A Quick Guide to the World of Strength Training

Defining Fitness Tools for Strength Training…  Now before you read this, you need to know I love kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, what ever you choose to use to get stronger. Hell, I have even found a soft spot for Crossfit. Each has it’s purpose based on what outcome you are looking for. So this blog is meant to be funny. I will be attacking everything..If you are easily offended or drink the kool-aid of anything just hit the back button. If you are in the Fitness field you should get it….

So what are the things that come to mind when I see these tools and exercises….

TRX: Wow So you can do 5000 exercises with it and still can’t do a pullup. Cool.

Does TRX make you Weak

 

 

 

 

 

Kettlebells: Awesome, but how much can you deadlift? And you do know there are things called barbells, and you can lift more than 106lbs… Just checking

 

   TRX Rip Cord: Wow you can do a lot without getting better    at anything.  How about you lift some weights. Just a thought.

 

 

Sandbags: That was a cool exercise, now can you get a vacuum cleaner and clean all that shit off my floor..

Slosh Pipe (PVC filled with water): That was so much fun, now find a corner to put that in for the next 6 months before we use it again.

Sleds: This could be the most abusive and co-dependent relationship I have ever been a part of but I love you.

Tires: A great way to make your gym tough even though most people are too weak to flip it

Ropes: Oh shit we have a few minutes left in class what should we do now?? OH wait.

Met Con: No, I have no reason why you are tired all the time and wiped out. Oh, this is your 8th workout this week, you need your exercise crack, go right ahead.

Olympic Lifting: Thank God for Crossfit or no one would know what the F$&k it is.

Powerlifting: I thought ammonia was to clean windows with… Carry on.

  Strong Man(lite): Weight classes, Weight classes, WTF? Who wants to watch people carry mediocre shit. F U Crossfit thanks for screwing up this sport with Fitness.

 

How fitness ruined a sport

 

 

RKC: A moment of Silence Please….

Crossfit: Holy Shit did he just lift 95lbs like a bazillion times… Why did he do that again?

Strong First: Entry Level Strong since 2012

The Perform Better Crew: If I have to read another blog or listen to a seminar that you have ripped off from one other and just recirculated I will kill a kitten.

SPP V.S. GPP: If a trainer mentions these two things to you, politely gather your things and leave.

NSCA: Established 1978 and not much has changed since then.

ACE: Making aerobics instructors personal trainers for over 3 decades

ACSM: Could you make Fitness anymore F(*&ing boring, Seriously.

NASM: Everyone is special(ist)

Z-Health: You know there are things called weights and you actually can lift them, I promise you won’t get too strong. Pinky swear.

FMS: Dude you took a weekend course, and you have used the words asymmetry, stable, and mobile 10 times in the last 3 minutes and I am pretty sure you don’t know the difference between each.

Fish Oil: You still feel inflamed after downing half a bottle? Headline,  it won’t fix a stupid training program.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Completely Random Thoughts, A Beard and Program Design

Well I have been completely uninspired to write a blog lately. I mean you could pay me to write and I just didn’t have it in me.  It’s not that I have been lazy, it has been the fact that I have been busy. My gym Evolution Fitness in Tucson has been growing and we have been Presenting at Conferences, hosting Tactical Strength Challenges, or Olympic Weightlifting Meets every weekend. Though I have had some really great topics to blog on, the time hasn’t been there to really develop my thoughts.  I thought I would break my almost 2 month hiatus on blogging with some random stuff that just sounded fun to write about as well as give me the opportunity to be silly.

Grow a Beard

First… If you are a man, you need to grow a real beard at least once in your life. I mean a real beard. Not some 5 o-clock shadow or patchy weird thing that you are trying play off  in a cute  manless way (that is what hipsters do).

