Sunday, March 27, 2011

Training Log: March 21st - 26th

Monday - Max Effort LB

Warm Up
Pipe Rolls - IT Band/Quad
Toe Touch Pipe Squeeze x 5 Toes Up & 5 Toes Down
Circling Fire Hydrants, Wide MC's, Bridges w/ Opp. Touch, Back Roll-V Sit, Spiderman Lunge w/ Opp. Rot. x 5 each
T Spine Arches on Foam 1/2 Tube x 10 + T Spine Crunches w/ Tennis Balls x 5 each (3 zones)

Max Effort Trap Bar Deadlift (emphasis on proper breathing/head position)
10x 115
5x 225, 245
3x 285
2x 315
1x 330, 335, 350

Cool Down
Pipe Rolling - IT Band & Quad
Up Dog - Down Dog Transitions x 5
Spiderman Lunge w/ Opp. Rot. x 5 each

I have been working on correct breathing patterns and head position after watching some of Charlie Weingroff's work and seeing great results with it in my clients. It is a subtle change but you definitely feel locked into correct position when you do it right. 335 felt harder to me than 350 because I was dropping my chin.

Tuesday - ME Upper Body

Warm Up 
Arm Circles x 5 each side, 20 Chain Breakers, Various Light Stretches

Seated Military Press
10 x 115
5 x 135
3x 155
2x 165
1x 170, 180, 185
15 x 95 (T.U.T. Set)

Neutral Grip Chins (Strict Plank Style)
7 reps, 6 reps, 5 reps 

1 Arm DB Row
5x 60,65, 70, 75,75

Push Ups (Strict)
3 x 10 reps

Upper Back Spiky Ball Releases & T Spine Crunches

Felt weak off the shoulders on that 185 attempt - definitely been awhile since I have gone that heavy. I normally can pull rows with 85-100lbs DB's but once you get that head locked in the right spot, 75's suddenly get heavy. I am really pumped to see if my upper back on the right side starts feeling better with this new emphasis (too much typing!)

Wednesday - HIIT/Work Capacity

Stepper x 20 mins x Level 10

After going a couple of sessions on Level 20 during mudder training, this was a walk in the park. Go figure.

Thursday - Explosion Day

Warm Up
Pipe - IT Bands, Quads, Groin
Down Dog-Up Dog Transitions, Spidermans w/ Opp. Rotation, Hip Bridge w/ Opp. Touch x 5 each
Plate Good Mornings x 10

Hang Cleans (Emphasis on Technique)
5 x 5 x 95lbs

Jerks (Emphasis on Technique)
Push Jerks 3 x 5 x 95lbs
Alternating Split Jerks 3 x 4 x 95lbs

KB Swings
3x 20 x 35lb

Pipe & Band Stretch

The weights were incredibly light but my technique is rusty - need to load this higher to really break it down. Wrists were really tight which limited a tight rack. Swings felt awesome!

Friday - RE Lower Body

Warm Up
-Loose From AM Clients

Single Leg RDL (emphasis on hip position/glute loading)

3 x 5 x 35lbs

Lateral Lunge w/ 10lb Plate Press Out (emphasis on ROM)

3 x 5 x Bodyweight

Core Superset
TRX Vertical Pallof Press 3 x 5 each/Hanging Leg Raise 3 x 10/MB Side Twist Passes 3 x 5 each

Quick Band Stretch

I didn't go really heavy on weight or volume so I can start getting a handle on my knee. There are definitely some flex/mob deficits & imbalances in my right leg. Both the SLDL and LL felt restricted on that side. No pain though which is good.

Saturday -RE Upper Body (Bodybuilding Style)

Warm Up
Arm Circles, Chainbreakes, and various upper back activations

Bench Press (Emphasis on Technique)
10x Bar
5 x 95, 115, 135, 155lbs

1 Arm Straight Arm Pulldown (Chin Up x 1)
4 x 12 reps

Seated Row (Chin Up x 1)
4 x 12 reps

DB Press (Chin x 1)
4 x 12 reps

Reverse Curls (DB Side Raises x 10, Chin Up x 1)
4 x 12 reps

1 Arm Tricep Pushdowns (Face Pulls x 10, Chin Up x 1)
4 x 12 reps


I didn't get particularly sore from this workout despite the volume. Even though I am trying some bodybuilding stuff, I am still working on technique on several lifts - particularly head position. If you "rooster neck" on rows - try to keep your head neutral. I almost guarantee you are doing it wrong and relying on biceps/upper traps if you are thinking about. Also, belly breathing and keeping the upper back tight on bench was much harder than I anticipated. I got to 155 before I couldn't stay tight. Massive room for improvement there but no shoulder pain.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Brain Food #15 - Knowledge is the Remedy for Monkey Butt-itis

After my Tough Mudder training, I realized that I was in a bit of a rut in the weight room - I found myself doing alot of the same lifts and set/rep schemes with no particular agenda in mind. One of the changes I decided to make for the next few months was to insert some old fashioned body building training into my upper body rotation every other week on Saturdays.  
The Austrian Oak
Where should an athletic performance coach step out of his comfort zone to do some body building training? The local corporate fitness place of course! Before I get to my recommended reading material for not sucking at life below, here is a list of my top 5 monkey butt moments from the local Average Schmoes Joes Gym Inc.

