Monthly Archives: October 2017

Shoulder health is something every golfer needs, but something every golfer neglects. Shoulder cars are a great exercise to help target those unloved shoulders we all have. It is important that you keep a neutral and tight core throughout the range of motion. Going into extension or “losing” your core will allow for false ranges of motion. It is a great exercise to preform as part of a general warm-up or shoulder day.

Go head and give this awesome exercise a try!

I would say that I am still pretty new to the sport of powerlifting. I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years now, but I feel like there are many lessons that can be learned in 3 years.  I would like to share a couple of them with all of you in hopes that my lessons may help you in your future endeavors in powerlifting, or perhaps another strength sport. It seems like with most things in life, you learn things the hard way, which usually consists of making mistakes, and then hopefully learning from those mistakes. If I can help just one person bypass a mistake that I’ve already made, then I feel like that is a good thing.

Lesson #1: Just because something goes one way in training does not mean that it will go that way on competition day. I have made this mistake on more that one occasion, and it’s about time that I stopped doing that. Now, you also have the other side of that which is you may be able to pull something off in competition that you weren’t able to in training. Some days are going to be good in training, just like some days are going to be bad in training. This goes hand in hand with life. Sometimes there’s good days, and sometimes you have bad days. The same can be said for competitions; you will have good ones and bad ones. The main takeaway here is just because you hit a certain number on all 3 of your lifts in training doesn’t mean you are promised that number in competition. Nothing in life is promised, not even tomorrow.

Lesson #2: You’re better off training with a group. Trust me on this one. I’ve been with a group since I started powerlifting, and I have added over 200lbs to my squat, 100lbs to my bench, and over 200lbs to my deadlift. Training with a group enables you to be pushed much further than you could ever push yourself. They will force you out of your comfort zone, and they make you do things that you don’t want to do. If you are with a group and they aren’t doing this, leave. Training with a group will also keep you accountable. They aren’t going to let you cheat your reps, or leave something out because that isn’t fair to them if they are doing everything. If I do it, you do it! Plus, it helps to have others there to have your back, both figuratively and literally. You need someone you trust to spot you on big lifts, and you need to have a support system in place so you can talk with others when there is something on your mind. Train with a team, get better!

Lesson #3 Stick to the plan, but also have a backup plan. This has been one of my more recent mistakes. You need to have a goal going into a competition, as well as a plan on how you are going to get there. If you have specific numbers you are trying to hit, make sure they are realistic and not something unrealistic that you wish you could hit. Push yourself every training session to make sure you are one step closer to hitting those numbers. Stick to the plan all the way up to meet day, and especially stick to it on meet day, however have a back up plan. What I mean by this is don’t deviate from your plan just because things may be “feeling better” than they have been. It’s at that moment that you will start to get greedy, then try to hit something higher than you originally planned, and end up missing it and getting lower numbers than you should have. If you do go in with a plan and something backfires or falls through, have a backup plan. Maybe if you were planning to hit a certain total and you have to go 9 for 9 on your lifts, which rarely happens anyways, then try to maybe just hit a nice pr on one of your lifts. You could even do the same thing but backwards. If you were trying to hit a certain number on a lift but missed it, then just try to pull together a nice total pr because, after all as a powerlifter, your total is all that really matters.

Lesson #4 Have a coach or mentor of some sort. This can even relate back to lesson number 2. If you don’t have a team, then at least have a coach, or a mentor who is knowledgeable and won’t feed you false information or feed your ego. Getting a coach is probably one of the single best things you can do for yourself and your lifting. Ask them questions every chance you get so you can learn. If you aren’t learning, then you aren’t progressing. Find someone with experience that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. You want to find someone who will expose your weaknesses and force you to work on them. It is a coach’s job to make you better and educate you on different ways in which you can do that. Find a coach or mentor and stick with them.

Lesson #5 Don’t give up because it gets hard. This lesson to me can mean many things. In the short time that I have been in powerlifting, I have seen many people come and go. I can only imagine how many people a person has seen come and go that has been in this sport for 20+ years. I think I’ve already come to realize that is just how it goes. Of course you want to give up when it gets hard. Giving up is easy, not giving up is hard. That’s why success and achieving goals is so rewarding and feels so good. You worked your ass off for that. Now, understand that you can still work your ass off and still not be where you want to be, or where you think you should be. The truth is, you’re never going to be where you want to be, so you might as well just enjoy the process and have fun with it. If you aren’t having fun and enjoying yourself, then why are you doing it? Find another hobby. I know plenty of people that have gotten just as much satisfaction out of rock collecting, or sewing. If you find something that you truly enjoy, then you won’t be in a rush to get anywhere, you will just enjoy the process of becoming slightly better then you were before.

Like I said, these are only some of the lessons that I have learned so far. I could honestly write another 5 articles about all I’ve learned and still have plenty more to talk about. I hope these 5 lessons can help some of you at one point or another. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with making mistakes–making mistakes is crucial to making progress and becoming better. I just hope that if you are making mistakes, that you are learning from them. If you have any questions, or would like to share some lessons that you have learned, I would like to hear about them. They just might help me, or another person out in the future.

Another month in the books, and it was a busy one.  Each weekend this month took me away from home, so getting my training in throughout the week was crucial to get all my training in and face the inconsistencies that come with training on the road. A few ways to de-stress your training if you have a lot of weekend plans:

1.) Hit your priority training days during the week, or when you *know* you will have access to familiar equipment.

2.) Have a loose plan for on the road training days, but don’t get married to it.  Meet the objective of each exercise and don’t worry about the modality.

3.) Scout out training facilities ahead of time and try to stay within a reasonable proximity.

 

Now, for me, shoulder hypertrophy training can easy be done on the road, so I often find myself saving shoulders for when I am uncertain of my facilities.  This past weekend, I was in Chicago, IL.  Unfortunately, I was not able to logistically make it out to Quads are any of the barbell based gyms, so I made a good ole Xsport work.  I went into the gym with a set of objectives and executed accordingly:

1. High rep rear delts: I like to start every training day with an activation exercise for pesky muscle groups.  Rear delts are something I have to really prioritize, as my rear delts will absolutely dissolve if I don’t train them regularly. I also like to extend my warm up into the first exercise of every training day by using pretty light weight for high reps.  I get good blood flow, and can manage the fatigue.  At this gym, I started with dumbbell rear delt flys for twenty reps.  As soon as I put my dumbbells down, a gymbro snagged the dumbbells like a wild hyena and retreated to some corner of the gym.  Luckily, I am not married to the idea of doing DB rear delts and finished two more sets of rear delt flys on a pec dec.

2. Seated DB Overhead Press–>Hammer OHP: Before I get TOO fatigued, I like to hit a compound movement.  Push Press/ Strict overhead press/ Viking press/etc were all out of the question at this gym, as there was just NO room for barbell work.  Seated DB overhead Press was on the agenda, and I did a reverse pyramid from 15/12/10/8, adding weight each rep.  Or so I thought I would.  I did my first set of 15, and the wild gymbro (perhaps a different one, but he was functionally the same dude to me) appeared and collected my dumbbells AGAIN. No problem, over to the hammer overhead press to finish out the objective

3. Lateral raise machine+ eccentric: At this point, I am well aware that any dumbbell movement is subject to the predatory gym bro, so I hit my next exercise on a lateral machine raise. The objective here was to spend a little time under tension, so I hit a weight I believe I could get for 18-20 for 3  sets of 12 with a 3-5 second eccentric.  I wasn’t too concerned with the actual length of the eccentric, but rather smoothly descending slowly.  My big issue with timed eccentrics for hypertrophy is I find that people get really attached to hitting the prescribed timed eccentric and will make awkward pauses or stress out over counting the reps.  Sometimes this can overshadow the main goal, time under tension. The gym bro was unable to steal my shit during this exercise, so all was well.

4. Plate Raises: I don’t hit front delts much, since they get absolutely rocked during my pressing day, but I will throw one exercise in each shoulder day as a little transition into the back end of my training.  I just used a 45lb plate for 3 x 15.  Gym bro stole one of my 45s, but there were a trillion other 45s so it mattered very little.

