Train to build more than muscle

We understand the world by making generalizations. That is why racism has been such a big thing throughout the history of mankind and why we still to this day put people in little boxes that fit our view of the world. You may think a certain way about people with or without tattoos, about fat people, people with big arms and small legs or something completely different.

We (the general we, not you and I obviously, we’re better than that :p) stigmatize people who are different from ourselves and lifters in general are supposed to be (as they so elegantly put it in Jersey Shore) gorilla juiceheads.

If you have a very muscular physique, you’re obviously compensating for your lack of intelligence. Right?

Wrong.

See actually lifting and pursuing mastery in your profession has a lot in common. Not surprisingly some of the most successful lifters I know are also some of the smartest people I know. Because above anything else if you want to be a successful lifter, you must have (or develop) discipline. Above all else, you have got to be willing to be a little more than the guy next to you. A little more consistent, a little more hard-working a little better at saying no to cakes (or something completely different). “A little more” spread out over many areas equals a lot more.

While some may start lifting to “get ready for the beach” or something similar, you’re not gonna find many lifetime lifters that only see lifting as a means to an end. We enjoy the process. We love being in the gym. And we love being around people who share our passion for discipline.

We embrace the grind and we realize that it takes time to build a big house. In strength and in life, there are no quick fixes.

Strength training builds muscle, but it also builds character.

Next time you’re hiring somebody and you get a jacked applicant – know that this (most likely) a person with great discipline and work ethic – not a stupid meathead.

Shoe review: Reebok Powerlifter (or whatever it’s called)

I remember reading about this shoe a long time ago. I remember reading how Mark Bell had sold his soul to ‘bok. I also remember looking at pictures of a shoe with some promising features.

Fast forward about six months and Butcher’s Store get them in stock and I get to test a pair. That’s about two months ago and during that time, I’ve used them for all my deadlifting.

What is it and what does it do?

It’s a flat-soled high top shoe, that looks like a weird hybrid between a clown shoe and a Chuck Taylor. For someone with a wide foot like myself, the big toe box is great. Also the  is just perfect giving the shoe a tight fit. For me, this shoe fits very very well, though I have to mention it runs a little big in the sizes – order one size smaller than what you’d usually get.

It’s got very good traction and stability laterally which is great if you’re pulling sumo or squatting wide. I only use them for squats as my ankles are way too tight for flat shoe squatting.

It’s similar to Chuck’s in that it’s a flat-soled hightop, but pretty much everything else is different. If you’re comparing the two you obviously fall in one of two groups: either you haven’t tried the ‘bok on or you have something against CrossFit as a brand.

Personally I actually considered if I wanted to wear shoes that had “Crossfit” written all over them, but decided that NOT wearing a shoe because of the brand is about as silly as wearing a shoe because of the brand.

Reebok-Power-in-Blue

What’s the general usefulness of the shoe?

Meh. It’s a flat shoe like the Chuck, the Adidas Spezial or wrestling shoes. That’s great for a lot of things. It’s not good for squatting or weightlifting though.

If you’re just deadlifting a couple of times a week to get stronger you might as well wear socks. Unless the floor is cold or something like that. Wearing shoes is not gonna make a huge difference unless you’re pulling sumo (where you need a good grip on the floor).

Conclusion:

Though it looks a bit weird, I’ve grown to like the shoe a lot. Once I put them on, I feel like pulling big weights. They’re aggressive without being uncomfortable and they’re great for pulling. It’s not really a cheap shoe though, but considering the amount of money people put into ridiculous supplements, I’d go with this shoe any day of the week. After all, unless you molest them, they’re gonna last at the very least 5 years.

The verdict is that it’s a great pair of shoes for specific situations. If you’re able to squat without a raised heel, this would be an excellent multi-purpose training shoe.

New trainer, new approach

I know, it’s been a while. I’ve been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks, and it looks like it’s gonna stay like that. Yay. I’ve got good things coming my way soon.

Trainingwise I took a couple of weeks of very light training after the danish championships and decided to get a new trainer. For quite some time now, everyone I’ve programmed has progressed way better than myself.So I decided to skip the template-based 531 program I was doing and write my own program by hand.

Step one was to get myself out of my comfort zone by upping the reps and lowering the rests. I’m following a very basic full body split laid out like this:

A: Primary squat, volume bench, lower body assistance.

B: Deadlifts and presses.

C: Secondary squat, primary bench, upper assistance.

Simple and basic.

I still time my rest periods and keep them at 60 seconds, but as of this week, I’ve switched from 5×10 squats and benches to 10×5. Over time I’ll work my way down to 10×3 before cycling back up to higher reps again.

Deadlift alternates between a single medium-high rep top set and med-high intensity singles for speed, followed up with some more volume from a deficit.

