Deep Down, We Workout For Injury Prevention, Don’t We?

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I’ve never let go of this thought since I entered the physical fitness/strength and conditionining arena, although when you’re working with healthy athletes and able bodied working professionals, it can be easy to forget why we are truly doing any gym work at all.

It’s very easy to lose sight of what matters most.

All of the magazines scream “performance!” or “burn fat!”, but we need to remember that every workout should be treated as a small dose of injury prevention medication.

And you could argue that increasing one’s ability to perform is also contributing to injury prevention, except in instances where training risks outweigh training rewards.

I watched a friend tear a ligament during a bar league hockey game last night. You could, argue that ligamentous injuries of the knee are freak accidents. They commonly do happen on impact, while twisting and turning, etc… but it is also important to remember that there simple (and safe) measures each of us can take to aid in preventing such an injury.

By taking such measures, are we 100% guaranteed to be safeguarded against blowing out a knee if we train diligently?

Absolutely not. There are very few guarantees in life outside of death and taxes.

Working to build a high functioning and resilient body that is capable of expressing adequate levels of strength, power, stability, mobility and resilience to cardiovascular fatigue (in a progressive and scaled way) also carries the benefit of injury prevention.

I’ve seen enough athletics to know that un-trained/de-conditioned bodies are more susceptible to injury during competition. I’ve seen it, I have heard physicians, athletic trainers and physical therapists talk about it. There is a lingering danger to compete or perform any other type of strenuous work in a de-conditioned state.

The guy that blew out his knee last night is an attorney with a wife a kids. He has a professional career that he needs to wake up and get to every morning along with numerous life duties around the house. All of that is now affected dramatically by his knee injury.

Lately, I have found that I am waaaaaaay more mindful about what truly matters in life, and in this case, what truly matters while we engage in our daily “workout”.

Whatever motivates you to keep training hard yet smart, hold on to that. But lets be more mindful that training should be a lifelong process that effectively contributes to preserving our ability to move without pain and restriction. When you’re young, it is far easier to view training as a vehicle to a lean body that performs well. When you’re young, you also think about hurting yourself far less then you do when you age.

But as we age, and you can ask anyone who is between say 40-50 years of age, a workout is mostly an effort to offset the challenges of life. Your priorities change. Sure, you can increase your peformance at any age, but squatting 500lbs or running a sub-10sec 100 meter sprint is pretty low on the totem pole. So is victory at Sunday night bar league hockey at the expense of torn ligaments in a knee.

Six pack abs and dunking basketballs are small peanuts in the grand scheme of things. Especially when we compare it to reducing the likelihood that you blow out a knee while playing pick up hockey with your buddies, where clearly nothing is on the line if you win or lose (despite all of us wanting to win of course). Or maybe preserving your ability to walk in the later stages of life.

I used to see a lot of world famous strength coaches preach about the first golden rule of successful programming: “first, do no harm”. I know that they were talking about their personal duties to each of their athletes/clients, but maybe we should all keep this in the back of our minds while we pursue personal fitness.

Wondering what to do? Here are a few things to consider… (in no particular order)…

1) Slow down.
We rush fitness. It is the trend right now. A lot of programs take a pure run and gun approach, completely neglecting or generalizing baseline starting points. Big name companies tug on our heart strings by promising rapid weight loss, etc. Next time you engage in a warm-up, slow every movement down and reference #2.

Rushing through exercises has never done anything for anyone. Slow down, do it right.

2) Do it right.
Technique is everything. We train muscles to turn on when we need them to, joints to have adequate mobility to prevent other joints from moving when they shouldn’t all while improving our static and dynamic posture. Does it really matter what you squat technique looks like? Yes it does. Does you body alignment matter that much during a plank? Yes it does. Slow down, do it right. Repetition is going to reward one day when you least expect it.

Technique is everything, get detailed and hold yourself accountable to exercise smarter.

3) Assess Risk vs. Reward.
Does the amount of risk involved in your completing the workout challenge, program or individual exercise outweigh the reward? If so, consider taking a different approach. If something hurts while you do it, don’t do it. Avoid that exercise and figure out why you’re hurting. Pain is your body trying to tell you something valuable, whether you choose to listen is completely up to you.

Are you rolling the dice on a certain exercise or protocol? Is it worth injuring yourself over?

4) Justify your actions.
If you can’t justify why you are doing something during a workout, consider not doing it. If you don’t understand because you simply haven’t taken the time to read up on why a movement is beneficial to improving your current situation, get your ass in front of computer screen and read up. Stop going through the motions just because you read that Peyton Manning does it, or because Shaun T. preaches it in his exercise DVDs. Be mindful of each and every decision and action you take during a workout. Justify everything. You should be able to say to yourself, “I am doing _____________ because it will do ____________ for my body, and my life”.

You should have a reason behind every rep, set, and exercise. If not, why are you doing it?

5) Define Your Goals
You’ll struggle to arrive at your goals if you first don’t define them. Goal setting has been beaten to a pulp over the years, but it also seems to have fallen on deaf ears. What do you want to happen as the result of your training efforts? Do you want fat loss to relieve inflammation and pressure on joints? Do you want strength to better handle decelerating forces in athletics? Are your shoulders unstable? Are you extremely stiff and need to improve flexibility? Start asking yourself these questions. It will help you compile a list of what needs to take place in order to achieve these goals.

Goal planning is powerful, so is following through on those goals.

Lastly, don’t let this post turn you into a hypochondriac. Get out and explore you body’s ability to move through space.

It’s not rocket science. Learn a little bit and build out from there. Everyone starts as a beginner. Every workout brings you closer to your ideal self.

Life is meant to be explored with movement.

When the ability to move is taken from you, you’ll never appreciate how precious of a gift it really was.

Cheers to preventing unwanted injuries!

KG

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A Quick (and effective) Kettlebell Swing + Bodyweight Movement Workout

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I’ve started to trend some of my posts toward topics that people are searching for in Google, which I am informed of on my blog.  You cannot see these stats and search terms, but I can, so advantage to me!

I won’t sell out and write what I think will drive more traffic to this blog (a lot of fitness bloggers do), but I am interested in what kind of traffic numbers will arrive if I direct some of my posts toward the needs of the people.  My goal has always been to write authentically and reach as many people as possible.  We will see how it turns out.

Ha, listen to me… “The needs of the people”.

Photo Credit:  tv.com

Photo Credit: tv.com

I sound like I should run for city office, or city treasurer on Boardwalk Empire.

Anyways, I put myself through what I would consider an intermediate workout tonight.

This workout was heavily centered around kettlebell swings, and supplemented with various other bodyweight movements.  I feel like “supplemented” is the proper terminology in this particular situation, as you’ll see from the workout below.

The bodyweight movements that separate the kettlebell swings are nothing more than filler exercises used to keep my heart rate elevated in between bouts of swings.  More muscles worked, more calories burned during and after training.

