Day 5 – 40 Days of Strong

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 1.28.22 PMRejuvenated from day 4’s yoga routine / stretching routine.  Inspired by last nights men’s shot put competition in the Olympic Games.  Big Congratulations to Ryan, Joe, and Tom.  I’m ready to train today.  The workout for today, Day 5, is real simple:

Squat  5,3,2

OH Press 5, 3, 2

Pull Up   2×5+  (do as many reps as possible on second set.

Snatch Grip DL  5,3,2

Kettlebell or Plate Winds – 50 reps

Waiter’s Walks     2 x max time

And Conditioning….booo, but YEA!  Because I need it:  2o minutes of Bike other interval work.

You can check out my workout today!

 

Day 4 – 40 Days of Strong

Ahh…recovery day.  Active recovery day.  This day is supposed to be about rejuvenation.  I definitely need it.

I am not a yogi. My experience with yoga is limited to only a handful of classes over 20 years.  However, about 10 years ago my wife bought P90x.  And before you give me any grief, you have to understand that I will try almost every workout once.  The problem is that when you’re an aging “professional” (full-time may be more appropriate given the expected earnings of a shot putter) athlete, quality recovery programs supervised by a qualified professional cut deep into the pockets.  It’s something I know I should prioritize, but it’s much more challenging to spend money and time on the passive side of performance training.

Enter P90x yoga – I tried it.  I loved it.  My only complaint was that it’s 90 minutes long and there were way too many balancing positions.  For me, I focus on the movements with the biggest bang for the buck – the warrior and triangle poses, because I know that hip and thoracic mobility are the greatest barriers to high performance as I age.  And I believe that they are for you too.

So give this session a try.  Special thanks to P90x for presenting yoga to me in a digestible fashion.  This session runs about 40 minutes.  And I apologize if you find my narration a little creepy.  What can I say?  I’m a 265lb retired shot putter doing yoga in his office.  That’s a little weird.

Day 3 – 40 Days Strong

Pre-Workout Assessment:  Grinding, tired.  I started this workout during the Olympic Games, which means that my sport – track and field – is keeping me up late every night.  Sleep is soo important to recovery, especially when you’re first starting out a program.

Today’s workout was a real bear for me. I’m sore from ab wheels.  I’m sore from the RFE.  My traps are feeling the cleans.  This is not abnormal for me starting a new workout, but I can tell you it doesn’t get any easier with age.  That’s a cruel, because almost everything we do in life gets easier with repetition.  Not so with training and recovery.

Unfortunately, due to a video malfunction I didn’t capture any video, so you’ll just have to work off the program. You can see my numbers in the session.    Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 12.07.07 PM

Day 2 – 40 Days Strong

Day 2 – Man, I’m sore.  I didn’t think day 1 was that challenging, but I’m in a pretty untrained state at the moment.  Between prepping for the Olympic Trials at the first of January and work, I didn’t get much in during the month of July.  That’s a not a good thing.  As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed I lose my base conditioning much quicker than in the past.

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do the “40 days of Strong” program.  It forces me to adhere to specific workout schedule everyday for 40 days and I know my body will reward that discipline and dedication over the long haul.  You can find today’s workout here or below:

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.51.59 AM

My weights were:

2kb OH Reverse Lunge – 24kg kettle bells.

BHN Press – 135, 145

Pul Ups – Body Weight, Body Weight

Cleans – 70kg, 90kg, 100kg

Ab Wheel  – 10, 10, 10 – stopped after 30.

Suit Case Carry – 32kg Max time 60 sec

Fatigue was setting in pretty quick towards the latter part of this workout.  I still managed to hop on the treadmill, but couldn’t manage a full 20minutes.  Everything felt like lead.

 

Day 1 – 40 Days Strong

AdamYou might be wondering why there’s a picture of me half-naked in my bathroom.  I’ve started a new training program and this is way of holding myself more accountable.  You can train along with me too.  It’s a 40 day program.  I’ve already written the workouts, but the key is to make sure you do a workout every day for 40 days.  Don’t kill yourself on any one day.  This is a marathon not a sprint.  If you’re consistent with this workout every day for the next 40 days, I can guarantee that you will be stronger than you were before.  Here are some rules:

  1. Make sure you see a doctor before starting any exercise program.
  2. Quality movement dictates weight and reps.  IF your movement is poor, then stop.
  3. The relative work loads per day are small.  Trust the process.
  4. If you want to lose weight, focus on your diet and add a little extra cardio.
  5. Keep a training Journal.  It really helps.  It’s not just to record your workout, but other aspects of your life too.

