Melt Fat AND Get Strong? A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem.

Melt Fat AND Get Strong? A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem.

You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too… Or Can You?

A lot of people want to get lean and toned, but when it comes right down to it, the methods of how to accomplish this often escape them… What they’re really after is melting some extra fat and building a little muscle, it’s kind of an important aspect of “getting toned” most people don’t want to talk about… These might seem like two separate goals, but they actually work quite well together.

Contrary to what you might read in a magazine, there is a training solution that offers you a better option than the standard solution of “more cardio”.

Cardio is great, if you are strength training, which almost nobody recommends for fear of looking like they’re recommending everyone look like the next Mr. Olympia(bodybuilding). This is quite the opposite, and in most cases, measurements go down in the right areas and the “muscle” you built gives you an athletic, toned look, not bulky and bloated. On top of that, if you are involved in a cardio based sport, your performance will increase as a result of having a little extra strength to tap into when you need it, adding to your endurance. (this is also referred to as “underspeed training”)

Remembering the body is one piece and should be trained as such(thanks Dan John) you won’t magically bulk up and look like Arnold from touching a weight, unless that’s your goal, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re looking to melt some extra fat, then training all of your energy systems(not just cardio or just strength) should be included in the “body is one piece” concept. After all, we want everything to work in harmony.

Energy Systems?

Ah, sorry, for those of you not “up” on the cool kid lingo, let me explain(simply) what I’m talking about.

There is 3 ways your body gets it’s energy to “do work”. You know, lifting stuff, moving yourself strange ways, walking/running, etc… first off, the most popular, as per the 1970’s revolution of fitness, is the Aerobic System(aka Cardio) which uses oxygen for activities longer than a few minutes.

Now, the step child never talked about, the Anaerobic Systems, of which there are 2 and they(somehow) operate without oxygen. We won’t get into much besides to say that this is pretty much the energy already stored up in your body and doesn’t need to be manufactured on the spot. Here’s how they basically work(for simplicity sake) one is for short work (less than 10 sec) and one is for slightly longer work (10 sec – 2 min). These are all approximate of course as everyone is a little different, but for guidelines, they work just fine.

Back on point.

One of the great things, that I think most people miss, about Kettlebell training is the fact that we hit a few of these energy systems with every training session, more to the point, with one amazing little move – the swing.

The swing works some of the best “metabolism stimulating” muscles in your body(aka, your butt & hamstrings) while making you stronger all at the same time. The swing is a snappy hip movement similar to a box jump(without the impact) but with all the benefits of sprinting, jumping, and deadlifting rolled into one. It’s basically the closest stimulation you can get to being in a fight without being hit! Throw swings between some strength movements and you’ve hit all 3 energy systems in no time(or not a whole lot of time). In fact, 3 sessions of 75 swings/training a week is enough to melt loads of fat off in just a few minutes of training according to Tim Ferriss’s study in the 4 Hour Body.

My friend Pat Flynn is quite famous for these minimalist workouts that shred body fat, build muscle(that muscle tone thing) and improve your overall general conditioning as a human being. So in case you needed to run from a bear whilst out hiking, or chase down that bike thief you watched take away your prized possession, you most certainly will not be the bear’s lunch and the thief will stand no chance of escape.

Here’s a real simple way to put this all together, and probably one of the best strength/fat burning combinations out there:

Swings x30 sec
Push-Ups x30 sec

Repeat this several times, about 5-10 minutes, either as a finisher(if you’re more “advanced”) or as your only workout for the day(if you’re a “beginner”).

I know, it doesn’t seem like much, but it will kick you in the teeth and leave you wondering who sucked all the air out of the room when you’re finished. Oh, don’t drop to the floor after you’re done, keep moving for a bit(even if it’s just walking around moving your arms about like a Jazzercise warm up), your heart will thank you.

Looking for something more complex? Here’s a few more killer combos for you:

The Eagle
Double KB Front Squat x8
Farmer’s Carry 20 meters
The trick to this, don’t set down the bells until you’ve completed 8 rounds
Ladies, use 12kg(26#), Gents, go for 24kg(53#) bells.

The Coyote
Swings x15
Goblet Squats x5
Push-Ups x3
Do 20 rounds for a total of 300 swings. Good luck.

Pavel’s Simple & Sinister Challenge
5 Minutes On The Minute, 10 swings per side(total 100)
Rest 1 Minute
10 Minutes On The Minute, 1 Turkish Get-Up(total 10)
Ladies, “Simple” Swings 24kg, Get-Ups 16kg/”Sinister” Swings 32kg, Get-Ups 24kg
Gents, “Simple” Swings 32kg, Get-UPs 32kg/”Sinister” Swings 48kg, Get-Ups 48kg
Again, the best of luck to you(comrade)

Armor Building
Double KB Clean x2
Double KB Press x1
Double KB Front Squat x3
Repeat as many as possible in 15 minutes.
Ladies, use 12-16kg. Gents, use 20-24kg.
For a bonus “ass kicking” factor, add sets of 10-20 swings between sets of armor building until you reach 300 swings. Plan on taking the rest of the day off… and being hungry.