I tend to choose both upper and lower body bodyweight movements to disperse the training stress to  more of a total body approach.  Splitting the movements to upper and lower allows for a brief period of training stress directed at a specific movement pattern (horizontal push, squat, vertical pull, etc) without exhausting that pattern completely.  This allows for intelligent fatigue management during other bodyweight movements and more importantly during kettlebell swings.

When fatigue sets in, technique gets ugly, people are exposed to bad habits and injury.

So, without blabbing any further, here is the structure of the workout, please notice that it is very similar to the multi-method cardio approach:

sample kettlebell and bodyweight workout

A couple of points…

First, there is a lot of work being done here, as you can see.  There is a lot of muscle being stressed and the rest is light.  A workout like this could be a complete training session for a beginner or an intermediate, or scaled up for an advanced lifter.  Scaling up for an advanced trainee might involve a bump up in bodyweight exercise progression or adding a weight vest to those movements.  It’s all a matter of tweaking the variables based on your unique situation and needs.

Second, I kept the reps to even numbers, 10’s and 20’s.  Why?  Because it is annoying having to check your notebook after every movement.  I want you to be focused on what you’re doing during the training session not counting reps like people count food calories.  Focus on your movement, your breathing, your recovery.  Forget about complicated rep schemes… I have plenty of those that I will post in good time.

Third, go sub-maximal but not too light on your kettlebell swings.  Grab a bell that you could swing for 30 reps and focus on hip snap during those suggested 20 reps.  Guys you might grab a 24kg or a 28kg, gals you might grab a 16kg or a 20kg.  Both guys and gals, you’re allowed to grab more or less than that, but on average, males and females will use those weights.

Remember, don’t gauge your energy expenditure on the first set of swings because you’ve got 3 more sets of swings and 4 different bodyweight movements lying ahead.  Manage your fatigue appropriately.  If you have a heart rate monitor, I would suggest using it to check you heart rate.  Of course, you’d want to already have an idea of the beats per minute that separate you from exhibiting crappy movement technique.  When you reach that heart rate, you can back off, rest for a few seconds, then get back into the workout once you can control and OWN the movement.

Why 20 reps of swings?  Because I personally feel that anything more than that really doesn’t provide much benefit other than poor technique (lack of finishing in full hip extension, slouching, etc) and a rising risk of losing the bell on the backswing or at the highest point of the arc.  One slip will kill your pet or put a hole in your wall, and the other will destroy your brand new LED TV.

20 reps (or less depending on your conditioning level) seems to allow for a sufficient elevation in heart rate without making the swings pointless from lack of load and endless volume.  There will be plenty of work performed in this training session, it doesn’t all need to be accomplished with kettlebell swings.

If you’re bored with your typical cardio routine, I would highly recommend giving a workout like this a real shot.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how hard your cardiovascular is taxed during a training session like the one described below.  20 minutes seems to be the sweet spot for me.  I have tested up to 30+ minutes of work like this, and it just doesn’t work for a couple of reasons…

1)  I feel like I am just going through the motions with regard to loading (aka weight used).

2)  I feel like I am adding  volume for an unjustified purpose.

These days, workouts like this serve as a great follow-up to my 2-day on/1-day off training schedule.

Day 1 is a heavily focused on strength work with a splash of jump rope or Airdyne cardio work, while day 2 (this workout) is dedicated to sub-maximal movements strung together to work cardio-strength (traditional strength moves with incomplete rest periods).

Ultimately, the goal is to stay physically prepared until I shift my training toward a particular goal.

Also, although the 20-25 minutes of work being completed in a workout are definitely stressful and draining, I feel as though it’s a short enough bout that allows for adequate recovery between training sessions, avoiding over-training.  The full 24+ hours of rest is also a motivating factor to work hard during this type of training session.  The rest day is just that… a rest and recovery day.

Be a perfectly golden marshmallow at the end, not a crusted black scabby marshmallow.

Give it a shot and let me know how you make out!

Cheers to short effective bouts of exercise!

Kyle

What is Ido Portal’s Training Philosophy Doing To Me?

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Ido Portal

I’ve been following Ido Portal for nearly 2 months and I’m starting to question how we “practice” fitness, what it means to be “fit”, how we get to the point of being considered fit, what humans should be able to do movement-wise, and on and on  and on.

I have to admit, thought process-wise, I am going through a shift.

Ido makes incredibly great points about movement and body control.  It’s a raw thought process, completely stripped down to just… movement.

The point that Ido conveys time and time again is that we should be able to move freely.  He references movement patterns, but I know from reading through his blog and watching his YouTube videos that he isn’t referring to the “safe” movement patterns that we fitness professionals beat into the ground.  He’s expanding far beyond that thought process.

Here are some snapshots of Ido-style movement…

I realize now, more than ever, that the modern-day human really doesn’t know how to handle their body.

We are slaves to sitting in chairs, cubicles, in front of the television and in cars.  If you really stop and think about how much we sit on any given day, it’s nauseating.  Even if we have no choice but to sit for our careers, when the weekend comes we still choose to grab a lawn chair and sit, sit at the bar, sit at restaurant.  Sit.

I can partially throw myself into this group also because I have to sit down to write on this blog.

I consider myself to be an athletic dude, but watching some of these videos leads me to believe that I have handicapped my own movement performance.  I am not even in the same realm as some of the people that have been under the Ido Portal tutelage for as few as a few months.

I can squat (ass to grass) and rest in the squatting position for long periods of time, elevate my arms overhead without breaking at the low back, and exhibit rotational range of motion at my thoracic spine when it’s required… but integrating of all of these elements into a free-flowing long sequence without making it look painfully difficult was humbling for me.

The low lizard crawl is a basic locomotion pattern in the Ido Portal Training Method, and it’s basically used as warm-up!  I am here to tell you that it is humbling how difficult it is to crawl 10-15 yards like this (fast forward to 1:56)…

Are the followers of the Ido Portal Method been practicing different techniques than I am?

Yes, of course.  They are following strict progressions that allow for a appropriate movement education.  A repetitive approach to learning movement in a progression-friendly manner will ensure that no fundamental steps were skipped along the way, all while achieving desired results.

The human body will adapt and increasingly better how we ask to move, or how we don’t it to move.  That is why a lot of people have back pain, poor hip mobility and loss of muscle activation from sitting.  But humans naturally want to stand up straight, so in order to make this possible, we compensate to achieve.

So I think that over time my movement will begin to flow like some of his videos, but it is going to take some work, some practice, dedication and time.

Many of Ido’s students YouTube videos display what I would consider to be “test-outs” or results from following his teachings, so I think that it’s important (when watching these videos) to keep in mind that there was an incredible amount of dedication and work put in prior to shooting each person’s testimonial of the Ido Portal Method.

It didn’t happen over night, in a week or in a month.

