Active recovery – what it is and what it isn’t

With Crossfit, blogs and the never-ending search for that something extra you can do to be better than the burpee-boi next to you the term “active recovery” is getting a lot of attention lately.

First of all, let me make one thing clear – the best way to get better than the next guy is 1) to stop comparing yourself to others and 2) to have a great training foundation – not to look for the “next big thing”.

That said – active recovery techniques have been used for a very long time to good effect. They obviously have their merit

I don’t usually do this, but I decided to throw up a couple of links to some studies:

Cold water baths not better than placebo. I’m not really sure how you can immerse people into water that they think is cold but isn’t. But! The study shows that neutral temperature water doesn’t work but cold and placebo works.

Positive effect of specific low-frequency electrical stimulation during short-term recovery.

So some of the common techniques do work and others don’t. Great.

The main problem with active recovery is not actually active recovery – it’s really not that much of a stretch to recommend walking, very light calisthenics or similar for recovery. The problem is a very common one – in the CF community in particular, it’s becoming increasingly popular to do “active recovery”. Only problem is – most CFers are already doing so much they don’t need “active” recovery, they need full recovery.

I regularly say that for most CFers the best training session they can add to their program is a nap. What most do though is take an idea that’s good on paper (active recovery) and use it as an excuse to train more.

Active recovery is NOT training. Active recovery should barely make you sweat.

As with anything it’s important to analyse your programming and look at what you’re trying to accomplish with a given element of the program. What are you trying to accomplish with a 2K swim? A 10k run?

A recovery day should put back points on your recovery “account” – not take away from it.

In direct response to a question on FB from Lasse about where to draw the line between active recovery and training, I’ll throw out a couple of guidelines:

  • If you have to go to the gym to do it – it’s probably training, not recovery.
  • Anything more than a light sweat and you’re probably training.
  • Unless you’re a semi-pro athlete, there’s probably no real reason to do AR (and even if you are, complete rest might be better).
  • If you’re not sure if it’s AR or training, it’s DEFINITELY training. 🙂

To sum up: you probably don’t need “active recovery” physically, but some people feel they need it mentally. Do as little as possible – a nap is probably better than pseudo-training for an hour.

Have a great (rest) day. 🙂

Must-read book on physical fitness

The sun’s out in beautiful Copenhagen and I’ve been hanging out with the baby and a good book. My wife works every other Saturday which means I’m at home with the baby. I pretty much always go for a long walk and as soon as Laura falls asleep, I sit down with a good book. Great way to spend a morning.

Recently I’ve had this puppy in my pack:
Fit is authored by Kilgore Hartman and Lascek – names you may or may not recognize, so I’ll give you a (very) brief bio on them.

Kilgore: Wrote Starting Strength and Practical Programming with Mark Rippetoe.

Hartman: is a doctor in Exercise Physiology

Lascek: Studied under Rippetoe and worked for him for a couple of years and runs Has written a small handful books.

These guys are not just random bums, they know which way is up on a barbell for sure.

What ties them all together in a way is their connection to Mark Rippetoe, though they’re very far from being mini-Rips. You’re not gonna find any “YNDTP” statements in this book, and you’re not gonna find any insults. These guys are very nice and the book is great and informative.

What really sets Fit apart is the parts on cardiovascular training and specifically multi-modal or cross training. This book has none of the “DO STARTING STRENGTH OR BE AN IDIOT”-bravado, but instead focusses on meeting the reader at a common ground. For most people, simply squatting, deadlifting and pressing all the time is not gonna get them to where they want. Most people want something that gets the heart beating a little faster now and then.

This books describes in a detailed but readable way how to implement different kinds of cardiovascular training or even (*gasp*) CrossFit into your training without killing your precious GAINZ.

I’d recommend it to anyone interested in strength, health and fitness. Check it out here:

Your questions answered

I regularly get all kinds of questions, and I often promise to answer them in future blog posts. Then I make a draft and I forget about it.

So I figured – why not just do a couple of Q’n’A posts?

Obviously, it’s gonna be hard to answer questions without questions, so I’m gonna need a bit of help if we’re gonna do this. Please send me your questions or put them in a comment and I’ll try to bunch them together in a way that makes sense.