Don’t be a Hipster

I mean committing to something and sticking to it. It says a lot about someone to really pull through this.  It’s a lot like starting a training program. The first few weeks suck, you are uncomfortable, itchy, and constantly wanting to give up on the growth. It is easy just to quit, the razor is in the bathroom and it could be just as easy as that. The fact is commitment to the process is key. After about 4 weeks the itchiness is gone, and you constantly find yourself rubbing the beard and actually enjoying it a bit. Kind of like newly found muscles in a training program. I remember when I was 15 I started bench pressing, and after about a month I started to see and feel chest muscles. I felt myself up like I was a first date for weeks….. Anyway, I don’t want to digress. The beard really starts to become a part of you after awhile.  You get people that are happy for you and say things like, that is awesome. You you look great in that beard (your support group that encourages you).  Others that say, you look ridiculous with that thing you should just shave it off, you are becoming obsessed with growing a beard ( These are the naysayers that are jealous and don’t want you to achieve full masculinity).  The key is sticking to it and pushing through. There are  other added benefits of growing a beard. My squat is getting stronger each week, my business is booming, and my wife can focus on how annoying my beard is and forgets about my other 50 bad habits(True Story).

Other Random Thoughts….

If you are consistently designing your own training programs, Stop it! Have someone design you a program. I have actually gained a lot of strength over the past year designing my own programming following some basic principles that I have learned from Pavel, Dan John, and others. There comes a point though where an outside eye needs to be brought it. I had strength coach and friend Chris Falkner design my most recent program. During each  training session I want to punch him in the mouth at least once. Why? Well he knows my goals, my strengths, and weaknesses. He makes sure each workout he attacks one of them. I mean goes after it. Being left to my own devices I design a strength program that focuses on my strengths because I really hate doing stuff I am not good at. The truth is I am only as strong as my weakest link and hitting these up is huge to my overall development. If you don’t know anyone Chris and myself do online coaching and if you are too cheap to hire someone then you deserve to stay weak.

 

 

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So I have changed my Mind on a Few Things….Kind of

As I have been in this field for a while now I have seen numerous things that have come and gone. I have been suckered in to things and fallen for gimmicks. I have flip flopped sometimes more than a middle of the road politician in an election year at times.  Heck, the first time I saw a kettlebell I said “This could be the stupidest thing I have ever seen in my life!” For the most part though I have been in search of a philosophy that works and in the quest for more knowledge . In the past couple years I have ranted about things and upset people as well as gained respect of others with my views. I have been thinking a lot about the path I have taken and things I have learned and well to say the least my view has changed on a couple of things….just a little. Don’t worry I am not opening a Zumba studio any time soon.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it the best……

“I wish to say that what I think and feel today, with the proviso that tomorrow perhaps I shall conflict it all.”

Yoga

I have been very critical of Yoga for a couple reasons. First, I was injured in yoga with
some bad instruction, and I have seen numerous yoga injuries in my corrective exercise practice. Where I haven’t changed? If you are taking yoga just to stretch and are doing high Intensity yoga to pull your body into a pretzel I still think it is ridiculous and not the best idea for most people. Stretching tight muscles is rarely the answer. I have however been looking into the breathing aspects of yoga and think that a good yoga instructor that truly understand the human body and how to instruct appropriate diaphragmatic breathing has a huge value in health, fitness, and performance.  Yoga lately has gone hardcore with high intensity stuff that focuses the stretch and 300 degree rooms and that is about as far as you can get from the true principles of Yoga. Yoga’s true base is one of meditation, spirituality, and breathing.   With the high intensity world of fitness taking over, people don’t need more high intensity yoga, they need breathing and meditation to create the balance, and I am all about promoting a yoga that does that.

Foam Rolling and Self Myofacial Release

I have been off and on the Foam Rolling Self Myofacial Release kick over the years. It has been my best friend, a deceitful liar, and we seem to be back on working terms together with some agreements. Foam Rolling if done appropriately can be a great tool to help loosen up the fascia. I have experienced and witnessed first hand it actually change people’s lives. People have come to me in such stiffness and lethargy and a session with the foam roller made some amazing changes. I have also seen self myofascial release being used completely inappropriately. If you are spending an hour or more a day making out with your foam roller and you seem to never get any long term results or if every time you are on your foam roller you are making a face of utter constipation you are not using the foam roller correctly. This also stands if you are jamming barbells, hot pokers, and screwdrivers into your muscle tissue. Stop the insanity, seriously. The mobility wods on the internet have gained major steam, but when he started using barbells for SMFR I lost interest. If you can get on a foam roller and do a nice once over on your body, workout the kinks without going to battle it is a great tool. If it never gets any better you probably have something else causing the restriction and you need someone else to take a look at you. So, foam rolling with no pain and limited time is a good tool. Being in a co-dependent, abusive and painful relationship with it isn’t.