5. Lean away laterals: by this point, I’m getting pretty smoked, so the next few exercises are light weight finishers.  I did 3 x 25 per arm on leanway laterals.  I think lateral raises and rear delt work are the most important aspect of shoulder training for me at the moment, as they are almost solely responsible for the shape of my delt caps.

6. Rear delt superset: this was TRICKY in a globo gym, but I got it done.  The idea here was to fatigue the rear delts to absolute exhaustion by direct stimulation, and then hit a low row, focusing on really stretching out the rear delts at the bottom of each rep. Low rows are, obviously, a back exercise, but the stretch you get at the bottom and the initiation of the pull after the isolation exercise is BRUTAL.

A1)Cable face pulls: 3 x failure here, with the only rest coming from having the change the attachment because GymBro kept putting the damn vbar attachment on there between sets.

A2)Chest Supported DB Rows: HUGE focus on a full stretch at the bottom, initiating the row with the rear delts and maintaining a good squeeze at contraction.  WOOF. I was totally smoked after this.

 

I am not a runner but for the third year in a row I am running the St. Jude Half Marathon. Since I am not a runner, why would I do that you might ask?! I ask myself that as well…. I could say, I do it for the kids (and while I absolutely believe in the cause) I would be telling you a lie if I said that was my reason.

Why Then?

It’s a challenge. It is a mental and physical challenge and one of the greatest ones for me. Race day is very exciting and thousands of people are amped at the start line and ready to go. For me, all is great until about mile 7, then the ‘why did I do this to myself again’ permeates my brain. From mile 7-13.1 it becomes a brain battle. The biggest reason is the fact that I don’t train for it, I just show up and do it.  CrossFit has conditioned me so well over the years that I can do about a 6-7 mile race with little to no problem, anything over that becomes a grind…a very intense grind. I know, it’s my own fault.

This Year is Different

When I signed up for the St. Jude Half this year, I decided it would be different. I decided to actually train. Novel idea, right? Well, in my mind, I am not a runner, I am a CrossFitter, a 100% CrossFitter, and why would a non runner (CrossFitter) run?  So, I decided to fake it. I mentally fake the fact that I am a runner. This came about during a long run one day.  A few weeks back during a 5+ mile training run, my mental narrative became this: “you are not a runner, what are you doing?”, “you are a CrossFitter and we only run 400s”, “this is stupid”, “running is stupid”, “you body is going to be sooo pissed at you”.  Sound familiar? Well, my head was not wrong, my mindset was.

How To Fake It

By changing the narrative in my head, I changed how I felt about the long runs.  “I am a runner and this is part of training”, became the mental discussion. “To run a successful 1/2 marathon, we must bare this minor discomfort.” In order for me to feel less defeated in my runs, I need my head to convey confidence. The best way for me to convey that confidence is to pretend to be a runner. Convey confidence in my head and my body will respond in kind. Sound crazy? Runners ARE crazy!

The Benefit

The all encompassing benefit of “faking it till you make it” comes down to the impact it has on our personal expectations. When we fake confidence we automatically create more positive expectations about what we are capable of doing in that particular situation. This will make us automatically more resourceful (in that situation). We are no longer at the whim of our critical voice tossing us into all doubts.  Instead we take the wheel and become more in control of our expectations.

I have actually used this ‘pretend’ situation a couple of times. Most recently during a local CrossFit competition. We had a number of reps to do overhead at 95#, which is a heavy weight overhead for me and I knew I would struggle. While I can’t fake being stronger, I can fake that it wouldn’t be that big of a challenge. Was it difficult, hell yes, but by changing the narrative in my head, my fear dissolved and I was able to get the most out of myself…. and that’s all we’re really striving for!

Implement the Fake It Way

The next time you are up against a challenge, whether it is work related, mental, physical or relationally, enact the ‘fake it’ challenge. You’ll be surprise how much confidence that you will create for yourself in the moment. Take charge of the narrative that has already been created. Doing so will put yourself in a more favorable position to follow through with the necessary actions to pursue your desired outcome.  You are then free to “be” the person you need to “be” in order to achieve your goal.

“I am a runner”

This last month has been an incredibly busy, but fun month. Between two separate offices and providing care for University of Memphis Football, I also spent a weekend teaching RPR Level 1 in Ottawa at Hostyle Strength. It was an awesome experience working with and meeting some new people who are passionate about making their clients, athletes, or their own self better and more resistance to injury. For those of you who don’t know, Reflexive Performance Reset is on of the fastest growing methods in the strength and condition world that can help you assess and identify compensations in your athletes or clients and then implement an immediate change in the nervous system and obtain instant results in performance, injury prevention and function.

 

 

RPR seminars are extremely affordable and well worth their investment. 18 individuals left the Ottawa seminar with a new lens from which to evaluate and understand their athletes and clients and also a new set of tools for which to ACTUALLY invoke an immediate change. As I have been in the RPR system for almost 18 months, some of the changes and impacts that RPR can have on people have become normal to me. It was great to see so many people from that seminar experience those changes for the first time and to watch their experiences continue after they went back home and began implementing the information they learned at the seminar with themselves and their athletes. One of the biggest benefits of RPR is that it is the only system in the world that the athletes can actually perform the intervention on themselves each and every day. This means I can pull someone of the street and have them do each and every drill that we teach on themselves and they will see an immediate change. Our goal with RPR is never to be the guru, but to empower others with the correct tools to help others.

 

 

We are also in the works to set up an RPR seminar right here in Memphis! Currently, we are looking at bringing this awesome information to Memphis sometime in early 2018. To make sure you are up to date on any new events or offers from Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance, be sure to visit our website, like us on facebook or instagram or sign up for our monthly newsletter!

 

Mid South and Spine and Sports Performance

 

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery- by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

The enneagram is 9 point personality model. In this book, the author goes through the motivations, wants, needs, fears, and actions of the 9 different personality types and how to best proceed to get enjoyment and fulfillment in life based off of your number. This book is pretty eye opening as it will reveal some your true motivations, the ones you keep hidden even from yourself. But in doing so it allows you to know yourself better and through that be aware of what positive attributes you can maximize and what negative ones you need to be aware of and mitigate. Great read for anyone looking for some self discovery and/or anyone looking to improve their relationships with others.


TheThe Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus- by Lee Strobel

In this book, the author travels the country interviewing some of the leading experts across a broad range of theological and scientific fields, seeking the truth about Jesus Christ. He goes at it from the perspective of an investigative journalist, demanding evidence to back up claims. The author asks questions and makes counter points from the perspective of a skeptic, so for anyone who is curious about the Christian faith, anyone who is asking questions about their faith, or anyone looking to solidify their faith, the credibility beyond the process of this book should be comforting.

 

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It- by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz

This book is written by a FBI hostage negotiator who goes in depth into the psychological process that occur in people’s subconscious during negotiations. Whether it be talking down a terrorist, negotiating with a car salesman, or having a discussion with your significant other, Chris Voss lays out a very complete toolbox to use during the process. In a situation where winning a negotiating can mean life or death, this book gives solid, effective advice on how to communicate with those around you.

 

Headaches are one of the most difficult and common ailments that affect people world-wide. Although they are more common with females, headaches are a burden that almost every person is likely to experience not only in their lifetime, but every year. I understand the complexities of headaches and that many people are likely challenged by this condition, but until recently, it has become apparent that the confusion about headaches and their complexities are much worse than I originally thought. Because of this, I have decided to devote more time over the next few months providing more educational articles that address the problems caused by headaches and headache care, tips to help identify different types of headaches, and solutions for patients to help fight headaches. To start, I want to identify some of the problems surrounding headaches. Here are a few headache facts according to the World Health Organization:

  • Headaches are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system.
  • Almost half of the adult population have had a headache at least once within the last year.
  • Headaches, which are characterized as recurrent, are associated with personal and societal burdens of pain, disability, damaged quality of life, and financial cost.
  • Worldwide, a MINORITY of people with headache disorders are diagnosed appropriately by a health-care provider.
  • Headache has been underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world.

