The Readiness Manifesto

The Readiness Manifesto

Note: This was originally intended to be a short piece. A few conversations that occurred throughout the period I worked on this coupled with the writing process that usually raises more questions than the original motivator morphed this article into one of the longest pieces of writing I’ve done. It details a large part of my training philosophy. 

If you needed to do something physically strenuous, right now, with no warmup, could you do it? Would you tweak something? Or are you ready to get after it?

I think it’s one of the most underrated qualities we can address in our training. There’s a lot of writing, research, and social media content about the “perfect warmup”. What happens if your training lays a lasting foundation that minimizes the need for an extensive warmup? Before you get all up in arms, please realize that I’m saying “minimize,” not eliminate.

3 separate, yet related aspects of physical conditioning need to be addressed to build a body that’s resilient to injury and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Our resiliency can be considered a bank account of sorts.  Everyday life, training, and performance situations all can be considered “withdrawals” from this bank account. What happens when we overdraw?

We get injured.

If we follow this logic, we need to make our bank account bigger by addressing Accessible Range of Motion, The Level of our Strength Skill, and our Conditioning.

Accessible Range of Motion

“If it’s important, do it every day”-Dan Gable

Adequate mobility is an absolute necessity for resiliency and readiness. Notice I didn’t say suberb mobility, but enough to get done what you need to get done. Vigilant mobility practice means daily mobility practice.

One of my favorite mobility drills is the Brettzel. It addresses multiple qualities including proper breathing, hip mobility and thoracic spine mobility. Thoracic spine mobility has a direct effect on our shoulder mobility. Structurally, the hips and shoulders allow greater mobility than any joint in our body, so it’s important to spend some time priming that mobility and developing the ability to control the movement of those two joints. This is a way to get that done.

I’ve been teaching this movement for a while now, but I recently learned a progression into the full Brettzel that I really like. It’s patient, and allows the individual to stop at the point that’s most beneficial to them. If we have to grit our teeth and force ourselves into a position, positive change is impossible due to the stress of holding that position.

The Brettzel Progression:

  1. Lay on your stomach, with your head on your hands. Inhale into your belly fully, and continue to inflate your chest. Relax and exhale fully. This is called crocodile breathing. Your goal should be expanding in a 360 degree area around your midsection. No chest breathing without expanding throughout the midsection as well.
  2.  Bring a leg up with the knee bent 90 degrees-ish to the side. The knee needs to be above the hip, for reasons I will address later. There will be space between that same side hip and the ground. Continue crocodile breathing and make that space smaller on every exhale. If you start holding your breath or straining, you are pushing into it too hard. Back off and relax into your stretch
  3. After a few breaths, bend the straight leg back from the knee. Reach back with the opposite arm and grab that foot. Continue crocodile breathing. On the exhale, gently pull that leg up and flex that glute. You should feel a stretch in the front of that hip. If you feel it in your back, stop. Concentrate on extending through your hip. Let the leg drop back down on the inhale. Repeat for 3-5 breaths (or more).
  4. Straighten your opposite arm, roll onto the side of your straight leg and use that arm to grab your knee. This is where the “knee above the hip” concept is important. If it drops below the hip, you will encourage movement through the lumbar spine. That’s bad. Don’t do that. We want to move through the thoracic spine only, so keep that knee above the hip.
  5. As you breath (still in the belly) relax into greater rotation on the exhale. Rotate through your upper back, and through the leg where you are grabbing the foot. Never force it. After 5-8  (or more) breaths, slowly release the tension to get out of the stretch. Don’t just let go.

At ANY point you feel a cramp, have to hold your breath, or feel you’re trying too hard, that’s your stopping point for the day. That’s where you need to spend some time (hint: probably more than one session) developing some mobility there. Be patient and work the process.

Here’s a video of the progression

 

An individual’s range of motion varies from person to person. Every movement, especially movements under an outside load have a cost. If said movement stays within our baseline range of motion, the cost of that movement is negligible. If we go outside of that accessible range, the cost starts to make an impact on our bank account. The bigger our baseline range of motion, the chance of that happening shrinks.

