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!