Monky Butt Moment #1 - I got there about 10:30 and noticed a guy doing arms by himself in the corner. No monkey butt-itis suspected...yet...When I left about 11:30 and he was still doing arms in a different corner. Now that I think about it - I have never seen him do anything but arms. Coincendence? I think not. Monkey butt!
MBM #2 - I saw a "trainer" there eating a puffed rice thing with peanut butter on it. While I'm sure it was extra yummy and filling, I could only wonder why people eat crap like this. Newsflash: puffed rice cakes have almost no nutritonal value. They taste like cardboard for a reason. Anyways...As I watched her "train" a client, I noticed that she had zero muscle tone and didn't look like she worked out much. Considering her snack before  her "I just stole your money. Haha" training session, I guess I'm not really surprised after all. MONKEY BUTT!

I can't stop laughing at this one...
MBM#3 - I saw a guy walking briskly on a treadmill in dress pants, dress shirt, and a tie while I was there. Did I mention that he didn't even bother to change out of his dress shoes?


Come on...Say it with me - MONKEY BUTT!

MBM #4 - The following is the exercise selection used by our cardboard and peanut butter-eating trainer to waste her client's time and steal her money.

Hanging leg raises and then stand around talking...
Big ball squats on wall with a DB curl/press and then more talking...
Bosu Mountain Climbers to Leg Extension while holding the edge to make it easy and then more talking...
Standing on a Bosu with DB's and talk some more (at this point I left...thank goodness)

Mind you...they only did one set of these in the span of about 15 minutes...The worst part - her client thought it was amazing. MONKEY BUTT!

MBM #5 - Rough total number of people in the gym when I left: 30
The rough total number of people using machines and cardio pieces:25
The rough total number of people weights: 5
The rough total number of people doing something productive on said free weights: 2 (me included)

Something smells...oh yeah...MONKEY BUTT!

If you would like to avoid possibly developing monkey butt-itis, please read any of the following articles...

Get Your Egg On! - This is a great article from Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic on the merits of eating eggs. Newsflash - they actually are good for you despite the massive amount of mud slinging from the media over the years.

In-Season Baseball Training:Cressey-Style (Part One) - Eric Cressey is on the forefront of elite baseball training and has been massively influential in my programming over the years. Here is a multi-part series he wrote on his in-season modifications. Great stuff!

Part 3 - College Specifics
Part 4 - Pro Specifics

world class powerlifter and all around bad ass dude. Here is his take on developing the all important skill/trait of self confidence. A MUST READ!

Get Strong Ladies! - This is awesome article from Juliet Deane, performance coach/fitness competitor/powerlifter, on what women commonly & constantly do WRONG at the gym! This is part 1 of 6 so I hope to post the others in the future when I get a chance to read them.

Is Organic Food A Waste Of Money? This article from Jamie Hale is really interesting in that it completely rips on the idea that organic foods and their production processes are better than conventional foods. I'm not sure I agree with him but it is definitely thought provoking.

Gluten Is Not Your Friend! - This article was written by Alessio Fasano, a leading researcher on the fight against Celiac's Disease, which is an auto-immune disease triggered by gluten (wheat protein) consumption. If you have chronic digestion issues or an auto-immune disorder, there are several sections that I think you will find interesting.

2011 Brain Food Posts
#14 - A Literal Grab Bag of Cool Stuff To Read

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The State of Training 2011 - Going Old School

Looks can be deceiving....
Following the grind of training for and competing in the Tough Mudder, I decided to take a full week off from organized training. While I wasn't particularly beat up or anything, I just didn't feel like jumping right back into training (hard) immediately. I think I just needed some time to think about what I wanted to do going forward and how I might go about it as I move towards a crazy summer at work and wedding craziness in the fall.

After alot of thought, I have come to realize that my training has been lacking in some serious strength work of late and it has really begun to show in how my body is feeling right now.

Which is to say - LIKE CRAP!

I have a gimpy L shoulder, a fussy R hip/low back area, and a completely jacked up R knee. The funny thing about all of these ailments is that I had none of them when I focused on strength development and HIIT-style conditioning (if I did any at all to be honest) back in my JMU days. Back then, I weighed 250lbs and could deadlift 405, deep front squat 315, jerk 315, and bench 345, while playing rugby and occasionally partying like a rock star!

Fast forward to today and I all see is a pale imprint of my former bad ass self. I can't bench heavy because of the shoulder. I can't squat worth a crap because of the knee. I haven't done a meaningful Olympic lift of any kind in probably 2 years (although playing with kettlebells are a fun alternative). I haven't been able to stay healthy in rugby for two seasons and have likely hung up my spikes permanently. While I can deadlift more these days, I wouldn't call a 5lb PR over 8 years as a quantum leap in self esteem either!

