Training Tip of the Month- December 2012
Conditioning- Not just for Marathon Runners.
We should all be conditioning. It doesn’t matter if you play a team sport, you’re a strength athlete or a golfer. Are we suggesting you take up jogging? No… not unless you really like it or you are in fact a marathoner. Then… have at it. HOWEVER the notion that any and all conditioning will cause you to make you weaker, is ridiculous.
Conditioning has many benefits including:
- Improved recovery- blood is a healer, when you get your heart rate up and force blood into muscles its carrying nutrients to nourish and help repair resistance training induced trauma in skeletal muscle.
- Improved work capacity- Regular conditioning forces systemic adaptations within the body. Training methods that include repeated sprints and intervals force the body to become more efficient at recovering between bouts/sets. This increased work capacity transfers into a greater ability to do more work in less time. You shouldn’t always focus singularly on maximum strength, you must factor in other elements into your training.
- Improved Body Composition- This should require no explanation.
- Energy System Adaptations- If you get stuck in a “anything more than 5 reps is cardio” mentality and only ever do doubles and triples with ten minutes in between, you’re only training one energy pathway in the body. The body has three energy systems…see the issue here?
Conditioning Methods We recommend:
- Prowler Pushes (intervals)
- Prowler Drags (distance)
- Sprint Intervals
- Long slow distance (Think walking)
- Rowers (intervals)
- Metabolic circuits (rounds for time)
- Medicine Ball Work (throws, slams, trunk work)
- Battle Ropes (intervals, great conditioning when the legs need a break)
- Tabata Protocol (rounds for time)
Training Tip of the Month- November 2012
Overreaching vs. Overtraining
Overtraining is getting to be a pretty big buzzword in the media. It’s… pretty annoying, actually. Let’s face it, our society has become soft (literally and figuratively) and reporters will take any concept they can twist to make us feel better the fact that most people won’t do anything if it causes a little pain and discomfort…. Then put it on blast. All so you can go on believing that in just thirty minutes a day, two times a week you can get your best body EVER… and it’s all so easy. That’s why obesity rates have never been higher and people have never been weaker, right?
Overtraining- let us be clear, overtraining is real. However, most people focused on general health and fitness hitting the gym three days a week are not experiencing overtraining.
Two definitions that we find useful to explain overtraining:
1) “Overtraining is the cumulative result of relentless high-volume or high-intensity training, or both, without adequate recovery, that results in the exhaustion of the body’s ability to compensate for training stress and adapt to it…”
2) “Overtraining occurs specifically when performance does not recover within one reduced-load training cycle” (Rippetoe, 27).
Overtraining can be volume or intensity induced. Strength athletes, elite and advanced lifters seem to be more prone to intensity induced overtraining that relates to an overly taxed nervous system while more traditional team athletes seem to be at a higher risk for volume induced overtraining.
Other factors that can affect overtraining include: sleep, hydration, protein, overall energy intake (daily calories), micronutrient intake, fatty acids, etc.
Symptoms of Overtraining:
- Decrease in performance
- Decreased immunity
- Decrease in training capacity/ intensity
- Moodiness/ Irritability
- Decreased appetite
- Overall lack of energy
- Loss of enthusiasm for sport
- Increased incidence of injuries
- Increased resting heart rate
Overtraining is a serious problem and can cause weeks, months and even years of training setbacks. HOWEVER do not confuse overreaching with overtraining.
“… Overreaching simply represents the target stress necessary to disrupt homeostasis, intentionally breaching the maximal workload the trainee has adapted to in order to induce supercompensation” (Rippetoe, 26)
You still need OVERLOAD!! “… It is more relevant, practical and understandable to discard the term and simply use the term “overload,” since it describes both the load and the stimulus for inducing adaptation in trainees regardless of advancement level. Every fitness training program should include periods of overload, as is required by practical application of Selye’s Theory; these periods should be understood as adaptive, not detrimental” (Rippetoe, 26)
To put this into simple terms… you have to put your body through enough volume and/ or intensity to disrupt homeostasis and illicit change. That means it’s not going to be easy. “Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten.” It’s important to have a coach that understands the difference.
