Archive for ottawa personal training

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

Building That Squat

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , on May 9, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

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I’ve decided that my squat isn’t near strong enough. I need to do something about it.

There is an old Russian coach who had a ‘foolproof’ (except the soreness and discomfort) way to build your squat by up to 100lbs in a short period of time (13 weeks to be exact). His name was Smolov, and his squat protocol is now famous in the training world.

If you want to try it, google Smolov Squat Program and go to the link from stronglifts.com, they give you a spreadsheet all setup with the weights you’ll need based on your 1 rep maximum.

I have hit 365lbs before on a full-squat, but haven’t done anything heavy lately due to training ADD…so I decided to go conservative and set my max at 335lbs to start. Half way into the program you retest your max to adjust the weights for the 2nd half, so if I was way off, it will be corrected there.

Basically, you start with 3 straight days of high volume squatting, then a few heavy singles and doubles the following week before hitting the grind. This is 3 straight weeks of squatting 4x per week.

Saying i’ll be a little stiff and sore is an understatement but I think it’s the price to pay to really boost up my lift.

Strength truly is the gateway to higher levels of athleticism, so I want to be well over a 2x bodyweight squat.

I am done the first two days, starting the 3rd day tomorrow.

I will try to keep you guys updated to my progress regularly.

At the same time, I am trying to build the strength of my bench up as well…I’m using my own programming for the bench portion though, so we’ll see how it goes…good results so far starting this week off…

 

 

It’s About Getting Better!

An Overlooked Aspect of Coaching in Athletic Development

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , on January 6, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

In our athletic development programs we work with a lot of highly skilled athletes and just as many uncoordinated youth, hoping to one day become highly skilled athletes. No matter what level they are at, they are constantly being introduced to new movements, drills, and exercises that we feel will help them get better at their given sport. When teaching an athlete to perform a given task, there are a lot of different factors that go into the success you’ll have in getting the desired result.

A Deeper Understanding of the Activity

One of the best things you can do to speed up learning a new task is to properly explain the reasoning and the details before you start. Let’s use sprinting mechanics as an example. We think it’s important to teach sprint mechanics to all of our athletes, yet with some sports where running isn’t used often, some great athletes can struggle the first few times we go through it. Just having an athlete start running, then cueing them on specific details will not have a lasting effect on how well they repeat proper technique. Instead, it is better to describe proper sprint mechanics, throughout the whole body, and elaborate on how these mechanics improve the speed of the runner. Most athletes won’t remember all of the key points after the first explanation, but what they will see is how each correction fits into the bigger picture. This improved awareness provides much more meaning to them when you say things like ‘hammer the elbow back’ and ‘step over the stick’. I know that many people say that athletes don’t need to know how everything works, they just need to be told what to do, but I believe a deeper understanding in the mechanics of movement helps athletes use coaching cues better.

A Growth Mindset Atmosphere

An athlete with a growth mindset will see challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and improve. An athlete with a fixed mindset will see a challenge as something that can’t be done, and something that can be avoided. It goes back to the ‘white man can’t jump’ concept. Some people will say, “Oh I’ve never been able to jump, that’s just not me” and avoid the concept of learning and improving, writing themselves off before they start. An athlete with a growth mindset will see a small vertical as a chance to improve their athleticism and accomplish something great. As coaches and professionals in the training field we know that you CAN teach the ability to jump, and you CAN teach speed. When tackling new exercises and techniques, fostering a growth mindset will help your athletes tremendously. Helping your athletes understand that they won’t be perfect at everything they try, but instead will meet a challenge, learn, improve, and overcome the difficulty. Don’t let your athletes get discouraged when trying something new because it doesn’t feel right or go as well as hoped. Learn more about different types of failure here.

Different Types of Cues

It would be interesting to record yourself coaching your athletes. Do you always give the same cues? How many times do you have to repeat ‘faster’, ‘harder’, and ‘stronger’ before you realize those instructions aren’t working? It’s important to think about the types of cues you use when coaching and try to change them. You can use internal and external cues. This means relating the cue to the athlete and how they control their body versus what is happening with the training implement or the environment around them. Another good approach is to be more interactive with the athlete. Ask them what they feel. Ask them the difference between two different techniques or repetitions or sets. Sometimes it’s not the athlete’s failure to understand or execute, but rather the coaches failure to give proper direction when searching for a specific result.