Stay Strong!
What the hell happened to me?!?!  The only thing I have been able to come up with that connects all of this together is a lack of consistent and dedicated strength work over the course of the last 3 years. My development of old man-itis has directly coincided with a steady reduction and eventual omission of pure, raw strength work in my programs over the past 3 years. The thing that buggers me up the most about this situation is that my knowledge and skill as a strength coach has increased exponentially in that time but my own training state has declined so rapidly. (Insert a few cuss words here)

With all of this degeneration in mind, I have identified 3 areas below that I am going to work on in the coming months. I have also committed to some basic goals for each area so anyone who reads this blog can hammer my face in if I start getting off track with my training. I guess every one of us needs a 'lil help from their friends from time to time.

1) Working on getting my R knee sorted out - This is my biggest problem right now and comes first. As much as I disliked squatting back then, I have come to miss front squatting today. I think the root of the issue is a loss of internal rotation ROM and joint centration (thanks to Charlie Weingroff and Dr. Treung for that brainstorm). I am going to use a combination of mobility, flexibility and corrective exercise to hopefully restore my basic squat pattern and then go from there. As an example of my wimpy state- I can't even do a full squat with bodyweight right now without pain. When I can afford it, some chiro adjustments will be thrown in along the way as well because I don't think I will be able to get my squat back without them. I can work in hip-dominant patterns right now so that will be the bulk of my heavy work for legs.

July 2011 Training Goal - Front Squat 135lbs with full ROM with no pain.

2) Getting strong again and staying healthy while doing it - I managed to set a DL PR a few months back while doing a ton of monkey butt cardio training so anything is possible in my old age. This was a key moment for me in that it got me thinking about being strong again and what I might be able to accomplish if I applied all of my 2011-era knowledge to my own training process. While I may be going old school with my training selections, I am going to do it "smarter" this time around so my body doesn't self destruct in the process. As an example - I am still going to have to be careful with heavy benching at first but I have learned how to protect my shoulder and train around this limitation over the past year. This should allow me to still do heavy UB work, while slowly easing back into benching over time. 

July 2011 Strength Training Goals - In No Order of Importance
  • Trap Bar Deadlift - 500lbs
  • Strict Standing Military Press - 250lbs
  • Jerk Variation - 300lbs
  • Clean Variation - 275lbs
  • Bench Press - 300lbs (with no pain)
  • Chin Ups - 20 reps (Strict)
3) Looking strong again (i.e. less fat) - While I am not particularly worried about my appearance most of the time (Example: I can't even remember the last time I shaved), my lovely fiance is deathly afraid that I will turn into a fat slob if I start lifting heavy again. While I can see and appreciate where she is coming from, I have developed a much better control over my nutritional habits since my last strength period so I know I can pull it off.

Hope someone else besides me finds this funny!
Another key factor in all of this going forward is the role of monkey butt cardio in my training process - it won't have one. Not only does a copious amount of monkey butt cardio not contribute to jacked-ness, but it also helps to exacerbate my aforementioned orthopedic issues. Therefore, I am junking said monkey butt cardio in favor of shorter, more intense rounds of cardio and work capacity stuff. I can actually appreciate a 20 minute thrashing on a Stairmaster more than ever these days. Who knew? I think this approach, when combined with my better nutritional control, will keep Blaes liking me for a long time to come.

July 2011 Appearance Goal - Look Good for Blaes and the Wedding


Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Tough Mudder Georgia Experience

The Tough Mudder staff advertises their events as probably the toughest on the planet...I would wholeheartedly have to agree with them. I have trained and competed in wide range of activities over the course of my life including college football, rugby, olympic weightlifting, and a half marathon. Without a doubt - this race put them all to shame in terms of the sheer mental and physical effort required to even participate in it.
Before the start line - Seriou
Not that I haven't experienced "tough" moments in my collective athletic experience but never before had I competed in something where the event organizers intentionally tried to break your body and mind simultaneously. It was brutally hard and very primal in nature - true flight or fight stuff. After we jumped through the first water obstacle that had been deliberately chilled with ice, I think it would be safe to say everyone involved knew we would be in for a total mind screw and physical beat down.

I just want to put this on record and be done with it. Coming out of the Death March/Roller Coaster Run section (which really, really, sucked btw) - I missed part of the course that included the Log Carry. From reading the accounts of others, I think this happened right near a water station in that area. I think I was supposed to take a right turn (I took a left) and loop back around back to the station but I honestly can't recall the details. They changed the course map (apparently late in the week) so that was no help in discovering my error. I can only say that I did not do this intentionally. In the spirit of the sportsmanship and the Tough Mudder ethos, I will never ever claim to be a true Tough Mudder (i.e. completing the whole course) out of respect to the others did.

While I would like to be able to say that I completed the whole thing, I have decided that I am not going to beat myself up over it. Upon much reflection, I have decided that I didn't run this race solely to be a "Tough Mudder". Rather, I ran this race to test myself and my willingness/ability to do things that I would normally never think to do. The race ending up being more self-discovery and I easily accomplished that goal throughout the race.

