Friday, October 30, 2009

Current training progress

Things are going well with training. There has been a lot of taking a step back. I stepped back on my bending and have been working my reverse and double over bending hard, and am getting better at it as my wrists and grip get stronger. I've also switched to the style of tearing Dave Whitley recommended and am back to square one with that.
Otherwise I'm currently doing Rite of Passage with the 28 kg. Ladders of 4 rungs aren't too tough right now, and I should be up to five ladders of five rungs next week. The 40 kg. isn't too far off, I just have to keep working and keep my shoulder down.
Mobility of massively improved, and that has been my priority lately, particularly since HSV.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hardstyle Ventura Group Photo

Thanks to Jennifer Bryan for taking this photo.

What is the purpose?

I dislike crossfit kids. I give Crossfit some leeway because I've seen some people get good results when the technique and programming are correct. When they start doing this stuff to kids who trust them I run into problems.
There was a video a while back of another kid doing the exact same thing the kid in this video does, but facing a wall. He dumps the weight and misses ramming his head into the wall by about an inch.

The point of this isn't to pick on Crossfit, but to pose a question. Why are we doing the things we are doing? Even in so called 'randomized training' the exercise selection should make sense. Unless you're training to be a powerlifter what exactly is the purpose of doing max load barbell back squats? Now, I've attended Louie's seminar and heard him talk about using powerlifts for athletes. The key there is 'athletes', and high level ones at that. Louie also doesn't only do powerlifts with them.
The question is WHY does the general population need to do heavy barbell back squats? Or even barbell deadlifts? This isn't to say the movement is bad. All of my clients squat and deadlift, but they do it with kettlebells, or sandbags, or sticks. What is going on with a barbell back squat that isn't occurring during a front squat, or a kettlebell goblet squat? Some things to be sure, but are they necessary for the man or woman on the street. I regularly see trainers loading up female clients with heavy barbells on their backs. Why?
Aside from the question of 'why' do the exercise at all, what about dysfunction? A barbell back squat requires flexibility, mobility, and stability to a degree most people do not have. So why load them up to do an exercise that even if they want to do it, they flat out can't?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hardstyle Ventura

Saturday I was in Ventura, CA for Pavel's Hardstyle workshop. Talk about information overload. I am continually amazed by the depth of technique there is to everything we do, and the amount of collective knowledge possessed by all of the upper level RKC instructors. Met Paul Daniels RKC Team Leader again and he gave me some essential pieces I have been missing from my military press. Adding to that everything Pavel taught us, and the 40 kg. is going down soon after a long battle. Dave Whitley took the time to look at my card tearing technique. He handed me one of his decks and asked me to tear it. I looked at it. I had seen the type of deck before because I have a stack of them on my shelf. I have barely been able to put a dent in them. The decks I usually tear have no plastic coating. Well I wasn't about to turn into a whining little sissy, so I said a silent prayer and went at it. I flaked a lot of cards off the deck in the attempt, but eventually tore it in half. I mean it was UGLY, but it happened. Dave gave me some good advice I had already been considering, but his additional insights just solidified it. I'll be working on the style of tearing Adam Glass uses. It's more versatile and is more of a testament of true grip strength. I have a long road ahead of me. Fortunately I have big feet and a long stride.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recognizing and Respecting your Dysfunction Pt. 1

Gray Cook said something that really hit home for me: "You haven't earned that lift yet."
We live in an instant gratification society where we have to have everything RIGHT NOW, and for most people the concept of patience and the requirement to earn things is a foreign idea. So why wouldn't this cross over into exercise?
When new people come to train with me I give my spiel about mastering the basics and most of them get it. Every so often though someone just cannot grasp it and is perpetually interrogating me about how long it will take before they can learn how to snatch, or clean and press.
Well... you can barely do a get up. You can't even get a decent number of swings yet. If you cannot do an appreciable number of swings with an appropriate sized kettlebell or stabilize yourself at the top of a get up there is no earthly reason for you to be snatching a kettlebell other than your need to be entertained.
Looking at this from another anlge, there is also no need for you to be snatching a kettlebell if your shoulders and thoracic spine are completely locked up. If you try to touch your hands together (one on top one on the bottom) and there is a foot of space between them, or there is a different amount of space form one side to the other, probably any overhead work is not going to be an awesome idea for you until you remedy that. Unless you have giant hands. It's an FMS joke. :)
You're not stable. You have poor flexibility/mobility.
You haven't earned that lift yet.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Are you ready for the HKC?

Well, it looks like everyone is out of excuses.
This December 5th and 12th Mark Reifkind Master RKC will be holding the first California HKC right here in Palo Alto.

