Saturday, September 4, 2021

New Series on YouTube - SKWAT TAWKS

I've started a new series of videos on YouTube called "Skwat Tawks". I plan to talk about anything and everything squat related. Please give it a listen and let me know if there's anything you'd like me to talk about! Skwat Tawks Playlist

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Words of Wisdom from Rory Miller

 Last, there is an industry supplying fantasy disguised as information...
  What does that mean to you as a teacher? If you have extensive direct experience, you are a valuable resource. If you don't have extensive direct experience, you can still be valuable as a teacher, but be alert for what you don't know. Be especially alert for things you are sure of if you can't articulate a basis for your certainty. You "just know"...? How do you know? Have you tried it? Did you read it somewhere? Did the people who wrote the article actually try it? How many times? You (all of us) actually know very little with any reliability. But we tend to "know" a lot of things with great confidence, many of which are not true.
  Watch your sources. Be skeptical (including with me).
 Principles-Based Instruction for Self-Defense (and maybe life) by Rory Miller (p. 3)
Do not be afraid to question what you 'know', and don't be afraid to question what others 'know'. Is the person giving your team advice on "sport specific" strength and conditioning someone with experience in that specific sport, or someone with general knowledge of strength? Both is better. Be mindful of 'gurus' - people who have all the answers. I've had a lot of experience in strength and conditioning, mostly working with high school and age group swimmers, and, despite that, feel my knowledge is quite limited. Would I hire me? Absolutely. Would I say my word is final on the subject? Not even close.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Happy Fourth of July!

Tom Platz!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Squat Memes

I've made a lot of memes about squatting over the years. I've seen a lot of them on people's feeds, sometimes years after I made them - that's pretty cool really. I've made a few recently that I thought were solid - I posted most of them to my Instagram @squat_rx and I'll post some of them here.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Squat Rx #30 - The Last Squat Rx

On May 27th, 2020, I made the last Squat Rx video. If you like squat workouts and just shooting the sh*t about squatting, then you might like it. The talk is a bit meandering (from squat training and technique to music). Take a look (if you haven't already) and let me know what you think of it.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Social Distancing (Part II)

Training and Working In The Midst of Corona

Been keeping busy with work and Zoom meetings, a little training, and making videos for students, athletes, and fun.
I am fortunate to have equipment at home that suit my needs. I've hit a few PRs over the past 6 weeks or so, including two lifetime personal records that are (for me) brag-worthy:
*1000 16kg Kettlebells Snatches (in one set). Done at 10 reps per minute, switching hands every minute. It took 100 minutes. Despite frequent re-chalking (of the off hand, while holding the bell overhead), I still developed blisters about 70 minutes in.
*Squat 135lb x 200. Using a manta-ray. Pace was slow (4 reps per minute for the first 40 minutes, faster the last five minutes). It took about 45 minutes.

Heart rate cardiovascular drift is evident in the set with a hard spike at the end when I picked up the pace because I wanted to be done with it.

The videos I've made for the athletes I work(ed) with start with the assumption that they have a micro-band. At the start of the 'stay-at-home', we made sure that the bands were distributed to the team. To be honest, I'm not sure if the kiddos are using them. I hope they are staying in shape.
As with a lot of exercise equipment during this pandemic, it is tough to find companies that aren't sold out of bands right now. If you're looking for bands, here are a few suppliers that, hopefully, will have them in stock:
Woody Fitness
Dick Hartzell's Jump Stretch

Hope you are all well and able to get a few squat sessions in.

