Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rx and Movement Standards

This is a great article and serves as a perfect follow up to Amy's article yesterday:

Holding Yourself to a Higher Standard

Maybe something to think about for the New Year.

Rx’d or Not quite? A gentle reminder of that definition…

Rx or, “as prescribed,” does not only refer to the weights used in a workout, it also refers to movement standards. 
article 590 dan33 Rxd or Not quite?  A gentle reminder of that definition...
As a person who truly loves the sport of CrossFit and understands what it takes to be an athlete at the top of this sport, I take the  term “Rx” extremely seriously. It’s actually sacred to me. Yep, sacred. Rx or, “as prescribed,” does not only refer to the weights used in a workout, it also refers to movement standards, i.e. hips below parallel on every type of squat; every wallball making contact with its intended target, every pullup showing the chin above the bar and full elbow extension at the bottom; every handstand pushup showing control and balance at the top of the movement, every Jerk stood completely up before the bar is dropped from overhead lockout…I could write an entire article on standards alone (not a bad idea), but you get my point. When someone comes up to the board and says “Rx” when clearly I know that their workout was not done completely “Rx,” I do my best to not make that person feel badly but still to inform them of what was NOT Rx about their workout. If this has ever been you, do not take offense to this. It is my job as your coach to instill good habits in you, and it is also my job to protect the man or woman working very hard next to you who DID do a fully Rx workout. Just because you did the Rx weight but couldn’t get your hips below parallel on your back squats means that you in fact, did not do an Rx workout. So keep this in mind before you give your coach your WOD score – and in choosing your appropriate weight for the workout.

Read the full article HERE
See also


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Quite Possibly the Best Article on Hypertrophy/Strength that I've read this year

Why Bodybuilders are More Jacked Than Powerlifters

Why Bodybuilders are More Jacked Than Powerlifters

In Neuromechanics of Human Movement, Roger Enoka (Enoka, 2008) lists eight potential neurological areas for non-hypertrophy related strength gains:

Enhanced output from supraspinal centers as suggested by findings with imagined contractions
Reduced coactivation of antagonist muscles
Greater activation of agonist and synergist muscles
Enhanced coupling of spinal interneurons that produces cross-education
Changes in descending drive that reduce the bilateral deficit
Shared input to motor neurons that increases motor unit synchronization
Greater muscle activation (EMG)
Heightened excitability and altered connections into motor neurons

Read the full article HERE


Monday, December 23, 2013

New Years Goals

Generally I dislike New Year's resolutions.

I think goals should be a year round thing.  The constant striving to better myself is what keeps me going.  I think that if you stop striving you start dying...a little at a time.  I much prefer life long goals and a constant stream of smaller mid-term and shorter term goals.

As I write this it is December 23rd.  Make the goals now and start tomorrow (better yet NOW). If you're not reading this until January 1st the same advice applies, make long term, mid term and shorter term goals now and start today.  Constantly re-evaluate, some goals may take longer than you think and some goals will be achieved much faster than you think.  

In training others, I loath hearing goals that are event or time frame specific.  I dislike goals like "to get in shape for an upcoming wedding" or to get in shape for the summer.  I much prefer goals that are triggered to being able to do something.  It's the doing something that matters.  Fight like hell to achieve those goals and the way you look will be reflected in what you choose to do.

The mid-term and short term goals keep things interesting and fun.  Always work to overcome your weaknesses. In order to do that you have to challenge yourself to find out what they are.  No one likes to do the things they think they may be bad at.

Find a partner. coach or trainer that won't judge and ask them what they think your weaknesses are. You may not like what you hear, receive the information neutrally and fight the tendency to resist. Then work like hell to make that weakness a strength. Find the strength to plow through so that when that movement is called out in a workout or competition you don't fear it and can confidently proceed.

Be Coachable

It takes time.  It is tough on pride to have these things called out, but in truth, it is one of the best things one can do for another, to help someone to improve. Don't waste that gift.