The other night, I was trying to find the words to describe my perception of how we pursue health and wellness, and where I stand on the matter.  It’s a difficult topic to discuss because there are so many elements that combine to form, health.

I continue to find myself veering away from “safe” more and more.  Now, I don’t mean that I am moving toward “unsafe” and negligent, but I really am questioning why we do what we do in the gym or outside of the gym (wherever we train).  It’s cookie cutter and robotic in nature.  It’s lacking exploration.  Reps, sets and rest cannot be the pot of gold at the end of the movement continuum.

Who established these rules that we follow so closely?  Science?  Industry leaders?

Do we continue to teach and preach these methods because that is what the masses want?  Or are we lacking in our own understanding of more complex movement patterns, integration and improvisation?  Are we aiming for the wrong target?  What does fitness mean anyways?

We aim for reproducible results- and I don’t think that we should be aiming for anything different- but we have become robots in our pursuit of fitness.  The entire idea is skewed.  Everything that we preach for people to do is cookie cutter and safe.

There is very little room for anyone to stray from the path, and if you do (as I am exploring currently), you’re branded and thrown out to the wolves.

We preach moving within our means, avoiding compromising body positions and alignment, moving weight safely, employing safe rep and set ranges for maximizing our goals, adequate rest to perform that work safely, etc.  Safe, safe, safe.

Before you label me a hippocrate, let me say that I actually also believe in safe.

Ido Portal’s methods of movement might be right for everyone at some point, but maybe not at this moment.

The human race have never moved less or eaten worse.

We sit more, we move less. We are walking time bombs with regard to our ability to move effectively or for any duration (endurance, etc).  We eat food created in factories, food that has never seen the earth’s soil, food that contains ingredients that we cannot pronounce much less identify… and because we eat so much of this food, our body’s have become a reflection of these poor choices.

Make no mistake, we are what we eat.

But the problem is that we don’t even know we are heading down a path of self-destruction.  Eating crap has become the norm, and we don’t even know it.  But food chatter is outside of the scope of this blog post.  I’m not a nutritionist nor do I really want to be.  I’ll end the nutrition talk here.

We walk around commenting that a person is “in shape” if they don’t cast a bubbly shadow on pavement on a sunny day.  Not everyone needs to have a six-pack, but we are desensitized to what health looks like.  “Lean” is almost taboo is some areas of America, and the world.  One look back in history will show that most of civilization is getting bigger.  And by bigger, I am not referring to taller.

In many instances, our body shape is actually limiting our ability to move.  Yes, the amount of tissue that we are carrying on our bodies are preventing us from moving the way that we are supposed to move.

Studies like this support my bantering…

I started thinking like this a few years ago, and I thought I was crazy, because my background is strength and conditioning.  Strength and conditioning workouts and programs are EXTREMELY structured, and EXTREMELY safe.  There is very little room for movement exploration in the eyes of strength coach.  Strength based programs, as I mentioned, are extremely structured.  You work through phases that place focus on building different athletic qualities (hypertrophy, strength, power, work capacity, etc).  The reps and sets are calculated, training days, rest, etc.

I got trapped in that way thinking for everyone, athlete or otherwise.  More like handcuffed.  To the point that I felt like if I explored anything outside of a 4-phase workout program, a barbell squat or a systematic approach to “core training”, then I was a Looney Tune.

Then I picked up a kettlebell for the first time.  Kettlebells had been around for a little while, but they were still considered taboo by some of the leaders in the strength and conditioning industry.  After executing some kettlebell swings and some turkish get ups in a hotel room after a performance conference, I realized that movement was different from exercise.

Movement is different from exercise.

This is movement:

This is exercise:

I was strong, but my integrated movement was shit.  In fact, I wasn’t graceful at all.  My muscles were powerful and my joint were mobile and stable, but I had zero grace in pure movement.  I was powerful, strong and stable within the confines of identified movement patterns, but when I challenged myself outside of these confines, I was at beginner level.

Again, I realized that movement is different from exercise. I was certainly moving when I exercise, but I was trapping and limiting my ability to move freely with traditional exercise.

In fact, I don’t even like the word exercise.  I use it but I don’t like it.  I use the word “movement” on this blog over and over again.  I would even prefer to say “train” or “practice” or “drills” over the word exercise.  Exercise makes me cringe.  “Exercise” makes me think of automated robots on a treadmill.  I don’t want to be an automated robot.  I want to move.  I want to move because I enjoy moving, and seeking out new methods of movement is challenging.  I want to move in an unrestricted 3-dimensional manner.

I’m not going to discard structured movement training using such drills as push ups, squats, and lunges, because they have their place.  But I am damn well going to explore un-traditional forms of movement from here on out.  Climbing, hanging, swinging, etc.  Full integration of movement play and practice starts now.

We fitness professionals think that we know movement and that we are teaching people how to be “functional”, shame on us.  We stop our teachings at “flat back”, “shoulders down and back” and “pressurize your core”!

I learned a long time ago, after crumpling up and throwing away probably 2-3 books worth of writing material that I should trust my thinking.  I feel that I should trust my thinking now.  I have grown to appreciate being exposed to new ideas that initiate an evolution in my own thinking.

Why be trapped?  Go explore, go move…

Oh and here is that picture that I promised some 910 words ago…

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 12.01.58 PM

 

 

 

Cheers to stumbling onto ideas that open our minds!

KG

KISS KISS KISS!!!

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ImageThe KISS method is the most effective path to jumpstarting a consistent training program.

It’s also how you make a active lifestyle stick for the long-term.

If I handed a lot of people a 12-week training plan, most won’t progress passed the first week, if not the first few days.

It’s just too much to process.

Too much information to process.  All of the information creates a surplus of anxiety and excitement inside of a person’s head.  They have EVERYTHING that they need in that 12-week program, but there are way too many moving parts to concentrate on completing them.  

We lose focus and end up doing nothing when we get overwhelmed.

We shut down.  

What you can handle (mentally and physically) will determine what you need right now, at this very moment.

And surprisingly, the amount that you need to make significant change is relatively small.  

If I write the world’s greatest fat loss program, not everyone is going to hit a home run with it.

Why?  Because the world’s greatest fat loss program might be way too much for most people to digest.

My hesitation in talking about kettlebells on this blog has always been that not everyone is ready for kettlebells.  Some people don’t even know what they are until they read about it on here.  Are they good candidates for kettlebell training?  Maybe, maybe not.  

Maybe we should consider that there are far better places for these folks to start.  Places that will engrain powerful habits of exercise that will one day evolve into kettlebell training and all of the amazing benefits that come along with kettlebell training.

Some folks cannot execute a bodyweight squat, push up or run a 1/2 mile without taking a pitstop.  And that’s fine if you can’t, all in good time.  You have to start somewhere.

I reference the Bruce Lee quote consistently on this blog:

“Absorb what is useful and discard the rest”.

