Thursday, January 16, 2014

Can't we all just get along...

I'm a social media fitness junkie.  I enjoy reading several blogs related to exercise and nutrition.  I like to scroll through the book of faces and the twitterverse for posts and tweets which provide decent information or a bit of humor related to our wonderful fitness society.

Recently, I've noticed a sure fire way to get a lot of attention in the online fitness world.  All you have to do is bash, ridicule, or condemn an individual or group of people because of nutritional beliefs or workout regimens they may be currently following.

I used to make fun of the Zumba crowd, "they should be outside sprinting - doing HIIT, its' a damn waste of time taking a dance class!"

I used to think Orange Theory was a place for people that were afraid of real strength training,  "How can you call it a training session without heavy squats or deadlifts"

I used to joke about people who needed a "24 day challenge" to get in shape, "How pathetic, some people need to spend $150+ on supplements and join a challenge group just to lose a few pounds."

What was my problem?  Why was I such an A-Hole?

Then I realized I was wasting negative energy worrying about what others were doing, when I should be focusing on what "I' need to do to make myself better and make my clients better.

There is too much positive information and research to neglect learning and expanding your knowledge relating to health and fitness.

Instead, it's become increasingly popular spend time proving others wrong, and make them feel like a mental midget for following a specific training program or nutrition protocol.

If a person wants to do a 24 hour fitness "body sculpt" dumbbell training session, it beats sitting on the couch watching the Bravo network.

If some sort of cleanse or weight loss challenge gets someone on the right track so that they pursue a healthy lifestyle, by all means go ahead, do what you gotta do to make yourself better.  Some people are making fantastic lifestyle changes because they see what they can accomplish in a short period of time.

Crossfit takes a beating with facebook rants, blog posts, and instagram memes.  Too many people focus on the negative (rhabdomyolysis, improper form/technique on lifts, and misuse of repetition ranges for certain exercises), but there are a lot of positive things that occur in the Crossfit community and a lot of great coaches who run excellent programs.  I originally wrote about it HERE, almost 2 years ago......

If you are active, feeling good about yourself, and seeing positive results, that's really all that matters.  So Crossfit commandos, Zumba warriors, and Elliptical Enthusiasts- keep doing your thing.

Recently some fitness folks are in an uproar because Planet Fitness is getting rid of their squat racks......

SO F'IN WHAT?   I'm never gonna train there, and my clients aren't gonna train there, it makes no difference to me what happens at Planet Fitness.  For some gym owners it might provide an opportunity to by some second hand squat racks at a good price.

So why all the negativity?

As the obesity epidemic continues to escalate, it's important that people just get up off their ass and do some form of exercise.  Just because someone partakes in and activity you find ineffective, they should not be castrated in a public forum.

Even though you may not like or agree with every training program out there, life is too short to waste time focusing on the negative.  Unless you're "calling out" Tracy Anderson, then it's okay.

 Embrace movement, encourage results, and try to appreciate the positive.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's been a while.......

I haven't "blogged" in quite some time, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been some interesting stuff going on in my little world.  I've learned a lot about what it takes to be successful in the strength and conditioning field, debunked some common myths in nutrition, and have really achieved overall happiness in my profession and personal life.

Here's a quick run down on some things that have taken place over the past year:

-Left my job at Emery Wellness Center  (Personal Trainer) to take a job at The Chamber (Sports Performance Coach)

-Took a leave of absence (sabbatical) from the Broward County School Board (PE Coach) to work full-time at The Chamber.

-Bought a House

-Worked 12+ hour days at The Chamber coaching adult fitness, high school athletes, and youth groups.

-Assisted with the NFL combine / pro day preparation program at The Chamber and also worked with some Professional Baseball and NFL athletes.

-Decided to go back to work with the School Board (benefits, pension, and other incentives were too important to pass up)

-I am Currently working at The Chamber from 5-8am  then I'm off to teach at Hallandale Adult Community School. (I teach weight training to high school students on track to receive a GED)

Of course a lot more interesting stuff has gone on, and I could and will go into more detail on the above listed events- but all in all, life has been pretty damn interesting......

Over the past year I have learned some new things relating to sports performance training.  I have also reevaluated the way I look at setting up training programs for strength gains and for fat loss.  It seems the more I read and study nutrition I realize it's not that complex, but so many people are being misinformed by the mainstream media.

Here are some things that have caught my attention over the past year:

*Most people don't work hard enough to "overtrain".  The human body and CNS can really take a pounding before any sort of "overtraining" effect actually takes place.  That being said, recovery and regeneration are the missing piece of the puzzle in most training programs.  You can train hard as hell, as long as you train smart as well!!!