Coaching is a very important part of athletic development but it is also a very subjective activity, and often its success is measured by the success of the athlete or team in competition. This doesn’t always tell the whole story though, so it’s important to sit down every once in a while and ask yourself, am I doing the right things to help my athletes succeed? Everyone has effort, but sometimes misdirected effort can be a tough pill to swallow. Don’t confuse passion and effort for proper coaching. Those are two important factors that every great coach should have, but they don’t guarantee a great learning environment. Go through a checklist and figure out some things about your approach. How are you cueing? Do your athletes know why they are doing something? Are you providing a supportive and growth-centred environment? Your answers may surprise you.

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

 

Building and Assessing Your Foundation

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I think it’s always good to be aware of what makes up the foundation of your health, movement, training, etc. Generally with health we can get into nutrition, social and emotional factors of weight, diet, training, and body image, and training factors like muscle imbalances or rest and recovery.

That’s a lot to get into, so I just want to focus on the physical body and the way it moves. There are a lot of opinions out there about the different basics that make up a workout, and what level of function a person has within different movements.

Gray Cook and Lee Burton and the rest of the minds behind the Functional Movement Screen have come up with a great resource to assess the way a person moves, and direct further attention to the areas of need. It is not the be all and end all of performance training but a good starting point.

I want to take a different approach and talk about an exercise/movement that can serve both as an assessment and practice for developing many of these basic movement patterns. In fact, I know it’s something that Gray values very much in his work for these reasons.

It is called the Turkish Getup and is an exercise that comes from the Kettlebell world. It’s important to note that it is also possible to do the exercises with a dumbell, so if you don’t have access to kettelebells regularly, don’t lose any sleep over it. In a nutshell, the TGU is an exercise where you start in a supine position (laying on your back) with the kettlebell overhead, and must work your way up to your feet, with the kettlebell above you at all times.

Here are some points as to why I love this movement so much. It utilizes some of the key aspects of body control that everyone should possess. The ability to roll/twist, keep your shoulder blades stable throughout a complex movement, use your glutes to create stability and movement, and an ability to keep your torso rigid through coordination of your core muscles. Having a person go through the TGU can either show me areas where they are weak, or give me an opportunity to have them ‘figure out’ through some cueing, ways in which to develop these basic characteristics.

Here are some brief pointers about the journey from supine to standing…

Step 1

Start with the kettlebell above you, with your arm extended, and your shoulder packed in tight. Bend the leg on the same side of your body as the kettlebell is, and have your foot flat on the ground. The other arm and leg are both extended. NOTE: The arm that starts extended should ALWAYS stay extended, and the foot on the ground should stay in that place for the whole movement.

Let’s imagine the kettlebell is in the right hand.

When you are ready, you are going to ‘crunch and punch’ the kettlebell up, while also rolling onto your left elbow.

Step 2

You are going to reach up again with your right arm, and extend your left arm underneath you, so you are resting on your left hand, both arms extended.

Step 3

You are going to push your right foot down  into the ground, contract your glutes and hamstring, and try to fully extend your right hip. This full extension is crucial for providing space for the next step

Step 4

With your hips up in the air, you are going to try to pull your left leg under your body and place your knee on the ground between your left hand and right foot. Your upper body should look like a T.

Step 5

Now you are going lift your torso so its tall, with your right arm back overhead, and left arm at your side. You are also going to turn your left knee so it is facing forward again and you are in a half-kneeling position.

Step 6

Now you need to pushoff with your legs and rise to a standing position with feet beside each, and arm still overhead.

Step 7

Now repeat all of steps 1-6 in reverse, to get back to the starting position properly.

Here are a couple videos I have made to show the technique. Notice that there should always be a slight pause between each step, so that a proper foundation can be set before proceeding with the next movement. With this move we are looking for stability in each position, not speed.

It’s About Getting Better!

New Things are Happening!

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

It’s a really exciting time for me this fall. Not only am I finishing up my first semester of a Masters of Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) with a great program at Edith Cowan University, but i’ve also joined forces with some extremely bright and talented professionals. I am happy to announce that I am working as an Athletic Development specialist at FITS in Toronto. FITS was started by Dr. Thomas Lam who is just an absolute pro, with a background of knowledge and experience that is world-class, in rehab and performance enhancement. He is going to have an enormous influence as a mentor and teacher for me, as I continue on my journey to become a true expert in this field!

I will continue to provide content here as well as provide content for FITS so keep an eye on that as well.

Do any of you guys have any exciting changes coming up?

Let me leave you with a video of my training partner Mike and his recent demolition of his previous pull PR! We’ve been crushing it lately in the gym and its showing!!

Cory Kennedy

Miracles are meant for the movies…

Posted in Health with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I can never truly decide what people believe. I always assume that they don’t believe the commercials, the tabloids, and some of the daytime talk shows. Unfortunately, I think many still do. There is no acai berry secret weight loss diet. There is no grapefruit makes-my-belly-go-away diet. Body transformation is about making the difficult decisions on a daily basis, not miracles. Here are the major keys to changing the way you look, feel, and perform. You can’t follow one and not the others, they all interact together.