Strength Skill Level

High skill strength practice requires a few elements to be present. 1.) Multijoint movements 2.) A substantial external load to these movements 3.) The necessity for focus.

I don’t consider a bicep curl to be strength practice. Sure, you might increase the biceps ability to generate tension via nervous system adaptations or increasing the number of fibers in the muscle, but movement through just one joint has very little relation to the activities we do every day. We seldom interact with our outside environment via the movement of a single joint.

A lightly loaded or unloaded multijoint movement doesn’t qualify as strength practice in my mind either. For strength practice to increase our resiliency, the external load needs to encourage a high level of tension generated via the muscular and nervous system. As we increase our ability to generate high levels of tension, what used to be hard becomes easy. We need to use high amounts of tension less frequently as we go throughout our day.

Motor Control is often overlooked in the quest to build strength. This involves the demonstration of strength coupled with timing and coordination. Again, frequent practice helps develop this quality. In a controlled training setting, we have the opportunity to mindfully practice coordination, timing, and fluid movement.

What’s a movement that involves multiple joints, external load, and the necessity for mindful movement? The Turkish Get Up is an unparalleled example of a movement requiring all of these components.

 

Addressing the components of multijoint movement, training under external load, and focused practice develop our skill of demonstrating strength. As we improve this skill, the demands of everyday life stop encroaching upon this threshold. The further away from that threshold an outside demand resides,  the smaller our withdrawal from our resiliency bank account will be.

Conditioning

Our body has 3 basic energy systems. Aerobic, Lactic/Glycolytic, and Alactic. Although all three work together, the needs of each individual situation dictate which system is utilized the most.

Our alactic energy system is responsible for short duration, explosive activities. A short boulder problem, exploding into a double leg takedown or throw (pick your favorite japanese throw name, judo folks) in a jiu-jitsu competition, or a short set of kettlebell swings or snatches are all examples of utilizing this system.

Our lactic or glycolytic system is where we “feel the burn”. A 400 meter sprint, enduro-route at the Red ( or any route over 50 feet for me, at this point in time), or the third overtime in the EBI finals in jiu-jitsu would all be heavily drawing from this system.

The last, and often overlooked system in terms of training is our aerobic system. Resting, recovery, “refilling the tank” and longer duration, low intensity work draw from this system. Hanging off of a jug and recovering on a route, holding someone in guard and recovering in a jiu-jitsu match, or resting between attempts on a boulder problem should all be windows where the aerobic system can do its job.

Ideally, from a longevity standpoint, it’s a good idea to expand the Alactic and Aerobic energy systems and not spend a whole lot of time in the Glyocolytic arena. It’s an incredibly stressful system for the body. A simple way to develop the “bookends” of our energy system is sets of swings on the minute.

For example: Do a set of 10 explosive, crisp kettlebell swings, and rest the remainder of the minute. 10-20 minutes of this will make up a great training session, and shouldn’t leave you too destroyed, if you selected the proper weight.

Throughout life, performance, and training, we rely on our energy systems to give us the fuel to go about our activities. If the respective system is not robust enough for the demands of a given situation, the cost to our resiliency bank account increases.

Which Category Do I Need To Address First?

It’s important to realize the concept of a limiting factor. Let’s invoke the all-knowing wikipedia:

“Limiting Factor- an input or variable in such that a small change in it from present value would cause a non-negligible change in an output or other measure of system”

Time is a non-replenishing resource. We don’t get it back. Therefore, it’s ideal to find how to make the most effective change with the least amount of time and effort involved. If one method makes a given amount of improvement in 2 days, while a separate method makes the same amount of improvement in 2 weeks, it’s a clear choice that the first method is the ideal method.

