Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CrossFit vs. Strength & Conditioning

Over the last few years, I have been involved in the CrossFit world.  I first heard about CF in 2006 and it immediately grabbed my attention as something different.  The workouts were unlike anything I had ever done before and was immediately hooked.  I started reading more about it and even helped a couple of local guys start a CF affiliate.  There are a lot of cool things about the CF world but perhaps the biggest thing that makes it strong is the sense of community and how everyone helps everyone.  The CF world is all about community.  It's great because there is an absolutely TON of positivity at all times.  They have gone back to the basics regarding Olympic lifting and have stressed total fitness.  That being said, there are limitations to the CF world.  Specificity, overtraining (or as they say, under-resting...tomato, tomato), and the "coaches" don't always have the best background in exercise physiology.  They may simply have a CF level I certification that they obtained from attending a weekend seminar and passing the CF test.  While those are negatives, there are countless positives, the most of which is their emphasis on mobility (what's up K-Star?).

The strength & conditioning world is a little different.  There is a lot more emphasis placed on research, specificity, and rest.  I spent last Sunday with a bunch of S&C coaches and trainers.  I was a little intimidated by the amount of knowledge surrounding me.  I have my M.S. in Exercise Phys. but the people I was around last weekend made me look very elementary.  The S&C world focuses a lot more on planned, specific, organized training in which there is a specific goal of every workout leading to a long term goal down the road.

Now, I like both worlds.  I consider them to be separate tools in my toolbox.  When I open my own place (soon, I promise), I will be taking methods from both of these worlds.  After all, they both have the same goal, they just take different ways to get there.  No program is a one size fits all where it's good for everyone that does it.  Individuality is extremely important in S&C.  My shoulder is not the same as your shoulder.  My hips do not move the same as yours.  If you have had an ACL replacement, I'm not going to load up the bar on you without putting your through some kind of assessment.  Once you have been assessed however, I am going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at you to get you to be the very best YOU that you can be.  I will take some methodologies from CF, and some from NSCA, and some from Gray Cook, and some from Mike Boyle, and some from Brian MacKenzie.  It's like the chiropractor vs. physical therapist.  Both of them are right.  Both of them have their place place.   So I will not apologize to my S&C coaches for following CrossFit.  I will not apologize to the CrossFit community for retaining my CSCS certification or seeking my FMS cert.  As many tools in the toolbox as I can get to turn you into a monster (thanks for that one Charlie Weingroff).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ironman and some learning

Today the Louisville Ironman was held.  Ever since I was a little kid I have always looked marvelously at the participants of the Ironman.  I would watch the people on TV do it in Kona and just watch in awe.  I have always considered myself a fairly decent athlete but these people are ridiculous.  This, along with those that qualify for the CrossFit Games, are easily the fittest people on the planet.  Sorry CrossFit, you have to share that title.

Yesterday I was riding my bike downtown with my son and I was able to see the athletes setting up their bikes getting ready for today's race.  I looked at these great athletes with great envy because they are doing something I can't.  Sure, if I committed myself to it, I MIGHT be able to complete one.  The thing is, I'm a horrible swimmer.  Absolutely terrible.  Plus, seeing the bikes these athletes were bringing into this thing, I don't have that kind of money to throw down just on a bike.  These were $5000 - 10,000 easily.  For now, I will just stick to my running races and mud runs.  Hopefully they will provide the thrill I'm constantly seeking in sports but I still want to do an Ironman someday.  If anybody wants to teach me how to swim 2.5 miles, give me a holler.  By the way, Monica Murphy, I was cheering you on in spirit today.  I'm sure you did great and I'm very proud of you.

On an completely different note, today I had the extreme pleasure of going to Indianapolis and attended the Midwest Strength Enhancement Seminar.  To say I obtained some knowledge is quite the understatement.  I was able to meet some of the finest minds in the strength and conditioning world.   The topics discussed were:

  • Trying to Define the Core by Charlie Weingroff
  • The ACL Athlete from Rehab to Performance Training by Robert Panariello
  • Fundamental Movement Patterns to Challenge the Core by Phil Plisky
  • Movement Based Rehab: The Hips are Everything by Perry Nickelston
While all of the speakers were absolutely amazing and mindblowing and thought provoking, the one who made the biggest impression on me was Charlie Weingroff.  Granted he was hopped up on a little too much Redline, after listening to him I felt like running through a wall.  He was extremely energetic, knowledgeable, and practical.  I hope to see him talk again soon.  I know I will be purchasing his video Training = Rehab -- Rehab = Training very soon.  

