Friday, December 25, 2009

Can I Get a Happy Ending With That?

I was in a giving mood this Christmas and decided to get myself a present. Needless to say, when I opened the present I got for myself I was excited to see that it was a massage. I have been needing one for the longest time. How myself ever knew that I needed one is beyond me!

You may think, "Are you stressed and need a massage to relax you?" Well, the answer to that is no. I am getting a massage for performance benefits. "Performance benefits? How can massage help with that and what kind of performance are you doing?" Yes, performance. Massage is very beneficial in sports performance as well as just overall movement and tissue quality. In regards to the performance I am taking part in...I am talking about my lifting. I am trying to do big things this year and feel that a massage can help me jump to some new levels.

How can massage help? Well there are a number of different thoughts and theories on this. Research is continuing to be completed on this topic and new finds are continually put out in the literature. The proposed benefits of massage include such things as a decrease in tissue adhesion, increasing local blood circulation, stimulation of parasympathetic activity, reduction in neuromuscular excitability, and pain relief.

When looking at tissue adhesion, massage can mobilize and elongate shortened or adhered connective tissue. This adhesion of connective tissue can happen from prolonged use, injury, or just movement issues. By "loosening" up this connective tissue, the muscle-tendon unit becomes less stiff, improving movement quality.

A number of the benefits of massage deal with recovery from exercise or sport. The increased temperature of the area being massaged can increase blood flow, thus bringing more nutrients into the muscle. At the same time, parasympathetic activity has been shown to increase. This leads to a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure as well as lowered cortisol levels. Pain reduction has been shown following a massage which could lead to a quicker recovery from post-competition soreness, also known as DOMS.

As you can see, there are a number of benefits of massage in regards to sports performance. As for me, I am no longer participating in a sport but I do train religiously and I feel that I am at a point where I have a lot of spots that need some work so that I can further improve my movement quality. Not to mention, a massage might be relaxing.

On a side note, I just want to wish everyone a happy Christmas and make sure you all realize it is time to get serious about our goals. No more excuses! And this video below is effin sweet.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Prioritize Your Life

"I just don't have time to workout."
"I am too tired to cook when I get home from work."
"I want to lose weight but my schedule is too busy."

Ever heard one of these? I know I have...hundreds of times. People are always talking about how they want to lose weight, they want to get stronger, they want to be healthier, yet they always have a billion and one excuses on why they can't achieve it. Well guess what...it's all bullshit. If there is something you want, there is always a way to get it. It may take a lot of hard work but you can get it. And with the new year around the corner, and the ever-so-popular "New Year's Resolution", why not make it now.

This is what I want you to do. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen. Write down your goals and number them from the most important and urgent to the least. Under those goals, I want you to write down the things that need to be done to achieve those goals. Once all this is written (with detail) sit back and think about your typical week and the things that you do on a daily basis. Write down these activities and label them as mandatory (such as work or family) or wasted time (such as watching television or facebooking). Now that you can actually see how much time you waste in a normal day start scheduling your week by taking out those spaces of worthless activity and filling them with the things that you need to do to achieve your goals. This is all called prioritizing your life. I'll give an example:

Let's say your goal is to lose weight and become healthier. To achieve this goal you need to do the following: Go to the gym at least 3 days per week. Eat healthy meals. Get good sleep at night. The mandatory things in your schedule week to week would include work, time with the family, time to prepare meals, and some time to your self. Things that are to be avoided or limited would be watching t.v., playing video games, or browsing the Internet for worthless stuff. Now just schedule in about 30-60 minutes 3 or 4 days a week of exercise. This can be done before work, right after work, Saturday or Sunday, and so on. To save time with meal preparation, pick a day where you have only a few, if any, things to do and cook a number of meals so that you have them ready for the rest of the week.

This is a simple example of planning out and prioritizing your life. Do this now. Have it all on paper so that you can SEE it. Just thinking about it doesn't make it concrete but writing it does. I realize that it's almost Christmas and times are crazy right now but have everything written and thought out and then come January 1st start putting the plan into action. You will be amazed at how much more productive you could be if you just took some time to prioritize your life based on your goals.

Project 190

For those of you who know me best, you know I have always been a small guy and it has been an uphill battle to get to the point I am today. For those that don't know me that well (or at all), I'll give you a little background. As a freshman in high school I weighed in at a diesel 100lbs. Being an athlete, that wasn't going to cut it. I was introduced to weights and by the time I graduated from high school I worked my way up to a mammoth 145lbs. Entering college and trying to walk-on as a baseball player at the University of Louisville I knew I was still at a point that wasn't sufficient. After making the team and going through the fall season I was cut, the main factor being my size. I guess at that point subconsciously I got this feeling to just get huge. I started focusing more on my lifting as well as putting more thought into my post-workout nutrition. By the time I transferred to Transylvania University to play the second semester of my freshman year I had worked my way up to 160lbs.

At Transy I started learning more about supplementation, nutrition, and lifting. Each Fall I busted ass and would work my way up to more strength and more size. Baseball season was always a set-back in those gains however, as I would lose about half of the gains I had made the previous Fall. At the conclusion of my senior baseball season I weighed in at about 165lbs with a squat of about 335. Needless to say that was quite weak sauce.

At this point I started grad school and now had no baseball left so it was time to start getting really real with my lifting. I started focusing on eating more and staying consistent with my lifts and weights. I started recording all of my workouts and tracking my progress. The second semester of my first year of grad school was when things got serious. I started lifting with ROB and we jumped in to a push/pull routine. This is where the upward climb started. Last January we created a program leading up to spring break and I had set two goals. One was to squat 400 and the other was to weigh 190lbs. Spring break week we re-measured and I maxed out at 405 on squat but fell short of 190lbs by about 3-4lbs. I was still very pleased as I took my squat max from about 365 to 405 and gained about 7lbs during the months of January and February. I finished grad school weighing in at 185lbs.

At this point I have fallen back in my weight. I am now weighing in at 182lbs. Part of this decline was because of an increase in activity as I train for 6 hours straight every day and have trouble fitting meals in during that time. After working my strength back up over the past couple of months I have decided it is time to get serious and hit this shit hard. This is where Project 190 comes in to play...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Check It Out

Just wanted to tell everyone to check out my buddies blog at www.accelerateyourself.blogspot.com. He just completed a 2-week experiment where he wore a weighted vest for every waking minute throughout those two weeks. Check it out for all the details. It's good shit and you gotta love the idea of creating a testing your own theories and questions.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Nuts, No Glory

Time and time again I see people in the gym doing the same thing over and over again, with hardly any effort at all. They come in and pedal away hours on the elliptical or run a few rounds through the resistance machines and call it a day. Then they have the audacity to come ask me why they aren't getting results! Being the nice guy I am I offer them some advice to change up their routine and give them some solid exercises to add in. They finish a set and look at me and say, "Man, that's hard!" The next day in the gym they are back to their same old and it's like they never even talked to me. If you want to be average and stay in the shmedium life that you have then by all means do that. But if you want to better yourself and be something great then you have to step up.

It is time to step out of your tiny little box and venture out into the world. Both in the gym or in life, you can't get to where you want to be if you stay inside that box. Grow some nuts and do the things it takes, no matter how hard. Go in the gym and bust ass, following the advice you were given. Fix your diet and start eating right and preparing your meals ahead of time. Put in the extra work to better your career or your relationships or whatever else it may be. Life isn't always easy. Stop making excuses and just do it. Get some swag in your step, focus your energy, and do the damn thing. Get a little out of your comfort zone and things will start to happen.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Are You Willing to Do to Improve Yourself?

This morning I made my way to Lexington to get a shoulder workout with ROB (www.accelerateyourself.blogspot.com) Most people think I am retarded and don't understand why I would wake up early and travel an hour to Lexington just to lift then turn around and drive an hour back so that I could make it to work. Well, as I have talked about before, surrounding yourself with people who can make you better will make you better. For the past four months I have been lifting by myself at a gym that is full of small guys and deusche bags. The only people who know anything about anything are the other trainers and most of them just lift for aesthetics (which is not for me). So needless to say it was time to get a lift in with someone who not only wants to get stronger every day but is also stronger than I am.

