90% of fitness is half mental…

July 16, 2011

In the spirit of Derek Jeter getting hit #3000 earlier this week, I thought I’d title this with a Yogi-ism.

Pick your favorite metaphor, but if your head isn’t into it, like anything in life, you’re going to have a hard time finding succcess.

I’ve just finished up a long week work and family wise and it threw my workout schedule off a bit. I’ve always tried to make sure my workouts don’t interfere with my family life. They’re important, but family comes first. Of course, my fitness is essential to being around for my family and being able to work to support them. It all goes together.

Weeks like this can really put a kink in your workouts, and it can be easy to not hit your goals during your workouts, or just plain miss them altogether. Exercise can to wonders for your mental state. I can’t count the times when I was a bit out of sorts and after a quick workout, I was a new man. It happened this week. The week was winding down, I’m worn out, my schedule  is off, but something about Thursday’s workout felt good. Friday, my work-stress level dropped and it was amazing the energy I had for that nights workout.

Your brain is a very powerful thing it can help you adapt and overcome, or with the wrong mindset, it can hamper your goals. That being said, I’ll mention a few thoughts on a conversation I had with my coach about this week.

I updated him and we were talking about next weeks workouts. I’ve been doing Viking Warrior Conditioning and wearing myself out, in a good way. It is intense, done correctly, and there is no way you can get more sets in every time you train. I actually missed one of my goals earlier in the week, but hit my last one on Friday. I got to thinking. On the day I missed, I got fairly close and on Friday, if I didn’t have 63 sets in mind, there is no way I would have hit it.

Which brings me to planning and Goals. Written plans and goals can help you get through the tough times when you are stressed or wearing down. What you want to do is already lined out and that’s just one less thing to worry about. Just go after what you need to do as best you can. As I said earlier, no way would I have done what I did this week workoutwise without a good plan already laid out.

Sun-Tzu says, “set the conditions of the battle before you begin” Good planning will help you do just that

Here’s to a stress free weekend!


Suicide by stretching

July 5, 2011

I came across this post on the MobilityWod website yesterday and the title caught my eye.  “Mobility is about position. Stretch with purpose, not to warm up.” Since my coach, Sandy Sommer, always says “Train With Purpose” I thought I’d give it a look.

It was awesome and included a great stretch for the hip flexors and for me, my quads fo sho. He talks more about stretching to get into position, rather that just warming up. Said another way, if you cannot get into a certain position, how do you plan to get there. Here’s a good quote from his post

“Don’t confuse mobility work with warm up.  You may need mobility work to be able to actually get into your                 movement positions, because sometimes squatting light does not actually prepare you enough for squatting heavy (in a good position).”

I took that to mean, that just going through the motions of the work you are going to do, won’t necessarily prepare you for that work. Can you get into the position you need to be in, to do the work you want to do?

My hips and glutes are tight. Getting into, and staying in a deep squat, as in what I’m attempting for my 10 minute squat test, isn’t easy. That can be an easy one to assess, stretch those problem areas and it should help me get there, right? Maybe. What about my knees? Lower back? Also, my left shoulder is a problem area. Do I work that joint? Sure, but what has given me the most relief is using lacrosse balls between my shoulder blades. I found ugly knots I didn’t know I had and BOTH shoulders are benefiting from that work with increased range of motion.

Take this episodes stretch and test.

It’s called the suicide chair, or couch stretch. It’s bad and showed me how tight my quads are.  Click on the link above and give it a try. Then grab a roller and work your quads like Kelly says in the video, slow, slow, and slow all the way from the knee to the hip. I’ve not gone that slow, that long, and yeah, it hurt, but when I redid the suicide chair, it was much better. Then, I dropped into my full squat and it was much easier. My heels didn’t come up off the floor as far as they have been and it was a lot easier to stay down there. Who would have thought a stretch and rolling like that would help a deep squat.

New toys, training like a Viking and the beginning of my 2nd coaching session

June 18, 2011

My first session of distance coaching with Sandy Sommer has some to an end. I’d definitely call it a success. I dropped a few lbs, deadlifted 250 pounds (never done that before, EVER) and my clothes are fitting better.