You aren’t going to be your best everyday in the gym. If you are, then you aren’t doing it right. You are going to have days where you feel beat up and weak or slow, it’s part of the process of supercompensation. But on the other end of that is a bigger, leaner, stronger, more powerful you.
We’ve said it before; we’ll say it again. It’s important to have a coach that understands the difference. It’s also important to understand how to listen to your own body and be able to identify symptoms for both.
Training Tip of the Month- October 2012
Are You a Program Jumper?
There are plenty of options out there when it comes to ways to train. What we’re seeing more and more is people’s inability to focus on any one thing long enough for it to be meaningful.
Sometimes it’s not about finding a groundbreaking program. There is no earth shattering technique emerging for training. When you really examine solid programs from strength and conditioning coaches who are worth following… largely their programs are sums of other parts. They’ve taken elements of programs from the great minds before us that have stood the test of time, personalized them, and combined them with some unique components to make them their own. Sorry, but there’s no magical implement or piece of equipment or gear that’s going to turn you into a phenom overnight (contrary to everything about our “want it now, have it now” society leads you to believe). So stop mindlessly surfing the Internet and follow these four steps for finding or writing your workouts.
1) Do your research. Whether you’re writing a personalized program for yourself or choosing a popular template from a coach that you relate to, understand the end in mind of the program. Understand the length of the program. Exercises, volume, intensity, work to rest ratios, are they relevant to your sport or goal? The reality is there are a lot of solid coaches out there that we respect with truly effective programming. There are also plenty of gumps out there who have no idea what they’re talking about but are somehow still getting air -time. If a system tells you that it’s going to be easy, if they say some crap about muscle confusion, tricking your body or outsmarting yourself…. Walk away. If a coach is selling you training that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Jumping higher, running faster, increasing strength, developing power…. Takes time and work. Unless you’re brand new and privy to novice gains nothing will come overnight. BE AN EDUCATED CONSUMER.
2) Be aware of your body. If you are a person who responds well to volume, make sure you’re factoring that into your plan. If you’re a person that needs more frequency then you better make sure you’re getting it. Conversely, if you get beat to hell training more than three days a week or if you’re in season… make sure your plans account for that. There are plenty of options out there. If you don’t understand what we mean or if you’re always nursing some sort of injury because invariably whatever routine you’re following leaves you with some sort of problem and you’re writing your own workouts… you need a coach. No seriously… get a coach.
3) Choose a program that will fit your life. If you’re in season—you have no business being on a six-day program. If you go nuts if you have more than two days off, make sure you don’t. If your work schedule isn’t changing and you need to be able to workout Saturdays and Sundays why would you pick a Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday split? There is no shortage of options in programming. If it doesn’t work with your schedule you aren’t going to do it. You’re just not. What’s that phrase about the best intentions???
4) Shut up and work. Once you’ve done your research, factored in your personal needs both in scheduling and program components and hired a coach or picked a program… put your head down, show up, give it everything you’ve got and see it through. The gains will come. The breaking of PRs is imminent. Goals will be reached… but only if you are consistent, dedicated and mindful in your training.
Training Tip of the Month—September 2012
Why We Hate Sport Specific Training
These days “Sport Specific” training is almost as popular as “functional training”. We watch developing athletes and parents get sold on hype. The market is saturated with “gurus” that will tell you that all strength and conditioning should be sport specific and replicate on the field/ court situations as much as possible… somehow the result is a bunch of hardworking teens and young adults jumping around on unstable surfaces on one leg holding a ball for an hour.
It makes us want to scream.
This is what happens when you take a good piece of advice out of context, something like “train like you play” throw in some buzz words, “muscle activation”, “balance”, “unstable surface”, “single limb strength” with some expensive trendy strappy inflatable gadgets…. Add it altogether and you get a fancy program that leaves you or your athletes exactly the same or weaker than when they started.
