Baby got back pain

Be faithful in small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa

The last couple of weeks we have focused on common problem mobility areas related to the strength and conditioning arena, and I think we have done some good. I have personally seen my athletes and individuals in town add one or two of the stretches and rolling techniques talked about in this blog to their routine, so job done! Unfortunately, in the world of weightlifting, improvement is never done (unless you just want to be the fish that squats in a pond of fish that only elliptical and look good-by comparison). Like I said, we touched on mobility, but we did not touch on another part of the equation: Accessory Work.

Accessory work is crucial in the development of a well-rounded, fully fit athlete in any arena. Weightlifters don’t just Clean and Jerk and Snatch, Powerlifters don’t just Squat, Bench, and Deadlift, Swimmers don’t just get in the water and swim their hearts out, Triathletes don’t just go out and swim, bike, run everyday. Get the point? Accessory work is anything and everything that is not part of your event: it is strength training for endurance athletes, it is squats, RDL’s, chin-ups, close grip bench, etc… for weightlifters and Powerlifters, it is anything that can help with imbalances that an athlete might develop over time, IT IS IMPORTANT!

All that above brings me around to the topic of today: Accessory work for lower back pain. Picture this: You have been working Squats, Deadlifts, and Cleans for months now just to be able to shake it like Shakira, but what good does that do you when your muscular imbalances have you dancing around like Quasimodo trying to Krump? Side note: If you do any squatting or pulling at all, you will at times have lower back soreness and maybe a little pain, this comes with the territory. If it is more than just a little pain or if it is a chronic problem, this post is for you! If you are uncertain whether this pertains to you (it probably does), take a look at your squat form. Do you pitch forward? Do you kick out one hip more than the other? Do you have pain on only one side of your back/glute area? If you can answer yes to anyone of those three questions, or you just want to be a better athlete, or you sit at a desk for God knows how long, or you are a human being, then you should probably read the rest of this and incorporate some of the Accessory exercises depicted below:

First up, Romanian Deadlifts:

IMG_2045 IMG_2044 IMG_2043

The goal of this exercise is to increase the recruitment of the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Start by stepping up to the bar, bend down grabbing the bar with a clean width grip, butt up in the air with a flat back and only slightly bent knees. As you start to pull, make sure almost all of your weight is back in your heels and you are pulling the bar up and back toward your hips. As you get past the knees, really engage those glutes and squeeze them through to full hip extension. As you lower the bar down, do so in a nice slow, controlled manner to get a nice eccentric load on the back and hamstrings. I usually keep this exercise to 3-4 sets of 8 repetitions working as heavy as possible with good, solid form.

Next up, Single leg Deadlift

IMG_2050 IMG_2049 IMG_2048

This is a great exercise to test whether we have a deficiency or imbalance in one hip or the other. Similar start and finish to the Romanian Deadlift, with the difference being that one leg will be kicked back and off the ground. Note: You can also do this with a KB to start with and then work your way up to a barbell and make sure and watch out for the loaded hip kicking out to the side. The Rep and Set scheme is the same for this exercise 3-4 sets of 8 repetitions each leg.

Suitcase Deadlift/ Farmer Carries

IMG_2051 IMG_2054

The goal here is to lift the weight while keeping the hips as neutral as possible. This exercise is great for core muscular imbalances as well as glute, hamstring, and grip strengthening. Set up and lift is the same as the first two exercises, but won’t be as deep due to the farmer carry bar being quiet a bit taller than a normal barbell. To add a challenge, take it for a 45 second stroll then switch hands and do it again. 3-4 sets with 8 repetitions each side for suitcases and 3-4 sets of 30-45 seconds for farmers walks (making sure to work up to a challenging weight).

Glute/Ham Raises

IMG_2064 IMG_2063

This is a great exercise if done correctly! The biggest issue I have with these is untrained athletes doing them for time or being taught to use momentum to get some crazy high number of repetitions in. If you are to do these, the lower back needs to stay tight and as structured as possible.  This exercise is absolutely phenomenal at developing strength in the glutes and hams (this is where you should feel tension and where you should think about contracting) and usually is done for 3-4 sets of 8 repetitions. If you get to the point where this is easy, you can then add some weight by placing it on your chest and performing the raises.

Last is a little flow that Kaleigh came up with to work before and after any day that heavily relies on your lower back or if you sit for long periods of time.

