**TRANSPARENCY ALERT: I have done each and every one of the actions I am about to list. I have done entire training cycles of these extra little bits of action and they have stalled my progress, frustrated my coaches, and probably made me an annoying friend.*** Now, with that said, the reason I am sharing these with you is because I want you to save you time, energy, and loss of training partners by encouraging you NOT to do any of this crap I did.
1.) Deviating from the training plan: “Oh man. The weights feel light today. I think I am going to go up WAY beyond what I am suppose to do.” “Hm. I have extra energy..I think im going to throw in some GPP at the end of this training day!” “I have no idea what this exercise is, so I’m going to do something that is not even close to the same, but I like doing.” <—Are you guilty of any of those thought processes? Quit it. One of the most advantageous resources we have today is the abundance of knowledgeable coaches. This stems from anecdotal evidence (where I believe most training theories begin anyway) that are backed with scientific evidence concerning energy systems, recovery efforts, and attention on the long term effects of training. Compounded with the ever-expanding field and awareness of physiology and more education than ever available, the coaches that are currently making it in the industry are typically fairly sound coaches. Many of them offer templates for FREE with just a simple search on the ole interwebs. So..IF you hire them, do yourself a favor and let them handle the road map. There is likely a reason you trust their judgement on a training plan. If the weights feel easy, its probably intentional. If you feel “good” after a training session, resist the urge to ad-lib “finishers” that leave you feeling dead. This often hinders your recovery for future training days, resulting in unpredictable and crappy performance over the long term. Further, it makes your coaches job a LOT harder in terms of logical progression.
2.) Last minute amending of nutrition: I have added meals to my nutrition plan, and I have gotten rid of meals in my nutrition plan. On former, I threw it under the guise of “im eating to fuel my training” and the latter was cleverly disguised as “Im not hungry, and I dont need the extra calories.” Both were bullshit. By following this type of instinctual eating pattern, I
a.) Failed to learn a single thing about how any nutritional strategy impacted me.
b.) Failed to develop any semblance of will-power.
Both are come with long-term detriment. On the former, following nutritional plans (developed by yourself or someone smarter than you) allows you to manipulate variables and see how they impact your overall performance, energy level, etc. This sort of knowledge is VASTLY more important over the lifespan than the risk of having a day of low energy that you may experience while you are figuring this sort of stuff out. With this knowledge, you stand to gain insight that can help guide years worth of nutritional mapping. The latter is equally important, and spills into just about every facet of your life. Learning how to stick to something (anything) is immensely important, as the lessons learned in dedicated behavior are priceless.
3.) Micro-analyzing lifting environemnt/mentality/form: Very rarely does a bad performance need a paragraph of justification. While sleep/schedule/personal life all can present distractions from training, this shouldn’t be the case day in and day out. I have been guilty myself of pointing the finger at everything but myself. The days I spent debating new squat shoes, if my sleep schedule is hindering my performance, or if I should have eaten more food that day (see paragraph 2) rarely resulted in life altering changes. What it does do is distract everyone and (more importantly) yourself from possible glaring issues. Sometimes you are just weak and inexperienced. Being weak is fine, until you are doing nothing to change it. However, getting into the mindset that the conditions being off is reason to succumb to another shit training day can lead to months/weeks/YEARS of stale lifting. The liklihood of having perfect conditions for training is relatively low, and learning to push through is very important. Some of my most memorable PRs came from days I walked into the gym with little motivation, not enough food/sleep, and neutral expectations. Hell, all of my PRs were ugly lifts. Learning to safely correct in instances of being “tipped forward” or “falling backwards” or whatever movement anomaly people are blaming these days will be far more beneficial than learning to find the flaw in your conditions.
4.) Program hopping: The only thing worse than having a terrible plan of action is having a new plan of action each day/weel/month. It took me YEARS to understand this. Building strength is a painfully slow process, ripe with frustrations and moments of doubt. However, without dedication to a plan of some sort, you will never endure the highs and lows that are associated with the endeavor for fitness. There are days that training is the highlight of your day, and there will for sure be days that you cannot wait to put that days training behind you. This is normal. You hopefully choose programs that you trust, so bench your desire to take creative liberties. Spend time giving an approach an honest shot. Worst case scenario, you can assess after the conclusion and look for what was useful and discard what wasnt.
