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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Few and The Proud

Via Fight Geek:

There are no guarantees in life, even if you get up at 4:30 in the morning. This does not mean you shouldn't try. It is the attempt that leads to success. Those that try may fail; but those that do not try at all are destined for failure.

Before you back down from a challenge as yourself, "What's the worst that could happen?" Think of the absolute, most horrid scenario you can and imagine it down to the last detail. See yourself in the midst of this gruesome, unspeakable nightmare and live through it to the very end. See yourself emerge from the other side, unbroken and in one piece.

After this short mind-game, that challenge you almost stepped away from doesn't seem so bad.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Client Testimonials #1

Harrison Freund, 18 (Sept 2008, Chicago):
Thank you so much for the work you did with me over the past three weeks at Lincoln Park Fitness Center. It is absolutely amazing what we were able to accomplish in such a short time. I almost did not believe you when you said you could help me add 30 pounds to my bench press weight in less than a month. Aside from being a very knowledgeable and efficient trainer, you were also incredibly personable and friendly. I looked forward to every session we had together because you were able to make me feel motivated and comfortable at the same time. You always cared about my well being, and made sure that none of the routines were too stressful or too difficult. Our work together has helped me to pass my college soccer preseason fitness training, and there is no way that I would have been able to achieve such a goal without you. You helped to add 30 pounds to my bench press, 30 pounds to my military press, and helped me go from only being able to do 5 pull ups in a row to 13 in just 10 sessions! I hope that everything goes well for you this year, and I will make sure to tell everyone I can about the trainer that you are. Thank you so much again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Knee Rehab Update

I injured my left knee (MCL sprain, I believe) three weeks ago on Dec 23 and have been slowly healing ever since. Training around the injury has been difficult, but I'm now very close to full and pain-free range of motion. The injury put on hold my training program for the powerlifting meet on March 1, and I don't feel confident attempting a max lift so soon after a major injury like this one. Therefore I will not be competing in the upcoming 100% Raw Powerlifting competition this season. I feel like I'm copping-out, but I'd rather be viewed as a wuss than re-injure my knee and possibly do permanent damage.

I am going to hold off doing heaving lifting for a while longer and allow my body to recover completely. In the mean time, I thought I would focus on hypertrophy and physique. It has been years since I've done a bodybuilding-style program and thought it might be time to revisit that style of training.

I plan on doing an upper-body/lower-body split, training each muscle group twice per week, using light cardio and other Energy System Work to control body fat.

This will be a great experiment. I look forward to the results.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Random Medical News

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trainer-Client Relations

Via Back-to-Form Fitness:

Keith Scott believes that the Trainer-Client relationship is a two-way street. If you find a good trainer, be a good client, and stick with them for the long-haul. Good trainers are hard to find and if you find one, you'll have to pay for it:
Remember, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect major discounts either. Please remember that trainers are working for a living, just as other professionals are. In addition, most trainers get half or even less than half of what you are actually paying. The other part of that money goes to the “house” or the owner of the gym. If you get a discount, chances are, your trainer is taking home less too. The old notion that buying sessions in bulk should deserve a discount is outdated too. Would you expect to get a discount from your doctor just because you go to him or her a lot?
It's true that my services as a trainer are expensive. But it's also true that I don't take home all of what I charge. I have rental fees, continuing professional education, insurance, equipment costs and any number of other odds-and-ends that must be paid for before I get to bring home my pay. It's safe to assume that a trainer sees about half (that 50%!!) of what the client is being charged. In a large national health club chain, that percent might be even less.

Trainers are Allied Healthcare Professionals. We are not salesman and we should not be used as cleaning staff.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Importance of Failure, part 2

In part 1, I discussed the reasons behind why we fail and what our initial responses to failure are. In part 2, I look at how failure leads to improvement and redesign.

Congratulations! You failed. And after the failure you took an objective after-action review of the event and separated out all the useful information and discarded values outside your control that cannot be adjusted for. Now we must analyze the data and create a plan of action to lead to a desired outcome.

