In the gym, we like to take you through many variations of warm-ups and movements to prepare you for your workout.  You may be wondering if there is a vital importance in completing a warm-up and movements? The answer you will get from all the trainers in the gym is, “ABSOLUTELY!”  But that doesn’t always answer the question of why it is important that we spend the time to get you properly warmed up and mobilized. After various warm-ups consisting of inch worms, rowing, running, and other movements in order to get your body temperature rising, we like to spend time mobilizing and practicing movements that are associated with the workload for the workout. This type of movement is called Dynamic Stretching. Once you are properly warmed up, we take you through a series of movements that consist of air squats, leg kicks, lunges, and jump squats. This series of dynamic movements would be great for setting you up to do a strength series of squats, deadlifts, or split-squats. Dynamic stretching is an active movement of muscle that brings forth a stretch but is not held in the end position. This is very critical and important. Dynamic stretching will be beneficial to your performance and set you up for the current workload. Why is this critical and important? Here is science. Your body has many mechanisms that need to be activated and stimulated. When you put your body through a series of stretches while in motion, it sends signals from the brain to the muscle fibers and connective tissues in that area to prepare to do work. Your body’s temperature begins to rise and blood is pumped to the working areas of the body. Getting good blood flow to the area of the working muscles is very critical in order to supply the area with the energy needed to do work. Along with getting proper blood flow to the working area, the muscle fibers and connective tissues will gain more flexibility and range of motion. Many studies have shown that dynamic stretching can help increase power, improve flexibility, and increase your range of motion.

In other words, by doing dynamic stretching after your warm-up and before your workout, you are going to feel stronger and work up to a heavier load.  Another point to remember here is that dynamic movements are very sport and movement specific.  We will change the types of movements you do in the warm-up dependent upon what the workload is going to be for that day. Additionally, your range of motion and flexibility will also be greater. Have you ever done air squats at the beginning of a warm-up and felt like it was terrible, but after doing a proper warm-up and working on the movements which mimic and simulate squatting, your actual squat will then feel more natural and will flow much smoother.

Jumping rope is an excellent exercise to help improve stamina and conditioning. One method to make jumping rope more challenging is to do “Double Unders,” which means you swing the jump rope two times underneath your feet with only one jump.

Double Unders have gained popularity more recently as an exercise used in CrossFit workouts and competitions. The goal is to start doing double-unders consecutively, which is a seriously intense workout.

 

Double Unders Tip #1: Jump High & Jump Slow

Double under requires that you jump much higher than a normal jump rope revolution. In fact, you can jump just an inch off the ground during your normal jump rope routine, but a double under requires you to jump much higher. Jumping higher and slower helps create enough time for you to swing the jump rope 2 times underneath your feet as opposed to just once. As you get better and more efficient at doing double-unders, you won’t have to jump as high.

Double Unders Tip #2: Use Your Wrists

Probably the #1 most common jump rope mistake is when beginners flail their arms as opposed to turning their wrists in order to create momentum for the jump rope to start revolving. This is similar to a swimmer being very inefficient in the water: an inefficient swimmer gets tired very fast and doesn’t go fast. With jumping rope, you want you’re skipping to be as efficient as possible so you don’t waste too much energy. If you do, you won’t last for much more than 30 seconds, or a minute. Jumping rope is all in the wrists, which should be roughly at your waist.

Double Unders Tip #3: Keep Your Elbows In

Another related mistake beginners make is not only using too much arms but extending the arms and elbows to far away from the body. This makes the jump rope shorter so revolutions become more difficult and it’s harder to hold your arms extended from your body. Instead, keep your elbows close to your sides.

Double Unders Tip #4: Keep Your Torso Upright

Because double-unders require that you generate significant speed to spin the rope around 2x with one jump, beginners will often bend the torso forward in an effort to shorten the distance the jump rope needs to cover. Instead, remain upright with only a slight bend in your torso as in the photo below.

