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.

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

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 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.