Hill Sprints & Swings
(This is for you endurance athletes)
-Find a hill. (One you can maintain a decent pace up without face planting…)
-At the bottom of the hill, perform the desired amount of swings(I’d say 25-50) then sprint up the hill.
-Rest 3-5 minutes and repeat 2 more times for a total of 3 sets.
If this seems easy, increase the weight of the bell/grade of the hill or increase up to 75 swings.
(Honestly, a 24kg bell and a decent sledding hill will keep you busy for a while, if not, you’re a pro or you’re doing something wrong)
Feel Free to substitute other fun things like Front Squats & Sprints, Front Squats/Overhead Squats/Kettlebell Swings & Sled Pulls, or any other fun variation that involves some type of strength movement followed by a quick(very quick) transition to something “explosive”, like a sprint… (I’d leave the bike alone for this as the transition would take too long to gain the benefit of the protocol)

These are just a few awesome ideas of what we call Complex’s(a “workout” where you don’t stop or put down the weight unless you are losing form, never lose form…). Complex’s draw from multiple energy systems and typically involve some type of explosive movement, putting the weight overhead(at least once), and ideally incorporate all of the movements you can do as a human being.

Add these in 2-3 days a week to a strength training regimen, or 1-2 days a week for endurance athletes, and you will see loads of fat come off in no time at all. As a side note, you will probably hate life(and me for suggesting these) by the time you’re part way through the session.

We have more complexes than listed above in the “Secret Stash” area of our website, which gives you access to all of the workouts we’ve done as well as a few programs I’ve written over the years for clients/friends/challenges, and they’re all FREE. I’m hoping to be adding a video section soon, so keep checking back for more updates!

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

TSC or Bust

TSC or Bust

I was surprised with my results to say the least, and I think a few others were with theirs as well. After all, my last week of training(and a few before that) had not been very “productive” ones, and I’ve missed more than a few sessions, and I’m not alone.

Many of my students could say the same, we had injuries, sickness, and other business/family matters that kept us out of the gym and “off our game” so to speak. But when April 8th rolled around, the adrenaline started pumping and the weights got loaded on the bars, none of that seemed to matter.

It’s hard to put faith in a process for most human beings, because the longview is hard to maintain. We go for the “quick fix” over anything else, and try to “hack” our way to results.

The truth is, the reason we all did so well is the work we’ve put in, not just in the last 9 weeks, but over a lifetime of training. For some it hasn’t been that long at all, others have been here for a while. But regardless of all that, it’s the quality of the time and work we’ve put in that makes the biggest difference.

After all, excuses(or reasons) are easy to come by. Even as I write this I’m getting shooting pain through my knee from the arthritis I was supposed to have had surgery for before I turned 30(I’m 32 now) but it will probably go away by the end of the week. I was sick last week and my cardio took a huge hit, probably making my form sloppy and limiting me to, oh yeah, a PR or 116 snatches. It wasn’t the best there, but it’s 16 more than 6 months ago, and I can’t lose sight of that.

Paul, Brian, Melony, Steve, and Adrienne also had setbacks. Carpel tunnel surgeries that took longer than expected to heal(too many 5 page reports), injuries (some that happened outside the gym, some from pushing too hard in training), and finding our limits to early on were just a few of the physical aspects that plagued “the training” over the past 2(ish) months, yet somehow new personal bests were attained. Obviously, none of these injuries were serious, some strained muscles here and there(well, only 2 of us, myself included) and a falling incident outside of the gym put a few of us “off” for a bit, but didn’t knock us out of the game.

Travels for business and pleasure were timed almost perfectly in the middle of training, not leaving a whole lot of time to “catch up” at the end, but somehow this didn’t really matter when it came down to it.

There were only a few of us that made it all the way through the training process without missing even a day of training. This doesn’t make them better or worse than anyone else as that has it’s own struggles(being sore while training and finding time are the most frequent yet least of these, not to mention keeping yourself fueled)

I can gladly say everyone exceeded their expectations in spite of the “setbacks” that happened over the last few weeks. If there’s one thing that shined though all of this, it’s the “slow and steady over the long haul” training mentality that is not very common in most gyms. Especially competitive gyms it seems have this idea that every session needs to be a PR session and that if it doesn’t make you throw up, pass out, or puke you’re not working hard enough. That’s fine if you’re 22 and don’t mind not being able to move at 50, but for the rest of us, it’s simply not an option.

We have jobs, kids, grandkids(eventually for some of us) and lives we have to live outside a few hours out of the week where we congregate in our quaint little old post office we call our gym.

To paraphrase Pavel, your training shouldn’t take more out of you than you get from it. That means being able to go and play after you work, being able to tie your own shoes and use the toilet unassisted at 90, and (accidents and illnesses notwithstanding) live to 100, well, that’s my plan at least!

Until Next Time,

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

I’ve Been Slacking, And You Should Be Too

It’s been a bit since I’ve written a blog post…(Feb. 21st according to the “recently published” section to the left of where I’m writing this)

And I have several planned for the near future, and I’m not posting the first one I have drafted up(somewhere on my phone) because I thought you, kind reader, should know why it is I’ve been so, well, absent(minded) as to not post something for your (slight) entertainment and possibly(I hope) education on fitness/martial arts related things.

I can’t multitask.

In fact, none of us can.

I can’t seem to focus on more than 2 or 3 things at a time, and this(unfortunately) is my downfall as a human being that seems to be shared by so many others… even more unfortunately, I seem to be somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to things that are important to me, so I like to focus more than most do on a task which sometimes means other stuff(blog posts) fall by the wayside.

I’m not saying I completely stop focusing on them, when an idea hits me, I pull out my phone, tell the Google device thing to take some notes, and save it for a later post. Some ideas make it, some don’t, but that’s not what I wanted to tell you about this fine day.

See, I have been busy with some other goals that have taken up much focus and time, some personal, some professional, but goals are goals nonetheless…

So when I start in on something I work on it, almost to a fault sometimes, with everything I have. This is something I need to work on as well as sometimes I don’t leave any in the reserve tank as my girlfriend constantly points out to me.

However, I’ve figured out in my short time as an adult that if I’m going to do something I need to do it all the way and not let anything derail me, if I get sidetracked I know the project won’t get finished.