Double Unders Tip #5: Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice makes perfect. If you are just starting out with double-unders, I recommend the following progression:

  1. Start jumping rope normally, then on the 5th rep do a double under, then stop

  2. Repeat until you consistently complete a double under

  3. Next, do 100 jump rope reps, with every 10th jump being a double under

  4. Repeat until you can do this without stopping

  5. Start jumping rope normally then on the 5th rep do a double under, and on the 6th rep do a double under

  6. Repeat until you can do this easily

  7. Now start doing consecutive double-unders with as many as you can in a row!

Eventually, you will be able to complete 25+ double-unders. As a simple and effective workout, complete as many double-unders as you can to failure for 5-10 rounds with 30 seconds rest in between each set.

Most athletes respond best to a high frequency and high volume of Weightlifting and perform best when not handling maximum poundages at each session.

The Heavy-Light-Medium training system gives the athlete the volume and frequency that they need to drive progress, and ensure ongoing success while allowing enough recovery for one heavy day each week for maximum output. The benefit that this program has for athletes cannot be overstated.  Non-barbell sports athletes must balance training for their sport and training in the weight room. Most sports are demanding of the lower body and many athletes will not have enough reserves in their tank to squat heavy more than once per week. The HLM system allows the athlete to place their heavy squat day on the day of the week that allows them to train in their most recovered state. During the rest of the week, the athletes will have to perform strength workouts in a state of fatigue. The HLM system makes this a little easier to manage. On the light and medium days, the athlete will be focusing on form and technique, and speed.

As a starting point though, start your light day 10-20% lower than your heavy day, and set your medium day 5-10%  less than your heavy day.

I often get asked about weightlifting shoes. Are they really worth the investment? I always reply the same way- Would an avid runner wear shoes that are made for hiking? Probably not. Shoes are designed for specific sports and activities. Running shoes have an inbuilt cushion to absorb impact with each step you take. Although this is great for running, it’s not so great for Weightlifting. Rather than absorb force, you need a shoe that will help you use all the force your body produces to help you move the weight. The more force you can produce, the more weight you can move. This is especially important in Olympic Lifts.

Weightlifting shoes have a raised heel. This is a massive advantage, as it allows you to squat into a deeper position through an increased ankle range of motion. This will help you to improve your overall position too, as you’ll find yourself sitting more upright. A more upright torso means more chance of keeping hold of the barbell in the correct plane and sending it in the right direction-up.

Weightlifting shoes are also extremely stable, not just underfoot, but around your foot. This ensures a strong and consistent base to land on, push through, and push into- exceptional performance and injury prevention.

Weightlifting shoes are more stable than your typical barefoot or minimalist shoe. The concept of these shoes having little or no padding is definitely in the right direction (and I had personally rather wear this type of shoe when performing the Deadlift, ensuring maximal force through the ground), but while performing other major lifts (The Clean and Jerk, Snatch and Squat), I personally think weightlifting shoes are more beneficial.

 

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If your ab training still consists of chasing some arbitrary number, like the old-school idea of 100 or 200-plus daily reps of various exercises, then maybe its time to rethink your approach. Volume alone won’t carve out your abs. Even if you’re not stuck in an outdated mindset, you can still reap the benefits of adding toes to bar to your workouts.

If you’re not familiar with the exercise, you have probably seen the movement performed. An athlete hanging straight down from a pull-up bar and swinging his feet up to touch the bar for multiple reps. Calling this move “dynamic” sells it short—it not only places incredible demands on your core muscles, but it also builds your grip, arm, and shoulder strength. The move is trickier than it looks, though, so be sure to follow these tips for proper setup and execution.

Toes to Bar in 5 Steps

Grip
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, wrapping your thumbs for a secure grip—when you kick your feet up, you don’t want to kick your hands.

Flex
Squeeze both your butt and abs, creating a “hollow-body” position where your feet are slightly in front of your torso. With these muscles flexed, your body’s ready to swing.