Starting in child’s pose, hold for as long as comfortable then move up to a neutral spine. Next is Cat and Cow, moving through each of these 10-15 times each. Moving around to a seated position, we move into spinal twist on either side holding for 10 breaths, moving deeper into the stretch with each breath. Moving down to the mat, we work through bridge pose pushing up through the heels and lower back down one vertebrae at a time, moving through this pose 10-15 times. Finally, we relax into happy baby holding for as long as we like, letting our hips sink and relax into the mat.

IMG_2065 IMG_2066 IMG_2067 IMG_2068 IMG_2069 IMG_2070 IMG_2072

The lower back can be very strong or very weak depending on how much time,effort, and intensity we put into the area. Going forward try to add one or two of these exercises into your daily routine at the end of your normal training session and I guarantee your lifts will improve (or at least your pain will subside).

Next week we will move to the hips and legs and show a couple of different exercises to help improve the squat and some to help with chronic injuries for some of our endurance based athletes.

Don’t forget that if you have any interest in competing in our super total meet (or just weightlifting or powerlifting) make sure to get a hold of us via facebook (sign-ups will start soon).

Also, we are collecting old athletic clothing and shoes at the gym to donate to a kids group in Tulsa. If you have any shirts, shorts, sports bras, shoes, etc.. that you have outgrown or just don’t wear anymore, please bring them by so we can donate as much as possible!!!

Check back on Wednesday for a new blog post called “Mid-Week Mobility” where we will give a yoga pose, mobility drill, and corrective exercise for a given body part to through into your daily routine!

Overhead Mobility: The Sequel

     I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee

I send in weekly videos to my coach to be analyzed for cues and corrections in my Olympic lifts. This week, I got an email back telling me that I needed more mobility in my shoulders in order to get the bar into the proper overhead position. Now, you can imagine how ironic that is seeing’s as how I have posted for the last 3 or 4 weeks about mobilization and how important it is in your program… Well regardless, last week we posted a Video of our yoga instructor, Kaleigh, performing a yoga flow to help with the overhead and front rack position. This week, I want to expand on this video with some foam roller techniques, lacrosse ball techniques, and general stretches that I do in order to try to maintain the mobility needed to get the bar in to the proper overhead position. Note; These mobility techniques are not just for the Olympic movements. Anyone that presses, front squats, swims, sits at a desk, etc. can use these stretches and poses to gain and maintain the natural ROM in and around your shoulder, elbow, and wrist.

Lets start with some rolling techniques I use in my warm-up:

TRAP ROLLOUTLAT ROLLOUT

First, I should note that this might feel uncomfortable, but it Should NOT HURT. For the picture on the left we are rolling from the bottom of the ribcage to the base of the neck (not on the neck). We are focusing on loosening the upper back musculature up in order to help get  us into that proper overhead position. I start with 15-20 full rolls with my hands overhead, really extend those hands in order to get a good mash in the mid and lower traps.

The picture on the right, we are rolling the back of the shoulder and insertion of the lat. Same idea here, roll from your armpit down around your ribs (do not put too much pressure on the ribcage itself) and make sure and put the hand up in order to flex the lat. and get a good mash in. This roll out technique was made famous in the scene from titanic in which Jack paints a lovely portrait of Rose (I don’t have as good of a pose as Rose, but I am working on that).

Next we focus on some good overhead static stretches:

Kb stretchIMAG0030

The main goal for the first picture is to get good extension in the spine and shoulders. I hold this position for 15-20 seconds and let up for 15-20 seconds, rotating through this 3 to 4 times.

The second picture is targeted around your lat., obliques, and hips. This is a great one for some of the powerlifters that get those feet real far back in order to get solid drive during a bench press. Notice how my legs are in a straddle stance, which allows a little more of a stretch through out the hip area. The stretch is held for the same time frame as the first, with the same amount of sets (3-4 per side).

These last two are a sport specific technique and a lacrosse ball trigger point technique, so I grouped them down at the bottom:

 

CGOHSCFGOHS SIDEBALL ON WALL

First is the close grip overhead squat. I try to do this a couple of times a week, with very light weight, to help to improve my overhead mobility and positioning. The idea is to grip as close as is comfortably possible (this is a little wider than my clean grip) and perform a couple of overhead squats, holding in the bottom position for a 3-5 second count and 5-8 repetitions with 3-4 sets. Note: The pain face is not a necessary part of this squat, it just so happens that it naturally occurs for me in this position.