The program was simple. It was a mix of kettlebells, freeweights a little bit of my chinup bar and my jumprope. 4 times a week. None of the workouts were more than 30 minutes, except for the last few swing/jumprope supersets. Simple isn’t always easy, however. They were challenging to say the least.

I’m starting round 2 with him. There is going to be an emphasis on conditioning while maintaining my strength. Also I’ll be paying more attention to joint mobility. So important once you round 4o. I’d say if you pay more attention to it while you’re in your 20′s and 30′s, you won’t have to concentrate so much on it while you hit the big four-oh. Said another way, mobility, and fitness, is easier to keep and maintain than it is to get back.

That’s where the new toys come in. To improve my conditioning, I’ll be spending more time on the mVO2 protocol outlined in Viking Warrior Conditioning. I did that in round 1, but only once a week. My first week has 3 sessions. YIPE. This is where the first of my toys come in to play. I’ve recently bought a Polar heart rate monitor to see just how hard I’m working and how hard the mVO2 protocol will be working me. I actually got the idea from one of the kettlebell guys I follow on facebook, Faizal Enu. He owns Bayshore Kettlebells. I liked his thoughts on them, so since I’m about to test the upper limits of my CV system, I figured it would be fun to track. Check his blog out, he’s the real deal.

Toy #2 – this one is a simple one. Lacrosse balls. Sandy turned me on to a great mobility site, Mobility WOD. Kelly Starett, DPT runs this site and has excellent ways to keep loose and “supple like a leopard”. His words, not mine :) Anyhoo….. back to the lacrosse balls. Both gentlemen recommended them for trigger point release, or, in a simpler terms, to get to those deep knots that we all have living in our backs and necks, and who knows where. They’re cheap and easy to use. I have some shoulder mobility issues. The first day using the balls, I found a NASTY knot that I believe will help solve some of the problems in my left shoulder. It may not totally fix it, but I can already feel an improvement. I’ve been using a foam roller to help with those spots, but the lacrosse balls really target those tough spots.

One last thing, I’ve got my semiannual doctors visit on Tuesday. Bloodwork was drawn last week. I’ll be interested to see how my cholesterol and other important numbers are looking.

Do you take your health for granted?

May 28, 2011

Do you just wake up every morning and assume you’ll feel good, or be able to get out of bed?

I used to. Until Sunday May 15.

I’ve been working out very consistently since the beginning of 2008. Dropped 60 lbs and feel as good as I have in years. Yes, sometimes I’d overdo it, be a bit sore for a few days. Or, go play around too much with my High School Sunday School guys and pay for it for several days. 5/15 was different. I did my normal Saturday barbell workout with deadlifts and millitary presses. The ONLY thing I did different was change my grip. I woke up about 3 am Sunday morning and my left shoulder ached. Not out of the ordinary if I’m sleeping on that side, but my left side was up. Hmmm. When I got out of bed that morning, my shoulders ached, not the muscles, but the joints, as did my knees, my back, my hands, and my neck was stiff. I didn’t know what the deal was.

Obviously trying the VO2 max protocol was out of the question as it hurt to even lift my kettlebell. Over the next week the joint pain changed into muscular aches, getting a bit better each day.  Now, 2 weeks later, I’m back to normal, as it were. My forearms and hands took the longest to recover. I did go get some bloodwork drawn, which isn’t back yet. It almost a week before I really could lift again and almost two before my hands completely stopped hurting. Maybe I did do something with the grip change, I don’t know. Maybe I never will. It caused me to step back and think about things.

What would happen if my health went away? I assume that I will always be able to chase my kids,  clown around with my High School guys, lift heavy stuff. All things I take for granted. It just makes me more thankful for what I have been blesssed with, especially my health. We’re not guaranteed or promised another second past this one right now. Things can change, permanently, just that quickly.

Learn from the past, Plan for tomorrow, Cherish today!

What did I do?

May 16, 2011

I haven’t worked out since Saturday. I don’t think I over did it, but I woke up Sunday morning and my left shoulder was hurting and I wasn’t sleeping on it.

When I got out of bed, I ached. VO2 max protocol was out of the question. I didn’t know what was going on.