Also, if you want to stay ahead of the game.  You can join my private Facebook page here.

Day 1 – Journal and Workout

Warm – Up:  This was my first day.  I’m always fired up on the first day.  Started off with some glute and core activation work followed by my dynamic warm-up.  Then, performed a kettle bell routine.  I’m a huge fan of Dan John’s concept as the “warm-up as the workout“, so I’ve incorporated a little into my daily routines.

Todays Lift:

A1.  Front Squat   5, 3, 2     230, 275, 295

A2.  Bench Press  5, 3, 2    275, 295, 315

A3.  Pull Up          5, 3, 2    Bw, 8k, 16k

B1.  Dead Lift       5, 3, 2    350, 395, 445  Did with double overhand grip, then alternating grip.  last set done with my dominant grip.

C1.  Hanging Leg Raises 50 reps in as few sets / time as possible

C2.  Farmer’s Walk         2 sets – 100lb dbs x 60 sec each, 100lb db x 60 sec each

Bike – 20 minutes of conditioning –  This felt horrible, so I only made 6 minutes.

Post-Workout Thoughts –

Easing into this workout.  I’m relatively untrained at the moment, so I’m not trying to kill it.  And that’s no really the purpose of this workout anyway.  We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

For a short recap of my workout, you can see it by clicking this link.

 

 

Before you start your workout!

Do you remember that thing called a warm-up?  Maybe you had a coach who used to tell you run two laps and stretch out?  Things have changed a lot in the last 40 years, so here’s a simple routine for you before you workout.  It takes five minutes.  You will notice the cumulative benefit in just a couple of weeks.

 

Foam Roller:  Splurge and get the long one, unless you plan on traveling.  I bought mine here.

Start by sitting on the foam roller.  Lean back allowing your body to roll down the foam roller until the roller is by your shoulders.  Roll back and between the top of shoulders and the top of the hips.  5-6 passes should do the trick.

Sit on the foam roller.  Lean to one side isolating the pressure the glute (or butt cheek).  Roll back and forth on that glute.  If you feel a spot that’s tender, stop the foam roller on the spot.  Try to release the tension from the muscles.  5-6 passes should do the trick!

Continue rolling to that side to position the foam roller on the outer quad or IT Band.  Fair warning!  This is usually very tender on most people.  Roll the entire length of IT Band – from just below the hip to above the knee.  Don’t cross over the knee.  5-6 passes!

Continue rolling to that side to position the foam roller on the front of the quad.  Some rules as before.  Roll from the top of the hip to just above the knee.  5-6 passes.

Flip to the opposite side and repeat!

Optional:  You can also roll the groin and the lats.

 

40 Days to find Strong

I first read about the FORTY DAY WORKOUT on Dan John’s website.  A simple concept that reinforces the notion that consistent effort over time will produce remarkable results.  It’s not rocket science.  So I’m going to put the 40 day workout to a test.

I will be posting my workouts so you can follow along as well. Or if you’d like to develop your own model, you can use the following guidelines.

  1. Include a large posterior chain movement like a deadlift
  2. Upper body push
  3. Upper body Pull
  4. A simple full-body explosive movement like an Olympic Lift or Kettlebell Swing
  5. Core work of your choice

Dan John suggests 2 sets of 5 repetitions per workout for the exercises in 1 through 3, one set of 20 to 50 for the explosive moves (if you use swings), and one single set of core work.  In addition, you don’t want to miss any reps.  That means the load is important, but don’t force the weight.  Let it happen.

I’ve made some adjustments to my program, because I have a tendency to get bored.  As for my goals with this workout:

  1. Body Composition – I weigh 273.5 lbs.  It’s the heaviest I’ve been in my life (with the exception of one day after a eating challenge in 2000 I weighed in at 278).  I’d like to drop 10lbs in the next 40 days.
  2. Strength Goals – I’m using this workout as a general preparation, so I’m not going to stress about a strength.  I will do some testing in the last week in the following:
    • Deadlift, Squat, Bench or Overhead Press, Clean, Snatch, Farmer’s Carry, Overhead Shot Put Throw
  3. Accountability – I will be posting my workouts and training journal on this site.  40 days.  If you want to join along in the training, please consider joining the private Facebook page for this workout.  You can submit a request and I will approve you.  I will start posting my workout journal on

So that’s it.  Keep it simple and consistent.  Train with me for 40 days.  It might change your life!

Adam

 

Fundamentally Strong For Life

image from primal movements

This is the first part of a 6 part series of proper movement.  

What if I told you there were 5 lifts you could do right now that would improve the quality of your life for as long as you live?  Well, that’s a bit misleading.  There aren’t five lifts.  There are five fundamental movements critical to maintaining strength, mobility, and athleticism as  we age.  Those movements are:  Squatting, Hinging (most commonly known as deadlifting), Pushing (most commonly seen as bench pressing), Pulling (any upper body pull), and finally Carrying.  I know what many of you are saying.  Those are the exercises I see those crossfit men and women do on tv.  Or maybe your gym has a roped off section where they allow the “lunks” to lift barbells, bang steel, and grunt.  Just like we tell our children to put the phones down, unplug, go out and play, I’m telling you to step off your treadmill, turn off the tv, and see what the iron game is all about.


A quick history lesson:  Strength training in the United States was heavily influenced by the bodybuilding culture of the 70’s.  The giants of body building – Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, Dave Draper, Frank Zane, and others – promoted aesthetics over pure strength.  A ripped stomach, big arms, and a big chest became the symbol of health.   Then, the 80’s introduced Arnoldaerobics.  Leotards, leg warmers, Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons convinced us that we could jazzercise our way to a healthier, slimmer body.  Aerobics gave way to hard core workouts that you could do at home.  Do you remember Tae Bo or P90x?  Fad diets like Atkins and South Beach as well as exercise machines like the ab roller and the Total Gym were in the mix too.  Americans still love our fast fitness lifestyles as much as we love our fast food.  We buy more on looks than on substance and the salesmen know it.  To quote a famous strength coach who was talking to a group of personal trainers “if you want to increase your client base and your rates, get your arms bigger.”  He knew that consumers focus only on those things that are most visible.  Meanwhile those that actually knew a great deal about training for movement were pushed to the back of gym or were largely underutilized in some research lab or physical therapy facility.

Tony Horton
Courtesy of P90x

Starting with P90x we started hearing terms like “muscle confusion.”  These terms were ripped from the pages of sports science texts dating back to 1936 when Hans Seyle introduced his theory of General Adaptation Syndrome, which basically set the foundation for progressive loading.  But before I lose you in the depths of sports science, all you need to know is that it’s important to change exercises in order to continue seeing positive changes.  Ahh…fast food americana.  Ain’t it great?  Would you like some fries with that?  The only problem is that these are only elements of a complete approach to training.  Constant muscle confusion means the body never adapts and you will never reap the full performance benefit of your training.  Just like there are many long-term problems linked to our obsession with fast food, there are also issues with obsession with fast fitness.  We are now living at a time of exercise enlightenment.  Social media and crossfit (yes, I’ll touch on that in moment) have created a boon in opportunities for exercise scientist to promote healthy, sustainable training programs.

Ahh…Crossfit.  There is a love-hate relationship that so many experts have with Greg Glassman’s creation.  Mr. Glassman made weightlifting cool again when he made a sport of exercising.  From the named workouts to the Crossfit Games, millions of people worldwide have embraced what members of the iron game have known for decades – strength is an important part of fitness.  As it grew in popularity, experts  grew more and more critical of the dangers of Crossfit.  Some of the feedback was professional.  Some of it was alarmist.   All the while, Crossfit grew in popularity and in influence.  But what would you expect of a business built on the fast food model of weekend certifications?  Crossfit sells hope – an opportunity to join a community and change who you are through a community of like-minded, albeit sometimes misinformed, people.  Over the last decade I’ve seen more “experts” joining the herd, perhaps thinking it’s easier to improve the system from the inside.  Or maybe they realized that the Crossfit platform – certifications, speaking circuit, competitions, and boxes – offers a new, fantastic business opportunity.   My personal objection to crossfit is that it confuses a sport with a sustainable fitness model.  There is nothing healthy about competing in crossfit, just like there’s nothing healthy about playing football.  It’s a proving ground.


