The Path to Fitness II

Strength is something that you cannot substitute for endurance.  Strength is your ability to produce force over long distances.  Remember the distance is relative to your body so the farthest you can move something would be from the ground to over head.  The olympic lifts covered this in our last segment.

When we look at straight up strength development we want to use movements that allow us to use relatively heavy loads (it’s all relative to the specific person).  These heavier loads coupled with reps between 2 and 6 allows your muscles to get stronger while not growing too much (Ladies, read this).  This is a good thing.  Big bulky muscles get in the way of our lives and generally don’t offer added value (outside of aesthetics).  There are some good things that can come from building bigger muscles especially as we age, but we are all too young for that now, right?

We use functional movements for strength training which means they are movements you should see in everyday life.  For example the squat, probably the most functional movement on the planet, or the press which allows you to put things over your head, or the deadlift which allows you to pick up heavy things from the ground.  We use all of these with loads that are heavy enough to stimulate your body to create new neuro pathways and muscular strength.  This aids in more than just getting stronger (Men, Read this).

The strength portion of our training generally follows the explosive portion where we are doing some sort of jumping which helps the muscles become more active and able to produce greater force.  We use reps between 2-6 in order for loading to be high enough to create that stimulus.

In general, with any fitness program, the rule is strength before strength endurance.  At a basic level that means you need to have the strength to 1 pull up before you can have the endurance to do 10.  I like this idea and think it’s a good way to prevent our bodies from doing things it’s not yet ready for.  If you don’t have the strength in your shoulder girdle for pull ups, then your body shouldn’t allow you to do a pull up, right?

Next segment will look at Conditioning…

– Dutch Lowy

Wednesday S&C Workout:
Cl pull+Cl x2+1,
side plank x3;

Tabata:
AD/Row

The Path to Fitness

The path to Fitness is paved with a couple different stones.   Some of those stones are heavy and meant to be moved only a couple times a day and some are lighter and meant to be moved more frequently and faster.

The first stones we encounter along the way are heavy and meant to be moved only a couple times a day.  The movements we use to move them are meant to produce a lot of force while moving the weights as far as possible.  The first group of these movements are the Olympic Lifts.

The Snatch and Clean and Jerk.  The Snatch has been called the most athletic movement in sport and the clean and Jerk has allowed humans to lift over 500 lbs over head.  The only movement in which we have been able to do that.  These movements have the unique ability to both produce power and strength.  Provided your technique is sufficient, you will get stronger using the Olympic Lifts.

First, your power production will be improved by jumping.  Jumping with weight only makes that power production higher.  Jumping does a couple things:

  • Improves neuromuscular recruitment.  That means activating more neurons on your muscles.
  • Recruits more muscles and increase blood flow allowing for greater force production later in the workout.
  • Jumping with weight allows you to jump higher/farther without weight.

While Jumping is something that we always want to be able to do and jumping higher is just plain fun, there are other benefits to the Olympic lifts.   For just about everyone in the gym, improving flexibility and mobility would both help with performance and help you live a healthier higher functioning life.  By this, you will be able to do more and move better.  The olympic lifts, especially the snatch, will give you the tools to improve your movement.  We can use accessory stretching to aid with this, but with the goal of getting into better positions with the lifts.

Next segment, we talk about classic strength training and the movements we use.

– Dutch Lowy

Thursday S&C Workout:
SN pull+SN x1+1,
Goodmorning x6;

1k row then 12-9-6 reps of:
DB Push Press,
Box jumps

My … Hurts. Part II

The second type of pain is chronic pain. Chronic pain is sometimes caused acutely, but is not given enough time to heal or can be caused by over use, or poor movement patterns. You can see how fixing a movement patter would alleviate pain associated with a movement.

For example, if your knees hurt when you squat, maybe you are shifting too far forward into your toes and putting unneeded stress on your quads which causes strain on the patella tendon and over time will get inflamed and cause pain. This pain can be fixed with some time off and a correction of the squat.

Over use issues are also easily addressed once you figure out the movement that is causing issues. You can either modify the movement or balance it better so there isn’t quite so much tension around the area of pain.

Chronic pain caused by acute injuries can be fixed by taking some time off. The continual bombarding of an area of pain will only serve to make it worse over time.

Of course the decision as to whether an injury is bad enough to keep you from training is your call. I train with pain on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it’s good to do. I believe to perform at a high level you have to overlook a bit of sensitivity in your body, but if you aren’t interested in performing at high levels then maybe it’s a better idea to take some time off.

This video is one of my favorites and I have sent it to a couple clients already. It basically summarizes the above paragraph with one little shrug of the shoulders. The old guy in the video is a guy named Ivan Abadjiev, also known as “The Butcher.” He was the weightlifting coach for Bulgaria in his prime back in the 80s and 90s when they won countless olympic gold medals and so many world championships its comical. He created what is know as the Bulgarian Method of weightlifting where you train 2-3 times a day working to a maximum every session in either the Snatch, Clean and jerk, Front Squat, power snatch or power Clean. As you can imagine this would be quite demanding and he has seen his fair share of injuries. His response sums it up for me. If you can still do the movement, then it’s probably going to be ok…

Wednesday S&C Workout:
KBS x10,
Bent over row x8,
TRX knee tucks x10;

50 jump ropes,
200m row,
10 KB walking lunges,
200m row,
OH KB Carry x1,
200m Row,
KB suitcase Carry x1

My … Hurts.

Yea, mine does too.

Training is fun and rewarding and gives good results, but sometimes it hurts. Deciding whether that hurt is an injury or not is sometimes difficult. Deciding whether to take time off is even more difficult. Let me try to give some guidelines as to which direction you should take depending on how you got your pain.

First, Acute pain is usually not good. I am referring to pain that happens in a moment. For example, if you are running and you step off the sidewalk funny and twist your ankle, you feel pain immediately, this is not good and not something you want to train through. Swelling and pain usually follow and are signs that you should take some time off. Not just from the ankle, but from everything. The thing here is that swelling is a sign of inflammation and inflammation tends to be systemic (affecting the whole body).

So, training other body parts will likely only prolong your ability to heal the actual area that is injured. You can judge whether you have an acute injury by thinking about whether or not you can pinpoint the exact time an injury happened.

My recommendation for injuries like this (provided it’s not a broken structure like a bone or ligament) is to take a couple days/week off and let the inflammation subside, then test some easy low stress movements to see whether there is still pain or if things are getting better.

-Dutch Lowy

Monday S&C Workout:
Superset x3:
8 elevated pushups,
10 supine rows,
rest 90 sec b/t sets,
plank x3;

Round the World x2
1 min at each:
AD,
Row,
Sled push,
Jump rope

Weightlifting:

Day 1
Hang Pwr Sn x 3
Sn Pull from above the knee W/ 5 sec descent to knee x 3
FS W/Pause x 4

Day 2:
Pwr Cl+FS+ Pwr Jk x 2+2+2
Jerk x 2
Cl Pull x 5

Day 3:
BS x 6
3 sets of each exercise in order:
Pullups x max reps
DB/BB Bench Press x 12
Bent over DB/KB row x 12
Standing tricep extensions x 12
Shoulder flies x 8 each way

Day 4:
Sn Blocks x 2
Clean x 2
Cl Grip RDL x 4