Life is all about putting yourself in situations that will maximize your potential. Too many times I see people who don't even get close to being the person they could be because of the company they keep and the situations in which they place themselves. Whether it be in the gym or just in general, people are always creating a ceiling for themselves because they don't see that the people in their life are holding them back. Look around you and really take a look at the people you spend the most time with. Are they people who are where you want to be? Do they work to achieve similar goals in life to those that you desire? If not, why be around them? I challenge everyone to truly step back and evaluate their lives. Start surrounding yourselves with those who can help you become the person you want to be. I promise it will make a difference in your life.

By the way...Check out www.accelerateyourself.blogspot.com to see this morning's workout and a video from the workout.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy EatasmuchasyoupossiblycanandgetHUGE Day!

Just wanted to send out a message to everyone saying Happy Thanksgiving (or eatasmuchasyoupossiblycanandgetHUGE Day). Remember, we all have goals and we all know where we want to be. Keep this in mind when making decisions and make the choices that will take you towards these goals, not away from them. I was informed the other day by a client of mine that the average American gains 2.7lbs over Thanksgiving weekend. Remember that when you are feasting with the fam this weekend. If you are looking to gain weight then eat your heart out and keep the training intense. If you are looking to lose weight then be aware of the amount of food you take in and stick to the healthier choices. Oh and keep the training intense. I don't care that it is a holiday weekend. If you are there I will see you in the gym. I'll be the guy getting mine. Remember, the average American gains 2.7lbs...who wants to be average? Not this guy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Got Your Back Right?

I have been working with a large number of people over the past few months. This group of people ranges from young adults to the elderly at various different fitness levels. One thing that I have noticed with about 90% of these people is their lack of strength in the upper back, specifically their ability to retract the shoulder blades. Many of the people I have worked with have pronounced slouching posture and internally rotated shoulders but there are many people who do not look as bad yet still have trouble with retraction.

I recently started messing around with scapular retraction exercises and many of my clients have a lot of trouble squeezing the shoulder blades. From a point of muscle weakness to a lack of muscular control this problem is being seen in so many people. Since I have been noticing this a lot in the majority of my clients I have started to add in a lot of work on retraction from isolated exercises to positioning on other exercises such as rows. Before I get into some exercises let's look at the reason for retraction.

The scapulae help form the shoulder joint and give the humerus a fossa to rest in. On and around the scapulae there are muscles that help stabilize it and keep it in position. These muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor and major, and the levator scapulae. The rhomboids are also included in this group of muscles as they are responsible for retraction. If these muscles are weak and underdeveloped then the scapulae will protract and the shoulder joint will move causing a pulling on certain tendons and muscles. A displaced shoulder joint can be a cause of some serious dysfunction and pain. Keeping the scapulae in the right place can save a lot of trouble in the shoulder joint as well as improve posture.



When looking to strengthen the muscles of the back and improve posture and retraction there are some very helpful exercises. These include such things as wall slides, scapular rows, and cable retraction to low row. Other things include keeping the scapulae retracted while doing seated rows or focusing a lot on squeezing the shoulder blades together when doing rows, pull downs, and even things such as push-ups or bench press. A simple way to work on this is to add in one or two of these exercises into a warm-up every workout. This way the muscles in the upper back can see some development each and every workout. As I read in Dan John's book, if it's important, do it every day.









Strengthening these muscles of the upper back and bringing the shoulder blades into the right position will not only keep the shoulders healthier but will also help with strength gains in just about every upper body exercise. Remember, we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Less May Be More

As I was in the middle of my Saturday morning lift this week I started to think about my programming now versus my programming in the earlier years of my lifting career. Earlier in my gym life I was always doing a lot of variation to my lifts from drop sets, to crazy volume, to 15 exercises in a single body-part workout. Now days I may only do 3-5 exercises in a workout and that may a full pull workout. I had always thought that if I wanted to get stronger and bigger I needed to do a ton of work and volume. That just isn't the case and it took me many years to realize that.

Over those first few years I did get bigger and, yes, I got stronger as well. However, these were only minimal gains compared to the potential I had. Within recent years I have revamped my thinking and became a lot more simplistic. I have moved away from body part splits, decreased the number of exercises, and implemented the basic, multi-joint movements. Within a years time of implementing a push/pull split with only 4 exercises per workout I took my squat from about 345 to 405; my bench from about 245 to 310; and my body weight shot up about 15 pounds with my body fat staying just about the same.

If you are looking simply to get stronger and more balanced in muscle then stop looking for the new, crazy workouts in the muscle magazines and start thinking simple. Pick a horizontal and a vertical push movement and a lower body pull movement and make it a workout. 4-5 sets of each exercise will have you definitely feeling it. Add in some mobility and pre-hab work as a warm-up and finish with some core work and you have a great day. Do the same for upper body pulls and lower body pushes.

I promise you that if you push yourself with the weights and keep the intensity high you will see some greater results with a simplistic approach.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Heels and Weights

I was training today at the gym and as my client is performing sets of bench press and 1 arm lat pulls I look over and notice this trick working out in high-heel boots. Yeah, high-heel boots. I had to double take because I was so thrown off by her tactics. I started laughing out loud and had to share this sight with everyone else I could get a hold of. Seriously, why in the hell would anyone think that wearing high-heels during a workout is a good idea? Let's look at this...

With high-heels (or majority of today's athletic shoes) the heel is put in an elevated position. Being placed in this position for an extended period of time creates a lack of mobility in the ankle joint. Decreased mobility in the ankle joint creates problems all the way up the body. Knee joint, hip joint, lower back...they are all affected. This is a huge problem with people and joint pain in today's world. Along with that, having an elevated heel takes all of the activation out of the posterior chain. Just another addition to a weak backside that most of our society does not need. So many women wear heels on a daily basis and everyone looks for a new workout shoe such as Nike Shox which have a much higher heel. People need to get into a habit of walking around with their entire foot on the ground. Walking around barefoot while at home, wearing flats to work, working out in minimal footwear such as Nike Frees.

Start getting back to the way we were intended to be. Barefoot. Keep the heel low and see improvements in health and strength.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hilarious

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Know I Can



As I look around I see a people all around me wanting something better in their life. Whether it be a better job, a better body, or a better relationship, they all want something better. We all want to be better. We should. Why should anyone not want to improve themselves or their lives. However, working towards these goals takes a lot of work and a lot of consideration. We have to consider the sacrifices it takes to get to where we want to be. We have to consider the company we keep because if you don't keep positive people around you then it's going to be hard to achieve the place you want to be. Why be around people who are going to hold you back? Surround yourself around people who better you. At the same time we have to keep in mind that place we want to get to because if you lose focus on that then you may as well kiss those dreams good-bye. So remember, stay focused, keep good company and know that you can achieve whatever you want with just a little bit of hard work and dedication.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Break to Build

Thursday, October 29, 2009

So many times in life we look to other people to help us in troubling times. We want to have others there to guide us or lead us or be there for us so that we have that comfort or someone else to blame if things don't go right. I do this, you do this, we all do. The problem with this is that we become immobile on our own. We become dependent upon others and this holds us back. I am not saying that we don't need other people to help us out because we do. It is an amazing feeling to have support from another, especially through a hard time. What I am saying is that to be truly successful we must rely on ourselves and have the ability to work independently. There are times when problems occur and there is no one that can help us so we must deal on our own. Why look to others for blame when something doesn't turn out the way you want it. Instead look at yourself and figure out where YOU could improve. Keep friends and have outside assistance because it always helps, however, be strong yourself and have the ability to handle hard times on your own so that you as an individual can improve.


On another note, this weekend is Halloween. One of my favorite holidays. I get to dress up and look like an idiot and man it's amazing. I am not exactly sure what I am going to be yet but I will figure something out. What about this?