This lacrosse ball trigger point technique will help to loosen up that pec minor (which can become really tight when your shoulder is under a constant amount of strain and tension). Put the ball into that shoulder/pec pocket, get up against the wall, and move in small motions left, right, up and down. This one is a great one to do at the house or in a judgment free zone, because it tends to look like you might have fallen in love with the wall and are practicing your slow grid with it. If you hit a spot that is extra tender, make sure to stay there for 3-5 seconds to allow it to loosen up a little and make sure to perform this on both sides of the body!

. Unlike other things in life, if you don’t use it, you will lose it, so make sure and make this a daily task. Get into the gym, add some into both your warm-up and cool-down, making sure to try to include some mobility for every major joint in the body. When you get home, make sure to take extra care of any small injuries, aches or pains you may have (adding more mobilization and rehab to this areas).

Check out the Facebook page for updates on our Super Total Lift off coming up on Dec. 5th and if you are interested, we still have 3 or 4 spots available in our Tues/Thurs strength class!

“Throw them hands in the air” Yoga Flow

“Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked.” – Desikashar

At Pure Health Performance, we are big believers in mobility (as you may have noticed). We offer weekly yoga classes for our athletes as well as the Bartlesville community because we believe that the flexibility, mental calm, and breathing techniques learned in a personal yoga practice can translate directly into better form and higher performance in our Intro Strength and Oly classes.

Today we’re going to offer a mini flow from our yoga instructor, Kaleigh, that focuses on increased flexibility in the shoulders, thoracic spine, forearms, and wrists that will help open up any Olympic lifter and improve flexibility in both the front rack and overhead position. If you’re intimidated or feel like you can’t do these postures because of lack of flexibility, we encourage you to remember that yoga is a personal practice and that started where you are and working regularly on problem areas will increase that flexibility–you just have to be patient! Now, take a look at this short video and check out below for an exploration of the postures!

Happy stretching!

For a closer look at each posture:

Child's Pose

Begin in a Child’s Pose. Child’s Pose is a restorative pose used often throughout a yoga practice as a point of rest and relaxation for the practitioner. Here, we return to Child’s Pose between almost every posture, using it as a transition. Here we want to drive our hips toward the ground, allowing our arms to stretch out in front of us.

Puppy Pose 1Puppy Pose 2

Pressing forward, we tilt our hips toward the sky, applying downward pressure and opening up our shoulders as we press our chests toward the floor. This posture is known as Puppy Pose and is a variation of Downward Facing Dog. You will see Kaleigh sinking a little further into the pose as she gets more comfortable, increasing the stretch in the thoracic spine and working on what will translate into overhead mobility.

Shoulder Stretch RightScreenshot_2015-09-28-19-44-36

From here, she adds a shoulder stretch but “threading” her left arm underneath her right and applying downward pressure on her arm to increase the stretch. She then repeats the process on the left side. This can also be done from Child’s Pose, however keeping the hips high will increase the pressure and therefore the depth of the stretch.

Screenshot_2015-09-28-19-44-41

She then returns to Child’s Pose as a transition.

Screenshot_2015-09-28-19-44-46

Pressing up onto her hands, she points her fingertips toward the front of her mat with her shoulders stacked over her wrists. From here, she rocks forward, backward, and from side to side twice which focuses on increasing wrist mobility. This is useful for anyone working on their front rack position or getting into position for a jerk.

Screenshot_2015-09-28-19-44-55Screenshot_2015-09-28-19-45-07

She repeats this process twice, the first time with her wrists side-by-side and her fingers pointed away from each other (toward the sides of the mat) and then again with her fingers pointed towards her body. This may initially be difficult depending on your wrist flexibility, but continued practice will allow you to place your hands flat on the mat in no time!

Screenshot_2015-09-28-19-44-41Screenshot_2015-09-28-19-45-16

She returns to Child’s Pose for transition before curling her toes under and pressing up into Downward Facing Dog. Here, her hips are pressed toward the sky, shoulders are pulled down and away from her ears. The goal is to drive the heels toward the mat (you may need to walk your feet in a little in order to really flatten those heels) and to keep the head tucked “below” the line created from your fingertips to your hips. Driving your chest toward the mat should help increase that overhead mobility necessary for the Snatch position in Oly lifting.

