Archive for Awesome

Weightlifting is the Answer! Here is why…

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by razorsedgeperformance
We have spoken a number of times on this page about why weightlifting exercises (SEE Snatch, Clean, and Jerks) are awesome for developing speed and power in athletes, and thus why they should be included in many training programs.
While that is still true, I am going to discuss why weightlifting is EVEN BETTER for recreational athletes, and for that matter strength and conditioning coaches!
Let me talk about the second group first, because that is my cohort. As strength and conditioning coaches we are usually a competitive bunch (most are former athletes) and so love to compete no matter how old or out of shape we get. Add to that thought the concept of the high power output that is present in these exercises and it makes for the perfect avenue to compete in that still stays true to what we preach all day in the weight room! Wait, there is a cherry on top…these lifts are highly technical, and require a lot of practice and some good coaching. So as strength coaches, we always want to be working on our craft to provide the best coaching to our athletes. The more you can practice the lifts on your own, the better you get at coaching them and picking them apart.
Now let’s get to the recreational lifter and with that the crossfit population. I will go on record and say there are some things I really enjoy about crossfit. People seem to love it and love getting to the gym. This is great for the health and fitness of overall communities and the individuals within them. It is a system that also works well to improve overall physical capacities and body composition. So why do people hate on it, especially in the health and fitness community? Probably because they break people…some of it is from the crazy amount of volume everyone is expected to do, and some of it is just from the fact few members get taught proper technique for the weightifting exercises (let alone basic barbell exercises!!)…
Here are a few reasons why they are actually amazing lifts for the recreational lifter, even though they seem too technical and only for the ‘elite’…
Mobility! Here is the world record holder in both lifts at 77kg class, Lu Xiaojun. I have a huge man-crush on him for his weightlifting abilities. Not only are we talking about crazy amounts of power to move the bar, but he is catching the weight in a full-depth overhead squat. Even go back and see his starting position; Weightlifting requires a high level of mobility in your hips and ankles, as well as shoulders and upper back. These are the kinds of things the office-warrior loses quickly as they age, so just working on getting to these positions is highly valuable. Posture is such a large emphasis for these lifts that these muscles will get a ton of attention, and have no choice but to get their act together!
Metabolic Demand! These lifts use the entire body. So when you do a set of 8 or 10 reps at a submaximal weight, you are burning a ton of fuel. No wonder all the elite lifters are shredded (save for superheavy’s)…
Even working with a dowel (wooden stick, step 1) to get the positions and transitions correct, will be a great workout for most people as the volume is typically high and the attention to detail as well.
Cool Factor! Because they are so technical, not a lot of people do them well…walking into a gym, taking over the platform, and rocking some double body weight clean and jerks will definitely get you some attention. You will make a lot of friends that day. A lot of people can squat, but throw the same weight overhead as fast as you can? My mind just got blown.
It is with all of these reasons that we have begun a weightlifting club out of FITS Toronto where we work with weekend warriors to master these lifts, and so far the response has been impressive. If you want to really kick your training into another gear, and find something that you can really pour your focus into…then start learning how to weightlift!! (Consult a professional!!)
BONUS: Here is me hitting some PR’s yesterday as I journey to a bodyweight snatch…join me!
DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s Kyle beating Cory‘s PRs
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Updates

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , on December 5, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

A couple of things to share with everyone today. We are now entering Christmas party season so it’s important to be doubly focused on your workouts since you are definitely going to go overboard in terms of alcohol and junk food consumption. This is more or less unavoidable. It’s the holiday season, don’t kid yourself. So the only defense is high-intensity workouts. They don’t have to be 2-3 hours long, just get the hard work done quickly, then the after-party won’t have as many negative effects on you…

Secondly, I have been seeing some amazing improvements in my vertical jump lately and I have written an article on the FITS website to outline some of the reasoning.  Check it out here.

Thirdly, we are proud to announce that we are the health and fitness voice at a fantastic new website, http://cavemag.com

Check out the first major article here.

CaveMag is a fantastic online magazine that provides health and fitness, lifestyle, sports, style, entertainment, and many other categories of great insight from a group of great writers. Make sure you check it out regularly to read all the latest.

That’s all for now, we’ll be back soon with some fresh content!

It’s About Getting Better!

Cory

 

Setting Goals for Success

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , on November 18, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Hey Everyone,

Been really busy lately so I haven’t had a chance to post. Excited to say that I am done the 1st semester of my MSc in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning).

I also had a great week for performance in my workouts, and I thought i’d share what happened because it has some good lessons for goal setting and mindset.

A couple friends of mine have been making me jealous by banging out a ton of muscle ups. I am a competitive guy, so I decided I wanted to be able to do some as well. This is the kind of thing they’ve been doing. If you don’t know Jose or Kane, they are some impressive guys in terms of feats of strength! (Especially relative to body mass…)

So after seeing this I got motivated to figure it out…I figured, I can do plenty of dips and pullups, so it can’t be that hard right?