Pre-Race Jitters...
As we drove down to the race site (which was in the middle of the boonies btw), I really had no idea what to expect but this was intentional on my part. Obviously, I had the general idea that the race was going to push my limits and suck at times but that was the extent of my pre-race knowledge. I had decided weeks ago that I was going to race with no worrying and no chest thumping hubris either - I just wanted to experience it all for what it was. I didn't allow myself to go digging deep for info on what to do and not to do. I guess I thought that this would violate the true "tough" spirit of the race and my desire to test my limits.
Fully Clothed & Numbered Up!
That being said - when you walk up the race starting area and you see a bunch of banners that read "Did you sign your death waiver?" and people with their numbers written on their foreheads, you can't help but have some jitters. As the start clock counted down for my group to begin, I had a strange cocktail of excitement, nervousness, and "what the hell did get myself into?" pumping through my veins, which made for a pretty cool feeling.

Let the Butt Stomp Begin...
The first obstacle was about 200-300 yards down the course from the start and consisted of chest deep water to wade through. As I mentioned already, the staff had been dumping ice into the water! The resulting adrenaline rush was incredibly intense and I knew immediately that I was in for a long haul.

The next obstacle, a tube crawl named Boa Constrictor, featured more ice and our first taste of the mud bogs placed throughout the course. This was not your ordinary mud either - it had a ton of clay in it, making it really sticky and heavy. After two obstacles, this crap made my clothes weigh a ton and caused the thought of ditching my shorts to first cross my mind - after less than a 1/2 mile!

While these obstacles weren't particularly challenging, the icy water literally blasted you awake and amped you up in an almost primal way for the rest of the race.  The rush of "alive-ness" that I felt after this area is not something I can adequately describe here - it really was something you had to experience for yourself.

The Motocross Track...
The next series of obstacles were installed around a motocross track that was a main feature of the race area. A big highlight of this part of the race was the mud - there was a ton of it all along this section. Even though it was physically challenging, it was pretty fun nonetheless. In this section you had to navigate the muddy fun of the Cliffhanger (a giant and steep slope of sticky goo), the Kiss of Mud (belly crawling under barb wire), the Devil's Beard #1 (a cargo net going up a big ol hill), the Devil's Beard #2 (a cargo net strung low in a mud bog), and the Texas Smokehouse (a house with ice water, mud and circulating fog).

I thought all of these obstacles were awesome - challenging enough that you couldn't breeze through them but not so hard as to be demoralizing. It was in this section that I decided to 1) ditch my shorts that must have weighed at least 10lbs and 2) ditch my shirt shortly thereafter that must have weighed another 5lbs. Not only did I feel like a new man after this, but it made for a much better picture at the end as well.
Got Mud?
 The Hell of the Death March/Roller Coaster Run...
This area of the course really was pure hell - at least 4 miles of switch backs and elevation changes over and around of several "hills" using old hiking/mountain bike trails (I think). Just when thought you might be done with non-stop vertical climbing, you would be taken down a switch back and right back up in a different way. There were also some super steep grades here that made your legs burn like crazy - it felt more like climbing steps than anything else. This area required some serious inner mountain goat and was the worst part of my race experience by far. It wasn't so much the physical aspect of it (I had done alot of hills and stepper in my training -thank goodness) but the mental aspect of it. To continually go up and down and around the same hills over and over again was a total and epic MIND SCREW! This section literally felt like it would never end.
He would have loved it!
Another subtle but important part of the creeping hopelessness that this section of the course dropped on you was that there were no spectators at all. Basically, you felt like you were abandoned in some sort of hilly wasteland from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This was the only part of the course where I felt like stopping and calling it a day - it just sucked the mental and physical energy out of you. From the accounts of the race that I have read, many other participants felt a similar draining effect from this part of the race and described it in much the same way.

And Here Is Where It Gets Confusing...
After the 3-4 miles of twists, turns, and mental mind screwing from the hilly area, the details get a bit fuzzy for me. I think the next obstacle was the Turd's Nest, which would not have been passable without help from others. You had to scale a near vertical wall using only a rope after slogging through a mud bog that eliminated any traction. Even with the help of others, it was hard to get up that wall! It was probably the single toughest obstacle that I did that day in that I wouldn't have been able to do it solo.
Hardest Obstacle By Far!
After this area is where I got lost I think. I remember coming out of the Turd's Nest and running a 1/2 mile or so on trails to a water station with the Berlin Walls to the left. I got some water and headed that way but I think you were supposed to go right to head the Log Carry and loop back around to the water station and the walls. I am not really sure how I missed it but I wasn't really "thinking" at this point either - I was just "doing" if that makes sense. The stupid part of all this was that I did a ton of loaded carries to specifically prep for the Log Carry.  From what I have read, the Log Carry really sucked but the competitor in me wishes I hadn't taken a wrong turn because I really wanted to take that on. I guess sometimes life is just ironically stupid like that.

