Monthly Archives: May 2017

We are all looking to get the best results from our training. However, are we getting the best results if we don’t really know what we need to improve? This is where a movement screening comes in handy. The results from movement screening can help you program your training to improve and restore your physical limitations.Physical or movement limitations can lead to improper movement patterns, posture, and over time can lead to injury. Movement screenings are also a good tool to use when trying to establish the cause of pain or injury.

There are two reasons why I like to screen my clients. First reason being if I don’t know what to fix, I don’t know what to program. And if I don’t know what to program then I’m just guessing on what needs to be done to get the most out of my client’s training. For example, if one of my clients fails the tow touch test, it’s going to be hard for me to teach them movements that involve hinging the hips. This is because if they don’t know how to properly hinge their hips it will be hard for them to get in the proper position to preform the lift. The second reason I like to screen is for personal record keeping. What I mean by this is that sometimes in the gym it feels like we aren’t improving or making progress. However, improvement isn’t always amount lifted, weight loss or aesthetics. Knowing where we started from allows me to keep track of what we have improved on and what we have not. If you have never been screened I suggest you get screened just to see where you are and if there is anything you need to improve on!

This month’s exercise of the month is Landmind Squat Press.

This exercise is a great total body strength exercise. I like using this exercise with my athletes for two reasons:

  1. Its easier to keep a neutral spine angle
  2. Its a great exercise for creating explosiveness

Give it a try!

Iv’e had a couple of people ask lately what we’ve been doing with out training, so I figured what better way then to show some recent videos of our transitional phase. We are now out of our gpp phase and are back on a 9 day microcycle with light, heavy, and medium days. However, we are still keeping our rep schemes pretty high and still aren’t doing anything like doubles and triples, still not time for that yet. This is the period of time that we are making the transition back to working with increasingly heavy weight. In addition to this, we are still keeping some conditioning work in our routine as well. Gotta stay fit! Hope you enjoy the videos to the sweet sound of Gojira, song title is Stranded, and it’s off their newest album. The only video that is missing is my medium competition bench day, last working weight on that day was 225x3x9.

 

As I have alluded to in previous posts, I have decided to jump into the Dexter Jackson Memphis Classic.  Its been a couple years since I have been on stage.  In fact, the last time I was on stage was actually the Dexter Jackson Memphis Classic in 2015, so it was time to come back.  Today I am about four weeks out and feeling pretty good about the prep overall.  I have been working with Justin Harris of Troponin Nutrition since last October.  My original plan was to prep later this year, but things were going really well so we pulled the trigger early.

 

Diet:

I still do a three-template macro cycle, but my calories are considerably lower now with the exception of my high carb day.  On my high carb day, I am still eating about 400g carbs throughout the day.  On my low days (which is when I’m not training) I am eating just about no carbs.  Most days of the week, I’m sitting pretty moderate on protein/carbs/fat.  In order to make sure I’m prepared, I typically order meals from Amplied Meal Prep for the meals I know I will be out of the house.  This is such a nice service, and makes my life waaaay easier.  At home, I keep a lot of chicken cooked up and frequently use egg white as a quick meal option.  My protein powder consumption is pretty much non-existent as the satiation I get from actual food keeps me going anymore.

Training:

I actually write up my own hypertrophy work for the week each Sunday.  If you are a client of mine, you will notice that I sometimes pass along particularly awesome hypertrophy work just to make your life better ;).  For hypertrophy, I am sticking to a fairly basic split: heavy back/ heavy chest and shoulders/ heavy legs/ arms /pump day chest / pump day back / high rep legs/ repeat.

Posing:

I recently did a photoshoot with Brooke Walker who was able to help me polish up my posing recently as well as decide which variations are best for my body at this time.  Since then, I have been flexing on every reflective surface I come across.

 

So I came across this idea while watching a discussion on social media between several EliteFTS team members. A few of them in particular I check up on because the information they share pertains to either my work or common interest’s. Since my work is in strength and conditioning,  you all are a part of NBS, and you stumble to my page to see the information I share I feel as though you may get some good reads checking out others I keep tabs on.

Brandon Smitley: Part of team EliteFTS (athlete) and puts out a lot of information on “how to’s”. Every so often he will come up with a new exercise variation which is awesome and he usually does a “pick of the week” where he highlights the best articles (in his opinion) which are always helpful.

Vincent Dizenzo: Team EliteFTS (Coach). Vinny has been on the team a LLLOOOONNNGGG time and has many accolades in the strength realm. He is currently, and has been for the past 3 years, losing weight and is almost down to 198 from 300!!! He shares his successes, struggles, and helpful information. He is also a bench expert in my eyes.

Nate Harvey: Team EliteFTS (Coach) who is the head strength and condition ing coach for Buffalo University. He prep’s a lot of throwers for the school and I have a current client who throws so I have been following his recent stuff pertaining to that.

Casey Williams: Team EliteFTS (athlete) he has been through a bunch of tough times and gives good insight how to deal with struggle. He and Yessica (also EliteFTS) have launched a youtube series, “coupled in strength” that shows the good and bad times of a relationship where both parties are int the strength and conditioning field.

Ben Pollack & Joe Schillero: Team EliteFTS (Coach & Athlete) both have very good information when it comes to mental preparedness in training and outside of training. I struggle with mental focus when attempting heavy lifts and struggle with composure after missing lifts and how it affects me.

Hope you all can gain knowledge from what these people share as I have in the past.

Our latest Member Spotlight features strongman Clayton Yohanek.

Clayton is a welding instructor at Moore Tech. He started strongman after undergoing 3 surgeries on his right shoulder. In January 2017, he won his first competition in the Heavyweight Novice class.

At the Clash for Cash in May 2017, Clayton took 4th place in the Heavyweight Open class.

His current goals are: “keep increasing my deadlift, load a 400lb atlas stone, win a strongman show in the Heavyweight Open class, and qualify for nationals.”

“My favorite thing about NBS is the family atmosphere. The staff and members are the most helpful and motivating people.”

Congrats to Clayton on his Strongman success. We’re proud to have him as part of the NBS family!

Want to stay updated on the latest at Mid-South SSP? Not sure what days the office is open during the summer? Want to learn some new things about the chiropractic profession that you probably didn’t know? Then be sure to check out the office double doors for the latest information. Have you not paid attention to the content on the doors before? Well, here’s what you’re missing:

 

 

1) T-Shirts Are Still For Sale!

Want to get your hands on some awesome Mid-South SSP gear? You still can! We still have some Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance T-shirts left for purchase. Want to know what the shirts look like? check out the one hanging on our office door! We will be selling the shirts on sale for $20 in order to try and make room for summer tank tops!