New CD from Tech N9ne came out this week as well. My man delivered as usual. KOD.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

On the Death Bed

This past week my great grandma passed away and the funeral was held Friday. As I sat there during the service and saw the people who came and the things that were said about her it got me thinking. Our whole lives are a path to an end. But this end is more of a change. Instead of being on this earth we are gone but our legacy lives on through other people. There were so many people who were, in some way, helped by my great grandma. Her story will live on through these people and we will never forget of how she helped us. We all have the ability to create our own story. When our time comes there will be a story left behind of who we were and what we did. How will you be remembered?

You can decide where you want to end up. Decide where you want to go in life, what impact you want to make, and how you want to be remembered and do the things to reach that point. This works for everything from the gym to a job to a relationship. Decide the end result you want. Whether you want to get bigger, lose weight, become the boss, get married, whatever it may be. Once you decide that end result you have to devise a plan, know how to get there and DO IT. I promise you if you know where you want to be, you can get to that point. You just have to focus, sacrifice, and do the things you need to do. It may take some hard work but if you truly want to succeed and be that person then you will do it.

Be that person you want to be and do the things to reach that end and be remembered as a great person with a legacy that will live on.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Not Always About the Gym

So many times I see people in the gym who are there an hour a day, busting their asses, and still not getting any results. They still weight the same they did and still have a high amount of body fat. They come to me frustrated, looking for new exercises or ways to train to get them the results they want. My usual response is to ask them what their life is like outside of the gym. How is their eating and what do they do at their job. More than not the eating is bad and the job is sedentary. Well, this is why the results are non-existent.

Think about it this way...there are 168 hours in a week. The average gym-goer spends about one hour, 3-4 days a week. So out of 168 hours, the average person is working out 3-4, maybe even 5 hours. That leaves 163 hours in a week that we have to mess up everything we did in the gym. If the majority of the time outside of the gym is spent sedentary, whether it be at work or at home on the couch, then we aren't going to be using the energy we need in order to lose the weight we want to lose. If we aren't eating properly, consuming healthy foods throughout the day, then we aren't going to see the results we want to see. Just because you bust your ass in the gym for an hour every day doesn't mean you earned the right to go to Wendy's and pig out. It doesn't mean you get to go home and sit on the couch all night.

If there is a goal you have and you are serious about achieving that goal then that means your whole life needs to be pushed in that direction, not just the 3 hours a week in the gym. Eat right all day long, go for walks, do some extra moving around at night. If you have a sedentary job, walk around the office every 15-20 minutes to get in that extra movement. If you need to, go get a pedometer and make sure your are getting about 10,000 steps a day. Make sure you are serious about reaching your goals and once you decide you are then figure out what you have to do to get there and DO IT. Yes, it's going to be hard and it's going to take some effort, but if you truly want it then there should be no excuses. Like Nike said, Just Do It.


*On another note, here is a blog by Tony Gentilcore about BOSU balls and their worthlessness.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Staying Foundational

Walk into any commercial gym across the country and you will see a number of trainers training at a time. More than not, you will see trainers using crazy movements and exercises, putting people in very complex positions, using equipment like bosu balls and kettlebells, or the like. For most of these trainers the clients they work with are those wishing to lose weight, and to be general, these people will lose weight just by doing something, no matter what it may be. I was thinking about this the other day and actually discussed it with a new client of mine. As exciting and attention getting all of these new pieces of equipment and crazy exercises are, they are just not needed. In my personal opinion, I feel that one can get a lot more out of basic, foundational movements than one would with some of the stuff seen around the country's gyms.

When I say basic and foundational movements I am referring to things such as the squat, deadlift, pushup, pullup, or plank. Each movement is a base. Squatting and deadlifting are not only compound movements that recruit a large amount of muscle, they are also used numerous times in our everyday life. Sitting and standing are forms of the squat. Lifting something at work or even your young child is a form of the deadlift. Just think of your normal day and I guarantee you there is a number of squats and deadlifts involved. As far as the upper body goes, the pushup is a great foundation for building "push" strength and the same goes for the pullup and "pull" strength. As far as our core goes, the plank is the best way to build that stability that we need, instead of doing hundreds of crunches on whatever piece of equipment we can get our hands on.




As I was talking to my client the other day, I was explaining how I tend to stay with these basic lifts and work into some simple variations. If these basic movements can not be performed flawlessly without weight then there is no reason to be adding in different implements and weights. I was also explaining how these basic movements build up strength throughout the body, including our stabilizers and core. I went on explaining the movements and the relevance to fat loss also came up.

In terms of fat loss, each of these movements recruit large amounts of muscle which means more calories are burned. Each exercise recruits the core which means more calories are burned. Each movement also builds muscle throughout the entire body which means more calories are burned. So all in all these movements will burn more calories then some movement which only uses a single muscle group.

When it comes down to it, so much can be achieved from basic movements and lifts. The movements I have talked about here are the foundations of every other movement or exercise seen in the gym. Master these first and get that base strength and then you can jump into some more advanced exercises.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random Thoughts

I know it's been a while since I last posted. I have been busy training and what not. I figured I would make my return to the blog world with a few updates and thoughts.

I just started reading "Under The Bar" by Dave Tate and I am really enjoying it. The man has experienced a lot and to teach life lessons through lifting is the best idea I have ever come across. I feel like there can be a lot learned in the gym when it comes to how to be an overall good person. Dave Tate outlines this in his book and uses some great examples to articulate these lessons. I also purchased his second book, "Raising The Bar" and cannot wait to read it as well.

I have been training a lot lately and my clientele has picked up. I am starting to see some nice strength gains in a lot of my clients and am really excited about this. Come next week a few of my clients will be bumping it up a notch and starting into some interval training instead of the boring steady state they have been doing. I feel that a base has been built and they are ready for the next level Bring on the results.

I am also currently in the process of talking with KORT Physical Therapy about a PT Tech position. I don't know a whole lot about the position but it sounds like a great learning experience as well as some extra income. Can't beat that. I am always trying to increase my knowledge in every aspect of the field, so this would be a great way to get better insight in the world of rehab and corrective exercise. Not to mention I will be surrounded by intelligent people that I could constantly pick the brains of.

With the increased amount of training I have experienced over the last couple of weeks I have noticed that I lose about 3-4 pounds every night. Granted I gain that back by the time I return to the gym the next day it just sucks that I am constantly set back in my aspirations of gaining weight and size. I am working out some ideas to alleviate this problem right now since my time to eat is limited while training. Any suggestions, hit me up.

Just a little piece of motivation. NEVER stop bettering yourself. I have talked to a lot of people who explain that once they got married they stopped working out, or they got to a point where they were happy with their lives and let themselves go. DON'T let that happen. There is no point where we are good enough. I don't even like to say 'good enough' because I don't believe in it. I can always get stronger, I can always get smarter, I can always be a better friend, son, grandson, whatever. Complacency is a waste. Always strive for something better. I am not saying you can be happy or satisfied with where you are. What I am saying is don't let that satisfaction end your road of improvement. Satisfaction should only increase the drive to become better. Things are going to be tough; if they weren't then everyone would be perfect. Don't be the person that backs away from a challenge. Embrace challenges and use them to become what everyone thought you couldn't.

Friday, September 11, 2009

FEAR

I am just entering into my second month as a full time personal trainer here at Urban Active. So far it hasn't been too bad. It's not my ideal place to be, but it's a good experience none the less. However, there has been one thing lurking in my thoughts for quite some time now. What this creature is is FEAR. There is constantly fear running through my mind and as much as this sounds like a bad thing I don't see it as such. Before I get into that however, let me explain this fear.

Everyday I come into the gym to workout followed by training. Some days I may train ten plus people. All of these people expect me to get them to their destination. Whether their destination is a beach body or maybe a relief from joint pains, these people trust me with their bodies. This is where the fear comes in. I fear that i will let these people down. I fear that months and months will go by and no progress will be made. I fear that I myself will not reach my full potential. As bad as this may sound I see it as a good thing.