My mis-direction aside, I headed to the Berlin Walls #1 and was able to climb the two 12 foot walls solo without a problem. I was pretty pumped about that since I pride myself on being a big dude with good relative bodyweight strength. This was one of the "tests" I really wanted to pass and I smoked it! A big pre-race goal accomplished...
I climbed 4 of these that day!
I think the next obstacle was the Tippy Toes, which was basically a wobbly balance beam thing over a big water pit. It was here that I found out that I had missed the Log Carry somehow from some other Mudders. As I waited to take my turn (clearly in a shocked state of mind that I had somehow missed part of the course), I got a looks of disdain from a few people but one gracious guy made me feel better when he shrugged and said "well, it's too late to turn back now". To that guy - I commend you for picking me up a bit.

As for the obstacle itself, I got about 10 feet out and promptly fell in. Of all the obstacles in the race, this one didn't seem to "fit" the mentality of the race. It struck me as something that was just kind of thrown in there to keep us busy. I think the race organizers could have come up with something better here - I just don't think I would have felt any real sense of accomplishment even if I had gotten across cleanly.
Only "eh" obstacle here...
After Tippy Toes, I think you headed over to the Monkey Bars, which was like your playground monkey bars on steroids because they were angled up and then down over a giant water pit. This was another obstacle I really was looking forward to because I knew it would be hard for a big dude like me. I did a ton of pull ups, chin ups, and grip work in my training just for this event alone. I ended up getting across pretty easily and this was the only time I felt absolutely and unquestionably awesome all race long. I wouldn't have traded that feeling for anything after the race.
Playground on Steroids!
The Miserable Back Third (Quarter?)...
Although I missed part of the course, the back part of the race was pretty miserable for all those involved from what I could tell. You had to run through the Fire Walker obstacle (a big gauntlet of burning hay bales) before heading back through part of the motocross track. The Fire Walker thing wasn't a big deal and wasn't really that cool in retrospect. It was not nearly as triumphant as I imagined it would be.
Not nearly as cool as I thought...
As I headed onto the motocross track, it turned into more a mud walk than mud run for most people. Even though I missed some of the course, running wasn't particularly appealing to me at this point either. I did man up and go through both Devil's Beards, Kiss of Mud, and Cliffhanger again (they sucked way worse the second time around btw). There was no way I wasn't doing them though since I missed the log carry and probably 3 miles of course (I'm guessing). Looking back, if I had skipped these obstacles, I would have really felt like a punk and I'm glad I didn't for personal pride's sake.

My Biggest Fears Ahead
As you came out of the second lap of the motocross track, you had to climb another two walls (which I did easily enough again) before you came to the final two obstacles, Walk the Plank and Electro-Shock Therapy. To be honest, I had been psyched out by Electro-Shock Therapy for the whole time leading up to it. Of all the obstacles I dreaded, this one was freaking me out the most. However, nothing prepared me for the total fear that gripped when I saw the Walk The Plank obstacle up close! That sucker was 30 feet up overlooking a giant mud puddle. You had to jump off  this thing and swim about 50 yards or so in icy water before you could get out and finish with Electro-Shock. Did I mention that I hate heights?

Scared out of my mind
As I walked up the ramp, I really thought I was going to chicken out. I didn't get vertigo but I definitely got light headed as I looked down with the other 2 guys that were jumping with me. The guy next to me, an athletic looking black guy with dreads, was just as freaked out as I was I think. We shared some words of encouragement and waited for our "3-2-1 Jump" call from the staffer up there with us. All I remember was hearing "Jump" and pushing with all my might off the edge. Even though it was only 2-3 second fall, it was scary as hell and I fully submerged into the lake once I hit. This was the ONLY time that I remember getting a mouthful of muddy nastiness during the whole experience - I swear. Did I mention that the water had been iced all day? Yeah - it sucked.
Look at how excited I am!
After you emerged from the ice cold lake, you had to pass through Electro-Shock Therapy, a gauntlet of charged wires before the finish. As I mentioned previously, this one had been in the back of my head for 2 months as the obstacle I dreaded the most. When I let it creep up to the forefront of my mind, I could just imagine getting zapped with 10,000 volts in the leg and then getting hit again in the face as I went down in a heap. Yep - totally psyched out.
As I came up to the start of the wires, I ended up being joined by my Walk the Plank buddy. We shared a fist bump, took a deep breath, and took off sprinting through it. As I went through, I remember getting hit on the leg and on my upper body but it wasn't really that bad. My buddy apparently got zapped on the leg and fell into the mud before getting all the way through. We shared another fist bump as he came out and that concluded my Tough Mudder experience. In retrospect, all of the worrying I did about this obstacle was wasted mental energy because it really wasn't that bad. However, I was proud of myself for facing up my fears and barreling through it at full speed.

I think the following pictures sums up pretty well how I felt towards the end and what you go through in a mud run like this...
Sexy right? Haha

Safe to say I threw these out...

In Summary
A ton of people have been asking me the race...What it was like? Were you glad you did it? Would I do it again?

My first response is always that it was just as tough/crazy as advertised. The race organizers said they were going to hand your butt to you and they definitely succeeded. I can only imagine how I might have looked above with an extra 3 miles on my face!