2) Summer Hours

Summer is a busy time for everyone, and at Mid-South SSP we are no different. Moving into the June and July, there will be multiple weekends in which the office will be closed so I can pursue opportunities in continuing education. One of the greatest parts about being in t
he health care profession is the constant push to gain more knowledge. The unfortunate part is that means clo
sing the office sometimes. On top of participating in continuing education, I will also begin teaching seminars for Reflexive Performance Reset throughout the month of July. In order to avoid any kind of confusion with the summer office hours, I’ve posted the hours month by month on the door. I appreciate your understanding and for working around the busyness of the summer.

 

 

3) Did YOU Know? 

 

One of our biggest focuses this summer is to provide more and more chiropractic specific content to help educate our current and future patients on little known facts of chiropractic. I realize that there are often a lot of questions and confusion about the chiropractic profession as a whole, and hope to help shed some light on a few of those subjects. So how can you learn more about chiropractic? Take a few seconds during a rest period to check out some of the infographics on our door about chiropractic. Everything about chiropractic from schooling, to risks and benefits of care, to public perceptions of chiropractic can be found here! Keep paying attention as we add more and more infographics over the summer!

Mid South and Spine and Sports Performance

While some people fear change, others welcome it. When it comes to your training, conistency is good, but variation can be great. When a person first begins training, it’s true what they say, stick to the basics. That means if you want to learn how to squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press, then that’s what you need to do. Try to follow something simple like a 3×10, 5×5, or a 5-3-1 program. That way you are at least following a structured program and can keep track of your progress along the way. If you want to get better at those lifts, then those are the lifts you need to be focusing on.

Eventually there will come a time when you may start to stall out a bit, or they may even go down. When this happens, you need to take a step back and reflect on everything you are doing. Ask yourself, am I training on a consistent and regular basis? Am I keeping my recovery in check? You must take nutrition, sleeping, and managing stress into account as well. Believe it or not, all of those factors have a huge impact on your training.

The next area you should reflect on is technical proficiency. Are you breaking down in a certain lift because of improper technique? Is it due to a lack of strength within a certain area of your body? (upper back, lower back, glutes, etc.) Are you having pain in certain joints, or other parts of your body that are causing you issues?

When one or more of the above start happening, you may benefit from changing things up. Adding some variation into your training will help you to continue progressing in your lifting endeavors. What do I mean when I say change and variation? Well, this can come in many different forms. If you’ve been getting injured consistently and have been training heavy on a barbell for 5 to 8 months straight, maybe it’s time to give your joints a break and start doing some more unilateral, single joint, isolation work. Body-weight exercises, mobility, flexibility, and even conditioning work. You’d probably be surprised to find out just how challenging all of that is.

Another option would be the use of specialty bars, which we have an abundance of here at NBS. If you have issues falling forward in the squat on a regular straight bar, you could try doing close stance box squats with the yoke bar. Many have benefitted from a change like this time and time again, considering all other factors are in check. If you keep missing a bench press at lockout, then try doing some 3 or 4 board pressing depending on where you are missing your press at. Cycle in movements like these for 3 to 4 weeks at a time, and see if they can help you out at all. Doing shortened, or extended range of motion training can help with sticking points. Don’t just do these things because you think they look cool, do them with a purpose in mind, and you should always have a reason.

Another example of adding some variation would be to use bands, or chains. Chains can be used to train you bodys natural strength curve and teach you to continue accelerating through the entirety of the movement. Bands can offer an overloaded eccentric, which can be great for building more muscle, or for developing greater concentric force. Again, just make sure you have these set up correctly. There are many resources to help you out with this, including the coaching staff here at NBS.

Speaking of building muscle, perhaps that would be a good route to go if your are lacking size in certain areas. Building up your legs, back, and arms can give you great leverages for moving more weight. Hypertrophy training can even be great for building up your work capacity for when you do decide to start lifting hard and heavy again. Another plus is that it’s not so taxing on your central nervous system (CNS), which could be fried if you’ve been going hard and heavy constantly for 6 to 8 months, hence the reason why you may be injured, or stalling out.

Another great option for adding in some variety to your program would be to change up your movements. For example, instead of always doing back squats, do front squats. Instead of always doing flat bench, try an incline bench, instead of a barbell, use dumbbells. As I mentioned earlier, you can always use the specialty bars. If your shoulders feel beat up, try the Yoke Bar for squatting, or the Swiss Bar for pressing. These are things that you can cycle in for 3 to 4 weeks at a time. Your possibilities are literally endless.

Whatever you do, just choose to do it right and do it with a purpose. Chances are your body is craving some change, so give it what it needs. Give it some variation. Expose it to a new stimulus for a new adaptation to occur, and when you do adapt, change things up again. Keep yourself and your body out of your comfort zone. Doing so should help to keep you out of a rut, and continuing to progress. I hope this bit of information helps out any of you who may be experiencing a lack of progress, or constant injuries. If you have any questions about how you can add some changes and/or variation to your training, please post in the comments section or feel free to email me at bobby@nbsfitness.net.

 

Why CrossFit Kids

I’ve been coaching kids for as long as I’ve been coaching adults. One of the focuses has always been teaching kids proper movement patterns that will translate when they get into upper grade level athletics and training. Another benefit to starting kids young is that it sets a precedence for them as they get older. Helping them create healthy habits when they’re young that could literally set a course for their future health. We’re training them academically, why not physically also?

“The needs of a second grader and high-school varsity wrestlers differ by degree and not kind; the program is scalable for any age or experience level and accounts for the varied maturation status one can find in a class full of kids. CrossFit Kids is designed to be minimalist; it allows a wide array of socioeconomic groups an opportunity to be physically fit and physically active throughout their lives.”
-Greg Glassman

Let’s take a look at what other benefits kids receive with CrossFit Kids training.

Properties of A CrossFit Kid

  1. They become proficient in 10 components of fitness, such as: Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility & Accuracy.
  2. Kids learn the ability to focus their attention on their body, how their body is moving and how to move their body appropriately. kinesthetic sense
  3. Posture naturally becomes better.
  4. Kids learn the value of working hard (not to mention learning to have fun doing it).
  5. Moving their own body weight and learning to weight lift, brings muscular development that translates in their daily lives.  (how much easier would lifting their backpack be for them?)
  6. Kids become a true athlete, not just athletic in a specific sport. Yes, there is a huge difference.

Myths

There have been many myths and misinformation passed around over the years when it comes to kids and training. Let’s take a look at some.

  1. “Weightlifting will stunt a kids growth/interfere with growth plates.” Quite the contrary, there is actually no data that supports that. In fact, there is more data that promotes (proper) weigh training. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/strength-training/art-20047758
  2. “It will interfere with my child’s sport.” With proper training, your child will get better in their sports and have a reduction in sports specific injuries. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Sports_Injuries/child_sports_injuries.asp
  3. “My kid needs to learn leadership skills, so they need team sports.” Not all kids are cut out for team sports, this is especially true for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder. With CrossFit Kids, the kids learn how to focus entirely on themselves, how to move properly and then are given opportunities to “teach” others how to do the same. This not only increases their self confidence, gives them an opportunity to lead, and also help their friends understand proper movement technique when they see them moving poorly. https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/best-sports-for-kids-with-adhd

Testimonies

I’ve had many kids over the years, but one of my kids I often use as an example is Sebastian. Sebastian is 14 years old and has been a CrossFit kid since about age 9. Sebastian has never played team sports. This year he decided to participate in track and field. He excelled in every area he tried out for. Although Sebastian wanted to do short distances, those spots were filled quickly with kids who could only do short distances. Since Sebastian was more versatile in his ability, the coaches put him in the mile run, long jump and anchor for 400 relay.