I have not been doing much competing these days since I broke my face(literally) at the last TaeKwonDo tournament I attended before my knee gave out and had to stop the match(I literally couldn’t stand up… stupid arthritis). But one thing has been in my sights – the Tactical Strength Challenge put on by none other than StrongFirst(the finest group of professional kettlebell peeps I know) and I’m determined to get over 100 snatches this time in addition to not pulling any abdominal muscles on my deadlift. I could care less about the pull-ups, I just want to break 100 snatches.

Why?

I know if I focus on my deadlift for a while, I can do over 400 no problem(maybe October) and too many pull-ups hurt my poor achy elbows, and I way exceeded what I thought I could do last time around anyway… but the snatches are the bane of my existence.

I want to get to the point where I can do 100 snatches with a 24kg bell any day of the week without having to train for months on end to do so.

As you might remember, I didn’t pass my snatch test at my Level 1 certification, and had to re-test(I chose the TSC to do this) not too long after, and this too barely happened. I literally did my last snatch with 1 second left, probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.

If I can make that seem easy, I KNOW I’ve gotten stronger as a whole person.

This takes lots of recovery, time to train, and, oh yeah… more time to recover.

In addition to this, part of my training has had to be skipped because about 2(ish) weeks ago whilst squatting, I got into the bottom position and couldn’t get up, my knee was starting to give out. So, I’ve had to modify my squat day to an accessory deadlift day, meaning, more time for recovery…. yay…

Anyway, this in addition to some other personal things that I don’t want to mention here, and the fact that my girlfriend and I have been working like fiends to get a house down the street from us, I’ve not had a lot of time.

The point to all of this is that sometimes life gets crazy, some of it is self-inflicted(TSC training/house/etc…) and sometimes “stuff” just happens that makes the day seem overwhelming.

Priorities come into play here, and I’ve decided to choose just a few things that I really need to focus on and get them done right so I have my ducks in a row for other things that are coming down the pipeline.

When trying to find balance in your life, this is no easy task, you really have to take a step back and look at what you really need to get done, put your time into that, and let the other “important” stuff wait for another day, after all, if it was really that important you would have made it your top 3 anyway.

A little quick piece of advice before I finish this very rambley post, check out Dan John’s ideas on this idea of qualifying your situation by using the traffic light as a gauge for where you are in life. He uses the areas of Work, Rest Play, Pray and I think it seems like a good structure for gauging where you are in life… I decided to do more rest recently since I don’t like teaching classes feeling like a zombie, and my students don’t enjoy this either(yay for naps!).

At minimum, try not to feel like you need to get everything done yesterday… if you feel like you’re running a marathon at a full out sprint pace… well… you might just be overdoing it.

Stay Strong My Friends.

~Justin

For Some Reason I Still Enjoy This…

For Some Reason I Still Enjoy This…

I woke up this morning feeling like I was hit by a locomotive
(or a bus, maybe even a dump truck, not sure what exactly)

I know, not the best way to start off a post about “fitness” stuff… In fact, I sometimes wonder to myself “why the deuce am I even training anymore if I feel like this”(from time to time). And I think the answer always comes to me as quick as does my kids urge to have to go to the bathroom as soon as we get in the car for a nice long trip.

I keep doing “this”(this being training of course) because even though it takes me a minute to get moving and do some mobility stuff in the morning, I know things could be far worse.

For example, I could feel like I did when I trained martial arts only with no strength & conditioning back in good ol Hartland before my friend Master Ian Jensen discovered Pavel. Sometimes I think I’d like to curse him for introducing me to those nasty little buggers (like during my training yesterday or this morning) but I know I used to hurt much worse after training sessions before the Kettlebells rolled around.

I used to have trouble lifting my shoulders above my head without pain… seriously, taking those puppies through just about any range of motion(even unloaded) was something I cringed to think about, now, it’s only every so often.

I also remember how much my knee(it’s arthritic) used to bug me and cause me to not be able to walk up the stairs in my house without some type of choreography.

I remember a lot of things that used to be worse.

So the question is…

Are you avoiding training because of a few times of being “a little sore”. I’m not talking about the way some trainers beat people up so they can’t sit on the John for a few weeks at a crack after every session… I’m talking about that slight achy feeling that prevents you from doing some stuff, but allows you to otherwise function normally.

If so, consider the following.

How long will this last?(really) My achy shoulder and sore… well, everything, is already starting to dissipate and will likely be gone by the time I’ve had my breakfast. However, the pain I used to live with was for days at a time, and that my friends, is just not acceptable to me.

How long will eventual chronic issues last if you aren’t proactive/treating them. We all see the older folks walking around with severe joint and muscularskeltal issues(posture like a ?, in a wheel chair, using a cane), and you always have to wonder… could that have been prevented. A lot of times using reasonable fitness training could have kept joints and therefore muscle health in tact, even at a more “distinguished” age.

Just to give you a quick idea of what this training has done for me over the past 8 or so years, when I was 22 I was told that I would need to have surgery on my left knee before I was 30… that was 10 years ago. Will I have to eventually, probably, as I feel it limits me in some ways to where I won’t push myself when I normally could because of that slight fear hanging over my head “what if…”

But in the end, having done nothing vs the barrage of crap I put myself through at least 5-6 days a week would have been much, much worse for my overall health and wellbeing, and that’s not a lie.

So make the right considerations when you’re looking at wether or not to stick with something because a little bit of “perceived pain” in the short term because the long term goal will be worth far more than you can ever imagine.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from Eric Thomas that I absolutely love:

“Pain is temporary, it may last for a minute, or a day, or even a year… but eventually, it will subside. But If you quit however, it will last forever”

Stay Strong My Friends.