I originally wanted to recap all of the lectures today but I need to soak in some of it before I do that.  I also recorded the lectures so I am going to listen to them again so I can soak even more in.  Very good stuff and I feel much smarter today than yesterday.  

One final note, if you are in the Louisville area, make sure you sign up for the Rugged Maniac coming up in a few weeks and the Tap N Run coming up in October.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Time...I just never have time

In my day job, I am a Health Educator.  It's an extremely non-glamorous, socially isolating gig.  The office and cubicle environment is not exactly what I went to graduate school for.  That being said, I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of different types of personalities every day with a range of different motivations to practice weight management with exercise, nutrition, or both.  I hear a lot of different reasons as to why one of my members don't get enough exercise.  Some of them are legit, some are crap.  Perhaps the biggest reason I get is time, more specifically, the lack of time.

I used to believe that time was a legitimate reason for not exercising.  In today's world, one thing we lack is time.  Especially as parents.  Between a 40 hour / week job, getting the kids from after school care, taking them to whatever extracurricular activity they have going on, making dinner, helping them with their homework, getting them to bed, and finally having some down time before you put yourself to bed, that's a full day.  And if you are a single parent, it makes it even harder.  I completely realize this crazy schedule is not conducive to your exercise goals.  But what I've learned is that if you really commit to your goals and your health, you can find the time.

Recently I have begun working out in the evenings after dinner.  I have the privilege of having a wife help me out with my 2 children after dinner, which helps a lot.  We generally eat dinner about 6 - 6:30.  I have found that if I allow myself to digest for about 90 minutes, I can go out and get a quick 30-40 minute workout around 8.  It's not the most intense workout by any means but I am getting my workout in.  It's amazing how much more energetic I feel and how much more work I am able to get done now.  Again, if you want to achieve your goals bad enough, you will find time.  I have found the time at 8:00 at night.  I used to only get exercise on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday because of my time constraints with work on the other three days of the week.  Now I'm getting some kind of activity every day.  I feel amazing.

I realize this type of schedule doesn't work for everyone.  Again, I have the privilege of having a wife help with the kids and allow me to have time to myself for a bit.  For those without the luxury of this, you can still find time.  Whether it's in your living room, before you get the kids, before your kids wake in the morning, whenever.  You can find time.  I no longer believe this to be a reason.  If you want to achieve your health and fitness goals, you will find the time.  You just have to start today.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why do I train

I have been exercising for as long as I can remember.  I have a picture from when I must've been about 3 or 4 years old with my old(er) sister next to me doing situps.  That was just the beginning.  I remember my parents having a weight set in the basement of our house growing up and I was lifting weights when I was about 12 years old.  I've always been fascinated with exercise, fitness, and movement.  Probably because I am so ADHD that I simply HAD to move.  When I got to Jr. high school and high school, I lived in the weight room.  I generally didn't know what the heck I was doing and the extent of strength coaching in those days was for your head football coach to tell you to simply hit the squats and bench press.

The point is that I love exercise.  I've been told that I can be a little narrow minded with exercise and that it's too much a part of my life.  I've been told that I should cut back on it and invest my time into other things to make me more well rounded.  I'm sorry, that's not me.  Don't get me wrong, I should learn more about how the economy effects my 401k.  I should learn more about how to fully utilize my new MacBook (I have no idea what to do with this thing).  Maybe I should learn more about the Muslim religion.

In all of my training and exercise, I have suffered a torn labrum, tendonitis in my biceps tendon, bulging disc in my lower back, numerous strained muscles and sprained joints, and pain in my knee that I never really did find out what it was.  So why do I do this, other than to still look great for my wonderful wife?  Because I can.  Not sure if you heard me...BECAUSE I CAN!  Our bodies were designed to move.  They weren't designed to sit in a chair all day and then come home and plop down in front of the TV and just sit some more.  They weren't designed that way.  We are designed to move.  We are designed for participation in activities.  The cavemen didn't sit around waiting for food to come to them, they went out and got it.  Native Americans didn't sit around and wait for food to plant themselves, the planted it.  The Spartans didn't sit back and let their land defend itself, they worked their assess off and fought for it. Why am I so active?  Because I can be.  And you know what, there are a lot of people out there that can't be active due to physical and mental handicaps.  I thank God every single day that I am able to be active and I am able to exercise.  It is not something I will ever take for granted.  It is something I will offer up as a prayer to God every time I workout.  He deserves that because I am so grateful for the ability to move, play, exercise, run, lift, and be active.