*Strength should be the foundation of most sports performance training programs.........However, to be a great athlete actually PLAYING and EXCELLING at your sport trumps all other factors.  Being STRONG is extremely important, but don't neglect that all sports (except powerlifting)  require other factors that will determine your athletic ability and skill level.

For example, you could be training a basketball player who can squat 400lbs. but can't jump efficiently off their left leg. A training program that focused on single leg plyometric exercises and skipping drills would have more carryover on the court.  Tyrann Mathieu, The Honey Badger, is another example. Mathieu only benched 225 for 4 reps at the NFL combine. According to NFL, College, and even High School standards, he's week as hell!   However, he DOMINATES on the playing field.

*The titles "speed coach", "performance coach", and "athletic know-it-all coach" have been used and abused over the past few years.  Speed and Agility camps and Clinics are a great way to make some money, but in all honesty a novice athlete can improve their 40 time in about 30 min by getting into a proper stance.  Too many of these coaches also don't take into consideration that in sports like lacrosse and basketball, you are running with an object in your hands.  According to "sprinting technique 101"  your arm movement might not be perfect and you can still excel at your sport.  Most sports require the ability to move laterally and decelerate, areas most Track coaches don't have exceptional knowledge.

*I really hate the term DIET.  The terms "eating clean" and "paleo" have also been exhausted and become so cliche. People get way too worked up about what foods are considered clean or "from the earth", when it comes down to the nitty gritty just focus on caloric intake/expenditure.   There are some strong/shredded people out there that have never even considered a "paleo" style diet and just eat whatever they're craving and look phenomenal - lucky bastards.  If you're not that lucky, it might be time to start setting up some goals for daily calorie consumption and also lift some heavy sh$t with intensity.  Life is too short to argue about "food", eat whatever you like, just remember that if you can't see your toes- your doing something wrong!

*For the record, most people could care less about seeing your pictures of your food on Instagram, just sayin'......

Well that's about it for today, it's good to be back and I'm sure these posts will get more entertaining as I get back into a blogging groove......

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Soreness Doesn't = Effectiveness

The statement "I'm sooooo sore, I had such an awesome workout", is definitely used wayyyyyy too much when describing what some people feel is an effective training session.  As a client, being sore should not be the number one goal of a training session.

As a fitness professional, if you think you deserve consideration for "World's Best Trainer" because you had 100% of your clients tell you that they are barley able to walk after your INSANE LEG workout, you really need to evaluate your contribution to improving peoples overall health and well being. 

I've been there.  I remember when my clients would tell me how sore they were after a workout and I give em' a high five and say "That's what it's all about!"

I was pretty ignorant when I first started taking people though training sessions.  I would have clients perform drop sets, compound sets, and freakin' out of control supersets just so they would remember our training session every time they sat down on a toilet.

My training has evolved over the years and It's come to the point that I really don't want my clients getting sore.  I just want results.  If I can put someone though an effective training session and get them closer to their goal without making them sore, I've gotten to my destination with the least amount of road blocks and red lights.  Our job as trainers is not to "beat our clients down", but to make them better and help them reach their goals.

It's not uncommon for a "Newbie" trainer to use the reason of "lactic acid build up" as to why their client is experiencing unfathomable soreness.  Of course, that is after the "You're sore because I put you through the best training sesson ever", High five.....

There are actually a few reasons why muscles get sore and we develop DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) roughly 24 hours or so after intense exercise.

-Contractile stress:  The actual physical stress placed upon the muscles.  Usually in the eccentric (negative or lowering) phase of an exercise.  The stress causes a small tearing (microtrauma) of the contractile proteins and muscle fiber membranes.

-Cortisol release: through the activation of the stress hormone.  Cortisol is released when blood glucose is low or through intense exercise.

-Excess Free Radicals:  Damage to muscle proteins and can even suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.

Any type of extreme stress on the body through exercise or an irregular movement pattern can lead to muscle soreness.  It's actually easy to make someone sore.  Hell, yard work can make you sore.

The difficult part is to try to recognize a clients work capacity while maintaing adequate exercise technique, improving movement patterns, increasing muscular strength/endurance,  and improving body composition- and knowing when to push forward and when to back off.

If your main goal is to be sore (or make your clients sore) give this workout a try:

-Find a 400 meter track with access to a football field
-Sprint 400 meters
-Perform 50 squats (10 second eccentric / 2 seconds concentric)
-Lunge 50 yards
-Perform 20 jump squats
-Lunge 50 yards
-Sprint  400 meters
-Perform 25 split squats on each leg (5 second eccentric / 1 second concentric)
-Broad Jump 50 yards
-Perform 50 mountain climbers
-Broad Jump 50 yards
-Perform 50 Reverse Lunges
-Sprint 400 meters

Okay, okay.  That's kind of ridiculous right?  I hope you think so.  The scary thing is that this type of workout is going on at parks and tracks everywhere......  Is it effective?  Yeah, maybe for a Navy Seal.