We like to use a racecar analogy when explaining our approach… It is not a strength coaches job to fine-tune the driver. That should be left to the sport and skill coaches. It is the job of a strength and conditioning professional to build the engine, to develop the machine. It’s our job to make you bigger, faster and stronger… Which will absolutely translate to improved performance on the field or court.
We focus on sport RELEVANT training. We aren’t going to help you be better at hopping around on one leg or train you to become a master at lunging with a basketball in your hand… and if you really take a moment to block out the sales pitch that “expert” told you and use good old fashioned logic… you’ll realize it’s not helping you or your kid’s skills either.
Strength and conditioning in sport must be purpose driven. Maximizing performance is a year round effort. Programs should start by building a strong foundation; develop training goals that focus on elevating performance during competition, while reducing the risk of injury. Programs must consider the sport and position relevant adaptations for:
- General Physical Preparation
- Agility/ Change of Direction
- Sport season appropriate training cycles and periodization
Additionally coaches should include considerations for athletes training age, biological age, metabolic demands, and outside training volume.
Signs it’s time to become Legendary…
Warning Sign #1: You or your athlete are spending a lot of time on any sort of inflatable gadget during your strength or agility training and you are not currently in rehab. *
- A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested the effects of lower body strength after ten weeks of unstable surface training in elite NCAA D1 athletes. The results showed indicated using inflatable rubber discs in training attenuated performance improvements in healthy, trained athletes. The study that suggested that caution should be used outside of the rehabilitation setting.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, May 2007
- Muscle “activation” is not the same as strengthening. Yes, you will activate muscles on an unstable surface. HOWEVER you cannot engage 80% of your 1 RM on that bouncy ball which is what is required to strengthen a muscle.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2006
*If your sport is played in a moon bounce… we take this back… Invest in all the physioballs and Bosus you can handle.
Warning Sign #2: All of your “strength training” is done with body weight, resistance bands or on suspension training systems.
Don’t get us wrong. All of these elements have their place. Depending on the age of your athletes or how strong they are… some of these methods may be perfectly appropriate. However strength and conditioning in sport should be progressive and periodized. How will you progress if you never add resistance? Basic compound movements taught correctly will foster stronger, faster, more agile athletes (turns out developing strength and stable a center of gravity on two feet is far more effective than jumping around on one foot will ever be).
- According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association core exercises (main compound lifts) must be trained at ≥85% of 1 RM at ≤6 repetitions to induce strength gains.
Warming Sign #3: Your coach spends way too much time on tests.
Functional movement screens are great in theory. Strength and conditioning professionals should be able to show measurable improvements with their athletes. If they’re doing it right… those improvements translate to better performance in sport. If your s&c professional spends all of your time in the weight room running tests and measuring imbalances, there isn’t a lot of time to DO WORK. Also… kids are smart, they learn to just beat the tests. We aren’t saying there shouldn’t be any form of assessments… but let us save you a little time. All kids are going to need to be stronger, develop posterior chain, maintain shoulder girdle/ rotator cuff health, work on hip and ankle mobility. If your athlete happens to be the 1% that doesn’t… they’ll still benefit from any work that the rest of the team is doing to develop in those areas!
Warning Sign #4: The coach mantra is “train like you play” to explain why the athlete holds a ball and no weights for an hour—but then all resistance training is done sitting down cycling through machines.
Last time we checked not too many sports were played sitting down on machines. Sports are played through all planes of motion. Your strength and conditioning programs should include components that teach you or your athletes to move effectively through space. Machines have their place… but think of them as the side dishes. They shouldn’t be the meat on your plate.
Warning Sign #5: Your coach has no opinions or training philosophies of his/her own.