Crossfit

 

I have been notorious for bagging on Crossfit. I wrote a blog “So What’s My Beef with Crossfit” and I got cheered and hated for it. To be honest, my views from that blog really haven’t changed that much.  I still think if someone goes to Crossfit Gym that follows the Daily WOD like a religion or practices high rep Olympic Lifts and Box jumps it is asinine. So what has changed? First, I have mad respect for the Crossfit Games winners. Those guys are strong as hell.(FYI, They don’t follow the daily Wods or Crossfit Programming). 2nd.I appreciate what Crossfit has done for the fitness industry in many ways. It really did change the game. The big box gyms and smaller wannabe big box gyms are having a tough time to adjust. They are still touring people in multi-million dollar facilities and showing off $10,000 treadmills for $10 a month and keep lowering the prices because they don’t know what else to do. The big box gyms are in a race to the bottom, while Crossfit Gyms and gyms like Evolution Fitness Tucson have chalk covered rubber stall mats on the floor, kettlebells, and Barbells and charging $100′s per month and still showing signs of growth. People are leaving the big box gyms for something different. Crossfit has made  gymnastics and barbells cool again and also is responsible for re-energizing the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. Don’t worry I am not affiliating, but I have to give credit where credit is due. I still make my funny jabs and call things how I see it, but I am off the ranting.

Walking

I have made numerous comments about how walking isn’t exercise. I was called egotistical and insensitive.  Here is where I was coming from. If someone is extremely out of shape walking IS exercise, but after a short period of time the body will adapt and it will just become physical activity and basic locomotion. I guess I started this because I see able bodied, young individuals tell me they walk for exercise and in those situations it just isn’t exercise or isn’t enough to make a huge difference for them. What has changed? Well I think walking has its purpose and place in health and wellness, it just shouldn’t be the ONLY thing someone does, just as only lifting weights isn’t the only thing someone should do for health. Walking for an hour per day does have tremendous health benefits, and for those people that want to lose weight and keep it off I promise that walking for an hour per day will increase the chances of success. Also, for people that are lifting and training really hard, walking on off days can be a great way to help the body recover by increasing circulation as well as assist in mental clarity. Don’t just sit on your ass if you aren’t doing anything start with walking then add the other stuff.

High Intensity Interval Training

I still like HIIT in many situations. The ability to help burn fat and optimize hormones in muscle gains is proven. I still practice this type of training, but it isn’t the only thing I do. I got really carried away with it and started avoiding aerobics at all cost which really isn’t a good idea. Aerobic capacity and building an aerobic base are critical for over all health, fitness, endurance, and recovery time. Also, just practicing HIIT is a great way to burn out your body as well. So my view has changed to doing  HIIT a couple times per week and Aerobics a couple times per week is probably a good combo with a good base in Strength and Mobility work.

Corrective Exercise  Myopia

I have been studying and practicing the FMS for over 2 years now and have really seen some great aspects of this training system. As I first learned it I got sucked in. I mean sucked in deep. I still think it is a great system and if someone learns it, practices it, and goes deep with it, it will definitely give them a great understanding of the human body. It takes 100′s of screens but like anything if you are going to do it, you got to practice.  As time has gone on I have seen great results using this system, but like any system, nothing gives you 100% of the results all of the time. I started getting frustrated with FMS and making it wrong, but the problem was I was too afraid to look outside into other philosophies. Increasing one’s tool box when it comes to the human body is a must. The FMS is a great system but not the only one.  Looking into philosophies such as DNS, PRI, and Z-Health have started to give me  the additional tools to be a better practitioner. Having a bigger tool box and being able to critically think and use the most appropriate tool for the situation is key.

I am sure as they years go on I will continue to change and grow in this field. That truly is the only way to have longevity in this field.