The best competitors, coaches and trainers all have someone that can push them and call them out, it's how we improve.  Without this its so easy to become complacent, accept 'good enough' and continue being that way year after year.

Accept that feedback and make those areas your short and mid-term goals!  That will place you well on your way to your lifetime goals.

Next: Developing Habits that are in line with your goals.
Goal achievement is a constant stream of congruent habits, little things done consistently aligned to your goals.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Getting Outside the Box: The Definition of Functional Strength

The following is a guest post by Katie Chasey of RXBound.com:
How is strength defined and who defines it?
Kinesiologists study muscles and have various ways to gauge muscle contraction, length, tension, and force. Therefore, kinesiologists typically measure strength by these primary factors and neglect individual variations of strength as a subjective concept. Whether one can lift X number of pounds overhead is meaningless in the overall definition of functional strength. Functional strength is the strength that gets us through life and daily survival.
Lifting a heavy load overhead is a fantastic measure for Hercules or the competitive weightlifter but the history of manual labor has consisted of something very different. Manual labor typically involved walking, running, pushing, pulling, and grasping. Take a minute to think back to your history books and those photos of the grueling pushing and pulling of primitive mechanical devices and the relentless building of the pyramids, to name just a couple.
What is wrong with “strength” as defined by Olympic weightlifting?
Absolutely nothing. I love it. I train with it, I teach it, and I encourage it. There is no better feeling than watching my athletes hit personal records of lifting heavy loads. Weight lifting (Olympic or not) has military value and athletic value. It increases stamina and power output. The technical skill that goes with the training behind it (Olympic lifting in particular) is second to none. For the sake of this article, however, I am not referring to this definition of strength, but rather I am talking about daily functional strength and the movement involved with everyday people living their natural lives. So what is this definition of strength? It is not very exciting unfortunately, but equally as important as load-lifting strength.
What is functional strength?
Functional strength is the ability to run your load-joints (shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles) through a full range of motion without pain, stiffness, or restriction. This is also known as load-joint articulation.
What is the goal of functional strength?
Load-joints must be able to open and close in a full range of pain-free motion. How does this work in a couch-potato environment where we are no longer pushing primitive machines around? It comes through movement. In today’s undemanding environment, we get stuck in a “box” of doing the same motions over and over again. We are no longer spontaneously stimulated by our environment, as we once were. More and more people are replacing the days’ motions with “work” (computers and typing, talking on the phone, and driving) or “recreation” (watching TV or playing video games), so we need to find ways to alter our environment in order to keep our load-bearing structure active and healthy.