 My second response is that I am glad that I did it. I was able to find out so much more about myself through running this race - mainly what I was capable of doing in adverse situations. Overcoming all of those crazy obstacles alone was worth the price of admission in the end. After having done it once,  I really recommend that you put yourself in those types of situations from time to time - they can teach you some amazing lessons in the process.

My third responses  is that, while I was glad I ran the tough mudder, I don't plan to do it again. In the end, I didn't really enjoy the prep training enough (i.e. all the distance I ran) to make me want to do it again. You really need to get into good shape for something like this or you will definitely suffer - ALOT! You will suffer anyway but I can't imagine how I would have felt if I hadn't trained like I did. That being said, I might re-think doing something like this again if I had a team of people that were trying to raise some money for the Wounded Warrior Project. However, solo tough mudders are not going to be in my future anytime soon. 

Overall, I would recommend the tough mudder to anyone who wants to push themselves and their limits but be ready for some pain and suffering along the way!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brain Food #14 - A Literal Grab Bag of Cool Stuff To Read

Electric Cardio Machines Make You Fat?

This Charles Poliquin snarq-fest was most interesting to me because of the 5 bullet points at the bottom that blast machine cardio training for fat loss. Some very interesting stuff - this one minute read will definitely be thought provoking!

The Importance Of A Great Training Environment

This blog post from Tony Gentilcore talks about the importance of training environment and how it often can be the most significant factor in one's ability to make progress. We have had some blasts of the training intensity in certain groups similar to the ones shown in these videos already and I hope to have more in the future. Cressey Performance has been open alot longer than we have but I think we are on our ways!

Goblet Squat Fun!

A simple but effective means to refine squat technique - would you expect anything else from Dan John?

Reminder: Get Some Sun!

Shout out to Tony Gentilcore for finding this article by Dr. Allan Spreen on the hypocrisy found in the recommendations from the U.S. Institute of Medicine (I.O.M) on Vitamin D intake. The sheer ridiculousness of it is eye opening - further proof that money makes even smart people really stupid. If you are suspicious of the supposed "authorities" on health, wellness, and fitness in this country, please read this!

Some Cool Deadlifting Videos...
(And Good Info As Well)

This post from Charlie Weingroff is all about Deadlifts and has some monster pull videos in it. The accompanying info in fairly in-depth so take your time reading it. I also highly recommend Charlie's DVD set - Training =Rehab; Rehab=Training. Great Stuff!

What Does A World Class Athlete Look Like?

Here is a cool blog post that show the various body types of world class athletes from a variety of different sports. One common theme - to be a world class athlete you are more than likely going to be mean and lean. I was very inspired by this post and a shout to Brett Contreras for posting it.

 What Fruits & Veggies To Buy Organic

Here is a list of foods to buy organic to minimize chemical exposure from Charles Poliquin. As usual, great info from one of the top minds in the business.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Tough Mudder Training Files - Week 10

Monday - Lower Body
DB Reverse Lunges 5 x BW, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25lbs
Full Mobity and Flexibility Session

Training Result - This week is all about recovery for the legs and feeling good to me. I will spin the wheels some but I am saving it up for Saturday hence the light work. The 2-3 months of training will culminate in one 2-3 hour window so no need in my mind to go nuts this week. As an example as to why I think recovery is so vital, I felt strangely stiff yesterday and an old toe injury started to flair up when I got started with my warm up. I literally have no idea why the toe flared up or why a 5 mile treadmill run got me stiff but I don't plan on pushing it. My goal is to feel fresh and clean going into the mudder.

Tuesday - Heavy UB
Chins, Neutral Chins, Pull Ups x 6 each
1 Arm DB Rows 5x5x75lbs (DB Military Press 5x5x50lbs)
DB Hammer Curls 3x10
Tricep Pushdowns 3x10

Training Result -Just a good solid upper body workout here - nothing too fancy. 

Wednesday -Recovery Run
2 Miles on Treadmill w/no set pace

Training Result - I had 3 miles planned but had an important last minute biz meeting pop up so I had to cut this one short but I was flying along. Pretty sure that peaked myself properly.

Thursday - Recovery Run
2 Miles on Treadmill w/ no set pace

Training Result - I flew along again...the legs were feeling good!

Friday - Off
I just stretched a little bit here - I felt pretty good so I didn't feel the need to get too crazy.

Training Result -NA

Saturday -RACE DAY!

Previous Series Posts

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If you aren't competing - you aren't living!

Competition - whenever two or more parties strive for a goal or resource which cannot be shared.

I have been thinking a great deal about "competition" in the past few months. If you really sit down and think about the above statement, there is competition in everything we do and it has far reaching effects on us. Some examples...

Intra-Personal competition - I have been competing with my inner self for the past three months during my Tough Mudder training. There have been quite a few runs and training sessions where I wanted to bag it and move on with the whole process throwing $200 out the door in doing so. I literally had to cuss myself out on more than one occasion and keep on keeping on. Internal competition like this is exhausting and very primal in nature and everyone needs to go there at some point IMO.