 

 

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Evolution Fitness Tucson Featured on Outdoor Channel

Danny with Deb Ferns, Camp Director Babes with Bullets: Evolution Fitness Personal Training tucsonWe were very honored to be featured on the Outdoor Channel’s website.  WE train competitive 3 Gun Shooter Deb Ferns. She came to us to work on her strength for her shooting competitions. She enjoyed our group personal training so much that she asked if she could do an episode of her Outdoorchannel.com web Series Babes with Bullets. Babes with Bullets is an organization that holds camps for women to learn how to effectively use firearms. I had the honor of going to the range with Deb and it was awesome to feel the power of these guns. Learning to shoot reminded me of when I first learned to use the kettlebell. My body wasn’t use to it, I was frustrated that I wasn’t good at it, and I realized it would probably take me 10,000+ repetitions before I actually get good at it! Enjoy the Episode!

Personal Training in Tucson:Babes with Bullets start Deb Ferns

 

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Obesity and Debunking too Broke to Eat Healthy Myth from Food Inc

I seemed to have sparked some emotions this morning by calling Americans Lazy because we are the fattest country in the history of the world! I say it and people think I am a jerk, but the movie Food Inc. says it and it is politically correct for some reason. I was watching Food Inc, and I really applaud the Movie’s approach to undercover the corruption of our food system. It truly is a must see. If you have the online version of NetFlix it is free to watch. There is one scene in particular though that really bugs the hell out of me. It actually pisses me off. The section of the movie  is called “The Menu”. It goes into details in how our food system makes poor people eat aweful food and makes them eat fast food as if a gun is held to their heads. It sends out the tone that they are victims of the system, the man, the corporations or what have you.  The first time I watched the movie I shook my head in agreement because I was just blown away by the stories of the slaughter houses, chickens, and Monsanto. After a second go through I caught on to some things… Here is the clip from from Food Inc, Via Youtube…

If you watched the clip you could have a million thoughts running through your head about right now. Maybe that of sympathy for the family, disgust with our food system, or if you are like me, a voice that screamed “wake the F&*K up and change your life and stop being a victim. You have Diabetes and are on Meds, You are dying man!! Stop Blaming people?!! Well you could say “Danny how could you say such things. This family was poor. You are just a heartless person!” You could say that and I wouldn’t be hurt, but take a close look at the scene. The family is shown pulling up to a drive thru and spends $11.48 on breakfast because the evil fast food chain has a 99 cent menu. If the evil fast food chain was too expensive there would be a documentary on how evil they are because people can’t afford them. Anyway, I don’t want to digress. So lets break down $11.48 for an at home breakfast. 1 dozen of eggs $1.99(17cents/per egg). If you eat oatmeal it is about 30-50cents/serving and most likely less if you buy it on sale. Whole wheat bread   about 15-20cents per slice or less. Fruit varies but I saw a bag of 6 apples the other day for $2. so lets just say 50cents/per apple to be safe.

Breaking ONE  Breakfast down for a family of 4.

  •  1 dozen eggs (Each person in the family could have 3 eggs) $2
  • 4 bowls of oatmeal: 1.50
  • 4 slices of bread: $1(less than)
  • 4 apples: $2

I don’t know about you, but my math comes out to $6.50 for breakfast for a family of 4. The damn government and the fast food chains have tortured this entire family into paying $5 extra every morning  because they don’t have time to cook breakfast. Here is a solution hardboil the eggs ahead of time and microwave the oatmeal. I know I am a heartless person.  Lets take on Dinner Shall we?

Here we go:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast on sale $2.49/pound. 2 pounds= $5
  • Brown Rice 15-20cents per serving. 4 servings lets make it $1
  • 2 heads of brocolli: $3
  • oils spices etc to cook in. $2

Once again each person gets 8oz of boneless skinless chicken, vegetables, and a starch. And an entire family eats for $11. Still cheaper than McDonalds. Here is the reason I decided to write this. This is not written towards the overweight person that is working out and eating healthy and has certain health issues that are preventing weight loss. I have been inspired watching friends and friends of friends on facebook changing their lives with exercise. I see people swimming laps every night and loving it! I see people taking diet challenges to lose weight and investing every thing they have into it. All of the is awesome because it is all about taking actions to better your health and life. There are way too many excuses in this country and too many people making excuses for their health. I have the benefit of seeing people change thier live’s daily. As a trainer people seek me out help and assist them in changing their live’s but it all starts with personal accountability. Stop blaming society, your childhood, or anything else.  Your health It is no one else’s responsibility.