Read More HERE

Friday, October 4, 2013

Women: Running into Trouble

By John Kieferarticles.elitefts.com

When I look at the fat guy in the gym wasting his time on forearm curls to lose weight, I don’t feel sympathy. The big tough guy getting stapled to the bench by 365 pounds, when just a second ago he couldn’t even handle 315 pounds — nope, no sympathy there either. The girl who spends thirty minutes bouncing between the yes-no machines (abductor and adductor machines), who is going to have trouble walking the next day — I can’t muster even an iota of pathos. Nobody told them to do these things. But then I watch my friend, Jessica, running on the treadmill, day after day, year after year, running like a madwoman and going nowhere. Her body seems to get softer with every mile and the softer she gets the more she runs. I do feel pity for her because everybody, everywhere has convinced her that running is the way to stay slim and toned.
There’s a Jessica in every gym and spotting one is easy. The woman that runs for an hour or more every day on the treadmill, who every month or so sets a new distance or time goal. Maybe the goal encompasses the treadmill workouts; maybe it will be her fifth fund-raising marathon; or maybe she’s competing with runners in Finland via Nike®. The goal doesn’t matter, because years of seeing her on the treadmill exposes the results: she’s still — I’m not going to sugar coat this — fat. Or worse, she’s fatter.
I tried to rescue my Jessica from the clutches of the cardio contingent, but to no avail until a month ago when she called to tell me that a blood test had confirmed her doctor’s suspicion: she had hypothyroidism — her body no longer made enough thyroid hormone. Her metabolism slowed to a snail’s pace and the fat was accumulating. Now she had a culprit to blame, it wasn’t the cardio causing her problems, it was her body rebelling. When Jessica asked my advice, I told her to do two things: schedule a second test for two weeks later and until then, stop all the goddamn running.
Don’t assume I’m picking on women or making fun. There are men out there who do the same, thinking cardio wipes away the gut resulting from regular weekend beer binges, but they are, in comparison, rare. I am targeting women for three very good reasons:
  1. They are often intensely recruited for fund-raisers like Team-In-Training, lured by the promise of slim, trim health resulting from the month of cardio training leading to a marathon in addition to helping the charity in question
  2. Some physique coaches prescribe 20-plus hours per week of pre-contest cardio for women (that’s a part-time job)
  3. Steady-state endurance activities like this devastate a woman’s metabolism. It will devastate a man’s too, but in different ways.
There’s not much I hate in the fitness world — well, that’s not true, I hate most things about its present state, but at the top of the list is over-prescribed cardio. I’m not talking about walking or even appropriate HIIT cardio, but the running, cycling, stair climbing or elliptical variety done for hours at or above 65 percent of max heart rate, actually anaerobic threshold is a better measure, but not practical for day-to-day use.
Trashing steady-state cardio is nothing new and the better of the physique gurus figured this out a long time ago, but even then, they only apply the no-steady-state-cardio rule to contest preparation. The non-cardio coaches fail to state the most detrimental effect, one that applies specifically to women and is a primary reason many first-time or second-time figure and bikini competitors explode in weight when returning to their normal diet. It’s the same reason the Jessicas of the world run for hours per week with negative results. Studies demonstrate beyond any doubt that in women, cardio chronically shuts down the production of the thyroid hormone, T3.1-11

Read More HERE

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Racing Weight Gain: Is this Possible?

I received a question about the following and am posting my thoughts, though not fully developed, what do you think?  Please post to comments.

4g of H20 per gram of Glycogen is correct.

Carb storage increase....Yes IF you switch your diet before the race from a protein/carb/fat mix to Carb loading.  Yes it can happen like that. Especially if switching from Ketosis(Fat burning mode) to Carb loading(and consequent carb burning) muscle will store tremendous Glycogen because the insulin receptors are so sensitive.

Alternatively and possibly MUCH smarter...Ketosis prior then 2 or  3 days prior go to a Carb and (MCT) Fat mix....New theory combines carb loading with MCT(Medium Chain Triglycerides) and Body Fat especially if going in to the race say up to week before you are in Ketosis = Body burns fat very easily, so, Fat stores + some MCT + Carbs = Tremendous LONG TERM ENERGY and no CARB CRASH at about the 2 hour or so mark.

I am not saying lots of extra lbs of body fat but at least around 10% BF.

Also a fair amount of that weight could be water retention due to Electrolyte drinks and rebound from dehydration. Rebound from Dehydration + Salt = a TON of retained water....especially if the electrolyte solution is consumed after the workout has ceased.

Any thoughts?  PLEASE post to comments.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

How To Increase Anabolic Hormones Naturally

In the past two months I’ve spent a lot of time talking about hormones. More specifically how much our hormonal responses around training and from training itself has been shown by research that it’s not a big factor in overall muscle-building. Whether they be anabolic hormones like testosterone or catabolic hormones like cortisol, over and over again the research has shown that it’s not your hormonal responses around training that make a difference but your overall levels that make the real difference. With that said, the question becomes how do we keep the anabolic hormones high and the catabolic hormones low? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Testosterone is the mother of all anabolic hormones. If there is one hormone you want as much of as possible for building muscle, this is it. So how do we increase testosterone? Well, it all starts with the basics. Research has shown over and over that the more body fat you have the lower your testosterone levels will be. So obviously a healthy diet and regular exercise is important. Shocking I know, to build muscle you want to eat right and exercise.