I keep the press in the 5-10 rep range for now, as I feel that’s where the money is. Assistance is primarily 1H overhead work.

The secondary squat-day uses different tempos to really focus on nailing the form. I’ve changed my stance a bit because of knee issues and the technical work is good for me.

On primary bench day, I work up to a heavy set of med-high reps and do some additional work with a figure-8 band. I follow that up with DB incline and dips. Everything with timed rests of course.

I’ve touched on this before, but I cannot say this enough. Cutting down on rest periods as well as really focusing on really nailing the assistance exercises is a huge ego-check, but I feel it’s for the better. I like lifting weights a lot and historically I’ve probably done way too much barbell-moving and way too little controlled training.

Onwards and upwards. Life is great!

Stop worrying

Seriously, stop worrying.

It’s extremely common for people to worry about events that are out of their control. To make assumptions based on weird “logic”. To try to come up with reasons without really having any knowledge of a given situation.

Right now, I’m sending out tons and tons of job applications and basically doing whatever I can to find a job. Obviously I get a magnitude of rejections, but instead of beating myself up over a specific application and how I worded it, I simply take it as what it is and move on. Getting rejected does not mean you’re a bad person or that you’re not competent enough. It simply means that the person in charge of recruiting believes somebody else would be a better fit. There are about a bazillion parameters in play, so it doesn’t really make sense try to work it out by yourself. In a situation like that you have to options – either contact the person responsible or move on.

Obviously, if there are specific issues that you know for a fact can be improved – get busy.

The same method applies to life in general. People obsess and over-interpret text messages from partners all the time. We let our minds get carried away and get extremely irrational.

Try to consciously remind yourself whenever you’re guessing and/or interpreting external circumstances that you essentially aren’t in a position to interpret. Simply bringing to your own attention that your mind is about to run off with you into Lala-land is a huge step towards being in control of your impulses.

OR….. You can just do what Dharma from the TV-show Dharma and Greg suggests: “put it in a bubble and blow it away”.

Whatever you do try to be conscious of your decisions. <3

 

Don’t say this!

One of my primary fields of interest is what works and what doesn’t work linguistically. Saying things the right way can have a huge impact on your life, not only as a trainer/coach, but also your professional life.

What happens in our brains when we hear a word, is that we anticipate the following word(s) and these are made more easily accessible. Words activate related words to speed up reading/understanding. This is what framing is basically about – knowing which words to use to create the associations you want, and equally important – knowing which words to avoid.

This post is about a group of words you should avoid completely as a coach.

When coaching someone you should always aim to tell them what they should do instead of what they shouldn’t. Simply because mentioning something activates that action/word. George Lakoff cleverly titled one of his books “Don’t think of an elephant” and the title alone explains this concept. Even if you’re using a negation in your sentence (ie “not”) you’re still activating the neuron circuits connected to “elephant”.

Our brain simply processes information in a hierarchical structure where negations are applied very late in the process. What that means is that you’ll first think of the elephant, then try to erase that thought. Same goes for a nutritional guru saying “don’t eat chocolate” or a weightlifting coach who doesn’t want you to round your back, shift the weight to your toes or something else.

Try to keep your coaching as negation-free as possible. Tell the people you work with what they should do and how they should act – not how they shouldn’t. Same goes for the workplace and in your private life – telling people what you want instead of what you don’t want is a simple but effective way of avoiding misunderstandings.

Have a great weekend people. 🙂

Slow down

You’re probably rushing. You’re probably busy. You’re probably in a hurry to do something.

Or maybe you’re not? Maybe you’ve just convinced yourself that you’re all important and that you need to be all kinds of things. You really don’t and besides, what good is having all the treasures in the world, if you’re not present in the moment to notice them? If you’re always busy being busy, you’re probably rushing through life, missing half of it.

In lifting, a great way to focus on quality and mastery instead of quantity is to slow things down deliberately. Instead of always focusing on moving more weight faster, try to change your approach on a lift you’re struggling with for a period (4-6 weeks) – I guarantee you’ll see good results.

There are many ways of manipulating tempo, the most common ones being slow eccentrics and paused reps. While I’m a big fan of pausing, slowing the movement itself down is a better tool for improving the movement.

Applying a 3-4s down, 3-4s up tempo on one weekly squat session will dramatically improve your positional awareness throughout the movement and probably add some muscle mass as well. For the strength trainee I think the 2-6 rep range works very well.

A word of warning though, slow eccentrics is the best way to make yourself incredibly sore, so start out real easy and allow yourself to adapt to the new stimulus before you go nuts.

Stay strong friends.

<3

 

Control tempo to master movement

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 70sbig.com. 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: