Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Be a Captain

Our entire world revolves around respect, or lack of it. It is the basis for every relationship, because of respect I listen to my parents, hold doors open for the elderly and obey the rules of the road. This idea of respect governs how we act in every relationship and the need for respect does not change inside the training room. In fact, it may be the most important aspect of coaching. When your athletes respect you they will believe in what you ask of them.

Respect is very individualized and it is earned in different ways from different people. For some the sole fact that you are offering a service is enough. For others it may require some form of palpable results before you are given respect. The faster you acquire it the smoother your relationship and the quicker the results. So what is the best way to gain your athletes respect?

Train with them! Take of the stopwatch and put down the clip board and grind it out with them for a day. Be a captain instead of a coach, still lead and instruct but do it from the front lines rather than the back. I think that often coaches are afraid to look silly in front of their athletes and as a result are afraid to train with them. If your athletes are better than you, your doing your job right.

My suggestion is to do it on a conditioning day. Why? Because they are shitty, make you hate your life and bring athletes together. It shows that you are willing and able to perform everything you ask them to do and know and understand exactly what they are going through when you ask them to give you more. Plus, as coaches we don't get an opportunity to embrace the struggle as often as we would like, especially with those around that can push us. So try it out, be a Captain.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Return of the Jedi

I was really struggling for a good title and seeing as I still hope to one day be drafted into the Jedi order it seemed fitting. I would title this "Back by Popular Demand" but I doubt that is accurate, I have had a few people ask and it inspired me to start writing again, that and I finished the Hunger Games Series so that freed up some of my time.

I want to take this post to just mention I will be moving to Toronto this summer to work at Gary Roberts High Performance Center. I was very fortunate in gaining an opportunity to work there and owe a lot of people for helping and taking a risk on me. I will also be graduating, sort of (I have to finish a research project first but finished all of my classroom time) so I really am joining the big boy world and want to thank my professors and peers at LSSU.

I also want to thank everyone who has helped shape and guide me the last 4 years. Staying home and attending university was something I regretted initially but it has changed my life for the better and I wouldn't change a thing. My roommates (parents) have my sincerest thank you, they have listened and offered advice almost daily for the last 4 years. I have been able to walk upstairs, raid the fridge and receive advice. I haven't always asked for it or listened but thank them for it. I also thank my brothers, who I have watched grow from little boys into young men and into my closest friends.

Chris Cooper and all those at Catalyst Fitness also deserve a special thank you. Chris not only pulled me out of the potential Globo-gym assembly line but also offered me a job that I love going to, where I hang out with a bunch of awesome people. If your reading this and haven't been there (unlikely) check it out, 99 Industrial Court.

The last, and most important thank you goes out to MMA/BJJ community. Without a doubt  the largest change in my life. Here is a Facebook message that changed it all.

hey man...I watched one of your fights on youtube nice submission but i'm sure you've heard that a few times. I'm looking to get into MMA and was wondering if you've got any pointers. I emailed Ho Shin Sool but was wondering if you could tell me the kind of training that goes on there, MMA specific that is. Thanks and maybe we can train together sometime.
This was sent to Brent Fryia, on August 28th, 2008 and I probably hit backspace and delete about a 20 times before sending it but I really wanted to train UFC. (I tried to find a start date of my GI BJJ career but even with the aid of Facebook Timeline feature I can only guess late 2009.) Now, 4 years later I train and coach at the gym he owns with a bunch of awesome people. The sport has let me meet some of the most humble and amazing individuals and share the mat with champions. The mat has changed who I am and what I feel is important. It has become my favorite place.

PS. A big thank you to Karly Meincke, Devin Boston and Josh Deluco (Zach Griffin when he is in town) for tucking me in late at night and checking the room for ghosts.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Glute Ham Raise

Google Magic
The GHR. One of the best tools in a gym, not enough posterior chain work gets done in our lives or workouts and everyone should invest some time working on the GHR. Among those that do utilize this fantastic machine so many people insist on performing the movement so rapidly and poorly that I am not sure if it is GHR or a dolphin being electrocuted as it leaves the water. We are going to breakdown the GHR into the important cues/ movements. We will start at the top and work our way down the body.