Because I can.  That is why I do what I do.  I will never quit.  Maybe I will find some time to be more of a rounded out individual at some point and maybe I will learn what the hell influences my 401k.  But until then, I will continue to move.  I will continue to play.  And I will continue to be grateful every single day that I am able to be that way.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Professional Wrestling Has Taught Me

Growing up I was a huge fan of WWF wrestling.  I remember my dad taking me to see Wrestlemania II on Closed Circuit TV (this was before pay per view) broadcast at the Palmer Auditorium in Davenport.  I loved the WWF, AWA, and NWA organizations all equally.  Back in those days, professional wrestling told a story.  Each individual match was either a chapter in a story or an entire story within itself.  There was an introduction, where the wrestlers gave a promo where they talked about how much they hated their opponent and what they were going to do to them.  Then there were chapters written in the ring or wherever else they might fight.  Some matches would take a while, some would be quick, some involved outside interference, but they all told a story if you really watched.  Then there was a conclusion that either consisted of another promo after their match or one of wrestlers would simply move on to another feud.

In fitness, there is a similar story.  There is an introduction, chapters to the story, and a conclusion.  The introduction usually consists of your motivation to start exercise.  It could be to lose weight, to increase your performance, to look better naked, whatever.  Similar to the wrestling promo, this is where you identify what it is you are fighting.

Then the story begins.  Whether it's at the gym, park, bike path, pool, or field, you start your fitness regimen.  But just like in wrestling where two wrestlers can't just jump into a ring and expect to have a great match with no planning, you must have a plan, a script so to speak.  Whether it's your periodization cycle, a workout log, or simply just mapping out what parts of the body you want to focus on, you must have a plan.  If you don't, you will wind up wondering through your workouts with no success.  This is the fight.  Wrestlers plan out there fights.  Sure, some of it can be improvised but for the most part the moves are planned so that the wrestlers don't kill themselves.  And if you don't plan your workouts correctly, you too will risk the possibility of hurting yourself.

Next comes the conclusion, the finale.  In wrestling it's when the wrestler hits his finishing move or cuts a great promo after the match is over.  Then he moves onto another feud.  In fitness it's the goal you are training for.  Whether it's a 5k race, a triathlon, Warrior Dash, trying out for a team, whatever.  That's your conclusion.  You have to have a goal.  Just like every wrestling match has a purpose, so must your fitness routines.  If you don't have a specific goal in mind or an end result you are training for, you have no way of knowing how successful you are in your efforts.  And once you complete your feud, you will move on to the next opponent.  One goal has been met, another goal will be set.

So go out this weekend and tap into your inner Macho Man Randy Savage (RIP) or team up with your own version of The Four Horsemen and write your own story.  I know I will be at my bootcamp on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guerrilla Bootcamp recap

In my shameless effort of plugging my business venture, I felt it might be appropriate to give you an idea of what exactly we have been doing at Guerrilla Bootcamp.

Week 1:  We showed up at The Great Lawn in downtown Louisville.  If you've never been here, it's a great big giant open area located right on the Ohio River.  We had good attendance especially considering it was my first week.  Granted it was mostly my coworkers at SHPS but hey, you have to have start somewhere.  I brought my big tractor tire and needless to say my guerrillas were a little worried at what that had in store for them.  We started with basic instruction on squat and pushup technique.  This is something we always do at the beginning.  I think this is something that sets me apart from others, my attention to detail with exercise form and mobility.  We did 4 rounds of 20 squats, 10 pushups, and 30 yard sprints.  Then we did 4 rounds of 10 burpees and 10 toe touches on the tire.  Then came a little friendly competition where it was guys vs. girls on the tire flip.  There were twice as many girls as guys so I figured it would be fair.  The guys still won by a full minute.  All in all I think it was a very successful week and we had a lot of fun.