The first time I tried it, I could barely get over the bar. I could not imagine how to get over and be in a position to press-up. Round 2, I fly over the bar, but can’t stop myself from falling back down again. Round 3, I narrow my grip a little bit, and BAM, knock one out, easier than I expected.

That’s when I texted Kyle and said I wanted to do 5 in a row by Thursday November 24, 2011. This was on Saturday November 12, 2011. I thought it was a little aggressive but doable.

Check out this video of me hitting my goal on November 18, 2011.

So how did I do it so fast?

I’m awesome, that’s how. In all seriousness though, it was the desire to accomplish a huge performance goal. I am lucky that I am in the gym for big chunks of time each day, so once I got my first one, I decided to do a muscle up whenever I got a chance. I can’t tell you how many reps total I have done in the past 4 days, but it is quite a few. If you think about weightlifters (i’ll use this term for those that compete in the snatch and clean and jerk), and especially those in eastern Europe, they perform squats, cleans, jerks, and snatches daily. They just cycle the volume and intensity of each for an appropriate mix between progression and fatigue. So when you have a performance goal, if you want to be aggressive with it, make sure you do it a lot. Don’t just do a once a week pulling lift if you want to improve your pullups drastically. Obviously you need to monitor your fatigue and soreness daily, but singles are always doable!

The next big lesson that I take from this goal, is not necessarily supported by evidence but anecdotally I believe, that performance goals are easier to achieve than body composition/aesthetic goals. It’s way easier to see what it takes to go up one rep at a time, or put 5 pounds on the bar at a time, but if you don’t lose weight one day it is easy to get mentally discouraged. Sometimes you don’t know what it will look like to lose 10 inches, or decrease body fat % by 10 points, so how do you stay focused daily? It’s easy to get side tracked when the end goal is hard to picture. But as I experienced, it was easy to tell when I was getting close to putting multiple reps together, so I slowly progressed to doubles and triples.

There is a lot more that goes into appropriate goal setting, but I feel that having a feel for the process is a very important part of the journey. I also believe that accomplishing certain performance goals can really boost self-confidence and give you the personal satisfaction to keep achieving great things.

So go ahead, make a goal, and work daily to accomplish it!

It’s About Getting Better!!

New Things continued…

Posted in Performance with tags , on October 25, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I just wanted to build on yesterday’s post about the new things going on, since there is a whole lot in the air this fall!

One of the things that makes me so excited about my work with FITS is that we combine our anecdotal experiences with people and athletes with the most up-to-date research in strength and conditioning, rehabilitation, nutrition, and motor learning. This pursuit of the most advanced and effective methods of performance enhancement led us to a relationship with OptoSource. They currently provide some really exciting equipment/technology for anyone that does work in sport performance, rehab, or injury prevention. We had the honour of trialling the OptoJump this weekend at FITS and I must say it was a great success. We first went through all of the testing ourselves, in order to get a feel for the software and the ability to build in any test you wanted into the equipment. Then on Sunday we were able to take a lot of the athletes from Alpine Ontario through a gauntlet of tests/assessments to gather a lot of valuable information. Here are a couple takeaways from this experience…

Synchronization

One of the most powerful functions of the OptoJump is it’s ability to give you so many tools at one time. While conducting any given assessment, you get real-time video from two cameras (frontal and sagittal) that are synched with the data. This allow you to go back through the results and at any given point to see the metrics of their movement and have two different visual angles to compare with the numbers. You can also calculate joint angles as well.

Flexibility

The hardware and software are only as useful as the test itself, since you want to make sure you are learning more about something that’s actually important. With this in mind, it is really awesome that you can design any assessment you want to use within the OptoJump and allow the equipment to quantify results on the fly. Pick your sport, if you are testing athletes, and you you feel there are certain characteristics or movements that indicative of performance level or injury risk, then the chances are you can quantify it on the OptoJump.

Here are a couple videos I took of the OptoJump in action at FITS…

 

Lastly, we here at REP are starting to expand our reach with the content that we provide. We will now post articles on EVERYDAY JORDAN, a phenomenal blog written by a good friend about the opposite sex (no matter which sex you are!) and relationships…and pretty much how we live these days…I suggest you check it out…

The King of Exercises

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I’d love to start this off by saying how important deadlifts are for increasing strength and power, which translates directly to speed on the field, ice, and track. Here at REP that’s not our style though. What is more important about deadlifting is how crucial it is for EVERYBODY to move better and restore balance to your body. It is crucial to get out of constant hip flexion by introducing the best hip extension exercise. It combines a hip hinge and a squat pattern, two basic moves that everybody should master for physical literacy, yet with most clients, these are missing. If you aren’t comfortable doing a deadlift, or aren’t 100% sure you are GREAT at them, go see a pro and get some work in. If the deadlift is the ‘King of Exercises’ then a poorly executed deadlift just might be the ‘Kingpin of Exercises’, the mob boss responsible for crime and destruction on the streets…or your tissues…

The Basics

You want to set up behind the bar with feet about shoulder width apart. This stance should be more narrow than a squat. The bar should be right up to your shins. Play around with your grip (you can use double overhand or alternating grip… I’d suggest staying with double overhand until it starts to get too heavy) width to find what feels most comfortable.