I see it as good because I see it as motivation. I see it as a driving force to my self-improvement. It is this fear that has me reading and learning as much as I can. It is this fear that has me working when I could be relaxing. It is this fear that pushes me me to strive for perfection. I realize that perfection is an unobtainable thing, but why not strive for it? Why not push myself to be the best that I possibly can be? I don't care if I am better than the next guy. I care that I am better than the guy in the mirror every single day.

I ask you one thing: What are you afraid of? Use that fear to accomplish the challenges ahead of you. Become the best you can be and stop being okay with mediocrity. Don't run from fear. Embrace it and use it. You will see that it can be the best motivation of all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blast Away the Fat with the Ab Rocket!

So I was watching television the other night and I happened to see this:



I am so sick of this crap. Every other day there is some new "revolutionary" exercise machine that promises to take us from extra large to super shmedium. The best part about it is that all of these pieces of equipment focus on the abs. Not the core, just the abs. Yeah, like doing a billion crunches, or the like, will make us burn off all that fat we've been putting on over the years. I thought the abdominals were a small muscle group. I guess all that anatomy I've been studying is wrong.

Back to the Ab Rocket. So I was watching this and another video about the Ab Rocket and it was all I could do to not fall out of my chair laughing. First off, I love the reasoning behind it. "Regular crunches cause pain to the lower back and neck.But the Ab Rocket gives us the support we need to do a proper crunch." Here's the thing: A crunch is a crunch. It puts stress on the spine, and puts the spine in positions it is not meant to be in. I have discussed this in a previous post but I will say it again. The spine is meant to be supported, not bend. Not to mention, all these crunches are just shortening the front side, which in turn causes the "hunched over" posture that we see so many people have. Crunches, no matter how they are supported, are just an inferior exercise for the core. The core needs to be worked as a whole, to prevent movement of the spine and support force transfer between the lower and upper body.

Another thing that made me laugh was another commercial for it where Ashley Marriot (the creator) described how the Rocket can work the entire body, yet every exercise they showed on it was working the front side. There is no work on the back side of the body with this machine. Period. It is all front side work and that is the last thing this society needs. Most people could go without front side work for a while to correct their imbalances they have accrued from hours in front of the computer or sitting on the couch.

People, stop listening to this crap on television and maybe they will stop putting it on there. All of these pieces of equipment, videos, and other gimmicks are just that...gimmicks. They don't work and they more than likely will make us worse off. Get some advice from a professional who knows what he/she is talking about and get to the gym and work HARD. Yes, work hard. It takes effort to improve ourselves. Things don't just come easy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

IronMan...

So I went down to downtown Louisville last night with a couple friends to watch the finishers of the the IronMan. For those who don't know the IronMan is an event consisting of lots of swimming, lots of biking, and even more running. It takes some people 17 hours to complete this mess. To quote Fletcher Reede in "Liar Liar": "Why would anyone wanna do that!?"



OK, so before I start to piss everyone off I will say that I can respect the sense of accomplishment and the amazing effort and work it takes to complete an IronMan. But let's get real, what is the purpose of doing aerobic exercise for that long. There is no athletic skill, there is no carry-over to everyday life, and there is a lot of injuries that can and do occur. As I watched last night, a large number of the finishers were limping across the line only to just about collapse into the arms of the workers. It isn't unlikely that many of these people will have foot, shin, knee, or some other type of injury following this event. It just doesn't make sense to me.

”I play a real sport for real men, not trying to be the best at fucking exercising.”

Long distance aerobic exercise doesn't make us stronger, it doesn't build muscle, and it doesn't really even make us look better. If you look at most marathoners they look like skeletons. No muscle mass, no curves, no nothing. Just Bones and skin. Not very attractive. Not to mention they can't lift more than 20lbs. over their head. We as humans were not made for this type of movement and duration of movement. We were made to complete short bursts of quick and powerful movements. Our ancestors ran quick sprints to catch their food, then used strength to carry it home. They weren't off running around for hours at a time. They needed to be powerful and strong. Think about your everyday life...When are you ever going to need to run for multiple hours in row...NEVER. But when are you going to need to lift something? All the time. Whether it be your kid, your furniture on move in day, your girlfriend (or boyfriend), and a multitude of other things. As my buddy Rob has said over and over, "If a rock falls on me, I'm gonna lift it off. If it falls on you, what are you gonna do? You can't run then."

To add on to the use of these two different types of exercise, let's look at injuries. If you lift properly, there is a rare possibility of injury and with good programming you can prevent and even ease pain and previous injuries you may have had. Even with proper running form, doing it for hours upon hours can cause some serious problems. I know which exercise I'm choosing. Hint: it involves lifting heavy things.

Now, I am not going to say to never do prolonged endurance exercise. There is a place and time for it. Thirty minutes a couple times a week for those just beginning exercise, those who are older and can't do things such as sprint, and even for a time of recovery. But I see no real purpose behind multiple hours of running, biking, and swimming all in one day. You may disagree but that's cool...because I'm going to tell you you're wrong.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Different Goals, Similar Approach

Working with different people day in and day out I come across different goals and different bodies. These different goals include weight loss, "toning", body composition improvements, and muscle gain. These are all different goals but when it comes down to it the training methods are similar for each.

I tend to keep three main training methods in mind when working with my clients and myself. Strength training, metabolic training, and increasing muscle mass. All three are important for every trainee. Strength improvements will not only improve the other types of training but also performance of every day activities. Gaining strength makes life easier, makes the joints better, and keeps us independent for longer as we age.

Metabolic training comes into play when we think about burning fat. Everyone that trains wants to look good so fat loss is key to having defined muscles. For those focusing mostly on weight loss, this is very important and will make large improvements in body composition. For those wanting to gain size and muscle mass can use this type of training to keep a defined look as weight and size is gained.

Increasing muscle mass goes along with strength gains. Muscle mass gains will improve metabolism and a fat burning effect so for those who are trying to lose weight and better their body composition can benefit greatly from a gain in muscle mass. And of coarse those trying to gain some size will benefit from a gain in muscle mass as well as gains in strength.

All three aspects should be addressed whether your goal is weight loss, fat loss, or size gain. What you focus on most is the main difference between each group but all three should be incorporated to get an all around training effect.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just a Little Random

I recently got Internet and cable installed in my house so I should be on here some more, and not be writing blog posts once every decade like recently. I also want to mention how great cable TV is and how much I missed it. Don't worry, I still get my reading in every day.

Training for me is starting to pick up. I have added a couple more clients this week and am excited to get to working with these people. I plan on making a difference in their lives.

Been working on some more exercise videos so I figured I would post an exercise of the day. Here is the inverted row. One of the most underrated exercises in the personal training world. I learned this through my strength and conditioning work and use it with just about every client I have. Not only does it strengthen the major back muscles, it also works on the rear delts and scapular muscles and focuses on core stability. I highly recommend including it in your workouts for yourselves and your clients.



I have been noticing a lot of fatigue with myself lately and think that it is time for a really good deload. I have been going hard in my training, focusing on strength, for about 30 weeks now and I think my body is starting to wear down. I don't have the energy levels during my workouts like I am used to and my weights have not been increasing as much as I would like them. I also wake up very tired feeling in the mornings, no matter how much sleep I get throughout the night. Next week I plan on not lifting at all and just focusing on foam rolling, stretching, and mobility. Pay attention to your bodies. Only you can determine when you really need a deload. I have always incorporated deloads into my workouts about every 5 weeks but I feel that there is no magic number or time when deloads should be used. Instead just focus on your body and pay attention and you will be able to determine when you need a little R & R.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh Internet, How I Miss You!

I apologize for being MIA for that past week. My cousin and I recently moved into a house together and we are still without Internet and cable. Needless to say, I do a lot of reading. Anyhow, I made a trip out to my parents house to get my Internet fix. I caught up on some blog posts from fellow strength coaches and trainers, checked out some T-Nation and found a few articles that I plan on reading this week.

