Wednesday, July 26, 2017

S&C Test Day


Once a month we have a conditioning benchmark, and once a month we have a strength benchmark.  Today is the best one for you: the squat. We're going heavy today. Coincidentally, just yesterday I was talking about how I need to copyright my special training method of Fibonacci lifting. That's a great warm-up for your test day too. Work with your coach to make a plan to hit a new max today.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

deadlift 8-5-3x5 - use this more like a warm up, even do clean pulls if you want to help warm up the quads.

Accessory/Skill

5 heavy swings between strength sets - don't cheat these, they'll get your hips warm and open.

Group Workout

squat to a new 1RM
compare to 3/14/17



Subscribe


Sign up for classes


Strength Metrics


Get Xero Shoes

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Avoid the system - it's for your own heath

Image stolen from my new doc.
Trigger warning: some people may read this as a political post. There is no intention of politics made while writing this. It's just a little insight into how I think and what I hope are some ideas that you can use to help guide your life. Or not.

I often joke that I'm a crazy government-hating libertarian, and Randy and I often get into political discussions about it. But the more nuanced view is that I'm against large central control no matter where it comes from - government is just the most visible form of it. Small distributed systems are more robust and corruption proof, some would say "antifragile".

Many of you are aware that Amy and I (mostly, Amy) are homeschooling our kids. The main reason is that the entire education system now is terrible. In the last two generations we transitioned essentially from one-room school houses with incredibly local control over your schooling to federally mandated teach-to-the test standards with no local control. I don't think anyone can make the case that our education system is keeping up with the world, or even simply doing a good job educating children. It's great at turning out mindless factory workers - at the precise time that factory work is going away!

Rather than fight it (you can't, the central control is just too strong), we're avoiding the system. Sure I'll keep paying my taxes - and it's really bad for me, I own a house in one of Colorado's most coveted school districts. So we pay to support a system that we won't ever use. I don't complain (much) about it, it's just my way of dealing with this system.

The same thing is happening in health care. We used to have much more local control over our providers and the services we wanted. Now it's all federally mandated standards of care that simply make you a cog in the system with essentially no options for customization to your preferences and needs.

I had a fairly serious illness about a decade ago, and I had cheap crappy grad-student health insurance. But I got the best possible care around and everything was personalized to what I needed. Other than the fact that I was sick and it really sucked, the care providers were a pleasure to deal with.

Now that we have kids we have to deal with the (trigger warning) post-Obamacare world. I have the federally mandated insurance that I need to have. I go to a provider that follows all of the standards of care. And guess what, it's terrible. Our doctor's office is over crowded to the point where they can't even make time to get back to you. The waits are bad, and the care is just check-the-box style of care. Just do what they need to report and report what they can to get reimbursed. FYI, the average caseload for a PCP that accepts Obamacare compliant insurance is 3,000 and the average face-time per visit is 8 minutes.

So we left that office (and all of the standard-of-care offices are pretty much the same - we've done some research). We're following the homeschooling pattern - though we (mostly Amy) aren't arrogant enough to think we can do this one on our own. We joined an out-of-the-system medical practice. Our new doc has a cap of 250-300 for her practice, and we spent more than 2 hours getting check-ups for all four of us (so, an average of more than 30 minutes).

Our new place doesn't even deal with the insurance companies. We pay a monthly membership and we get access to the practice. We can directly email our doc without HIPAA getting cranky, and she can give us advice over the phone. It's a wonderful experience. Our doc has a direct incentive to help us, because if we don't like what we're getting, we take our money elsewhere. It's not like having a third and fourth party in there being a buffer between our doc and us. Her costs are really low since she doesn't need to do any insurance paperwork, hire an insurance coder to maximize the number of ICD9 (or is it now ICD10) codes to charge for, or any of that overhead. The entire system cost is a fraction of the standard medical care system.

