Thursday, April 26, 2007

Warming Up

It seems like everyone wants to know about warming up. I keep getting questions about how to do a dynamic warm up or what order the warm up should be in or blah blah blah.....Okay, here is the key word in the phrase....WARM. That's it. People are making things to darn complicated. Just get warm. Warm up means to get warm. That's it. Why make things so complicated? I usually do warm ups like BW squats, walking lunges, push ups plus, jumping jacks, etc. Just get your tissue warmed up and increase your core temperature. Stop splitting hairs over whether or not you should do your glute birdges before your hand walks or after your spiderman walks. Just get warm and go and train!


Monday, April 23, 2007

One exercise to avoid

So I am at the gym with my training partner (a physical therapist). We are working out and notice this kid (probably around 17 or 18) loading up a barbell on the olympic lifting platform (115lbs), so we figure he is going to squat. He un-racks the weight, steps back and starts performing torso rotations!!

I couldn't watch any longer. We stopped him and explained to him the dangers of axial loading with rotation.

This is one exercise that should not be in anyones program. Anytime you load your spine, you compress your disks. That last thing you want to do is start to rotate under that load, as it places the disks in a compromised position.

If you are doing this exericse, STOP!

In other news, check your form. One thing I have noticed is that people basterdize the step up. Everything from hip shifting to bouncing off the back leg. You need to learn to control the movement and really drive with that foot that is on the bench. Try and keep those hips squared up and neutral and prevent rotation. Don't be afraid to lower the weight or lower the step or do both. Exercise technique is paramount over everything else.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Question about weight training and age......

my brother is 12. turning 13 in 3 months. can he start lifting yet? he wants to start, but he hasn't had his growth spurt yet. i dont want him to be short all his life could he start lifting?

he is doing it mainly for hypertrophy so he wont be doing like 2 rep squats and what not. most are like 12+ reps. im sure he will do some lower reps and some higher, but it wont be based on pure low reps.

This is a great question, and one that I get all the time from parents. Is my child to young to lift weights?

I don't feel that any child is to young for exercise. Children are more suceptible to injury on the field (in a game) than in the weightroom (provided there is a competent coach teaching technique). In fact, weightlifting has a very low injury rate compared to other sports (gymnastics being one of if not the highest!).

Whenever you look at other sports, you have to remeber, that kids are going to go out and play as hard as they can (100% intensity). How many times have you heard a pee-wee football coach tell the kids to take it easy and not play to rough? You don't! Unfortunatly, when you get hit in the game, gravity is very unforgiving and injuries are usually right around the corner.

The great thing about the weight room though, is that we can take the movements and slow them down and slow down the intensity to a level that is manageable for the youth to learn and execute. At a young age, children need to be focusing on the basic things. Basic movements, developing into techniqcally proficient lifters and enhancing their work capacity and flexibility. I can't tell you how many 14 year olds I have seen that have a very low work capacity, limited flexibility and can't perform 20 push ups! That is totally unacceptable. I would start your brother out with basic body weight exercise (push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, etc), a good flexibility program and some sort of program to enhance work capacity (things like shuttle runs or short sprints are fun. Dodge ball is a great game for kids and it teaches them to be very athletic). At times it may be hard for him to keep focused (kids have a short attention span. this is why things like dodge bal work well), so keep him moving. A set of push ups, a set of squat, a set of planks, rest, repeat. You can use modifidied tempo (slower eccentrics or isometric holds) to help coach the movement and work on developing his technique. As he starts to get stronger, you can start to add some weight and just follow the same protocol.....start simple, work on developing technique and ability, progress slowly. If you do that and he can stay consistent, his fitness levels should be pretty high as he gets into high school.

Also, if you can, try and find a professional to really coach him on exercise technique. If you are unsure on how to do something or cue something, I would be very careful with it. You need to have someone that is qualified to help teach him properly.


A comment from my last entry:

Patrick, you should consider writing a book as well!! I know it would contain a lot of solid information for everyone to benefit from!

