Your questions answered part two

HEY NOW!

After posting this thread, I’ve received a small handful questions, so I figured it’s time to answer them. Keep shooting questions my way. 🙂

Daniel asks:
How do you become a personal trainer? Where to start? Fitness instructor classes? Certifications? Books? Something completely different? Where did you start?

I started training people whan I was 16-17ish. Back then I played basketball and coached a youth team. When I had my first PT client, I’d trained with weights for ~15 years and had trained CFers for a couple of years. I had no certifications or anything of that nature at the time.

I think it all starts with being a student of the weights. You start off by reading as much as possible and you try to play around with it in your own training. Gradually you learn more and more and at some point people start asking you for advice.

There are many PT-courses and to be honest I don’t know any of them personally. I believe in old-fashioned strength training, and none of the courses teach that. If anything, I’d look for a weightlifting club and try to get to some seminars that way. Most weekend seminars are meant as inspiration and upgrades for an experienced trainer.

In my eyes, nothing beats experience with what you’re trying to teach. No matter what it is.

Kasper asks:

What’s your position on TUT for a newb?

Short and sweet question.

To be honest I’m not really that concerned with TUT for a beginner. Weights should be controlled and that’s the main goal. For some very specific exercises in very specific cases, I’ll play around with tempo a bit, but for the most part, there are more important things to worry about (for the beginner).

Høkni asks:
What is your stance on steroids?
– Use of AAS in professional bodybuilding to retain a competitive edge. I think there are some fun philosophical considerations one could make here.
– Use of AAS by natural bodybuilders. Henning Kristensen.
– Use of AAS by fake natural bodybuilders on YouTube.
– Use of AAS by non-competing and competing hobby bodybuilders.
– The anti-doping policies in Denmark. Do you think it’s fair that non-competing hobby bodybuilders are prosecuted.

Yoinks!

My stance on steroids is pretty simple – as long as you’re not competing in a drug free sport, I don’t care what you’re doing. If you however lift under the IPF for example, I think you should be clean. Not “able to test clean” but clean.

I don’t really care about pro bodybuilding. They’re massively juiced and that’s just how it is. As for Youtube-bodybuilders and Henning I have no opinion on that. I don’t know who’s natural, “natural”, NATURAL or not. In general I think it’s a farce though.

Hobbybuilders? They can do whatever they want, I don’t care. This also answers the last part of the question.

I don’t really have much to say about AAS. I find it immoral to compete against clean lifters if you’re not, but since I only compete against myself it doesn’t interest me that much.

I know this wasn’t the answer you were looking for, but the reality is that it’s not really something I think about.

David:
What differentiates programming of intermediate lifters from beginners?

Submaximal volume.

The addition of volume at more moderate intensities. Typical beginner programming will have them do sets of five at a heavy weight. For an intermediate you’re not going to be able to increase the loads from workout to workout, so you’ll have to introduce some lighter days. The texas method is one way of doing this. Personally I’m using a hybrid between 5/3/1 and TM right now, where the intensity day follows 5/3/1 and the volume day is typically 5 sets of 5 at 75% of training max. Though I don’t concentrate all my heavy lifting on one or two days, the setup is pretty similar to TM.

Sheiko’s programs would also be great for an intermediate lifter.

 

That concludes the first round of questions and answers. Some very different and interesting questions indeed.

Thank you for sending in great questions and for your support.

<3

You’re not a coach!

Through a life of athletic adventures I’ve had good and bad coaches as well as non-coaches. To me being a coach is a badge of honor. It’s not the same as being a trainer – a coach is much more than that. A coach is a trainer, a role model and a mentor.

Instead of going on for hours on the finer aspects of what I consider good coaching, I’ve made a good coach/bad coach table.

[table id=1 /]

Some of these points will be touched upon in later posts, as they may be more complex than they seem. Others are pretty straightforward.

Basically, I’m of the opinion that as a coach, your primary responsibility is to inspire, motivate and better your athletes. Improving technique is a very important aspect, but in my perspective it belongs at the “trainer” level. That said – a great coach is not just a great coach, he’s also a great trainer.

It’s also quite obvious that I seriously dislike the “drill sergeant” type of coach, who wants authority and uses it to punish and scare the shit out of people. Not only is the athlete/client oftentimes technically the trainer/coach’s boss, but it’s also a safe way to lose respect. When training dogs, you use treats exclusively – why be any different with humans?

