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Training the Olympians
Strong & Healthy Woman Program
This is an amazing 6 week journey in learning the fundamentals of strength training, nutrition, and fitness. There is no where else you will receive the hands on and detailed instruction. 6 weeks of group training 3 x per week and nutritional coaching and goal setting is all included with this program!
NEXT KICKOFF AUGUST 6, 2016 10:30am
NEW EARLY BIRD SPECIAL ONLY $189!!
Here is the truth, You probably just don’t want it bad enough. Think about something you have achieved in life that took substantial effort. I mean something that you really wanted and had to work for to accomplish it. Seriously take a minute before you read on to reflect on this. Maybe it was your college degree that you had to pay for and work a full time job in order to graduate. Maybe it was that job you applied for, then reapplied for, and then interviewed for, and no matter what you kept going after it. You applied for months, you prepped yourself, and pumped yourself up for it, you sent follow up emails, and if you didn’t get the job then it didn’t stop you from going after it and reapplying again until you got hired. Maybe you started a business, or you consistently gave all you got to get a promotion at work and continue to thrive in your career. How about that girl you had a crush on and pursued and knew that you had to win her heart. We all have stories of success in our lives that started from a thought. While you were going through it, it was like you were on autopilot, it didn’t feel like work, you were just going after something you needed to accomplish. You were in the zone. Once that thought was in your head you just kept doing the work and accomplished it no matter what the obstacles. The thought of all the things that could go wrong didn’t deter you, and even if things went wrong you kept moving forward. If you had a party to attend the night before that big interview you would have declined because you knew how important it was for you, and it didn’t even upset you that you missed it. You had your eye on the prize, there were no distractions just the vision you were after. There was none of the talk that you “have to go to an interview and it sucks”. No, the attitude was I GET TO GO TO this awesome interview and I am excited to get that job. There are probably some areas in your life right now that still demand that same attention, focus, and habits of success. It is just part of you and who you are. So why doesn’t that happen with your fitness and health goals?
HEALTH AND FITNESS ARE BURDENS
Unfortunately, for many people the above scenarios of success are not how people view their fitness and health goals. I know because I have been in this field for 2 decades and have struggled with certain fitness goals myself and I have seen the success stories and the failures. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say I “have” to go to the gym with their entire body language is slumped, eyes are down and it is like they have been sentenced to jury duty for the 3rd time that year. It’s like that interview scenario above to land that killer job. If they really wanted that job with every part of their being it is a pretty easy decision not to drink like a fish the night before… Why? Well they know that taking such actions aren’t going to benefit them at all and most likely take them out of the running for that highly competitive job. Why is it that when facing weight loss or health goals people will say things like, “I really want to lose weight, but we had this party to go to and they had the best deserts and I couldn’t resist”. No, just say what you mean, you really don’t want to lose that weight, period. The reason… it is only important if it doesn’t interfere with your social life, or sweet tooth, or (fill in the blank). You are just content with where you are. I am a firm believer if you want to hit a goal, you do everything to achieve it. There is a singleness of purpose and all your habits must support it. Most people squeeze by on the bare minimum and they will only do so much to achieve a goal they have set for themselves. A business trip turns into an excuse to eat horribly for a week, an important call is a good enough reason to miss a training session. Nope, don’t worry to make up that training session that was missed, you will just start over again on Monday, because as long as it doesn’t interfere with other things you will do it. Don’t be upset about the results you don’t achieve with the work you didn’t put in. So why is it so hard to just commit?
IT’S JUST NOT BAD ENOUGH
Usually when you are really disturbed, pissed off, or disgusted with yourself, you will make a change. It’s the truth with any big changes we need to make in our lives. Without that, there is no stimulus to change. It just isn’t bad enough. I was reflecting on a few things that caused me to make some of the biggest changes of my life and I was either really upset or really disappointed and it hurt! In 2010 I was working a job for a company putting in over 60+ hours per week. I was hustling my ass off. I had a 4 month old baby and a wife at home to support. I met the owners to get my quarterly bonus that was based on a percentage of revenue. My agreed upon bonus was roughly $8000. I was told they couldn’t afford that amount, but they could give me a $3500 bonus. I took it and told them I understood if the company was in a tough position. The next day the owner pulled up in a brand new BMW. Talk about disturbed. I was irate, I was hurt, I was angry, I felt like a punk. I had talked and talked about opening a gym for years, It was always a someday thing, but now I had a 4 month old baby at home and felt like it was impossible to make the jump. How could I quit? It made no sense. Sure, I wanted to start a gym for the past 10 years and it was all I talked about, but now was not a good time! Well, I took a huge action and a leap of faith because I knew I had to do whatever it took to support my family. I quit my job with no money and the result of that jump was Evolution Fitness. At times I don’t know exactly how I got here, but I just had to keep doing what I was doing because failure wasn’t an option.
