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Are You Training or Trending?

I’ve asked my good friend and fellow strength and conditioning coach to help me out with some writer’s block.  Jonathan Carroll and I go back a little ways to the glory days of interning at MBSC.  Since then, we have stayed in touch and attended a few different continuing ed events together.  He has since moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and is now co-owner of The Movement Lab Raleigh.  If you want to learn something then definitely look into this guy’s blog and podcast!

 

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Since I moved from Boston to Raleigh and opened up my own gym I have realized there is a crossroads when it comes to selling training. A lot of people want what is sexy and social media does a great job reinforcing this. There are many trends such as “build your booty programs” and “high intensity everything” as well as “random acts of fitness” thrown together because of the gram! What isn’t sexy though is just plain old “good training”.

Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of the trends that we can embrace and make into legitimate training protocols to get stronger, just look at what Bret Contreras has done with hip thrusts. Hip thrusts were once an exercise that was scoffed at and are now more widely accepted as being a legitimate way to get stronger and build a powerful pair of glutes. My favorite trend though was and still is “Prancercize” – I use this on my recovery days.

Let’s address what exactly good training should include. Are you incorporating the following movements? A hip-hinge, squat, a push, a pull, and anti-extension, anti-rotation abs? At The Movement Lab we have these classified as our foundational movements. Once someone has become proficient at these we will then look to progress to our level two movements such as Kettlebell Swings, Turkish Get Ups and Kettlebell Snatches. The thing is, as a gym owner who knows what good training is – it’s not an easy sell compared to an instagram model in yoga pants and a smoking hot body who is doing the latest version of her for purchase booty program and magical unicorn supplement that has been proven to help a booty grow. In the words of Jay-Z, ” I Can’t Knock the Hustle”. However, when it comes to using a training program that will positively enhance your life, nothing comes close to accomplishing this quite like plain old good training.

A lot of people may want what is currently “hot”. If someone has an amazing body then that means everyone should do what they are doing to get the same results, right? Eh, not exactly. You see a lot of the fitness models on instagram or in fitness magazines are people who have won the genetic lottery. Their training alone didn’t get them that body, in fact they probably have that body despite their shoddy training protocols. Having interned and worked at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning you get to connect with a lot of great coaches who recognize what good training consists of. Simply put, that consists of doing the basics, really well and with lots and lots of practice thrown in. The programs these coaches as well as myself use with the people we train never really veer off course from the main categories listed in the foundational moments above.

You’ll get stronger, improve your quality of life, live longer and when combined with solid amounts of deep sleep and nutrition you’ll probably reach those aesthetic goals of yours as well. The most pleasing feedback from the people I’ve coached down through the years include things like:

“I haven’t felt this good since I was in college”

“I can play with my son and daughter and not be out of breath inside of five minutes”

“Last week my doctor took me off my blood pressure medicine”

You get the idea. I haven’t reinvented the wheel, it’s simply good training practices passed on and practiced over and over. Getting better takes time and in an age where we want it now and not a second later, doing the same program for a month can seem like a year to some. We incorporate the StrongFirst principles at The Movement Lab” such as “Strength has a greater purpose” which you can see in the quotes listed above. We also believe that:

“Strength is a skill”

Yes, you need to practice it. The key to reaching your goals in the gym rest in this quote, not an expensive supplement or a flashy new exercise. Learn the basics and then practice them over and over. To this day I still learn something new when I set foot in the gym. Believe me when I tell you, training is a lifelong process but also one heck of an enjoyable one.

With that I challenge you to explore your current training program and ask the question, am I getting better? You can still keep some main elements in your program constant without changing up everything you do. Here are some ways you can mix things up without changing what you’re doing:

  • Manipulate sets and reps
  • Add time under tension (eccentric, pause & concentric reps)
  • Body awareness. What muscles do you feel when you are performing different exercises?
  • Can you get into the required position to optimally execute a sumo deadlift or a double kettlebell front rack squat etc
  • Add a plus set as your last set in the form of AMGRAP (As many good reps as possible

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Don’t get caught up in trending fitness protocols and just keep training. Small steps are the way forward, Rome wasn’t built in a day. A lot of progress can be made in a year. Don’t believe me?Journal your training for a year based on a program from any good strength coach and you’ll see progress you didn’t think was possible.


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Jonathan Carroll
Co-Owner, The Movement Lab
857.523.9437
themovementlabraleigh.com
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Random Thought: HRV

I just finished up working with a group of peeps that I’ve been working with for the last 10 years–take a moment just to think about that one–and as I was driving home it hit me, “why do I measure HRV?”

Great question, self!

What the heck is HRV anyway?  HRV=heart rate variability, and it is something that I learned back in undergrad when dealing with the heart.  Somewhere around Exercise Physiology 1 if I recall correctly.  This was information so prudent, much like the Kreb’s cycle, electron transport chain, lactate threshold, etc that I immediately deleted the information from memory as soon as I wasn’t responsible for it (lost? don’t worry, these other terms aren’t the topic here).

If you really boil down what HRV is, it is the measurement of one QRS complex to the next on an ECG, or more specifically the R piece of that gathering of letters.  In a normal individual you would expect to find that from heart beat to heart beat they would be roughly the same.  This in turn means that your nervous system is regulating pretty darn well as that silly system drives each heart beat.  However, in fatigued individuals such as athletes, corporate execs, and just anyone who has kids or multiple jobs you’ll find that from beat to beat there are slight differences.  Simply put, your nervous system is struggling to keep everything regulated…just a bit though.

Why does this even matter?

If your nervous system is a little whacky trying to control the autonomic (automatic) systems in the body, then how do you think it will do with the controllable parts like the ever important biceps?  Knowing that you’re HRV isn’t so great could give you or your coach the ability to maybe take out a set or two, maybe even give you the day for active recovery.  You’re definitely not going to hit any PRs.  You’re most likely going to crash and get some sort of illness or hurt if you keep pushing it.  Think Seyle’s diagram where you’re overstimulated.  Or to the layperson, think pneumonia or mono.

 

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Not too shabby this week
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Notice the red and yellow??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can get this stuff pretty easy too.  Shoot, the programs basically tell you if you’re good to go, mildly stressed, or in need of a staycation.  You definitely don’t need an ECG/EKG everyday.  I’m not personally affiliated with any group out there, however, I do use Bioforce HRV.  I think that the owner is an incredibly smart guy and does his homework when it comes to the state of the nervous system and cardiac system which is what sold me ultimately.  There are holes here and there for sure, but ultimately it is pretty high quality.

Take your training to the next step and work smarter not harder!