 

 

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An Aha Moment from my 81 Year old Client

I didn’t need to write an entire blog entry on this, but I was having an amazing conversation with my 81 year old client Loraine this morning. She truly is an inspiration to me. One of those people I could just train for hours, day after day. I was commenting to her how many of my clients that are 70+ are so motivated and don’t complain at all compared to my younger clients that need to change their lives before it is too late. She just smiled at me and said something to the affect of  ” yes dear, your younger clients still THINK they have all the time in the world.” It truly was perfect.

I see it all the time, numerous people who come to me in their 30s and 40s looking for help yet just don’t seem to have the fire in their belly to make changes in their life. The destructive illusion that there will always be time seems to be a common thread. If only people made those changes today instead of when it is 10 years too late. In Loraine’s case she has done a wonderful job of self preservation, and our workouts are way of maintenance. Unfortunately, I can’t count the number of clients and ex-clients that will have to wait until that something big happens before the illusion of time sinks in. This just doesn’t go for working out and fitness. This short little conversation stuck with me today to reflect on the areas of my life where the illusion of having all the time in the world has allowed me to become lazy and uninspired…

The best time to start (FILL IN THE BLANK) was 10 years ago, the next best time is right now.

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Wrapping up Week 1 on the The Visalus Challenge

I have had numerous people ask me how is it going and why I haven’t updated my blog with my progress.. Well to be honest, there really isn’t a whole bunch to report. I drink a shake, eat a small snack, drink another shake, have another small shake, and eat a reasonable dinner. Now, I will say that my only challenge is to watch my portions when I eat my meals. I am a really big eater, so limiting portions once I start eating is a big deal for me. In all honesty I don’t have a huge goal with this except maybe to lose a couple pounds, but over all I just wanted to try this product out with all the buzz that it holds. My workouts have been fine, but I have really backed off my heavy stuff lately anyway since I am still recovering from a basketball injury a couple months ago.

The only comments I have so far is that the protein itself tastes fine, but the flavor additives that they give you with the protein I could totally do without. I will stay on path for the next 30 days and see if I continue on for more than that, but so far all is fine. I haven’t grown a third nipple or withered away to nothing:-)

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Day 1 on the Visalus Challenge

Not a whole bunch to report from a difficulty perspective, but there were a few insights.. Like I mentioned in yesterdays blog, when doing the Velocity Diet last year ALL choices were taken away except for one meal per week. In doing the Visalus Challenge you actually have the opportunity to eat real food every day which is definitely a plus, but also leaves room to make poor choices. Today started off with a shake and just water, a few hours later I had my second shake with Almond Milk and Coconut milk and a 1-teaspoon of peanut butter. Since the shakes are only 90 calories adding a few calories is a bit necessary for my and my activity level.  Snack was a small apple and a small piece of Chicken Breast. Dinner is the part where things can get out of control if I am hungry. Even if dinner is healthy,  it is easy to just eat too much of good and healthy food. I ate some fish and salad tonight, but the true test came when my wife asked me to go for Ice cream. I agreed to go and watch her and my daughter eat ice cream.

Visalus Challenge Temptation is everywhere

This is the crucial part of any nutrition plan or goal. It is so easy to get side tracked. We have lives, families, and busy schedules. No matter how much money someone will spend on personal training, a nutrition challenge it is crucial to keep the goal the goal. It is easy to add 3 tablespoons of peanut butter in the shake instead of 1.  It is easy to say I will just have a few bites (big mouthfuls) of ice cream instead of watching on.  No matter what I think of this challenge or any other plan, being a human with choices always makes for an interesting day..

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Taking on another Nutrition “Challenge”

A year has gone by since my last challenge. I took on the Velocity Diet last year for 28 pain staking days. For those of you that don’t recall it you can go back to my blog and see the experience. After reviewing my experience I was way too diplomatic. To recap the Velocity diet: Drink 5-6 shakes a day and eat One meal per week for 4 weeks. When people ask me about the experience without a hesitation I say it sucked and you couldn’t pay me to it again. I was hungry for an entire month. I woke up hungry and went to bed hungry. I lost 12 pounds, didn’t lose any strength, but my bodyfat percentage didn’t either.  In the past year I have recommended the Velocity Diet ZERO times. Not once did I think it was appropriate for my clients or friends.

