Rationality. Be rational!!

Rationality doesn’t exist. There I said it.

hiphop

 

Let me clarify – rationality as some kind of factual an omnipresent truth does not exist. There is no right or wrong way to perceive a situation.

Contextuality is everything and acknowledging this is extremely important.

What does this non-sense mean? How does it apply to training?

Though Rollins famously said “200 lbs is always 200 lbs”, I’ll add something to that: “200 lbs is never gonna feel like 200 lbs”. Every time you pick up a given weight, it’s gonna feel different. Every time you eat a given meal, it’s gonna taste different. Every time you hug your loved one, is gonna feel different.

We’re constantly changing and our emotional states influence our perception of the world to an extreme degree. That’s why we put numbers on weight plates. That way, if you load up 201 lbs, you KNOW it’s heavier than the 200 lbs you lifted yesterday. It might feel lighter, it might feel heavier and it might feel exactly the same.

Martin Rooney said to me: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Measuring the right things consistently will make a huge difference in your training in as little as four weeks.

Some suggestions that’ll help you establish a good base:

  • Weight on the bar. (this one’s a given for most)
  • Bodyweight (+waist measurement)
  • Heartrate for cardiovascular training
  • Calorie consumption

Don’t rely on your irrational perception of the world. Use numbers – they work. πŸ™‚

Oh and give someone a big warm hug today (but please don’t just randomly hug a stranger).

 

Why I run 10k every week!

You probably read this post on fat loss.

This one takes off where the other one finished. I recently stumbled across some numbers that I wanted to share with you, so decided to come back to this topic.

See when I was around 18, I was done growing vertically. I was 185cms and somewhere around 75kg. Today I’m sitting at a leaner 92kg. Using conservative numbers, I’ve gained 15kgs of muscle mass since I was 18. One kilo of muscle mass burns about 10kcals/day, so I’m burning an unimpressive 150kcals more than I did when I was 18.

Go me! I’m a fat burning furnace!Furnace1

150 kcals is roughly 350g of green beans or 2 table spoons of olive oil. It’s next to nothing.

BUT. If we multiply the 150 kcals by 7 – I end up burning just above 1000 kcals every week, which is pretty much exactly what I’d burn, if I ever ran a 10k.

That’s a 10k run without even leaving my bed. Actually, as soon as I start to move around, the kcal expenditure increases exponentially, which only makes the point stand out even more.

So while I’m on my ass trying not to burn even more kcals, the cardio bunnies are out running. Thing is – I never have to find the time and I can’t skip my run when I’m lazy.

Build muscle, burn fat and get more time in the process. <3

Are you focusing on the wrong things?

This Saturday I was out running hill sprints and doing some calisthenics and I had a moment of clear insight. As those are few and brief for me, I scribbled down a few notes as soon as I got home.

What I realized is that while I think planning is great, too much planning isn’t. You don’t get bonus for the most detailed plan, just because it’s detailed. You get better from having a better plan, not a more detailed one.

While limiting your choices is often a great way to allow yourself to focus on what’s left, OCD really isn’t doing you any favors.

So what actually happened out on that hill on a Saturday morning? Well instead of aiming for a fixed number of sprints, I stayed within the overall plan, but without aiming for an arbitrary number of sprints. Instead I did a bunch of 5-10s sprints, started when my heart rate was 130 and kept going until I felt I’d done enough. To keep things within the overall plan, I’d also set a hard cap at 500kcals burned, to make sure I didn’t get carried away. Simple as that.

Maybe I did more sprints than I usually do, maybe I did less. I kept quality high and went home when I felt power was declining.

For me, these weekend sessions have no measurable end goal – I do it because I like it and to keep my cardiovascular capacity at a decent level. For no particular reason other than I like to. There’s no point in over complicating that.

square peg

The same principle can be transferred to training. Ask yourself this question: “why am I doing sets of 3, 5, 8 or 10 repetitions?” “why am I doing 3 or 5 sets?” Why not stop at 4 sets if you’re having a bad day? Why not do 7 reps if you’re firing on all cylinders? Or an extra set? Why not skip the assistance work if you’re dragging yourself around the gym?

Most of the numbers we use for training programs are based on part science and part trial and error, but many of them are also based on OCD.

I suggest you worry more about quality of your reps and sets than quantity. Auto regulating is an essential part of a successful training career.

Training programs are templates, nothing should be set in stone.

Three exercises you should never, ever do.

First of all, let me explain how I approach exercise selection. The most important part of an exercise is that it can be done relatively safe. That doesn’t mean there’s no risk involved at all, but the rewards have to exceed the risk by a huge margin.