Sebastian continued to train in CrossFit Kids during his track season. One week (after months of begging) I allowed him to find a max deadlift. He pulled a 230lb 1 rep set, two days later he PR’d his mile run at 5:21.

Sebastian’s abilities are limitless. If your kid, Timmy, started playing baseball at 9 and has only played baseball for the last 6 years, baseball is all Timmy knows. Timmy has not gained strength, endurance, speed, or power. Timmy is not fit, Timmy just knows how to play baseball.

Sign Them Up

Our CrossFit Kids classes meet Tuesday and Thursday from 4 – 5 p.m. Kids do not need experience in anything, I will teach them all they need to know. They will learn and do things they never thought or knew they could. Watch your children grow, you will be amazed at their new found abilities! http://www.crossfitnbs.com/about-us/crossfit-kids/

The first Tuesday of every month the staff of NBS Fitness sit down in the “Upper Room” and learn something presented by a co-worker. This past continuing education session came from “Gunshow”. For me this little lesson came a little to late as she discussed, how she structures “cardio” for athletes focusing on (in order) recovery, energy system management, and progressive overload in aerobic work. Taking those things into account during a Max Effort (ME) day or a Dynamic Effort (DE) day will determine the type of cardio you do.

Now the sport you play will drastically determine this cardio prescription. I was informed that because of build and the heavy movements powerlifters and bodybuilders partake in sprinting without some kind of resistance is not the best idea in the world. Sprint training should be done with a hill, prowler, or sled. Powerlifters and bodybuilders are not masters at running mechanics so the way we move and produce force have a tendency to cause “timing issues” during leg and hip flexion and extension where we are not used to there be a load at that range or lack of load at said range of motion leading to injury.

I had my first experience with this while on vacation. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was on the menu and I had the “bright” idea to do sprints after the workout. I have not sprinted straight up since I played soccer (over 6 years ago) and felt there was no better time to do it then now and have a fun competition with my Girlfriend who thought I was as slow as a turtle. I became that turtle after my second attempt at my 10 seconds of max effort work right when I got to speed, felt a mini pop and it was done. By the way, trying to decelerate while hopping is SUPER SKETCHY, so from knowledge bombs and personal experience if you are an avid lifter who mainly stays under weight and want to implement HITT I would suggest talking to an educated coach prior to attempting sprints.

As the 2016-2017 Memphis Track and Field season starts to wind down, many personal bests were broken at the American Athletic Conference Championships. Both women and men’s teams showed up well and performed above expectations with the men’s taking 3rd and women’s taking 6th. For a full overview of the meet results, click here! It has been a fun spring working with the athletes and staff of University of Memphis Track and Field. Every season has ups and downs, and luckily we were able to keep most of the team in one piece for when it matters most down the stretch to keep our athletes performing well at conference, regionals, and hopefully even nationals.

Track and Field has been a challenging and interesting sport to work with. Most people may not realize the complexities that are involved with each individual position unless you have been involved with the sport. Each event dictates a unique body type, movement, and stress on the body. Some athletes require straight line acceleration, others rotational strength and stability. Some require a large amount of demand from the lower extremity, whereas others are practically gymnasts in regard to their requirements for upper body strength.

Based on my experience with track and field as a provider over the last two and a half years, my opinion, albeit biased, is that every track athlete should be receiving some sort of preventative and wellness type care to keep them in one piece over the length of a track and field season. What many people do not realize about the sport, even young athletes themselves, is that similar to a drag car, most track and field athletes must rely on an all out effort in order to perform. This is different than the demands of sports like football, basketball, baseball, etc and a track and field athlete who is not firing on all cylinders or does not transfer forces correctly through their body and apply it to their external environment is going to have significant decreases in performance. A perfect throw, vault, jump, or sprint relies on so many technical factors that it is ESSENTIAL that the body be performing as optimally as possible. Any alteration in range of motion, tightness, fatigue, or imbalance in the kinetic chain will effect the end performance.

I have very much enjoyed working with the Memphis Track and Field team this year, and am looking forward to continuing to contribute and do my part to ensure the success of the program. For more information on how track athletes can benefit from chiropractic care or if you are a track athlete looking to improve your performance and prevent future injury, contact our office, visit Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance’s website, or schedule a visit! Go Tigers, Go!

Mid South and Spine and Sports Performance

The last time I trained weightlifting (ie olympic weightlifting) seriously was probably about 6 years ago. After leaving college I was fortunate enough to be on the strength staff at LSU where the head strength coach had a good relationship with Gayle Hatch who was the coach of the 2004 Men’s US Olympic Weightlifting Team. Over that period I was watched over by some really good Olympic lifters and coaches and continued to Olympic lift until I switched over to bodybuilding about 8 years ago. Since then I’ve randomly thrown in an attempt here and there but never anything heavy or consistent.

In August of 2014 I had a pretty gnarly shoulder injury with a posterior labrum and high grade rotator cuff tear. Since then I haven’t put anything over 135 over my head. So since I recently started training CrossFit I have slowly start implementing back in some olympic lifting. Most of it has been relatively light weight but after getting my ass handed to me in a pretty gnarly conditioning workout on Monday I put in the request for something heavy to Angie (our CrossFit coach). So today we had to work up to a heavy double in the clean and jerk. I had my goal set to get over 200, which is nothing insane but considering I haven’t done them in a really really long time I figured it would be a good starting point. I knew my limiting factor was going to be my jerk since I haven’t been doing any overhead work in the last three years. I worked my way up to 205 for the double before my jerk started to get a little sloppy with some press outs. But since they were moving I decided to attempt 225 for a single. Again, nothing crazy by any means but for this broken lifter it was a nice mental and physical win for the day. Reached my goal, hit 2 plates on a lift I haven’t done in almost a decade, and no shoulder pain. I’ll take it.

I actually found some old training videos that you can check out below:

https://www.facebook.com/david.allen.9678/videos/579391228739/?l=3666955162885438805

 

 

205×1

Posted by David Allen on Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When I was younger, I managed a commercial gym.  During this time, I became very close and familiar with the members of that gym. As a result, I became a sounding board for frustrations for many of them.  So it wasn’t surprising when Pam* asked if she could come talk to me about some concerns she had about her son.

“Well, I am just so worried about Ben.  I saw in his gym bag that he is on something. Something called creatine. I don’t want my little boy on drugs!!”

This was the first time I had heard actual confusion between creatine and anabolic steroids, but it was far from the last time. The truth is, creatine is one of the most misunderstood supplements on the market. My goal in this article is to explain its supplemental role in training.

Lets start with the basics:

Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is an energy molecule with three strongly bound phosphates.  ATP is responsible for fueling a slew of functions within the body. Of relevance, muscular contraction. When one of the phosphate molecules bond is broken, a significant amount of energy becomes available for immediate use.  ATP then becomes adenosine DI-phosphate, as their are now only two phosphates.  Adenosine DIPhosphate is the result of the lost phosphate molecule/bond, and is fairly useless within the body.  At this point, in order to create energy yielding ATP, ADP must bond with another phosphate group…

Enter Creatine Monohydrate!

While the body has several ways to convert ADP to ATP, the quickest, most efficient way to snag a phosphate molecule is by having a surplus of creatine phosphate present. Supplementation of creatine allows an easily lent phosphate to the ADP, turning is relatively quickly into ATP.

What does this all mean for performance?

Supplementation of creatine allows for a quicker replenishment of ATP, which means more work can be done. As ATP is required for all muscular contractions, allowing a quicker transition from ADP and ATP is crucial for strength athletes looking to get that last rep in hypertrophy work or to come out on the winning side of a grinder.

 

 

 

All Weight Matters

As many of you know, I set out for a hike on the Appalachian Trail recently. I made my list, my pack was packed, my shoes were tied and my course was set.

We were dropped off by a shuttle and the plan was to hike north back to where our vehicle was parked in Front Royal, Virginia.  We got dropped off, LITERALLY on the side of the road where a section of the AT crosses the highway. The shuttle driver never got out, no picture was taken to commemorate the start of our trip, nothing…very anti-climatic. Confused and disheveled, I gathered my pack and poles, tried to pull myself together, only to look like a scene out of Wild with Reese Witherspoon when she’s trying to get “Monster” on for the first time and she ends up falling over. While my scene wasn’t quite that dramatic, it wasn’t far removed.

With pack finally settled on my back and poles in hand, we hit the trail. Within 2 minutes, we were at a steady incline and Ken and Kendra (and Violet her Mini Australian Shepherd) were hitting their pace well in front of me. My thoughts went to “I must be going slow, so I better pick up my pace.” Um, nope…my legs weren’t going to move any faster. So again, I thought to myself, “Ok, the first 10 minutes of anything is always the hardest, so just settle in.” Before that 10 minutes was up, I knew I was in trouble.

“This Weighs Nothing”

As I was packing and preparing for this trip, I did my do diligence with regard to making sure my backpack was weighted within the limits of a 5-6 day trip. The heaviest weight of course, was my food (and the Bear Barrel it was packed in) a total of around 15lbs. All other items were small and weighed 3lbs or less. Hammock 2.5lbs, sleeping bag 3lbs, cookware 3lbs., then came all of the smaller items that were anywhere between 3 – 12oz (stuff that “weighs nothing”). All of this totaled up to about 42lbs, which is an average weight for a 6 day hike. This is fine, UNLESS YOU ONLY WEIGH 126lbs!!!

As I was trailing further and further behind (we’re still in the first 10 minutes of the hike) the weight ratio occurred to me and it was at that moment that I started to lose my mind. If I recall, my first actual though was, “what the @#$#@%! have I done!!”

Altitude & Attitude

Ok, so I’m no stranger to physical challenges and mental toughness isn’t one of my weaknesses, so, ‘mind over matter, right? FALSE!

As I’m trudging along, I know it’s time to get my head right. “Angie, you can do this, it may be hard, but you can do this.” Ok, check. “Yes I can, let’s go!” And then my subconscious speaks up. “You have 6 days of this!” “What an ass!”….and so begins the head battle.

Thoughts like this ping pong back and forth for the next whatever seconds, minutes, hours that came. Did I mention we’re still going up?? Oh, and here’s something else I didn’t think about…ALTITUDE!!! I am breathing like I have never worked out before IN MY LIFE!!! I am thinking, “What is wrong with me??!!”  Meanwhile, Ken and Kendra seem to be on cruise control somewhere about 100 -200 meters ahead. “I’m never going to catch up to them!” “Get your attitude right, Angie.”  “I want to stop and take pictures.” “No, don’t stop, you’ll get further behind.” “Why am I so far behind??!” “Oh, your pack is too heavy, remember dummy?  and your legs are SHORT!” “No EXCUSES, GO!!” “Oh my God, just shut up.” “God…yes! Let’s pray!!”
The battle continued…

The Power of Habit

Because we had an 11 hour drive just to get to our destination, that time offered an opportunity to listen to podcasts and books. Ken had recently downloaded, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. A book I highly recommend reading. In the book, Charles discusses how cues (triggers) make our habits unfold automatically. A cue can be a pattern of behavior that consistently triggers a certain routine. The Basal Ganglia is a part of the brain that is responsible for our habits. So with this knowledge, I think to myself. “Ok, this hike is very different from your normal daily habits, so let’s give your basal ganglia time to understand this is now your new habit for the next several days”. “My reward will be an awesome accomplishment of 62 miles on the AT!!” “Ok. good…makes sense.” This worked for about a mile. “Awesome job, Angie, only 58 more miles to go!” “I totally hate you.”

Total Self Reliance

Short of a helicopter dropping a line in to rescue me (yes, that thought crossed my mind briefly) or my husband coming to my rescue (I had no phone service so that wasn’t happening) I had to rely solely on myself.

When you’re faced with challenging times, you draw from your other life challenges you’ve experienced to get you through the dark days. In my life, I have had many challenges so my bank had plenty to offer me that could help pull me further up the trail. (yes, we seem to be still traveling upwardly!)

Don’t Ride the Bus Alone

Many of you have had a lot of life struggles so you know where I’m coming from. Two of my greatest life struggles was my mom leaving when I was 9 years old and my brother passing away suddenly 2 months before his 31st birthday.

After my mom left, my dad seemed to be drawn to these women who were horrible to his kids. He married twice and both were abusive. The second step mom (his 3rd wife) was exceptionally abusive and for 8 years my brother and I both suffered from her mental and physical abuse and we watched our dad allow it (which was honestly the hardest part).

Children who grow up in abusive homes either become victims or survivors. Since I was a dirty faced little towhead country kid growing up in rural Arkansas without a mom, I’ve always known I was a survivor. My step-moms abuse set a course for my life that only made me a stronger person. It made me fierce, stubborn and gritty. My brother who was two years older than me, looked out for me as best he could but he was going through hell right along with me for almost as many years.

In 1998, my brother suddenly passed away from a work related accident. I can’t tell you how much of my heart I lost that day but a piece of it died along with him. At 30 years old, he was just getting started in life. He wasn’t married and didn’t have kids but he left me a legacy of love, acceptance and toughness that I may not have ever achieved without him. For that, I am forever grateful to him.

So I cleared my head and focused on the task at hand.  Arm in arm with my brother beside me on the trail, I found some enjoyment from the front row of the struggle bus and the hike seemed to get a bit better that day.

Fat Bastard

By the morning of day 2 my heart lightened a bit. The weather was beautiful and the sun shone brightly. The morning air was crisp and we woke up to deer meandering near our campsite. Although I had not slept well, I finally started to feel like I could accomplish this enormous task.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I decided to use a hammock to sleep in. Neither Ken nor I had ever slept in a hammock and stupidly, we tied the front of our hammocks off at the same tree. Of allll the trees around us we tied off to this cute little tree. It wasn’t a papa tree or even a mama tree, it was just a wee tree, probably just a bit older than a toddler tree.  When Ken was thrashing around in his hammock trying to get comfortable, it shook my hammock and when I went to thrashing about in mine, it shook his. Needless to say, we didn’t make that mistake again!

With some crappy coffee and a good breakfast in our bellies we were ready to set off for a 12 mile day! By this point I was getting a little help from my friends to get my ‘Fat Bastard’ on my back. After a plethora of curse words that I called my pack over the course of day 1, Fat Bastard seemed to fit her best. After all, everyone needs a trail name, right?

Ken, Kendra & Violet, and me and the Fat Bastard set out for a great day of hiking! Day 2 was my favorite day!

Postcards to Keep Me Off the Edge

Steve and I met in a bar in 1990. I was a waitress and he was a patron. The first night he met me, (for him) it was love at first sight. For me, it took a little more convincing. After we started seeing each other regularly, one thing we used to do was write little notes on bar napkins and pass to each other. This was our thing and I’m sure I still have them tucked away somewhere. Over the years we’ve mostly kept the tradition but often forget to take the time and do it.

All of my gear had been strewn across our dining table for the last month. Without my knowledge, Steve had taken the opportunity to tuck little love notes in different places in my gear for me to find. These became very valuable to me and helped me know how much he missed me and was thinking of me. I was pretty far from home so this little act of kindness and love meant a ton. I’m still working on forgiving him for the extra weigh those notes added however!!

I hadn’t had much cell service but I had had an opportunity to text Steve and tell him of my struggles. While we didn’t get to exchange much, he sent one phrase that kept me going, “your strong”. I chose not to correct his grammar but when I would think about that phrase, I fixed it in my head but more importantly, he helped ‘fix my head.’  Anytime I felt tired or was hurting from my pack, reminding myself that I am strong helped push me onward. Steve held my hand all day that day.

When the Rains Come Tumblin Down

Shortly after we broke camp on the 3rd morning, the rain set in…and it stayed.  Just when you think you’ve brought yourself out of hell, you find a new level of fresh hell. Yes please! I’d LOVE another challenge!!!
I’m prepared though, right? WRONG!

I had a pack cover so my pack would stay dry and I had a poncho so I would stay dry….my poncho worked great but my pack cover, not so much. Little did I realize that my pack was taking on rain water during the hike that day. No, I couldn’t tell that it was getting heavier, it was already so heavy I couldn’t feel my legs so whats some extra water weight!

The highlight of this day was a lodge (Skyland Lodge) we found along the way. It was a beautiful place with a restaurant and a coffee bar. We scored big time here!! The restaurant had just closed for breakfast and wouldn’t open again for a few hours (naturally) so we hit the coffee bar. “I’d like an Americano and a chocolate croissant and a blueberry scone….make that 3 chocolate croissants and blueberry scone!”

We pulled off our wet boots and wet socks and proceeded to campout….and our stockings we hung by the chimney with care.  I’m totally not kidding.  We laid our socks out to dry like a bunch of hicks. Violet nestled up to the fire to dry and rest, and I sat and dared anyone to try to move us! That was the best coffee EVER!! I found myself wondering how long it would take Steve to come pick me up from here.

Know When to Fold Em

We eventually had to peel ourselves out of the comfy lodge and get back on the Trail. I’m not sure how many miles we got in, but because we had spent so much time at the lodge we had to push on pretty hard. The rain never relented and the temps continued to drop. By the time we made it to a shelter we were sopping wet and the wind had chilled us to the bone. Supposedly, you can only get so wet and thats about as wet as you can get, right? WRONG! I promise I could have rung out my skin!

There had been a short discussion of pressing on 4 more miles to make our next day a bit easier. However, after a short consideration we collectively decided to stay the night in the shelter. Honestly, they would have had to drag my ass out kicking and screaming to get me to go one step further!

We emptied our packs to set up for the night and thats when I discovered how much rain water had been traveling with me. The saddest part was that my sleeping bag was wet. Ken built a smoldering fire out of sawdust and we all hung our stuff up to dry. My sweatshirt had gotten pretty wet so I was literally shivering I was so cold. Fortunately, I had some dry clothes. We all changed and thankfully, Kendra let me crawl into her dry (and warm) sleeping bag!

Farts & Snores

Everything dried out enough for us to go to bed and try to get some rest. The plan was to start out as early as possible (before breakfast) and get a good 4 miles in…that would get us to the next shelter.

Now, a shelter is for everyone along the AT. They’re basically 3 sided structures with a fire place or a fire pit and a  long wooden platform to throw your sleeping bag on. Not the most comfortable place but you’re out of the elements to a degree and that’s most important.  Not long after we entered the shelter, a man in his 70’s entered.  Just let that 70’s part sink in a minute. He was as wet as the rest of us and decided that he too would be staying the night. This was especially lucky for Ken because he had some additional warmth next to him that throughout the night provided him with the melodic tones of snores and farts. Ahhh nature…

I’m Done

One thing about me is that I will take as much as I can but when I’m done, I’m done. This is especially true when it comes to waiting for a check in a restaurant! It literally puts me in an anxious state when a server takes their time bringing a check to the table after we’ve long finished our meal. Now, I am a pretty patient person but when I’m done, I’m done. This hike was no exception.

I had dealt with a far too heavy pack, my second toe on both feet is longer than my big toe so those suckers had taken a beaten and were sore as hell (we eventually stopped going up and then started several sharp descends). My pack would not stay on my hips and had worn pretty intense hot spots on both hips and that started ON DAY 1!  We were not only wet but now we were so cold we could see our breath. I was struggling to keep my fingers warm and according to the forecast Kendra pulled up, the weather wasn’t going to get any better.

Mentally and physically, I was done.

We packed up early the next morning and set out to get the 4 miles in and stay ahead of the rain. After a couple of miles, Kendra mentioned to me that while it might take some convincing with Ken, she thought we should pull off the trail when we get through the next 9 miles. 9 miles ahead the AT would cross an area where we could resupply or come off the trail. I don’t remember my exact words but I think I responded to her with. “Kendra, if I wasn’t so dehydrated right now, I’d be crying. I’m done.”

When we caught up to Ken, he mentioned he thought we should pull off the trail! Hallelujah!! He actually had no idea we were about to attack him with the very same suggestion.

I’d like to say I floated those last 10 miles but no, I did not. I plodded along as best I could and tried not to fall too far behind. That was probably the hardest 10 miles of the whole trip.

True Grit

So, it’s a thing to have a trail name. A trail name can come from something you experienced along the way or something that fits a certain characteristic of yours. You typically get your trail name from someone else you’re hiking with. Ken’s trail name last year was Chief but he wasn’t too fond of it. Kendra noticed I always referred to him as Boss since we was the man with the plan and in charge. He kind of liked that name and  ended up sticking with “Boss” as his trail name. Kendra’s name came last year as well. She was going through a job change and could take an “Opt Out” option with this job change. This came around the same time Ken started planning their first AT trip. She thought, why not go?! When she ordered her first REI package for the trip, on the outside of the box it said #optoutside. That confirmed her trail name for her. Violet even has a trail name. Often, she was “Dirt in the Skirt”, but that kid can consume some junk food on the trail so “Junk Food” suits her well also.

I went through a few different trail names over the course of the week (as you can imagine). One being “Long Toe”, another being “.01 mile – bullshit”.  Apparently, no one can tell how much further we have to go and the markers say .01 mile….”bullshit” was always my response.  However, I have to say that the one that came up on the last day seemed to be the most fitting. I’m not sure if Ken or Kendra said it first but it made me tear up a bit. (or I would have had I not been so dehydrated).

When listening to the book, The Power of Habit, there was discussion about a characteristic that some people carry that help them continue to be successful, even when going through the most difficult challenges. Not everyone has it but those who do, never lose it. It exists in them as much as the blood that runs through them. Not having it is not an option. Not persevering is not an option. That characteristic is grit. So, my trail name became True Grit. I have to say, I am pretty proud of that name.

End of the Line

And so our AT adventures ended on Friday. We cut out about 19 miles early so a loose calculation was that our trip was around 41 miles of the AT. I am not disappointed as a matter of fact I think it was pretty perfect timing. By the time we got home on Saturday I as able to see some of the Beale Street event and I got to spend some much needed time with my husband.

Since I don’t have a mom to celebrate with on Mother’s Day, Steve has always been very proactive in celebrating me as a mom. If I had stayed on the Trail I would have missed a Sunday morning breakfast in bed, an afternoon with two of my children and a couple’s manicure and pedicure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned a lot on my first AT adventure and it’s definitely an experience for the books! If you ask me if I would go again, I will likely tell you that asking me right now is not a fair question.  If you ask me if I had fun, you will get this well rehearsed answer….something I put together during my early miles of misery.

“I enjoyed the experience but not all aspects of it were fun.”

Happy Trails y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much like a preacher about to give a sermon, I feel the need to tell you all something first: I am a sinner. Yep, that’s right, I am someone who has in the past bashed CrossFit and bashed the kipping pull up. The reason why I bashed the kipping pull up was the same reason most people hate on things: I just didn’t understand it. Based on my education and experience up to that point, I made the silly assumption that I knew everything and since kipping pull ups went against my previous beliefs that pull ups are made to be done with strict form, they must be bad. But this isn’t true. It was just the effects of the Dunning Kruger principle playing out in my life. If you are not familiar with the Dunning Kruger Effect it simple shows that the less you know, the more confident you are because you haven’t been exposed to much but as you begin to learn more your confidence begins to go down as you realize how much you still don’t know. Illustration below for people who like pictures.

If you’re much like I used to be (stupid) and think you know so much more than all those CrossFitters swinging around on the pull up bars, allow me to state my case. Starting off, let me address the claim that a kipping pull up is bad technique or “cheating” the pull up. CrossFit is based off of several different training modalities and they are weight lifting, gymnastics, and conditioning. The kipping pull up is a gymnastics move. When people complain about the kipping pull up, they are doing so from the experience of pull ups as a weight lifting or body weight movement and the belief that kipping is a way of “cheating” that movement. But that is not what the kipping pull up is derived from, it comes from gymnastics. Check out the two videos below. In the first video, a gymnastics instructor explains how to develop the kip as a move on the uneven bars. In the second video, Gabby Douglas shows what being proficient in the kipping pull up really looks like.

So there lies one major problem with bitching about kipping. When you see a CrossFit athlete do it, you call it cheating. When you see an Olympic Gymnast do it, you call it a gold medal performance.

Now, for those that believe the kipping pull up is only a gymnastics movement and not optimal for building muscle, let me show a few examples of people who have done very little weight lifting if any at all but a ton of kipping pull ups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I am not arguing that kipping pull ups are any better than any other pull up. I am simply pointing out the fact that they are a legitimate movement for a specific purpose and not a bad tool to have in your arsenal. After 17 years lifting and 10 years in the fitness industry, I’m significantly more mature than I was when I first got into it and learned about CrossFit. So if you’re someone who has talked smack about the kipping pull up, be prepared, because you might be eating your words and defending them in the future.

Welcome back to the second edition of the NBS Fitness Guide to Supplements. In Part 1, we talked about he benefits of protein supplements and what differences between different kinds are. In Part 2, we will discuss the peri workout window, why it’s so important, and what we can do to maximize it. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

The term “peri-workout” refers to the time period just prior to, during, and right after your training sessions. This “window” is a period in which our nutrition can have major impacts on our performance and progress. During this period our body is either preparing for, participating in, or recovering from the effects of training stress. This means our body is mobilizing nutrients in order to accomplish whatever physical challenge we are taking on and to help recover from it in order to be better prepared for the next time. This means that the nutrients we take in surrounding this time period is vital and lucky for us, there are some supplements that can really make a big difference.

Pre Workout

During this period, it is important that we get some nutrients flowing through our bodies so that they are readily available for use when we actually begin training. Unfortunately, our digestive system takes a while to process what we eat and the last thing we want is to train on a full stomach. There are two approaches I like to suggest for this. The first is to have a shake or meal about 45-60 minutes before your workout consisting of a whey isolate like Phormula 1, an easily digestible carb source like white rice flour or cream of rice, and a little bit of fat from olive oil or some type of nut butter to slow down the digestion just a bit. This combo works well and is usually out of your stomach by training time. However, if you’re someone who eats a lot of meal, you may still have some food in your stomach from the meal you had an hour or so ago. For some people, they feel like this sits on their stomach too much. In this case, I like to use a drink about 10-15 minutes prior to training consisting of a super quick digesting carb source like Ignition and some BCAAs. Ignition is pure glucose crystals and when combined with branch chain amino acids will provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to start a workout.

This is also the period in which you could add a pre workout specific supplement like MegaWatt V2, AlphaCre HD, or AlphaSurge DRV. These different supplements have ingredients like beta alanine, creatine, glycerol, and caffeine which can positively affect your bodies different energy systems, blood flow, and mental arousal.