In summary, headaches suck, they are very common in today’s population, and most health care professionals mismanage, mistreat, or misdiagnose the cause of headaches. With all those factors, how can you trust you are getting the right treatment for your headache? Here are three problems that we all must avoid and address in order to improve headache outcomes.

Problem 1 – Finding a Good Health Care Professional

Obviously, the responsibility for determining the cause and treatment for your headaches does not have to be solely yours. In the United States and U.K. half of those with migraines sought professional help, and of those that did seek help only two-thirds (66%) were properly diagnosed. This means that the responsibility for better health outcomes is on both the individual and health care professional. For both individuals, education is the key for improving the outcomes of headache treatment. The more access to quality information a future patient has, the more likely they will be to seek further care. The second barrier, the practitioner is a similar story. Unfortunately, according to the above statements by the WHO, you are likely to go to a health care practitioner who is inept in diagnosing and treating your headaches. The WHO claims, worldwide, only 4 hours of undergraduate medical education are dedicated to instruction on headache disorders. A lack of understanding of headaches by your medical professional could lead to a misdiagnosis or an ineffective route of treatment.

 

 

Many times the cause of a headache actually originates in the muscles and joints of the neck, jaw, or skull which then refer headache-like pain. People with these types of headaches often feel “tightness,” “tension,” “ashiness,” or “sharp” pains in the front of the head, base of the skull, or in the neck. They often sit a lot at work, have stressful lifestyles, or have bad posture in the upper body. If this is the case, trying to mask pain with medication will not address the cause and will not result in a favorable outcome. In order to fix these types of headaches, the patient needs hands on evaluation and intervention in order to address the muscle or joint cause. In this scenario, a chiropractor is a great and cost effective option for fixing a headache over medications that, as we are about to discuss, only mask symptoms rather than addressing the cause.

The answer to this problem? Providing better education to our health care providers and patients to allow them to make better choices in the healthcare system for treating headaches. As most of the readers here are not health care providers, we should look to how you, the patient, family member, or friend can help improve healthcare for headaches. The best thing you can do to help others in the healthcare marketplace is by referrals. The health care market is no different than the car, cosmetics, or food markets. The best way to help reward a health care professional that has helped you is to send more people for them to help. And the best way that you can help a family member or friend in need is by getting them to someone who can help. We live in a free market healthcare system (for now) and as such, quality and supply of services will dictate demand for better doctors, so long as that demand is aware that these doctors exist.

 

 

We will discuss in another article why chiropractic can be so helpful for the more common causes of headaches, but let’s think critically about some of the facts we stated earlier as well as some facts about chiropractic: We have learned from the WHO that only a minority of headaches are properly diagnosed, that migraine headaches are only properly diagnosed 66% of the time, and that headaches are in general underestimated, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. The WHO also estimates that half to three quarters of adults age 18-65 have experienced a headache in the last year. To expand, doctors of chiropractic only see 15% of the United States population according to a 2016 Gallup Poll. If you have benefitted from chiropractic care for headaches, understand that you are part of a few percentage of people who know that chiropractic is effective for this condition. Please do your part in helping fix headaches by referring your friends and family to those that have helped you and your problems (whether they are chiropractors or not).

Problem 2 – Ineffective Methods of Diagnosis

Most people would agree that the most effective method for solving a problem is to find the cause of that problem. For example, if your car’s check engine light or oil pressure light pops on, when you take the car to a mechanic, you probably expect them to find out why these lights came on. You would probably get upset if your mechanic said “Well I solved your light problem. I just went into the computer and turned the light off. Here’s the bill. If it comes back on, just come back in and I will turn it off again.” Most people would agree that the mechanic didn’t really address the cause of problem, he just hindered the warning light’s ability to warn you that the underlying problem existed. You would expect the mechanic to investigate and inspect your car in order to find out why this light came on and to fix the problem to make it go off.

 

 

There are many different types of headaches. From tension headaches, to cluster headaches to headaches caused by tumors. So how can you possibly figure out which headache you have? Probability can lead the way. Although there are literally dozens of headache classifications, two of the most common are tension and cervicogenic headaches. Causes such as tumors and infections are rare. Although the latter are more serious and should always be considered, the reality is most people with headaches will not be caused by such life-threatening conditions. When it comes to diagnosing a condition, patients and health care professionals are often lured into “What If Land.” Unfortunately, instead of making a diagnosis based on history, presentation, and the evaluation a health care practitioner will end up spending time and money ruling out such rare conditions with expensive diagnostics “just to make sure.” Maybe the patient is a bit of a hypochondriac and maybe it makes them feel good to know they don’t have a spinal tumor, but in this process of diagnosing, that health care practitioner abandoned standard of care by likely ignoring findings in the evaluation or history that indicated the condition was one of the more common and less dangerous conditions. In medical humor, this practice of abandoning logic and instead selecting a very unlikely diagnosis is called “looking for zebras.” The point to this joke is that when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

So how do we help solve this problem as a patient? Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Chances are if you have an experience with the mechanic in the analogy used earlier, you may decide to go to the shop across the street for a second opinion. Just because a doctor wears nicer clothes and went to school longer than a mechanic doesn’t mean that you can’t question their methods of care for YOUR body. If your provider fails to inform you of the cause of your headaches, if you spend more time with the nurse than the doctor, or if your doctor wants to perform a multitude of diagnostic exams “just to make sure,” consider getting a second opinion.

Problem 3 – Ineffective Methods of Treatment

Arguably the biggest problem with headaches and healthcare is the inability of current treatment strategies to fix headaches and the lack of recommendations to those treatment methods that do work. If you were to go into your doctor’s office because your head hurts, the doctor spends 5 minutes with you and fails to evaluate the condition before prescribing pain medication, this is the exact same situation as our car mechanic analogy. Pain is a warning light that something is wrong, but it does not identify what the cause is. This happens all the time in the health care world when a physician fails to properly assess the cause of a problem and instead just treats the symptom with medication.

Most medicines are simply a chemical method of turning off or on some sort of physiological process or pathway in your body. In some cases, simply turning something off or on or blocking our body from accomplishing a process can help or fix a problem. Good examples of this are acute conditions like infections like strep throat, the flu, or to help numb an area for surgery. This is because the problem (like an infection) and usage of the medication are aligned in an acute presentation, the medicine takes care of the cause (kills the infectious bacteria), and the problem is fixed. When a condition is chronic, however, medicine often becomes less effective in fixing a problem as it is used to treat the symptom and not the cause. With many types of headaches, treating with medication is just attempting to turn the light off. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Even if medication does work, because we are not addressing the problem, your headache (the light) is likely to come back.

 

 

Furthermore, because long term use of drugs develops tolerance in the body, the medication will eventually stop working altogether. When this happens, the answer from our astounding medical physician (mechanic), is to use more medication, a different medication or… why not both!? All the while, never identifying the cause.

As stated before, one of the most common causes for headaches involve dysfunction of the muscles and joints of the neck, jaw, and skull. This could be hypertonic and spasming muscles, a fixated joint that has lost range of motion and has become inflamed, or both. In these types of headaches, the best treatment option is to address the tissue itself through hands on therapy and then to identify stressors in an individual’s life which could be irritating or preceding this state of dysfunction. Turning off a pain receptor or trying to chemically shut down a muscle will not fix the problem or address a faulty movement pattern such as bad posture that is causing the muscle to tighten in the first place. Although the above statement is true, and generally known to the medical community, current guidelines for headache care almost exclusively surround pharmaceutical remedies. The inability or unwillingness to acknowledge the benefits from manual therapy, manipulation, and lifestyle changes from the medical community is a serious problem when dealing with headaches.

So how do we solve this problem? First and foremost, it is up to health care professionals who do provide alternative medicine treatment for headaches to educate not only the public, but also other health care professionals. Admittedly this part is outside the scope of the patient, but one thing I would encourage an individual who has benefitted from alternative care is to follow up with their previous doctors either at their office, over the phone, through mail or email, and tell them who they saw and what treatment they received that helped their headaches. To some degree, we need to understand that most health care professionals are completely overwhelmed with the current burden of our health care system and although most do care about following up with their previous patients, they very seldom get the chance. A follow up notification to a previous provider could help him make a decision to reach out to your current provider who is helping your problem or to refer a future patient to them down the road.