This blog is a la carte style.  You pick the information that you can apply to your situation right now.  Act on it.  Everything else, discard.  You won’t hurt my feelings by doing so.  

And truthfully, I write about whatever I feel like writing about for that day.  My most popular posts have been centered around sharing detailed workouts, but I don’t want to be the blog that just shares workouts without discussing WHY you’re engaging in them.  

Treat this blog like a menu at a restaurant.  At a restaurant, not everyone in the group is going to order the same meal, which is why they provide a vast variety of options.  

Back to KISS…

The next time that you get the motivation and inspiration to push forward with a movement program, take a second to step back and ask yourself, “How complicated does this process need to be?  Can I arrive at my destination (goal achievement) by employing simple strategies?”

KISS is a theory that thinks so.

Many before you have used KISS to absolute perfection, achieving amazing results over time.  Be patient and proactive in your approach, and for heaven’s sake… KISS!

Try this KISS workout today:

Image

 

 

Cheers to KISS!

 

KG

It’s Just a Kettlebell Swing and Suspension Trainer Workout

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A few months ago, I wrote a post titled:

—>  It’s Just a Kettlebell Swing Workout

Kettlebell Swings

That has been my most popular post on this blog, by far.

I wrote it because I wanted to convey how simple a workout can be, and probably should be for most people.

Totally stripped down.  Nothing but a timer, a towel and water bottle, and a kettlebell of a decent weight.  You could make the argument that a “totally stripped down” workout would only involve bodyweight exercises, but that’s beside the point.

A lot of people avoid physical activity because of two things:

  • Time
  • Preconceived thoughts and anxiety about how the workout will feel.

Simple workouts are time effective and aim to limit anxiety.  You look at the agenda for the workout and say to yourself, “Oh, I just have to focus on kettlebell swings today.  I can do that”.

If you have a kettlebell or have the means to acquire a kettlebell for the future, I will ALWAYS encourage you to make the purchase.  Don’t wait, don’t peruse, don’t over-analyze.

Just buy and be done with it.  You won’t be sorry.

Well, I take that back, you could be sorry… if you buy it and fizzle out and using it.  Then it’s just another heavy object holding a door open.  What a shame that would be.

Anyways, I wanted to build on that post, because I felt that the workouts displayed were rock solid, and applicable to a large population of readers.

They are simple, yet brutally effective.  I would consider them entry-level workouts, however, I have to admit that I continue to use the 15sec work/ 15sec rest (24 rounds) kettlebell swing protocol to this day.

The only difference is that I have climbed the ladder in weight.  When I started with the protocol, I used a 20kg kettlebell from LifeLine Fitness.  I then climbed to the 24kg kettlebell, then to the 28kg kettlebell and now on to the 32kg kettlebell.  All were purchased from LifeLine Fitness also (yes, I promote these guys heavily, they make equipment worth buying).

Don’t be fooled by elaborate training protocols.  Keep it simple and be detailed.

A simple workout/program executed to perfection will trump the world’s most complex/perfectly written program done poorly.

Stay in the “simple” zone, do it right.

That being said, I would like to say that kettlebells and suspension trainers are a match made in heavy.  For roughly $300, you can outfit your home with a Jungle Gym XT and a nice variety of kettlebells ranging in weight.

The combination of a suspension trainer and kettlebells is magic.

Seriously, they are match made in heaven.

Let’s look at workout that I’ve employed over the years…

Kettlebell + Suspension Trainer

A workout like this is complete.

The kettlebell swings alone are enough to initiate a tremendous training stimulus, but when paired with the other movements, the workout is magic.  Push, pull and ballistic movements for the upper and lower body are all represented here.

With high volume workouts, I typically choose simple rep schemes.  It’s annoying trying to remember how many reps to complete in the middle of round, when you’re real focus should be on controlling your breathing and fatigue.  Once you experience this frustration, you’ll wish that you would have picked simple rep schemes.

After completing each round, I would rest anywhere from 45-75 seconds depending on your conditioning level.  Don’t be a hero and rest for 45sec in the first round if you can’t handle it.  This decision may bite you in the ass in the later rounds when your fatigue levels spike.

Fatigue accumulates throughout the workout, just as it does for every workout.  It’s inevitable that it’s coming, but timing it so that you complete quality work while you can is the idea here.

The number of rounds that you complete is depends on your ability to complete quality work (exercise technique, complete reps, etc).  If your form breaks, you make the decision to rest before re-engaging, or you pull the plug on the workout altogether.

Safety first, always.  Form good habits.

Put this workout in your back pocket for now, load it in the chamber when you need a challenging high tempo training session.

 

 

Cheers to ST’s, BW’s and KB’s!

KG

(PS:  I turned on “Location Tagging” so that you’ll really believe that I reside in God’s Country… Eau Claire, WI)

My Philosophy: Great Point Alwyn Cosgrove!

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Image

When I initially read  Alwyn Cosgroves post (shown above) I immediately felt that it was too good not to share. 

Once I established my training philosophy, I was set for life.  I was set to teach others and also to execute for my own benefit.  

It doesn’t matter what equipment is around, what I have access to or what I don’t have access to.  

I can accomplish something even though I don’t have everything.  

Sure, my ideas and preferences will evolve, but I think that much of what I believe makes a great program and workout is solidified.  I am not sure (at this point) how it can get much better, without sacrificing certain things that I morally cannot consciously sacrifice.  One of those being safety of myself, or the you guys.  

I write about kettlebells and suspension trainers on this blog A LOT.  

But it’s not for any other reason than I believe whole heartedly that the combination of kettlebells and suspension trainers make for insanely effective workouts, especially since they fit into my training philosophy so well.  

Kettlebells provide loaded (resistance), ground based movements that are primarily (not all) completed in a vertical standing position.  The bold print is a part of my training philosophy.  I could substitute “kettlebells” for a whole host of other fitness equipment, and things would be just fine.  

Movements like kettlebell swings and turkish get ups are world class for building a variety of qualities, at the same time.  

Suspension trainers are an entire gym in a box, weighing in at less than 2lbs tops.  Equipment-free bodyweight training is great, but suspension training makes it better.   Suspension trainers allow for the leverage of a person’s bodyweight against gravity.  My favorite benefit of the suspension trainer is the fact that you can PULL!  Inverted rows (aka: body rows) and chin ups (supinated and neutral grip) are all made possible by two straps with handles.  

Get rid of that shoddy kitchen chair set up that you’ve been using for so long…

But as stated in Alwyns commentary above, kettlebells and suspension trainers are just tools that I use to to implement my philosophy of what makes a great workout, program, etc.  I am not exclusive to any piece of equipment.  That’s not my style.

The fact is that most equipment works wonderfully.  

It’s the user (aka: you) that has the opportunity to make the magic happen.  

I know a lot of people that own a complete set of kettlebells and the best suspension trainer money can buy, but they don’t have a philosophy, or any sort of guidance on how to use it.  In turn, they are stalemate in their efforts, or on to the next fashionably trendy workout tool.

