Wednesday, April 1, 2015

You Don't Need To Stretch?

Generally, I don't like articles and posts that attention grab with anti-stretching titles, but this one is good. Of course, anyone with half a brain understands that effective stretching, may incorporate isolation work, but like any kind of training, takes the interconnected whole into account.

Related Squat Rx Posts:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Steve Pulcinella's Advice for Newbs

I've always liked Big Steve's rants. Just saw this one recently on a forum and, though it's nothing new, it's always good advice worth hearing again:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

5 Squat Tips

Occasionally I do run across YouTube videos with solid squat advice (of course there's always Squat Rx vids!!) - this one gives five great tips. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stay Coachable

Me: "Hey Little Johnny, I'd like to see you try to maintain a four-beat kick here. When   you allow your feet to cross over like this..." *demonstrating a cross-over kick with my arms*, it's throwing your hips out of whack. You don't have to kick hard, you don't want to wear yourself out, just maintain..."
Little Johnny: "I think what I'm doing is fine.
Me: *thrown aback*... "Well, okay then! Carry on!
When I was young, I was always looking for a way to improve technically and tactically. Being 5'8" with short arms doesn't leave a lot of room for stroke inefficiency if you want to be a fast swimmer. Recommendations were always welcome, even if they weren't implemented.

Early in my career, my parents sent me to a training camp that did underwater stroke analysis and spent a lot of time and energy on drills to improve technique. I worked with coaches and more experienced swimmers to tweak and adjust form and training. As a teen, leisure reading included Doc Councilman's book "The Complete Book of Swimming", and a first edition of Ernie Maglischo's "Swimming Faster".

It was the combination of being coachable AND having competent coaches that made my modest successes possible.

It's interesting because, now that I'm back in the coaching business, I see so many athletes that take technical feedback as criticism. I've certainly had my share of dud coaches along the way, but I never felt I was above coaching and learning - even the duds had lessons to teach.

Perhaps somewhere along the way, in our quest to raise children capable of independent thought and critical thinking, we've raised defensive, cynical youths incapable of admitting ignorance and gracefully accepting assistance. Maybe I just expect the response to feedback to be a smile and a "Thanks, Coach!". Maybe Little Johnny was just having a bad day. Maybe I'm just all wet. I don't have answers here, just thinking out loud.

Related Squat Rx Posts:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Where are you?"

I've gotten a few emails and messages from people wondering where I've been and my plans for the blog. Here is the short version:

2014 was a good year, but autumn was rough and I didn't want to post fluff just to keep the existing trickle of traffic coming to the blog - call me crazy, but that's how I feel about most blogs and fitness sites. If I'm going to post at all, I want the posts to be thoughtful and meaningful.

I'm back in the coaching business these days (competitive swimming) and it has been great to coach a variety of new athletes of all ages and performance levels. I've been blessed with the chance to work, share, and learn with and from very competent coaches, AND get paid a reasonable wage for it - something that's been missing for quite some time. Swim coaching has added another level of busyness to an already very busy schedule, but I'm enjoying the process.

Having added another layer of busyness, I've done my best to keep my own training at an acceptable level. I am not in great shape, but I've been able to manage enough training that, given a few weeks, I could be back in "fighting shape".

In the coming weeks, I'll try to share some of my thoughts and insights about my coaching and maintenance training here on the blog.

Thanks for reading.

- Boris

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Fit Cast

Outstanding content for years that I feel bad I have not mentioned here until now: The Fit Cast

The 300th podcast is with everyone's favorite, Dan John, and it is, of course, great:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bring Sally Up

Did the "Bring Sally Up" workout from Rich Froning tonight. Fun, but harder than the last time I did it. I finished all the reps, but fudged the down time a bit... It's not something I'll be doing often, but I'll do it again.

I'm working on that thigh gap...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Week Away

The lad and I had a week away and spent some time at the pool. It's amazing how, when you're young, you pooh-pooh the need for an aerobic base. Later on in life, you realize how much you miss having one... I did a lot of easy laps and, just to see if I still could, did a few lengths of butterfly. It's probably been close to 20 years since I've swum a single stroke of butterfly.

I was happy that my spine didn't pop out of my back and sink to the pool bottom...


Thursday, July 10, 2014

How Much Do You Trust Your Training?

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it? ...Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.
Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid - for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity - will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high, until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpences but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less will shove a man - or at any rate a man like me - out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself."
From A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis (pp. 22-23, 37-38)

You have to have some skin in the game. It's worth reviewing... often. In all areas of your life.
In training, reexamine your programming. Set goals and raise the stakes. Want to bench 300? Enter a contest. If you don't have a competition to prepare for, create a challenge. Set a date and make a potentially costly bet with a friend. No? Still not moved to action?  Use your imagination. Imagine that in three months, you will have no access to a gym or barbells for a year - would you just throw your hands in the air and give up on strength all together, or would you get busy? What would you prioritize in your training? Imagine that Zoltar the fortune teller says you will be in an accident a year from today potentially leaving you bed-ridden for months... how would you train? 
If you train others, the exercise is the same. Will "GPP", however you define that, be enough for their 'test'? Will that rope hold?
The test should be different from training, yes, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with teaching to the test if the test is valid. And here's the kicker that gym rats tend to forget - there will be a test! The test will come whether we prepare for it or not. Train with the knowledge that one day we will all hang by that rope over a precipice.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Just move more and eat less!"

Telling an obese person to move more and eat less is about as helpful 
as telling a poor person to make more money and spend less.

Which is to say that it is not helpful at all.

A patient walks into a doctor's office and says "It hurts when I do this." The doctor replies "Well, don't do that!"

Heard that one? I have. Repeatedly. Usually the conversation revolves around lifting weights...

But, what's wrong with that advice, really? The patient hasn't learned anything. The assumption can be logically made that the patient wants or needs to do 'that' (whatever 'that' is). So, unless the desire or need can be fulfilled or eliminated in some other way, and unless our doctor here can advise and assist with that, then the advice is absolutely worthless. It's a nonsolution.

Our job as teachers, coaches, and trainers is to help our students, athletes, and clients become better. We understand that, for example, getting stronger and getting out of pain can be complex challenges. So why then, do we grossly oversimplify the problem of obesity? Why do we repeatedly point to single, decontextualized causes? Why do we preach to the point of dogma about the wonder herb and diet of the season?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Practice Maps

Just put in the time. Put in your reps. Get that session in. Put together enough sessions, even if they are nothing special, and unless you're doing all the wrong things, you're going to make progress.

Daniel Coyle, the author of The Talent Code, keeps a blog on his site. A while back, he posted about "practice maps" in the entry entitled "Steal This Idea, Please" The idea is to have a score card that you make a check on every time you train or practice. One session = one step closer to your goal.

"Practice maps" are common in Japan. I bought the practice maps below in Japan. They were meant for kids to affix a Dragonball "well done" sticker each time they did their chores, but it can work equally well for training.

I've tried this just to get sessions in and it works! 

Use it for the things that are tough to do, or for actions you want to make habitual. For example, windmills and bird-dog pose thingies are two exercises that I should do on a regular basis... but don't. Using a card like this and throwing on a sticker each time I get it done is actually motivating!