Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hit The Reset Button!

This has taken me a long time to learn, but I think one of the most valuable things to help IMPROVE your training or ability as an athlete is to actually take a step back and ask yourself W.I.N - what's important now? Its too easy, in my opinion, to get caught up in the "more mentality" and lose sight of what really needs to get done NOW to get better.

In my own case, the aches and pains were starting to pile up - to the point where somedays it was UNENJOYABLE to do what I loved to do most! I was getting sick every few weeks and was just feeling BURNED OUT. To the mixed martial artist, wrestler, any combat athlete or even hardcore fitness enthusiest, what i'm about to say is almost blasphemy, but would save alot of frustration. Embrace the idea of a mini off season, or perhaps a few mini off seasons throughout the year - hit the reset button and fix what needs to be fixed NOW to make yourself better in the long run. Again, in my case I had severe knee pain and a nice fat bursa on my elbow, along with the fact that I wasnt getting any stronger or faster - something needed to change! The repetitive stress and the nature of sports like mma, boxing, brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling take a huge toll on the body and sometimes as athletes we get so wrapped up in doing whatever it takes to get better that we forget that it still comes down to PERFORMANCE. And if you're so beat up that you're body can't perform at or near optimal performance then something has to give!

While complete breaks may not be necessary, I think that in some cases taking a few weeks to scale back on the technical/sport specific sessions and taking some time to improve on your ATTRIBUTES (speed, strength, power) along with using restorative techniques (corrective exercises, mobility work, soft tissue work) to get back to balance, will pay huge dividends. Physical reasons to take a break aside, often times, mental burnout can drag people down even worse. No matter how much you love something, or how badly you "want it", everyone reaches a point where the ROI just isn't worth it anymore! If thats the case, then switching gears for a few weeks every now again will only help to further prolong your training progress and help you reach new heights. While i'm not one to cry out "overtraining!" at every little ache and pain (unfortunately those things come with the territory), I am suggesting that athletes stop falling victim to these patterns, start listening to their bodies more and recognize when they need a break.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Work Capacity Warm Up

The simplest way to go about increasing work capacity, in my opinion, is through the use of properly structured WARM UPS. While warm ups are typically though of as boring, they are not only very necessary for preventing injuries and optimizing your training session for that day, they can also be used to over time crank up your work capacity and general level of fitness.

There are a bunch of ways to warm up, from dynamic flexability movements to different activation exercises to bar complexes to movement drills - its all good and is dependent on the type of session you're about to do. For my own strength and conditioning sessions, and those of my clients, I love mixing calisthenics with various band movements for the upperback and posterior chain. With maybe 4 or 5 movements hitting every major movement plane, i'm trying to get the biggest bang for my buck.

a typical warm up for me might look like this
1. Push Ups 2x15
2. Band Face Pulls 2x15
3. BW Squats 2x20
4. Reverse Lunges 2x10 ea
5. Band Goodmornings 2x20

or lately its been this, where I just go through the circuit once
1. Push Ups x 50
2. Band Face Pulls x 50
3. Squats x 50
4. Band Goodmornings or Reverse Lunges x 50

Sometimes I might hit up a slightly different push up variation, or maybe do band pull aparts instead of facepulls, or bodyweight glute ham raises instead of band goodmornings. It doens't matter - the main point is that i'm generally getting in 150-200 total reps of work BEFORE I even do my main training session. Volume and the benefits for my work capacity aside, by drilling perfect push up form, perfect squat form, etc - my warm ups have helped as a prehabilitative measure as well.

So start re-thinking your warm ups and watch those nagging injuries go away and your work capacity go through the roof!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Kettlebell Leg Matrix!

Want to jack your legs up, melt bodyfat, and build crazy high lactic acid tolerance in 2 minutes or less? Look no further than the leg matrix, popularized by Alwyn Cosgrove and JC Santana. Done at a blistering pace, the circuit takes about 2 minutes - and if you're not in 'fight' shape, can leave you on your ass! Great as part of a conditioning workout on their own or as a finisher to a strength session, the Leg Matrix is a killer.

The tradional "leg matrix" is as follows
24 bw squats
24 lunges (12 each)
24 jump lunges (12 each)
24 jump squats

To make this even more dreadful, add a 53lb. kettlebell to the mix. Don't say I didn't warn ya!

1. 12 Left Hand squats
2. 12 Right Hand Squats
3. 12 Left Hand/Left Leg Reverse Lunges
4. 12 Right Hand/Right Leg Reverse Lunges
5. 24 Two Handed Swings

Try going through that sucker once or twice at the end of a session and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Even MORE Pull Up Variations!

The Lunatics over @ the diesel crew are some of the most innovative guys in the game! Here's two videos showing some pretty crazy pull up variations...

19 Killer Pull Up Variations!

Whether you're a combat athlete who needs crazy upperbody pulling strength or someone who wants to be lean and strong, look no further than the "upperbody squat" aka the pull up! Pull up and chin up variations are KING when it comes to functional strength gains that will carry over to just about every sport there is! Here are 19 variations to choose from...