 

For more information on headaches, how chiropractic can help your headaches, or how to schedule a consultation to find out the cause of your headaches, visit our website below!

Mid South and Spine and Sports Performance

This month’s exercise of the month is Kneeling T-Bar Press with rotation. I normally incorporate this exercise into most of my clients’ programs, due to the many ways this exercise can be performed.This exercise is excellent for building upper body strength, while training rotation and anti-rotation. It’s important that the lifter keep a neutral posture and doesn’t go into extension (arching of the lower back) when preforming the pressing motion. Below is a video of one of my clients performing the lift. Go ahead and give it a try for yourself!

The most frequently asked question asked of me is, “What exercises do you recommend for back pain/problems?” There is no one answer to that question. Why is that? It is primarily due to the fact I like to screen the client to see where the pain is actual coming from or what is actually causing the back pain in the first place, before programming exercise for a client. However, I do not always get the privilege of screening every person that asks the question. In that case, I inform them about the four exercises I know that do help eliminate back pain. These 4 exercises focus on loosening and activating the hip flexors, glutes and adductors. It is important to remember to keep a neutral posture and activated core throughout all of these exercises and stretches. I normally program these exercises into the beginning of my clients’ programs and incorporate them in the warm-up.

The first exercise is something I call the Hip Flexor Stretch. This stretch targets the hip flexors, which the majority of the time is the main cause of back pain.

The second exercise is something I like to call the Hip Matrix. It is very similar to the first Hip Flexor Stretch, however this exercise incorporates targeting the hip flexor through greater ranges of movement.

The third exercise is something I like too call the Adductor Flow. This exercise targets the adductors throughout the range of motion, while keeping a neutral and activated core.

The fourth exercise is the 90/90 stretch, which works both the internal and external range of motion. This exercise also helps in glute activation and control.

Try these four exercises in order for 2 sets x 6 reps and make back pain a thing of the past! Let me know what you think!

 

I suppose there’s no point in me telling you this is another one of my favorites. It’s pretty much safe to say that anything that I’m putting out on this is one of my favorites. I’ve been a metal head for well over a decade now, but it wasn’t until I went to NBS that I was truly exposed to Lamb of God. I always think it’s funny when you always know about a band, but you never really listen to them and when you finally do you wonder why you didn’t so long ago. I guess that’s just how music works, some bands are just an acquired taste. Anyways, I’m not gonna lie, it took me forever to get this down. The tempo at which this band plays is ridiculous, but that’s the way I’ve always liked it. The title of this song is Laid to Rest, and it is off of their 2004 album called Ashes of the Wake. By far one of my favorite albums from LOG. And yes, I am aware that these “riffs” are turning into almost entire songs, but I’m okay with that. It is better for my practice, plus what’s the point of learning a song if you don’t learn it all. Turn it up to 11 and put those devil horns up! \m/ \m/ This is Laid to Rest.

 

 

I have been hosting or helping at iron sport events in some capacity for better part of the last decade.  While many have had memorable moments, the Clash For Cash on Beale is quickly becoming the only event that I think about making better intermittently year round.  I was recently asked by my buddy Josh how it actually came to be.  As I sat down and recounted all the circumstances that led to a local show with cash prizes and hundreds of spectators, I couldn’t help but smile at all the circumstances that had to happen for this show to go down.

In 2014, I moved to Memphis, TN and was quickly introduced to the local strongman scene. What a freaking Jackpot.  Mike Tumminello, Martin Wieckowski,  Richard Brose, Jay Holder, Bradley Leavitt, Britten Klibert, Monica Martin, and Ali Vanelli all took time out of their training at times to help me get a handle on the local scene, the implements we had, and the potential there was in this sport.  They also helped me go from half-heartedly playing around with implements to making a serious run at national level competition.  During that time, I got to experience shows that ran great and shows that were a nightmare.  I knew that I could be doing better when it came to our yearly local show.

Fast forward to 2016.  We had just moved to a new facility and decided that we were going to cut our contest schedule a hair to accommodate one local show, but we wanted to make it huge.  We received a half-hearted tip off that our local recreation association was offering grant money to events that were hosted in a number of parks in the area.  David Allen and I discussed the possibility, but it was shut down fairly quickly when we were not eligible for the grant.  With the original park idea and the grant money now out of the question, we needed to rethink our strategy entirely.

Enter Jim Losapio.  Jim is a longtime client of NBS Fitness who is very active in the Downtown Memphis merchant scene.  While I had all but resigned to hosting another backyard brawl, David suggested we talk to Jim about hosting it outside his local Italian eatery.  As soon as we mentioned it, Jim encouraged us to think bigger and host the event on Beale Street. From there, we were able to garner merchant support for each event, as well as obtain adequate space, permissions, and prize money!

Our first year wasn’t huge, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t biting my nails all the way into the show.  However, with help of the NBS Strongman competitors, the word spread and we were able to put on a show.  Much to my own surprise, the spectators caught a glimpse of the show, and hundreds stayed to cheer on their new-found strongman favorites.

This year, we were able to snag the off weekend in May, which happens to be a huge tourist month for Beale Street.  An estimated 400 people spectated as strongman competitors ranging from novice competitors to Olympians, to masters competitors gave it their all.  Next year, we are looking to make this a huge event as well.  A few special thanks to the actual people who helped make this happen:

David Allen: well duh.  NBS and equipment aside, I just couldn’t host the quality of show without Davids help. Everytime I drop a detail, David picks it up before it hits the ground. He does not get enough credit for how crucial he is in the background at these shows.

Jim Losapio: Had it not been for Jim, we would be hosting this event in the back lot of NBS.  He was the man behind the idea, and the man behind the support.

Mike Tumminello: Ill always be thankful that Mike lets me be an occasional part of the Llama Bear tribe.  His input on lifting and the shows has been invaluable.

Richard Brose: Richard is the first to volunteer his Saturday, and pours the most effort into each task he is given. He is our reliable head judge, and he just rocks.

Monica Martin: Not only does Monica volunteer her precious Saturday, but she also volunteers her husbands math skills for scoring. She also is nearly always in a chipper mood, which helps alleviate my own anxiety.

 

I recently got a chance to try out something I’ve been wanting to try for some time now: a deprivation tank. For those not in the know, a deprivation (or float) tank is a self contained pod that has about a foot of super concentrated salt water. The high salt concentration makes you incredibly buoyant, just like the dead sea, and makes it so that you float on top of the water without sinking in very much. The water is kept the same temperature as your skin so that the awareness of the water is lessened and there is also an option to turn out all the lights and drown out all the sound to truly deprive your senses.

The feeling is quite strange. I’ve never been up in space but I imagine that it is similar to what this feels like. You can feel yourself being supported but at the same time you’re not aware of your weight. Normally when you’re in water you feel your weight pulling you down so you have to work to stay afloat. Even when you lay on a raft you are aware of your weights impact on the raft. This is different. Once you maintain your positioning in the center of the pod so that you can’t touch the sides and the ripples in the water calm down, you truly have a sense of floating in space, especially with the lights out.

When your brain isn’t being bombarded by visual, auditory, and proprioceptive stimulus it does some pretty crazy things. Originally my brain starting creating it’s own stimulus. I started seeing shapes and colors, much like when you’re laying in bed about to fall asleep. Even though your eyes are closed, you still have visual stimulus being created. Then I started hearing music. The music wasn’t any song I’ve ever heard or even a type of music that I like but for a period of time I got to listen to some really complex electronica type music. Eventually my brain just started going down the rabbit hole of thoughts and experience. I just let it flow where ever it wanted to go and decided to just sit back and enjoy the show. At some point I fell asleep because I started having hypnagogic jerks; those little muscle spasms you have as you’re falling asleep. This caused the water to ripple which then woke me up.

After about 75 minutes in the tank, I got out and showered off. The biggest benefit I took from it was an overall sense of relaxation. It heightened my mood and made me feel good; physical, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was originally worried that I might freak out during the experience but never had any type of feeling. It was very relaxing and something I would suggest everyone give a try. Who knows where your mind will take you.