Hopefully, there’ll be enough interest to do this regularly.


In-season training

Actually, I should’ve posted this before the Opens hit the world a couple of weeks ago, but with 14.3 out it became about a thousand times more relevant overnight.

During the season (however you define that) training should always be centered around the sport itself. You should never leave the gym all beat up and feeling mashed. Prioritize your energy and make sure you’re leaving something in the tank all the time. Leave the gym feeling fresh and make sure your normal training is focused on maintaining strength and conditioning.

Furthermore, if you’re a crossfittian doing the Opens, your “sport” will change on a weekly basis, it is therefore advised to do the same in your programming.

This week for example is a ridiculous low-back smasher from hell. Does it make sense to stress the lower back a lot in your other training? NO! Does it make sense to do everything in your power to minimize the stress on the lower back throughout the week? Hell yah!

Side note: whatever happened to CF workouts where the exercises would compliment each other and work the entire body like for example Fran? Drawing up a “bottleneck”-type workout is one thing, but when that bottleneck is the shoulder girdle or the lower back you’re asking for trouble.

Especially if your competitive season is short, always go for “less” instead of “more”. You’re not gonna get weaker by taking the foot off the gas for five weeks.

Just a quick Friday reminder to keep the goal the goal and on that note, I’m gonna finish up my resume. <3

Dear Brother

I write you this letter because I’ve missed you. It’s been way too long. Way too long.

See I let myself get carried away, and I built up a wall between us. A wall that I’m gonna tear down starting today. I, like most of the world, have spent way too much time figuring out how we’re different and what separates us.


We’re really not that different. We may have followed different paths in life, but honestly – we grew up in the same place. We have the same DNA.

Whether you’re into gymnastics, volume, intensity, hypertrophy, strength, MMA, powerlifting, speed, weightlifting or heck – even Crossfit… We’re brothers and I respect your decisions. I may not agree with you or your decisions, but like me, you’ve decided to better yourself day by day. You’ve decided to set aside momentary discomfort for better health, and a longer life. You’ve decided to be more.

For that, I respect you.

I’m sick and tired of seeing “x is better than y” or something similar and the internet is overflowing with it these days. My stance on the best form of exercise?

Even the best training regime in the world only works if you actually do it!

On my blog I generally advocate heavy strength training combined with some high intensity conditioning, however – with the current state of the world, you gotta be enthusiastic whenever somebody decides to simply pick their ass up off the couch and get something done. Even if it’s just going for a walk.

For some reason people who train in general have a tendency to be exclusive and to put others down. I’ll do my very best to end that.

I challenge you to support this noble cause – get excited for a friend hitting a new PR on a 5k run even if you’re a swimmer. Give a high-five to a stranger who just hit 15-inch arms, even if you’re into golf.

Stop putting each other down – support others and their decisions.

And don’t forget the love. <3

How to be a succesful personal trainer

A personal trainer has to be good at a whole number of things. For some reason though, most people think being succesful as a PT starts with memorizing Starting Strength, Supertraining and some Bompa texts.

While I do think the cornerstone of the personal trainer has to be a sound understanding of anatomy, biomechanics and how the body adapts to stress, there’s a huge dimension that’s very often overlooked:

90% (or more) of the people you’re gonna work with wont need Russian Super Squat Cycles!

For a regular person, it all starts with three things:

  1. Not injuring them.
  2. Motivating them to work hard – consistently over time.
  3. Affecting the hours they’re NOT with you.

Obviously you should continuously work on getting your client in better shape, but think of it – can you make a training program that’ll work if you’re not succesful with the three points mentioned above?


Do you work equally hard on all your roles?

The personal trainer has a handful of different roles, but most people seem to load up on the “trainer” and “programmer” role and go easy on “motivator” and “coach” role. Personally I’ve been doing this for way too long. I have about a billion training books filled with charts, programs and tables. I can recite Siff, Simmons, Rip, Wendler and others in my sleep.

Thing is – most people don’t need that. The way society has become, most people are so out of shape, pretty much anything will help them get in better shape. This is not an excuse to give people shitty training though – not at all and in that respect I’m happy to have taken the route I have. If you start out getting people fired up, but don’t understand when to hold them back and how and where to apply their energy, you’re dangerous.