Here’s where we need to set our ego to the side. Sometimes, you may not be the best person to find your limiting factor. If you aren’t sure where you need to spend your time, you need to see someone who can tell you. This could be via a Functional Movement Screen, a Physical Therapist, a knowledgeable coach, a Muscle Activation Techniques specialist, a Chiropractor, etc. There are an insane amount of ways you could go about this. So many disciplines boil down to the same basic principles, so find one that works for you.

Our perception is subjective, and ideally, an objective system to find the limiting factor will provide more accurate results. Everyone is different, and to be honest, everything works. What matters is that you find a way to step outside of your own judgement, and objectively discover where you could make the most improvement in the smallest amount of time.

So take a step back and ponder this question: Could you get up and get after it right now with little prep? It might be time to put in the work so you can.

 


Looking for guidance concerning your limiting factor? I’ve got a few spots open for distance coaching, and offer in-person coaching if you’re in the area. Learn more here.

 

Bullet Points and a Brew 2/13/17

Bullet Points and a Brew 2/13/17

Yeah, yeah, I missed last week. It wasn’t intentional, but I just never got around to it. All my fault, and here’s to more consistency starting NOW!!! (until I get inevitably get sidetracked in the near future one week.) It’s been a great couple of weeks. First, I had the opportunity to assist at a StrongFirst Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor certification. In addition to having the honor of helping some amazing people through the transformative weekend that is the SFG certification, I also was able to refine my coaching skills, pick up new info nuggets for use in the future, reconnect with old friends, and meet some incredible people. It would be an understatement to say I’m still fired up from the weekend, even 2 weeks after the fact.

Image Above: The entire Atlanta SFG Crew! Candidates and Amazing Coaches. I was lucky to be a part of it. Photo:Craig Marker

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StrongFirst Leadership, Team Leaders, and Assistant Instructors. A Group of Incredibly Knowledgeable and Strong People…and myself!

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Team Shlosser! I had the honor of working closely and learning from this group throughout the weekend. Photo: Craig Marker

I was also able to sneak in a trip to San Francisco to visit my brother. No climbing or training, but some great beer and a great time out in the Bay Area. I’m back in town and dialing in some coaching, some training, and some climbing (if it ever cools back down again and stops raining).

San Francisco, it's been real. Golden Gate Bridge hiding in the background.

A post shared by Paul Corsaro (@paulcorsaro) on

Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

I sat down with Kris Hampton of Power Company Climbing back around Christmas to discuss movement quality. I don’t think there is a case of “perfect form” for everybody. Individual differences matter. Correct form for a certain individual may not apply to the next person; however, I do believe there are some common principles for certain movements. We dig into some of those principles on the podcast.

Who has tight hips? Everybody, right? Well…maybe. Everyone enjoys stretching their hip flexors, or at least attempting to with horror shows such as this.

hip-flexor-stretches

Anyways, Dean Somerset explores some hip mobility concepts in this article. I share a lot of his stuff, and that’s OK, because it’s good stuff. Check it out.

Why do you exercise? Is it to supplement an active lifestyle? Or is it to replace activity in your lifestyle? That distinction is important. Gray Cook explores this dilemma, and also includes a video of some old dudes climbing at an age I hope I’m continuing to climb as well. Insightful, slightly philosophical, and straight up awesome, this article is a must read.

It’s often overlooked, but the Serratus Anterior is a crucial muscle contributing to shoulder health. Willow gives a brief intro into some of the functions of the muscle, and provides a couple interesting progressions to play with.

The Brew

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Frootwood, Founders Brewing Company

So, Founders is releasing a line of new barrel aged beers this year. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This is the first one that’s come down the line, or at least the first one I’ve seen. It’s a cherry ale aged in bourbon barrels. Very interesting indeed. It pours reddish with a hint of brown with an  off-white bubbly head. A cherry-forward aroma rises out of the glass, subtly influenced by bourbon. It’s a really interesting flavor with a lot of cherry, but the bourbon mellows it out, so you get a strong cherry-flavored beer without it tasting too sweet or like cough medicine. A nice bourbon aftertaste lingers. I really enjoyed this one. Haven’t really had a beer quite like it. If you see it, grab a bottle or two. It gets my seal of approval..like these:

This place gets my seal of approval.