Read the rest of the article HERE


Friday, September 27, 2013

Injury Prevention in Running

1. Know your limits.

Increase mileage gradually.  Do not do too much too fast or too soon.
Try to increase one variable, either speed or distance at no more than 10% per week.  Don't try to increase both speed and distance at the same time.  When increasing speed use shorter interval work, with a rest period between each work interval.

2. Get Plenty of Rest.

Your body needs time to recover.  See our recent post Perform, Recover, Rebuild: How Perspective Changes for the 40+ Athlete (Whether or not you are 40+).  Incorporate rest days and active recovery days into you training calendar from the start.

Along with rest program some recovery or 'soft tissue' work.  Use a foam roller, get a massage, do yoga just
take care of yourself.  Don't just run.

Get enough sleep. Get a minimum of 7 hours, preferably a full  8 hours of sleep each night. Cardiovascular
performance can be compromised by up to 20 percent with sleep deprivation while reducing reaction time, the ability to process information and emotional stability.

3. Listen to Your Body.

If you are sore or feeling lethargic either take it easy on your scheduled run or take the day off.  Consider active recovery.  Swim or do yoga instead of continuing to pound the pavement. Most injuries don't come out of nowhere, they produce signals—aches, soreness, and persistent pain.  Don't ever run through pain...stop to run well another day.

If you feel any of the following, STOP:

  • Pain or discomfort while running
  • Pain at rest
  • Inability to sleep
  • Limping
  • Easily experiencing shortness of breath (exercise asthma)
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches during or after running
  • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling any time

If you are fortunate enough to have a coach, stop and discuss with him. If you don't, think about running with a coach, athletic trainer, knowledgeable adult runner, or running organization.

4. Shorten your Stride.  

In a previous post Master Your Running Form we talked about the dangers of overstriding.  Overstriding is a common mistake that can lead to decreased efficiency and increased injury risk. If you shorten your stride, you'll land "softer" with each footfall, incurring lower impact forces.

5. Use Strength Training To Balance Your Muscles, Tendons and Ligaments

It is particularly important to strengthen the core and the hip muscles. When you strengthen the hips—the abductors, adductors, and gluteus maximus—you increase your leg stability all the way down to your ankles
while also helping to prevent knee injuries.

Hamstrings, in particular due to sedentary careers, also tend to be tight and weak from sitting.  They need to be not only stretched but strengthened in their elongated position to avoid injury.

Stretch and Strengthen you Hamstrings and Glutes (After a workout)

Runners are tight in predictable areas, they get injured in and around these areas, and therefore they should increase flexibility in these areas. The muscle groups at the back of the legs—the hamstrings and calf muscles

6. Prepare for your run properly 

Hydrate (drink water) well in advance
Warm up and/ for five minutes before beginning
Speed up slowly

7. If you are a Pronator (Or you have knee pain) See a Running Shoe Specialist

I will write more about pronation and supination in a future article.  For now refer here: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-shoes/pronation-explained?page=single

8. Utilize Interval Training
Proper interval training can improve VO2 and anaerobic threshold.  Intervals allow your body to adapt to and eventually race at greater speeds.  See our series on Optimizing Run Training.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Training Solution for the 40+ Athlete

The Training Solution for the 40+ Athlete

Contributor - Master RKC, Endurance Training
Life is funny. You start off unable to look after yourself, and then after decades of doing so revert back to needing someone’s help again. This circle of life got me thinking about how things change as we age when it comes to our training too.