More recently I had a big shift and change happen with my fitness and health. Back in January I decided I wanted to run a mile because I hadn’t done it in a very long time. The result….. I barely survived the run, I was healed over in pain and could barely breath. The worst part was, I wasn’t running, it was a light jog.. I was embarrassed for myself, I was disturbed that I could barely put together a mile as a 40 year old man that has been a trainer for over 16 years. Sure I could lift a lot of weight and swing the heck out of kettlebells, but I could not move my body and make it do what I wanted it to. My conditioning sucked. I saw a huge area in my health that was lacking in a big way. It was eye opening, I was embarrassed for myself and it really upset me. I couldn’t just write it off anymore unless I just wanted to lie to myself. I knew I had to start slowly, but I started to improve my running so I set a goal to run a 1/2 Marathon. It gave me structure and something to aim for. If I didn’t feel so humiliated by my fitness and health, I wouldn’t have done anything about it. The fact was it hit me hard enough to make me want to change, I felt it deep inside of me. I really hope that things like this happen throughout my life. It takes a disruption to cause change.
ARE YOU DISTURBED ENOUGH?
What will it take for you to see a situation for what it is and make it so you can’t lie to yourself about it. When you are upset enough about something you will find a way to make it happen. You won’t have time, money, or work as an excuse not to achieve it. I really wish this gift of desperation, being disturbed, or embarrassed, on everyone that is searching to achieve something greater. Think about it for a few moments. Write out the following questions.
What do you want to achieve? What is your vision?
What is pissing you off?
What is it that you want to change in your life?
Why do you want to achieve it?
What are the consequences of not achieving it? Is it affecting just you or others?
Dig deep. Write out all the things you are missing out on by not hitting your goals.
In my job change years ago I did this drill and it shook me. I knew if I stayed there I was going to continually work harder, be away from my family more, and never afford the life I wanted to create for my family. Family, yes my family. It wasn’t about me. It was about my family. It had to affect my family to shake me. As I saw my 4 month old baby and thought about her future, I knew to my inner core my bosses didn’t give a damn about my family’s needs or my dreams. It was about them and their needs. I had a vision for my family and I knew they weren’t going to help me get there. I needed to get pissed off and that did it.
If this drill doesn’t work then take a different approach.. If you are wanting to lose weight, go buy some clothes you know you want to fit in, or grab some clothes you use to fit in and go and try and put them on. See how they feel on you, don’t sugar coat it. Really be true to yourself if they can’t fit. Don’t just take them off immediately, feel it, really feel it. If you are truly OK with it then move on, if you are not pleased keep the clothes on a bit longer. Do some everyday activities in them to really make you upset. If weight isn’t your goal and better fitness is your goal then go run a mile and try and do it in under 10-11 minutes. If you haven’t trained in years drop and do 50 (Real) pushups and and 50 deep body weight squats for time. See how you feel, see how you feel the next day. If you feel defeated, so sore you can’t move, or weaker than you would like to admit, then internalize it. Really feel the shitty part and use it to motivate you. I know when I was healed over after that mile run I was miserable, I was upset, because if I ever needed to run for my life I knew I couldn’t. That was the truth and I owned it.