A post shared by Paul Corsaro (@paulcorsaro) on

That’s it for this week. See y’all next week.


What’s Happening

Tactical Strength Challenge

We are hosting the Tactical Strength Challenge again at Scenic City Strength and Fitness! It will be held April 8th all around the world. The three skills tested are a max powerlifting-style deadlift, strict pull-ups or flexed arm hangs depending on your division, and a 5 minute snatch test. It’s an awesome event and a lot of fun to push your limits and cheer on everyone else. If you’re interested, reach out to me ASAP so we can answer your questions and get your registered! You can register here.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in coaching, I can help. I offer strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs. You can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6:15 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays at the same time. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 1/24/17

It’s another week of getting after it! I’m a week or so deep into a finger strength and strength training program, playing with ways to optimize how a session flows. I’m really happy with how things are going.

 

I head down to Atlanta on Thursday. I have the opportunity to be an assistant instructor at a StrongFirst kettlebell certification. I’m excited to see some old friends, make some new ones, and welcome newly-minted SFG instructors. Selfishly, I will get to witness some amazing coaches instruct and I can’t wait to learn from them. It’s gonna be a great weekend.

Let’s get into the bullet points

The Bullet Points

Foam rolling can be a waste of time. It can also be a huge help with improving mobility and movement quality. Which effect will it have on you? That depends on whether you do shit correctly. Dr. Rusin breaks down some of his favorite foam rolling drills. I stumbled across some new variations that I have implemented and immediately felt a benefit. There’s a lot of useful information in this article, so you should read it.

I was lucky to meet Chris at a PlanStrong event this past summer. He just posted the first article of a TEN part series exploring the Turkish Get Up. It’s something you should definitely follow. The Turkish Get Up can be a complex, intimidating movement. When someone owns a Get Up of 100+ pounds, you should probably hear what they have to say. Check it out, and follow along for what I’m sure will be a fantastic package of information.

I thought this was an interesting discussion. People have done some weird things to get better at a sport they love. Enjoy a thread filled with humorous answers, shenanigans, and an interesting idea here or there.

The Brew

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So Happens It’s Tuesday, The Bruery

The Bruery has a famous “Day of the week” lineup of big, boozy stouts that include Black Tuesday, Mocha Wednesday, Peanut Butter and Thursday, etc. So Happens It’s Tuesday is a rarely seen part of that line-up. Why? Rumor has it that this variant was victim of a large scale infection during the brewing process, probably with lactobacillus, a bacteria used to sour beers. Hence the name. SHappens I‘ts Tuesday. S.H.I.T. Get it? Anyways, I stumbled across a bottle a while ago and decided to crack it this past week. Yep. Mine was infected. However, it was still pretty damn good! The beer had plenty of the roasted malt character you’d expect from a stout, with a nice sour bite from the lactobacillus. The tartness didn’t overwhelm the stout characteristics, but blended with them quite nicely. Also, there was no hint of booziness from a beer with a reported 13+% alcohol content, another nice cover-up due to the tartness. I wouldn’t drink it everyday, but it goes to show that “infected” beers might still be tasty.


What’s Happening

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

It’s the new year, and a lot of people are building out their strategy for training in 2017. I can help. If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6:15 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays at the same time. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday. There will be no class this Thursday, the 26th, because I will be out of town.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 1/17/2017

Winter in the southeast. Schools close due to the cold, yet a week later it’s 70 degrees. Typical. All in all, I had a good weekend. I got some climbing in Sunday and Monday, doing a bunch of moderates I hadn’t tried before. It’s always a good day when new boulders are done.

Bottling day! It's been a while since I've sprayed myself in the eye with beer.