Being aware of what’s going on in your industry is important…. We require our coaches to keep their certifications current and to be in good standing with all of their required CEUs . We personally travel to at least one conference a year where we can hear coaches, professors and researchers share their experience and findings in a field that we love so much. We read articles, books and blogs to see what’s out there. But then… we decipher the good from the not so great and what’s meaningful for our athletes and clients and what doesn’t make sense. We mix this in with our personal coaching experiences and the product is our training philosophy, which is always evolving and getting even better. If your coach is worth their salt… they’re doing the same thing. If all you hear is we follow “insert celebrity trainer/coach” methods… you could be in trouble. You have to be able to adapt any program to fit the INDIVIDUALS you’re coaching. No program is one size fits all.
We challenge you to take out the fluff and getting back to the foundations. Seek out professionals who will build you and your athletes a program that demands that they be stronger, faster, better versions of themselves. Find coaches that are also teachers; professionals who understand the science and the real life application of strength and conditioning.
Training Tip of the Month, August 2012
After Training Are You Energized or Exhausted?
Results are motivating. You’re getting stronger, leaner, faster. Your game is improving, your pants fit better. Whatever you’re training for, knowing that you’re making progress makes you want to go harder, longer… and those workouts that left you feeling invigorated start to feel punishing.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in that “more is better” mentality. If three exercises were good, six would be great. If one hour is getting you results, three hours of training would force gains even faster… right? Actually, no.
We aren’t saying that workouts should be easy. Your workouts should be challenging. They should be based on progressive overload. You will have to manipulate exercises, volume and intensity to continue to see results.
But the whole training solely on perception thing…. is garbage. Basing the merit of your workout on how tired you are after, how much you sweat, or how sore you are the days following… will get you into trouble pretty quickly.
- You don’t get a gold star for vomit.
If your coach or trainer gauges your fitness level or how “hard” you’re going by how long it takes you to puke (yea you CROSSFIT) you’re doing it wrong. While some of you may look at it as a badge of honor, it’s actually a set back. Vomiting during exercise is a negative response. DUH. Common causes of vomiting during exercise include dehydration, heat exhaustion, vagal reaction and hyponatremia. How is that cool? We aren’t saying that it won’t occasionally happen by accident (especially at the beginning of athletic training seasons when heat is involved) but it shouldn’t be a goal and if your gym regularly lines up puke buckets, run, do not walk out the door and find your nearest Legendary coach to show you the way.
- Once you aren’t a novice don’t expect to be so sore you can’t move every time you workout.
During the first six weeks of working out you may find it hard to dress yourself the day after workouts. Everything hurts. It’s both awesome and awful at the same time. You feel muscles you haven’t paid attention to in years and you equate your inability to get off the toilet without being in serious pain as progress. Once that feeling stops…you think you aren’t making progress anymore. But that’s not the case at all (assuming your trainer is competent and you’re doing more than just body weight exercises). Your body is adapting to the demands you’re putting on it. You are becoming more efficient; you are able to recover faster. You will still get sore from time to time, but just because you can still function after workouts doesn’t mean “it’s not working".
- Workouts should leave you feeling energized, not exhausted.
Training sessions by and large should leave you feeling energized, not like dog sh*t. When you’re training to peak for performance as a strength or power athlete things are a little different. But training for body composition or general strength… workouts should be 60-90 minutes and leave you feeling pumped for your next session; not like you need to be carried to your car afterward. Training should be something you look forward to, not dread!
We’ll be the first to admit we’re training junkies. We love the feeling that comes with the endorphins from a solid training session. Leaving the gym, drenched in sweat, amped up, ready to scream “I DO WORK” at the complacent couch potatoes in the cars next to you… we get it.
Poor programming that makes major missteps adding major volume, intensity… too much too soon or too much too often can lead to the “danger zone” of overtraining. Overtraining leads to stalls in progress and setbacks. You don’t want to go there!
Remember… being Legendary is a lifestyle; you’re in this for the long haul.
Training Tip of the Month, July 2012
The Importance of CONSISTENCY in Training
You can’t be your strongest everyday in the gym. We don’t care who you are. We don’t care how good your program is… there are going to be days that you come in and weight that usually feels easy is going to feel like dog sh*t. You’re going to be slow, you’re going to feel beat up, you might even leave the gym with your feelings hurt. It’s going to happen. Welcome to training for strength.