Had my first session at Urban Active earlier this week. Two older gentlemen who are looking to get in shape and build a little muscle. We talked and did some evaluations Monday and started training last night. They are both new to resistance training and haven't been as active as they would like over the past couple of years. I plan on getting these guys to where they want to be, starting with building a solid foundation. This means a lot of stability work in the core and mobility work in the hips and shoulders. Once I can improve these areas then we can start to really get into some good strength training. We did some basic exercises last night to check form and see where these guys are and the form is something we will definitely have to focus on. Both of these guys are really great and fun to work with so I am excited to see the progress they make.

I have also been training a 12-year-old for the past couple of weeks. He is involved in pretty much every sport he can get into and is just wanting to get stronger since he is nearing high school. We have been working a lot on coordination and body control. Many kids don't have the body awareness to notice how their body is positioned during movement. Basic strength exercises using minimal (or no) external load makes up the foundation of his workout. My main goal with him is to strengthen his shoulder and hip joints while keeping the large range of motion he has. At the same time we want to get him using proper form during these movements so that we can keep him healthy and moving properly during his athletic endeavours. He has been learning very quickly and form has dramatically improved each week. Since he is younger, I don't want to overload his joints and cause problems, but strength training with body weight at that age is a great way to improve performance and strength.

I don't know when I will have Internet at my house but hopefully it will be soon and it won't be 10 days before I post again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

You're Training is Unstable!

As I have recently mentioned, I was just hired on at a local gym as a personal trainer. Over the past few days I have been observing some of the directors and top trainers, just to see how things are run at this specific location. I am also very interested in learning more about the business side of training so I am trying to see as much of the business interactions as possible. However, that's a different story. While I have been observing training sessions and talking with a bunch of these trainers I have learned a few things about this facility and its trainers. One thing, however, sticks out like a fat girl in a nudie magazine. This one thing I am talking about is the obsession these trainers have with Unstable Surface Training, especially with the BOSU ball. I am the type of person that when the end of the day comes I am going to do my own thing and not worry about the next, but this is an issue I wanted to address. Every trainer and every training session I have seen since I have been in this gym has used the BOSU ball. Whether it be standing on, kneeling on, one foot, both feet, this piece of equipment has been used. I have even made it clear to my bosses that I do not like the BOSU and I think it is worthless. We agreed to disagree, and that's fine with me but I wanted to give some info to the rest of you as to why the BOSU and other methods of Unstable Surface Training(UST) are pointless.



Before we get into "why not" let's look at the reasons "why". While talking to these trainers I was able to see why they used this type of training so often. They call it "functional training". Reasons for use include more core activation, balance improvement, strengthening of ligaments and tendons, and it is "fun". OK but...

I had my own thoughts, which have been formulated by the things I have learned through schooling as well as reading the thoughts and opinions of some of the best strength coaches and trainers in the country, but I wanted to do some research as well to have some science to back up my thoughts. So let's take a look:

  • One study by two doctors at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College found that there was an equal amount of core stabilizer activation in both stable and unstable surface training.
  • Another study showed that with UST there was a loss of power production.
  • With UST the body is not able to produce as much force because of the lower level of balance.
  • It has also been shown that balancing on a BOSU ball or some other type of unstable surface improves balance on that surface however that improved balance does not carry over to stable surfaces...you know, like the ones we walk on every single day. I don't know what place on Earth has a ground made of BOSU balls, but I sure hope I never have to go there, or I will be unprepared!

A few more issues that I have seen and thought about: core stability can be improved in many ground based movements such as squats, deadlifts, and RDLs, just to name a few. Not to mention stabilization training such as planks, anti-rotations, and other core movements also improve spinal stabilization and core strength. We can also get "creative" and perform basic strength movements such as a deadlift or a step-up with only one dumbbell, in order to demand the stabilizers to work. Another area of concern is that the majority of people getting training have trouble balancing well on the balls and therefore groove poor movement patterns, or fail to correct poor movement patterns, while performing these exercises. In turn, these people make themselves more susceptible to injury.

Let's review. Force production is lessened by UST therefore muscle mass cannot be built which in turn leads to lessened results. Power production is decreased. Whether you are an athlete or an elderly woman, you need power output. Higher speed of contraction can help prevent falling and there is also research showing that power training in the elderly can improve quality of living. Ligiments and tendons are also strengthened through ground based strength movements. They strengthen as muscles do and unless one takes a performance enhancing drug, muscle strength is not going to outpace tendon and ligiment strength.

The biggest thing in my mind is this: Athletes are in the best shape, from body composition to movement ability. So why not train in a way that athletes train. Sure, a sedentary individual needs to work into a program but the basic principles of strength training, corrective exercise, and movement training can and should be applied fom the start. Keeping that in mind, why not look at what the best strength and conditioning programs are doing. In my experience with collegiate strength and conditioning, as well as what I have read, there is not any UST going on. So why, as a personal trainer, would I want to do that!? Because it is the new fad? Because my co-workers are doing it? I am going to be my own and have reasons behind what I do, more than, Billy and Johnny do it with their clients, or, it is fun!

With all that being said, I hope I didn't offend anyone out there. I just wanted to pass on the knowledge I have accrued and point out some fallacies of these "exciting new workouts".

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh Public Gym

So today was my first day at the local public gym. I have been used to a college facility which isn't perfect but it's better than the public facility. I already had some expectations of things I would see that would make me shake my head. To add to it, I had to go later in the afternoon so there was a much larger crowd to check out. To start things off, it was definitely National Bench Day (Monday), as 80% of the guys in there were pressing it out. Meanwhile, I was found squatting in the single power rack. Beyond the benching and the large collection of super cut-offs, there wasn't much else that really disturbed me, which was surprising. However, it's only day one.

The thing that really made my brain hurt was the trainers in action. I actually had to stop and write some things down on the back of my workout card just so I could remind myself day in and day out to never fall to this level. Here are a few examples:

  • At one point I looked over and noticed a trainer with his client (young, healthy girl) doing planks on a stability ball. The problem with this was that her stability is not yet that advanced as her hips were sagging so bad and there was so much curvature in her lumbar spine that I almost ran over there to sit on her back, thinking is was a swing or hammock of some sort.
  • This same trainer then had this client doing cable rotations while standing on a Bosu ball. Once again, her stability is not there. She was falling all over the place and the rotation wasn't even working her core.
  • Another crazy thing I saw was the new workout of the day: Bulgarian split squats combined with straight bar bicep curls. Yes, this guy's client was doing Bulgarian split squats while holding a barbell with a supinated grip, and at the top of the squat performed a bicep curl. WOW!

Now, I don't want to rag on these trainers too much because I will be training there soon. But hopefully I can set an example and teach some people better methods of training than the excessive use of the Bosu ball. The only time I will ever touch a Bosu ball will be when I get bored and decide to play Frisbee around the gym.

I could honestly tell stories like this day in and day out but instead, I think I will keep them to myself and after about a year write a book telling these stories and showing how messed up the public fitness world is.

On a side note: I owned my interview today as I took a "test" and talked with the director. Not only was I able to dominate the "test", I was also able to define the Multifidus (a spinal stabilizer running along the spine). Direct quote: "I have never seen someone complete these questions and present themselves so well as you have just done."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Refuse to Lose

"All the haters used to say 'Boo, we hate him'. I want to thank y'all for the inspiration."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Next Step

I am currently in the interview process at a large gym in Louisville called Urban Active. I hope to become a trainer at Urban Active for a multitude of reasons. These reasons include a constant income, a free membership to a really nice facility, but most importantly the opportunity to get a large number of clients and be able to use my knowledge of training to not only help others but to also improve my ability to train. I feel pretty confident with getting the position, especially with my educational background, but I still have to do well in the interview I have next week. At this interview I am to conduct a mock training session with one of the directors at UA. The only information I received about this mock session is that my client is an elderly woman. I have put together a workout that I feel is suitable and functional for this population but there are a number of things that could change once I learn more about this fake client. Here is a look at the workout I have formulated. Everyone may not agree with my exercise selection, and I understand that and am always open for input and feedback.