A post shared by Paul Corsaro (@paulcorsaro) on

Saturday, I bottled an Imperial Coffee Stout, so soon my own beer will make a debut on this series. It should be interesting. Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

Landmine exercises aren’t seen super often these days, but they can be super beneficial for overhead loading patterns, training the trunk musculature, and just providing some new stimulus in training. Check out some of these variations.

Motivation is awesome. It’s easy to crush your training session because the psyche is high. What happens when the psyche is low? A great article.

If you want to squat a whole bunch of weight, then the back squat should be your number 1 choice. If you aren’t a powerlifter, you should explore some other varations as well. Different positions and squatting patterns can be beneficial for performance in interesting ways. Here’s Mike Robertson demonstrating some really powerful, and perhaps unconventional ways to squat.

The Brew

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Tart Cherry Wake ‘N Bake, Terrapin Beer Company

The base Wake ‘N Bake is one of my favorite seasonal releases. It’s easy to find here in the southeast, the oatmeal adds some silkiness, the coffee character is strong, and these qualities make it quite the beer. Terrapin came out with a tart cherry version as one of their limited releases. A touch of sour added to one of my favorites? Sign. Me. Up.

The beer pours black with a tan head that fades to a bubbly ring around the glass. A Strong coffee aroma with a slight tang wafts up from the glass. The flavor is more of the same..strong coffee and roasted malts, with a subtle tartness that rides underneath everything. A nice tweak to an great base beer. All the thumbs up.

 


What’s Happening

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

It’s the new year, and a lot of people are building out their strategy for training in 2017. I can help. If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6:15 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays at the same time. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 1/9/17

Back at it! I’m back in Chattanooga, and ready to get back into my normal routine of things. It was a great vacation, and I got to sample even more of the amazing climbing surfacing on Maui, but now its time to get back to work.

I just finished my first training session. It was a good one, full of heavy lifting, some kettlebell snatches, and some loaded carries. I’ve got a fingerboard in the mail, and I’m psyched about its portability. I’ve got a bunch of ideas in my head on how to utilize it, and can’t wait to try it out. Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

I posted an article last friday detailing some tweaks I’m making to the yearly scope of my own training. I’m a big proponent of the view that if my viewpoints don’t change over time, I’m not doing a very good job to educate myself and get a little better every day.

Climbharder, Reddit’s climbing training related subreddit recently had an “Ask Me Anything” conversation with climbing coach Will Anglin out of Colorado. It’s a cool format, since any user can post a question. Check it out and read through it. There’s a lot of good information in there.

“Little and Often Over the Long Haul”

That quote sums it up. No technical training information in this one, but a great glimpse at the mindset required to sustain training for a lifetime. Not a year, not two years, but the philosophy necessary to continue getting a little better throughout your lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep a physical lifestyle until I’m dead. I don’t feel like being broken in my later years.

We all know stress is bad. Actually, it isn’t. David Dellanave gives us a more subtle overview of how stress relates to us and our training. I thought it was more nuanced than alot of the standard (yet still mostly accurate) analogies of stress I usually see. It was an interesting article to me, so I thought I’d share it.

The Brew

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City of the Dead, Modern Times Beer

A cool aspect about taking a vacation is the access I have to a different distribution for craft beer. Modern Times is a brewery out of California and they have a very interesting take on barrel aging. This beer wasn’t aged in any barrels, but the coffee they brewed the beer with was. I’ve never had a barrel aged coffee bean before, so I was curious as to how it would end up in the glass.It pours black with light tan head that fades to thin bubbles and a ring around the glass. Aromas of coffee and some roasted malts waft up when the glass is filled. The taste is full of sweet, chocolaty flavors and strong coffee with some faint vanilla and bourbon. It’s a really nice take on barrel aging something. It’d be interesting to see this approach taken with an Imperial stout, as the coffee did dominate the flavor of this export stout variation. However, it’s unique, without losing the characteristics of a barrel aged beer. Worth seeking out.