Intra Workout

Now the most important meal you will consume is the meal you eat during training. This is the period in which our body needs glucose and amino acids flowing through it’s blood, delivering energy and materials for repair. However, a steak and potato consumed in the middle of some brutal sets of squats is quickly going to come back up. We also don’t want an insulin spike and crash during this period so we need something that is easily digestible but still a complex carb. I have yet to find a supplement that is more perfect for this than Intra Formance. Intra Formance is a blend of cyclic dextrin, essential amino acids, and electrolytes. The cyclic dextrin is a super easily digestible complex carbohydrate that will provide a steady flow of glucose into your blood stream without upsetting your stomach. The EAAs are going to provide the building blocks needed to repair muscle tissue that is damage during resistance based training. Finally, the electrolytes are going to replace those that are lost through sweat to maintain optimal muscular contractions.

Post Workout

After training is complete, we want to get nutrients in our blood relatively quickly (within 30-45 minutes) to kick start our recovery and maximize our progress. This is the time in which we actually do want an insulin spike to shut down catabolic reactions and initiate anablic ones. Again, Ignition fits the bill perfectly. Glucose crystals are immediately digested and into the blood stream giving us that anabolic start we needed. Along with the ignition a quick digesting protein like Phormula 1 with provide us with more amino acids for muscle repair and growth. Then about 30-60 minutes later you should have a whole foods meal to continue the post workout benefits.

This three punch combo of pre, peri, and post workout nutrition is guaranteed to make a big impact on those who are putting in the work in the gym. I’ve found that it works for more endurance type workouts as well. Adjustments can be made in regards to how long and how hard you train and based off of what your different goals are. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

You can read Part 1 of the NBS Fitness Guide to Supplements by clicking here

Don’t forget to check out the supplements section of our online store and while you’re there, take a look at the NBS Logo hat.

*Technology has allowed us amazing opportunities.

– Booking a plane ticket

– Taking a plane across an ocean in less than one day!

– Giving humans the skills to land said plane (nerve racking)

– Communicating with people who do not speak your language (not even a little)

– Giving us directions to amazing views and experiences

*Grateful for good people

– Fiends willing to drop off and pick you up from airport

– A girlfriend who takes me out of my comfort zone and gets me to a different country

– Kind human beings that show hospitality to you visiting their home.

*Appreciation

– For cleanliness (Japan made every place in the US look dirty)

– Great minds to come up with things like train/subway systems, super cars, sky scrapers, ect.

-Food (especially the stuff from home)

– A training facility that has amazing equipment

– Military and how rough their work schedule and living conditions are while forward deployed

*Luxuries

– my own car

– my own room

– large appliances

Seriously. One easy trick allowed me to have the most productive year of training I’ve ever had. I am now in the best shape of my life, the leanest I have ever been, and the least injured I have ever been. And the greatest part is you can do it too! Whats the secret? I hired a knowledgable professional (not a stupid guru or random gym bro) to do my nutrition and programming and did what he told me to. That’s it. It’s so simple that ANYONE can do it, even you. And this is why:

 

1/28/17 @ 233.8lb

12/13/15 @ 233.0lbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Objectivity vs Subjectivity

As a health care professional, one of the most common phrases that you hear is that the worst patient you will ever encounter is yourself. This is equally true in the fitness world and athletics along with many other industries. The main reason for this is the lack of objectivity. By definition, your interpretation and explanation of how your body is operating will be almost completely subjective. You can use objective measures, but it is incredibly difficult to have an objective outlook on yourself.

 

1/28/17 @ 233.8

12/3/15 @ 233.0lb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s face it, everyone is crazy when it comes to their own body. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten into a rut in my training and nutrition and have had a mental breakdown with no idea of what to do next. Getting into a funk in your training is going to happen. It’s your response that will affect which direction things go. In this situation, deciding what to do on your own is the equivalent to using WebMD instead of a doctor every time you have an ailment. It will freak you out, and chances are you will take the most severe and irrational action possible. If you go to the doctor, he will OBJECTIVELY analyze your situation and likely reassure you that your are just fine (AKA crazy) and find a simple solution to your problem. There were many times in this year (60 week) process where had I not given the reigns over to my coach, David Allen, that I would have taken drastic measures like severely cutting calories or macronutrients or choosing a different program or movement. I know this, because these situations have come up in the past and his solutions to these situations were often completely different than what I had done in the past.

 

2) Everyone Has Coaches

Unless you are Louie Simmons or one of the other expert 99.9th percentile of athletes in the world and have decades of experience in what you do, chances are you have a coach. Even if you are one of those individuals, you had coaches that got you there and now instead of coaches, those people are probably just mentors now that you look to for guidance. Every athlete that has been worth a shit has had a coach. Michael Jordan didn’t just stand in a gym and shoot baskets his entire life, he had one of the greatest coaches of all time in Phil Jackson. Chances are if you are a regular joe or tired of spending another year being weak and want to actually see some results for a change, you can benefit from a good coach too. Good coaches make you accountable. They call you out on your bullshit and they don’t feed you any bullshit either. This makes sense if you think about it, because when there is an exchange of money for services, both parties make out better if there are successful results. Your coach will be your best advocate and biggest helper in this process because it is in their benefit to see you succeed. The best test of a good coach is how many clients they have with good success, because your are a walking advertisement for their skills or lack thereof. Have you ever heard the saying “Well judging by how fat the cook is, the food here must be great”? Well its the same with a coach or personal trainer and their clients (only the opposite). Finally, when you have skin in the game, you are more likely to think twice about going out and binge drinking and then eating five cheeseburgers at 1am afterwards. Not because you know that you are going to have to face the music when you weigh in and do your progress that weekend, but simply because when you’re investing money into something, you become that much more dedicated to the result.

 

12/3/15 @ 233.0lb

1/28/17 @ 233.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) You Will Learn

Not only was this one of the best years of training I had ever had physically, I also learned a shit ton about training and nutrition. Previous to 2016, I thought that hypertrophy/bodybuilding training had no place in strength training for me, and had never done this type of training. I also never understood how to control and strain through a range of motion with weight and actually develop a mind-muscle connection. I had also spent the last 3-4 years in random “gyms” and community recreation centers with almost no access to real, knowledgable help. The result from a coach? Now when I bench press and hear a “LATS!” command, not only do I understand the command, but I also know how to get the muscle to contract as well. I have never had to focus solely on my lats before in training because I had never done hypertrophy. I also had tons of help from my coach as well as the rest of the staff at NBS Fitness to help critique my form. Neither of these, were something I would have obtained on my own.

 

 

So how did my best year (and a half) of training go? The proof is in the pudding. Here are the results via DXA scan (the gold standard of body fat and bone density measurement). I was able to gain over 25 lbs of lean mass and lose 6 total lbs of fat since beginning online training and nutrition with David Allen at NBS Fitness. As you can see, the 6 TOTAL lbs of fat loss accounts for a period of one year in which I dropped 28lbs of fat from April 2016 – April 2017. Unfortunately I was unable to set up a DXA scan at my lowest weight in 2017 of 233.8 to correlate with the before and after pictures, but this is still a fair representation of the progress.