So yet again, I'm paying for a system that I hopefully will never need to use while also paying for my personal care. God forbid that we ever go to a (trigger warning) single-payer system - then there is no incentive to work with me since my money and my attention is meaningless. In fact, with the direct provider system, my doc has an incentive to keep me healthy - If I pay my monthly membership and don't use the services, she wins. In the current system, the incentive is to continuously treat but not cure anything, that way they keep the recurring insurance payments coming in. So while this personally costs me more, it is so much more in line with my philosophy that I have to do it.

If you can, I urge you to check it out - I'm sure there are closer direct providers than mine who is all the way in Denver, but I got a personal recommendation from an old friend who knows this system well, so that's why I'm making the trek out of the bubble. Or you can keep eating your hearthealthywholegrains and stay reliant on the system.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

squat 8-5-3x5 (hint: if you're coming in tomorrow, keep it lighter today)

Accessory/Skill

2 pull-ups + 2 dips between strength sets

Group Workout

6 rounds:
5 1-arm kettlebell swing 
5 kettlebell back squat 
*Switch arms each round, don't put the bell down

then 

3 rounds:
6 3/1000 body weight row
12 kettlebell halo + extension
6 pull up scaled to full ability 

then

2 minute double kettlebell rack hold




Subscribe


Sign up for classes


Strength Metrics


Get Xero Shoes

Monday, July 24, 2017

This week in strength.

Lauren sporting the new tank while picking up her yellow shirt.
We just sent out a newsletter with some mid-summer updates.  If you're not on our email list, you can read it here.

The strength cycle is winding down. This is deload week - or as Randy likes to call is "reload" week.




Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

power snatch 3-3-4x3

Accessory/Skill

5 push-ups between strength sets

Group Workout

4 rounds:
8 kettlebell full range high pull
8 goblet squat
0:30 rest

then 

5 minutes:
1 arm kettlebell swing clean
1 arm kettlebell swing
1 arm kettlebell snatch 
Weakest lift governs weight. Stay organized and powerful. Switch arms early and often.

then

2 minute Static Bar Hang



Subscribe


Sign up for classes


Strength Metrics


Get Xero Shoes

Friday, July 21, 2017

I'm coming around on the kettlebell back squat

Akshay demonstrating a kettlebell backsquat
I was skeptical about the usefulness of the kettlebell back squat when Isabella introduced it to me. I figured I should give it a try and see how it works, and what I'm seeing is that everyone is squatting better. I think having that off center weirdly placed weight is forcing you to really engage your core in a different way. It also highlights bad movement patterns and forces you to fix them right away. I like them enough to add them as accessory work in the strength program now. You can thank Isabella for that one.

Speaking of your core, you guys know I like to rant about not doing specific core work. Randy just posted his rant about it here.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

squat 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

2 pull-ups + 2 dips between strength sets

Group Workout

6 rounds:
5L, 5R kettlebell clean from ground
10 kettlebell swing

then

5 minutes burpees from the ground

then 

2 minute hollow hold



Subscribe


Sign up for classes


Strength Metrics


Get Xero Shoes

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hope you had fun with Amy yesterday


Short post tonight. I was down in Denver with Mark and Ron drooling over Camaros. Amy is lucky I didn't get one. We'll be sure to listen to a lot of Bon Jovi tonight at the gym.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

clean pull 5-3-3-3x3

Accessory/Skill

2 windmills between strength sets

Group Workout

10x2 max effort double kettlebell front squat 
As heavy as possible while maintaining proper mechanics. If position breaks, adjust weight accordingly.

then

5 rounds as quickly as possible:
5 Pull Ups
10 Jump Squats

then

2 Minute Superman Hold



Subscribe


Sign up for classes


Strength Metrics


Get Xero Shoes

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Evolving (and simplifying) my training philosopy

The first of the cheesy official yellow shirt presentations.
As we start our second year (see above, the start of the official yellow shirt presentations), I wanted to give a bit of an update of how our programming philosophy has evolved. I'm known for ruthlessly simplifying everything, and the programming at the gym is no exception.