Thank you. I appreciate you reading my blog and giving such kind words. I would love to write a book. Maybe sometime down the road. There is really so much to talk about. That would be a pretty long book! haha


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Always strive to educate!

More info for trainers out there......

Always strive to educate your clients. Right now, there is so much information out there. Look in the book store and take note of all the books about diet and training! Turn on the daily news and you will always hear a story about health and fitness and typically, all of the morning shows will have a segment on exercise or diet. How is anyone ever supposed to learn anything with all this information coming into them? It is information overload. People are actually now becoming more confused than ever.

As a fitness professional, people turn to you for help. They have a problem, and it is your job to help them out. You need to have the answers! Take the time to educate your clients. Don't just have them come in and put them through a workout. Sit down with them and answer your questions. Group classes on nutrition and health always work really well. Teach them how to read food labels, manage food portions and perform their cardio workouts efficiently. Also, help dispell any myths or bad information they may have picked up along the way (typically a friend has told them about some special diet or exercise and it is totally off the wall).

We spend all this time (years and years) educating ourselves to help serve people. Don't keep that education locked up in your head. Get it out there to people so that they can benefit from it!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Some Random Ramblings.....

1) I got a free pass to workout at a Lifetime Fitness today. While the gym looks nice and pretty. I wasn't impressed at all with the equipment or set up. The thing that really got me was the fact that they offered vallet parking service. We wonder why Americans are so fat.....hmmm, we can't even park our own cars and walk to the gym door ourselves. Amazing!

2) Interesting article here about Quaker Oats changing the label on their oatmeal to hone down the advertising which exagerates how their product can lower cholesterol. It is nice to see someone being honest! I am a huge fan of oatmeal and the soluble fiber is great. Be sure to get some in your diet!

3) Well, the Boston Marathon just happend this past monday. I had reported a few entries ago about Jacob, the obese bee-keeper from Wisconson who was going to attempt to complete the marathon for charity. It looks like he finished it. Check out the story here.

4) Having a program of some sort is important. I am still seeing a ton of questions about how one should go about training themself. A program (even something very basic) is an excellent way to gauge progress. If you aren't progressing. If you aren't getting stronger and putting more weight on the bar. If you aren't getting better conditioned. Then look at your program and change it, because it is not working.

More Stuff Later!


Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Brain Hurts....

Yea, that's right. My brain hurts. I came across this article on the web today and it just annoys the hell out of me. Mainly because it gives bad information to a group of people (women) who are already flooded with bad information. Articles like this add to the myth and B.S. that has become weight training for women.

Shaplier shouldres! Whatever! I like how the author starts by saying "the first thing you need to 3-5lb DBs). Are you friggin kidding me? I know I know....we don't want to get to bulky. The exercises suck, the author doesn't even address the back of the shoulder blades (rarely do I see women with good posture) and she doesn't talk about training the body as a whole or diet. Feeding people the idea that doing this workout will give you shapelier shoulders is just silly and stupid and it makes my brain hurt.

In lighter news, it has been 60 years to the day that Jackie Robinson took the field in the Major Leagues. Jackie Robinson is one of the greatest baseball players ever, but more than that, he is one of the greatest athletes ever! What most people don't know is that he lettered in 4 sports at UCLA. Football, Basketball, Baseball and he was a nationally ranked long jumper in track and field. Pretty awesome!


Friday, April 13, 2007

Working yourself out of a Job

First, sorry for not making to many entries this week. I have been swamped with work!

Okay, onto the entry...Working yourself out of a job. This is directed towards people in the personal training profession (I hate calling myself a personal trainer because it usually has such a bad image that goes along with it. I just call myself a fitness coach now). The phrase working yourself out of a job is just as it suggests. I have always been of the belief that you are a good trainer if you can work yourself out of a job. If you can develop your clients level of technical proficiency, understanding of training and confidence to a point that they can actually get out there and do it on their own, then you are doing a good job.