I had my float experience at Flow Cryotherapy

Last month, we discussed the various types of ruck sacks as well as how to pack them successfully in part 1 of this serious.   Today, we will talk a bit about training for or around your ruck.

Most clients that I work with are rucking because rucking is an important ability within their career path.  However, a number of organizations have taken the appeal of rucking and marketed challenges for recreational purposes. I have seen people with ruck requirements as short as four miles to upwards of 60 miles with a pack and everything inbetween.  As rucking gains traction and mainstream appeal, the same preparation errors that plague every recreational fitness sport.  Lack of smart progressions, lack of adequate recovery, and generally jumping the gun on important basebuilding work.

Situational Awareness: This can mean a multitude of things throughout your life.  For the sake of clarity, I’m requiring that you take a look at where you are in physical abilities right now vs. what you need to be successful in the rucking challenge you have chosen.  A few questions to ask:

What is your current aerobic base fitness? What pace are you able to sustain for 60 minutes of unloaded running while keeping a controlled heartrate? Are you able to hike terrain and recover adequately to complete courses?  Endurance differs so greatly from strength sports in that energy management is crucial, and assessing that requires a pretty firm grasp on fatigue indicators.

Is your rucking goal reasonable? So, unfortunately, if your military/LEO or involved in any vocation that requires rucking, this isn’t really a question you can ask yourself.  Your best bet there is to maintain a decent aerobic base year round.  However, recreational ruckers need to assess if they are setting themselves up for success.  If you are struggling to manage a 35lb ruck over 5 miles, partaking in a HeavyGORUCK challenge (24 hours to complete 40ish miles) is firmly off the table for a bit. Luckily, most recreational rucking avenues offer light courses and abbreviated challenges.

Will this challenge destroy your body? If you are already riddled with overuse injuries (particularly of the hip/knee/ankle), you may want to make sure your body is able to safely endure rucking. If you are constantly battling nagging knee pain from unloading running, adding rucking into the mix may not do you any favors.  THAT SAID, running and marching are significantly different in stride.  My suggestion here is to take a LIGHT ruck out for a short duration.  Assess your joints over the days that proceed.

Making Smart Progressions:

Alright! Hopefully we have decided that you are ready to rumble! If you are like many athletes, the first thing you want to do is take the course distance with the course weight and see how it goes.  PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. THIS IS NOT REALLY A SMART MOVE. I like to have people start with a rucksack that is about 15% of their bodyweight for an hour. WITHOUT launching into a jog, I like to see what distance is covered in that time.  From there, I will assess some biomarkers (such as heartrate/average pace/duration at certain HR zones/etc) but generally, this gives us a pace and some parameters to work with.

Assuming the primary programming concern is endurance rucking, I generally recommend increasing ruck distance by no more than 15% each week, often 10% being more appropriate.  More aggressive, time sensitive goals may require closer to the 15% mark.  I will typically prescribe 1 long ruck per week. During these efforts, the focus should be on foot turnover and sustaining a pace that allows comfortably surpassing the time cutoffs of desired courses.  I will typically really scrutinize progress over a 5 week mesocycle, which will also include a “deload” of sorts where the ruck is replaced by a timed zone 2 run. From there, we can decide if we want to increase the weight.  I will often reset the distance a bit and begin a rebuild with a weight increase of 5% or less.  Again, this will depend a LOT of where you are in relation to your rucking goal.

Recovery: 

Recovering from rucking is another forgotten aspect of rucking. As mentioned earlier, I recommend one long ruck per week, so the unfortunate tendency I see is that people just eat three days of inactivity to recover from their ruck.  Many people simply make peace with being a bit sore, and there is some value in that.  However, your progress will be stunted if you are taking no action to expediting your recovery.

–Hydrate: seems simple enough, but its understated.  In part one of this series, I mentioned packing along water.  Water is crucial, but water is not the only mineral lost in sweat. Salt and electrolytes are also lost.  Its important to replenish these things during and after your ruck.  Cutting pedialyte with water at a 1:1 ratio will help post ruck, and having some electrolyte blend in your water is also helpful.  I recommend 1st Phorms Intra-Formance, which has EAAS, potassium, and highly branched cyclic dextrin.  Want to know how much you should drink? There are a few rough calculators out there that recommend anything from 16-48oz per hour you are out.  Pretty wild variance. The most sure fire method of making sure you are rehydrated is to weigh yourself (naked) pre run and post run, and make up the different.  If you lost a pound, drink 16oz h20.

–Fuel: Getting enough food to fuel rucks is also important.  In the hydration section, I recommended 1st Phorms endurance product.  This product has highly branched cyclic dextrin, which is a carb source that digests very smoothly.  Generally, I would recommend checking into a calorimeter and refueling what you have lost in a ratio of 80%carb/10%pro/10%fat.  Once you get a rough idea how many calories you burn per hour, you can even start this refueling process during your ruck.  Bringing low fat, light weight carb sources are also an option if you aren’t keen on putting powder in your camel pack or water supply.  Dried bananas, raisins, papaya provide a quick punch of fructose and are light enough to carry away with you.

Questions on how to make rucking work for you? Feel free to shoot me an email at annie@nbsfitness.net!

Next month, we will discuss crosstraining for rucking challenges

9 Keys to Strengthening our Affiliate (community)

I recently read this e-book, Always Be Caring: The 9 Ways to Strengthening Your Affiliate Community  written by Ben Bergeron. The material was written specifically for gym owners and coaches, so during my recent turn presenting during our monthly CE sessions, I delivered my best interpretation of it to our staff. It touches on many things owners/coaches and trainers share in common and how to best deal with these things. A very compelling read.  I thought if I tweaked it a little so it could be viewed from a members vantage point,  my readers good glean some info from it and help us develop our community even further.

#1 Base of Pyramid

Just as you have a Theoretical Development of an Athlete, there is also a theoretical development of a gym. The development of an athlete begins with nutrition. The development of a gym begins with community.

As coaches, owners, personal trainers, etc. it is important for us to remember that while we work in the fitness industry, we are actually in the relationship business. One of our goals (as a coach) is to build a relationship with you so the walls of self consciousness that one may have, can be torn down. It is necessary for you to learn how to trust us.We must be fully invested in you, and you in us.

One could argue that the most influential factor in whether a gym succeeds or fails is based on the strength of the community. The atmosphere we create must be a place where weaknesses are just as welcome as strengths.

#2 Emotional Bank Account. EBA

If we make more deposits than withdrawals, our relationships will be stronger. If we remove more than we add, our relationship will be weak.  We have all been victims of someone overdrafting their accounts with us through the following:

  1. Gossip
  2. Breaking a promise
  3. Ignoring us
  4. Lying to us

On the other side, how many of us have said something that would be considered a withdrawal, and then watch that persons enthusiasm drain from their face.

We must focus on deposits. Limit our withdrawals while making consistent sizable deposits.

#3 Integrity

Define integrity – what does integrity mean to you? For purposes of this discussion, doing the right thing even when you’re sure no one will find out about it. Coach Greg Glassman’s advice for business owners and trainers, “do the right thing for the right people, for the right reasons.

Example: not hip checking the basket in the parking lot at Kroger…putting it away. Sounds small but it’s a step towards integrity.  How does integrity manifest in the gym?

  1. Be on time to your appointments, including classes. This indicates you respect the coach/trainer’s time.
  2. Be ready for your class/session. Being on time doesn’t matter much if you are still on the phone, checking messages, etc. This is your hour, give your full attention to your trainer so they can do the same for you.
  3. Follow the plan your trainer/coach has laid out for you. You may not like to warm up the way your coach wants you to but remember, you hired them for a reason. You must trust their process.
  4. Putting away all equipment. This includes everything you used, as well as anything you might see lying around that someone else forgot to put away.

#4 Gossip

Gossip is a part of life inside every gym. It’s human nature to want to talk about other people and to give our opinions.  Despite that, we have to understand how gossip can have an out-sized and negative impact on the community at large.

Defend the person being talked about, instead of partaking in the gossip. What that says about you is that you will do the same if someone gossips about you.

#5 Sincere Listening

Don’t confuse not talking with listening. Learn to be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. To make giant deposits with someone, learn how to listen more sincerely. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the best thing to do for all of our relationships.