~Justin

Do It Anyway, Feel Like It or Not

Do It Anyway, Feel Like It or Not

This goes against what most of us naturally do…

Showing up and doing work even if we are; Tired, Emotional, Have a Headache, Sick(a sneeze or cough kind of sick, not death stuck on the couch sick…)

Let me be clear about this, I am not talking about going into an “all out” battle against you and the clock or one upping your old Personal Best, don’t even push yourself, just do the work you had planned and go home. I’m also not talking about training with a serious injury… still train smart, the idea is get the work done.

Punch The Clock.

The benefits of this are (at least) twofold.

1. You Improve Your Discipline & Resilience
2. You Don’t Fall Behind On Your Goals

THere’s probably more reasons, but hey, I think these two are good enough for 99.999% of us out there.

I’m not asking you to do something I’m not willing to do myself, I’ve had plenty of days in the past few years and even recently where I can barely drag myself out of bed, but somehow I mustered up the strength to get through the session.

From experience I can say this made me a stronger person, and I’m not talking about just physically…

So next time you find an “excuse” not to go in to the gym remember, there are people out there who:

Have less time
Have less money
Have less health
Have less limbs (no joke…)
Have less _________(fill in the blank)

That show up, put in the work(in spite of their circumstances) and they Just. Keep. Moving.

Stay Strong My Friends.

~Justin

It Ain’t About That…

It Ain’t About That…

I remember hearing this thing on a motivational type video a while ago…

I can’t remember who said it, or even if it’s exactly what he said, but I loved the idea behind the one bit that stuck with me.

It was something like this:

Folks, it ain’t about that…

Deep, right?

Here’s the thing, as with most anything, getting “in shape” or belonging to a gym, etc… really isn’t about what you think it is. I mean after all, if we all knew exactly how to do what the pros do, we’d all be pros, right?

So change your mindset. Here’s how we are told to think, and this also turns TONS of people away from what does work(and what matters) toward things that DON’T WORK (and don’t matter)

There’s no treadmills or cardio equipment…
Good

The equipment is rusty and I think that’s tape not vinyl on the bench press thing over there…
So?

It looks like they raided a scrap yard to get their gear.
And your point is?

The main stream wants you to think things are a certain way. With all of these “overnight” or “2 week” transformations, it’s hard to tell what actually works. I recently heard something by Dan John(you should check his stuff out by the way) that really hit home for me…

After your (insert length of time) challenge, then what?

I believe Dan used 90 days and asked about day 91, but the important thing is does it keep working? The answer is usually, if I’m honest, no.

Remembering that Everything Works (for about 6 weeks…) you should keep in mind that the things most people tell you that matter probably don’t.

Here’s the thing I challenge you to do the next time you’re considering someone’s advice.

-Are they trying to sell you something(equipment, supplements, programs, etc.) and if so, what are the (real) results.
-Did they follow their own advice to get to where they are?(or would they be willing to)
-Did the people who (said they) used the program/equipment/miracle pill actually use it and what do they look like now(after they’re done with said protocol). Think “where are they now”, you know, that child celeb/one hit wonder thing…

Remember, it’s not about the shiny new weights…

The gym may not be clean, it could be cold and dimly lit, the weights might be worn/rusty, or the instructor may be homely or unkempt(okay, that could be a deal breaker) but in the end, it’s all about the results your going to get for your well invested time.

I know people who train out of their freaking garage and are stronger, leaner, and generally “more fit” than 90% of the gym going population who show up to use the treadmill & stepper. In fact, some of the “godlike” figures we’ve come to compare to from ye old times were carved out using nothing more than heavy, awkward, objects and typically strength(not weight loss) was the goal.

Okay, I can’t not put this here, because 1. I love Jim Gaffigan 2. It’s hilarious 3. It’s true 4. It immediately popped in my head when I typed stepper…

Honestly, the focus should be somewhere else than what we are told you “should do” to get in shape. Seriously, unless you have a full time photoshop, a team of people prepping your meals, or dedicate every waking hour to your training, you won’t be on the cover of a magazine with your shirt off or in a swimsuit… Also keep a few things in mind

It’s not about being the best…
…being the skinniest…
…being the strongest…
…being the most muscular…

It’s just not about what you are told to think it is.

What it’s really about is being better.

Be better than you were the last time you stepped in the gym, do a little extra than what’s expected and you’ll get the extra results. It’s really that simple.

I saved this for the end, in case anyone read this far…

Programs that take the longest to get the results tend to have the longest lasting results.

Stop with the fly by night infomercial workouts and products and do something that works – Move Better. Get Stronger.

Live by that and I can guarantee that your results will stick around far longer than that veggie smoothie cleanse you did (for 2 of the 14 days) and couldn’t stick with.

Stay Strong My Friends.

~Justin

You Can Take My Advice. (Or You Can Bang Your Head Against The Wall)

You Can Take My Advice. (Or You Can Bang Your Head Against The Wall)

Stop Listening to What The Main Stream Is Telling You.

I know this sounds counterintuitive, since I’m about drop some “knowledge” on you, but hear me out.

Most people will have you believe you have to work yourself to death to get any results from fitness training. In fact, I just saw a commercial for one of the fitness trackers out there(you know, the one who’s companies phones melt through airplanes and such) who made it look like all you need to do is MORE and you will look like the mannequin in the display(who quite obviously was standing next to a barbell, not a treadmill).

While their advertisement may be true on some level, it sends the wrong message…

See, unless you are a professional athlete or maybe special forces(you know, Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Marines…) you don’t need this level of what I call insanity in your training. More isn’t better, it’s just more.