I’ve seen my share of bully-benchings and other nonsense (90 minutes doing nothing but shuttle runs because of a bad game?) and I’ve also seen what it does to the coach/team chemistry. You should always have a reason for the things you do with your athletes. More on this in another post.

This is not meant as an exhaustive checklist. Actually I could think of specific scenarios where some of the “don’ts” would be appropriate.

However!

If your trainer fit into a small handful (or more) of the “bad coach” points – I’d suggest that you find a different person to spend your money with. If you just realized that you’re “that guy” – better start working on getting better.

Thanks for reading this post to the bottom and thanks for the support. Have a great day. <3

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.

 

Famez version 3.0.

If I can change, and you can change – everybody can change!

Rocky himself said that. The world’s best boxer ever. So it’s true.

If you knew me just some 6-7 years ago (and you probably didn’t, since I only have about a handful friends left from back then) you probably looked at me and thought “what a fucking waste”. At the time, I was dead sure (dead sure) I wasn’t gonna see thirty.

Today I handed in my master’s thesis and I have a beautiful wife and daughter. Life is good.

I’m working on a big post on how to re-wire your brain to create lasting changes, it’s a huge work in progress and it’ll also go into my past a little bit. But it’s coming. This week though, I’m going to New York to just chill the fuck out, so I probably wont post on the blog for about a week.

I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this proverb before, but I really like it and it really can’t be said too often:

The best time to plant an oak tree is ten years ago or today.

The best way to become something else is to force yourself into it and go with the flow. It’ll become second nature at some point.

Pour your heart into what you do, and you will become succesful.

Love! <3

Body transformations

This past weekend, I went to see a good friend of mine to train with him. As usual we brought out the strongman gear and went at it in his backyard. Great times were had, as we played around with log presses, a HUGE fucking hammer (16kg head on a 2kg shaft), some light tireflips and some heavy (60kg) sandbag bearhug carries. Great workout for the entire system.

After training, we sat down for a cup of coffee and talked about stuff. One of the topics we touched was body transformation projects, something that challenged my view on training and life a bit.

With the people I work with, I obviously help them transform their bodies. However – I personally don’t really care much about appearance, and that reflects on my programming and coaching. What I fail to realize is that 9/10 just want to look good naked. Some of the best feedback I’ve gotten from people I work with is along these lines:

“I was able to carry my luggage and my daughter easily”

“I don’t get back pain anymore”

“I feel much stronger overall now”

“I’m much more stable with the weight over my head now”

All performance based feedback. I love it and I’m very proud and humbled every time I get feedback like that.

But most people want transformations like this:

transformation

It made me realize something I already knew, but never posted on here (which obviously means it didn’t exist :p ). I’m a lifer. I don’t diet, I eat. I don’t try to change as much as I can in three months, I try to change the little things, but make it last for a lifetime. Bodyfat will come and go, but if you can teach somebody good squat form or to love broccoli, you’ve given them a gift for life.

Though I am extremely amazed at what some people can do with their clients in a short span of time, I also know it’s not for me. I don’t do quick-fix diets and I don’t do “biceps blast”-type routines. Heck, I don’t really see the reason for doing Smolov Jr for most people.

I’m all about longevity. Persistence. Continuity. Patience. Big picture.

While that sometimes involves doing an extremely focused period of something, I have a hard time understanding the “abz for beach this summer” approach, simply because it is so far removed from what I believe in.

I guess I’m old school though. Living in the past. People are in such a hurry to get results, that they forget to enjoy the journey and, if possible, would rather skip the journey.

Nothing worth having comes easily. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be interesting. Not for long anyways. But then again, you could just go out and get a new precious right? Not this guy. You’ll find him with a barbell across his back.

The iron endures.

The best sessions

This post is probably gonna resonate with the parents, the self-employed or the otherwise extremely busy people outthere.

Recently I’ve been seeing some great progress on m squats in particular. I’m getting huge rep-PRs and am getting close to being at my all time strongest, though I’m 10 kg lighter now. That means I feel pretty good about my squat workouts and that I really look forward to them. Obviously.