So, where are we now?  What’s the common theme in all exercise programs? Progressive loading and movement.  Most of us understand – at least intuitively – progressive loading.  We always want to lift more, run faster, jump higher.  However, those actions require knowledge of a technique.  Proper execution of a sound technique will not only improve performance, it will reduce your risk of injury.  Unfortunately, we don’t judge the winner of most sports based on the quality of movement.  The winner is usually dictated by the outcome only.  There’s no real way to reward you today for proper movement nor is there a guarantee that you won’t have other issues that impact your standard of living if you subscribe to proper movement training.

What I can tell you is this:  if you don’t know how to squat properly, you will accelerate the aging process on your bones and joints.  If your hips don’t function properly, you will experience more aches and pains generally associated with aging earlier and more frequently.  Proper movement can’t happen unless the body works well as whole.  When the joints start to fail, we start to fail.  Maybe it’s time to start thinking about life as a sport?  The winner is the person who can continue to perform at the highest level possible for as long as possible.  The secret to winning the game of life is to practice proper movement every day.  And that starts with mastering the five fundamental movements.

 

 

Shoe Review: That Asics Lifting Boots

I have to admit.  I didn’t know what lifting boots were until after I arrived in college, but I didn’t feel the need to use lifting boots until much later.  In fact, from 1992 until 2003 I relied primarily on running shoes.  As a bigger guy there was no more durable shoe than the gray New Balance 990’s.  However, in 2003 I started training with Charles Poliquin.  Charles more than casually suggested that I invest in a pair of lifting boots.  He believed a lifting boot would positively impact my squat and hinge patterns.  He was right.  Thirteen years later I found myself needing a new pair of boots.  Enter the Asics Lift Trainer

Asics Lift TrainerLet me say “wow.”  My first pair of lifting boots looked more like an old pair of unpolished white wingtips.  They were the epitome of utilitarian.  Lifters, at least those who bought lifting boots, didn’t care about what they looked like lifting.  We just needed a shoe that performed as advertised.  I guess things have changed since 2003.  I’ll credit CrossFit for attracting a new demographic of lifters who like technology infused clothing with style and sex appeal.  These boots certainly look fancy enough to wear around town.  They’re way more aesthetically pleasing than my old New B’s too.

Sliding the boots on for the first time left me a little apprehensive about heavy lifting.   Heavy lifting requires a heavy, stable shoe.  Heavy and stable shoes for lifting are like a workman’s F350 truck.  It’s designed for the challenges of the job, not for the creature comforts.  This shoes has comfortability rating that far exceeds my old shoes.  It’s well cushioned, but still holds the foot snug – like being bear hugged between to giant pillows.  So it feels and wears more like a running shoe.  That means you don’t have to spend as much time breaking the shoe in.  Unlike my old lifting boots, which I wore for about a full year before I felt like they were 100%.  With these I felt like I could go the moment my foot hit the sole.   Which is great.  Just beware that comfortability sometimes comes at the cost of durability.  It’s too early for me to tell whether or not these shoes will last 1o years.

Like most lifting boots they are lace ups with a mid-sole strap.  The shoe laces have reinforced riveting above the mid-Asics Rivets and Strapsole strap, that should help extend the life of the upper.  For the record, I’ve ripped more than my fair share of shoe strings through the uppers of other shoes.  There’s nothing worse than when this happens at a time when you really need the shoe to perform at its best.  Asics seems to have done a good job addressing these issues in the design of the shoe.
There’s a formidable heel on these shoes covered with a nice amount of grippy rubber.  This is a nice innovation since my last boots as there is no need to scuff the sole of the shoe in order to prevent slippage.  The heel is stable and sticky.  You will not slip which should improve your power transfer into the ground.  That’s good thing.  The bottoms are thick but still provide enough flexibility to feel the ground.  The hard angle around the edge of the shoe enhance their performance on the platform, but would make them challenging for anyone looking to do change of direction work.  But… let’s be honest. You don’t buy lifting boots for that purpose.  You only need them to perform just enough.  If you’re doing some weird variation of lateral lunges, you might want stick with your zero drop, minimalist, cross training shoe or just go barefoot.

All said I’d recommend this shoe to anyone looking for a great, stable lifting shoe.  It won’t put pounds on the bar for you, but it will allow to train at higher levels for longer periods of time.