As a personal trainer, you have three tasks:

  1. Help people feel good
  2. Help people lose fat
  3. Help people build muscle

Notice how none of these said “get them to squat x amount of weight” or apply “hardcore training methods” or even “teach the olympic lifts”.

Keep the goal the goal.

Oh and remember the love. I’ll be away for about a week and will probably not post or even get online much during that week. Stay safe friends.


Training For Warriors (TFW) instructors certification level 2 with Martin Rooney



I’d been waiting for this weekend for a long time.

It’s been about six months since I took the level 1 certification, and during that time, I’ve coached a 10-week course based on a template by Rooney. I’ve also had the opportunity to coach some of the top-level fighters training under our roof at BFG. I’ve implemented some of the principles in my training and I’ve applied quite a few of the Rooneyisms to my personal life. It’s been a great six months, no doubt, but as much as I enjoyed the motivational part of the first certification, I felt like I lacked some specific training tools. Here I was telling people to sprint without really knowing or understanding the sprinting myself.

Not good.

The second certification fixed that!

Day one:

As usual, day one contained lots and lots of Rooney’s great little stories. I’m not gonna try to give you a resume of any of them, because they’re his stories.

So what else did we do? Talk about the essences of coaching for one – that one was a biggie. I’ve been guilty of focusing on the wrongs things for sure.

Also, we finally got to the part about the strength training, that I’ve been waiting eagerly for. It was very good and insightful and true to Rooney and his concept. He’s not trying to teach anybody the technicalities of training at these seminars. He will however help you realize how to operationalize the knowledge you already have better and get more from it.

This is actually the entire essence of Rooney’s teaching – getting the most out of what you have (and getting more obviously). Maximizing your talent – becoming a bumblebee for lack of better analogies. Rooney also said directly: this is not about teaching you how to train – I already expect you to know that.

After the seminar, I went along with Rooney, Gunshow, Affe, Dennis, Nikolaj and Jonathan to Albertslund, where we watched Micki and Patrick fight. What a night!


Got back home at midnight (left home at 8 in the morning) – threw down some eggs and jotted down some quick notes before hitting the sack. What a day.

What. A. Day.

Day 2:


Just a short week ago I was talking to a friend of mine who took cert 1. I told him I was hoping the whole weekend to be about sprinting and agility, since I want to know as much as I possbily can if I’m to teach something. My friend was like “how much is there to know about sprinting?” The answer is: a lot! There’s a reason NFL-prepping is a million dollar industry. Sprinting is a sport in and of itself.

Rooney had some very great insights on the basics sprinting, and the group had great energy. It was fun and humbling for me personally to work on some of the agility stuff, but hey – it’s gonna be real easy for me to improve. Remember – Rooney was one of the first guys to prep american athletes for the pro leagues, so he knows A LOT about this stuff. What’s great about him though, is that he keeps it so simple. He’s not going to overload you with shin angles and foot contacts – focus is on the big picture and how to get somebody to 85-90% proficiency. You’re not going to learn how to get Usain Bolt faster in a weekend after all, so I found it great and refreshing that he focuses on what you CAN change and not on theoretical stuff that only applies to one in a million.

More (fantastic) lectures on coaching and of course the test. I got a perfect 100%. Go me. I think Martin said the class was split about 50/50 between people scoring 100% and people scoring 97%.

What a weekend.

I even got to train with Rooney Monday morning and we stayed and talked business for some hours afterwards. Really really eye-opening. I’ve been clinging as much to him as possible for the extended weekend, and have learned a lot. Not just about training.

About life.

Cert 2:

Cert 2 is not at all like cert 1. Where cert 1 will definately FIRE YOU UP, cert 2 will fill out the blanks. After the second certification, I have so many more tools to aid my coaching it’s unbelievable. His books also all of a sudden speak to me much more, as I can literally hear Rooney’s voice come to life when I watch the pictures in either of the books: “elbows in, feet out, core tight”.