What’s Happening

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

It’s the new year, and a lot of people are building out their strategy for training in 2017. I can help. If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

3 Ways I'm Changing My Training in 2017

3 Ways I'm Changing My Training in 2017

I’m about to be back in Chattanooga after a vacation, and I’m psyched to get back after it in terms of coaching, climbing, and my own training. I always like to reflect on the past year and see what’s changed in both my training and philosophy concerning physical preparation. I’ve learned a lot the past year, and am taking on some new challenges this coming year. How does MY training plan reflect that? Let’s take a look.

1. An Increased Focus on Finger Strength

I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to climb at a fairly competent level without doing a whole lot of targeted finger strength. The last year or two, I’ve learned that as climbs get harder, holds tend to get smaller (a big surprise, eh?). One of my main dislikes about finger training  was the amount of time I perceived a dedicated block of finger training would take. One of the “big rocks” of my training philosophy is efficiency. I’m not a fan of sitting around and doing only one movement. I (wrongly) thought that this approach was how the majority of hangboard training sessions would go. Enter Integrative Strength Training.

I’ve heard this approach mentioned multiple times by Steve Bechtel over at Climb Strong. It’s a unique way to keep your sessions flowing, and reduce monotony. Most importantly, this method utilizes the endocrine system to  make strength gains. At it’s most basic, this approach combines a heavy strength exercise, a finger strength exercise, and some mobility work. A session involves rotating through these movement categories instead of just hitting straight sets of one movement, then moving on to the next one. The first grouping of movements I will be playing with include deadlifts, fingerboard work, and some upper body T-Spine and Glenohumeral mobility. I’m excited to see how it goes.

I’ve kept my description of this approach extremely broad, because I still have a LOT to learn about it. I learn by doing, so I hope to not only develop strength through this approach, but also gain some knowledge. If you want to learn more about Integrated Strength Training, check out this podcast.

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Power Company Podcast: Integrated Strength Training w/ Steve Bechtel

2. Putting Heavy Shit Overhead

I think a heavy shoulder press is one of the best shoulder health movements a person can do. If they do it correctly. Also, someone once told me the secret to happiness is lifting heavy shit over your head. I want to be really happy, so I want to lift something really heavy (for me).

I’m going to be training for my StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor level 2 Certification in April. It’s about that time to dive even deeper into the world of Kettlebells, applicable strength, and tension. The strength test for this qualification is a 1/2 bodyweight single arm Kettlebell press. I need to press either a 36kg (80lb) or 40kg (88lb) kettlebell depending on how much I weigh come April. I plan on training for the 40 kilo, because why not take the opportunity to get stronger?

My strategy for this goal will involve around the concept of variability. The Soviet weightlifters of the past hold an incredible number of records and competition wins. The training system they used wasn’t as linear as some other schools of thought. When viewed with an EXTREMELY broad brush, one of the golden rules of that system was that one’s training load should vary at least 20% from session to session. That doesn’t mean it always needs to increase. In fact, depending on one’s training experience, the wavier and more varied the load, the better! (within reason).

I personally handle heavier sets with low reps better than higher rep sets, so it looks like I’ll be doing a lot of 1,2, and maybe 3 rep sets (and not in that order) if I’m feeling froggy. Maybe I’ll throw in some fingerboarding and turn it into more Integrative Strength work. Who knows…

3. Sport and Region-specific Conditioning Work

My endurance sucks. Part of it is due to the fact that I boulder 90% of the year. The other part of it is that I rarely spend an adequate amount of time training my aerobic energy system. Looking back, when I’ve tried to develop my endurance, I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time addressing my anaerobic performance and neglected the aerobic energy system. In 2017, I want to balance that out a bit more. It is hard to train a weakness. It’s not fun, and quite humbling. I would really like to climb some hard sport climbing routes in the fall, so I plan on staying disciplined and getting after some of my weak spots.

Some non-specific conditioning protocols I like

-Kettlebell Snatches: 15 seconds on, 45 seconds off, alternating hands each round.

-Loaded Carries: All sorts of variations and intervals, but the goal would be to stay around 4-7 out of 10 intensity wise, and making sure there is adequate recovery.