1. pull ups w/close grip
2. pull ups w/medium grip
3. pull ups w/wide grip
4. chin ups w/close grip
5. chin ups w/medium grip
6. mixed grip pull ups (both)
7. sternum pull ups or chin ups
8. judo pull ups
9. sliding pull ups
10. L-Pull Ups/Chin Ups
11. Hand On Wrist Pull Ups (both)
12. Towel Chins
13. Neutral Grip Towel Chins
14. Clapping Pull Ups
15. Reaching Pull Ups
16. One Hand Towel / One Hand Bar Pull Ups (both)
17. Pole Vaulter Pull Ups
18. Renzo Pull Ups
19. Switch Plyo Pull Ups (switch from supinated to pronated or vice versa)

Monday, February 23, 2009

TFW Bear Crawl Variations

Yesterday I posted my top 10 favorite crawling variations, but here's two videos from Martin Rooney showing some of those variations and some others that I didnt include in my list.

Bottom line, if you're a combat athlete and not including these variations as a part of your program, you're missing out!

Best Upperback Band Movements!

So we know that heavy deadlift variatons, barbell rowing, dumbbell rowing and pull ups are absoulute essentials to getting a diesel upperback and crazy pulling strength (not to mention the postural benefits), but often times just doing those movements isn't enough - or in some cases, people are just too weak to do those movements correctly. In order to have the scapular control necessary to deadlift and row correctly, you need some degree of strength built first. This is where jump stretch bands come in, allowing you to do a wide variety of upperback movements - either as part of your warm ups or at the end of workouts (or both if you're like me!). Because of the accomodating resistence, the bands are a much better option in my opinion then say a cable apparatus...that, and they're just convenient and simple to use and I like that.

That said, my top 4 favorite upperback movements are

1. Band Rows

2. Band Face Pulls

3. Band Pull Aparts

4. Behind The Neck Pull Aparts

You can pick just one or two of these and do them as part of a warm up, or even for timed sets at the end of a workout, or you can finish a session with a quick circuit of all 4. Don't be afraid to crank out a ton of volume with these and watch your shoulder problems disappear and your upperback strength go through the roof!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lions, Tigers and Bear Crawls - Oh My!

Bear Crawl/Hand Walking variations are definately one my favorite total body conditioners to use either was a warm up or as part of a workout - there are quite a few variations and once you start adding in various types of push ups within each variation, the possibilities are endless!

Here are my top 10 favorite crawling variations (in no particular order)

1. forward bear crawls
2. backward bear crawls
3. lateral bear crawls
4. alligator walks aka spiderman crawls depending on who you ask
5. sit out walks (definately looks the coolest!)
6. gorilla crawls
7. frog hops
8. crab walks
9. abdominal backward slides (if training on a matted area)
10. forward body pulls (if training on a matted area)

If you're a wrestler, mma fighter, brazilian jiu jitsu practicioner, or just a hardcore fitness enthusiest these are all great for increasing work capacity, body awareness and general upperbody strength/shoulder stability in a very specific manner. Nothing will prepare you to handle your own bodyweight quite like handling your own bodyweight in all sorts of movement patterns and planes! Get to it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

55 (!) Pull Ups

If you're a combat athlete or just someone to pack on some muscle in the way of functional strength gains, look no further than the pull up and all its variations. Eat pull ups for breakfast!


Whats the one movement to cause my hamstrings to blow up like no other?

Its not what you're thinkin, either.

Movements like glute ham raises, romanian deadlifts, and single leg romanian deadlifts are great, but the one movement that kicks my ass (err...hamstrings) everytime is the snatch grip deadlift from a defecit.

Snatch grip deads by themselves are awesome, but from a 3-4" defecit can be absoulte MURDER on the posterior chain. The range of motion and the amount of muscle used in this movement is massive and Charles Poliquin (as crazy as he is sometimes) even goes as far to say that if someone was ever forced to do just ONE movement to gain strength and size, the snatch grip deadlift from a defecit would it be it.

These can done by themselves as a max effort or sub max effort movement, or if you're like me and like to get in and out of the gym as quick as possible, you can even superset them with something like pull ups or even do them as part of a circuit with dips, chins, and maybe a single leg movement like heavy dumbbell step ups. Its your call! Have fun with it and don't forget to pile on the weight!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Texas University Strength & Conditioning

Found this over @ Synergy Athletics ( it out!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Motivation vs. Discipline

Here's a vid that Elliot Hulse from put out today about the difference between motivation and discipline and why waiting for motivation is a mistake. The fact of the matter is that achieving anything worthwhile in life is a grind (nobody likes to admit that), and that it takes serious commitment to conquering your goals.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Football Player

saw this over @ Dave Tate's training log/blog at elitefts, and thought it was worthy of sharing.

He Never Missed a Game

Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion, shares a moving story about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart.

Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had. But being half the size of the other boys, he got absolutely nowhere. At all the games, this hopeful athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played.

This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always On the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game. This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to.

But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game but remained a bench-warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him. When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did.

The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.

The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games. This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in a game.

It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, 'My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?' The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, 'Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come back to the game on Saturday.'

Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon. 'Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today,' said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in.

All right,' he said. 'You can go in.' Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked, and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you never heard.

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that this young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone The coach came to him and said, 'Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"'

He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, 'Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?'

The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, 'Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!'

Monday, February 2, 2009

You Gotta Love It!

Why are people pursuing stuff they don't love?

Why are you "bored" with what you're doing with your life?

Why are you not doing anything to change this?

You will attract what you think, what you say, what you do.

You've heard this before, but why are people still being so negative and not doing what they truly love?

Its a grind, but you have to learn to love the grind, to love the hustle.

The price you pay to go for it and fail is far less than the price you pay for suffering because you never tried. But for those who are passionate, who grind, who hustle, failure will just become a stepping stone to getting to where you are.