Dec. 12th 2009

Spots are limited to 12, so register before they fill up.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A week without sugar

For the past week I have had zero additional sugar. This means I have not eaten or drank anything that had sugar added to it. This was not easy as I am a sugar addict and have been my entire life. However after reading Nourishing Traditions and beginning to work my way through The China Study as well as other books and articles I have come to the conclusion that sugar is doing me no favors.
I've found it to be interesting how many people are dismayed and bordering on being offended that I would give up sugar. What exactly are the health benefits of taking in mass amounts of sugar? Oh that's right... there are none.
Then I have people suggesting chemical alternatives. People! Do not trade a sugar for a chemical. That does not make a lick of sense.
So what has my experience been this week? I feel much better. I am getting stronger, I am functioning more efficiently, and in just seven days I am noticeably leaner. It isn't just the absence of empty calories either. I think the whole mechanism runs more smoothly when you aren't monkeying with all of the essential reactions.
So I have to ask: What has sugar done for you lately?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trainers without certifications

This has been popping up more and more lately, so I thought I'd meditate on it for a moment.
Whatever your gig is, I think we can all agree that it's important to be qualified to actually do it. Usually this means some schooling and then a piece of paper saying you understand the basics. In my realm this is the personal training certification.
Now I am standing at the front of the line when it comes to declaring that most of what you learn getting this thing will not relate one iota to what you actually do with clients. I use waaay more of my RKC, FMS, etc. skills working with clients than I do my ISSA CFT. However, the CFT gave me my foundation. Regardless of whether I use them or not it drilled me in on some basic stuff.
Now here's the meat of it. If you are a personal trainer, particularly one trying to make a career of it, and you do not have your personal training certification you are wrong.
Just to clarify this, your RKC is not a personal training certification. Your Crossfit Level One is not a personal training certification. No matter how much you may want it to be, it just isn't. I also don't care how many times some guy you work with has declared he learned more in blah blah blah than he did from his PT cert. That does not mean he learned nothing from his PT cert.
I've seen some discussions lately on forums where people talk back and forth about shy you don't need a PT cert. Here's the thing though... can you tell me why it's bad to have one? Probably not.
So this brings me to my ultimate conclusion. If you are trainer working without a PT Cert you're telling me something. Not that you don't know what the quadratus lumborum is or what it does, you are telling me that you're not serious.
PT certs aren't hard to get. What's 3-6 months out of a 20-30 year career? You're really trying to tell me you can't take the time?
I'm not buying it.

Now a word on Master Trainers...

I've seen more and more self-proclaimed 'Master Trainers' popping up. I know a few Master Trainers. Someone else had to tell them they were Master Trainers. None of them declared it. If you're a 'Master Trainer' you don't have to tell people, it's obvious. My whole philosophy of learning in regard to strength training revolves around one guiding concept: I know nothing.
This has served me pretty well. I come across things everyday that just leave me scratching my head, but that's okay. I look it up. I do a google search. Turns out a vastus lateralis is a real muscle and not a Star Trek character like I thought it was.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big food is going to make Big Tobacco look like Mother Theresa

Over the last few months I've been taking baby steps to clean up my diet. This is the only way for me to do it. Of late I'm making my final strike against sugar, dairy, and pasteurization. Go stand in the drink aisle and try to find something that isn't pasteurized and doesn't have any extra sugar in it. It's hours of fun.
Just to be clear, the dairy thing is unique to me. I don't think there's anything wrong with dairy, I just can't handle it. The anti-pasteurization thing is just me being weird, I do not recommend it for you.
The more I read and look at things like cancer rates and the rise of other forms of malignant disease during the 20th century I can't ignore the following conclusion.
I think Big Food is killing more people than Big Tobacco. I might be way off on this, but it's my blog.
You can reasonably expect to get cancer or some other malignant disease in your lifetime. Someone you know will die of cancer. ALL OF YOU. Does this strike anyone as odd?
Think about it this way: People like to point the finger, just not at themselves. In the heyday of smoking what was the percentage of the population smoking cigarettes? I have no idea and don't care to research it, but let's say 50%. Well that still leaves half the population to condemn and feel good about themselves. Now let's look at Big Food. What's the percentage of the population eating fast food or processed foods? 99%? Maybe 95%? That's a big number. Acknowledging this creates a huge job. You have to re-engineer the whole system. You also have to get all of the sugar addicts and chemical addicts to stop looking for their fix.
Everyone wants to talk about the obesity epidemic, but everyone wants to work around the problem. Let's exercise! Let's get rid of coke machines in schools! Well duh.
Until we get to the point where we stop thinking it's okay to replace sugar with chemicals (diet soda anyone?) we're pretty much screwed.
We have to change the way we think, and what has become our nature.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Registered for RKC II and CK-FMS

I am now registered for both the San Jose RKC II and CK-FMS. Many big things will be happening in 2010. I am currently hard at work on my first book and am looking forward to it coming out late 2009/early 2010.
More to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A better double 32 kg. press.

First, this is the end of my PR attempts until I complete six weeks of Adam's program. The end. I am now in week three.
I had been wanting to get an idea of my strength in the double military press so today I cleaned up two 32 kg. bells and went at it.
Conclusion: not really that hard, and much better than last time. I went for a second rep, but no go. Got it halfway up and stalled. All technique and mobility, as I felt strength wise I could do it.

Here is today.

Here is before.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's good to relax...

Chairman Meow and I take a break.

A few inches from a 32 kg. bottoms up press...

is still not a 32 kg. bottoms up press.
I haven't posted about it but I've been back on Adam Glass's pressing program for about two weeks now. Tomorrow is my second heavy day. Things are turbulent right now and I wanted to make sure I could stay on it with my schedule how it is before I said anything.
Before today I have never been able to get a 32 kg. out of the rack in the bottoms up position. Today I not only got it out of the rack, but was only inches away from completing the press. This is why I love video. When I went back and watched the failed attempt I saw the exact moment my shoulder popped out of the socket and I lost it. I think if I just keep it sucked in and grind through I'll get it.