sacrifices quality for quantity. His reps are often fewer, but better.
  6. Better Results The minimalist understands recovery = results, so he does the LEAST amount he needs to get the job done, and not a smidgen more. He doesn't get in the way of his own progress.
  7. More Time for Things That Matter Most The minimalist knows the gym is a means, not an end, and that there is more to life than leg raises and bicep curls. The minimalist pays his dues but nothing more. He gets in, gets out, and gets on to what matters most.

More Is Not Better. Better Is Better. And Because Better Is Usually Less, Less Is Usually More.

More on the American Swing

JanelleMy good friend, and fellow RKC, Janelle Pica has written a great article on the American Swing that you should check out.  She covers her thoughts on the technique and why she would never teach it or do it herself.  It's worth the read!

NOTE: The "American Swing", or as I was introduced to it as the "Two-hand Snatch", has been a part of the Kettlebell Culture for a long, long time.  It's use and application has been debated and it's use and inclusion in training programs has been divisive at best and destructive at worse.  My thoughts on this technique are as follows: if you can do it safely, and not create a foundation for injury, then do it.  If there are any sort of mobility issues present, or the client exhibits weak hip extension, then this technique should not be considered.  BTW - this is not a "Swing" in the traditional sense.  It really is more like a two-hand Snatch in that the Kettlebell stays very close to the body and is locked-out momentarily overhead. 

Reasonable Reps

Dan John is one of my favorite strength and conditioning coaches - bar none.  His knowledge, experience and insight into what it takes to make you strong is awe inspiring.  So when Dan speaks - I listen - and so should you!  Take a look at the following video and listen to what he has to say about "reasonable reps" and how it applies to your training.  Enjoy! :)


More Handstand Skills

The following video does not have the "playfulness" of the one that I posted several days ago but it does give some great training points and progressions.  Take a look at it and see what you can do with some time and practice; and getting over your fear of crashing and burning on the ground! Enjoy!


BTW - this was filmed in Venice Beach, California and is one of the places I go to "hang out" when I'm in LA training.  There are so many "interesting" people to meet and some very talented athletes that you can learn from on any given day.

Riddle Me This Batman!

RiddlerWhen is a workout not a workout?  Think about it... if you've trained with me for long enough you'll know the answer!

Come on - you're not even trying!  Think about it... when is a workout not a workout?  You know this!

Alright - I'll tell you!  I'd have to be responsible for you have a brain aneurysm or something!!!

A workout is not a workout - when it is practice!  Yep! Not every workout that you do should be an actual workout.  For the most part I think more than half of your "workouts" should actually be practice sessions instead.  During a practice session you aren't concerned with time or anything else - all you are concerned with is perfecting the skill.  That's what practice really is - the perfection of skills.

Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't workout.  On the contrary, I think you should be doing something each and every day - even if it's five minutes of handstand practice.  What I do recommend is that you approach a large percentage of your workouts as an opportunity to practice a particular technique or movement; giving it more attention and intention than the other skills.  This way you can still train intensely but also spend some quality time perfecting a skill.

For example, Monday night's WOD was called "Scrambled Eggs":

  • 05 Box Jumps
  • 05 Pull-ups
  • 05 Sit-outs
  • 05 KB Thrusters
  • 05 KB Snatch
  • 05 KB Swings
  • Workout protocol: AMRAP in 18 minutes; 53 lbs/men and 35 lbs/women

So during the course of this workout you have six different skills to train.  Let's say that you are still working on perfecting your KB Snatch.  If that's the case then every time you get to the KB Snatch you take a little bit longer to monitor your backswing, transitions, overhead lockout, riding the KB into the backswing, etc.  Then you can finish the circuit at whatever intensity is appropriate.

The above situation is for an exceptional athlete who only has one thing to work on, but in reality most people have two, three or more things they should be working on.  If that's the case then they could pull those techniques out of the workout and really give them the attention they deserve.  You'll thank yourself in the long run if you do...

BTW - Workouts are "Mindless" while Practice is "Mindful".  There is a difference between the two and you need to be aware of the difference.