#6 Appeal to the Nobler Motive

If you assume people are fair, honest, upright and the type that gives their best effort, they’re more likely to do just that. If we assume people are cheating, giving half-assed effort or aren’t being honest, they’re more likely to do just that too.

I cannot tell you how many items I pick up on a regular basis at the gym that are not mine.  Countless breaths have been wasted on fuming over picking others things up. My new outlook is to consider it an oversight on the offenders part. Our human nature wants us to immediately feel aggravated for such disregard, however, quite honestly, I have accidentally left things behind on more than one occasion. Giving one the benefit of the doubt relinquishes us from the feelings of constant aggravation.

#7 Perception is Reality

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford

It is my job to help you know and understand that I (and the other trainers) care about you individually. However, if you don’t feel it, you won’t believe it.  If you feel as though your needs aren’t being met, I encourage you to come to me (or your trainer) and  discuss this. Speaking for the entire staff on this, we can’t fix the problem if we don’t know it exists.  Help us see things the way you do so we can begin to make it better.  I understand that every single person has some sort of anxiety and self doubt. Walking in here is not always easy, I get that. Help me help you.

#8 Tactful Conflict Resolution

In our life, anytime someone comes to us with a complaint, our first reaction is to defend our self..  we can all use the following to help resolve conflict in our lives.

  1. Resist that urge to defend yourself. Don’t let it come across in your body language or you won’t listen sincerely and we won’t be able to see things from another perspective.
  2. Listen sincerely and don’t interrupt or spend the time they’re talking formulating a response.
  3. When they’re done, thank them for bringing this issue to your attention. Sympathize with them and let them know you understand where they’re coming from.
  4. Admit your mistakes
  5. Ask them for their advice. Involve them in the resolution.  “What do you think we should do about this?”

These steps are simple, but not easy. Just keep practicing.

#9 ABC

Our ultimate goal should be to give you the best hour of your day. When you walk into the gym we need to make you feel at home. We want to continue to give you plenty of reasons to drive by another gym and come to ours. We want to give you something you can’t get in your garage or in a globo gym. In return, we ask for your trust and your confidence in us. When you enter into an agreement as a CrossFitter, Power Lifter, Strongman/Strongwoman or gym member, you are agreeing to become a part of a team…a team that works together to bring out the best in each of us and the best in our community.

ABC

  • Always be communicating
  • Always be connecting
  • Always be caring

 

This year has brought with it a lot of change for myself, particularly in the realm of the type of exercise I choose to do. Up until recently my training consisted primarily of weight training, either for strength and/or size. Earlier this year I started CrossFit at which point my training shifted to more of a conditioning focus. Then a few months back I started adding in running as preparation for the Tough Mudder and the St. Jude half marathon later this year. So the question is, as a former powerlifter who used to slander all things running, why would I change my mind and start preparing for a half marathon? Three reasons:

  1. I needed to lose some weight. This time last year I was 60 lbs heavier. This made me incredibly strong but walking up a flight of stairs required oxygen. I could only handle being that heavy for so long before I decided it was time to do something. Combine that with coming off testosterone and suffering from some knee pain, I knew it was time to put strength to the side and start getting my body back to a healthy level. Running allowed me a chance to burn some extra calories in a more functional way than walking on the stepmill.
  2. The adventures I want to do require a high level of conditioning. I’ve been itching really bad to go on an elk hunt next year. This is going to require some serious conditioning to be able to hike up and down the rocky mountains and pack out hundreds of lbs worth of meat. I’ve also been eyeing the summit of Mt Baker in Washington. It was recommended as a good starter mountain for mountaineering and the view looks incredible. I’ve also recently picked back up mountain biking so all these outdoor adventures require me to be able to put out a little bit more in the aerobic department.
  3. My mental toughness needed a major kick in the ass. While a high level of aerobic conditioning isn’t really vital for strength sports, that wasn’t the reason I said it was stupid. I said it was stupid because I was bad at it and it hurt to do it. Some obvious introspection shows that I was really just protecting my ego with this statement. In reality, running probably is something that everyone should do at some level. Human locomotion is a basic requirement for life and while we don’t all need to be able to run 5 min miles or run ultra marathons, the ability to move your body through space will give you a leg up on the competition once the zombies come. I still think running sucks, I think it’s stupid, and it hurts every time I do it but I do it because I don’t want to avoid something just because it causes me physical and/or mental pain. That limits life experience and growth. Instead, I try my best to embrace and push it a little farther each time. The difference between strength sports and running is that strength sports requires a decent amount of pain and suffering over a brief period of time. Running requires a much smaller amount of pain and suffering over a much longer period of time. This is the biggest challenge for me. I was used to psyching myself up for a maximum effort. I knew it would hurt but it’d be over soon. Running is just a constant sucky pain from step 1 until you finish. This has required a different mental approach for me and forced me to recognize how mentally weak I really was (and didn’t want to admit to). So now, running has become a mental challenge against myself to accept being uncomfortable, embrace it, and move forward regardless, one step at a time.

***Warning***
this may leave you a little butt hurt.

I am not your cheerleader or your personal motivator. Matter of fact, I don’t even like the word ‘motivation’. Motivation is temporary and it’s an excuse you give yourself to not workout or train regularly. It’s something you tell yourself when you’re just plain being lazy. “I just can’t get motivated to go to the gym today.” Or “I’m just not motivated.” I’ll tell you what you’re not…you’re not disciplined and you’re not committed.

There is nothing wrong with you. You have a choice every morning just like the rest of us do. Stop telling yourself a load of crap about how tired you are, how hard you had to work or how difficult your morning is. Stop giving yourself an out every turn of the corner. You’re probably so accustomed to doing it that you don’t even realize it’s what you do. You have created an arsenal of excuses and they roll right off your tongue without you even realizing it. You wasted the day, and you sit satisfied that you dodged a tough workout. Well, what you actually did is you sabotaged yourself and you missed an opportunity to get better! You missed an opportunity to do something that makes you a stronger person mentally and physically. Additionally, you missed an opportunity to make yourself a better HUMAN BEING. YES, commitment to your health daily does make you a better human being!

I am here to help make you better but I cannot do it all. You are a part of my team, therefore you are a teammate. Produce like you’re a teammate. Work like you’re a teammate. Elevate yourself because you are a part of a team. Do your best to make yourself proud, don’t do it out of fear of me! Yes, my wrath will rain down on you if you’re not meeting the necessary expectations that are so evidently achievable by you! My wrath should not be your single source of ‘motivation’, however. You need to be kicking your own ass! You need to do something more because CAN do something more. Expect more of yourself and you will achieve more. Keep the bar low and low is where you will stay.

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.
-Mahatma Ghandi

Half assed effort is futile.
-Angie Foree

Every one of us is mentally and physically stronger than we allow ourselves to believe. The insecurities that we have, give us an out. When you choose not to believe in yourself (yes it is a choice) then you most assuredly will produce as a weak minded person…which means you’re really not producing. If you believe you are a strong person then that means you produce as that said strong person, which means we must raise the bar, suck it up and just go. The great thing is, you get the choice.

What are you going to choose daily, weekly? To be weak, or to be strong? To go to the gym or to find an excuse? Motivation or commitment? Your choice for sure but don’t come to any of my classes if you’re going to half ass anything. I want full effort…full victory.

You Think This Is a Game?

Y’all, I cannot make this stuff up, seriously, everything I find in the gym that ends up on this blog is real. This is partially why I take pictures to log the goofiness I show you it is legit. The next three winning moments in this weeks, “How to Ruin a Gym” literally took 1.5 weeks to see / experience and nothing is off limits as you will see shortly.

Stealing, its fine, no really….

First up this week, I’ll shoot you over to NBS owner David Allens blog kicking off the festivities of gym destruction! We actually give you some Ideas on how to do this, free advice is always appreciated right, even if it’s not good advice?

The Fresh Maker

We all appreciate bodily cleanliness including fresh breath but, if you cannot figure out how to use your pockets due to a malfunction or walk over to the trash can I’d rather you have stank ass breath. Every rep I waste on cleaning up behind you takes away from my total and if you are lazy enough to allow this then I will take it as you are trying to sabotage my gains, see how this can spiral out of control?