1.) Head /Neck
Pack your neck! Please. I asked politely when you are performing this movement, and all others, pack your neck. This means placing your head in a neutral position. Try this out: Stand up facing a wall and stare straight ahead. You should be looking at the wall at eye level. Now, look at the corner where the wall and ceiling intersect by moving your head not eyes. This will force you to tilt your head and is where most people lift from. The first is a packed neck (or closer to one) and it is the position that you should be working from. The second is the cervical spine in hyperextension, which is where most people do work from. The spine in neutral alignment creates core stability and strength. The same concepts that apply to the lumbar spine when lifting apply to the cervical spine. Not only for safety but also for maximal strength production.
This video shows the neck position I am talking about, although he is obviously deadlifting versus a GHR, but packing the neck is important.

2.) Shoulder /Upper Back
Squeeze the shoulder blades and put them into your back pockets. This point doesn't need much explanation, create a nice big chest with good upright posture. No Quasimodo movements folks.

3.) LB / Butt / Core

Low back is straight (following its natural curve) not moving from excessive flexion to extension. The movement comes from the hips. Squeeze the rear to get in a parallel position to the floor and brace the core. These actions will pull the pelvis into the proper alignment. Once you are in this position lock it in and don't let it move. This is the most important section of the movement and if you break here the rest will be ugly.** DO NOT** bounce out of the bottom and turn the lower back into a bow just to get up to the top. If you have to do that you are not stronger enough yet, sorry. 

This is bad posture

If that was bad <--- How can this be good?

4.) Knees / Toes

The placement of the knees will vary depending on your body type but find a comfortable angle that is challenging but you can perform the reps. The closer your knees are the longer the lever. An increase in lever length will cause an increase in difficulty. Also have your toes engaged versus a flat foot, it helps with stability and activation, try and "grip" the foot plate.

So the basic cues become: Chin Down, Shoulders Back, Back Straight, Butt and Tummy Tight, Active Toes, Movement from the knees.

If you are hitting up the gym later today rep a few GHR with proper form, I am willing to bet you get more out of it in fewer reps and your back won't hurt later.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Stuff to pass the time

Thought I would toss out a post about cool stuff to read/ watch while you are not doing your homework or real work or don't know how to fill your day without BBM.
The first one is a Jay Z short documentary from Oprah that is pretty inspirational as he talks about his life and success.

The second article is about Dan John, if you don't know who Dan John is look him up he is worth your time.

The last is a nutrition article that I was pointed to through Tony Gentilcore. Sadly, I know very little about optimal nutrition so I have been trying to read more. Plus my girlfriend is becoming an RD and I want to be able to have a conversation about the field with her.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

23 Hour Rule

Make use of your 23 hours or else... A Twilight Character will get you.
I consistently find myself writing these during the times I should be studying but I guess some type of productivity is better than none. I was talking with a peer about one of his clients and how it can be frustrating to constantly have to correct the same issues because they seem to regress between the end of the last session to the start of the next. It got me thinking about the 23 Hour Rule. The 23 Hour Rule states that you are working with someone in a specific discipline you probably see them for 1 hour out of 24. You have one hour to try and correct or alter what they do in the other 23 that is causing the issue. I will use fitness as an example because it is relevant to what I do. If your client has shoulder issues and  spends the majority of their day in excessive internal rotation you have only 1 hour to try and promote the correct posture and retraction (pulling back) of the shoulder blades. If this client spends the next 23 hours in that poor position and does not try and make an effort to alter actions in their everyday life (alter desk height, do some mobility work during a commercial, etc.) chances are when they come see you again in a day the issue will not have improved. You are bailing the boat without patching the hole, if you move your arms really fast you may get all the water out but only for a short time before it floods back in. My challenge here is to utilize the other 23 hours, don't just address the issue in that isolated time block. It doesn't matter if your goal is to overhead squat better or learn Spanish.

Personally, when I need to grab something off the bottom shelf in the kitchen I drop into a deep squat and work from there to practice the movement pattern. If I go up an escalator I will  put my one leg up two steps and give the hamstrings a little loving. I try not to sit for an extended period of time without getting up for a stroll and stretch out. Is this enough to make a big noticeable difference? Probably not but it doesn't hurt and is certainly better than doing nothing.