Since most of us don’t live in this area of “fitness” most pro athletes do (and have to get up the next day to go to work tomorrow) and probably want to keep ourselves from having unnecessary injuries, this is an area we probably want to be a little more reasonable…

Take The Simple Route.

Yes, I said Simple, but as I found out when I did Dan John’s “Mass Made Simple” program, the word easy was not included in the title, and for a good reason…

This type of training is not sexy. It’s not something you’re going to see selling millions of copies of DVDs, plastered all over YouTube, or endorsed by the so-called “fitness gurus” who you see on all those infomercials or TV shows.

But when it comes down to it, the people that get the best results(the results that stick) adhere to simple, repeatable, reasonable training… quite simply, reasonable amounts of work and only pushing yourself every so often.

Again, notice the word easy isn’t in the description at all. Just because something is reasonable doesn’t make it easy. If I told you to eat a reasonable diet and yours consists of McDonalds and microwave dinners at the moment, it’s going to be difficult to switch to a reasonable whole food based diet that involves cooking, planning, and preparing meals ahead of time. Reasonable and Simple are not equal to easy…

Don’t Tell Me What You Can’t Do – Tell Me What You Can

I get it, you think you don’t have time to get in shape because fitting a 2-3 hour workout 5-6 days a week seems impossible… The good news is unless you’re trying to become Mr. Olympia or the World’s Strongest Man(or whatever) this type of training isn’t for you anyway.

Start with the absolute least amount you can do.
(And stop killing yourself, and your results)

Make 10 minutes for yourself maybe 2x a week, but DON’T MISS A SESSION! It doesn’t need to be insane… Results come from consistency and progress, but mostly consistency. You can’t expect progress(or results) from a training protocol that takes 3, 4, or 7 days to recover from. It’s too intense, and you won’t catch any (smart) athlete doing trainings like this.

I’m not saying you won’t get some muscle soreness when you first start…

However, your training shouldn’t stop you from performing certain functions – like sitting on a toilet. This is no joke, I know a lady who took 2 weeks to recover from her first ever session she did (not by me), she could barely sit(or walk) for that entire 2 week period… for some reason she went back, probably because she was trying to get the trainer to go home with her…

That level of intensity is reserved for those of us who are in special military operations, in professional sports, or maybe are 20 years old.

The main thing I want you to take away is this.

Find something you can do consistently.

Consistency is the key to success, with anything. Make sure it’s something that you can progress with. I mean really progress with, “I learned this new routine” type thing like they do in Zumba or Jazzercise or something doesn’t count.

I’m talking about things like; adding more weight to a movement, doing a harder version of a bodyweight movement, doing more repetitions, anything that pushes you a little bit past where you were the last training session. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy…

And if you want to do the cool stuff? Well, this is where you have to start, and the people(the smart ones) you see actually doing the stuff started here too. And if you don’t? Let’s just say I’m not going to be the one to say I told you so when you wind up in the ER…

We’re not built to go from zero to 100. Think about it, would you honestly be willing to get up off your couch and go play a game of even college level football or enter an amateur boxing/MMA match much less a professional one? The answer, I hope, is no, because my good reader, you are smarter than that I’m sure of it.

But this is how most people expect to train.

Military personnel doing “Murph” Crossfit WOD, one of the most intense bodyweight trainings dedicated to Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy. 200 push-ups, 300 squats, 1 mile run.

If you wouldn’t play the game at their level, then you shouldn’t train at it. I know, for a fact, that those athletes work harder in training than they play. This makes the play easier so they have a little extra left in the tank in case they need it in competition.

Don’t kid yourself, just because you have the “plan” (the sets/reps & movements) they use and think “it looks easy” that it is. In fact, I’ll give you one of the absolute worst trainings you could ever do, and if you can make it through it without puking or fainting, then you must be either (a) a pro, or (b) not doing it right. Her it is:

Barbell Front Squats x8
Sprint 400m

Do this 3 times resting 3-5 minutes between sets.

Doesn’t seem like much, but one of my high school football athletes could barely walk back to the weight after the 2nd set. Oh yeah, he didn’t feel that way after the first one, it kicked in after his metabolism caught up to what he just did…

So, you can keep going after the “High Intensity” cool looking trainings you see people do on the interwebs OR like Dan John says – “Be reasonable, do it my way”

~Justin

P.S. There’s people a lot smarter than me that have written books on this topic, and I’d recommend you check out anything by Pavel Tsatsuouline, Dan John, or Pat Flynn for starters.

Why HOW You Move Is More Important (Part 1)

Why HOW You Move Is More Important (Part 1)

“More isn’t better, it’s just more”

Movement is one of those things that, I feel, is one of the biggest reasons for people giving up on an exercise program. Not the fact that they’re moving, but that they’re moving poorly leading to frustration and eventually abandonment of the noble endeavor they set out on…

Let Me Set The Scene.

I’m at a friends house for a gathering, talking to someone at a function or whatever… and the conversation of fitness comes up. Naturally, someone decides to speak their clearly well thought out opinion of what “working out” should be… clearly they’ve done all the research that Facebook meme’s and YouTube “experts” make available to us…

Here’s what usually goes down.

“What do you have against Zumba”(or pick an arbitrary thing…)

“Honestly, I don’t want to be here all night debating the why’s and why nots of doing certain exercise programs, let’s just say I have my reasons”

“Well, as long as people are moving and doing something that should be enough.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s like saying something like “I know my car needs work, so I’m just going to drive it more and the problem will just take care of itself”

The reason I hate having these conversations, and typically avoid them at all costs, is people haven’t done their homework. I’m far from an expert, but I know who the experts are, and for some strange reason I care about the well being of people I don’t even know or barely know beyond just a few days a week for 45 min of interaction.