It only took a few seconds to come up with that workout and I'm pretty sure that would create some muscle soreness for just about any "regular" gym goer.  Would I actually have any of my clients attempt something like that?  No.   I care about the people I train and they get results because of appropriate programming, not because I try to destroy every last muscle fiber in their body.

Of course we are all going to get sore from time to time, especially if we make changes with rep ranges and exercise selection.  The goal of the training session should be to get closer to your goal, not to feel like you got beat up by Chuck Norris swinging a Louisville Slugger in one hand and nun chucks in the other.

Exercise selection, rep ranges, and time under tension should be programed with intelligent progressions.  Focus on SMART programming to get to your or your clients goals.  Remember, Harder doesn't mean Smarter.......

Friday, July 6, 2012

Perfom Better Summit In Chicago (A Brief Review...)

The Windy City actually felt more like the "Oven City".  Temperatures hit record highs on Thursday and it was pretty freakin' hot throughout the weekend.  I'm just glad my flight to Chicago was extremely easy I was able to check-in to my hotel and make it to McCorrmick Convention Center to catch the conference bonus session.  Thomas Plummer's presentation on the "Business of Training" was a great start to a very informative weekend.

If you are in the fitness industry and you don't know who Thomas Pummer is, do yourself a favor look him up- read his stuff- and by all means hear him speak.

The enthusiasm that Thomas had in front of the audience made his 2 hour presentation seem like it was under 30 minutes.  He laid out some really startiling facts about the economic downfall of the current gym/personal training pricing structure as well as some tips on how to improve business and compensation.

Basically, most gym owners and employees are on a path to unemployment or "burn out" unless they change their system and understand the direction that the fitness industry is heading.  If you're a trainer that still uses the smith machine, or other fixed plane devices- you're time is coming.... It was also mentioned that if you're a trainer that discounts your services or packages, you are doing yourself a terrible disservice.  Your rate should be your value- don't cut the cost if you provide a valuable service!

Alwyn Cosgrove led a phenomenal "hands on" workshop which was similar to the type of workouts that are performed at his gym, Results Fitness.   Alwyn is always entertaining, and his exercise selections and programming are some of the most "functional" and "practical" for general population.   Everyone in the room worked up a sweat and had a great time.

Gray Cook is a guy that no matter how many times you hear him speak, he still blows you're mind with new information.   His discussion was titled "Mobility, Motor Control, and Movement" which was exactly what this "hands on" presentation incorporated - we focused on moving better.  If you move like a crippled hippo there is no way in hell you should be doing a step up to shoulder press.

 When I think of terms of your average client, the screening process that Cook discussed should be implemented before any "loaded" exercises take place during a training program.

We actually did a 3 part "mini" Movement Screening to see who was "FIT" enough to do some of the advanced exercises.  Now think about it, a room full of "pretty darn fit" trainers and coaches was screened and assessed before we were allowed to progress to the next stage of the workout.

How do some trainers take clients though a workout without analyzing their basic movement patterns first?

Answer: lack of knowledge, or they just don't freakin' care.  If your one of those type of trainers, get learning and start caring or look for a new profession.

Todd Durkin has to be the most ENERGETIC person I have ever been around!  He had a room full (probably around 150) yelling, clapping, and just plain busting their ass through his hands on session.  I think the whole room pushed a little harder when Todd told us that today's workout was dedicated to his friend that just recently passed away.   I can see why Todd has such a following, you can't help to give it your all when he is leading the show!

Martin Rooney is a no-nonsense guy.  Plain and simple.  I wouldn't wanna get on his bad side, he is pretty much a bad ass and I really don't think anyone will argue about that.  "Warrior Cardio" was his topic of discussion and one thing that Martin does well is present information in a easy to understand format.  Martin has trained overseas in Martial Arts facilities and trained some of the best MMA fighters as well as NFL first round draft picks, let's just say that he leads by example and brings out the best in everyone he encounters.

Well, I wanted to keep this brief, so I left out a lot of great presenters that gave outstanding lectures (Robb Rogers, Stuart McGill, and Eric Cressey)  and a lot of other activities that took place throughout the weekend (Wrigleyville, Rush St., and a 3am steak sandwich on the south side).  Oh well, to sum it up I had a great time and left with a lot of knowledge that will take a while to fully absorb.  I'd like to thank Chris Poirier of Perform Better for being a great host and putting together such an awesome event.  Hopefully next year there will be a Summit in Florida...