Screenshot_2015-09-28-19-44-41

Finally, she returns to Child’s Pose for rest and relaxation.

Again, these postures are focused on increased mobility for the Front Rack in a Clean and the Overhead position in a Snatch. Kaleigh moves through these movements pretty quickly for demonstration purposes, but it is always wise to hold each pose for 6-10 breaths to allow for a deeper stretch. Feel free to practice on your own or join us for Yoga on Monday nights from 7-7:45 PM or every other Saturday from 9-10 AM.

Booty ain’t going to twerk itself: Squat Mobility

 No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. What a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.

Socrates, 469-399 BCE

So I sort of flipped the general vibe of the article from joking (in the title) to a little more serious (in the opening quote), but there is a point. The point is that if you are going to do something (lift, triathlons, marathons, etc.) do it well. You don’t get to come in and only do the things you want to do or the things you are good at (as many of us do, myself included). You MUST MOBILIZE and you must do it WELL!!

Now getting back to the title, which is true, it really is not going to do it itself. Also, no one is interested in a Miley Cyrus pancake booty shaking in front of them, so we must learn to squat, and squat properly (you also don’t want to hurt yourself and look like Quasimodo trying to get down).

YES– baby-squat  NO– Jillian-Goblet-Squat-350x350

First thing is first, we hit the gym with a general warm-up of 3-5 minutes. This general warm-up could be jump rope, rowing, a jog, something to get the whole body active and moving. After we are nice and warm, we can go through the series below to help increase the ROM in our hips, knees, and ankles in order to acquire a better squat pattern.


So the first one we start off with is a deep lunge with a twist:

IMAG0027IMAG0026
I usually give these 8-10 reps per side, walking around the gym and twisting both toward and away from the leg out in front. Notice that I am allowing the knee to fall over the toe with my heal still on the ground, which helps to add some ankle mobility into the stretch. I will then take both hands down to the floor and put a little more emphasis on the hip itself (make sure to keep a back flat and really push that chest to the floor). I hold each side for a 2-3 count and move on to the next, repeating the same on the next side.


Next, I do a little squat specific mobilization with an overhead variation:

IMAG0020IMAG0021IMAG0022
I picked this one up after seeing Matt Bergeron utilizing this for some Glute issues he was having. A plate is placed on the ground to make sure that your feet stay an appropriate distance apart. Take a strength band and place it around your hips and walk backward to the plate. With your chest as high as possible, squat down as far as you can, allowing the band to help keep you upright. Two variations are shown: One with hands in an overhead position (helping with the OH Squat) and one with the hands in a prayer position (pushing the knees out, allowing a stretch in the hip flexors). I like to get down and hold these for 10-15 seconds a piece, standing up between each variation, doing this 3-5 times.


After that, we go to the floor  for some spinal rotation and lower back activation:

IMAG0033IMAG0034
I show two variations: One with your hand and the other is with a small strength band. The idea for these is to keep the shoulders on the ground, so if you cannot, go ahead and grab the band to add in to your rotation. Go through the full rotation 3-5 times per side, holding for 10-15 seconds a side, making sure that you back is nice and warm for your lifting session ahead.


This last one I threw in as a “Must do everyday” type position. I hold this for a good amount of time after I am done with my training to try and help increase my ROM in the squat. Notice I am trying to stay as upright as possible on my own, trying to minimize the amount of weight I put on the wall. The length of time you hold it depends on how comfortable it is for you, you never want a stretch to hurt, so if it does make sure to come out of it.

IMAG0028 IMAG0029


This is a great starting guide to correcting some common issues with mobility around the hip, knee, and ankle. If you have an actual injury, these might help, but will probably not correct that issue, so make sure to come check us out to see if we can help with your specific issue. As always, mobility is a day to day process, so make sure to get a little in everyday, because that is the only way you will see true improvement.

Also, Pure Health is excited to announce that we will be starting a Tuesday/ Thursday strength class from 5:45 p.m-6:45 p.m. This class will include a push/pull style strength exercises and conclude with a 15-20 minute HIIT style circuit. This class is great for intro weightlifters, off season runners/triathlete/cyclist, or general fitness enthusiast. If you are interested, contact us via Facebook , call us at (903) 521-6115, or email us at purehealthperformance918@gmail.com .