Deep 6 Complexes: Skill practice, and being able to complete complex techniques when fatigued.

 

Some climbing-specific things I’ll be doing

-Playing with some low intensity hangboard intervals or repeaters

-4 x 4’s

-Feet on campus board intervals, with a simulated rest

I used these last spring and they really helped with recovery and climbing through a pump. Start on the lowest rung of a campus board, with your feet on the kick board. Slowly climb up and down the board, making sure your feet stay on the kick board. Simulate foot movements if you want. Once your work interval is over, put your feet on the ground, but keep a fraction of your weight hanging from a campus rung. 1/2 of your rest time is spent “shaking out” on the rung. Adjust the weight you’re putting on the rung to ensure you are recovering. The second 1/2 of your rest time is off the board, normally resting. I started with a 1 set of 5 intervals and worked up to 3 sets, with a 5 minute rest in between sets.  

As always, perfect repeats and technique drills will always be part of my training. Skill comes first, all the other details are built on proper technique.

Without a plan, you’re just randomly trying to throw things at a wall and see what sticks. Figure out what you want to address, and figure out what you need to change. Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of madness.

How are you going to prove your sanity in 2017?

 

Bullet Points and a Brew 1/2/17

Happy new year everybody! It’s been a good week on the island of Maui. A bunch of family time, relaxation, and food. January is going to be a busy month for me. I’m assisting at a StrongFirst kettlebell certification in Atlanta at the end of the month, and I’m stoked to reconnect with some friends, do a little bit of teaching, and a lotta bit of learning. It’ll be a good time. Today, I’m headed out to do some sport climbing on a new wall being developed here on Maui. The last two times I’ve been to the islands, the burgeoning climbing community has been super welcoming and open with their areas, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of the stone! Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

Dr. Weingroff is at the top of the list of people who influence me. His blog posts aren’t super frequent, but always full of information. Sometimes, the information is wayyy over my head, but usually there are always some good pieces to pull out. In this article, he takes a simple question about a plank and delves into movement technique, the art of cuing, tension, and a bunch of other concepts related to the plank and trunk stability. I highly recommend this read.

First off, I don’t treat pain. Not my scope of practice. If you’re in pain, don’t see a trainer or someone with a weekend certification that allows him or her to make believe that they are a shitty physical therapist. Ok. Rant over. Just because I refer pain out and don’t deal with it doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting to me. It’s a really cool topic. A sweet video from the folks over at Modern Manual Therapy.

It’s the new year, and it’s time to look forward and start building our training plan for 2017. I always like to sit down, and I create my plan. It’s perfect. I’m gonna get so strong. And then life happens. Schedules get crazy. It’s easy to let all of the planning fall by the wayside and call an audible. Here are some ways to NOT do that.

The Brew

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Liquid Breadfruit, Maui Brewing Company

One item out of the infinite number of cool things about Maui is Maui Brewing Company. It’s a huge facility and they have up to 24 different beers of their own available for sampling, awesome food trucks outside, and plenty of games to play. I’ve never had this limited release of theirs and was intrigued, so I picked it up. It’s brewed with breadfruit and toasted papaya seeds. It got some bready malt flavors, hints of orange, mango and papaya, and a faint toastiness, I assume from the papaya seeds. For a higher-abv beer, the alcohol is hidden quite well. A good one.


What’s Happening

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

It’s the new year, and a lot of people are building out their strategy for training in 2017. I can help. If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Kettlebell Classes

No kettlebell classes this next two weeks, as I will be out of town, but they will resume when I return. You can check out the SCSF schedule here.