Health and fitness before performance - With the exception of Randy's professional runners whose job depends on performance, everyone's main goal is to be healthy and fit. We don't need to be doing hyper-complicated training programs that maximize performance at the cost of your health. I often say that there is very little overlap between professional athletes and health. Be wary of programs that promise you elite performance - it will compromise your health and well-being.

You must be stronger than you are now - I say this so often that Melissa quoted me in an article she wrote for Transamerica. Our daily program always contains a strength component, and we focus on building muscle every day. As you age, muscle mass is a better predictor of mortality than BMI. You want to build a buffer of muscle so that it (and you) can last as long as possible.

Cost versus benefit - We stick to the boring movements - squats, presses, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, swings - that give you the most benefit for the lowest risk of injury. We stay away from the flashy Instagram-worthy movements that can hurt you if you do them wrong. If we do something kind of scary - like holding a kettlebell above your head in a TGU - we do it because it's really good for you.

Keep the variety - It's great that Isabella is excited about programming your conditioning workouts. I like boring workouts, and if it were up to me, you'd squat and row and that'd be enough. But a little bit of dopamine from the novelty is good for you and keeps you interested, so we get a little creative on the conditioning. Of course, that's after the all important strength work.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

press 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

5 Bulgarian split squats between strength sets

Group Workout

3 rounds: 
3 kettlebell swing clean (left)
3 push press (left)
3 overhead squat (left)
3 kettlebell swing clean (right)
3 push press (right)
3 overhead squat (right)
Weakest lift governs weight.  
Stay organized, focused, and keep your mechanics in check.

then

10 max effort negative pull-ups

then

2 minute single kettlebell rack hold
switch arms as needed



Subscribe


Sign up for classes


Strength Metrics


Get Xero Shoes

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The unspoken conceit of ANY fitness program


So I stole the title of this article from this post that I read yesterday. I've linked to Skyler's work in the past; he has a great perspective on smart programming, particularly with respect to doing what you need to stay healthy as you age. He has a bias towards doing as little as you need to - the minimum effective dose.

The reason I own a gym can be traced back to a great experience at CrossFit years ago (gasp!). This was before CrossFit is what it is now, so don't judge me. Back then it was all about minimum effective dose. Come in, do a 7 minute workout, go home. Of course, we now know you want to do more lifting weights and less looking like you're being electrocuted on a pull-up bar, but the core idea was there - just do only what you need. Of course, people felt like they needed more and what you see is basically a 1-hour aerobics class with the equipment changed out.

So why do I program a full hour of work instead of 7-minutes and go home? While I totally agree with Skyler that you don't need that much to maintain the hormone balance to benefit you as you age and that you can (easily) go too far and get hurt, there's another part of the gym that I like - the social, community, and mental aspect.

I've probably said a hundred times that the most important part of our day is the strength portion (and for those on the strength program, the most important part of that day is the main lift). The rest is not bad, but if you put all of your energy into the core barbell work, that's really all you need. But there is something extra special about spending the full hour at the gym, away from work, away from your other responsibilities, socializing with like-minded folks. That's why I want you to spend the full hour here - or more for those of you who like your bonus work.

The gym is not just a place to come in and put your time in and wait for the magic to happen. If you have that attitude, you really are wasting your time. But if the gym is your happy place, a place for you to reset from your day and connect with a group of great people - stay as long as you can.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

front squat 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

2 TGUs between strength sets

Group Workout

4 rounds:
10 goblet squats
5L, 5R KB back squat  
Rest if needed.  Don’t take more than you need. (Hint, go heavy enough that you need some rest.)

then

40 inchworm + push-up
Hold in top of push up for 3/1000 if you can’t complete 40 without form breaking.

then

2 minute plank hold



Subscribe


Sign up for classes


Strength Metrics


Get Xero Shoes