BE YOUR HABITS
Habits are crucial to change. I’ll never forget a member of the gym I was a part of years ago. He saw an amazing transformation. He had the stories of not having time to workout for years, until he had a heart scare and woke up in the ER. He had tons of money and success, but not health. He started getting to the gym at 5am every day to do light cardio and return in the afternoon 3 days per week to do weight training. One day I saw him at the gym at 5am like normal. He came in, read the paper for about 5 minutes on the bike, and then just sat down for a bit. He said hi to some people and started to leave. I joked with him about having a short workout. I’ll never forget what he told me. He said he wasn’t feeling great that morning and knew he shouldn’t train, but he didn’t want to break his habit of waking up and coming to the gym. To him, he had to keep his ritual of waking up and driving to the gym. At the end of the year this man lost close to 70lbs and looked like he had trained his entire life. I didn’t realize how awesome this was. He was invested, he was committed, he was ALL IN. There were no sob stories of not being motivated, or how can I get the best results with the least amount of time. No, he was clear he had to change his thought process and change his life. He did the same with his nutrition. Guess what… He didn’t lose any business or money either because he focused more on his health. THIS, is the secret to change. Creating new habits and incorporating them into your life. The word incorporate means to take in and make part of the whole. It doesn’t mean something you do when you feel like it or when it is convenient. Ask yourself if you truly incorporating your habits into your life or are you just doing them because you have to or because you want to avoid (fill in the blank). An example I see all the time are those on a diet and counting down to their next cheat meal. This isn’t incorporating this is merely surviving and tolerating your current situation. I do know people that have tried just about everything to lose weight and there are situations that may be out your control with hormones and health. If this is the case then this is where habits are even more important to live by enjoying the journey of living a healthier life comes in.
I am not sure what this young mans story is, but this short video is awesome. It is inspiring, it is full of action, it is free of excuses, it is determination and persistence. It is focus it is failure isn’t an option. It makes me feel like I could be doing more.
Enjoy the Journey
Of course many of us set a goal and look to the future. Seeing where we want to go is huge. The most important part of the process is having a vision worth going after. One of the things I am really embracing with my goals now in business or athletics is enjoying the journey. It has been a powerful shift. While building Evolution I had such focus that it took me over 5 years to actually take a step back and take a breath to actually enjoy what was created. I always thought that being proud the accomplishments was counter productive. Once one goal was achieved I immediately set another one without taking a moment to enjoy what was accomplished, I didn’t want to get too sure of myself. I realize now that I robbed myself of a lot of fulfillment. I am currently training for my first triathlon. I am learning how to swim with correct form for the first time in my life. It has been the biggest physical challenge I have taken on as an adult. The first time I swam back to back 25 yard Iaps I felt like a dog that was thrown in the pool and just praying for the edge. The best part was being able to laugh at myself, and enjoy the moments of being a beginner again. I actually have been able to enjoy the challenge, embrace it, and yes laugh at myself. On your journey to whatever your goal is, I encourage you to enjoy the moments of being new, enjoy the little successes and use them to build upon, look at the little set backs as a way to refocus and not defeat you. Take them in and realize that when you get through these obstacles and build little successes you will be able to use your experience to help others.
Recently I have made a pretty drastic switch in my training/fitness life. It has been met with questions, opposition, teasing, warnings, concern, and a few other things, so I wanted to share my current training focus and reasoning in this blog.
Over the past many years I have been competing in the sport of Powerlifting. It has been one of the best things I have ever done and has been a very fulfilling part of my life. As an athlete all of my childhood and teenage years I had seemed to lose the competitive spirit.
When I started competing in the sport of Powerlifting I could honestly say I was underpowered. I looked fit, but didn’t have the appropriate strength for my level of training. Over the years I had a mission to pursue strength as my primary purpose. After each powerlifting meet I reassessed my goals and set newer strength goals, continually raising my standards. In a few short years I went from a guy that had a 325lb deadlift and 285b squat, to squatting 551 and deadlifting 540. These numbers to some seem enormously strong, and to others in the powerlifting world these numbers are called warm ups. To me they were called maxes and I earned every ounce of them. I left everything out on the platform when I hit these numbers. The difference was, when I hit that 551lb squat it was one of the first times I had to take a step back and say, “do I want to squat more than this”? And the answer was “I don’t know right now.” It felt awesome to achieve it, but my body on that last training cycle was going through a lot. Each of us has a threshold and I decided rather than find the crashing point I would take some time off and reassess everything. I can say for me I wasn’t feeling healthy any more pushing bigger and bigger numbers. Could I have eventually squatted 600lbs? Yep, no doubt, I had to really answer the question “do you really want to do what it takes to get there?”. As for right now, the answer is no. Could that change in the future? Yes. Just being honest with myself, I had to realize that my health wasn’t optimal. I was training specifically for a sport that was starting to take a bit more than it was giving back. I have spent many years injury free and I wanted to keep it that way.