Even if an exercise was the best thing under the sun, I probably wouldn’t do it if it involved a significant risk. I’m all about longevity and playing it safe.

While I do think you have to practice what you compete in (if you do), this post is aimed at the general trainee, who doesn’t compete. Competing will always include a certain risk – take for example baseball pitchers – their shoulders take a beating from all the hard throws. They still have to practice their sport though, so using physical training to counter the side effects of the throws would probably be a good idea.

Likewise, if you compete at CF, you have to do these exercises. Still, know the risk and program them intelligently.

  1. Box jumps forendless reps. Number one on the list because it does absolutely nothing you can’t get elsewhere yet it involvesFS_STOP_S.T.O.P__23399.1332884842.1000.1000 a significant risk. Bloodied shins and torn achilles tendons are the most common injuries. Cure: don’t do them, or stick to sets of low reps with ample rest.
  2. Kipping pullups: By throwing your hip into the movement, you place your upper back in a position it’s not strong enough to handle. There’s also a tendency for people to poke the head forward like a pigeon. Over time this exercise will wreck your shoulders. Cure: do them strict. Can’t? Get stronger, lose weight.
  3. Kettlebell high swings. As with the kipping pullups, pulling up high instead of stopping at shoulder height will often make people stick their head forward. Bad idea. The swing is a hip-hinge exercise and shouldn’t involve any pulling with the arms/shoulders. Doing a “swingpress” is even worse. Cure: Don’t do high swings.

What you have to ask yourself is “why am I doing this exercise?”, “will it get me closer to my goal?” and “can I get hurt doing this exercise?”. Adjust based on your answers. The three exercises mentioned are just examples.

Remember that “getting an injury” probably isn’t on anybody’s short list of goals, so try to make training as safe as possible for you and your clients.

On that note, have a great weekend. <3

Dan John’s “Intervention” – a(nother) book review.

Just four short days ago I got Intervention in the mail. I managed to sneak in quite a bit of reading time over those four days, but the book is very easy to read and understand. But it’ll grow on you as you apply its principles.

If you don’t already know DJ, you’re missing out. He’s a phenomenal writer and an absolute top-tier coach.

It’s very hands-on and practical and offers a ten question checklist and five principles you can apply to anybody. Very easy to use, but amazingly precise and innovative in its own simplistic way. That’s the beauty of DJ’s writings. Everybody can understand it, but getting to the realizations yourself might take a lifetime of training. Speaking of lifetimes of training, DJ has one on his resume and it shows.

This is by far THE best book on coaching myself and others I’ve read for a long time, and I’d say it’s a must-read for ANYONE who teaches any kind of fitness at any level. It’s that good.

It’s the kind of book you read and re-read several times over an extended period, because it’ll grow with you. It also doubles as a great source for looking up specifics.

This actually reminds me I need to read Never Let Go again. For aspiring coaches and self-trained athletes, I suggest you get Intervention first and work with the principles for some time. Never Let Go can be used for added flavoring.

The book is just extremely well-written with a great approach to teaching the five basic movements (push, pull, hinge, squat and carry).

Read it soon rather than later.

Another post on hill sprints

By now, you know I’m a big fan of running hills.

I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I structure my sessions. I try to get out on the hill once a week, and I don’t use any form of waves or anything fancy. I lower the volume leading up to competitions or during particularly hard weeks though. Other than that, I try to slowly work my way up to 15-20 sprints over and over again.

My big hill

When I’m on my own, I use a heartrate monitor to (duh) monitor my heartrate. πŸ™‚

After warming up, I sprint halfway up the hill in the picture (about 50-55m) and I walk back down. When my heartrate comes down to 130-140 I run again. I currently have three programs I use, 10 sprints from 140 BPM, 15 from 135 BPM and 20 from 130 BPM.

I run to my hill (around 1300m), do some quick swings and running drills for about 5 minutes and get to work. I usually do five really controlled runs, then ramp up the intensity from there. I rarely do more than 5-10 actual all out sprints. Obviously, this number increases as conditioning levels do.

Once in a while, I’ll be out there with friends and then all the good intentions in the world go down the drain. We usually run all the way up for anywhere from 10-20 sprints. This is murder! You need to have a special mindset for this type of session and you pretty much need to do them with a partner. I’d guesstimate that I do 3-6 session on my own for every one session with a friend.