The Setup

I just gave you the basics of positioning, so now let’s talk approach. From a standing position, make sure your chin is tucked down and core is engaged. Next, sit down a little bit, like a quarter squat, by pushing the hips back. Then you will hinge at the hip and place your hands on the bar. You should be looking at a spot on the ground about 3-4 feet in front of you, not at your feet.

The Lift

When you are executing the lift, there are 3 things that we absolutely don’t want. First, is your hips and shoulders rising separately. This will put a ton of strain on your back if your hips pop up, then your shoulders start to come up. Second is any major lumbar flexion throughout the lift. A lot of times, if your hips pop up first, then you are likely going to go into lumbar flexion, since your spinal erectors are rarely strong enough to lift the weight on their own. Third is an exaggeration at the lockout position of lumbar extension or cervical extension. You do not need to lean back to make sure it’s complete. Your shoulders should not end up behind your bum (looking from the side). We are looking for hip extension, not lumbar extension. Full hip extension should leave you locked out in a straight line, head to toe. With the neck, some people look way up to the sky for this same purpose. Don’t do it. Leave the chin tucked and the neck in neutral.

One of my favourite cues for having a well-coordinated lift off, is to try ‘pre-lifting’ the upper back/shoulders. This tends to give the stiffness in the arms and upper body that you need to ensure your legs do most of the lifting.

Here are a couple of videos that you can look at to help give you an idea of what to do…

(Unfortunately the above video was filmed before I understood the importance of neck packing; the chin should be tucked more than it is in this video for a straighter spine)

RECAP

Some key points about deadlifting…

  • A 2x body weight deadlift is the bare minimum for any elite athlete.
  • Anybody who lifts regularly, no matter the age or athletic status, should be able to deadlift body weight
  • You do not need to go into hard lumbar extension to exaggerate the finish.
  • You can put serious mass on through your legs and upper back with deadlifts
  • If you don’t use straps, your grip strength will fly through the roof!
  • They do contribute greatly to the ability to jump and sprint
  • They are probably the best full-body posture exercise out there

If you don’t deadlift, start now. Get someone to look at your technique. Learn how a good deadlift FEELS then you can start progressing up in weight. Make them a cornerstone of your programming.

It’s About Getting Better!

Front Squats Are The Bee’s Knees!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 18, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I was in the middle of a set of front squats one time when a guy came up to me and asked how I do that. He said he sees athletes doing them all the time but he thinks they look so hard. Here’s the truth…he’s right and he’s right. Athletes do them all the time, and they CAN be hard. They don’t have to be hard to learn though.

Here are the advantages of front squatting..

1) Takes a huge portion of the load off of the spine…

2) Requires great use of core musculature to maintain posture

3) When done right, can allow for “ass-to-grass” squatting more easily than the back squat

Here are the disadvantages of the front squat…

1) It can be uncomfortable (boo hoo)

2) You won’t be able to lift as much as your back squat (is that a big deal?….no)

So I think we know which side wins…LEARN TO FRONT SQUAT

And here is a little video on some simple progressions.

Remember to keep the hips back, chest tall, and drive your elbows up….

If you want to see a heavy front squat in action, We both recently hit PR’s on the front squat!

Check out Cory’s video HERE
Check out Kyle’s video HERE

Believe it or not…endurance running is about power!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Sprinters versus marathoners…Nothing alike they say…A whole different can of worms…Well, I’m here to tell you they are closer than they appear. Sure there is a definite difference in which energy systems are used as the primary fuel source, but there are also many commonalities. For example, they both race for time, so at the end of the day, the fastest runner wins. With that in mind, ground contact time on each stride is the enemy. The longer we are on the ground for each step, the slower our time will be, since it means we are not going anywhere!

So how do we reduce ground contact time? Essentially it comes down to stiffness. When preparing to strike the ground, we need to activate a whole bunch of muscles in our legs along with having good stiffness in our connective tissue. This way, after driving downward, our leg essentially bounces off the ground as quickly as possible. If our muscles aren’t trained to withstand the high ground reaction forces, some of our joints will bend, absorbing much of the energy and sticking to the ground. This can cause some overuse injuries, and also slow us down.

Why power training? Stiffness is another word for tension. The ability to create tension is basically strength. Strength in a short period of time is power. A running stride definitely falls into the category of short period of time! Power training involves any exercises that involve creating a high level force, but at the fastest rate possible.

Most endurance runners spend almost all of their time doing long distance running assuming that the more they run, the better they will get. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The more we run, the more efficient our body becomes at running. This means we use less energy to create the same result. It doesn’t necessarily mean we increase our maximum running speed. As I mentioned earlier, marathons are still a race, the fastest runner for 26 miles wins.

If you want to really drop your time in your endurance event, start putting more focus on sprints and strength training. Don’t worry, you won’t immediately turn into a meathead. What you will do, with the proper guidance of course, is improve your ability to transfer force through the ground in order to propel your body forward. This means more speed, and a better time!

Remember, it’s about getting better!

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