What was I lacking?
My conditioning was shitty. At times I would joke that 20 rep squats with 325lbs was my cardio, or my last rep out on bench was my conditioning for the day, but that is bullshit. It doesn’t make any sense, and I don’t give a damn how high your heart rates gets, lifting weights faster is not cardio, that is science, not an opinion. If you are saying that to yourself you are lying, so just own it. In January an old neck injury came back to haunt me (I was not even lifting, just taking time off!!) and I really couldn’t lift anyway so I had to focus on what I COULD DO. I jumped on my Concept2 Rower and I found it was the only thing that didn’t cause pain and actually made me feel better. I started to have more energy and stamina and realized that the little extra conditioning in my life was going a long way.
That little bit of conditioning sparked a fire and I started to jog a little bit. I have hated running for years and realized that is exactly why I needed to it! I was a 40 year old man that could barely run a mile, and honestly that is BS. I don’t have any excuse to not be able to run a mile. If you are young and have the story that you only run if something is chasing you, then you are keeping yourself down with a story. Realize if something ever does chase you, you won’t be able to do anything about it. I know I have said it in the past and made myself believe it because it made me feel better about my inability to run. I realized that all of my “not running” stuff was ego and not wanting to get out of my comfort zone. I had to prove to myself that I could get better at it and be functional. Running is something that is fundamental to us, and lacking that ability to me was disturbing. If I ever need to run from something I better be able to. The only way I could convince myself to run was to actually have a goal. A big part of the reason I loved Powerlifting was the fact that it gave me a way to train with purpose and have a competitive outlet. I decided a half marathon was going to be a huge challenge, but it was doable. January of this year, I could barely run 1 mile at a 10:30 minute pace and I would have to stop because I was so winded. June 2016 I ran 13.1 miles at a 10:20 pace without stopping. Here is the cool part, I did continue to train strength throughout my marathon training, and a week after my race I squatted 450lbs and I had a lot more in me. Running didn’t make me weak. I trained smart only running 2 x per week, and running didn’t injure me either. Running helped me become more conditioned and well rounded.
DECONDITIONED vs OVERTRAINED
Maybe this isn’t the right way to state what I am about to explain, but this is how I think about things. We always look at the desk jockey/sedentary individual as an unhealthy person. No one argues that not doing anything physical with your life is healthy, but what about those that push the limits on the other extreme? Competitive lifters, Crossfitters, marathon runners, football players, and even over exercisers (you know those that aren’t elite but train themselves into the ground without a rest day and decide low carbs are the way to go), they really aren’t specimens of health no matter how ripped and lean they are. Instead of sitting themselves to death they push the limits the other way and over train themselves to death. The other part of this is you don’t have to be world class to experience decreased health with pushing too hard. I visualize this with a bell curve like this:
For me I can be honest and say that I was starting to slope down the right side of this graph. I wasn’t Elite, but my I had high levels of specific strength for my sport and little balance. I was lacking mobility, conditioning, and was sitting at a bodyweight about 20-25lbs above optimal. I wasn’t overly fat, but I had too much weight on my body. Though a lot of it was muscle it was still hard on my spine and joints. We can see this scenario with anyone that pushes themselves. It could be too much running, too much yoga, you name it, too much is too much. Yes I have seen numerous yoga injuries over the years, it happens. Though I didn’t sustain any injuries that took me out of training I was very stiff, achy, and winded.