5.) Self Doubt: I have spent too much time in the past doubting my abilities. This extends far beyond my life as an athlete. A few years ago, I was training for a powerlifting meet and I began feeling what was likely going to be a grinder of a rep. As soon as the rep wasn’t butter, I shook my head at my spotter to have him save me from what I would have sworn was going to be a failed lift. Instead of saving my ass, he stepped away, leaving me to complete the lift. I angrily did so, and before I could turn around for an explanation, he said “how many weeks ago did you decide that was gunna be a failure?” Aaaaand he was right. I had spent a lot of time telling myself what my limits were. When it came down to it, that doubt in my own self was robbing me of truly knowing what I was capable of. Though it took a LONG time, I no longer allow any sort of self doubt starting about 12 weeks out from any contest. If I am doing a physique show, I am going to win it. If I am doing a powerlifting meet, I am going to PR everything. Every day is going to go as planned. While this isn’t always the case, you cannot convince me otherwise leading into the meet. Bad training days are isolated incidents and I address that after I have left the gym. The reality is that your thoughts become your actions. If you have low expectations, you will have a low success rate.
Quit wasting your time on things that hinder your performance, your mindset, and your future.
As David pointed out on his facebook this week, we hosted The Clash For Cash And Cash Car Pull this past weekend and it turned out to be a great success. NBS Fitness itself has hosted 10 or so events in its existence, and various pieces of our staff have been helping in some capacity at meets for years. I will say that it never goes *perfect*, so having a meet feel like a success is a real milestone for me. However, this wasn’t without some SERIOUS nail biting moments. Below I will highlight some steps we took to really get the ball rolling.
Poll the competitors: After wrapping up our Spring Strongman event, I got to asking competitors what would *really* set a show apart from others. While the answers varied, a few common themes were: 1.) cash Prizes 2.) assured audience 3.) awesome atmosphere. There were a few other suggestions that were down to specifics, but I decided to focus on factors that would universally appealing as opposed to chosing specific events over others. With these guidelines, we knew how to offer a GREAT show for competitors.
Cash Prizes: With the help of our good friend Jim, we were able to build relationships with Beale Street vendors for this event. We allocated six event sponsors and a title sponsor. In exchange for their sponsorship (which allowed us to offer the cash prize), we integrated each sponsor into the Clash for Cash. All media/marketing hosted their logos, and each Beale Street Bar was given the event of their choice right outside their bar! This provided entertainment for their existing guests, and business from the hungry/thirsty competitors and fans. For the car pull, a local dealership was able to provide a car of their choosing that was wrapped in their decals and contact information. Throughout each event, competitor set up time was spent highlighting each establishments specialties, promotions, and products. By turning this event into a mutually beneficial community event, everyone won!
Build An Audience: As the details were shaping up, we started a soft promotion of the Clash For Cash. This started in our very backyard. Strongman itself is a very entertaining sport to watch, but many people aren’t aware what it is exactly. From about three months out, I started talking to NBS members about it as well as updating the event page on Facebook with details/teasers about each event. Two months out, we printed off posters and hung those puppies everywhere in town that was a hub for entertainment. We made admission FREE and put the event itself up Beale Street, which is already a tremendous tourist attraction. 1 month out, we hit the radio and highlighted not only some of the events, but also some of the competitors and their historical accomplishments. Once people knew there were incredible athletes in attendance, we had their attention. One week out, David did a radio appearance and explained the event, how to get there, and what you could see. These cumulative efforts resulted in HUNDREDS of spectators.
Create an Atmosphere: This is one of the most important aspects of a successful meet. Once we had built the audience, we spent our MC time not only instructing competitors, but constantly getting the crowd excited. Explaining the events to new comers led to increased awareness of how incredible these athletes were. Highlighting competitors that were duking it out for first place also added a bit of heat to the fire. By the end of the day, some competitors had developed Beale Street Fans who followed along the entire event, cheering them to victory and consoling in losses. It was really a beautiful arrangement.
End With a Bang: We added a stand-alone event after the conclusion of the Clash For Cash. This event was a car deadlift that we opened to the public. A brief tutorial was given on set up, execution, and rules. From there, we allowed people to sign a waiver and try their hand at deadlifting a car. The overall winner of both women and mens classes were given a cash prize! While many were neck and neck for the cash, we have several people that simply wanted to leave Beale Street being able to say that had picked up a car! Following the car deadlift, we had an awards ceremony on the patio of Kings Palace, complete with a beer sampling of some of Memphis most famous brews. This was a very elaborate ending, and not the only way to go about this, but ending this meet with a celebration was a great way to see it through.
Everywhere you look these days, there’s another scheme at work.
“Get rich quick!”
“Lose 30 lbs in 30 days!!”
“New trick for six pack abs fast!”
Thing is, they’re all bullshit. Now, I know that’s a grand statement. Some things may have some efficacy here and there, but most don’t. You see it in the supplement industry, you see it in pharma, and you see it in rehab.
Whoa. Rehab? Yeah, I said it. Maybe not so much from the specialists, but this culture affects how people expect us to practice.