To me, the second certification was more valuable and I know it’ll take my coaching to new levels. Not that the first one didn’t, but the difference in their nature is pretty big. One thing to remember though is that the teaching from the first cert has already been ingrained in me, I’ve already put them to good use. Much of that stuff has become second nature now.

cert 2

There is a problem with the second certification. As the recruiting base gets smaller (you must have the first cert to be on it), it’ll be harder to find people for the cert. That means it’s gonna be harder to get to one, and that they’re gonna be spread out more. Martin mentioned that he was working on an online level 2 which I’d recommend to anybody with the first cert. Since you’ve already got the “Martin Rooney experience” on the first cert, you’ll easily recall some of the fire he lit inside of you, just be hearing his voice and seeing his face. In a way, I actually wish I had the seminar online, so I’d constant access to Martin’s coaching (apart from the Dojo that is).

To be honest, you NEED the second certification if you want to work with the system. There are some but’s though:

  • It’s limited how much you can learn in just a weekend. The second certification will make you understand the system as a whole, but it’s not going to take a random person off the street and make them a great sprinting coach. Only experience teaching will do that.
  • If you don’t have solid base of knowledge and understanding of training in general, you’re gonna be dangerous. BUT! This would require you to ignore essential parts of the system – not doing something for nothing, getting people sore not better as well as safety.
  • TFW will simplify and cut out all the white noise. It can make a trainer a coach, but you need to be a trainer already and you need to have ambitions.

So what’s so great about this certification? Let me tell you what it’s NOT:

  • It’s not Rooney’s supreme ability to correct your knee angle at the bottom position of a squat. (Though I’m sure he’d be capable of that – we’ve talked a bit about powerlifting as he’s one strong bugger for sure).
  • It’s not because the system is really revolutionary. (Unless you like me think deconstructing the complexity of strength and conditioning and focusing on the results is revolutionary). 🙂
  • Heck, it’s not even really about Martin Rooney.

The TFW Resistance is about ME! It’s about YOU – it’s also about what WE can do. It’s about what Martin Rooney motivates you to bring out in you. it’s about being a better YOU. Rooney often says: “you know you’re a coach when you care more about the accomplishments of your athletes than your own” – Rooney cares more about elevating people around him, than massaging his own ego. Ironically, that’s lead to him having a huge following. Martin listens. He listens alot (at least he had to listen to my ramblings alot 😀 ).

While I’m excited about the much more concrete training knowledge I got at the second certification, it’s just as much about my professional and personal life for me. Martin is extremely competent as a business man and a very focused man – something most of us can learn from. His insights on coaching and the fitness business as a whole are great as well but most importantly – Martin doesn’t put down others. Instead of making fun of how little this and that person knows about training, he’ll study what they know about making a connection with their clients (or something different) and try to learn a bit from everybody.

I had a basketball coach many years ago who said: “if you can’t learn SOMETHING from a person – it’s not because of them, it’s because of you”.

So what did I learn and what impact will it make on my own training and the way I train people?:

  • Speed is a skill that I need to work on. This means using sprint drills as an extended warmup on sprint days and strength days as well. There’s more to running than putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Speed, agility and “movement” are essential parts of fitness and wellbeing – this might sound weird coming from me, but during the seminar it dawned on me that I’d actually much rather be able to do a perfect tiger crawl than add 2,5 kg to my squat. Why? Moving around on the floor translates really well into the life as a parent, and the mobility and stability gained from it is a great way to simply feel better.
  • Since I stopped playing basketball, my lateral movement and general agility has gone DOWN HILL. I move like a sack of potatoes. Luckily, that means it’ll be easy to get better. 🙂
  • For 99% of the people I’m ever gonna work with, I have PLENTY of training knowledge. What I lack is coaching ability and motivational skills. To paraphrase Martin – I already know broccoli is healthy, but I still haven’t been able to get everybody I work with to eat it. I’m so far from being the coach I want to be. This doesn’t mean I “know everything” about training, but simply that I have other areas that are in dire need of improvement.

I’m a follower without a doubt and while I respect Rooney a great deal, I don’t idolize him or take his word as gospel. I am however eternally grateful for what he brings out in me and I truly appreciate the insights he has after a lifetime of training people. Actually I signed up for his Dojo at 7am on day two, something I expect GREAT things from. If nothing else, I’ll see Rooney’s face and hear his voice on a regular basis. From a couple of days of membership though, I’m already satisfied.

Thank you Martin, you’re a great friend, man and lion!

I hope to see you soon.