When people won’t listen to reason and refuse to look at the results of both sides of thinking criticize you for not seeing things from their point of view, you see the hypocrisy, they clearly don’t know that the research has been done, time was put into a decision of what direction to go, and more research is constantly taking place(in my case to the tune of about 10-20 hours a week at least)

Movement is one of those things that we do as human beings

Some of us do it much better than the rest(athletes), some who can’t move well at all, and then there’s some of us who are…. let’s say in between. And how you move determines the quality of what you do and your ability to continue to do said activities for (hopefully) years to come.

Before we go on…

A part of what inspired me to post this little rant (which will be a 2 parter, this is part 1, part 2 will show specific movements and the why’s and why nots of the how to’s and so on…) is that I recently saw a video posted by a few trainers at a local 24 hour establishment doing some demos of “exercises” to do so you can get in a “good workout” before the holiday gorge fest that is Christmas coming up.

This is a fantastic idea…. except for the fact that they showed, what I think, was bad  technique.(and I’m sure several people would cringe at the sight of this with me if they’d seen it)

Before you consider me “That Guy”

I UNDERSTAND that not every coach can do what some of their clients do, hell, I have a guy who can out-lift me any day of the week, but what he needs isn’t heavier weights, it’s better movement(we literally spent 30 min on stretching & mobility the other day).

Here’s the caviot… these are not “out of shape” or otherwise restricted individuals, in fact, looking at them you’d think they’re quite fit… and you’d be right. The definition of fitness after all is the ability to perform a task. That being said, the more efficiently you perform it, the better your body will adapt, the better (and longer lived) the results.

As someone who has some restricted movement patterns myself, I’m well aware of the fact that nobody is perfect, however, you will never see me put up a video saying “do this” with bad form on the movement.

Here’s why

We’re visual creatures.

Part of how we learn is by watching what others “do”. Personally, I picture how those people look in my head as I’m performing said activity to try and give my brain something to focus on(besides the fatigue 😉 ).

So if you see someone doing something that is a “qualified professional” you would assume that how they’re doing it is the correct way.

Alas, this is not always the case.

In fact, I know there’s things I personally cannot do (yet) but I have students(clients) who can. and I can coach them to do the movement the proper way because of the hands on training I’ve had in the past. But you won’t see me putting up any pictures or videos of me doing a sub-par performance on said movement.

I think I’ve made my point.

We’ll wrap up Part 1 with this little tidbit from Gray Cook on movement:

“…think about it… getting into a good position is probably more important than increasing your strength 10 more precent. Most elite level golfers work on their precision and execution of their posture and movement patterns knowing if they will just get the right biomechanical lines of attack as they swing they will be more efficient. That’s why they spend more time with a golf club working on their mechanics and technical precision than doing bicep curls or kettlebell presses. They appreciate that strengthening their body will help, but no amount of strength in the world is going to make you efficient if part of your strength is used to overcome your own stiffness or work against your own malalignment. The object of efficiency is to be able to reproduce an activity with some degree of technical precision so as not to wast e energy.

If your complete training paradigm is just complete caloric expenditure, with no regard for accomplishment, then, it doesn’t really matter what you do. You can take someone who’s morbidly obese and moving poorly and just make them move in any number of ways and they will have caloric expenditure. But if you do that often enough, guess what? Their lack of integrity and precision in movement is going ot bring them up against early fatigue, where they won’t really achieve most of their metabolic efficiency and therefore thye really won’t lose weight and they won’t get in shape quick, they’ll just hit fatigue, create lactic acid, go into a poor breathing state, get tired, and go eat. Or, they’ll have an orthopedic issue.

So either way your quest for caloric expenditure should be sidelined and what you should do is create a situation where, even if weight loss is your goal, go for technical precision, movement correction, movement efficiency whenever possible. Make your people as efficient as possible and believe it or not, work levels will become more pleasurable and they’ll be able to do more and at the same time reduce musculakeletal risk of a setback injury as they’re getting in shape.” -excerpt from The Gray Cook Lecture Compendium

Don’t take my word for it, Gray is the head athletic trainer for Reebok as well as the “go to” guy when someone is broken beyond what most people can fix.

In part 2 I will cover a few things on the movement side of it in more “visual” detail. (my favorite, picture story!!)

Until next time… Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

FAILURE. Why It’s Not As Bad As You Think(for your success)

Everyone gets knocked down every once in awhile

Some of us get knocked down more than others, heck, some of us even get kicked and beat down while we’re there.(I know it always seems like I’m part of this last group myself)

Even the word, “failure”, causes some physical discomfort in most of us just at the sound of it(or sight of it)!

But here’s the thing.

It doesn’t have to be that bad…

If truly want something, something so important to you that you couldn’t imagine your life without this “thing”, this goal, it’ just like breathing, you can’t give up…

If you really want something, there’s nothing that will stop you from accomplishing your goal. This goes for anything – Fitness, Business, Personal, Financial, Martial Arts(and this is where I learned from).

If you truly want it,you will find a way to endure through the knock downs, kicks to the face, insults, defeats, and negative thoughts to pull through stronger than when you started.

We’ve All Heard This From Every Motivational Speaker EVER…

…And it’s fairly common knowledge…

The Trick Is This.

It’s all in your thought process….

Most people quit before they even try.

So think about the act of just starting, this puts you ahead of the curve. Your chances of success are so much higher than you even think!

And therein lies the secret… that once you get started, you need to stay in the game long enough to see the results. If you think about it, out of the other people that started “at the same time” as you, most will quit at their first obstacle. Or the second, or heck, most people quit inches from the finish line!

So if you just keep moving, working through the obstacles, it will eventually put you right where you want to be.