Inter-Personal Competition - Me and my illustrious and super awesome fiance are always competing with  each other but not in the ways that you might think. We don't compete at games or in the weightroom or for each others attention in creepy ways - our relationship doesn't work like that. There is a ton of mutual respect and a basic understanding that our professional and personal interests will probably always be locked into a sometimes comedic wrestling match since both of us are coaches with crazy schedules. This can be pretty challenging at times because neither of us like to sacrifice our convictions/principals in all that we do but we always find ways to make it work. We fight the good fight and win more often than we lose. 

Business Competition - This one is pretty obvious so I am not going to blather away on it. I want more clients training in my facility - ALWAYS. But so does the other guy - ALWAYS. It will never stop - EVER. 

I have to be honest here - I used to hate all of the various "competitions" that we have to battle on a daily basis. I always used to think "Why can't life be easy today? Why do I have to fight this fight at this exact moment? (Insert random cuss words here)!" Real mature right? Anyone have a tissue for me? Haha.

The last few months have gone a long way to change my view of competition in whatever the form it comes in and the pity party moments are effectively over. Rather than dread it and fuss over it, I have decided that I actually like the competition in my life. Think about what your life would be like without competition...

(You should be thinking here)

That's a weird prospect eh? 

I have come to realize that if you are living your life without competition, you must be living a soul-less and empty void of a life. You would be like a vampire that feeds off of the effects (both positive and negative) of competition found in the lives of other. If you aren't competing for something at all times - no matter how small it may be - you might as well cash in your chips and take a dirt nap because I wouldn't want to be you for anything in the world. How can you really enjoy life if you don't win sometimes and savor the resultant success? Conversely, how can you ever learn anything constructive and gain perspective in your life if you don't lose from time to time?

So where did this massive revelation about competition come from? I think the seed was planted the day I opened the new facility and it has been growing ever since until it decided to erupt today. Let me put it this way - the competitions in your life are put into a completely different stratosphere when you put your name on a lease and go all in. The stakes are much higher and it affects all the other areas of your life when you do this. However, everything in your life becomes that much more "real" and this "real" feeling is awesome. The daily battles that this experience has dropped my way have made me a better person in all areas of my life and helped me to feel more alive than I have in a long time. I feel fortunate to have landed in this awesome place. 

The tipping point that led to this blog post was an idea I got from Charlie Weingroff, an elite PT/Strength Coach/Powerlifter that I have come to admire more and more every day. In one of his DVD's he mentions the concept that performance trainers really have a simple test they must pass every day - a personal competition if you will. They need to provide the best standard of care possible to their clients within their respective skill set. If they are doing this and also constantly improving and augmenting their skill set, everything will take care of itself (i.e. more success and clients...). If they aren't passing this simple test, they probably stopped competing with themselves and their long term chances of failure are likely to rise dramatically.

NOTE: My interpretation of his ideas not his words directly

This concept was like a seismic boom inside my head the other day and re-affirmed the importance of competition in my life and how much I have grown to love it. Specific to my business situation, clients are going to do what they do and train where they want to train for any number of reasons that I will never fully understand. While we can surely influence people along the way, all of the best trainers eventually learn that clients have their own competitions to fight and are going to do what is best for them at the end of the day. If they choose to go somewhere else, we simply have to have a thick skin and accept it for what it is. However, the one guiding principal that trainers should never lose sight of in the ebb and flow of such competitions is providing the clients that train at their facility the best standard of care that they can and always striving to improve that standard. At the end of day, that is the only competition that is really, really critical. If you lose that one too often, you are going to run into trouble. I never plan to get into that kind of trouble!

As I continue to ponder this idea from Charlie, I have decided that my main competition going forward is really me. After all, I am the only one who can elevate my standard of care. With that in mind, gone are the days where I worry about what facility A,B, or C are doing and trying to validate what I do against what they do. Facility A,B, or C all probably do some good things or people wouldn't go there to begin with. Of course, I still follow what my competitors are up to but I am not going to obsessively stress over it like I used to because that time and energy would be better spent on improving what I have to offer and winning the personal competition of improving my standard of care for my clients. 

I honestly believe that should train where you want to train - I am totally cool with that even if it's not at my place. In fact, I hope you that get a great training experience wherever you go. However, please know that if you walk through my doors, you are going be trained by someone who is living with a competitive edge and who is committed to providing you a high standard of care and who can't wait to train you at my place.

If you aren't competing - you aren't living!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Tough Mudder Files - Week 9

Weeks Until I Get Dominated - 1!
 Monday - Heavy LB
Trap Bar Deadlift
5x 115,135,155,175, 195,215
4x 235,255,275,295
3x 315,335
2x 355,375

1x 395, 410 (Personal Record)

Andy Bolton can lift double my PR!
Training Result - I had planned on going for alot of reps in this lift to keep up on my strength/power endurance but a funny thing happened as I ramped up in weight - I felt locked in and grooved in. I haven't felt like that on deadlift in a long time and decided to try for a PR. You simply can't pass up a good deadlift day when you haven't had one in over a year. the midst of training for an endurance running event/mind screw with no emphasis on getting strong, I managed to break an 8 year PR two weeks out from the event. Sometimes the adaptive process takes some pretty strange turns...also my glutes have not been this sore in a lonnnnnnnnnnng time!

