Random Thoughts, 7/19/10

Hello!  I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently, and my post frequency has suffered a bit because of that.  Never fear, I think the fog is rising!  I’ve listened to 3 new podcasts today, and my brain is fried!  The latest episode of In The Trenches Fitness involves Mike Robertson interviewing Mike Reinold and Eric Cressey, who recently released Optimal Shoulder Performance.  Those two guys are REALLY smart. (Reinold is the head ATC for the Red Sox.)  I also listened to the 60th Episode of the Strength Coach Podcast while I commuted to school and back again.  During the “Ask Gray Cook” segment he discusses his new book, “Movement“, and as always, the knowledge bombs rain down, and I feel motivated by listening to him.  Now, I’d like to bring you a number of random thoughts/ideas/recommended readings, to share with you what I’ve been doing recently:

1.)  THIS article, which I found on a random thoughts blog from Bret Contreras, demonstrates preliminary research that shows that resistance training can increase range of motion as well, if not better, than a traditional stretching program.  This is significant because it gives scientific evidence to support the anecdotal evidence that resistance training can increase mobility.  For far too long, people have believed/claimed that resistance training will decrease your mobility as you become musclebound.  That’s not the case!  Perform your exercises through a full range of motion and you’ll gain some flexibility.  Awesome!

2.)  HERE you can find an article form Mike Robertson that discusses the proper execution of the Turkish Get Up.  As far as functionality goes, it’s a full-body exercise, and one that should be incorporated in your program.  Read it, learn it, and admire your impeccable posture and new found core/scapular stability.

Carter Beauford...Pure Genius

3.)  On Friday night, I headed to Citi Field for the Dave Matthews Band concert.  The Zac Brown Band opened for them, and both bands played incredible sets.  DMB’s performance of “Ants Marching” was easily my favorite version of that song, and during their performance of “You & Me” we witnessed somebody propose to his girlfriend.  It was pretty awesome!  Zac Brown Band finished their set with a cover of “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, and it sounded pretty monstrous.  You can click HERE to see that exact performance…but be prepared to get rowdy.

4.)  On Thursday morning, the odds that South African Louis Oosthuizen would win the British Open were 200 to 1.  On Sunday, he won by 7 strokes over Paul Casey, and jumped 37 spots in the world rankings.  He also took home a cool £850,000 which is just under 1.3 million dollars.  Not bad, Louis, for a guy who’s known on tour as “Shrek”.

5.)  I have 2-3 off days per week, depending on if I’m being lazy or not.  This past Sunday (aka yesterday) I decided to journey across town to the gym for an off-day workout.  I’ve been reading about metabolic-type conditioning programs a lot, so I was interested in performing a Barbell Complex.  After some research online, I chose my exercises and left the house.  What they say about the difficulty of complexes is certainly not an understatement, and I don’t have any problem admitting that I was overzealous, and this lead to the bar seriously kicking my ass.   Instead of discussing all of the modifications which were made on the fly, and sounding like a big baby about it, I’ll just discuss what I’ll be doing the next time I perform a barbell complex:

  • Clean Grip Deadlift x 8
  • Clean Grip Hang Snatch x 6
  • Back Squat x 8
  • Behind the Head Push Press x 8
  • Bent Over Row x 10
  • Zercher Squat x 8

I’ll load the bar so that it weighs 95lbs, and perform 4 total sets.  By the time the Push-Presses come around, I’ll feel my heart beating out of my chest.  If you’re wondering what a Zercher Squat looks like, here’s a picture.  It involves holding the bar in the crooks of your elbows: I found that this position gave a stronger postural cue through the exercise, as you have to push hard to keep your chest up.  And to be honest, my forearms were throbbing and I didn’t feel like front squatting with a bar in the racked position of a clean.  You’ll understand.

Zercher Squat

It hasn’t been done on purpose, but I’ve noticed I’m doing a lot of writing/recommending of combining exercises for the most efficient use of time, and ultimately for better results.  It may be super-setting exercises to work agonists and antagonists for hypertrophy work, or working upper-body/lower-body to increase the metabolic demand of exercises.  It’s come as a surprise to me that I get such a kick out of that, and I’m starting to see why the trainers and coaches that write the best workouts are getting the best results.  Funny how that happens.

Anyways, I’ve come up with a handful of exercise pairings, which I’ve included in my own workouts and would like to share with you.  Two of them were performed during a de-load week, where I was performed 3 full-body workouts instead of my normal push/pull split.  I’d definitely recommend them for people who are performing full body workouts, as they’re clear strength exercises.  Want them to be hypertrophy exercises?  Eat more.  Related to that, the last set, what I used as a finisher, can be used as conditioning work or for fat loss.  The difference is how much you eat.  Anyway, back to the exercises:

6.)  For a full-body, strength based super-set, try this pairing:  Chin-Ups and Front Squat Grip Reverse Lunges.  I performed sets of 10 for the chin up, and 10 reverse lunges per leg (bar weight 135lbs).  Chin-Ups are self explanatory, really.  Make sure you’re taking a supinated grip, that is you should be looking at your palms as you raise your chest to the bar. As for the lunges, I like the racked clean grip because it cues you to keep your chest tall.It should look like this at the top:

Racked Position

7.)  The next super-set, which definitely falls into the conditioning side of things is a pairing of a front squat to push press, and a super band speed row.  They can be performed either for reps (ex. 15 squats, 20 rows per side) or for time (ex. squat for 30 seconds, row for 20 per side).  I’ve included videos of each exercise, to keep the confusion to a minimum.

8.)  The last grouping I performed on Friday before the DMB concert; I wanted my butt to look fantastic!  (Not really, I deadlift every Friday regardless of my evening plans.)  Now, this 4 exercise circuit was pretty fun, as I felt that I got a ton of work done.  Here it is:

This is obviously equipment specific, and while medicine balls are common in gyms, I doubt they’ll be okay with you hurling one at a wall as fast as you can.  Taking that into consideration, the following modifications may be made:  No box to jump on to? Jump Squats will work, just take care to land softly!  In the absence of a medicine ball, a band rotation can be performed: Simply loop a resistance band around a chest high anchor point, take a few steps out, and perform the same motion; just don’t come snapping back!  In the absence of Valslides or a slide board, the lunges can be performed in the traditional manner.  (I like the Valslides because I feel that I can sit back on my heel more and feel a greater stretch in the hamstrings.)  Lastly, without the Superband, you can perform a pull through with a low cable station.  No cables?  To feel the same glute contraction, a hip bridge will work if you’re entirely equipment free.

9.)  I recently had a picture posted on my Facebook wall from an old room mate, close friend, and brother.  The greatest composer in the history of the world, Eric Daino, sent me this picture of his breakfast, with the following caption:

“my power breakfast: oatmeal with fat free milk, fat free cottage cheese, whey protein, peanut butter, dried cranberries, a banana, and a multivitamin with a glass of water. blog about that BITCH.”

The Breakfast of a Modern Genius

Well played, sir, well played.  Keep up the good work!

That’s it for today, folks!  Hopefully that’s a whole lot of information for you to to read and love, and I need to run along and stretch before I get in bed.  I’m not actually going to run, but I’m going to stretch, because my hamstrings are tighter than security on the Korean borders.  Oh, I pun, I pun!  Au revoir!

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