I always tell everyone when we’re doing timed training sessions that right about the point you want to give up is when there’s only about 5 seconds left. So when I’m telling them “keep holding it” or “keep going, you’re almost there!” I’m not just saying it to make noise, it’s an analogy for life… right when you’re ready to quit, if you hold on just slightly(italicise) longer, whatever you’re experiencing will be over.

One of my favorite quotes is from Les Brown, and I have to remind myself of this(constantly)

“No matter how bad it is, or how bad it gets, I’m going to make it. Say that to yourself every day”

After all, there’s a reason these obstacles are in your way…

You need to become the “better” person you want to be after your goal is achieved BEFORE you get there.

And it happens in small steps, so miniscule you won’t notice a difference until one day you’re there, and it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was when you set out.

Nothing worth having in life is easy.

You may need to be more disciplined, more confident, a more creative thinker, increase your knowledge… really, there is so many things involved with succeeding at just ONE THING that it’s no wonder most people just give up at the first sign of trouble.

The one thing you should take away is this, it’s the ones that persevere who succeed. And to do that, you need to be comfortable with failing and being uncomfortable.

You need to learn to use your failures to your advantage by learning something every time you miss a goal or deadline. The great thing about fitness training is if we miss something we were going for, our body naturally prepares to do ‘more’ the next time you attempt it. It’s literally built into our dna, it’s as natural as breathing, you seriously don’t even need to think about it, it just happens!

“It’s not what we get that makes us happy, it’s who we become… how we live our life, who we are as a person, people can take away all the things, but who you become no one can take away”  -Tony Robins

We have 5 Tenants we work on in Hapkido that you would be wise to try embody.

Courtesy
Integrity
Perseverance
Self-Control
Indomitable Spirit

None is less important than the other.

If you are not courteous and lack integrity you will be alone on your journey. Sometimes when you’re down and out, you need someone there to encourage you. You can’t accomplish that if you’re a complete a$$ hole… just sayin.

You need to have Self-Control, so when your emotions take over you can remind yourself that it’s only one day, the sun will rise tomorrow morning and you will have a fresh opportunity to start new. Self-Control leads way to Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit…

Without Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit, you will never endure long enough through the rest of the setbacks, trash talkers, and general negativity of life.

Now, I am FAR from the absolute best person to speak on this subject, but I feel personally and professionally I’ve survived a lot, especially since opening PostFit(2 ½ years ago at the time of this writing).

I’ve had months where I couldn’t pay all my bills. Recently, a banking error put me out $800(plus late fees), and that wasn’t even my fault! But hey, things happen, and it put me behind (again) when this last summer has really been the only time I’ve been “ahead” since I opened. (ahead means no more living off Top Ramen, PB&J, and sneaking in healthy foods where I can afford them…)

After all, it was only a little less than a year ago I quit my second job and started supporting myself off what I built, so you can imagine it didn’t feel good to be almost back in that position again. But i’m still ahead, and I still love what I do and the people I get to work with.

And I really have my amazing girlfriend to thank for most of my success as of late, mainly because she helps me up when something knocks me down, and that’s huge. It definitely helps to have someone put things in perspective for you.

Never underestimate the power of someone encouraging you because they see the best in you. If you don’t have that person in your life, that needs to be your number one goal before you do anything else. Trust me, I’ve been kept from closing the doors on more than one occasion by encouraging words and some emotional support. You can get pretty low when you’ve missed your goals for so long.

In fact, not so long ago(okay, very recently) I spent a large sum of money and even larger amount of time on finally getting my kettlebell certification.

I worked like hell to get ready for that damn thing(5 days a week). I tore up my hands from training so hard, and aches and pains became a part of life(so did my kettlebell – I actually took it on trips with me so I didn’t miss any training). And even though I felt better than I have in a while about having the skills to pass the physical requirements, when it came time for the cert, I failed….

I was literally just a few kettlebell snatches away from holding my certificate and fancy instructor t-shirt in my hand and being able to say I did it…

Here’s the kicker.(and why I decided to write this)

I had a 14 ½ hour drive home after that because I couldn’t afford to fly to Philly for the weekend. I also couldn’t afford a hotel, so I camped(it wasn’t all bad, campground was on the Brandywine Creek). Honestly, I had just enough cash for fuel to make it back home with $10 to spare. (literally, that’s all I had left between my accounts and cash in hand).

Normally, that wouldn’t have bothered me, but imagine sitting by yourself for that long after failing at something you had worked so hard for, something that you put all of your spare time into working for so you could succeed only to fail… and then remember that on top of that, you’re near broke(thankfully bills were paid) AND you’re not where you planned on being with your business goals when you set out for this fun little adventure.

I was not a happy camper to say the least(no pun intended). I mean I really hate losing, more than anything else, it’s a flaw of mine I’ve been working on for a while, and I’ve had to walk away from some things in the past because it would’ve become an unhealthy obsession…

Naturally, I thought about quitting. I mean, after all, how can I expect the people I train to do something I cannot do myself? That’s how I think anyway… but after much time spent sulking and throwing the most epic pity party you can throw yourself in a VW Golf (and sitting through Chicago traffic!)…

I came to the decision that if I gave up on this, all the work I put in would be for naught and I just wasted the last 2 plus years of my life, and wasted everyone else’s time that I’ve worked with over the years… I also couldn’t bring myself to break promises to that many people that I’ve come to feel are like family to me…

Here’s where the real magic happened…

At some point, I reminded myself of WHY I started.

To help people.

Not for money, or bragging rights, or anything else stupid like that… I got into this to help people who, like me, aren’t always the first picked, most athletic, impressive looking(or performing) human beings, but they will work damn hard to get better than where they were yesterday…. and mainly, to help encourage them like very few others had done for me in the past. Come on, everyone needs a cheerleader sometimes!