Obviously, there are going to be a few clients who will just train with you forever. That is just what they do. But ultimately, you want to be able to get your clients in, teach them, and then get them out. I tell all my clients that I don't want to train them forever and I don't want them to train with me forever. I want them to get as much from me as possible so that they can be independant. You don't want to be dependant on someone your entire life for your own health!

If you have never worked with a fitness professional, find one that is knowledgeable and that can give you some new ideas for your training. Get a few sessions from them, ask a ton of questions and learn how to make your training better. I have a few clients that train with me once a week, or once every other week (twice a month). I also have a few clients that I have trainer for a long time (some for several years) that no longer train with me, but train on their own and email with me to consult on their training program to make sure that they are setting things up properly from month to month and developing like they should. Not that I believe in "online training" (an entry for another time), but these are people that I have worked with for a long time, I know they are doing things correctly with regard to technique and all we need to do is talk about manipulating the variables to get what they want.

So, in closing:

1) If you are a trainer, you should really be trying to kick out proficient and confident clients (who 9 times out of 10 will refer other people to you).


2) If you have never worked with someone, you may benefit from having a few sessions with someone who is knowledgeable and can give you some direction with regard to program design, exercise technique, exercise selection, etc....

Have a healthy weekend!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

FAT: What no one is telling you (recap)

Pretty good show. It talked about a lot of things like hormones, genetics, the mental aspect of weightloss and environment.

As we already know, fat gain is a combination of several factors. If it were so easy to tie it down to just one element, the obesity epidemic could be solved.

Also, I think there is still a ton of misinformation out there. For example, the comedian women who lost all whole bunch of weight said that in order to maintain what she has, she needs to watch her diet, count calories and exercise 3 hours a day! Then, they show her exercise and I am thinking....."she is doing all the wrong things! She has the wrong plan for what she wants to do!!!" The problem is that no one tells her about that stuff. The media certainly doesn't do a good job of it.

Another example of this is the obese 18yr old in Brooklyn, who was looking into getting gastric bypass surgery. He had pretty much given up. On his documentary radio piece he was asking his mother about all the diets he had tried. Every single one that he tried he had cheated on (no wonder why they didn't work....duh!). Then he was asking his siblings about his obesity and they were saying that he needs to go the gym and exercise. He replied "no, that is building muscle and I need to lose fat.".....My head pretty much blew up at that stupid statement. His brother then replied "well you do biceps curls for high reps, like 20, and that burns the fat.".....For shit sake! Would someone inform these people a little bit? Maybe if the kid lifted some weights and actually stayed on his diet (he needs some sort of social support group for his diet I think) he would drop some of that weight.

Finally, the couple who went to the gym to get trainers who were "the best money could buy". Okay, my take on that.....If you are a trainer and your client has shitty form (like those people did) and you do nothing about fucking suck. I understand that not everyone has totally perfect technique, some peoples technique looks a little different than others and some people are still learning the movement. But, instaed of just standing there.....get in and coach the person! Those traines wer awful. That really fired me up. If that is that money can buy, then we are in real trouble.

While obesity is a combination of a variety of factors, I still think that people need to be better informed on how to take care of themselves. The media doesn't do a good job of it and the government is crooked as shit and they wont take care of you either. You need to find an educated professional and really sit down and learn about your health!


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fat: What no one is telling you.....

This show is going to be on PBS tomorrow. I am going to watch and give my opinions on it in my blog. If anyone is interested, I suggest you tune in.

Fat: What no one is telling you

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Lift Strong

Hey everybody, just wanted you all to hear about a really great project that LA based trainer Alwyn Cosgrove put together. It is called "Lift Strong" and it is a CD with information compiled from some of the top trainers, nutritionists and strength coaches in this industry. For those that don't know, Alwyn has survived two fights with cancer. So, the money from this CD will go towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Check it out!


Friday, April 6, 2007

How ethical are the people that work at supplement stores?

Not very!

Most of those people don't know jack sh^t about the supplements they are pushing. Yet they spout off some garbage that came from the advertisment on the box and try and make the sale to the poor naive guy on the other side of the counter.