Don't even think about it

Nutrition – You can’t get lean without it, but you can stay lean with low levels of exercise if nutrition is spot on. Ask a professional for some input about the ways that you can manipulate your diet to enhance fat-burning, muscle building, and recovery. Once you get the ‘rules’, it’s about keeping disciplined. There will be at least one tough decision per day about a snack, or meal that you want to buy instead of eating at home, or eating something you packed. Those tough decisions are the ones that lead to great results. If you are willing to invest in your health and body, go here and buy their system. It is probably the best combination of educational materials about nutrition, rules to follow, cooking instructions, and of course delicious recipes. Don’t worry about calories, worry about eating quality foods with as few ingredients as possible! The portions will take care of themselves. One thing you want to avoid, is cutting out all fats. I know a lot of people do fat free in everything and get blinded by calories and grams of fat. There are essential fatty acids that your body needs on a regular basis. Also, making sure you have plenty of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids can actually promote fat loss, so keep them in your plan! [If you don’t ingest healthy fats in your diet, your body will assume you’re not getting any and hold on to the fat you have!]

Exercise – Everyone always wants that perfect fat-burning workout. There are many ways to skin a cat. I’m not saying that you can’t program for fat loss, but for most people, they don’t need to get too specific. It’s always about moving more and sitting less. Also, you could probably use a boost in intensity. Intervals over steady-state cardio might give you a big performance boost if you aren’t used to that type intensity from your conditioning work. Adding in a brisk walk every other day, especially in a fasted state (like before breakfast!) can do wonders for increasing fat loss during a transformation. For your weight training, there are a few different strategies that work. You can do circuits and complexes that essentially combine intervals with resistance training, or you can focus on hypertrophy and strength and just make sure you are doing some conditioning work later. Sometimes it takes introducing loads your body has never felt before to see change, whether its getting big or leaning out.

Recovery  – The biggest key to making exercise and physical activity a regular part of your life, is being able to recover optimally from each training session. Being sore and tired just discourages you from being active again. Invest in the little things like foam rollers, massage sticks, lacrosse balls, and stretching bands. Do this work regularly. It helps keep you injury free and reduces stress on the body’s tissues. You want to feel as good after you train as you did before, so that tomorrow you are excited and motivated to be active again. Contrast baths/showers are also effective, as are saunas and focused work from a soft-tissue specialist/manual therapist. Since most people should have a good list of dynamic warmup exercises to get them ready to train each day and maximize range of motion in their joints, having a workout where you cycle through all of these a couple times for 30 minutes is a great way to enhance recovery, practice certain athletic positions and improve blood flow throughout your body. If you want a good self-help guide to soft-tissue work, check out this amazing project.

Supplements – This is the one we’ve been waiting for. What is Kim Kardashian taking these days? Brad Pitt? Chaz Bono? Well, I’m not entirely sure, and at least one of them probably requires a prescription. This section is the most optional of them all. You can use certain supplements to help boost progress, but its the first category you can do without if you are on a budget or merely simplifying your approach. As always multivitamins should be a staple for anyone active. Cover your bases. Next is a decent protein powder. You should carry around 3-4 scoops in a ziploc bag or a piece of tupperware, so that you are ready in case you get hungry at a time when a snack isn’t packed. It’s also good when you are travelling, as you really only need water and a bottle to make it work. Fish oil pills or liquids provide those essential fatty acids I talked about earlier, which are very important for staying healthy and burning body fat. I highly recommend these ones. Green tea and green tea extract are helpful supplements, just remember the active ingredient, ECGC works synergistically with caffeine, so a good cup of brewed green tea is the best choice. Other than that, go check out this article to find out more about peri-workout nutrition.

The Good Stuff

Stress/Sleep – Finally, the more stress you carry, the harder it is to transform your body, therefore, meditate, drink tea, read, get a massage, and most importantly sleep. Sleep is where most of the body’s adaptation to exercise occurs, so it’s imperative that you get plenty of it. Don’t forget to smile. You get to choose whether a particular event will bum you out or if you’ll shrug it off and get back to work. Don’t take everything too seriously, it may be wearing your body down!

I know this one was a little long, i just wanted to remind all of you that when you are looking to accomplish something with your health and performance, it is important to remember that it is a JOURNEY, not a quick program or supplement. Live hypertrophy, live fat-loss, live high performance. You can’t have it both ways. Plan for it all!

It’s About Getting Better!

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