 

My results since beginning training in 2015.

 

In summary, if you are tired of your failed efforts to improve your health and fitness or want to realize your body’s true potential, you need a strength and nutrition coach. All it takes is one easy trick. Hire a coach and give them the effort they need to be effective and you will be successful.

Life is funny, at least for me it has been. When CrossFit first came out I took the stance that most strength coaches took which was that CrossFit was an inferior training method consisting of random exercise done with poor technique at high intensity. In my defense, CrossFit was very rogue when they first came on the scene but since then it has change tremendously and so has my attitude towards it. They have an extensive education platform and now there are a ton of really intelligent and really good CrossFit coaches and athlete’s that are achieving some of the most incredible feats of fitness I have ever seen. So, a couple weeks ago I ate my words and did my first CrossFit WOD. Here is why:

Several months ago I started dealing with some hormonal issues and some injuries that threw a monkey wrench in my powerlifting plans. With a busted knee and a crappy shoulder I turned to one of our other trainers to come up with a program that would work around these issues while also trying to lose some weight and get in better shape. I had spent the that last year and a half trying to get as heavy as possible and I was tired of getting out of breath every time I walked a flight of stairs. Unfortunately, my motivation was non existent and I wasn’t training with a group anymore so I made every excuse to not get my workouts in. I realized quickly that I needed to change. I needed to get with a group, I needed to train early in the morning before any work, and I needed to get in better shape. CrossFit fit the bill perfectly.

So for the last several weeks I have been going to the 5am CrossFit class led by CrossFit NBS coach Angie Foree. Having trained for the last 17 years and having been a relatively high level athlete in several sports I though I would do fairly well…boy was I wrong. That first class I got my butt handed to me by folks 20 years older than me. It was definitely an eye opener and that cycle continued for several workouts. I hadn’t been honest with myself about how out of shape I really was while powerlifting, something I’m sure many people are guilty of as well. Now after 3 weeks, I’m feeling much much better. My conditioning has improved tremendously and I’m really enjoying the group dynamic and competition. And an added bonus is I get to do it along side my wife. We get to push ourselves and grow together and I love seeing her kick ass.

You can click HERE to read about why I added CrossFit NBS last year and stay tuned for more of my adventures in CrossFit.

Yep, that’s exactly how I feel every time we do a GPP phase. For those who aren’t familiar with this, Gpp stands for general physical preparation. This is typically something we do when we have just finished competing in a competition. Our bodies are all beat up, and our joints are achy. This is the perfect time for us to keep our hands off of a barbell, and stick to doing more unilateral movements with higher sets and reps. Isolation, as well as multi-joint movements are good, but it also helps to throw in some conditioning work too. Most powerlifters run out of breath just walking up some stairs, or even across the gym so it would help to do some hiit work like prowler sprints, or battle ropes, kettlebell swings, or concept rowers. The heart is a muscle too and deserves to be worked as much as any other in your body. When individuals have a long, heavy, and grueling training cycle for a big meet, and then go straight back in to heavy training afterwards, you are just asking for an injury to happen. Do yourself and your body a favor and give it 3 to 4 weeks to recover with some gpp before you get back to the heavy stuff. Even after this phase is finished, you might still stay away from doing heavy triples, doubles, and singles. Keep things in the 5, or higher range for bigger movements like squat, bench, and deadlifts. We like to pretend we are bodybuilders for a month or two and try to build up a bit of muscle before transitioning back to a strength phase.

Our current GPP phase is a 4 day a week program with a lower, upper, lower, upper set up. Day 1 has some lower body hip mobility work with about 10 prowler sprints afterwards, followed by some stretching. Day 2 has some upper body shoulder mobility work with a 2000 meter row on the concept rower. Day 3 starts with some sled walks, and more unilateral hip work-i.e.-sinlge leg squats, hip bridge, leg curls, etc. Day 4 is basically machine based upper body unilateral presses and rows. This type of work is going to help build up our work capacity for the destruction that is awaiting us. If you see me laying on the gym floor in the coming weeks, now you know why.

Hopefully this will help some of you out when trying to figure out what to do with yourself post meet time. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns on this matter, I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at bobby@nbsfitness.net, or just post in the comment section below.

My mind is obsessed with powerlifting and every aspect that goes into it. This haunts me. It can take focus away from other areas. But it also allows me to correlate random things to explain powerlifting in a better way. I was sitting in church and we were talking about vineyards and the growth of fruit (before you get all upset, I am not going to press my religious views on you). The Vine-keeper / gardener has many duties when tending to their crop for it to produce fruit. The more my pastor went into depth on the vine-keeper’s role, the more my mind was identifying the similarities with strength training.

Vineyards produce fruit which shows in the form of a grape. But what is fruit? Is it just the product of the vineyard that will always “just happen?” Fruit is actually a byproduct of “too much life (sap).” When the vine has this overflow it produces things that we want, fruit. If a plant is left to its own processes, it would rather grow more green leaves, shoots, branches, and vines  All these are important features of growth without producing fruit. So what has to be done in order to produce and abundance of fruit on a vine, PRUNING!

This hit me like a dumbbell falling on my foot! So many people try and follow their favorite lifter’s style of training, make their own adjustments to a random program, never take helpful advice, or never ask for any. More often than not, people need to prune their objectives in training to produce more “gains” in the long run. I am not talking about small gains, I’m talking about the abundance of gains produced when grown properly, pruned properly, and cared for properly. The abundance of fruit produced at the end of a season in a vineyard correlates directly with the end-goal of training (a powerlifting meet, bodybuilding competition, etc).

So how do we go about pruning? Pruning needs to be done to both bad things and GOOD things in training. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to training. For instance, if you have a supplemental lift that you are good at, STOP DOING IT. Prune it out of your training and do something that does not come easy to you. Just like the vine, you have limited total resources. Channel them into things that produce fruit.

Prune out extra workouts when you are beat down from variables OUTSIDE OF THE GYM like WORK, RELATIONSHIPS, INJURIES, and LIFE! Some of the pruning that has helped me as an athlete over the past year is detaching myself from the gym and training. I think about this stuff all the time. Getting lost in a book or a movie has done wonders for me to distract from the mental stress and anxiety I GIVE myself over training. Naps are probably the greatest thing ever. I pruned two hours of my day to get at least a 20-60 minute nap in before training. I use the rest of the extra time to warm up slowly and efficiently prior to lifting. My energy, mood, and training have all drastically improved.

If you don’t tend your training like a farmer tends his crops, your time and effort won’t yield results. And complaining about it is like the farmer yelling at the vines to make fruit.

Most people blame their training when really they need to prune it and recover better by adjusting life variables to set themselves up for success in training.