Many of you know me as a pot stirrer.  I always find things to talk about and my sarcasm usually wins a following or pushes people away. I have been seeing a huge influx of nutritional products hitting the market and gaining popularity big time over the past year. Each of them of course are multi-level marketing based which usually highly annoys the hell out of me. I am approached non stop by people I don’t know trying to get me on their nutritional product team. With numerous friends on Facebook, I see all the products promoted. Advocare, Isagenix, Herbalife, Juice Plus, and Visalus.  Truth be told I could probably pick apart every single one of these supplements just as I could point out many benefits of each. In all honesty just about any supplement isn’t perfect. The supplement industry isn’t regulated and it really is like the wild west out there. Lately  I have seen lots of buzz on Facebook about a supplement called ViSalus. Of course my first reaction is to really pick it apart (which I will), but there is something about ViSalus that intrigues me. The biggest thing is that the company really promotes a 9o day challenge. That is really all you hear about… The challenge.  Challenges get people excited and this company does a great job of promoting it. In reality though anyone can promote a challenge and it doesn’t mean that it is good for you. If you all know me, I really don’t care about getting skinny, I care about managing body fat while still seeing increases in strength.  There are lots of ways to get skinny or lose weight. As Dan John says… tie yourself to a tree for 3 days and don’t eat you will lose some weight. So why am I wanting to try Visalus? Well with all the buzz I want to see what it is all about because I constantly have clients asking me about this nutritional product. If I am going to tell a client to try something I usually have gone through it myself. If I try this product and my lifts and performance go down or I am miserable on it then I stay as far away as possible and make sure to let people know to stay the hell away. Hence the reason I have never once told someone to try the Velocity Diet after going through 28 days of hell. The difference between this and the Velocity-Diet is that you actually eat real food with it. Visalus is two shakes per day, 2 real food snacks and one real food meal. This should be a walk in the park.

So here is  all of my thoughts on ViSalus even before I try the challenge.

First off this is a MLM(multi-level marketing) Company and I usually stay clear of these types of products. For no other reason except for the fact it is hard for me to really relate to the business model. Second the product has soy and if you know me you know I am not a huge fan of soy. So I did some research on the product and they back the soy by saying that the Isoflavones which can possibly increase estrogen have been removed and that the soy they use is not GMO(genetically modified). This doesn’t however change the fact that this stuff is pretty processed, but in todays world what isn’t highly processed.  Another thing that really has me a bit stand offish is the too good to be true part of the challenge.  Another thing that I have to say is ANY nutritional plan that does not include a strength (real strength) biased training program isn’t complete and will never show long term results. I see way too many people doing challenges that are doing aerobics only and that is a recipe to make a weak and skinny fat person. Also, I get turned off by people that just jump into investing in nutrition and not into understanding how to exercise. These are usually the people that will have to stay on “diets” their entire life and go through the gain/lose fat cycle forever because they never learn how to eat real food consistently and exercise.  They will go from Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers, to The Cabbage Diet and say nothing ever worked long term. I think the purpose of anything like this needs to encourage people to eventually eat real food as well, and not just live off of shakes and help them learn to build a healthy exercise habit.

OK but why a shake diet at all, why not just food.

In a perfect world I wish people would just eat clean all the time. I preach it daily with every new client. I have lists of what to eat and what not to eat. I spend time going over diet journals with clients time after time. I stress the importance of non processed foods, lean meats, vegetables, and limiting grains. Of course I have clients that just listen and life is good for all parties involved. On the other hand if just telling people to eat clean worked everyone would be losing the weight and getting in shape.  I do firmly believe that making life long changes with food should be the first step. I do think there is a place for certain forms of meal replacements and use for assistance to manage calories in V.S. Calories out.  As simple as losing weight should be many people just need an extra push.  If someone can get the kickstart they need by drinking a couple shakes a day and not getting gastric bypass surgery (just another way to limit calories) or having to go on Medical weight loss, then it isn’t the worst idea. People are busy and sometimes getting people to prepare the foods needed just isn’t going to happen no matter how much it is needed. Limiting choices many times is the key to success. My biggest thing with taking this on is I want to see how I feel on it, and how my strength and stamina is affected. If I take on this challenge and my strength suffers  or I am losing energy, then I will stop.  I will never recommend anyone I know to try something that I haven’t tried myself. I am not committing to promote anything nor will I trash this till I try it…… I will keep you posted…

