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.

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.


April 30, 2011

The workouts are going great, now what?


Something I haven’t done enough of  is stretching, before or after my training, or just in general.

I’m 42 and not as loose as I used to be. Being a 40something is no excuse for inflexibility, it just takes work. Honestly, it’s not that difficult. You just have to work it into your training. Even 5 minutes a day can work wonders. Just like exercising, 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes, 10 better than 5; you get the picture.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that there is a difference in stretching and joint mobility. While I’m about to probably over generalize, they both play a big part in functional movement, which should be what we all strive for, functional strength and movement. What good is it if you can bench 350 lbs, deadlift 450, but can hardly touch your toes because you’re so tight? Good flexibility will help avoid injuries. I’m looking into different ways to learn more about joint mobility.

I got some nice stretching and movement tips when I had my Kettlebell lesson last month from Michael Spain at Summit Kettlebells. Nothing earth shattering, but he gave me some moves that will help keep my hips and hammys loose, which will help aviod injury and just help me move in general. Tight hips, or hip flexors can be debiliatating, lead to back pain and decrease your general movement. We sit so much now, weather it’s behind a desk, or behind the wheel that it’s important to pay attention to those parts of your body. You don’t have to check into a yoga class and spend hours getting loose. Just a few minutes a day will reap great benefits.

Something else I just started using is a Foam Roller. One of the first questions that my coach, Sandy Sommer, asked me, was if I had one. I had sent him a list of all the strength and conditioning equipment that I had available. I didn’t include the roller, but it’s important. Being tight can get you hurt when you’re training. Check this video clip from Todd Durkin on recovery and rolling.

He posted this on Facebook a few weeks ago and I took it to heart. It’s a great video on the why and how to roll. I especially like the tennis ball on the foot. I tried it with a golf ball and it works nicely too. The nice thing about the foam roller is that it really helps lengthen your muscles out and will work on the muscle fascia better than just general stretching. Think getting a deep tissue massage. I’ve some mobility issues with my left shoulder and rolling on my upper back and sides really seems to help with the mobility.

A roller isn’t that expensive. That Grid one Todd used is about $40. The regular ones can be gotten for around $20. A small investment that can pay big dividends.

Blurb – planning planning planning

February 16, 2010

This will be a quick blurb, more than a post. I haven’t been posting at all lately. Time is precious and sometimes, like with your workouts, you have to make time for certain things.

Something I haven’t been doing this year is tracking my workouts. Last year, I went super simple and used a pocket calendar, 2 pages to a week. It worked great, I could plan and record what I did. I need to get back to that. One thing I’ve found out, without a plan, you’re spinning your wheels. In life, work, fitness, you need a plan. You have to be flexible and willing to deviate from it, but you need some sort of plan, nevertheless.

Not sure what I’ll do to track my workouts. For running, it’s easy, I have the Nike+ sensor that does it for me. Since running is a small part of my fitness plan, I need to do something. I found a log on Active.com. Think I’ll try that.

Anyone who reads this, please feel free to respond with any ideas.