CARDIO vs STRENGTH
As I was prepping for my race I was constantly being warned that I was going to hurt myself running and that I would lose my strength. Sure, I can’t squat 551 today, but I am not training for it. I can still squat more than most normal humans on this earth and if I ever want to get back to bigger lifts I can. I have continued to train to keep my base of strength, and it isn’t in my plans to swing the pendulum to being unhealthy with cardio. It is about bringing everything into more of a balance for the time being. I view the balance in a similar curve like this:
TRAINING IN SEASONS
One of the philosophies I am starting to embrace is training myself in seasons. Most world class competitive athletes have training seasons. Football, basketball, soccer, all have a competitive seasons (unless you are talking youth sports and they compete year round in the same sport now which is creating a mess, but I don’t want to go too far off point). I have been structuring my training around different goals and tuning in to my body to make sure I am not over doing it. Since I love competing, I want to structure some of my training around that. After I completed my half Marathon in June, I began training for my first Triathlon a few weeks after. This has been a great transition for me. It has utilized my base I built for the half marathon and adding the other new skills has been great. I have hired a swimming coach, I am riding a bike, and I am still lifting weights. The cool part about all of this is that I am not pushing extremely hard in any one thing. My swims are challenging because I am still learning. My run volume is half of what it was when I was peaking for my 1/2 marathon, and my lifting is utilizing moderate to heavy weights for lower reps to keep my strength base and I am lifting 2x per week. This phase of learning to swim and building my base on the bike has been great because it has kept my training less about intensity and more about being smart, learning, and tuning in to my body. I will note that having the strength base has been a huge benefit in my cardio endeavors, especially cycling. The best part about strength is that once you achieve high levels of it, strength can be maintained with moderate effort and the carryover is significant to other endeavors. The same can’t really be said about those that are highly conditioned and weak. I will most likely compete in powerlifting again in 2017, but I will be sure to not steer too far away from my conditioning base though the total volume of aerobic work will decrease once that happens.
Results Learning and Learning New Skills
I will end with this, learning new things is a must in this life if you want to be happy and accomplished. Living a mundane life isn’t what I want to be about. There is nothing worse to me than living an OK life. I remember the first time I held a kettlebell in 2007/2008. It changed my way of doing things and revolutionized not only my training, but also how I train others. This path of learning what it takes to prep for a half marathon and not injuring myself was priceless and it parallels so closely to powerlifting (maybe an upcoming blog). Now taking on swimming has made my brain wake up to learn a skill that is so foreign to me. The adrenaline rush of flying down Mt. Lemmon at nearly 40mph left me speechless. My brain is opening up new pathways and I feel a lot more awake and alive. It has also inspired me as well as teaching me to be a better coach. Witnessing my swimming coach’s patience with me as well a detail of instruction helps me become better with those I am teaching from the early stages in strength and fitness. To know what it feels like to be frustrated as a newbie gives me a ton more appreciation for the job that I am doing. So the take home message is to keep growing, keep challenging yourself, and find the right balance for you. I know I am loving every second of it!
Saturday, June 18th @10:30am : Evolution Fitness, 5252 E. Speedway Blvd
This is a great way to set a baseline in your training.
Why do it?
This 2000m race will allow you to gauge your training on the rower. This isn’t a competition with others, it is a way for you to set your own personal record! You will be able to get a deeper understanding of where your split times should be and how to pace yourself on the rower. This will also give you some awesome insight on your conditioning level! One of my favorite things about the rower is that you can train with a purpose on it. There is always a goal to achieve and ways to improve. There are lots of conditioning tools out there, but there aren’t many that compare to rowing in terms of developing a skill and having very quantifiable training goals and out comes. If you are looking for your next challenge please join us for this event. It will start at 10:30am and we will run flights about every 15minutes. Depending on the number of attendees we have will dictate the length of the event. We assume it should be done by Noon or sooner. Please RSVP online. It is free to attend. Our friends from Bion Crossfit will be joining us as well. This event is open to non-members, but it will be capped so please RSVP.
I have had lots of thoughts going through my head of late, especially with all the noise out there in the “fitness” world. I recently had a potential member come to our facility to inquire about our training and it inspired me to write about the following.
This woman had been training at another facility that is into the whole HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) thing. As we were getting into our initial consultation, she said that she hated squats and that she didn’t want to do them. I asked her why and she said she hated squats because she had lots of difficulty doing them. She said her current trainer would have her just do them anyway because she “needed to squat”. After I looked at her technique it was clear to me why she hated squats so much: they looked painful, and were mechanically a mess. As my friend Dan John would say, “Squatting isn’t causing that pain, whatever you’re doing is causing that pain.” Meaning she wasn’t squatting, she was moving up and down with disregard for proper movement. This statement is not a judgement on this woman, she was just doing what her trainer told her. My issue is that I see this kind of thing happen all the time. She kept using the word ‘scale’, as in her trainer would ‘scale’ the squats for her and have her do different variations of the movement so she could complete the workout with a modified squat. Though squatting to a high box caused less pain, squatting was doing nothing to improve her life. It was just a repetitive motion that increased her heart rate. If increased heart rate is the goal that’s fine, but there are a ton of other things she could be doing to have that same effect without pain. Why was nothing being done to fix her squat? I see this more and more with different gyms lately. They program fun and interesting workouts that change every day, but there is no instruction, no push towards moving better and feeling better while moving. The term ‘functional training’ is pushed around a lot, but the actual movements being done are far from functional.