Next up: Overhead Mobility (OH Squat, Jerk, and Snatch).

Mobility: The Front Rack

Olympic Lifting is just like powerlifting, except when you start to move the weight you are expected to do calculus.

-Scott Bulin

While this is somewhat of an exaggeration, he has a point. There is a huge amount of thought, time, strength development, and mobility that goes into Weightlifting (Oly lifting). You cannot expect to come in and just pick up heavy ass weight without first knowing form, function, and having the ability to actually catch the weight and drop into a proper squat.

So let’s talk about your Front Rack. Is it good? Can you actually shelve weight? Have you been getting by with something you deem a front rack only to find out that your collar bones are on the verge of shattering because of all the weight you are slamming into them? Do you have terrible wrist pain every time you do cleans, but don’t know why? All of these questions have the same solution: You need to properly mobilize (both before and after your training session) the areas responsible for your T-Rex like position so that you can properly front rack the weight and fix your clean and jerk!

So lets talk about the areas that really need to be addressed:

  1. Upper Back/Scapula area (Thoracic Spine area)
  2. Lats and Posterior Deltoids
  3. Triceps/Forearms/Wrist

1. The best and easiest way to get to this area is a simple foam roller placed on the upper back and rolling back and forth over the given area. Rolling back and forth (changing arm positions to on the chest and overhead) will effectively mash your traps, erectors, and lats (you can also trigger point these areas with a lacrosse ball).

2. A close second is the use of a large #14 or #20 Dynamax style ball and kettle bell. The idea here is to lie your upper back (between your shoulder blades) on the Dynamax ball and reach overhead to where you have place a kettle bell. Once you have grabbed the kettle bell, let your hips sag toward the floor and you will really start to feel the stretch in your lats, chest, traps, and triceps areas.

3. This last one can be seen in the video provided below, but is a very simple and effective way to mobilize your forearms and wrist. In a kneeling position, place your hands on the ground with fingers pointed straight ahead, stacking your hands and elbows directly below your shoulders. Start by internally and externally rotating your elbows (make sure your hands stay in place while doing so). Now shift forward, backward, and side to side, making sure to hold each for about 10-15 seconds. Repeat all of this with your fingers facing away from each other (out toward the sides) and fingers facing backward (toward you).

So these are just a couple of ways to really help you with those problem areas so that your front rack is not holding you back from increasing weights or causing injury. As always, remember that it WILL feel uncomfortable, but mobilization should never hurt. If you need more in-depth explanation or pictures and videos, go to Mobility Wod for some deeper explanations on some of the stretches and mobility techniques above. The video below is something I found on  Fitness Pain Free and goes through a lot of stretches we use in the gym to increase that ROM needed to have an immaculate front rack position.

Remember, if it is a problem area, once or twice a week of stretching and mobilizing will not fix it. If you really want to improve or fix the area, it has to be a daily occurrence. Rest days are not days of complete rest, they are best served as days of recovery, which means to get on the floor or into your gym and spend some time working your problem areas and focusing on increasing your ROM!!  Next blog post will cover some issue areas around the hip and how to improve that squat!


Video Cite: Pope, D. [Dan Pope]. (2013, December 16th). Best Mobility Exercises to Fix the Front Rack for Cleans, Front Squats, and Overhead Pressing [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g2Ad20aEB0&w=640&h=390.

Mobility

Instead of a quote, I wanted to use this picture to illustrate my point.

You get to the gym. You spend time talking a little bit while you do some what of a warm-up, not paying attention to the movements but just doing them. You then get into the work out, the part you love because we get to lift weights, run, jump and get a nice pump. Afterward, you are exhausted and cannot wait to get home, so you leave. During this time we have hit all of the 10 points located in the picture above besides 1…  Flexibility.

The best weightlifters in the world are some of the most flexible and mobile athletes out there. They can do the splits, wrap their hands behind there back, hold a barbell close grip overhead and go into a deep squat. They spend countless hours lifting insane amounts of weights, working speed and power. They also spend just as much time mobilizing in order to be able to do this!