This sort of explains why many people end up being somewhat specialized, as it’s very common to be more enthusiastic about the things you’re good at. Enthusiasm=dedication=progress. But that’s a topic for another day. 🙂

See just this past week I had one of the most important workouts in this cycle. So what did I do? I came one rep short of a rep record in the press (3@85kg) and did 6 sets of 5@~70% of squats and Pendlay rows. Then I went home. In and out in 45 minutes.

Right now you’re probably asking yourself “what’s so important about that?”. In isolation? Nothing.

Real-Life-Logo

BUT. And this is a big but! The important part about this workout was, that I wasn’t supposed to get it in. Real Life(tm) happened and my daughter was sick as a dog for about a week. Coupled with a busy week at work for the wife and a busy schedule for me as well, it looked like I wasn’t gonna train this week. But I did.

The vast majority of your training should consist of punching the clock-type of workouts. That’s how you get old in the weight room. If you can manage to stay consistent when Real Life(tm) happens as well, you’re gonna achieve great things over time.

You don’t always have to perform at maximal levels to get results. For most people, just getting in there on a regular basis will over time amount to great things.

If you’re in a hurry, this works very well: do five sets of five reps at 70 % in the squat, the benchpress/press and a rowing movement. Keep all pauses to 60s. That’s a great sensible workout, where you can really focus on owning the weights and moving them confidently.

The challenge of the month

For many weekend warriors having a challenge to do now and then, can be a fun way to add a bit of competitiveness to your training. Just make sure they’re not too counterproductive. The 10000 Swing Challenge for example wouldn’t work well with pretty much any other training that month.

That presents a whole new problem.

Many of these challenges are of the “do X amount of work this month” or the variation “do x each day for a month”. For some reason though, these challenges are getting more and more retarded. Let me give you a few examples of good, sensible challenges:

  1. Drink 3L of water each day for a month.
  2. Eat a head of broccoli each day for a month.
  3. Spend 10 minutes a day with a LaX ball for a month
  4. Do (very light) extra work for shoulder health (ie 100 pullaparts a day for a month)

Just a few days ago, a famous movement guru created the 30/30 challenge. You’re supposed to spend 30 minutes pr day for 30 days resting in the squat position. This is absolutely idiotic. I simply cannot understand how anyone would throw such a challenge out on the internet. It’s been less than a week and I’m starting to see people complain about pains and aches in my Facebook feed.

squat

Resting in the squat position isn’t a bad thing – it’s actually a pretty natural thing to do. Thing is – our bodies are nowhere near their natural state. Very few people are actually able to do this at that volume safely (and without spending an entire day sitting down in 10s spurts).

The sensible version of this challenge would be: Squat for 30s today and add 30s a day for a month. And even that is a bit aggressive for me. What’s the rush anyways? Are you going to die and a month? The risk is way too high and the reward too low (12 months from now you’re not going to feel any difference at all).

Movement and quality of movement is a lifelong battle. We’re fighting off death every day and silly challenges like this draws on the collective ADHD of 99% of the fitness trainees today. How about spending 2 minutes in a full squat FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?! See no-one’s gonna commit to that, because it’s not as sexy. But as a clever friend of mine once said “the door that opens every day is less likely to rust at the hinges”. Squatting for just two minutes from now on and out might just be the single best thing you can do for yourself.

And don’t even get me started on supposedly “serious” athletes doing this “for fun”. Make the goal the goal. Spend your time thinking about the goal instead. If a given stress is sufficient to provide an effect in tissue quality – it also takes away from your ability to recover. The body only has finite resources.

Other types of challenges provide a fun challenge (and some muscle soreness) but without being potentially injurious. One of these would be the “do max squat reps @ bodyweight in 5 minutes” that’s also going around the web right now. Or the more intelligent version of this challenge “do max reps at a weight that’s equal to 60 wilks pointsin 5 minutes”. Doing it with a weight directly proportional to bodyweight favors the skinny people and we want to be strong for our weight, not light for our strength.

Joining up with a small band of people with similar strengths and training goals and doing monthly challenges can be a great way to shake things up. Just make sure they don’t get out of hand – you don’t want overuse injuries. It’s supposed to be a fun thing.

Mobility and prehab type challenges are fine if they’re short and easy to do – they can help you form good habits for the future.

We’re not training for today or tomorrow and if you’re doing that it’s not training, it’s exercising.