So what did her squat look like? Kind of like the drawing below: her hips were high, her body was dumped forward, and when she tried to sit back or go deeper she literally stumbled backwards. Again, this is not a judgement on her, because she had not received instruction on how to squat properly.
Upon further analysis, a big reason this position was happening in her body was her extremely tight calves. When I mentioned it to her, the response was, “I don’t think that’s the problem. My calves don’t bother me at all when I squat, just my knees.” At this point I was getting a little frustrated but my calm response was, “Usually the pain is a symptom of something else not moving well and it will cause pain or irritation at a different location.” Many times knee stuff with squatting can be a function of lower leg issues. Sure there are ton of other things to look at but I always start with the most common culprit first. The other clue was she told me she wears high heels every day (I could write a whole blog post on the issues that come from wearing high heels).
After screening her squat, I knew what was going on, but in order to show her, I chose to do a basic screen to highlight one of the most noticeable issues. Insert the ankle mobility screen. This is a quick and easy screen I used to confirm my initial thoughts. I had her drop to one knee and lunge her leading knee forward. The goal is to keep her foot planted on the ground and see if the knee can move forward past her toes. Usually 3-4″ past the toes is considered sufficient ankle mobility. An important part of this screen is to make sure the heel does not come off the ground, the foot does not flatten on the ground (AKA losing the arch), or that the hip does not rotate to compensate. There are a few other things to look for as well, but these are the key components. Below are pictures of this screen in action. The woman had an ankle mobility nearly identical to the screen on the right.
How far away from the symptom is the source?
One of the things we do here at Evolution Fitness is try to build a base of healthy movement first rather than build a ton of fitness on a mess of dysfunction. In the example above, knee issues and poor squat form started in the calf and ankles. Many times though we see a similar scenario with a much different symptom. It isn’t uncommon to see the same locked up calf and ankle causing a symptom such as an aggravated hip or lower back issue. Rarely do I focus on stretching or attacking the symptom, I look instead to determine the cause and work at the source of the problem.
Squatting with correct form takes a good amount of ankle mobility. There is a huge myth that the shins/lower leg should stay straight up and down; that is not accurate or good advice. Unfortunately I hear many experienced trainers and numerous doctors promote this bogus philosophy. The knees can and will move forward and the ankles need to be mobile enough to do so. Without mobile ankles each joint up the chain will have to compensate. If the ankles lack mobility, the knees, which are a very stable joint, will tend to move more than they should which can cause pain and irritation in the knees. The next joint up, the hip many times will become chronically tight or “locked up”. I hear people all the time tell me how they can’t seem to get their hips loose enough no matter how much they stretch them. Vary rarely have they every addressed the calves and ankles. This is why screening movement with tools such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) are very important to understand what is going on with each client.
Scaling vs. Correctives
I am all for scaling training sessions for those that need to have modified training, but in situations like the one I described above, I would prefer that clients actually work on the issue that is causing the problem rather than squatting to a box like the woman from my consultation. This time would be better used doing self-myofascial release of the lower leg and ankle mobility drills. By focusing on this kind of work we can help improve function. With all of the buzz on functional training nowadays rarely do I see function being addressed by the newest fad-gyms popping up on every corner. If someone can’t squat correctly, having them squat incorrectly for hundreds of reps isn’t functional, it is just over-priced mindless exercise. The answer lies in focusing on correcting the movement so it can be trained optimally.
Looking for a smarter way to train?
If you are looking for a smarter approach to training I recommend learning what movement issues you need to address first before beginning to build a base of strength and conditioning. If you are interested in a movement screen to help you identify possible imbalances, or just want to hear more about what we do, feel free to give us a call and at 520-445-6800 or email us! If you are looking for mindless and random exercise I am sure you can find that on every corner.