Previous month:
August 2015
Next month:
October 2015

September 2015

Your Posture Sucks... Sorry!

BadPostureI'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.

Labor Day 2015 Schedule Change!

LaborDayWe are going to slightly modify the schedule for this Labor Day Weekend.  Following are the class times:
  • Saturday (09/05): 0900 am only
  • Sunday (09/06): 0900 am only
  • Monday (09/07): 0900 am only
NOTE: We are having a Labor Day Pool Party at "Casa de Shapiro" on Labor Day starting at 1200 pm.  All are welcome and are encouraged to bring a side dish, a dessert, and/or drinks.   Geri and Jerry are providing hot dogs and hamburgers, but if you want something else to throw on the grill you are welcome to bring it!  Also - Geri informed me that she stocked up on soft serve ice cream mix, cotton candy and slurpee mix for the party!!??!!

Words of Wisdom from the Master

StrongMedicineMarty 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 website entitled "How to Instantly Unlock Perfect Pressing Form".

Foam Rolling Doesn't Work?

JohnKalil_GobletSquatFor 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!