Transition
To transition from backswing to upswing, simply drive your knees toward your elbows, then extend your legs, kicking your feet toward the bar as they rise.

Downswing
As soon as your momentum toward the bar ends, pull back into an arc and squeeze your butt to load your hips for the next rep.

When it comes to training, concentration with a 100 percent focus is crucial to reach greater intensity levels. The first step is to really believe that becoming stronger and faster is possible. In the same way, you can command your body to push further when everything else suggests that you cannot. In the same way, you can mentally coax your body to train harder and with more intensity. Athletes are masters of mind power or at least they should be if they want to be exceptionally focused. 

So how do we get the power of our minds to remove the fear?
Athletes need to focus on winning. Their focus should be on doing everything they can to win. That means tuning out any spectators, any fears, and even their opponent. This is what allows a professional to be successful and what compels so many to stay in the ranks of being an amateur.

So if you’re an athlete get focused on being the master of your sport. Apply the power of your mind to help you stay focused on your competition and your ability. Sure there will be fears and there will be distractions, but when these come up you need to focus your mind and focus on your abilities.

Athletes participating in various sports almost always engage in strength training in order to make themselves stronger and better players.

Most sports skills are performed by applying a force from your feet and using this to help propel you into the air or forward. The more force you apply through your feet, the more force will be directed back at you, therefore allowing you to move faster and thus be more effective. This principle applies very commonly in most sports. Therefore, if your sport includes actions where you need to generate maximum power upward, it is a good idea to include these types of movements in your training: clean and jerks, snatches, squats, lunges, and deadlifts.

Exercises that utilize many joints that make up the body will usually be more beneficial in your training than the more isolated exercises (unless of course your goal is to strengthen one specific muscle). These types of exercises will utilize more total muscle fibers, thus strengthening the body more and allowing you to generate more total force. You will also be working more of your neuromuscular system which helps your body to be ready at all times. To generate explosive force, the body recruits motor units. Motor units consist of the motor nerve and all the muscle fibers that it controls. The more muscle fibers that are controlled by a motor unit, the more explosive force you will be able to generate.
When we train explosively, we train the nervous system to recruit more motor units, which will help make you a better player. Motor units also come in fast-twitch and slow-twitch types, and explosive training will help you to recruit faster twitch motor units which generate up to 4 times more force than slow-twitch.

Progressive Overload is a common principle often heard in any training program as it applies to everyone. In order to see results from your program, you must be providing the muscles with an overloading stimulus. This will create small micro-tears in the muscle tissue which your body will then repair and rebuild stronger so that if it encounters the same stimulus again it will be better able to handle it. You can either apply an overload by increases to the weight you are lifting or increases to the number of repetitions you are lifting the weight for. By increasing the weight you will train your body to grow stronger and more powerful, while by increasing the number of repetitions you will train for muscular endurance and size (assuming you are keeping the repetitions in the 8-15 range).

When training any athlete to become stronger and more proficient in their chosen sport it is important to take into consideration many factors. What is most important is that your training closely resembles the actions you will be later performing. With proper strength training and periodization planning, I can take my athletes to new highs, and ensure it is in a healthy way.

My motivation for any type of competition or race stems from the thrill of the excitement of pushing myself past the comfort of what feels capable.
I didn’t realize what I was creating within myself when I began racing and competing. I still remember the fear I felt when swimming the final meters in my first triathlon, the nervousness in my gut when the gun went off at the start of my first half marathon, the feeling of being petrified when the time came to scale my first 10ft wall, and the tremble in my legs when I walked across my first stage. Scared, afraid, and nervous. These were all of the emotions that made me face my biggest fear of all, the fear of being just mediocre. This feeling is what drives me every day. This is why I train and train hard. The fear of never pushing myself to achieve personal greatness is simply unacceptable.

We often cast our dreams aside out of fear of being critiqued. Some people live their entire life never really being alive. They never take risks and never put themselves on display out of fear of looking vulnerable. If you never feel the pain of defeat, how can you truly appreciate the pride that comes with the attempt?