For most people who are beyond their days of athletics, the total body approach to training is probably best.  I know that there are upper body/lower body splits and a thousand other ways to organize your weekly training, but total body is effective in short windows of time.

Time is probably our most precious commodity.  We can never get time back.  Once a minute passes, that minute is gone.  Same with days, weeks, and months.  Time keeps moving forward at the same steady pace regardless if we want it to slow down or stand still.

That being said, leveraging a total body workout, using a smart philosophy to structure the workout is (in my personal opinion) the best approach for accomplishing goals of fat loss, building all around strength and many other athletic qualities using time management.

But, it must also be said that paying attention to your nutrition, specifically what you shove into your mouth and drink, is the most time effective way to stay lean.  

My advice to all of you is this:  Treat tools are tools, not philosophies.

Gravity decides what an object is going to weigh, humans decide how the object will be shaped, how the weight is distributed and to some degree how the tool should be used best.  An example of how a tool should be used best is in fact, the kettlebell.  You can swing a dumbbell, sure.  But your first time swinging a kettlebell will lead you to believe that dumbbell shouldn’t be swung.  

Kettlebells are the standout choice for swings and many other exercises.  

But I can in fact swing a dumbbell.  I can also perform a turkish get up with a dumbbell, or a sandbag, or a filled milk carton, or a loaded backpack, etc.  It might not feel the greatest, but I can do it because it has weight and a handle to grip.

The tool is not the philosophy.  It is an augment to the philosophy.  A supplement to your training philosophy.  

Again, I can perform a squat with any tool, or no tool.  If I don’t have a two, it’s bilateral air squats or for an added loaded and challenge, it’s pistol squats.  

Therefore, pay attention to more important aspects of your workout such as:

–  Consistent progression of loading.

–  Rest

–  Time under tension

–  Range of motion

–  Sets/Reps

–  Heart Rate

–  Movement patterns

–  Exercise progression

–  Your goals, needs, abilities and dysfunction

-etc…

These are things that can you can use to imprint your own philosophy of how an effective training session or long-term program should be designed, regardless of what equipment you have or don’t have.

Very simple thought pattern yet often overlooked.  Thanks Alwyn…

 

Cheers to philosophies and sticking to them…

 

Kyle

Jumping Rope: The Undeniable Negatives (Part 1)

Quick Tips

Summary:

  • Jumping rope can be hard on the joints if done excessively.  
  • The learning curve can end up turning people away.  
  • Don’t let me talk you out of jumping rope.

Jumping rope is a low cost, medium to high-skill activity people have been leveraging to build impressive cardio fitness for a long, long time.  Particularly athletes in the combat sports, boxing and mixed martial arts.

As a cardio enhancer, jumping rope is making a resurgence.  

Modern day metabolic conditioning is giving the jump rope a reason to play a large part of many high-intensity workouts.  

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When you’re a kid, you jump rope… 

As a kid, I can vividly remember jumping rope in elementary school.  We had a yearly fundraiser called “Jump Rope for Heart”.  All the kids brought their jump ropes down to the gym, they pumped some 90’s dance music, and we jumped for hours.

I was never the best rope skipper in the gym, but I could hold my own by showcasing classy moves like crossovers, single and alternate leg hops, and even surviving in the infamous Double Dutch vortex.

As a kid, you don’t over-analyze the value of jumping rope.  You jump because it’s fun, not because you want to know how to burn more calories or lose weight.  Jumping rope provides an outlet for kids to burn off extra energy while

Jumping rope provides an outlet for kids to burn off extra energy while

But then adulthood stumbles in.  Jumping rope is no longer cool, it’s taboo.  

When you’re a kid, you move for the fun of it, when you’re an adult, any movement beyond what’s necessary becomes a chore.

As we age, many ask less and less from our bodies.

The “fun” part of hopping over the turning jumping rope seems like the furthest thing in adulthood.  

“You want me to what?  Uh, no thanks”.  

Exerting on purpose as an adult becomes a depressive thought.

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But when mainstream media picks up on the trends, it often reignites our interest in old training methods.  

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Naturally, we head to the sporting good store and buy a badass jump rope. 

But before you start jumping, let’s work through a couple of hang-ups I have with jump rope training.  Particularly if you haven’t exercised in a while.  

1)  Repetitive ground impact and overuse injuries.

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Any activity overdone is going to put you at risk for overuse injuries.  

Too much of a good thing is generally a bad thing.  Drink too much water, bad thing.  Eat too much broccoli, bad thing.  Exercise too much, bad thing.

Overuse injuries certainly aren’t a jumping rope problem per say.  Overuse injuries often occur because of excess volume or intensity (or both combined) relative to what the tissue tolerance is capable of managing.  

If you’ve ever run barefoot or with minimalist shoes without some kind of pre-workout up, the extreme soreness you felt in the days after is a perfect example of impact forces overwhelming the tissues without any shock absorption.  

In other words, physical stress beyond what the body is acclimated to can create some painful issues.

As for jumping rope, it’s the ground impact forces doing the damage.  Every single jump places strain on the legs, particularly the calves and ankles.

How much strain?  Roughly 300lbs of impact is directed toward the foot and ankle while jumping rope, as measured by lab tests.

But this isn’t 300lbs just one time… it’s 300lbs multiplied by thousands of jumps per workout. Thi can be a recipe for injury if your body is not acclimated progressively.

If a person is spinning a jump rope at an average of 100-120 revolutions per minute, a 10-minute workout can add up to about 1,000-1,200 jumps.

Jumping rope for 10 minutes is nothing like running for 10 minutes.  These are two completely different stresses.  Time seems to stand still when you jump rope.  10 minutes can feel like 30 minutes.

Many websites recommend “20-minute jump rope workouts for toning”, but I am extremely hesitant to encourage anyone to jump for 20 minutes as a starting point.

Start with 1 minute unbroken, then 2 minutes… 5 minutes… 10 minute, etc.

10 full minutes of jumping rope without stopping for breaks is a commendable feat.  Once you hit 10 minutes, it’s time to go harder or increase the difficulty of the jumps (1-foot, side-to-side, running).

Now, the impact forces of jumping rope are far less than running. 

If you haven’t jumped 1,000+ times in a while, or you’re a de-conditioned individual who hasn’t engaged in moderate to high physical activity in some time, you stand a high likelihood of sidelining yourself after a short duration of jumping rope.  

Jumping rope is a sub-maximal variation of plyometrics (jump training), which can be very high-impact. Plyometric training is best kept to reasonable volumes during a workout.  Most high-level athletes are jumping anywhere from 25-40 foot contacts per workout in the off-season.  

Lesson:  Work into your jump rope training, progressively adding minutes to each session.  If you’re a beginner, consider jumping from less than 5 minutes cumulatively per workout.  You can always build up.  