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To Foam Roll or Not to Foam Roll

I don’t have the answer.. I received lots of comments and emails about a comment I made about giving up my foam roller. I think I may have thrown people for a loop. It is something I have told so many to do, heck I even sell them at my gym.  So why the change of heart? First, let me say that I am not making a blanket statement for everyone to quit foam rolling, nor do I think foam rolling is a bad thing, but even the guys in the industry like Gray Cook who promotes foam rolling said something at my CK-FMS Certification to the affect of, “if you have name for your foam roller and are lost without it you may have bigger issues going on”. Think about it. To those that took offense to my comment and wanted to de-friend me on facebook because of it, how many of us are attached to the foam roller or is your foam rolling habit getting more ridiculous (read on).

About 5 years ago I was suffering from miserable back pain. I had trouble getting out of bed and was very miserable. I started using a foam roller and it significantly helped get me out of pain and assisted me in stretching the muscles in my leg that I ignored for years. A huge part of my problem was bound up fascia and foam roller was a big solution for me. I have used it successfully with many clients, and honestly don’t plan to pull it from my clientele.  Fast forward 5 years later. No major issues but in general I am not in chronic pain and my performance is solid in the weight room. But I find some little nagging areas in my hips and shoulders that don’t seem to go away. I have consistently foam rolled them, when that failed I used a tee-ball, then moved on to a lacrosse ball. I have even used a barbell (really poor choice, I don’t ever recommend it.) to work out sore spots. Well months have gong by and those little nagging things haven’t gone away. So should I move on to steal skewers to jam in to my body. It isn’t just me. I see it everywhere, even so called mobility experts on the internet promoting more and more intense self myofascial work. If you really need DEEP tissue work then see a professional. Jamming shit deeper into your tissue is bordering stupidity (and yes I have done it to myself). People using harder and harder objects to dig into their bodies for relief. It is starting to seem like the definition of insanity. The question I have to ask is are you getting any better? If you have to spend 3o minutes pre-workout jamming lacrosse balls into every part of your body to workout each day, are you really effective or healthy, or are you creating more dysfunction? I honestly don’t have the answer, but I am looking for a new solution. The foam roller and other myofascial tools have a place in training, I am just seeing it getting ridiculous now.

The next question is why the hell are my muscles so tight ALL THE TIME in the first place? Well the nervous system really controls the musculoskeletal system, so if muscles are continually “on” and need to be continually relaxed and a foam roller, hot poker, or meat tenderizer isn’t working maybe it is time to look for the switch elsewhere. Now this is where I am going to end this part of the discussion.  I don’t need to get in debates on the nervous system and come off like I am an expert in neurology. I see way to many people claiming this nowadays. The truth is the nervous system can be easy to distract. And there can be numerous parlor type tricks that can shut down certain parts of the nervous system, but in reality if those trouble spots are not going away, then working with the nervous system may be the answer.

Over the next few weeks I plan on working with some techniques I learned at the Postural Restoration Institute. PRI’s philosophy really works with breathing techniques utilizing the diaphragm and other corrective exercises that will assist in working with the nervous system to position the trunk in optimally for proper movement(really simplified version). Now I am not going to start singing the praises of any system just yet. I did see some pretty great results with some the techniques I learned, but the real truth will be to see if the results stick and if the corrective work can be utilized in a program effectively. So in the mean time I plan on trying some of these methods out and minimally use or not use my foam roller for a bit. I also want to say that not once did PRI mention not using a foam roller, nor do I recall them even mentioning anything anti-myofascial. I kind of came to my conclusions on my own.  For those of you that may roll your eyes on this blog, I will say that as a professional it is always crucial to challenge any current paradigm you may be following and always testing and applying new methodologies. It doesn’t mean you jump from philosophy to philosophy, but staying status quo because some other big names are doing it doesn’t make sense. Consistently challenging belief systems is the only way for personal growth. This is why I am not telling any of my clients to stop what they are doing, and I don’t think they should. I am just sharing my process out loud. When a definitive conclusion has been reached I will then change or Not change my current strategies with my clients. Till next time…

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