One of the most frequent questions I get is this: “I hurt X, how long will it take for me to be back lifting heavy?” The single act of hearing that question prompts quite possibly the least thought out response I can muster : “12-16 weeks”. Oftentimes, this may hurt the individual’s feelings. He or she knows I’m a physical therapist, and has heard people say how good I am at what I do. They come to me with stuff so destroyed I can barely wrap my head around it, have been told surgery is the only fix, and ask what I can do to get them back lifting. Here’s the rub: if you have a symptomatic serious injury, and a top notch surgeon says they need to go in there and fix it, I’d typically recommend you listen.
Otherwise, you’ll try all kinds of exercises, working around you injury, thinking it feels better a few weeks later until you try the movement that injured it in the first place, and BOOM, reinjury happens. Then you try something else. All that time could have been spent productively rehabilitating a post-operative repair and have you back in the game far sooner than expected. At this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking I’m a little angry and riled up tonight. Perhaps I am slightly, but I have a perfectly good reason.
At NBS, we have the luxury of amazing trainers and programming minds working hard to make sure the lifters and clients alike are receiving the best possible programming to achieve their goals. You will consistently hear people say “I have never done this, but I’m willing to give it a try.” They BELIEVE in the program and TRUST those at the helm that the process will work. They trust that all those reps, jumps, sore days and the like will add up to improved performance and better living through strength and fitness. It’s almost a no-brainer, and you see that same term bandied about by all those well known coaches across the internet. It’s a growing phenomenon. TRUST THE PROCESS.
Now, I really wish that we could make the same strides in regards to rehab. Nothing comes quickly when it comes to fixing you body. I can make some adjustments, stretch what’s tight, etc and provide rapid relief, but you have to continue to manage that tissue long term or it will go right back to what it was. It’s even more tedious after an operation, unfortunately. For 99.9% of the population which is not genetically elite, it will take time to heal, and then time to strengthen, and then time still before you’re back at it with the iron. Most post-operative reinjuries of repaired tissues happen 6-8 weeks after surgery. Why? Because that’s when things start feeling “normal” again, and people typically ignore their therapists and doctors and try to go back to daily activities at their previous rate. It just doesn’t work that way. You heal at a fairly fixed rate, and other than some exogenous hormones, there’s no way to speed it up. Listen to the timelines and stick to it. The PT will always progress you when they feel the time is right.
My main point with writing this is simple: TRUST THE PROCESS. Most physical therapists coming out of school today have a doctorate. It requires an intensive level of schooling to achieve, and I think that should garner a certain level of respect when we make recommendations to the progress of your rehabilitation. Now, some of us think differently than others, and may introduce certain exercises or activities earlier than others, but the bulk of the process remains the same: the tissue must heal before it can be strengthened. Once it can be strengthened, then one must take particular care to ease back into previous strength based activities or risk reinjuring tissue. Listen to your therapists. TRUST THE PROCESS. We are in the trenches with you trying to get you back up to speed. We want you to be able to compete again. Listen. Learn. Pass on. And once again:
TRUST THE PROCESS.
Stay strong my friends.
Taylor Weglicki, PT, DPT
Owner/Director of Strongman PT, PLLC
Finally made it back in the gym. I’ve been sick pretty much since last week, and then ended up straining my back attempting to transfer a patient when I was working over the weekend. Not my finest 7 days for sure. It also means I missed doing heavy yoke and some other rep ranges that I think would really help me get stronger. Thus, I’m re-doing the same week of training. It obviously served me well, seeing as I hit some decent reps with the same weights, but I struggled with my wind, mainly from congestion and stuff. Here’s what went down though:
Log Clean and Press, Clean every rep
Chest Supported Rows
OH Band Extensions
Rope Hammer Curl
Various Ab Things.
Overall I’m feeling better. Sore as hell today, but that’s mainly from a week of inactivity I think. Higher rep work is coming tomorrow, with some serious insanity this weekend. Hoping for a yoke PR on the horizon.
A Treatise Against Foam Rolling
Taylor Weglicki, PT, DPT
For some time now, mobility has been taking the fitness industry by storm. Everyone is too tight, we sit like crap, we move like crap, and only the foam roller and mobility workouts of the day can fix it. Now before everyone jumps down my throat about this, remember: it’s only a tool for the tool box. The way you hear some people bandy about on the internet, foam rolling/mwod could cure cancer.
I’m not saying that neither of these options is useful. Quite the opposite really: they can be amazingly useful, but only if done right. Mobilizing every day is useful for the absurdly tight with terrible movement patterns, and I often use this with my own patients – but only in 1-2 week intervals. Mobilize everything, everyday, and soon you’ll be dumping torque and tightness left and right. Literally.