This sums up my benching experience...
Tuesday - Heavy UB
Bench Press
10x Bar, 95
5x 135,165
1x225 (shoulder pain)
5 x (Chins x 3, DB Shoulder Press x 40lbs)
5 x (DB Side Raises x 10 x 15lbs, Wall Slides x 10)

Training Result - Since I PR'ed on Deadlift the other day, I decided to see how I would fare on bench. I haven't regularly benched since I busted up my left shoulder last year playing rugby so I was curious. As my numbers indicate - I still suck at bench and still get pain with heavier weights. I could have probably gone heavier but I didn't want to blast it again. Experiment failed. As I think about this workout, I pretty much mailed it in for some reason. Trying to stay focused on the biz and on being in shape for the mudder is really sapping my mental and training energy. Blah.

Wednesday - Hills
30 Minutes x 3mph x Alternating Flat & Level 15 Grades

Training Result - Another day and another wimpy workout...I did this one just to get the blood flowing and to do SOMETHING. I know I can't miss any training days so this had to do. Need...To...Get...Over...The...Hump!!!!

Thursday - Bike, Core, & Flex/Mob
30 Minutes x Level 10 x Intervals.

Training Result - Level 10 was flipping easy compared to last week...I started to feel a bit better physically and mentally after this workout though...some optimism magically creeped into my head later in the day...I think the "Hump" has passed.

Obligatory snarqey optimism poster

Friday - Off
I decided to take another day off - this was more for mental recovery than anything else. Physically, I felt pretty good but I still felt the need to NOT train.  Prior this week, I had been really busy at work/training and it started to psych me out a bit think, which was causing me to dread the race. Definitely a bad situation there. I think I took this day off to preserve my mental mojo more than anything. Something tells me that going into a race that will absolutely crush me physically with a good mindset is probably more important than being physically legit, over-trained, and mentally unprepared.

Training Result -NA

Saturday - LSD (Long, Slow, Distance) Training Run
5 Miles - 53 mins (Treadmill)

My Personal "Hump" - Summited!
Training Result - It has literally been pissing down rain all day in greater Chattanooga area so I had to resort to a treadmill run, which I don't like to do too much of because it doesn't really help real running IMO. However, it actually wasn't that bad and I actually had some moments of friskiness. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT! As I alluded to earlier in this post, my physical and mental mojo were starting to wane, making what is certain to be an ass-whooping feel like a potentially insurmountable challenge. Indeed, as unfortunate as it is to admit this, my mojo was so depleted late last week that I considered bagging the race altogether! I know, I know, what a wimpy attitude to have going into the mudder. However, this run told me my mojo was returning. While it still sucks for a 250lb mesomorph to run 5+ miles, I am happy to report that worst of the training is over and I might be starting look forward to the mudder again in its own crazy way. Ah the joys of recovery!

Sunday - Recovery (Various Mobility & Flex Work)

Training Result - Even though I feel pretty good, I still got this can never feel too good!

Previous Series Posts

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brain Food #13: No Snappy Title - Just Good Info

I usually try to lead off Brain Food posts with a philosophical rant on training or some amusing anecdote making fun of the people that work out in the lame-o fitness gym I belong to but I just don't have the energy for it today. The combination of keeping things humming at the biz and my tough mudder training has sapped my snarq of late unfortunately. I promise to get back on track and find something or someone to comment on for the next one. Until then - there is lots of good info below. Get your feast on!

Don't Eat Before You Exercise To Burn Fat!

This is an interesting blog post from Jonny Bowden that touches on an age old debate...fasted exercise.

Do You Tone?

A great blog post from Mike Boyle discussing the problem with "toning" - simply must be read to appreciate!

Restaurant Meal Tips

A comprehensive list of Do's and Don't when eating at restaurants by Vince Del Monte. I'm not really familiar with his work but it's legit info. Compliments to Eric Cressey for finding it for me.

Magnesium Deficiency - An Unknown Epidemic?

This blog post from Charles Poliquin discusses this problem and provides quite a list of problems associated with low magnesium levels. It is long but I think you will be surprised at how "sneaky" important magnesium is in the body. I supplement with magnesium and recommend you try it - especially for sleep problems.

USDA Standards - Joke or The Truth?

I posted a Jonny Bowden mini-rant on the new USDA dietary guidelines and how they still fall well short of teaching Americans how to eat healthy. Well I hate to pile onto a government agency (OK total sarcasm!) but here is another article on the topic from Mark Bittman, a NY Times opinion editor. His motto - "Eat Real Food". Check it out here.

Do You Want "Fast" Feet or "Powerful" Feet To Be Fast?

This is a great post from Joe DeFranco that breaks down a running debate concerning acceleration technique. His argument states that athletes accelerate more effectively with fewer, more powerful strides as opposed to shorter, faster (and therefore more numerous) strides over the same distance (usually 10 yds). Essentially, the athlete with "fast" feet may look faster but the athlete with "powerful" feet might actually be faster in shorter distances. I have seen this phenomenon countless times and that's why we teach the "power" technique at Fury Performance.