My hands hurt, meaning my middle knuckle on each finger. My wrist hurts where my navicular meets my radius, both wrists. My shoulders ache, AC joints. Knees, back, hips. Not muscular, but more joint pain. I think my hip pain is more muscular and maybe my neck. I’ve lost ROM for sure.

It’s Monday night and it’s better, but still not right. I can’t figure out why.

My deadlift and millitary press workout Saturday had a PR of 235 on the DL. I presed 115 once. Now what I did do was use a different grip, not utilizing my thumb. That may be the reason for my hands and wrists hurting. As far as my neck and shoulders. Still wondering.

I tried to snatch my 16kg one time today and it hurt just to grip.

Am I foam rolling too much? Was that new grip not a good idea?

Alleve isn’t really helping. Not like I’d like. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.

The end of week 4 and 1st half of my distance coaching

May 5, 2011

I just finished up the first half of my distance coaching. I’d have to say the results are great.

My weight went from 194 to 190. Pants are looser and I feel great. Cant wait to see what weeks 5-8 have in store. AND, Lana just bought  a new dress shirt for me. It’s a 15 1/2 inch neck, Classic fit Polo buttondown. I could get the collar buttoned. It was tight, but I could breathe. It wasn’t long ago that I was wearing 18 inch or 18 1/2 inch collars. Nice

A good plan, executed well,will bring results

In my last post I didn’t quite hit my VO2 max workout time of 13 min with the kettlebell snatches. Turns out I may have been sick, sinusy or something. It started the Sunday before, but I hit 12 min with no issues. This week I was getting ready to leave on vacation so I did that workout before breakfast and coffee. I had to stop after 9 minutes. Well I think I had some sinus issues also, which I’m sure didn’t help. I didn’t really feel right until Tuesday. Sometimes you don’t realize how badly you feel until you start feeling better.

Last nights workout was an easy one. Deloading

Millitary Press  45,55, and 65 x5

Deadlift  135  3 sets of 5

Workout 5 Thursday night

TGU’s 10 minutes alternating hands. 3 breaths at each position. 35lb bell

Jump Rope/Swing :30/:30 with a minute of rest. 10 rounds. I may have one 11. Not sure

Luckily, I left my ego at the door and did the swings with the 35lb bell. This was actually challenging, done correctly. I wanted to grab my 44.  Glad I didn’t.

I read an article this morning from TNation by Dan John. It was on tabata intervals. He quoted on the swing

“If you feel swings in your lower back, you’re doing them wrong and you need to stop. If swings make your hamstrings sing and feel smoked the next day, you’re doing them right and you may continue.”

It brought me back to my lesson with Michael Spain. He really tweaked my swing technique and I could really feel it in my hammys. It made me take stock of my form again and make sure I did it right. Choosing qualtity over quantity or poundage was the correct choice.

Week 4 weekend workout

May 1, 2011

Week 4 begins of my coaching sessions. It’s also the end of the first half of that session.

I’ve definitely made progress, dropped a few lbs – I saw 189 this morning. I was 194 when I started. We’ll see how that holds as I’m about to leave on a short family trip. I feel stronger for sure. My workouts have been progressing a bit each week with the volume and weights I’m using. But not so much as to make me feel like I’m overtraining.

Saturday barbell workout

Millitary Press

 45, 55 x 5, 65 x 3

85  x 5, 95 x 3, 105 x 1


135 x 5,5 135 x 3

180 x 5, 200 x 3 and 225 x 1

I posted a video in my last deadlift session,which was critiqued by my coach. I was pleased to hear my form wasn’t bad. All I needed to do was drop my tail a bit. No problem, easy enough fix.

Sunday VO2 max protocol

35lb Kettlebell snatches :15/:15 for 13 min, or 26 sets   EPIC FAIL

Since, I’m going on vacation today, I got up early, before church, and did my VO2 workout. Or at least attempted it. I didn’t get close. I hit 9 minutes and really started to struggle. Had to rest, tried to finish the last 4 minutes, but couldn’t do it. Not sure if it was because I wasn’t awake/warm enough, shouldn’t have done this before breakfast or my coffee. Who knows.

Another fitness buff that I follow on facebook, Jedd Johnson, says: “Misses aren’t failures, they’re just warmups!”

So there ya go. I didn’t hit that one. I’ll knock it out of the park on the next one.