The Normal Progression

When we first walk into the gym we are weak and stiff, in most people’s cases. In some cases people are weak and hypermobile, but honestly these people are becoming more rare these days. The overriding problems people have are lack of mobility and strength.

andrew read, training for 40+, forty year old athletes, aging athletesSo we begin training them, addressing these issues with things like the FMS or Primal Move as well as a systematic strength plan. This strength plan will hopefully go from slow and controlled movements with minimal load to movements with load, and then finally into speed and power work. An example of this could be to teach the hip hinge pattern and then progress to a light deadlift. As the client progresses this becomes a heavier deadlift and then, maybe, at some point we add in exercises like the power clean.

The point is that we’d have this general formula for progression that starts slow and unloaded and builds up to slow and loaded before moving to fast, heavy, and explosive. Never the other way around because beginners will simply have too much to think about if we give them fast, heavy, and explosive while trying to get them to learn a new pattern. That’s poor coaching, and an injury waiting to happen.

The Other End of the Progression

But what if we’re at the other end of the spectrum? What if we’re someone who has been around training for a long period of time and can do most lifts with decent skill, but we find that some of these lifts no longer agree with us? Ask trainees over forty how their body feels after a big squat or deadlift session, or even after a two-hour run, and they’ll likely not have much to say other than those things make them stiff and sore.

And where does our explosive work fit into all this? If slow and controlled is making us feel stiff and sore, what’s going to happen when we try to go faster? As much as those of us in the second half of our lives try to fool ourselves, we need to admit that things just aren’t like they used to be. My forty-two year old body is in pretty good condition - like a 1970s race car that is kept under wraps in the garage and only hauled out to do some fast laps every now and then - but run my vintage engine too long and too hard and I’ll be looking for spare parts. The only difference is that instead of heading to swap meets to try to find parts I’ll be booking in to see a surgeon.

andrew read, training for 40+, forty year old athletes, aging athletesThe last two years has been a journey of self-discovery. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in the programming department. The problem when you’re making these mistakes with yourself is that the only real warning sign is the sudden twinge of injury because you lack objectivity. And the problem with getting older is that you take longer to recover from these injuries, and the problem with that is that it then takes you even longer to get back on track with your training. A week off due to injury could be four weeks more until you’re back to where you were at the onset of the injury. And the problem with having a lower capacity is that you never remember how hard it was to get to where you were, only what it felt like to be at that level of fitness. So you start pushing hard again and the cycle starts all over again.

Read the Rest of the Article Here at Breaking Muscle

Perform, Recover, Rebuild: How Perspective Changes for the 40+ Athlete

Perform, Recover, Rebuild: How Perspective Changes for the 40+ Athlete

Contributor - Martial Arts, Sports Psychology
I recently checked into rehab. Luckily, the rehab center where I go is an outpatient facility and thankfully it is also a center for athletes of all sorts who are doing therapy on their bodies, and not for rehab center for something more serious.

40 plus, 40+, older athlete, forty plus athlete, gettign older, being fortyWhile I may try and sound clever and mirthful with the use of the word rehab, in all seriousness, the word is appropriate. I am in recovery, or as John Mayer would say, “in repair.” I feel like years ofovertraining, neglect, and the Band-Aid approach to injury has caught up with me. Now recovery is a part of who I am as an athlete versus something I do when my body gets jacked up. It took me twenty years to get the message, but better late than never.

After my latest physical set back, I decided to go to rehab to treat my body with the respect and balance it deserves after years of pushing too hard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to re-learn the lesson that too much of a good thing (exercise, sport, training) is not necessarily a good thing, but it’s more than I care to count. Now that I am on the plus side of forty, I am finally willing to listen to my body, my coaches, and my real authentic inner-dialogue. Instead of saying the word push, my inner thoughts now say, “Take care of yourself.” The bumps, bruises, and aches are more pronounced at forty, but I am now a better listener and approach things with a greater sense of humility at 42 than at 22. I suppose you call that wisdom.''

Read the Full Article Here at Breaking Muscle

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