Week 2:  My guerrillas attacked my favorite spot in all of Louisville.  Dog Hill at Cherokee Park is LEGENDARY!  I had a few different faces show up this week which was great.  We started with a warm up of 3 rounds of 10 squats, 5 pushups, 10 shoulder press with PVC pipe.  We then took advantage of some small steps and did some bounding up the steps both double leg and single leg.  Then it was off to the hill...THE HILL.  Now I'm not sure if you've ever seen this hill but it's about 400 meters in length and I have no idea what the incline is but I'm pretty sure "steep as hell" serves as a great barometer.   With this we did 3 rounds of 10 medicine ball slams and hill runs.  Ugh.  Pure nasty.  Then we played a little game with the medicine ball.  I would toss the ball down the hill and they had to get it before it got away.  2 of my guerrillas weren't as fortunate as the rest of the band.  They had to run all of the way down the hill.  All of my other guerrillas got to it within about 10 feet.  They were the lucky ones.  Needless to say, a fun time was had by all.

Week 3:  We attacked Fern Creek High School track this past week.  I brought a full arsenal of weapons that included kettlebells and my trusty medicine ball.  We started with a basic ROM warmup.  Then we moved to KB swings so that everyone could get the range of motion down with this as it would be part of the big workout later.  Once I felt everyone was comfortable with that we started our chipper.  We did a chipper consisting of 50 squats, 50 pushups, 20 KB swings, 20 ball slams, 50 shoulder presses with PVC pipe, and finishing with a 400 meter sprint while lunging between each of those stations.  You initially have 3 minutes to complete as much as possible, then rest 1 minute.  Then you have 6 minutes to complete as much as possible with 2 minutes rest.  Then you run through the whole circuit.  Now this was great training for my band of guerrillas.  I think they liked it.

This week we are attacking the Yum! Center in downtown Louisville.  I have a ton of good stuff planned at a monumental landmark.  This is going to be absolutely epic and I implore you to be there if you are in the Louisville area.  It is definitely a training session you will not want to miss.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guerrilla Bootcamp has taken over Louisville

For as long as I've been out of the Navy, I have wanted to open my own fitness center.  No, I don't want to start a gym filled with nothing but meat heads posing in front of mirrors and only doing bench presses and arm curls.  No, I've wanted to own a fitness center geared towards promoting education and strength training for all populations from women, men, kids, and the wonderfully active aging crowd.  As time grew on my ideas started to shape themselves a little bit more and I decided I wanted to go more towards sports performance.  Then after I graduated with my Master's, I decided that I wanted to go more in the direction of functional mobility and stability and injury prevention for all, not just athletes.  After all, weekend warriors get injured a lot more then those that train every day simply because they don't know how to train.

Starting a place is hard work and it costs quite a bit of money.  I thought I had something going a few months ago with a up and coming franchise but there were several things that didn't add up properly and I backed out.  Rather than incur quite a bit of debt for something I wasn't completely sold on, I passed.  Now I'm back at square one and I'm starting small.  In starting small I can focus on perfecting my craft and establish bit of a following.  Enter Guerrilla Bootcamp.

Guerrilla Bootcamp is now being presented by my business Voltage Strength & Performance.  I am now on the 4th week of classes, which are held every Saturday morning at 0900 at various locations across the Louisville and things are going smoothly.  I have a steady group of 5 or 6 "guerrillas" every week.  So far our training grounds have included the Great Lawn downtown, dog hill at Cherokee Park, and most recently the Fern Creek High School track.  I like to think my bootcamp is a little different than most bootcamps.  For one, I say "bootcamp", whereas most others say "boot camp".  That totally set me apart from the rest.  Kidding.  I start every class with a simple mobility education.  Last week I had a baseball and showed something you can do to help loosen up the pec minor to keep it from pulling on the shoulder girdle.  A very simple way increase the knowledge of my participants.  It's a very simple way of distinguishing my bootcamp from all of the others that simply want to take your money.  I want to educate every one of my guerrillas.

If you are reading this and are living in the Louisville area, I ask you to come and try the class.  You will not leave disappointed.  The mobility training isn't the only thing that sets me apart.  Come to one class and you will find out first hand just how different this class is.  And since your first class is free, you got nothing to lose.

BTW, you can now check me out on Twitter.  I'm @voltagestrength and I frequently update my future locations and different types of mobility and stability exercises you can incorporate into your routine.