2)  Learning curve versus training stimulus.

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Here’s a realistic scenario…

You go out and buy a jump rope to whip yourself into shape.  You get that baby home, rip it out of the packaging and head to the garage.  After you put on your workout playlist, get ready to turn the rope over like Muhammad Ali.  

Wham!  You catch your feet and stomp the rope on the very first turn.  Hey, no problem, it’s the first time in a long time you tell yourself.  Here we go again…

Wham!  Shins this time.  Wham!  Ceiling got in the way.  Wham!  Back of your head, not enough tension on the twirl.  Wham!  Toes again, but somehow this time the rope tied a knot in itself.  

Next thing you know, the rope is 10 inches shorter and you’ve wasted 45 minutes jumping 25 times.  Ouch.

Don’t laugh now.  This is a real scenario, I’ve seen it happen to coordinated athletes, so I know it is happening to the average Joe and Jane all over the world.  

The training stimulus of jumping rope comes from the accumulation of a massive amount of jumps per workout.  In other words, getting hung up on your toes every fifth turn isn’t going to allow for any real training effect.  You won’t be exerting long enough to accomplish much.  

I applaud your spirit and motivation, but we have to consider one thing…

Jumping rope is a skill.  And like any skill, we all have a unique starting point and learning curves of various lengths to become better at that skill.  Some will acclimate to the rhythm faster than others.  Here’s another important thing to consider:  some of us have a higher resilience for knowing that we suck at activities, yet continue to practice until the day we move passed the “suck” stage.  

It’s kind of the same reason more people aren’t millionaires.  When the resistance waltzes into the equation, the life is sucked out of us.

That’s why I always preach it’s important to get to know yourself.  When the process takes a turn from sunshine and roses to shitstorm, are you quick to fold?  

If you’re terrible at jumping rope AND you have a tendency to shut down at first encounter of resistance, consider saving jump rope practice for after normal gym work, when you have peace of mind that some quality work was put in.  

But don’t let me turn you off from jumping.  Get after it.  But beware, you may not have the workout of your life on the first go around.  

If your goal is to get into shape ASAP, and for many people it is.  Riding the struggle bus for 15-20 minutes a day just to turn a rope 10 consecutive times without stepping on it won’t sound like fun to most people.

Therefore, it may be worth considering that the jump rope can take a backseat to bread and butter activities like running, cycling, rowing or lifting weights.  Even a potent bodyweight workout should be considered before re-engaging with the rope of death.  Talk about defeating.  

Again, jumping rope is a skill.  Expect it to involve failure, slow progress, and patience.  

If you’re lucky, you’ll hop right into it.  If you’re not, I warned you.  

Lesson:  Treat jumping rope like a skill.  Dedicate a small amount of time before or after your main workout to improving your jump proficiency.  Don’t make the mistake of putting all of your eggs in the jump rope basket, only to find out you can only manage 10 seconds of continuous movement before you smash your toes.

This tip will save you a lot of frustration.

3)  Cardio benefits over-hyped.

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Yes, jumping rope burns calories, but so does doing the laundry or making the bed.

Yes, jumping rope can improve cardiovascular function, but so does push mowing the yard.   help reinforce posture during exertion.  

Yes, jumping rope can be a decent reinforcer of upright posture, but so is waiting in line for public transit.

Compared to other forms of physical exertion like running, rowing, cycling, kettlebell swings/snatches, burpees, or smart bodyweight circuits, jumping rope delivers less bang for you cardio conditioning buck.   

Some of this circles back to the learning curve and the barrier it has to a reasonable training effect.  

I’ve seen some awesome videos of Ross Enaimat spinning a jump rope so fast I wasn’t even sure it was still in his hands, but not everyone is Ross Enaimat.  

 

He’s got over a million views on some of his YouTube videos from people eating popcorn watching him sweat, aspiring to have his conditioning without putting any effort in.

Returning to my previous point about training effect, head out to your local hill for some incline sprints or pick up your heaviest kettlebell and swing away.  

You’ll probably find time is better spent elsewhere to get that conditioning stimulus.

Adaptation sadness…

At some point, you’re going to experience diminishing returns on your efforts.  This is called adaptation.  It’s a good thing and a bad thing.  It’s good because you’ve established an efficiency at a certain skill, intensity, and duration.  It’s a bad thing because now, you have to push yourself harder to keep progressing.  

Adaptation is bound to happen with any activity you commit to doing on a regular basis.  It’s only a matter of time.  

When you reach this adaptation point, it is important to remember that jumping rope is no different from any other form of exercise.  You have to re-adjust the variables in order to continue progressing and break out of your adaptation, moving forward to the next level of adaptation.

The problem, once again, circles back to the issue of learning curve.  Once you’re a pro with single hops and the duration of jumping is hovering around 15-20 minutes, personally, I feel it’s time to figure out how to leverage the next progression in order to save your precious time.  Unless you love jumping rope that much.  

So how do we progress?  Well, you could…

  •  Buy a weighted jump rope
  •  Increase the tempo of the jumps (turn the rope faster)
  •  Decrease base of support (single leg hopping)
  •  Mix and match various jumps (front to back, side to side, boxer jump, high knees, etc)
  •  Move on to Double-Unders

Adjusting any one of these variables will progress the training stimulus and keep you away from stagnation.

Wrap Up…

You’ll notice that this post is more of a cautionary tale than anything.  

Personally, I jump rope before almost every single workout.  I love it.  It get’s me in a standing position and it serves as a great warm-up prior the tough part of my training sessions.  

Jumping rope is not a bad activity.  But, it’s important to know how it could be bad, and where the disadvantages are.  Probably the most important part of this article is the warning about overdoing it.  The impact can leave you limping for days afterward.  

Some of you will be able to pick up a jump rope and get after it aggressively from the start.  Others won’t make it 3 consecutive turns without tying a noose around your ankles or blooding up your toes.

Get to know yourself, your current physical conditioning level, and make a decision if jumping rope is right for you.  If it is, schedule some practice time before or after a workout to hone your jumping skills and acclimate your body to the stress.  

This article would be a real let down if I didn’t recommend at least one great resource to related to jump rope training:

If you found this article while searching for alternatives to high-impact activity, I highly recommend you to check out these posts:

Cheers, 

Kyle 

The Matthew McConaughey Workout Plan

Quick Tips

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I will never forget the day that I picked up a Men’s Health magazine in college and read an article about Matthew McConaughey’s workouts.

Like many young males, I was fascinated by what Men’s Health was writing about health.  I spent a decent chunk of cash (which I had very little of) to keep my subscription, buying training manuals and such

I don’t remember what the guy does to stay in shape, but it is pretty obvious:

  • He eats clean.
  • He moves frequently.

You might be disappointed by my repetitive preaching of eating clean and moving smart, but it’s the only real formula that you need to reverse years of body pollution.