I am writing this because I think I heard it all today......At a supplement shop near the gym that I workout at, there was a gay (a very overweight guy) purchasing a boat load of supplements....bars, powders, fat burners, etc.....a ton of stuff. The guy behind the counter who claimed that store certified him as a nutritionist (hold f^cking shit! I didn't know that you supplement stores were certifying people as nutritionists these days! That is great. Maybe if I hang out at the medical supply store I can become an doctor!!). He starts talking this guy into purchasing some insane fat burner with a whopping 300mg of caffeine per cap. The guy shopping at the store tells the Certified Nutritionist that he has a high tolerance to caffeine so the salesman, being the smart nutritionist that he is, instructs the gentelman to take 2 caps at once.....600mg of caffeine!!! SWEET!! I wonder how many days in a row he can take that ontop of the other crap he bought also.

Things like that really burn me up. I just can't believe how stupid people are. I am really trying to keep this blog positive and informative. But I really needed to vent that out.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Sequencing of workouts and some program design

Here is a really great question about sequencing of workouts and some program design concepts.

As I get older my body can't take the heavy loading with squats and deadlifts like I used to so I need to incorporate more plyos and speed work into my programs so I can never have to play in the over 30 soccer and basketball leagues.

I hear ya on the getting older part!

As far as not being able to take the heavy loading of squats and deadlifts, I think a lot of this is rooted in the fact that you probably need to structure your training a little better interms of how you are setting up your phases. You need to make sure that you back off at times and then push at times. You are still playing sports, which is great! You just need to get your training to complement your athletics a little more.

First, before we talk about breaking things down into phases, lets talk a little bit about rep ranges (or rep zones as I like to say). If we are looking at them there are really three main rep zones (and a 4th one which I will talk about in a second). The main three are power, strength and hypertrophy. Or as some like to call dynamic effort (power), max effort (strength) and repetitive effort (hypertrophy).

In a nut shell, power is our explosive stuff. It is defined as work/time. So, how quickly can we move a weight or perform a task. This is where your plyometrics will fall into. Also, if you use olympic lifts and their variations, you can place them into this catergory as well. The actual percentage of weight that you would use varies depending on the task. Plyo's can be done with body weight and depending on what you are doing you can change the intensity. For med balls, people can use anywhere 3-10% of their body weight and sometimes more depending on how quickly they can actually move. Power cleans might be around the 70-80% range. Basically....move fast! Real fast!

Strength is your heavy stuff. I will say anything 5 reps or less. For myself I generally stay in the 3-5 rep range. Maybe once in an 8 week training cycle I will move up to actual singles. But typically I stay in that rep range or I use my 3RM and perform many 1 rep sets with it.

Hypertrophy, or repetitive effort, is just that. Reps, reps, reps. Somewhere in the 6-12 rep range works well for most. This is your "bodybuilder" training.

The fourth rep zone that I referred to is your recovery rep zone, or endurance reps. That would be in the 12-20 rep range. Light weight. This can be used for recovery workouts if you haven't recovered properly from your last training session. For example, if you go in on a strength day and it isn't happening, you can drop back and do some recovery work and get out. Also, I use this rep range after coming off a long training cycle were I really beat myself up. Take 7-10 days a day a few easy workouts to give my body and my joints a break.

Okay, now that we have that defined, lets look at how to really set things up. I know a few entries back I had talked about linear periodization. It is great for beginners and for most that need to prepare for one single event. Since I already talked about that, lets explore something else. What if, we took the general idea or linear periodization and set up 3 training phases:

1) Structural (hypertrophy)
2) strength
3) power

But, instead of just totally disimissing the other qualities while we train only one, lets try and use those in each phase but, have them make up only a small amount of our training. This is what Siff and Zatsiorsky had defined as the "conjugate method" of training. Basically, you traing to emphasize one quality (hypertrophy for example) while the other qualities (strength and power) are trained with lower volume to help retain their ability so all is not lost.

So, how would this work?