Warm-Up
Squats 1x8 1x10 1x12
IYT 1x6 1x8 1x10
Balance 1x:10 1x:15 1x:20

Workout
A1. Suitcase Deadlift from rack 1x6 2x8
A2. DB Standing Shoulder Press 1x6 2x8

B1. Wall Slides 3x15
B2. 1-DB Farmers Walk 3x40 steps

C1. Partial Step-Up 3x8ea.
C2. Static Pull-Through 1x:10 1x:15 1x:20

D1. Standing Cable Row 3x6ea.
D2. Static Rotation 3x:15

Cool Down/Stretch

As I said, a lot of this might change as I learn more about the client. What I have made here is a general workout I see suitable for the elderly population. Everything is standing to work on balance and improve bone density. I also focus a lot on the core and upper back because there is a tendency for people to lose strength in those areas and decrease posture as they age. With this population I would like to improve posture and keep them more upright as they grow older. The biggest thing about working with this population is to keep them efficient in their daily activities.

I am interested to see how this goes next week and what kind of response I get from this interview.

Monday, July 20, 2009

KY State Clinic

This past Saturday I attended the NSCA Kentucky State Clinic at the University of Louisville. It was a great opportunity to gain some knowledge, meet some people, and better myself...and for only $25. It was a one day event with six presentations. The presentations ranged from nutrition, to unusual methods of training, to scientific application. Included in the list of speakers were Mike Robertson of I-FAST, Adam Feit, assistant coach of UofL Athlete Development, and Joe Kenn, head coach at UofL.




Mike Robertson spoke on the topic of low back health. He is an outstanding presenter and really made the presentation stand out. He discussed the issues of joint-to-joint training, stabilizing the lumbar spine, and improving posture throughout all aspects of training and life. I feel very blessed to have gotten the opportunity to see him present for such a cheap price.



Adam Feit, who also put the whole day together, presented on nutritional strategies for the collegiate athlete. Even though this presentation was directed towards collegiate athletes, I took a lot of good ideas away from it that could be used for clients of any population. The main thing Adam touched on was that most people will not be able to follow a perfect and strict diet. Since this is the case for most people, we need to find ways to compromise so that our client is making healthier changes that he or she can continue to do. Over time these small compromises will grow into larger lifestyle changes. He gave some good information on what to eat when eating at fast food restaurants, cheap ways to get good groceries, and effective ways to educate our clients on how to eat and how to improve performance through nutrition. I was very impressed with this presentation and hope to get another chance to listen to Adam talk.



The final talk of the day was in the weight room with the head strength coach for football at U of L, Joe Kenn. He went through the progression of cleans that is used by the U of L strength staff. I have had some experience in the past couple years with different progressions of Olympic lifts, but it is always good to hear it again. The approach they use is from the ground up. They start with working on the deadlift and improving that strength, working to pulls, RDL's, and finishing with the catch. As I listened to the presentation I started thinking about the ground up idea and feel that this approach should be used for anything. With any new client they need to be built from the ground up. I want to make sure there is a foundation before I start trying to strengthen everything else. Just more sculpting of my training philosophy.



Overall, it was a great experience and I will definitely be in attendance again next year. I hope to make some other seminars and clinics between now and then as well. Never too much learning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Do You Attract?

There is this guy, we'll say his name is Ted. Ted isn't in the best of shape but has aspirations of being stronger, leaner, and healthier. He doesn't have a girlfriend either so looking better to attract some girls would be nice as well. Ted's friends, however, don't care about the gym that much, or about their bodies. They may go with him to workout every now and then, but it's not something they look foreword to. When they all hang out they convince Ted to go to Dairy Queen, Wendy's, McDonald's, and the like. Ted knows he shouldn't but he does anyway. All of his friends give Ted a hard time about going to the gym and feed him stories about how he will never be in great shape, never lift big weights, and NEVER EVER have a body girls will break necks for. All of this gets to Ted. His workouts aren't ever to the potential they could be and half the time he quits early. Ted is constantly bitching about how he makes no progress in the gym and he is still to see the slightest muscle definition what-so-ever. To go along with all of this Ted seems to have a negative outlook on things. He doesn't really like a whole lot of things he hears on the radio, sees on the TV, or encounters in everyday life. He and his friends tend to spend the majority of their time talking about "hate this, hate that." Ted wonders daily why he isn't where he wants to be in life. Why he doesn't have the body he wants, the job he wants, and why nothing ever good happens to him. What Ted doesn't understand is the Law of Attraction.

The Law of Attraction is all about energy that is produced by an individual. There was book written a couple years ago that discussed the Law of Attraction but to a further extent then what I think is possible. The book stated that thinking of an object and truly believing that object would be yours, would eventually attract that object in reality. Although I don't believe this, I do believe that positive attracts positive. Positive thoughts, positive attitude, positive feelings will all help bring about a positive reality to one's self. I pay a lot of attention to the people I come in contact with and one trend that I have noticed throughout my life is that those who seemed to have less care and be happier with their life will tend to have better things happen to them. On the contrary, those who have a negative outlook on things and always seemed to be in a bad mood, will attract negative occurrences in their life.

I am not saying that if you have a positive attitude nothing bad will ever happen to you but I do believe that if you keep a positive attitude and avoid getting really down about bad things that happen in your life, you will see more positive outcomes and live a more successful life.

Going along with this is the company you keep. Looking back at Ted, his friends were a terrible influence. Not only did they influence Ted in a negative way, they also brought a lot of negative energy into his life. I have always been told that if you want to get better you have to surround yourself with people better than you. If you want to get bigger, lift with guys twice your size. If you want to get smarter, hang out with geniuses. If you want to be successful, spend time with successful people. It is going to be damn near impossible to better yourself when the people around you are two levels below you. Set high standards and surround yourself with those standards.

I guarantee that if Ted starts to clean up his life, removing the "friends" he has and replacing them with positive, good spirited, successful people he will see his life change. If he starts to remove all of the complaining, negativity, and moping from his daily routine and replaces it with a positive, go-getter type attitude, he will see his life change. Hell, he might actually get that job he wants, develop that body he has been longing for, and, dare I say it, get a girlfriend under 200lbs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Deal Breaker!

If you asked someone to name one resistance exercise (and they were of the average population) they would more likely than not say bench press. This is something that has become somewhat of a joke within the fitness profession. Everyone knows that Mondays are "National Bench Day" and every commercial gym you go to, there are about 20 guys doing either chest, biceps, or abs in between their sets of "mirror stares". For some reason the world has this idea that the bench press is the All Mighty of the gym as well as the determinant for manhood. I have ease dropped on many conversations in the gym (for purposes of pure humor) and almost every time I hear one guy ask another guy, "How much you bench?"

Does benching more than the next mean you would win a fight (I have heard this adressed in a fight before..you know who you are)? Does benching more mean you have a better body? Does benching more mean you get more girls? NO. NO. And NO. Don't get me wrong, I incorporate bench into my own workouts and strive to get it stronger, but I do this along with strengthening the rest of my body. (For you bench lovers out there that includes the back, legs, shoulders, and some smaller muscles that you probably don't even know exist.) The bench press can be a great tool but it has to be used within a program and not be the program.

For those of you who still don't understand why you would do anything more than bench and do some crunches let me explain a few things. Too much bench and not enough pull will cause a foreword rounding of the shoulders. This is because the bench press not only is performed with internal rotation of the shoulders but it also strengthens and tightens the pecs and anterior delts. With this, the posterior delts and back stay weak and stretch out. This combination causes the rounding.




Secondly, if you think that doing bench all the time and getting a big chest is going to make you look big and get girls, you are wrong...AGAIN. Your big chest will get hidden by the rounded shoulders mentioned above. Not only this but with bigger legs and a bigger back comes a bigger look. Even if you have a smaller chest but a big back and big legs, you will look big. A well rounded body will also give you a more athletic look, which is what the ladies like, not a big chest with nothing around it.

