I began my last post by referring to the information sharing benefits of social media. Quite frequently, I find that I can use my Facebook News Feed to find some great articles and reads, and there are some specific ‘Friends’ who continuously post great reads from other trainers and fitness writers, as well as from The New York Times, The Huffington Post, EliteFTS, T-Nation, Men’s Health; a whole lot of stuff that I like to read. Being connected with like-minded folks is definitely a good thing.
[Note: If YOU ever need a long list of fitness articles to read each week, check out Ben Bruno‘s Good Reads For The Week. Ben compiles a list of between 40 and 60 posts each week, and they usually take me 3-4 days to get through. It’s great info for the fitness professional and the fitness enthusiast alike, and I think you’ll enjoy it. You can check out this weeks post right here. Subtract two posts from the total, because Ben was nice enough to include two of mine from last week. Thank you, Ben!]
While I can find great educational articles online, I can also find some absolute crap in my News Feed. Occasionally though, something which has gone viral will entertain me enough that I’ll actually check it out. I came across a site called Texts from Bennett, that includes the following description: “These are text messages I exchange with my 17-year-old cousin Bennett. He is a white boy that thinks he’s a Crip, works at AAMCO, has a girlfriend named Mercedes, and is one of the most uniintentially funny and brilliant souls on the planet.” In short, the entire site includes iPhone screen shots like this one below:
While I don’t think that Bennett is going to be heading off to Harvard anytime soon, he makes a very good point about staying humble. In today’s popular culture that seems to thrive on opulence and arrogance, we need more stuffed rabbits on our shelves.
What keeps you humble? Before you answer that, let’s review the dictionary definition of humble:
[huhm-buhl, uhm-] Show IPA adjective, -bler, -blest, verb, -bled, -bling.
- not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.
- having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.
- low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.
- courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.
- low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member of the galaxy.
Maybe I’m being a little cynical, but I think that we’re over concerned with words that end in -er and -est, and we want the most we can possibly have; we want something that’s bigger or better, if not the biggest and the best. More is always better right? If a few strings of Christmas lights are okay, let me blanket everything on my property with them! Not so much.
I suppose I can’t talk, becuase I went to a Chinese buffet last night with the sole purpose of having bloat while I squatted heavy today. That’s two examples of I-want-more, right? This was the 2nd time in my life that I went to a Chinese buffet. After 4 plates of assorted flavored chicken and rice galore, I could tell that the bloat would carry me right into my workout. Of course the placebo effect can be at play, but that doesn’t matter, because I squatted a relatively easy 425lbs to a box.
The box is my rabbit.
Every rep, from the first warm-up rep with the empty bar, to the last few ‘back-off’ reps, was to that box. in this case, it’s not a fancy box-squat box that places like EliteFTS sell, but rather 4 risers and an aerobics step with an Airex pad on top. I’m not a fan of the traditional powerlifting box squat where you deload on the box, but more of a touch and go that ensures consistent depth each rep. By now you’re sick of me discussing squat depth, so I’ll just include a picture of a box with an Airex pad, and I’ll take my own tomorrow:
The box helps to ensure proper depth, and it also reminds you to sit back and use your hips; two things I love about the exercise. It contributes to cleaner reps through a set or workout, and we’re so busy packing plates onto the bar that we need as many reminders as possible to replicate a complete range of motion. This is true for most exercises, but I think that the biggest culprits are the squat, the chin-up, and the bench-press. With those three exercises, people like to push more weight for more reps, and as the load goes up we’ll typically see the ROM drop.
Squat to a box. Don’t flop down on it, but touch your tush before you begin to push. The same thing applies to the bench press and chin-ups. While it’s not the best exercise for everyone, and most people could do without a barbell bench press in favor of more functional horizontal pressing exercises, I’m usually one to apply meet-rules to benching; if it doesn’t touch your chest, it doesn’t count. (If you can’t touch your chest, then you should probably get off your back, get on your hands, and learn how to do a proper push-up.)
As for chin-ups, I’m a fan of the dead hang. Again, not appropriate for everybody, and humbling to those who aren’t used to it. Once you realize that your flexed arm hang isn’t that impressive and you get a ‘low’ chin-up, you’ll realize how different, and ultimately better, a full range of motion feels. I like to apply a ‘full range of motion’ to as many exercises as possible, in my own training, and in programming for friends and clients. “Full” depends on a person specific restrictions, but you should be making the most out of the range of motion that you have. If your movement is limited by the ground or an implement you’re using, that’s more important than the load you’re moving or the number of reps you’re doing. If you can’t complete a full range of motion, then you’re likely trying to use too much weight, or you’re not ready for that exercise.
Your range of motion should be more important than the weight your moving or the reps you’re doing. Our bodies evolved over millions of years to move, and the body is capable of a wide array of movements. When you’re hands are wrapped around a bar, it’s likely that moving it from arms-length to your chest will be beneficial. When you’re moving a single leg, it’s likely that touching the other knee to the ground will be beneficial. When you’re squatting, your butt should touch a box, or your hamstrings should touch your calves.
You need something to stay humble. Yes, even if his name is HUSTLA DA RABBIT.
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