Which Brings Us To The Last Thing – Be A Little Stubborn.

I’d like to think part of what got me to where I’m at now is being pig headed enough that no matter what I do, I HATE leaving things unfinished(quitting). It physically pains me and wakes me out of a dead sleep sometimes thinking of things I started and didn’t finish…

I hate losing, at anything(can you tell I hate losing?) – this is why I won’t go to casinos…

It might pay to have some of that same attitude and feeling of disgust toward failure that I have, although it can be unhealthy… But keep reminding yourself that it’s okay to miss a goal every once in awhile. Heck, I re-did my snatch test this past weekend and I’m officially certified level 1 instructor through Strong First…

So go ahead, suck for a while. Fail a bunch of times and find your weak points and try to improve on them.

“I’ll be happy when I just… just what? You’ve got to be a dreamer, you’ve got to see the future finished in advance. Happiness doesn’t come from big pieces of great success, but from small advantages hammered out day by day” – Jim Rohn

I always keep this in mind when training – You work on your weak points in practice, but you play with your strengths. If you elevate your absolute WORST qualities, everything else will get better(mine is kettlebell snatches…)

Pick one thing to improve from your last “failed” diet or workout program. Maybe you didn’t make it into the gym like you planned, so plan to go for less days, start with less time at the gym, set yourself up for success where you previously failed. Do the things you’re good at more often and use those habits to replace the bad ones then slowly start adding in the next best thing, then the next, then the next, until all of a sudden you’re there!

It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be consistent, and it has to make sense for you. After all, you’re who these goals are about anyway…

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

P.S. If you read this far, here’s a link to the video I snagged some of these quotes from. I’d recommend checking some of these guys out(outside this video).

 

 

Get In Shape In Time For….

Get In Shape In Time For….

“Do This” To Get Fit In Time For Summer!

You’re in luck!  It’s not too late…

Now is the absolute best(worst) time to get in shape for that thing coming up in (insert fast approaching deadline here).

Don’t fall for all of this nonsense.

Expect any lasting transformation to take at minimum 1 year. Let’s face it, it took you how many years to get your body to the point it’s at now? It’s more than a little silly to think that you can look better than it ever has within a few weeks/months(and get it to stick).

You’re Probably Used To This Shtick:
Want bigger muscles in 12 weeks? (Steroids or inject oil into your muscles anyone?)
Want to lose a sh*t ton of weight fast? (You know Liposuction or starvation and laxatives)
Want any other benefit of working hard for something and want it now? There’s bound to be a quick fix out there.

There’s always a quick fix… usually followed up by a rapid relapse to the state you were previously in(or most times worse). This isn’t anything radical, it’s common sense, and (in all honesty) you’ve known this, but choose to ignore it…

The truth is, if you want your results to actually stick around, you’re going to have to work for them. I know, it’s terrible, right! But here’s the good news – once you have it, it’s easy to keep it – and even easier to go beyond it.(Lose more weight, gain more muscle, move even better, get even stronger)

Now that we have all that canned nonsense out of the way…

The cold hard truth about trying to get your body into the state you would like it to be in is this…
If you truly want something and you want to know how to work for it, you’re going to have to do a few things.
FIRST: Find a program that is scalable(built in progressions)
SECOND: Have a list of principles to train by.

Here’s a little list of things I’ve (kind of) recently put together, to make sure you get to your destination. There really shouldn’t be any modifications here, this will leave you no wiggle room for excuses. Here you go:

 

This should be enough to get you on your way to spectacular results(and a sexy new you). If you’re looking for a good training program to follow, check out Strong First’s Blog – they have a TON of materials on there, including some written by close friends(who happen to be masters of everything fitness).

Along these lines – get some mentors. THere’s always people willing to help you out somewhere(whether they know they’re helping or you’re just “stalking” them, like I enjoy doing 😉 ). But seriously, you’d be amazed how much free advice you can get in Facebook Groups(Strong First has Training/Practice Groups for kettlebells, bodyweight, and anything else in between). And the cool thing is, you get advice from people who normally charge, at minimum, $90 for training in person!

I do have to admit, real quick, that I did borrow the above 10 commandments from some friends and mentors (actually, from the people who got these friends started). Gym Jones and TNT (Ryan & Derek Toshner). These guys are at the top of the game, and I could think of no better places to draw inspiration for my list of commandments. I’ve trusted Ryan & Derek with furthering my own training(Ryan has been a great mentor over the course of my kettlebell and business journeys and I even have referred family members to him for training).

Lastly, no matter what you do, make sure they person/people you find are competent and have actually produced results – not just for themselves, but other people in what they do(don’t pick the out of shape instructor with no idea how it feels to lift something over 2x their own bodyweight off the floor while claiming to be a lifting coach…. he has no true insight on every aspect of the training). People that have “done”, even in some capacity, are always better teachers because of their passion for what they do. If they lack that, they really can’t help you(no matter how “motivational” they are). It helps too if you see they’ve been able to transfer that knowledge to other people too!

Anything above and beyond this, you know how to get in touch with me, justin @ post35.net. Or stop by our awesome historic building downtown Hartford, WI. We’ll be glad to help in any way we can.

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

P.S. A little update here… as of Mid April 2017 we will be running a little challenge for ADVANCED trainees to help push through plateaus they’ve hit in their training. You needn’t be familiar with kettlebell exercises, although some proficciency in the deadlift is a huge bonus.

This challenge will be a 4-5 week program and involves a minimum of 4 training days per week. There is no charge for the program, just a commitment to the process. Contact at the email above for details. Serious inquiries only please, I’m limiting this to 5 people.