These sessions are great fun, but they’re honestly often more of a competition than real training. They represent a bit bigger of a stress than I usually prefer anyways. Just like you go in and lift heavy every now and then, or hammer yourself with a ton of volume, you can do the same thing with the sprints. Just remember to get plenty of fluid and food in you afterwards.

Happy sprinting!

Jim Wendler “Beyond 531” a review

“Go be average on your own time, Fitness Hipster. We are training, not fitnessing”

I’ve been a fan of Wendler’s writings for a long time. I’ve previously detailed some thoughts about 531 and CF in this post.

Pretty much out of the blue (at least for me) Wendler launched “Beyond 531” a few days ago. I loved the original book, but found the 531 for PL and the 2nd edition to be a bit disappointing.

beyond-531-cover1

As soon as I got the book, I dug into it and I managed to finish it in a couple of hours of reading. As usual, Wendler’s style is easy to read and comprehend, while still offering plenty of detail to get the exact point across.

Wendler continues to repeat the mantra of training maxes, starting light and beating rep records, but also really goes in-depth with the importance and application of mobility and flexibility work. He even suggests yoga! πŸ™‚

The variations:

What really sets this book apart from the others is the ENORMOUS amount of spin-off routines. Want more volume? Higher intensity? back-off sets? It’s all there. In several different formats. There are actually so many variations that picking one could be a problem in itself. This also opens up the possibility for the more experienced lifter to mix and match approaches, which is something I really like personally. I’m not a huge fan of pushing my SQ and DL to the limit every week, but I would like a bit more volume than the original program. Even though my training is loosely planned until November, I’ve started drawing up a routine for myself based on some of the variations.

The variations include : SSS (strength, speed, singles), Full Body, Spinal Tap training, five different deloads (to make them suck less), First set last, pyramids, dynamic work and paused work.

There’s more too.

The “joker” sets:

The joker sets is a completely new concept, that allows you to go outside of the program and really push it a bit more if you’re having a great day. This is great.

Unless you’re a fucktard obviously. More on this later.

Challenges:

Most people like challenges and short 4-6 week programs are extremely popular. Probably because most people really can’t handle the thought of trucking along with the same program for years. Ironically, that’s very appealing to me, though I’ve managed to fuck up 531 with my extreme idiocy I feel like I’ve matured and I’m now at a point where I can get it to work. Especially with all the variations.

Back to the challenges. There are 5: The BBB (aka hypertrophy) challenge, the strength challenge, the Prowler challenge, the 100-rep challenge and the 531-rest/pause challenge. Combined with all the variations, there’s just so much stuff to keep you entertained.

The philosophy:

Wendler has a unique way of passing on his experiences under the bar. His recommendations are sensible, without being overly conservative and are based on good old-fashioned lifting, running and stretching. Nothing really fancy here, just hard work and dedication. We all need more hard work, more dedication and more consistency.

The “problem”:

There’s just SO MUCH STUFF! Seriously. There’s gotta be training programs, challenges and variations to keep you entertained for some four or five years. Do you even have the mental capacity to envision where you’ll be at in five years? πŸ™‚

Another problem is with the joker sets as you can potentially fuck up everything with these. They’re an extremely powerful tool for the smart lifter, but I’m pretty sure they’re gonna kill a Crossfitter or two along the way.

If you’re a fucktard, don’t do joker sets. πŸ™‚

Heavier weights:

What many people find “boring” in the original program is that it’ll take you so long to get to the 1-3 rep range where they think they build strength. Obviously you also build strength in the higher rep ranges, but yea – people like lifting heavy stuff. This book has at least a handful different variations, that allow you to hit weights at or above your training max. How’s that?

Who’s this book for?

The title suggests that it’s for people who completed 531 and/or are “done” with the program, but that’s far from the truth. “Beyond” in this sense means “building on” or “what I’ve discovered through 5 years of using the program”.

The book is for beginners and advanced lifters looking to take it back to the basics and work hard on the main lifts. The programs in the book will get you strong and big no matter who you are.

Summary:

The original book was an eye-opener for me and it represented a different approach to training entirely. It had some limitations, mainly that the outline was very basic and open to interpretation. This new book fixes that with a massive amount of templates. It builds on the original book so nicely that you sort of wish 531 for PL and 2nd edition never really happened. You close your eyes and forget them, and for that brief moment, the stars align. This book will give you the tools to structure your training towards any kind of goal for life. For life. You don’t really need anything else (but I sure do recommend that you keep reading).

Buy the book here.

This book is definitely worth the money if you’re into strength training. No doubt about it.

PS: there’s no mention of Crossfit at all. Thank you Jim! <3