Step 1: Define the Problem
What happened during the trial period? Were you too weak? Too slow? Not enough stamina to complete the test? Was it the equipment?

Use the data and state a clear, specific problem to be worked on. Also, define what the problem should look like by the end of the next pre-trial period. This helps us label our "before" and "after" states for future comparison.

Step 2: Measure the Problem
What are the Problem's capabilities? What is your max bench press? How quickly can you run a mile?

Measure the current state of the problem as you've defined it. This will give you a baseline to gauge improvement against.

Step 3: Attack the Problem
Now that the problem as been clearly defined and its current capability measured, it is time to create a plan to get you from the current state to the desired state. Step 3 is a crucial stage and must be thought out fully. Look at the data: What worked? What didn't? Apply the Pareto Principle and redesign the program around the best ideas from the previous attempt. Discard the rest.

The plan of attack can be thought of as your training program, and should set out the specific sets, reps and distances you will need to perform at every session to get to your goal by the next trial. The program may be as short as a few weeks or as long as a few months. Remember that good training programs are (1) progressive--continuously overloading the body and forcing it to adjust to the new demands, (2) periodized--focusing on one training aspect before moving on to the next, and (3) appropriate--not harming the body or causing serious injury.

If you need help designing a solid training program, seek the guidance of a Certified Personal Trainer or Strength Coach. Email me for a quick consultation.

Step 4: Control the Problem
Closely monitor the problem and make sure it doesn't get worse. Compare your current state in the pre-trial to your original problem (the before) and your desired goal (the after). Are you closer now to your goal than when you began? If not, do not wait to make changes to the program: reevaluate the plan of attack and make modifications. Do you need to use more weight? Run faster? Run longer? Small changes to the program now can help increase the probability of meeting and exceeding your goals at the next trial period.

Step 5: Anticipate, Adapt and Improvise
The more times you cycle through the above process, the easier and faster it becomes. With each problem and plan of action you create, you gather experience and will begin to notice repeating patterns. These patterns allow you to anticipate complications and improvise solutions. For example--if you know the power rack at your gym is always taken after 5pm, you can schedule your training session earlier in the day to guarantee access to the equipment; or you can design a program that doesn't require the power rack to begin with, avoiding the issue altogether.

As long as we review the failure and define a problem to measure, attack and control, we can learn from our failures and collect experiences that will allow us to better predict and avoid re-visiting issues in the future.

Do not fear failure. Embrace it and accept it. Learn from it and grow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You vs. Nature

Via Straight to the Bar:

Guest writer Max Shank says the ultimate test of strength is not in the gym, but out in nature:
When you lift real stones, each lift is a battle. You and mother nature and nothing else. There are no handles on a real stone, and there is nothing easy about lifting it off the ground.
Plus, stones are free and available almost anywhere. Just take a trip to your local park or beach or "nature spot" and lift something. It doesn't have to be a big stone, either. Find a stone that's challenging for you and make a goal of lifting it. Once you've reached the goal, find a bigger stone and lift that one. Do this over and over until you run out of stones.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Importance of Water

Drink more water.

Every day, I drink 2-4 liters (70-140 oz) of pure H2O, and I'm always on the look-out for early signs of dehydration:
  • A dry or sticky mouth
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness, tiredness or lack of focus
  • Muscle weakness or fatigue
  • Decreased performance levels
I also use the "pee test" to check fluid levels: When my urine is clear, I know I'm well hydrated; if my urine is yellow, I need to drink more.

Many times, dehydration can confused with hunger. If I feel hungry, I first drink a glass of water. If I still feel hunger a few minutes later, I know my body truly needs nutrients and not just fluids.

Because I drink so much water during the day, I invested in a large water bottle from Platypus. Its soft-shell design means it takes up less space as I empty it.

But any bottle will do: Having water close by means you are more likely to drink, and drink often.

If you're not use to drinking large amounts of water, start slow and allow your body to adjust to the new fluid levels. You'll be surprised at the daily performance boost being well hydrated can offer.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Yea Baby New Year!

2008 is over. Bring on 2009!