Bullet Points and a Brew 5/25/17

We’re bringing this week to a close. It’s been a good one, full of old and new training protocols for me. I’ve been reading about heart rate based energy systems training for a lot of team sports lately, and it’s time to see where it all fits in with some climbing. I’ve been working back into sport climbing shape the last month or so, and my aerobic capacity, while getting better, is still fairly pitiful. I’ve been doing a lot of work in the climbing gym, to address that, but am also going to utilize some heart rate-based work for my nonspecific conditioning sessions. I’m keeping it simple, too. 15 minutes of Get Ups, 15 minutes of Snatches, with a 5 minute rest in between. I’ll share my inspiration for this protocol below. Here’s the readout from the first session this week.

Non specific energy system day. This cycle is all about aerobic capacity, because I suck at sport climbing right now. I'm doing a lot of work in the climbing gym to get after it, but building a general foundation isn't any less important. ▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️ New toys=new protocols(for me). For the next six weeks, I'll be working to expand my aerobic system ability by doing two exercises (32kg get ups, 24kg snatches), and using my heart rate as a marker for resting and working. Today was 15 minutes of getups, a 5 minute rest, and 15 minutes of snatches. A good day. It'll be interesting to see what the graph looks like at the end of the cycle! #sceniccitystrong #strongfirst #cruxconditioning #powercompanyclimbing #kettlebells #heartratetraining #strengthtraining #turkishgetups #snatches #climbing #sportclimbing #kettlebellsforclimbers #climbingtraining #webuildmachines

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I’m excited to see how that goes for the next six weeks! I’m hoping to to get back outside this weekend to get some more bolt clippin’ in. Stoked!

Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

Mark Snow is an SFG Team Leader and an instructor for Functional Movement Systems. I was lucky enough to learn from him when I went through the FMS program a couple years ago. This was a great article examining how to expand your aerobic capacity in a way that minimizes stress, yet builds unbelievable capacity. As I mentioned above, I based a lot of this new energy system protocol on the concepts this article contains.

Another viewpoint into addressing climbing-specific energy systems, this is an informative piece by Will Anglin. Circuits such as these allow you to get effective sessions in at bouldering-only gyms, or if you lack a consistent partner. As always, well worth the read.

Amanda Wheeler is a coach at Mark Fisher Fitness. MFF is a facility in New York, and well, they’re a bit different. In an awesome way. In addition to that, they’re all awesome coaches. If you struggle putting together a general strength training session, this article provides a simple “plug and play” algorithm to get you going.

Bonus

One of my athletes sent me a photo of the most groundbreaking ab trainer in existence. Enjoy.

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Yes. That’s a Pop-a-shot ab trainer. Thanks Jeff!

The Brew

Garden-of-Earthly-Burial

Garden of Earthly Delights, Burial Beer Company

An offering by probably the best independently-owned brewery in Asheville (especially since another big-time brewery in the area just sold the F out to AB InBev), this beer is a saison brewed with a bunch of interesting ingredients: Carrots, Ginger, Lemon Verbena, and Sea Salt. It pours a pale yellow with an effervescent head. The beer is super carbonated, with barnyard-y, yeasty aromas with an earthy tang, containing hints of some pickles as well. On the tongue, the dry saison entry bursts into a vegetal characteristic that’s earthy and pickl-y (sp?). A very strange beer, but not bad. It’s very carbonated for a beer, dancing on the tongue. It’s an interesting take on a saison, and not poorly done at all, just slightly too strange for me.

That’s it for this week. Crush the weekend!


What’s Happening

 

Coaching

I deliver efficient and effective programming that gets the job done without demanding too much of your valuable time. I have some open spots for distance coaching, so if you are interested, please apply. You can find more information here.

Power Company Climbing Proven Plans

Kettlebells+for+Climbers+Proven

Bridging the gap between completely custom programming and a purely template based training system, these plans capitalize on the patterns seen from years of working with climbers of all skill and ability levels, helping them crush their goals. Route climbers, boulderers, or even people just looking for some strength training will find a plan that fits them! Check it out 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 6:15 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.