 

 

Starting Strength After 40

I am an athlete.  I’ve been competing in organized sports since I was 4 years old.  For the past 20 years, I competed as an Olympic hopeful and, eventually, 3 time Olympian winning the silver and gold medal in 2000 and 2004.  Most recently I made my SIXTH Olympic Trials finishing 7th in my event at the age of 40 (I turned 41 six days after my competition).  My experiences as a world class athlete for 20 years in a power sport forced me to learn the science of strength and conditioning, applying this knowledge to build consistent results even though Father Time constantly changed the training paradigm in ways that forced innovation.  The secret to my long-term success is becoming more efficient with my movement patterns.

Proper movement requires a basic understanding of biomechanics.  Let me stress “BASIC.” I am not a biomechanist, but everyone should understand the fundamentals of movement and the role of healthy joints – at least of the load bearing joints:  the ankles, knees, hips, lumbar spine, and thoracic spine.  To overly simplify:  If your joints lack range of motion or stability, the rest of your body will kill itself compensating for the issue.   Ankles are mobilizers.  They adjust to the different surfaces of the ground allowing our bodies to apply force downward.  Knees are stabilizers.  The knee does have great range of motion on one plane, but all the soft tissue surrounding it is made to

Jim Malone - Head Strength Coach, St. Louis Cardinals Dan John - Author and Strength Professional Adam Nelson - Founder, Strongat40
Jim Malone – Head Strength Coach, St. Louis Cardinals
Dan John – Author and Strength Professional
Adam Nelson – Founder, Strongat40

provide lateral stability.  Hips are a mobilizing joint.  The lumbar spine is a stabilizer and the thoracic (or shoulders) is a mobilizer.  Understanding and facilitating the primary roles of the joints is the secret to long-term strength and performance as it directs the primary focus of your training.  As my friends Dan John says “Mobilize what needs mobilizing and stabilize what needs stabilizing.”

Unfortunately, nearly everything we do in our professional, adult lives works against our bodies.  It’s not enough to go for jog or hit an exercise class.  If you have poor mechanics, all you’re doing is improving your aerobic capacity at the cost of accelerating your structural decline.  So you have to ask yourself:  Do you want to run a marathon today or play with grand kids when your 80?  The good news is if you embrace proper movement training today, you might be able to do both.

In 2012 I began sharing my approach to training with clients at a  sports performance facility I

Coaching at SPARC

started with a group of orthopedic surgeons in Athens, GA.  We approached every client the same way – assess, teach, train, and monitor. Our assessments focused on movement first.  When we lose our ability to move properly we begin to accelerate the degradation of our bodies.  Activity is no longer the path towards sound quality of life, but in fact leads us to become more dependent on procedures, pills, and physical therapy to continue our normal lives.  The path to a healthier, higher performing body starts slow.  It’s not predicated on your fitness.  It starts by addressing your movement.  Correcting movement takes a lot of time, especially if you’ve been moving improperly for over 40 years.  During this period of your training, the primary emphasis isn’t on losing weight or performance.  It’s on improving your movement – or mobility and stability.  Notice I didn’t say flexibility and core.

Flexibility is defined as the ability to cover a range of motion.  There’s no element of control.  I see this all the time with squat pattern in the elderly population.  This group can usually sit in a low squat position.  However, when I ask them to stand up from the position or sit down into the low squat position, they require assistance.  They lack the functional strength to control their bodies over the range of motion.  It’s this lack of functional strength that significantly contributes to the “aging” process.

Core training used to be sit ups and leg raises.  However, core as my former coach Charles Poliquin use to say “is the power transducer”, meaning a strong core allowed you to efficiently transfer power from the ground through the entire body.  What we’ve learned over the last twenty years is that the “core” is the primary stabilizer allowing us to resist external forces.  We train the core through stabilization and anti-rotational resistance training.  When done properly, new strength in the core will add significant strength through the whole body.  Seriously, want to get faster.  Train the core properly.  Want to get strong.  Train the core properly.

So there you have it.  You’re over the age of forty.  Your friends tell you “getting old ain’t for the weak.”  They’re right.  It’s not.  Get strong by learning movement patterns.  The body will reward consistent effort over long periods of time.  Unfortunately, it punishes anything new in the short-term.  Once you’ve eliminated the poor movements or at least identified someone who can coach you as you go, then you can progress to the P90 Cross Fight Pro Cycling 30 Day Fit Class.