So start focusing more on your other body parts. Do some rows, some pull-ups, some squats for God's sake. Maybe you will be able to fit some of this into your workout if you cut back the volume of the "mirror stares" a little bit. Just a thought.







*Side Note*


As I was looking for pictures I found this:




Are you serious? Ladies, instead of buying this crap, go to the gym and strengthen your back and scapular muscles (shoulder blades). Strengthen these muscles and your shoulders will be pulled back naturally and you will look taller, have better posture, and certain assets will stand out more. I sure hope I never take a girls shirt off and find one of these. Deal breaker!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Movement Impaired

Many of you have more than likely heard of the deadlift. Hell, many of you have probably deadlifted once or twice in your life. The real question is, how many of you have deadlifted with proper form? My guess would be not many. The deadlift is a great movement to build mass, strength, and to get your body to the next level. Whether you are trying to lose weight or increase your athleticism, a deadlift is a great tool. However, the deadlift can cause some problems as well, including back pain and injury, so make sure you have proper form.

Most people don't have the hip and ankle mobility to properly deadlift, therefore they end up rounding their lower back and pulling with poor execution. Improving hip and ankle mobility is the best start to deadlifting but along with that, doing variations can help. Pulling from an elevated position will help increase deadlift strength within the range of motion you are capable of. As mobility and strength increase then you can start pulling from lower starting positions. Another option would be a trap bar deadlift.
The trap bar allows you to pull from the sides and not the front. This will allow you to stay more upright and make it a little easier to keep a tight and neutral midsection.

There are many exercises out there that are great for bettering your physique but if you can't do them correctly they are not going to help you in the ways you hope for. This doesn't mean to avoid it totally, but simply work on your weaknesses so that you can one day start using these great movements. There are always variations and supplementary work that can get you to where you need so ask an expert around you or email someone who may know (I have heard this guy named Chance is pretty good).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Quarter-Squat Phenomenon

In my last post I mentioned Kevin Quarter-Squat so I thought I would post a piece written by my roommate Danny Amon regarding this same topic. Danny has appeared on the blog before which you can check out here if you missed it.

Squat Parallel, or Else...

If you spend a significant amount of time at the gym, then there is a good chance you've seen some nancy doing what can at best be described as a quarter-squat; at worst, it can be described as a complete waste of everyone's time and a great annoyance to large, good-looking meatheads like myself. In fact, you most likely ARE one of the nancies that pretends to squat, when in reality you only disgrace and bastardize the exercise while simultaneously providing evidence that you are, in fact, a douchebag. If I were to take it another step further, I would most likely discover your bench lacking a full range of motion, but that's a different argument for a different day. So, your douchebaggery in mind, I'd like to introduce you to a very alien concept: Squatting parallel. In this sense, parallel references the position of the thigh with respect to the ground. In order to properly execute a squat - and indeed to actually target the legs, which if I'm not mistaken is the purpose of the squat - you must AT LEAST achieve a parallel position whereby your thighs are running along the same plane as the ground. If you are too dense to understand the concept as described, let me put it another way: A legitimate squat requires that the thigh and shin achieve a 90 degree angle. If upon reading this you are unsure of your squat, rest assured that it sucks and is laughable to anyone who has ever felt the pain of heavy squats for depth. If you refuse to change your ways, you can bet that the girl I saw front-squatting 125 could form tackle you if she so desired. And for the record, she could also out-squat you if you ever manned-up and tried to squat parallel. So what about injuries, you say? Powerlifter Dave Tate has a laundry list of them, including 4 herniated discs in his spine, and still manages to squat over 900 pounds. Do you know what that makes him? You guessed it, a man. Partial squats do nothing to grow the legs, so if you ever want to pull your head out of your ass long enough to do a real squat and see what men (and some very enlightened women) feel like, squat parallel. Then maybe we can talk about touching your chest when you bench.

Be Proper In and OUT of the Gym

I was listening to podcast earlier today and the discussion of form in the weight room came up. This is a big deal when it comes to exercise. Proper form is huge in getting the gains you desire as well as keeping yourself healthy and injury-free. So many times in the gym (especially commercial gyms) you see Kevin Quarter-Squat and Roger Round-Back lifting with the worst form known to man. Not only will these two not get the strength gains that they need to get girls to like them, but they will also create more and more stress on their joints. With improper form, the spine (especially the lumbar spine), the knees, the hips, the ankles, the shoulders, and so-on are stressed more than they should be and chronic injuries can, and most likely will occur. Knowing this, it is important to focus on form and then look to add weight. Keep mobility good and your strength will quickly follow.

Here comes a different problem...When concentrating on form, most people focus through an entire set, getting each rep perfect. However, once the last rep is completed and the weight needs to be returned to its desired resting location, form goes out the window. Think about it; I'm sure you have all done this in your own workouts. I know I have in the past. You finish a set with some heavy dumbbells, executing each rep to perfection. Once your set is complete you return the weights to the floor and immediately you allow your back to round over and you set them down with no regard for form. It happens all the time and this is where many injuries occur. Proper form has to be executed not only on every working rep, but also when your setting weights down, or picking them up. It doesn't matter if it's part of the workout or not, it's still a strain on your body and it still needs to be done with care.

The same thing goes for every day life. From sitting at the computer to bringing in your groceries, form must be thought about. It is really hard to keep your body alignment great when 90% of your week you are slouching in a chair, picking things up with a rounded spine, or twisting in positions that may not be too beneficial for you or your back. Even if you spend 2 hours a day in the gym with perfect form, corrective exercises, and great mobility drills, that other 150 hours a week where you walk around without concentrating on alignment and posture can be devastating to your progress in the gym. Think of daily activities as a workout in themselves. Concentrate on sitting erect, walking up stairs like your doing step-ups, picking up things off the floor like your deadlifting, and so-on. Treating every day activities in this manner will help keep you body healthy and fully functional.

Remember, proper form and execution is key to building a better body.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Few Things...

I have a few things to voice my opinion about this morning. Basically just a time for me to rant a little bit.

Everyone knows about the issues of steroid use in baseball. It has been in the news for a couple years now and it seems like just when it's about to die down the name of another superstar is thrown into the steroid pool. The most recent has been Sammy Sosa. He was declared to have been using steroids and it hit the news channels right away. Then they said that the doctor who gave Manny the drugs he was suspended for, is going to be investigated by the DEA. As much as I am against cheating, I want to know why the government is spending all of their time and efforts on this issue when there are many other things they could be focusing on such as, oh I don't know, the soldiers in the middle east, the poverty in our country, or the whole economic slide that is going on right now. Why is this use of a performance enhancing drug, that doesn't have the proven side effects that people claim, such a big deal to the government when there are much more serious issues to be taken care of. Not to mention the fact that the use of performance enhancing drugs are present in just about every other sport, but baseball is the only one to get the blame. I am not against steroids and I definitely don't think they should be illegal, but I am against cheating so I don't condone the use of them in sports, however I just wish the government would stop worrying about sports and focus on a few other things.

Sticking with the topic of sports, I was watching some highlights of the world soccer cup that was taking place over the last couple weeks. Although I respect their athleticism, I am not a fan of the sport of soccer. Just not my thing. I did watch a little bit though since the U.S. was playing. What I noticed was the celebrations that occurred after just about every goal. And it's not just in this tournament but it is always seen in soccer. The image of Brandy Chastain ripping off her jersey after scoring the game winning goal in the World Cup is known by just about everyone in the United States. Soccer players are seen running around the field in celebration after scoring just about every goal. I have no problem with celebration in sports, but I do have a problem with the hypocrisy that occurs. Why is it OK for a soccer player to celebrate in such a vibrant fashion but it is distasteful and frowned upon for a football player to high step into the end zone, or a basketball player to show a little emotion and pump his fist after making a basket. A recent example...Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic was basically tackled while driving through the lane and after he got the foul and made the basket, his emotion was shown by some fist pumping and yelling. Instead of his emotion being complimented on, he was given a technical foul. It makes no sense to me. Why should it be a penalty for an athlete to show emotion while he is doing the thing that he loves. I wish everyone would stop being so uptight and just let others get a little excited every now and then instead of looking down upon the man who celebrates after scoring or gets a little angry when he doesn't get the outcome he worked 11 months for.