Social Medias

Like what you’ve read? Want to find out more? Like the Facebook Page and share with your friends!

Bullet Points and a Brew 5/17/17

Hey there. Remember me? I’ve been AWOL due to some busyness and some laziness. Time to get back on track and start putting these out. I was able to get on a rope for the first time this year this past weekend. I was able to sample two different crags for the first time. I’m always amazed at just how much rock is in this area. I’m truly lucky to live in an area that’s covered in sandstone.

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The Buffet Wall. Photo: Bob Butters c/o Roots Rated

In terms of performance, I’ve got a long way to go endurance-wise. I’ve been putting in some basic work, and had faint hints of some fitness, but the weekend was a big motivator to really get after it. Speaking of getting after it, let’s get after some bullet points.

The Bullet Points

There’s a reason Dan John considers a loaded carry one of the fundamental human movement patterns. Not sure about that? Read this article, and start carrying stuff. You may learn something.

If you aren’t recovering adequately, you’re not getting stronger. It’s as simple as that. This article had some interesting videos that describe some science behind recovery, and some novel ways to address how you recharge for your next training bout.

This article came out a couple weeks ago and I immediately tagged it as an article for one of these posts. Mark Anderson has been climbing and coaching for a looong time. There’s gold in these here lessons. Go find it.

The Brew

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Beer Geek Breakfast, Mikeller

Mikeller is a microbrewery based out of Denmark with a really interesting mode of production: They’re a gypsy brewery. They travel around and make their beers in various breweries. It’s an interesting concept, and apparently doesn’t affect the quality of their beer, as this one of the more highly rated stouts around. I’ve always been on the lookout for this one, and it finally appeared at one of the bottle shops around here.  (Thanks Sigler’s!). It pours an oily black with a finger of tan, thick, bubbly head. A very roasty aroma fills the room almost immediately, lots of malts and coffee. It’s roasty and rich, with a Russian Imperial stout-ish malt character in the taste, with some present but subtle coffee. It’s definitely different than the coffee bomb that is your standard coffee stout. The taste finishes out with a pleasant bitterness. On the palate, it’s as good as it gets for a stout, with a thick, velvety mouthfeel. It’s a delicious beer that lives up to the hype. Coffee and stout fans will enjoy this one immensely.

That’s it for this week.


What’s Happening

kettlebell-course-chattanooga-tn

Strongfirst Kettlebell User Course

I’m excited to announce that the Strongfirst Kettlebell User course is coming back to Chattanooga! On May 27, Senior SFG Delaine Ross will be at Scenic City Strength and Fitness for an 8 hour workshop breaking down fundamental kettlebell skills. These skills lay the foundation for a lifetime of effective kettlebell training, so this course is not to be missed. You can find more information here.

Coaching

I deliver efficient and effective programming that gets the job done without demanding too much of your valuable time. I have some open spots for distance coaching, so if you are interested, please apply. 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.

Social Medias

Like what you’ve read? Want to find out more? Like the Facebook Page and share with your friends!

Gettin’ all Sciency, Edition 2

Not many people know it, but Einstein used to be a crusher. Photoshop Credit: Jordan Haag. IG: @passionhorse

…so  you don’t have to.

The scientific process requires thorough (often tedious) recording of pretty much everything involved in the research process. This allows the next group of researchers to replicate the study, if need be, or continue to progress the line of thinking that spurred the original study. This results in the publishing of informative, but tedious, articles in scholarly journals. They’re tough to read, but if you put the time in, you can come away with helpful information that you can use to get stronger, stay injury free, and crush your goals.

Let’s get to it.