We sometimes forget that if we want to be able to lift (and do it well without injury), we don’t just get to step up to the bar and lift it over and over again until we hit that number. If you have a goal, if you have a number on the board that you want to hit, you have to work all the small extra things in order to get there. We cannot just ignore muscular imbalances. We cannot just ignore the inability to sink into a proper squat. We cannot just ignore the fact that we can barely front rack weight. This teaches improper form and ultimately leads to injury, failure of the lift, and a very pissed off athlete.

So now that my rant is done, the best thing for me to do is actually give a solution to the issue, or at least lead you in the right direction. In my opinion, there are three steps to a good solid warm-up:

  1. General Warm-up
    1. This should consist of 3-5 minutes of a full body warm-up. Good examples would be jump roping, rowing, ski erg, etc. We really want something that works the entire body, that is not extremely difficult, that will get the body nice and warm (blood flowing, heart rate elevated, etc.)
  2. Sport Specific Warm-up
    1. This should consist of moving the major joints you plan on moving through a full range of motion. At Pure Health we have adopted a general warm-up from catalystathletics.com that goes through thorough hip, knee, ankle, wrist, and shoulder ranges of motion that are beneficial for most, if not all, barbell movements. These motions include but are not limited to:
      1. Deep Lunges with a twist
      2. Deep squats
      3. Shoulder and wrist circles
      4. Scorpions
  3. Workout Specific Warm-up
    1. This is the final stage of warming-up, and should include movements (or parts of movements) that you will focus on in your training session. So if you plan on doing a snatch workout, you could warm-up with:
      1. Muscle Snatch+OHS+ Snatch Balance x 3 sets (working with light weight)
    2. This part of the warm-up should get you ready for the specific movements of the day and work on any faults or technical issues you may need to address.

All of this should take place in the first 15-25 minutes of your session (yes, it does need to take about that long). Remember, if your warm-up is shit, your range of motion will be shit and your workout will be shit (or at least not as good as it could be).

The next part of being the best comes after the training session is done. Before the session starts, we warm-up to get to our current range of motion but after the training session, we use this time to increase our range of motion through stretching, foam rolling, and light barbell work. If you skip this, you WILL NOT become better in your overhead position, your squat position, etc. You will stay at your current abilities and will probably blame something else for the shortcomings. Note: This does not have to be right after your session, it is just a good time to do it because you are already warm. You could come in on your given off-days and do a mobility workout (although if you have a serious issue, you should probably being addressing it everyday and not just one or two days a week). I am not going to list a series of exercises or stretches in this post but instead will list a series of websites that are awesome to explore:

We will follow up this post with a post on how to fix different issues so stay tuned!

Results

“If you always put limits on everything you do,physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee
I post a lot of videos of the people that make this gym possible because I think it is important to show them off. I think it is important to let the people that ask them “Why do you never want to come out with us” know that they come in and bust their ass and work unbelievably hard to gain a  couple pounds here and there and sometimes they just need to go home and eat and sleep. I want to do something different and post a spreadsheet of the changes and pounds that they have put on the bar so that if you are unfamiliar with the weights in the gym, you can see some numbers and really grasp how hard they have worked.
They did not do anything out of the ordinary, they did not take any magical supplement. They came in a couple of times a week (between 3 and 5), they busted ass while they were in here, they went home and ate a nice balanced diet (although pizza usually makes it into the diet every now and again), and they did not let small injuries and mindsets hold them back from accomplishing what they wanted to in the 9 week program. They are a shining example of what you can do if you want something bad enough and find a place that will amplify that attitude toward greatness.
Note: Most of the strength athletes we have are female. They did not get bulky, most actually lost weight. On top of that, they became strong and confident. Aches and pains went away and were replaced with strong lower backs and power house legs.
Check it out and next time you see them give them a high five or a PR donut for all of their hard work! Remember, we all start out as beginners, so if you are at all interested, come check out the gym and start your journey to a strong, healthy life!

Real goals, not Resolutions

There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. DO NOT allow yourself to become one of them.

I had time this weekend to sit in the gym after everyone had gone and really reflect on how far the gym has come in such a short period of time. We have grown from two guys with an idea of having a true performance gym to having 30 members, putting on a very successful competition, having a blog that is actually read, and now having a performance team with members ambitious enough to try and get to USPA Nationals.