Bullet Points and a Brew 12/27

I’m currently sitting in the Nashville Airport at six in the morning. We breezed through security, and are waiting to head west. After a quick pit stop in Los Angeles, we’ll land in Maui to meet up with the rest of my family to spend the new year. I’m pretty ok with it. I plan on some family hangs, beach time, and a bit of climbing, actually. There’s been some bouldering development happening on the island and I’m stoked to check it out! The weekend was good. I was able to get out and do a solid circuit day at LRC on Sunday, with the added bonus of being able to climb on the golf course boulders, which is always a treat. I hope your  week goes well! Let’s get into the bullet points

The Bullet Points

The Power Company Climbing Podcast is always chock full of actionable training tips. This one’s a little different. An interview with Miguel Ventura, owner and operator of Miguel’s Pizza in the Red River Gorge Kentucky. The episode has stories, some philosophy, and some history behind one of the most iconic locations in rock climbing. I’ve had many a moment sitting on the front porch talking to Miguel, or just living in the the campground, and those moments have had a huge part in shaping who I am today. Also included is a short conversation with Miguel’s son Dario, another person I deeply respect. It’s a good one. Listen up.

Lower body movements don’t only cause adaptations in the lower body. Some of my favorite strength training movements for climbing are looked at as lower body movements at first. However, a lot goes into play as to how the body responds to an exercises, some good, some bad. I thought this was an interesting read.

If you’re learning new training movements, it’s probably a good idea to learn from a coach in person. If that’s not possible, it’s up to you to find what you believe to be safe and accurate information. I really enjoyed this article that dug deep into the finer points of kettlebell ballistic movements.  A lot of coaching points to think about. Check it out.

The Brew

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Vanilla Hazelnut Marshal Zhukov, Cigar City Brewing

Marshal Zhukov is one of the notable stouts from Cigar City. It’s big and bold, and the Vanilla Hazelnut variation only improves it. Big aromas and flavors of dark roasted malts, espresso, vanilla. The hazelnut adds a nuttiness that elevates this stout to one of the best stouts I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever. Highly recommended.

 

 

 


What’s Happening

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Kettlebell Classes

No kettlebell classes the next two weeks, as I will be out of town, but they will resume when I return. You can check out the SCSF schedule here.

 

Bullet Points and a Brew 12/20

Everyone enjoying the week leading up to Christmas? Clearly I am:

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Deep in thought, and full of Christmas Cheer

It’s busy one for me. My priorities this week are finishing up some coaching things, getting a great week of coaching on the floor, finishing up some Christmas shopping, and getting a good week of training in. I was able to get out to Rocktown last Friday and finally figured out a piece of beta on one of my long-term projects. I’ve got a ways to go, but it was nice to have some progress and not feel like I was just banging my head against the boulder.

Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

Crazy schedules make super complicated training difficult to do. When life gets nuts, how do you get done what needs to be done? What do you cut to make your training plans lean yet still effective? Dean Somerset opens a window into his thought process.

Not quite an article, but chock full of some good information. Eric Cressey works with a large number of professional athletes. A majority of these athletes are baseball players with arms that are literally worth millions of dollars. When he puts out some information on arm care, I make sure I listen. “30 Days of Arm Care” was a series on social media he shared and finished up recently. I’ve included the hash tag link for twitter. You can also search the same hashtag on instagram. Look through it. It’s got some gems.

I’m a fan of Reddit. It’s a great way to learn things of all sorts. The Climbharder subreddit is packed full of information and discussion. This thread is full of insights, viewpoints, and discussion about the importance of technique, importance of strength, which one is more important, etc. Check it out.

The Brew

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The Lizard of Koz, Founders Brewing Company

An Imperial Stout brewed with blueberries, chocolate, and vanilla, and then aged in bourbon barrels. It’s quite the beer. The Lizard of Koz pours black with a thick, bubbly tan head. Bourbon and chocolate fill the aroma. Chocolate, vanilla, and very prominent blueberry make up the flavor. A slight hint of bourbon is present, but the bourbon is surprisingly subtle considering how strong it was in the aroma. Mouthfeel wise, it’s very thick and savory, just how a dessert beer should be. Definitely a beer to share, as it’s a bit much after a glass, but one glass would be a great end to a great meal.

 

 

 


What’s Happening

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.