It’s a bullet proof technique for restoring your body.

In the Men’s Health article, I remember Matthew McConaughey commenting on his training regimen by saying…

The Matthew McConaughey Workout

The print is tiny, so in case you can’t quite make out what the quote is, I will help you.  It says:

Get a sweat everyday

What a great training plan!

After I read that quote, I distinctly remember being pissed.

I thought for sure- as many guys probably did- that he was going to disclose some sweet top secret workout regimen.

I was convinced that he was doing something special that the rest of us were aware of.  There had to be something else going on there.

You probably have had that feeling before, right?  The feeling where you are convinced that someone- who has achieved something that you also want to achieve-knows some kind of voodoo magic that you flat out don’t know anything about.  And because of the fact that they have harnessed the power of this voodoo magic, they’ve got an edge over everyone else on the planet.  You, in turn, want to know what this voodoo magic is so that you yourself can experience the kinds of results that they have.

Then you you realize that none of this is true.  A lean person’s (famous or not) recipe for success is the same as nearly every other successful person on the planet… they created good habits, worked relentlessly, learned along the way and rinsed and repeated that process.  They figured out that they have to do un-aveerage things to achieve un-average results.

I have to admit that I was brutally disappointed with the Matthew McConaughey “sweat theory”.  Again, pissed, might be a much better description.

Genetically, he is blessed to stay as lean as he does, but he also makes a dedicated effort to give his body decent food and he sweats!  So his body aesthetics are by chance.  He worked for it and now he performs a simple maintenance whenever he gets the opportunity.

Everyday, he sweats.

This has actually stuck with me ever since I read that article, and I am glad that it did.

I get a sweat every single day.  Even after a night of socializing with friends (and a boatload of craft beers) it is mandatory to sweat the next day.  It’s a simple theory that I took action on long enough to make it a lifelong habit.

Voodoo fitness

It’s so easy to fall into the “there has to be something out there that I am not doing that would make all of the difference in the world” trap.  So easy.  We trick ourselves into thinking this sort of thing.  We then begin to search and search and search for the “secrets”.  We try different diets, different personal trainers, different gyms, shoes, training equipment, workout plans, etc.  When it’s all said and done, a lot of people have blown mountains of money on “secrets”.  It’s enough to drive a person crazy, and I have met a lot of people that are slowly driving themselves insane looking for these secrets.

But the recipe is simple:  eat clean and move enough to sweat.

Take that and do it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It will blow your mind what a recipe like that will do for you over the long-term.

Cheers to Matthew McConaughey and the daily sweat!

KG

A Simple Workout to Help Lessen the Damage from Easter Sugar

Quick Tips

Yes, it’s a kangaroo, but it hops like a bunny.

Happy Easter and here is a dose of reality…

You won’t be able to out work the amount of sugar that most of us will consume on this wonderful Easter Sunday.

Sorry.

Bless the lord, bless your family and loved ones, but you won’t be able to do it.  The damage is done.

Well, maybe you could, if you were training for an Iron Man or some other activity that has a similar caloric expenditure.  But most of the population isn’t into the Iron Man scene, so we have to accept that the sugar that we pounded like starved dogs is going to cause some damage.

Sugar and bread are two “foods” that sabotage our internal health and our external aesthetics.

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But hot damn if those Reese’s peanut butter eggs aren’t ridiculously good, right?  I’m a sucker for peanut butter, as I am sure that some of you reading this are also.  It’s a snowball effect if I even eat just one of those things.  One turns into two, two into three, and on and on we go.  So, I tend to avoid them completely.  It would seem like torture for most, but after you dodge sugar for a long enough period of time, you become hyper-sensitive to the sweetness of most candy.  The taste is almost too much to handle.

Anyone that has gone cold turkey on sugary snacks will no doubt agree with me here.

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 Load up the slingshot, aim at the tank…

You’ve probably read about my mandatory rule of training after nights with friends and during the holidays, when food tends to be a little less nutritious than other times of the year.  It basically involves me torturing myself after a night of excess.  I’m human, it happens.

I have ZERO research to prove that my ability to stay lean over the years has anything to do with these “next day workouts”, but I have to believe that getting up early and grinding through a solid workout has helped to off-set some of the damage.

At the very least, busting through a challenging training session is never a bad thing, right?

Always moving forward, except for holidays.  Then we hover.  🙂

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Time: >30 minutes

Warm-Up:  10-15 minutes

Workout:  10 minutes (up to 15 minutes when scaled to your training level)

Equipment:  Bodyweight and interval timing device of some kind (this one works just fine and it’s free)

Structure:

  1. 10 Squats
  2. 10 Push Ups
  3. 20 Jumping Jacks
  4. 10 Alternating Reverse Lunges (5 each leg)
  5. 10 Burpees (push up + jump)
  6. 20 Jumping Jacks

* Rinse and repeat without rest between exercises or rounds.

** Complete as many rounds as possible in the time frame that you set for yourself.

*** Don’t stop until the clock hits 10 minutes (or longer if you choose).

 

Fitness thoughts

The first thing that I want you to notice about a pure bodyweight workout like this (with no equipment present) is the lack of upper body pulling movements.  For me, no equipment means no pulling.  It’s the sacrifice that you make by using your body mass (and gravity) as the sole source of the training stimulus.  If you have access to something that can be used for chin ups, I would place them after the reverse lunges, or better yet, I would move the push ups after the reverse lunges and have the chin ups be placed immediately after squats.  Vertical pulling is a much more challenging movement for most people, considering you are pulling your full weight with each repetition.  Keeping yourself as fresh a possible before the chin ups will make it a much more enjoyable experience.

Second, attack this workout.  It’s 10 minutes of movement.  There is no reason to leave anything in the tank early on.  This is a variation of short burst training.  Your work output in the allotted time frame will largely determine the training sessions effectiveness.  Your fatigue levels are going to accumulate as the minutes pass by, so get after it and expect your fatigue to peak toward the final minutes of the workout.  Ideally, you’ll experience a large amount of system-wide fatigue around the 8-9 minute mark, leaving you perfectly cooked by the time the beeper sounds.

Third, the jumping jacks are a filler exercise.  They are by far the easiest movement in the workout and this is by design.  The jumping jacks  for a few seconds of active recovery before moving back into the strength based moves.  Don’t dog the jumping jacks.  Get your arms overhead, feet at least shoulder width on the jump and focus on calming your breath from the previous work performed.  Breathe in deep to your belly, and force it out from your belly.  Focus.

Fourth, scale the workout to your abilities.  Don’t be a hero, yet don’t coast.  It’s ten minutes of effort, so if you dog the first five minutes, you’ve lost half of the workout and remained in your comfort zone.  If technique breaks or you are not completing a full range of motion for any movement, well, you need to take a breather until you can complete a full range of motion.