In competition, even in training, the fear of being scrutinized or criticized will lead to failure. Top tier athletes are created when one finds the ability to choose personal greatness. You become what you conceive, build, and launch. So build greatness and never settle for being just mediocre.

We’re all asked this time of year ‘what are your goals or resolutions?’
A new year exemplifies a fresh start- a new chapter- new beginnings-
A perfect time to put forth effort into something that perhaps scares us or tests our strengths and weaknesses. What better time than a new year!
I personally love setting new goals and challenges at the beginning of a new year. I am a person that believes 100% in doing something daily to take myself out of my comfort zone. My greatest accomplishments to date have been the ones that scared me the most. Fear is our biggest enemy. To be brave takes courage and strength. Fear causes doubt that tells us we can’t, we’re not good enough or we will fail. Courage is facing our fears. Accepting the fact that I may not be the best, but I’ll be damned if I don’t put forth my very best.
My goal every year as a human being is to be better than the year before- and this applies to all aspects of my life and in everything I do. My first and foremost goal is to simply be a good and decent person- to be compassionate, loving and nonjudgmental at all costs. It’s not always easy, but each day and year it gets easier. To be good is something that I don’t have too much pride to say- can at times be testing- being genuinely good in this world can be difficult at times.
My second goal that plays yearly on repeat- Worry less about what others think. I came to terms a long time ago with the fact that not everyone will like me- and that’s okay! We are all different personalities- we all have different outlooks, beliefs, and lifestyles. Not everyone will agree with the way I live my life or the decisions I choose, but that’s just it- it’s my life and no matter what path I choose- there will always be someone who supports it and others that don’t. Most importantly, as long as the God that I serve makes me feel okay with my life’s choices…that’s okay with me.
And finally, to grow stronger mentally and physically. For anyone that has participated especially in endurance sports or training can understand the power of a strong mind. I know personally, mental strength can be my most powerful source or my biggest enemy. Second-tier athletes become top competitors when they train their minds to surpass their physical strength. Once this type of control is understood; applying it to daily life situations is empowering.
I have enormous strength- and in order to use it in a positive manner, I set goals for myself- whether it be yearly or daily, these goals keep me focused. As long as I keep looking forward, I know I’m always headed in the right direction.

New Year’s Eve was spent dining with friends at Giardino Della Serenissima, Sacile, Italy. We ended up downtown in the Sacile square to ring in the new year. Another amazing chapter in our lives begins!!

 

I woke this morning to gear up my new ruck pack and realized I had to wrap the weight differently to accommodate the size. The rewrap set me back on time, so I didn’t thoroughly test my pack, bad move! I headed out on my hike and 2 miles in, my straps were slipping, my traps were burning (and not from the 30Lb load on my back) but the awkward way the sack was slinging. Another 2 miles in and my front support strap completely unhooked. At this point, I felt like I had an awkward monkey on my back and my turtle pace speed walk at 5mph was doing nothing for my endurance. So, another couple of miles and I called it a day. I headed straight to the Army/Navy Surplus store and bought some old used straps and clasps. Now after jumping up and down like a crazy person and a couple of handstands, she rides like a dream, AROO!

Finally, after falling asleep this morning at 3am, I was up and at it by 7.
As soon as my feet hit the floor, I slammed a protein drink and headed out the door.
I walked a good, fast pace for a mile to warm up a bit, then a 2-mile run to follow.
After, I took a 30-minute break, loaded up my ruck with 25Lbs and out for another 3-mile walk/run combo.
I didn’t track meals today. I allowed myself as much fruit, yogurt, chicken, and sweet potatoes as I wanted. Maybe even a few Tbsp’s of Peanut Butter. I could feel my body needed it a nice little re-feed. Now tonight, I should sleep like a baby!

Go ruck is just around the corner, I can’t wait!