YouTube Channel: Squat Rx

Friday, March 20, 2020

Social Distancing

Monday, March 16, 2020

I hope this post finds everyone well. At my house, we've been taking the dog for walks and home cooking a lot more than normal. Otherwise, we're doing our best to hunker down and ride this thing out. Strange times for us all.
Training-wise, very little has changed. Going to the gym is not an option, which means I can't use some pieces of equipment I like, but squatting is still going smoothly. I've been doing higher rep work now for at least a year and have made 135lb x 200 a goal for 2020. So far, 135lb x 140 in 35 minutes is my best effort as far as both total time and total reps in a single set.
Generally, my training "approach" is to squat once or twice a week. In squat workouts, I generally do one higher rep set with 135lbs x 50-100 reps lasting 10-30 minutes, and follow this with shorter, faster sets of 10-30 reps.
For example, on Monday, March 9th, I did the following squat workout with a Manta-Ray:
  • bar x 20
  • 135lb x 75 (15 minutes, 4-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-6-5 by minute)
  • 2 minutes rest
  • 135 x 18 (2 minutes, 8-1-8-1 by 30 seconds)
  • 2 minutes rest
  • 135 x 19 (2 minutes, 10-1-7-1 by 30 seconds)
  • 2 minutes rest
  • 135 x 18 (2 minutes, 8-1-8-1 by 30 seconds)
On my non-squat days when working out at home (which is all the time now), I generally do one of the following:
  • Kettlebell Snatch (16kg kettlebell, 30-60 minutes, 10-15 reps/minute, switching hands every minute, no setting down the bell)
  • 100 Total Push-Ups (in sets of 20-40)
  • 15 minutes total of 45 Degree Hyperextensions, Pull-Ups, and Push-Ups (usually getting 250-300 reps total)
  • YAT Pulls with a micro band (2-3 sets of 50/50/50)
  • Standing Single Leg Hip Abductions/Adductions (2-4 sets of 25/25 per leg)
  • Axle Deadlifts (primarily sets of 135lb x 10-15 and 185lb x 10, sometimes working up to 205-225lb for a double or triple)
  • Twist Yo' Wrist 

When I go to the 'big gym' (which is rare), I do glute-ham raises, hip abductor machine, hip adductor machine, bench press, and occasionally dumbbell rows and bent over dumbbell laterals. I enjoy 20-30 minutes of the sauna there when I have time.
I'll post an update to the blog when I've successfully completed 135 x 200 (hopefully next week). Until then, stay safe and good squatting,

Monday, September 2, 2019

Squat Rx #27 - 20 Minutes of Squatting

As I age, the things I enjoy and am proficient enough at to do for an extended aerobic period of time are limited. I respect running and I think running would be great, but it's not a thing I do. I just never developed a taste for it. Swimming would work, but these days I'm about 25 pounds too heavy to find getting into the pool even close to enjoyable. Walking the dog is a possibility - I enjoy it, but if I allow the dog to sniff, pee, and poo at her leisure, there's no chance of raising my heart rate enough to approach "conditioning". I still do kettlebell snatches, but infrequently and I've lost a step over the past 5 years or so of little to no practice.
So, I'm left with squatting. I'm proficient and practiced at it. I enjoy it. It doesn't hurt me.
The other day, I squatted for 20 minutes with 135 pounds. The goal was not to get as many reps as possible in the time allotted. The goal was to keep my heart rate under control for the duration. It was harder than expected and an exercise in discomfort and patience, but I managed to keep my heart rate in the 70-80% range (with a few blips above) for the entire 20 minutes.

Sometimes I'll just squat without a timer or heart rate monitor and just squat for a certain number of reps, or I'll use only a clock, but for this, I used the following tools:

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Gresham's Law and The Modern Training Age

There is a monetary principle known as "Gresham's Law" which holds that bad money drives out good money. A common example of this principle is in a system with two currencies, such as pennies with copper and pennies with very little copper, people will hoard, melt down, or illegally sell/barter the pennies with copper, while using the cheaper pennies for day to day transactions. Eventually, there will be scarcity of copper pennies, and a preponderance of pennies without copper.

The principle can apply to many fields (perhaps in the modern era most notably 'news'). The fields of strength and conditioning and fitness are no different - the bad drives out the good. Not always and completely, of course, but certainly often and dramatically enough to warrant scrutiny.