IMAG0216

To say that this is a coaches dream would be an understatement

The members and athletes at PHP create a sort of atmosphere in which one cannot fail. They create an atmosphere that is enjoyable to lift in. They create a sense of home away from home, so that even if you have never lifted before, you can come and enjoy some barbell time. This was our dream gym, it has come to fruition, and continues to grow. Now, it goes without saying that we owe a lot of this to our members and athletes, the people that put trust in us as coaches to help them get to the goals they have set before themselves.

So to all of our members, athletes, families, and frequent drop-ins–

Thank you for your continued support and making 2015 an amazing year to start a gym!

Now on to a topic for today– Goals

I might shatter some minds here, but if your new years resolutions goal is to try and look like -insert model with an inspirational quote in front of her/him off of google image,Instagram,pinterest, etc..- then you are probably not going to be successful in your goals this year.

I hate to be a downer, but here is the deal:

That girl or guy has spent more than a year to get to where they are, sacrificed a lot more than just making a small verbal commitment to their self, and has put everything they have into looking like that. So you can see where it might be a little insulting to that person to say that you want/can have everything that they have worked so hard for in less than a years time span…

Now I don’t mean to tell you to shoot short of the moon, but let’s try and make our goals achievable and set up a solid game plan for you to achieve said goals. But for the love of everything good in this world please do not do the following:

  1. Do a 4-12 week diet, nutrition challenge, cleanse, etc..
    1. Nutrition is not something you can do for a short period of time and expect long term results.
    2. This will actually do more harm than good to your body,metabolism, and goals in the long run.
  2. Tell me that you want to lose the fat before gaining muscle
    1. Fat tissue and muscle tissue are different types of tissue, so they cannot turn into each other.
    2. We can actually design a program that will allow you to lose fat while gaining strength and muscle which allows you to get to your goal in a realistic time frame and not spend 8 weeks crash dieting and then realizing that you have made no headway toward your goals.
  3. Jump in on some free online training program
    1. Good programs cost money (unless you are looking toward something like Wendler, mash elite, or catalyst). If you are a beginner in strength training, I would always suggest finding a gym/coach/trainer to make sure that you are getting a solid foundation on the basic lifts with in-person instruction.
    2. The person they show on the cover of the program is similar to what we talked about above, they are fitness models, they do far more than what you program entails and have access to some of the leading experts in the fitness industry, do not set yourself up for failure by training to attain that level for free.

 

Now that I have been a real debbie downer, let me give you some advice on how to actually take this year by the horns and catch that proverbial white whale (I realize it sounds like I made some mythological beast that looks like a whale with horns, but we are going to just roll with it):

  1. Pick something to train for and set performance goals
    1. This does a couple of things:
      1. It gives you a hobby, something outside your 9-5 that you are passionate about and will enjoy doing
      2. It takes our minds off of all the negative body image/shaming that riddles our current society and focuses on things like increasing weights lifted or decreasing mile times etc..
  2. Find a group of people with a “cannot fail” attitude
    1. If you are new to this whole training (not exercising) game then let me let you in on a little secret:
      1. Everyday is not going to be an awesome training session
      2. You will not PR everyday
      3. Some days you will ask yourself “Why do I even bother”
    2. This is when your atmosphere and the people around you really matter. It is those days that you know you are doing something your care about, because if it was easy and you didn’t care, then you would never feel this way.
    3. This is the reason that PHP has such strong competitors, because they lift each other up even when they miss lifts they know they should hit.
  3. Have fun with what you are doing and know that this is a life changing process, not a 6 week joy ride
    1. This changing process will be an emotional and physically struggle.
    2. You will be sore, tired, beat-up, exhausted, etc…
    3. You might cry, have bad nutrition days, feel hopeless, etc…
    4. BUT KNOW:
      1. There will always be another training session
      2. You will recover and feel better
      3. In the long run, you will be a better person from going through these struggles
      4. This is something that you truly earn, the time you put in directly correlates to what you get out in the end.

 

All this is to say:

Don’t just make resolutions, because those die with the coming of a New Year. Make real, set in stone (or written on a board or wall) goals. Goals that you do anything to achieve, Goals that don’t stop because it is hard or it cost a little money, or that you just can’t make time for. Set these goals, find a supportive group of athletes/people that will make them happen, and get off your ass and get to it.