No one is Safe

You think I have borders here at the gym on who I go after, you are out of your mind! I have been here a  long time; cleaned bathrooms, cut floors, done ALLLLLL the grunt work for a short period of time. Employees try and keep this place clean, except for those who don’t. That’s right everyone is a target, this gets me going just as bad as someone who is too weak to put their weights up and leaving them on the equipment. People got to eat but fail to put it up, now that I post this I am sure I will screw up and leave mine out with everyone waiting to jump on me, or not, cause like putting your weights up, I do that shit! No one wants to see food on the floor any more than a dead spider, bug or gutted out roach.

 

 

Yes, it is indeed time for another Riff of the Week. This one is a bit more on the classic side then most of the previously released riffs. This is a tune that I have enjoyed ever since the first time I’ve heard it and it’s never gotten old no matter how many times I listen to it. This weeks riff comes from the song The Boys Are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy. It’s off their album Jailbreak, which was released in 1976, a bit before my time. What I really like about this song is the catchy, in your face intro along with the simplistic chord progression of the chorus. This is always a fun one to play! I hope you all enjoy.

 

 

This time last year I was weighing in right at 280 lbs. Fast forward to present day and I’m hovering around 220. That 60 lbs of weight loss has come from a number of different factors. I got off testosterone supplementation, started doing CrossFit, started running, and went through many dietary changes. In this article I’d like to share my experience with my latest dietary experiment: ketosis.

What is ketosis?

Before going into what ketosis is, it’s important to know that your body gets its energy from three different sources: protein, carbs, and fat. But the three substrates your body will use for energy are glucose, lipids, and ketones. Your body will convert amino acids into glucose through gluconeogenesis. When there are not enough carbohydrates (or amino acids to convert to glucose) present to fuel the nervous system, whether through fasting or a super low carbohydrate diet, the liver will begin to break down lipids into ketones to be used for fuel. A state of ketosis is where your body is more adapted to utilizing fat for fuel instead of glucose.

How do you know if you’re in ketosis?

When you are in ketosis the higher levels of ketones in the blood can be measured. There are a three ways that this can be done. First, the most accurate method is blood testing using a blood ketone meter and strip. The second most accurate method is with a breath acetone measuring device. This measure the amount of acetone (a ketone) that has made it’s way through your blood and into your lungs. This is the method that I used. The final method is through urine ketone strips. This is probably the easiest method but not nearly as accurate.

What are the benefits of ketosis?

Ketogenic diets have actually been shown to have positive impacts on people that suffer from seizures as well as different types of cancer. Being more fat adapted can also help with losing excess adipose tissue. In myself and several clients, I have seen a significant change in body composition while being able to take in a higher caloric amount. Being in ketosis also has a positive effect on blood glucose levels which can help prevent typical “hunger pains” that come with being in a caloric deficit. The higher fat content of the diet helps with satiety and taste. Along with this are some positive mental affects. Typically, there is a more consistent and sustained energy throughout the day and better mental clarity. There has also been some indication that being more fat adapted could be of benefit to some endurance athletes.

How do you get into ketosis?

Well the best way is to do some type of fast. Anywhere from 10 hours to 3 days (I know that sounds crazy but I’ve heard it recommended). This will typically kick start your body down the path towards ketosis. The first bit will really suck as your body starts recognizing it’s not getting the glucose it’s used to getting and will start urging you to eat. However, as your body adapts you will find that your hunger dissipates and you might even feel pretty energized. Beyond that, maintaining a diet that is high in fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates will help keep you in a state of ketosis. The better your metabolism and the more you train the more carbohydrates you can eat and stay in ketosis or return to ketosis quickly. Ingesting supplemental ketones can also help with this although I didn’t find much difference from using them.

My Experience

So earlier this year in February I started slowly decreasing my calories. I was eating between 7-9 times a day including my peri workout protocol and ingesting around 6000 calories a day. Once I came off of my testosterone I dropped this down a good bit to around 6 meals a day with still a decent amount of protein fat and carbs in each meal. I don’t remember the exact numbers but it was probably around 60p, 20f, 50c. I’d let my weight drop a bit until it didn’t move for a few weeks then drop the carbs down a little more. After a pretty big plateau in weight loss I decided to just say screw it and dropped my meals down to 5 meals a day and no carbs except at night and around training. This helped my weight drop a bit more but I was freaking starving all day long and by the time dinner came around it was tough to not over eat the carbs. Then when I committed to doing the Tough Mudder in September and the St Jude Half Marathon in December, I knew I needed to get my weight down and fast so I decided to give the ketogenic diet a try. Here is what a typical day looks like for me:

Meal 1: 30  grams protein from chicken breast, 30 grams fat from mixed nuts

Meal 2: 30  grams protein from ground bison, 30 grams fat from coconut oil

Meal 3: 30  grams protein from salmon, 30 grams fat from fish oil and olive oil

Meal 4: 30  grams protein from steak, 30 grams fat from grass fed butter

Meal 5: 2 pieces bacon, 6 eggs, cheese

(I’ll eat vegetables with each meal too. Broccoli, green beans, carrots, and celery)

Total calories around 2000

Like I said above, this was my approach to losing as much weight as possible as quickly as possible. I currently have a BMR of around 3000 and burn anywhere between 500-1500 calories per workout depending on what all I do. So this can put me anywhere from a 1000 calorie deficit to a 2500 calorie deficit which, if you’ve never experienced it, isn’t very fun. However, I have been able to lose 20 or so lbs in about 8 weeks. I typically lose about a lb a day to a lb every 2 days but on the weekends I’ll allow myself some cheat and gain a few back. Still, I’m losing week to week.

Being in that type of caloric deficit makes physical activity very challenging. Anything in the glycolytic energy system is a butt kick when you don’t have any glycogen stores to help. Because of this I’ll typically add 40 grams of carbs from Intra Formance during my training. The one time I didn’t and tried to run 7 miles was one of the hardest workouts in my life. It put me in the gutter. Once I get to a weight that I’m happy with, I will start adding back in more calories through fat and protein but stay in the ketogenic setup.

Who should try a ketogenic diet?

Anyone can try the diet to see how they feel on it. If you’re doing a bunch of high intensity exercise, you probably won’t want to stay on it without some type of carbohydrate supplementation around your training. I think it works great for people with insulin sensitivity issues and anyone who is struggling to lose weight from a typical caloric reduction diet. If you’ve been slowly cutting calories and/or are eating way fewer calories than would seem reasonable for your size and activity and still struggling to lose weight, then I think this would be great to try. Two clients that I have used it on have gotten really good results.

The first client had her weight stuck around the 125 lb mark for a while. Each time I reduced carbs her body would not respond and the weight would remain the same. Even at no carbs, high protein, and medium fat her body would not respond. Then I doubled her fat intake and kept her protein the same, still no carbs, and she dropped 6 lbs in a month.

My second client started with me after a powerlifting competition. Her beginning weight was 152 and I put her on a pretty moderate plan to start at only 1550 calories. So about 10x her bodyweight in calories which with her training and other activities should have been enough to cause her to lose weight but instead she gained several lbs. I reduced her carbs some more and she gained another 2 lbs. From there I consistently cut her calories down to around 1250 on her non training days and 1400 on training days. She stayed in the 150 lb range without much change. I dropped all her carbs out completely to only 1290 calories every day and she still hovered in the 150 range. When a client’s weight seems to be stuck like this despite all the signs (no carbs, very low calories, lots of exercise) that it should be dropping, it’s an indication that something needs to change. For whatever reason, their body is not responding like it should be so it’s time to switch things up. At this point I switched her to a ketogenic diet, bumped her calories up to 1500 by doubling her fat and just barely reducing her protein and her weight started to instantly fall. So much so that we decided to go for a 20 lb cut and compete in the 132 class in September. So 18 lbs of weight loss in 4 weeks with about 4 lbs of that coming from a water cut we did the week of the meet. Check out her progress below, give the ketogenic diet a try, and let me know what you think.