In the health and fitness industries, 'bad money' is comprised of fluff articles, diatribe videos shot from the inside of a Tahoe, and books that are heavy on regurgitated platitudes and fun anecdotes, but light on meaningful content. "Bad Money" is poorly researched, poorly substantiated, and poorly written. Why do they gather attention? Because they are glossy eye-candy. Because it's 'edgy'. Because it's 'real'. The purveyors are attractive and charismatic, and they include just enough of the right jargon and pepper it with half-truths to make the product seem legitimate. Bad money, shared by the right people, very quickly drowns out legitimate valuable training information that may lack the polish, bells, and whistles necessary to survive in today's like-driven culture.

So, what is a training newbie to do? If they don't have enough knowledge and experience in the field, who can they trust? How can they know if they are dealing with 'good money'? Here are some suggestions:

* Look for legitimate experience.
Any professional, a true expert, would find it difficult to fit their relevant experiences onto a one-page curriculum vitae. A good coach with any degree of experience should be able to give names, dates, and places that give them credibility in the field.
Beware of statements like "XYZ has worked with many athletes from age-group to Olympians". "Worked with" can mean "had a conversation once at the gym water fountain". If a coach has actually coached an Olympian (even if being humble), they should be able to give you a name and a time frame.

* Look past the Instagram photos and number of Facebook 'likes'.
Is this coach delivering content, or just inspirational quips and hot-bod shots? Is every video a Rocky Balboa training video that would kill the average person, or are the training sessions reasonably attainable?
There are MANY legitimate coaches in sport, S&C, and fitness that have zero internet game. Most likely, they aren't rich because they don't know how to play 'the game', but virtuoso coaches (who truly care about their CRAFT) are often too busy actually bettering their athletes to worry about virtual 'likes'.

* Don't be afraid to shop around.
It is okay to withhold judgement on sources. Too often people get sold on 'bad money' and then are reluctant to follow 'good money' because they don't want to admit that they made a bad initial investment of time, energy, and (perhaps) money. Don't fall victim to the "too invested to quit syndrome".
By the same token, it is okay to return to a training method or coach after leaving them for a time. Just like relationships - sometimes you don't know what you got until it's gone or until you've experienced other contexts. It is perfectly okay to swallow your pride and say "You know what? That was good for me. I'm going to start doing that again."

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"Purpose Tremor"

Attempting to pour a liquid into the mouth of a very small-necked bottle often results in the same kind of behavior. You can hold your hand perfectly steady, until you try to accomplish your purpose, then for some strange reason you quiver and shake.
 In medical circles, we call this "purpose tremor".
 It occurs, as above, in normal people when they try too hard, or are "too careful" not to make an error in accomplishing some purpose.
...Excessive carefulness, or being too anxious not to make an error is a form of excessive negative feedback. As in the case of the stutterer, who attempts to anticipate possible errors and be overly-careful not to make them - the result is inhibition and deterioration of performance. 
From Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz (pp. 173-174)

From time to time you see an athlete who is holding on so tight to their goals that it is counter-productive to generating the kind of performance needed to achieve them. In the immortal words of .38 Special, you need to "Hold on loosely, but don't let go. If you cling too tightly, you're gonna lose control."

Related Squat Rx Blog Post: Glance at Negatives, But Focus On Positives

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Habit Tracker

An online friend suggested trying this habit tracker. I've been using it for the past month to prompt me to do some things that I otherwise might avoid or forget or, for whatever reason, just not do. It's a good way to establish new habits or replacement behaviors.

If you've followed Squat Rx for long, you know I'm a big believer in just putting in the work and doing the things that matter more often than not. A habit tracker like this is very similar to practice maps - a way to check a box and let the volume and frequency over time work its magic.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Vonnegut on Free Will

"Where am I?" said Billy Pilgrim. 
"Trapped in another blob of amber, Mr. Pilgrim. We are where we have to be just now - three hundred million miles from Earth, bound for a time warp which will get us to Tralfamadore in hours rather than centuries." 
"How - how did I get here?" 
"It would take another Earthling to explain it to you. Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanation. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber." 
"You sound to me as though you don't believe in free will," said Billy Pilgrim. 
"If I hadn't spent so much time studying Earthlings," said the Tralfamadorian, "I wouldn't have any idea what was meant by 'free will.' I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports of a hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaugtherhouse Five