The Study

Shoulder Joint and Muscle Characteristics Among Weight Training Participants With and Without Impingement Syndrome

Kolber et al.  2017

The Background

The study we’re going to look at today took place recently, and examined some characteristics of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS). SIS is an umbrella-ish term that is used to describe certain instances of shoulder pain. Sometimes, if certain movement or structural characteristics are out of whack, the Rotator cuff tendons or the sac of fluid that separates these tendons from bony structures in the shoulder might get stuck or pinched by these bony structures when reaching overhead. Over time, this can lead to degradation of the Rotator cuff soft tissues and that fluid sac (Subacromial bursa, if you want the scientific term). Persistent shoulder pain is usually the inevitable destination of that road.

The researchers involved in this study wanted to see if there was a trend with certain muscle strength and range of motion characteristics among people with Impingement Syndrome, and were curious if any differences existed for people without Impingement Syndrome.

How They Did It

The researchers selected 55 male adults with ages from 21 to 56. The average age was 27 years old. All subjects had been strength training 2-5 times a week for an average of 9 years, so all subjects were relatively seasoned lifters. They were separated into two groups, those with Shoulder Impingement, and those without.

To determine whether a subject had Impingement or not, two tests were administered. –

-Hawkins-Kennedy Test.

***DON’T just have your friend do this. This is a hands-on test meant for use by a clinician that provokes pain to get a diagnosis. If you don’t have the word “Doctor” in front of your name, you shouldn’t be doing this to someone. End Rant.***

The second test looked for a pain during a shoulder arcArc

If these tests were positive for pain, the subject was placed in the Impingement group. If the tests were negative, and the subject had experienced no pain for the previous 72 hours during training or daily living, they were placed in the Non-impingement group.

There were three areas of testing: Muscle Strength, Muscle Strength Ratios, and Active Range of Motion

Muscle Strength

The first attribute tested was muscle strength. The researchers looked at five muscle group’s strength levels, using a hand digital dynamometer. These muscle groups were the shoulder abductor group, external rotators, internal rotators, and the upper and lower trapezius muscles.

Muscle Strength Ratios

After these values were obtained the ratios of these groups’ strength levels were compared with one another. The relationships examined were:

-Internal Rotator Strength to External Rotator Strength

-Shoulder Abductor strength to External Rotator Strength

-Upper Trapezius Strength to Lower Trapezius Strength

Active Range of Motion

The researches examined each subjects active flexion, abduction, external rotation and internal rotation using a goniometer, a device used to measure joint angles.

flexion
Flexion
abduction
Abduction
erir
External and Internal Rotation

Results

After all the data had been collected, certain trends existed.

-Shoulder External Rotators and the Lower Trapezius muscles were significantly weaker in individuals with Impingement Syndrome compared to individuals without.

-The strength ratio of Internal Rotators vs. External Rotators was significantly skewed towards Internal Rotators (Internal Rotators were way stronger than the external rotators) in individuals with Impingement.

-The strength ratio of Abductors vs. External Rotators was significantly skewed towards the Abductors in individuals with Impingement.

-The strength ratio of Lower Trapezius vs. Upper Trapezius was significantly skewed towards the Upper Traps in individuals with impingement.

-Individuals with Impingement had significantly less Internal AND External Rotation than individuals without impingement.

Takeaways

-One takeaway from this study is the importance of shoulder external rotator and lower trapezius strength. Keeping these muscles and groups of muscles strong help keep the “ball” of the humerus centered in the shoulder socket. The shoulder relies on a relatively large amount of soft tissue to keep the joint centered, so a weakness in certain groups may allow the ball to creep out of the center position. Poor position means a higher chance of running out of room during a movement, and therefore a higher chance of trapping soft tissue and getting impingement. It seems external rotators and lower traps tend to be weaker in individuals with impingement, so it miiight be a good idea to keep them strong. Here are some simple and effective exercises to address that.

 

-Another takeaway I got from this study was discrepancy in strength that was related to shoulder impingement.

It’s seems as if people can be pulled into internal rotation if they neglect proper form during training, or have certain lifestyle factors, such as sitting at a computer for extended periods of time, drive for extended periods of time, or have poor posture (the standard climber hunchback). All these can lead to an imbalance in which our joint position and muscle strength is skewed towards shoulder internal rotation and lead to a weakness in our external rotators.

Another factor seems to be the imbalance between lower trap and upper trap strength. We’ve gone over a way to work on lower trap weakness, but the upper traps can end up being to “switched on”  by something we do every day:Breathing. When we breathe incorrectly, it’s often by using our accessory muscles which are in our shoulders, upper traps, and neck. Ideally, we want to be using our diaphragm to pull air into our lungs, and crocodile breathing is a great way to reinforce this pattern. Lay on your belly and take relaxed, complete inhales through your nose. Your midsection should rise and expand laterally, and your shoulders should stay relaxed.

 

Wrapping it Up

Give some thought to how you breathe and what positions you spend the majority of your day in. If there’s some things you can work on, start doing them! The examples I talked about in the videos are just a few of the myriad of ways you can begin to address these issues.

I think these exercise form corrections are crucial to the health of the shoulder joint, as strength training with proper form helps reinforce movement characteristics. You’re either building bad habits and making them harder to break, or you are reinforcing healthy and balanced joint mechanics. You make the choice.

Have questions, comments, rants and raves related to this article? Feel free to reach out to me!

Learn More

Here’s the citation and link to the abstract if you want to read the full study.

Kolber et al. Shoulder Joint and Muscle Characteristics Among Weight Training Participants With and Without Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001554

Bullet Points and a Brew 4/20/17

It’s that time of the week again. It’s been a solid week of coaching and training for me. Tennessee Bouldering Authority had an awesome 17th anniversary party, full of beer, pizza and dynos. It was a good time. It’s the best climbing gym in the Chattanooga area, and each new wall tweak or pad shuffle seems to make it better.  If you live in the area and haven’t been, you need to check it out.

 

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I’m going to try and get out on a rope this weekend, and it sure will be interesting to see just how pumped I get. I’ve been toying with some endurance work, but nowhere near the amount I need to to start building some fitness…yet. Regardless, it will be a great day outdoors.

Let’s get into the Bullet Points.

The Bullet Points

Power+Company+Proven+Plans.png

This is a slightly different Podcast than you may be used to from the Power Company. We’re releasing an arsenal of Proven Plans this week. They’re a really unique offering offering personalization and individual coaching at a level of affordability that’s tough to match. I’ve never seen anything else out there like this, so if you’re looking to take your training up a notch this summer, it would be worth your while to give them a look. This podcast breaks down the Proven Plans structure with the coach who oversees the vast majority of the program. It’s full of some great concepts on coaching, relationships, and designing effective training programs. Check it out.

Adding a reaching element to core training improves shoulder function, helps tie together systems running throughout the body that are responsible for movement, and frankly, are less boring than direct core work. You’ve heard of one of the exercises, but I’m willing to bet you haven’t heard of the other two. Time to change that.

Upper back mobility is critical. It allows for proper shoulder mechanics and makes sure the lower back isn’t called to do more than its proper share of work. The Cat-Camel exercise is a common exercise to develop this quality, but it’s often done incorrectly. Dr. Quinn Henoch breaks down some of the finer points of the movement.

“Do Move. Do Grow. Don’t Stop”

It’s easy to find someone on the interwebz to tell you that you’re doing something wrong. People selling the “my way is the only way” approach on social media are ubiquitous. These do’s and dont’s are a little bit different, and are well worth the read.

The Brew

20170419_210459

Fall of the Rebel Angels, Burial Brewing Co.

Burial is a fantastic small brewery out of Asheville, North Carolina. Whenever we make a trip to that city, the brewery sits solidly in our circuit of must visits. This offering is a Saison ale blended and brewed with Chokeberries…yeah, I’ve never heard of those berries either.  It ours a dark rose gold with a finger and a half of bubbly white head. The aroma has a strong sour character with dry yeast hiding underneath, mixed with hints of fruit. On the taste, it’s dry and bluntly sour, with a nice funkiness. I’m not really getting a whole lot of chokeberries, but I’ve never had a chokeberry, so I’m not really sure what they taste like. It’s a nice dry sour that’s refreshing for this time of year, that’s for sure.

 

 

That’s it for this week!


What’s Happening

kettlebell-course-chattanooga-tn

Strongfirst Kettlebell User Course

I’m excited to announce that the Strongfirst Kettlebell User course is coming back to Chattanooga! On May 27, Senior SFG Delaine Ross will be at Scenic City Strength and Fitness for an 8 hour workshop breaking down fundamental kettlebell skills. These skills lay the foundation for a lifetime of effective kettlebell training, so this course is not to be missed. You can find more information here.

Coaching

I deliver efficient and effective programming that gets the job done without demanding too much of your valuable time. I have some open spots for distance coaching, so if you are interested, please apply. 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 6:15 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.

Social Medias

Like what you’ve read? Want to find out more? Like the Facebook Page and share with your friends!

Bullet Points and a Brew 4/14/17

Here comes an end of the week Bullet Points and a Brew! It’s hot. We’re looking at near record temps today, tickling 90 degrees in April. Awesome. I had a good week of training, preparing for some Jiu-Jitsu matches this weekend. It’ll be a great learning experience and I’m excited to test myself!

Let’s get into the Bullet Points.

The Bullet Points

The grip strength of a climber is an anomaly compared to probably every other sport. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at other sports for concepts we could apply to strengthening the crimpers. I thought this article had some interesting points. Also, if you like to lift weights (ahem), there’s some more specific grip details regarding some barbell work.

I use this cue a lot with folks I work with. Far too often, the focus during the deadlift is on pulling the bar off the ground, instead of wedging the hips in between the bar and the ground. It’s safe, more biomechanically sound, and stronger. Do it.

Dr. Stuart McGill is a researcher who eats, sleeps, and breathes back health and performance. He’s put out some illuminating books concerning strong and pain free backs. Back pain is fairly common, and part of the reason is that there’s a lot of stupid things out there that are taken as facts, when they’re not. This article is a must read if you have a back. I think that covers a good amount of people.

The Brew

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Imperial Biscotti Bourbon Maple Syrup Barrel Aged Break, Westbrook Brewing Co.

I’ve included a few Imperial Biscotti Break variants on here, basically because they’re all awesome. This iteration was aged in Bourbon Barrels that also held Maple syrup at one point. So full of awesomeness. As soon as the cap is popped, Maple syrup, bourbon, and chocolate aromas fill the room. The beer pours black with brownish head, and fades to faint film of bubbles on the top. When tasted, one get’s bourbon first, followed by  chocolaty and rich roasted malt/porterish notes. The maple syrup is present throughout, and adds a unique dimension to the beer. One of my favorite things about the Biscotti Break line is how thick these beers are. They pour like motor oil and have an amazingly “chewy” mouthfeel. This one is no different. Another fantastic addition to maybe my favorite line of beers ever.


What’s Happening

kettlebell-course-chattanooga-tn

Strongfirst Kettlebell User Course

I’m excited to announce that the Strongfirst Kettlebell User course is coming back to Chattanooga! On May 27, Senior SFG Delaine Ross will be at Scenic City Strength and Fitness for an 8 hour workshop breaking down fundamental kettlebell skills. These skills lay the foundation for a lifetime of effective kettlebell training, so this course is not to be missed. You can find more information here.

Coaching

I deliver efficient and effective programming that gets the job done without demanding too much of your valuable time. I have some open spots for distance coaching, so if you are interested, please apply. 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.

Social Medias

Like what you’ve read? Want to find out more? Like the Facebook Page and share with your friends!

 

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 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.