 

BETTER AGED

As people, we adapt and learn which allows us to progress. Well, some of us. Others fail to change and thus fail to progress. Either way, when we implement what we have learned (often through failing), we identify certain variables as the cause of the failure and change those variables. Then we see if success can be achieved. But success usually comes after a change is made. As we get older and have more experiences, we can foresee change coming and adapt in preparation for it. This is why I love EliteFTS’s mantra: Live, Learn, and Pass On. It reminds us that not everyone has to make the same mistakes. The one area I struggle with the most to change is my mental state, both when prepping and while competing in a powerlifting meet.

My focus during these different periods is similar, one is just a little more intense than the other. The closer to the meet I get the more serious I become. This has shown to actually aid me in getting TO the meet but not getting THROUGH the meet. If you are a competitive athlete, you know staying healthy leading up to the big game can be just as hard (if not harder) than the big game itself. We push ourselves to the limit and things can break along the way. For me, my mental state needs to be in a place of enjoyment and “fun” when doing a meet to feel good and have everything hit on all cylinders. This is one of the reasons I started doing “prep meets” on the suggestion of an Elitefts Teammate 2 years ago. Since then I always get a “prep meet” programmed into my training with another larger meet (the actual goal) to follow it.

Currently, my prep meet will be at NBS Fitness where I HOPE to be able to hit all my second attempts as third attempts in preparation for my main meet in California on November 12th. This will be a drastic change for me in preparation due to some new variables:  travel and lodging, on top of usual variables like competitors and weight cut. All of these things will challenge my mental state, so this Prep Meet is just as much of a tune-up as it is a mental buffer for what is to come. Understanding the process of strength and playing the strategy game of choosing attempts to get the desired total is something I need more practice at anyway.

During the next month, I am going to be focused on enjoying the progress that my friends and teammates have made. Regarding my own strength levels, I need to focus on the positives rather than remembering what is still lacking.

At Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance, our goal is to support the goals of our patients and athletes and keep them at the peak of health and performance. Whether you are trying to perform at the highest levels of athletic competition or return to function so they can play with their (grand)children. Today we would like to give a shout out to former Memphis Tiger safety and Mid-South SSP patron, Chris Morely. In the short documentary below, you can follow a typical week for Chris as he is training to accomplish his dreams of playing in the NFL. If you have every wanted to know what chiropractic can do for a high level athlete, we do a filmed visit at the office and explain some of the goals that we looked to accomplish with Chris while preparing him for the NFL.

 

 

Supplements can be confusing.  Many are absolutely worth the time and effort, while others are clever marketing ploys that don’t really make much, if any, difference on your performance.   Further, of the ones that are worth while, the truth is that *situationally* they aren’t appropriate.  So how do you know what to take and when?  It all depends where you are in the life cycle of your goals.

Here’s a fun fact: the majority of protein you eat doesn’t get used as protein. It instead gets used as a fuel source. Protein/amino acids get converted to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. When you buy powdered branched chained amino acids or essential amino acids, they have calories. It won’t show calorie content on the label(because of an FDA regulation loophole), but if you ingest 40g of amino acids, that is roughly the same calorie content as it would be if you 40g of protein. There are some differences, but a general rule of thumb is to just treat it gram for gram. For example, these amino acids have the following calorie makeup:

Valine: 6 calories per gram

Alanine: 4.3 calories per gram

Arginine: 5.1 calories per gram

If you are trying to lose body fat, you probably shouldn’t be using bcaa’s as water flavoring, or something to sip on through the day. This would just supply your body with a convenient supply of energy, but instead, we are trying to burn fat so we want stored body fat to be used as energy, not the amino acid supplement. Same goes for sipping on amino acids during your cardio. If your goal is to burn the most amount of fat possible during your cardio session, do your cardio without sipping on amino acid supplements.

 

I think the best time to instead use amino acid supplements would be during your workout. Depending on what the goal is, I like to use amino acids in combination with a carbohydrate source such as Highly branched cyclic dextrin or waxy maize during workouts. On a normal training day, I will do 30g amino acids and 60g HBCD and preferably start drinking it on the way to the gym, throughout the workout, and finishing it up on my drive back home. A 1:2 ratio of amino acids to carbohydrates should be a good guideline to go by.

I have been working with Justin Harris for almost a year now, and having him to keep me on track this offseason has a been huge.  When we started I was 198lbs and now I am 20lbs heavier, and I’m the leanest I have ever been at this weight and easily eating the most food I ever had in my life.  I have a small appetite, so pushing the calories high has been a challenge for me. 2 weeks ago, on a check in, he brought down the calories, and this is what my new diet looks like now. It’s nice to be eating less food.

*Note: I don’t only eat meat and rice and peanut butter. This was just for an example. 

 

Low carb days – 1x a week on my non-training day.

Meal 1  – 6 oz. meat, 1 cup rice,1tbs peanut butter

Meal 2 -5 –  6 oz. meat, 2/3 cup rice, 1.5 tbs. peanut butter

Meal 6 – 6 oz. meat, 2 tbs. peanut butter

 

Medium carb days – 3x a week on smaller muscle groups like arms, shoulders, or any “pump” day I may do.

Meal 1 – 6 oz. meat, 2 cups rice

Meal 2 and 3 –  6 oz. meat, 1.5 cups rice,

Meal 4 – 3 scoops intraphormance or 30g amino acids, 60g HBCD

Meal 5 – 6 oz. meat, 2 cups rice

Meal 6 and 7 – 6 oz. meat, 1 cup rice, 1.5tbs peanut butter

 

High carb days – 3x a week on Chest, back, and leg day.

Meal 1- 5oz meat, 2.25 cups rice

Meal 2 – 5 oz. meat 2 cups rice

Meal 3 –  5 scoops intra phormance or around 45g Amino acids, 90g HBCD from truenutrtion.com

Meal 4 –  5 oz. meat, 2.25 cups rice

Meal 5 – Cheat meal

Meal 6-  Cheat meal

 

I am also doing 3 sessions of steady state cardio a week, 20 minutes per session, post workout.  

Last Thursday I finally met up with Steven Murphy at NBS Fitness, and we decided to get in a typical bro arm session. We had a good workout, and it is always a good time catching up with Steven and getting a training session in. Hopefully this is something we can do more regularly in the future. My calves are still incredibly sore from losing count on our calf raises.

Seated Dumbbell Curls –3 sets of 10 reps with a 3 second descent.

I ended up doing 3 working sets of 30lbs. I like to do one arm at a time instead of alternating back and forth each rep. The 3 second negatives really got me to swell up pretty quick.

Barbell Curl –  6 sets of 6 with 45 sec rest between sets. 3 second decent on these as well.

Steven and I ended up using an ez curl bar. We worked up to a plate on each side for the first set or two but quickly got humbled, and we dropped the weight down to focus on some better reps

Preacher Curls – We ended up using the preacher machine on these.   We did 4 sets, aiming for 15 reps, and we kept the rest time fairly quick again. After these 4 sets, our biceps were pretty smoked.

 

Rope Pushdowns – 4 sets of 8 reps after we got warmed up.  Flexing hard at the bottom of each rep, and once we were fatigued to the point where we couldn’t do a hard flex at the bottom of the rep, we just pumped them out until we hit 15. Weight was around 120-140lbs.

 

Dip Machine Push Down – We put a medicine ball on the assist arm of the assisted dip/pullup machine and leaned over and did tricep pushdowns. 4 sets of 10-15 reps with a slow and controlled negative each rep. These felt good and I liked them, but I need to figure out a better hand position. I was struggling to find an angle that didn’t irritate my wrist.

 

Incline Skull Crushers – 4 sets of 10 here. We used an ez bar and brought the bar back behind our head and got a really good stretch on every rep. The weight we used here was only around 75lbs.

 

Standing Calf Raises – 8 sets of 10 reps, flexing hard at the top of each rep. Me and Steven lost count and probably did around 15 sets on here before we said something. We worked up to 3 plates and some change for our work.

Seated Calf Raise –  I was very fatigued from the sets of calf raises before this. I think we only worked up to a plate and a half, or 2 plates max and did 4 sets of 10.