My goal for this article is to discuss foam rolling in particular: why it’s good, why it’s bad, and why you should honestly think about why the hell you’re using it. This process in my own training resulted in a complete revolution in my warmup, and subsequently considerably less pain before, during, and after training. I’m hoping this article can help do the same for you. Now let’s get down to it.
Look at him. So supple. I bet he foam rolls every day.
Get Your Learn On
First thing’s first. The Science. Yeah, we fancy, huh? So, the scientific term for foam rolling is SMR, or self myofascial release. It’s a nifty style of soft tissue work often used by chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists for a particular purpose: INHIBITION. You read correctly folks, inhibition. So what about all those minutes of foam rolling you’re doing before your workout? That work is essentially turning off the muscle groups through a concept known as autogenic inhibition(1). Many people have experienced this in a different way. Everyone knows the feeling of going for a max effort attempt, and then suddenly it seems like your body simply shuts off. That right there, folks, is the activation of the autogenic inhibition reflex from the Golgi tendon organ to prevent muscle tearing, thus inhibiting the muscle and “saving” it.
The development of high tension is the key. Therapist will often use focal point tension on trigger points to elicit the same effect. Trigger point work feels like hell (as can foam rolling, but it’s highly effective when used properly. It can be therapeutic, but can also be detrimental to your performance. You do something similar when you foam roll at length. That’s why those nasty spots that feel so bad when you’re rolling suddenly seem to relax and feel better. You’ve inhibited the tissue and caused it to ease up on its focal point contraction.
Knowing Is Half the Battle
How many of you go attempt a max deadlift after a massage session? Or get under the bar for a record setting squat after being adjusted by the chiropractor? Hopefully at this point the NBS team has taught you better than that. You shouldn’t do it. If you go attempt to straight in to heavy work after inhibiting primary structures, something is going to fail. Could be muscular, could be ligamentous, but something will fail. On a similar note, then, why do you foam roll before a heavy workout? Why?
My major point here is this: THINK about why you’re warming up. Are you doing a particular thing for a purpose? Or because you read it was useful somewhere on the internet? Inhibition can serve to help us in certain circumstances, but gone (should be) are the days of foam rolling from head to toe for 20 minutes prior to training. It doesn’t make sense. So stop it, and attack your warm-up from a different angle. David and I both have options that should work pretty well. Feel free to come talk to us and ask. Or read any of David’s articles really.
But I Love It, and Can’t “Let It Go”
She can let it go. But does she even lift?
I’m not saying you have to give up your precious foam rolling completely. Not at all. I’m just saying use that noggin’ of yours and make sure you’re doing it with a purpose. On training days? Use it only to inhibit that which needs inhibiting. In most lifters, you’re looking at IT Bands, maybe adductors, and maybe calves. That’s it. Don’t stretch your back over the roller, don’t pop your midback on the roller before a workout. Just don’t. Mobilize intelligently and with a purpose. Best times to go all in on the foam roller are after meets, during deloads, or on off days. Feel free to roll the snot out of everything after you can after a rough ME day. Just be smart about what you’re doing on the days that you train. Your body will feel better, and you’ll perform better as a result.
Now get in there and lift heavy.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Cries of Outrage? Leave them in the comments section below!
Thus marks the first day of my evening training return. Waited until around 6:30 to head to NBS, and the drive took me 20 minutes instead of the hour plus it had been taking. I think I’m sold on late nights now. Anyways, went in still dragging a bit from a tough work week and not much sleep. Ended up feeling alright. Hoping to get plenty of sleep to catch up and subsequently go hard and heavy Saturday. Going to get some tips for my deadlifting from whoever is around that can help, as I think my biggest issue right now is technical instead of just weakness. I’ve got a heavy double scheduled so that should prove interesting. At any rate, here’s what went down Wednesday:
Various thoracic mobility, jumping jacks, etc.
Close Grip Bench
DB Incline Press
Toes to Bar (Roman Chair due to achy shoulder)
It doesn’t seem like much on these volume days, but they’re working. I’m gaining size and typically pressing more reps at heavier weights than I ever have. A triple at 255 not long ago is a big deal when my previous 1RM was 265. Likewise on Deadlift, I think once I get my technical issues fixed, my weight for reps is going to be ridiculous. We shall see. I have high hopes for tomorrow, and a cheeseburger to get soon tonight.
Just as a quick reminder, I’ve discovered the June contest date actually conflicts with a friend’s wedding that my wife and I will be attending. As such, I’ll be withholding my 2014 debut until the Refuge Barbell Classic August 2nd. It will be a very competitive and heavy show, and one I’m looking forward to competing in. Plus, it supports our friend Derek Stone, who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in the sport. Should be good times. At any rate, it gives me plenty of motivation to get my deadlift up. Opening weight for the medley is 525, so I’ve got work to do!