Lets say our athlete trains 3 days a week, total body workouts. In the first phase, our days would look like this:

day 1- hypertrophy
day 2- power/strength
day 3- hypertrophy

In the second phase:

day1- strength
day2- power/hypertrophy
say3- strength

And the third:

day1- power
day2- strength/hypertrophy
day3- power

Now, the sequencing of plyometrics in all of this. First, plyo's are always done at the start of the workout. You don't want to try and do them at the end when you are fatigued, as that will take away from their purpose.....You can't fatigue your nervous system and then expect it to optimally perform.

In phase one, the structural phase, I have the plyo's and one olympic lift on day 2. I do this to give my body a break during this phase. Also, I am assuming that you will be doing sprints and conditioning work on other days of the week. In this first phase, I stick with single response plyos (basically jumps and stick the landing). I like Ice Skater stick the landing for the lateral stuff and box jumps stick the landing or squat jump stick the landing for the vertical stuff. You can use low hurdle hops with a stick the landing as well in this phase. The olympic lift i typically go with some ligther loads and work in the 3-5 rep range and just work on being fast and having good technique (or, I don't do the lift at all and only do pulls in this phase). I also like to use the agillity ladder at the end of the warm up on all three of the workout days as this just helps to excite the nervous system. For the hypertrophy work, I use tempo restrictions on the eccentric portion of the lift. For the strength work, I use some isometric stuff as well.

In phase two, we move to working on our strength, as it takes over a greater amount of our training. In this phase, I will take my olympic lifts and move them into a 2-3 rep range and place one lift on day 1 and one on day 3 to start my workouts. On day 2 I do my plyo work and follow it up with hypertrophy work. The plyo work can start to move into more dynamic stuff, less stick the landing work (as you should already now have a good ability to decelerate). Things like multiple jump squats, single leg jump squats, single leg box jumps, ice skaters, etc.

In phase three, we have power being the main quality trained and the plyo's are going to get a little more intense. Olympic lifts will be trained after the plyo's are done. I typically use a bunch of sets of 1 rep for the olympic lifts in the phase or we do a wave loading thing over 6 sets like this: 3/2/1/3/2/1. The plyo's are things like depth jumps, or depth landings. I also like iso-explosive work here. For example, holding in a split squat position for 5sec with heavy DBs, then dropping the DBs and performing 5 split jumps, etc....

Phases can last anywhere from 3-5 weeks before moving on. If you have 10 weeks to get ready for your season, you might spend 3 weeks in each phase and then week 10 you do some recovery training and get ready to go.

That is just one way I have tried to break the stuff up over a training cycle. There are other ways to do it. Simple is always best. Maybe I will talk about another way to do it in a future entry.

Hope that answered your question.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

More Inspiration

Last night, I was browsing through looking for some sports montage's. I came across a video of a guy preparing for this years Boston Marathon which is taking place on April 16th. However, this guy is not your typical marathoner. After watching the video, I went to his website (documenting his training) to have a look around. I was amazed at the story.

Jacob is a bee-keeper in Wisconson. He also happens to be (or was at the start of his training) 400+ pounds. Basically, his whole goal is to lose weight or die trying. He is running the marathon not only for himself, but to raise money for various charities. I think everyone should check out the site. There are some commical montage's of his training, a blog and two pages deveoted to reader's comments. One page, titled "the hall-of-fame", is comments from people giving him praise and wishing him luck for taking this step towards changing his life. The other page, titled "death threats", is from a bunch of arrogant prick runners who want to say things like "get real!" or "you are insulting runners by running a race that is so important to serious runners."

Give me a break! Those people can eat it (most of them should eat it judging by their 130lb frame). Why don't they worry about running their race for their own reasons (whatever they may be). A race that is as important as the Boston marathon means something different to each person running. To some, it may mean that they have finally validated their running career...."I made it! I finally qualified for Boston!" to others it may mean something totally different. To Jacob, it is a step towards trying to live a healthier, more active life.

Go to the site and check it out. It is pretty darn cool!