Remember, no one can make you do these things, the desire has to already be there, and then and only then can we help pull it out and become a reality!

If you are interested in starting something this year but are not sure how email us at purehealthperformance918@gmail.com or PM us on our Facebook and we will get you some information on how to start that journey!

Failure

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Thomas Edison

As of late I have watched a lot of successful people fail. I have watched my favorite lifters miss lifts, I have watched one of my athletes bow out of a race, and I have seen my own failure in many of my training attempts– and I could not be happier.

I am thrilled at the idea of failure. I don’t enjoy watching an athlete fail, I enjoy watching the attempt to get back up. The attempt at success following failure is what makes the athlete. The determination, the will, the burning desire to get that lift, complete that race, move on past that failure to success is the part that makes failure all worth while.

Success is not what makes us better; completed lifts and won races do not make us want it more. Instead, it is what we have not yet achieved that pushes us past our current level. We cannot expect to grow in a lift, a sport, or life without going through some sort of failure, without getting to a sticking point, without falling in a rut. If it was as easy as saying you want it, we would all be elite level Olympians and no one would have health problems.

Why would you go into the gym and continue to do what you are comfortable with day after day, never adding more weight on the bar, never trying to get faster, never trying a new skill or pose? This in and of itself is failure. It is the failure to want to be better. It is the failure to grow and evolve into something more, something you could become if you just put yourself out there and failed. You have to look at failure as a fork in the road, you have two possible options. 1) You accept that you have been defeated and take the clear path looping back around and losing all ground you have gained to find something new that you think will be easier for you to obtain. 2) You take your failure as a lesson, you overcome the obstacle lying in your path, you learn from mistakes made or functional errors, and come out a better athlete.

So when you find that sticking point, when you miss 70% of your lifts, when you bow out of a race, don’t let it hold you back. Let it push you–because success is just around the corner. You are at the tipping point and if you quit now, failure has won.

“You never truly fail until you stop trying”. Think about this as you go into the gym today, let it motivate you to be better than you were, and know that your hiccups today will make you better tomorrow!

Who do you do it for?

A member of Pure Health and I were talking the other day and afterward I asked her to write this up because it hit the nail on the head:

You hear it all the time, “the only person you should compete against is yourself,” and yet it’s still such a novel idea. In a world where our ability to “keep up with the Jones’” is as simple as maintaining and manicuring our social media profiles, the idea of tossing what everyone else thinks out the window seems a little daunting. Equally intimidating is removing yourself from competition with your peers. Sure, you can let a slightly bigger fish in your pond challenge you, but ultimately it’s your personal journey to improvement. No one can give it to you, but no one can take it away, either. But people will try. People will offer you backhanded compliments, say things like “Oh, well you’re always too busy doing [insert lifting, hiking, painting, playing, reading, studying–whatever your passion].” And the truth is, yes, you are too busy. You choose want you want out of this life, and respecting each other’s choices is the best gift we can offer one another.

Our lives are only our own and you have to remember who you’re doing this for. Do you want to be the same person you are now in 10 years? This life can be a hamster wheel, continuously the same, day in and day out. Or it can be an adventure. You can try something new. You can master something exciting. You can be better than you are now.

But being better can be hard, maybe even alienating, and it’s very easy to just be and to stop improving yourself. You can choose to go to work every day, come home, eat, sleep, and repeat. This is the beauty of personal choice! But there is a sense of reward when you decide to compete against yourself that is unmatched. Say you ran a race and came in first, but had a terrible run and actually finished 15 minutes slower than your previous time. Is it enough that you still won? If you value the opinions of others more than your opinion of yourself, then yes. But at the end of the day, you are ultimately the only one that matters.  You’re the one you spend the entirety of your life with. You’re the one who gets to see what you can become—who you can be.

We are the only standard against which we must hold ourselves. Have you ever seen or met someone that you thought was bold, courageous, or interesting? My question is: why can’t that be you? We are each vast and interesting in our own right, a combination of our experiences and the experiences of those with whom we come in contact. Don’t you want more experiences? Don’t you want to be someone who enriches other’s lives by being in their circle and challenging them to be better?

I stumbled across this quote once and it really resonated with me. It said,

“Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”

My intention is to always keep growing. If, at the end of my life, I were to meet the best version of myself, I’d want to say, “Oh, hello again,” and not “Look who I could have been.”