Fifth, warm-up.  I will do a better job of describing what an effective warm up should look like, but in the mean time, this is a variation of a staple warm up for me…

Cheers to Easter bunnies, kangaroos, family and training hard as punishment for eating junk!

 

KG

Crushing Your Workout’s Comfort Zone

Quick Tips

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Aaaaahhh comfort.  What a great word.  It brings such a heart warmed feeling just thinking about it.  We all love comfort.  The comfort of home, the comfort of socializing with long time friends and family, the comfort of driving the same route to work everyday and the comfort of knowing that everything is going to be alright.

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… and here come the black clouds… 😦

Let’s do a u-turn and get real for a few minutes…

… because this post is about identifying and breaking comfort to strive for more.

Comfort is the enemy of building fitness:  getting stronger, running farther/faster, stretching longer, assessing smarter, conditioning harder or choosing to eat wiser.

When you get comfortable in your pursuit body transformation or performance enhancement, you are essentially saying that your work is done.  You slip, lose control, let important things fall to the wayside.

But your work is never done because you are always are work in progress, always.  You have to be, otherwise you have submitted.

I read a Facebook post by Scott Sonnon where he describes himself as being “always a white belt mind”.  If you aren’t familiar with Scott’s background, he is a world champion martial artist turned strength and conditioning innovator.  I don’t agree with everything that he teaches, but he does push the boundaries of what we consider to be “functional” in the training world.  He’s got a bunch of other accolades and awards under his belt (no pun intended) that you can Google if you’re interested further.  He’s extremely bright guy and I enjoy reading this work.

It’s been said that exercising and eating properly is a “lifestyle choice”, and well, as shitty as it is for me to admit this, it really is.  I really don’t like dropping that line because everywhere you walk some donkey is preaching that same old song and dance.

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Got lost there for a second… sorry… back to comfort…

Getting comfortable leads to all kinds of silly workout habits that can become hard to break:

  • Lifting the same dumbbells over and over.
  • Never switching your training variables… same reps, sets, etc.
  • Skipping reps and sets, or even entire workouts.
  • Resting for the same amount of time after each effort.
  • Running the same mph, for the same amount of time, for the same distance.
  • Biking for the same amount of time, at the same RPM, for the same distance.
  • Refusing to evolve and try new movements or methods.
  • *** Refusing to change or FEAR of change.

***  This is a big one.  There are a lot of people out there who are scared of the unknown.  They fear the thought of working to improve themselves.  They fear the anticipation of how difficult it will be to lift more weight, condition harder or uncover weak points in their movement.  We end up tricking ourselves into thinking that we are “doing the best that we can”, but there is always another level that we can get to.  Check out this post regarding success, it has a lot of carryover into breaking through the comfort zone in your workouts.

—>  My own story

I’ll step up here… I was scared to put myself out to the world, start a building an audience (again) and take my writing seriously.  I cared too much about what people thought, or how my message would be received, so I threw away nearly 100 pages of written material.  Now I realize that I am on the right track, my writing does serve a purpose and all of this “practice” will force me to break through my own comfort zone.  I learn something new every single day and I love it.

Fear is paralyzing… and it is also just a feeling.  I repeat, fear is just a feeling.

So the next time you step foot in the gym, bring that new strength program with you and give it a shot.  What is the worst that could happen?  You get tired and realize that you’re a little weaker, unstable, immobile than you thought you were?  Who cares.  People care a lot less than you would think.  Go for it.

Most of the bulleted points above are representative of a person who has already committed to fitness at one point in their life and are now stuck in the rut.  They get stuck in a rut and it gets tough to wake up and dig out.  Waking up only happens when you become aware that your current workout habits are no longer serving you well.  You’ve got to realize that your body is really good at adapting to the stresses that are constantly placed on it.  Especially if those stresses never change.

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Experts of developing bad habits.

We become experts are what we repeatedly do, which in some cases is a good thing (good habits), but in a lot of cases, we have become experts of carrying through with poor habits.  Less than optimal habits. (I’ll be the first to stand up here too).  Breaking habits is a billion dollar industry.  Look at guys like Tony Robbins.  He’s built his entire career around teaching people how to break bad habits and develop habits that are more conducive to achieving success.

Change it, don’t be afraid to change it.

But not all of you have begun your pursuit of fitness yet.  Some of you don’t know where to start.  You’re searching for that beginning point to build from. For you folks, you can learn from the mistakes of the folks who are currently stuck in their comfort zone.  Avoid it.  Learn how to progress your exercises, add reps, sets, weight and difficulty of movement.  Train on one leg, two legs, sprint up hills, jump over hurdles, pull your body up to a bar, push your body away from the floor, hold a core demanding static position for time, take joints through a full range of motion even when they feel “locked” up, smash your tissue with a foam roller and then take a lacrosse ball to your feet for a few minutes

Keep progressing, keep pushing forward.

You get the point.

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In my own training, I have plateaued.  It is time to move on.  I would’t say that I was in a “comfort zone”, but I definitely reached a point of no return where going longer and harder was foolish… I need to increase the poundage.  Making myself increasingly tired by adding volume during my sessions isn’t accomplishing anything, other than making me… more tired.  Those double 24kg Lifeline Kettlebells have officially become too light.  It sucks to say it, because we had a great run, but it is time to move on to bigger and better kettlebells/barbells/etc.  My conditioning has never been better (except in my hockey playing days) but my backside is weak as hell (article about that coming soon) and my upper body pulling strength is lacking.  It is time to upgrade the gym and increase the demands of my training.  I made it last a while, and it was a great experiment.

Getting comfortable in anything in life can have disastrous outcomes.  Whether it’s career, working at building relationships or making your time worthwhile in the gym, if it is worth pursuing, it is worth pursuing aggressively.

 

—>  The irony of “having no time” and the comfort zone…

If you’re a person that’s pressed for time and you’re caught in the black hole of a workout comfort zone, you’re committing the ultimate sin.  Do you see the irony in not having any time to workout and then when you do finally workout it is same generic routine that you always use?  No wonder people are depressed and confused from their progress in the gym.

You’re going through the motions… stop now.

 

—>  Here are 5 quick tips to crushing comfort zone syndrome:

1)  Increase the load of your lifts, now.  (add roughly 2.5-5lbs to each lift every couple of workouts)

2)  If engaging in aerobic:  decrease the time to cover the same distance (move your ass!), increase incline or resistance, monitor your heart rate (effort) or ditch aerobic training altogether and throw down with some interval training sessions.

3)  Trade machines for free weights.  (Machines are for rehab patients and the elderly)

4)  Find someone that trains harder than you do.  (You become who you hang around)

5)  Set a goal with a date and read that goal 2-3 times a day.

If you felt like I was calling you out at any point, you’re guilty.  I feel the same way when I read articles about taking actions to the next level, especially the link I shared early in the article related to success.  There is always room for improvement, room to grow, another gear…

 

 

Cheers to crushing comfort in your workouts!

 

KG