This is where the 2012 kicks up in us. We get everything we want, all the time at any hour, instantaneously. It’s a gift and a curse. In the gym… gains don’t happen like that. Sure there’s that beautiful first year where every time you tweak something for four weeks you see a thirty pound PR… it’s part of the reason we get bit by the “iron bug”…that rush of feeling super human in the squat rack… we all chase it. Reality check: The longer you train, the slower your gains. Your physiological window of adaptation gets smaller, that’s not a bad thing, but it means you have to look at programming differently.
This is where you separate the men from the boys (or the women from the girls)… By year two or three we see a lot of growing pains with lifters. They develop program ADD (we did it too…) where every three weeks they’re trying something new because you were supposed to hit 315 for triples but you could barely hit 292 for a double… you must be overtrained, your program must be flawed…. STOP IT (*Unless your programs are shi*ty… but assuming you’re working with a coach or following a program that is legit). If it’s a 12-week program, don’t start changing it up after three weeks because your working sets felt slow. You are at the point in your life where you’re going to be forcing neurological and physical gains. You are literally breaking yourself down to build yourself up. The better you get at breaking yourself down, the heavier weights you start moving… the longer it’s going to take your body to super compensate, to put itself back together.
Strength training isn’t just physical… really it’s mostly mental. Can you tough out the lows to earn the highs? Stick with it. Consistency will become one of the most important elements of your training. If it were easy, it’d be called an elliptical.
Fitness Tip of the Month, June 2012
Slowing Down to Speed Up
Setting Programming Priorities
You’re not sedentary. You’ve seen the inside of a gym. You’ve experienced progress in a program and in your training. But recently… things are stalling.
Things to Consider:
- You cannot expect to train everything at the same time and get much better at anything—they are called “competing energy systems” for a reason.
- If you are working to lose weight/ improve body composition you are going to lose some strength —it’s reality (assuming you’re not obese)
- You cannot be your strongest everyday of the year
- You must stick with a program long enough for the body to adapt; you must also adapt a program as you progress if you expect to continue to make gains.
- If you find yourself stalling or going backwards… when was the last time you checked form and technique? Are you reinforcing bad habits or movement patterns?
- All of the programs in the world aren’t going to help you if you never stop to listen and learn your body and how it adapts.
- The strength curve is real… are you training the weak spots, or ignoring them?
This is a timely tip as I’ve had to reflect on it personally recently. Working on my program recently, I always like another set of eyes. I sat down with Greg and as he looked it over and asked me about my current training goals. I responded very confidently with, “I want to work on form for powerlifting, I want to get stronger, more explosive and I want to lose 8-10 pounds to drop a weight class as I think I’ll be more competitive long-term that way.” I had rationalized to myself that this was all totally possible with the right programming and I am a professional, so I’m special, right?
I didn’t care for Greg’s response. It was some overly wise and equally annoying version of “Keep it simple stupid.” In the conversation that followed (in a very patient way) he reminded me to look at the big picture, but plan a route to get there. To focus on one or two major goals, pursue them with all the drive and determination I have and smash them. He reminded me to set mesocycle goals that are progressive and build into my long-term plans. It’s so frustrating when he’s right.
“I want to get stronger.” Well duh…. I would hope so. But it’s not a goal. It’s an ambiguous statement about the long-term future. I’m willing to guess that most people who take training seriously would like to be bigger, faster, stronger, leaner versions of themselves. The take home message… Don’t just set goals; I’m sure you have a ton of them. Examine them, prioritize them and then plan the steps you need to take to get to that big picture. Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. Look at your 4-8 week mesocycles. Increase volume and/ or load on working sets, play with rest periods, measure progress within your program and keep…moving…forward.
Fitness Tip of the Month, April 2012
Cardio+ No Strength Training= Fatter You.
We’re sick of seeing motivated people pouring their little hearts out on their cardio machine of choice or piling an..