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Box Squat

You may have seen a similar video on my buddies blog, www.accelerateyourself.blogspot.com. We just started box squatting this week and decided to add some chains.



Box squat is a variation of the traditional squat where the lifter sits back onto a box, pausing at the bottom, then exploding upward. The keys to watch for on a box squat are to sit back onto the box, keep constant tenstion in the core so that the core does not fold over, and to explode straight up avoiding a foreward rocking motion. The chains add resistance as the bar and chains are lifted away from the ground.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Are You Functional?

There is a lot of emphasis on functional training in today's world from athletes to the elderly. I have recently had multiple conversations about functional training and when to use it and how to use it and it made me start to think. With so much talk about functional training, what really constitutes functional? Does functional training only include a movement that mimics a real life situation? Are exercises such as squats, bench press, and deadlift functional exercises? Let's take a look at the definition of functional...

Func tion al - [fuhngk-shuh-nl] - capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed: of or pertaining to a function or functions.

Looking at the definition there is a lot of movements and exercises that could be considered functional. In my mind, every exercise is functional. When creating a workout you include exercises that will serve a purpose towards your end goal. Therefore they are serving the purpose of the end goal, thus functional. For example, let's look at the squat for a baseball player. Some people would not consider it functional, however, I do. The squat increases quad strength as well as hip strength, glut strength, and core stability. As a baseball player, quad and hip strength can help make one faster, jump higher, and possibly stronger in the box. Wouldn't that mean that the gains from a squat transfer over to the skill of baseball? It seems that way to me. To address the other side, I agree that an exercise such as a rotational med ball throw is going to be more functional because it identically mimics a swing yet, in my mind, that doesn't make a squat not functional. The same goes for pre-hab exercises. Something such as scapular push-ups and scapular rows don't mimic anything in sports but they do create scapular strength and stability which is necessary for better performance and health in just about every sport.

So to say an exercise in a program is not functional, to me, is to say that it is useless. Every exercise in a program serves a purpose and a function in bettering that client, whether it be an athlete or not. When designing programs, keep in mind the purpose for each exercise. Why is that exercise included and why is it included in the manner that it is.

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Limitations

Just a few thoughts to hopefully help motivate those who read this. There is always a point in one's life where it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The things you want may seem impossible to achieve and the things you get may seem less than what is deserved. What you need to keep in mind is that there is always a way out. Some ways may take more work, but there is always a way out. I have heard a lot of talk about the law of attraction throughout my life and for a while I really didn't buy into it. But as I have grown and experienced more I believe there is some truth to it. From the thoughts you have to the people you keep around you, the outcomes in your life are affected. Positive feelings, positive people, and positive motives bring about positive results. Sometimes a slump in life is all about getting over feeling sorry for yourself and doing something about it.

The main thing to keep in mind is that there is always a way out, no matter what. Sometimes you just have to step up and make some moves, take some risks, and raise yourself out of a slump. You can't always look to others for help. Some things must be done on your own.

I have used Will Smith before and I will probably use him again after this because the man preaches on hard work and always has good things to say. He is a very motivational man so listen to his words from the movie "Pursuit of Happiness".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Just Another Day

As I sit here at work, waiting to head home for another softball game tonight, I figure I would share some thoughts.

I am on the verge of a new adventure and am still trying to figure out how to go about it. This adventure I speak of is starting my own training business. I recently met with a gentleman who runs a gym in Louisville called Xtra Mile. He explained to me that I was welcomed to train there but it is all on me, I basically just rent the equipment. That means the clients I bring in I have to find. I am excited about this because I will be able to train how I want and not worry about a supervisor telling me specific ways to do things. Plus, it is a start to my ultimate goal. The problem I am running into, however, is marketing. I am unsure of how to really get my name out there and get people to know about me and my training. I have a few ideas but am still worried about recruiting clientele. Just another challenge that I am sure to overcome.

I have been reading up on some functional anatomy the past week. I have been able to read over the hip and shoulder joints thus far. Functional anatomy is very useful in understanding why certain exercises are used and the movement patterns that need to be worked. Along with that, understanding functional anatomy really gives an insight into dysfunction and movement problems or pains that you may come across with a client. I hope to one day thoroughly understand functional anatomy and the movement patterns associated.

There is a blind man that comes into the gym where I work. He just recently joined and I have been able to help him around and work with him some. He is one of the hardest working people I have seen in the gym in a long time and is always willing to try new exercises and learn about each one. I have so much respect for that and I wish others could learn a thing or two from his work ethic. Disability or not, you can still work hard and push towards your goals.

Remember, consistency is key. Whether your a rookie in the gym or a vet, consistency is what makes gains. It's also the little things that can boost you to your goals. Don't overlook and undervalue the small steps. If it's weight loss your after, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park in the last spot at the mall and walk a little further to the door. The extra steps in your day could be just what your body needs. If your trying to get bigger, don't skip out on the mid afternoon snack and don't sacrafice your sleep. Missed meals means missed calories and when your body has been pushed in the gym, it needs the fuel to recover. The small things.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fix Your Fat Loss

Working in a gym I see a lot of people, a lot of women especially, focusing on arms and abs. When I talk to these people about their workout they say that they want to lose the fat around their upper arms and stomach. To most people in the fitness world it is absurd to think about training with isolation movements to lose fat. The thing is, most of the average population thinks that targeting an area will make that specific area less fatty. Well I want to help spread the word that this is not how it's done.

Ladies, and Gentlemen, if you want to lose fat in certain areas you have to lose fat all over. Fat loss is not something that can be targeted. You can workout your upper back and build muscle specific to the upper back but you cant work out your upper back and lose fat in just your upper back. For this reason, if you want fat loss, you have to choose exercises that use large amounts of muscle. The legs, chest, back, and shoulders are the largest muscle groups. Exercises utilizing these groups are going to lead to better fat loss than something like bicep curls.

Another addition to a fat loss workout could be combination movements. Combining exercises to utilize even more muscle mass can get even better results. Something like a squat with a shoulder press. Using dumbbells you perform a squat then at the top of the squat do a shoulder press; Two exercises in one.

If your main goal is fat loss then you have to have an overall approach. You can't just focus on cardio, and you cant just focus on weight training. And within those you can't just focus on specific body parts. As far as cardio goes, I have voiced my opinion before. If you didn't see my post about interval training then check it out here. I believe that interval training will lead to better fat loss and in a quicker amount of time. However, novice gym-goers need to start with steady-state cardio (i.e. jogging on the treadmill) so they can build up some endurance to move into intervals.

Just remember, the more muscle you use the more calories you will burn. And as long as you are eating right this will mean better fat loss. Below is a few example exercises and combination lifts to add into your program.


Squat-to-Press




RDL-to-Row




Overhead Lunge



Push-up Row



You're a Jerk

The newest movement out of L.A., Jerking. I'm down with it but I can never give respect to the skinny jeans fad.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Thoughts For the Day

Just some thoughts and what not.

I want to first say congrats to my friends Rob and Bobbie, who got married this past weekend. It was my first wedding experience and I am proud to say I was a part of the wedding party. I hope that they have a great life together and that Rob's testosterone levels don't start to decrease.

The weekend consisted of the rehearsal, the wedding, and some meathead activities in between. During that in between time I was introduced to the world of Professional Pole Dancing.



This is unbelievable. The strength, stability, and mobility in these girls is awesome. I hope that I one day meet a girl with talent like this.

I found this video this morning. Thought it was funny and I think I am going to teach my dog how to squat as well.



Softball starts this Friday. I am ready to start playing again. Team Wipe Me Down should be a dominant force and I will have updates throughout the season.