Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Update on The Thin Man

First things first: The Thin Man is finally getting thick! That's right. Chris is now 20 lbs heavier than he was in July, during the height of the boys' club volleyball season. And it definitely shows. He demonstrates increased strength in a variety of movements and he is putting some heat on the ball during volleyball practice with better quality movement and mechanics. And no, we didn't do it by squatting heavy (he never squatted over 155 for 5s) or heavy barbell cleans (blasphemy!), yet he put 20 lbs on his 1 RM squat. We did, however, do a bunch of single leg work and some moderately heavy lifts/jump shrugs with the Hexlite bar.

So, why has Chris finally been able to put on some weight? Well, there are several reasons. First, we are sure the pubertal turbo boosters are firing up. His appetite has increased and he is sweating more in training. Second, he is doing better at consistently eating more during the day and getting post-workout calories. Third and most importantly (in my opinion), he has had time away from volleyball.

From January through July, Chris had basically non-stop volleyball. High-stakes club qualifiers in Jan/Feb and then the high school season March-May (state championship), followed by an insane June club competition schedule leading up to July club national tournament and finally a USA Volleyball Youth Continental Team Camp in Florida. By the end of July, he was physically and emotionally toasted. And he weighed 170-ish lbs.

His 17s club coach and I both strongly advised him to take Aug-October off from structured and unstructured volleyball. No weekend grass tournaments, no open or positional practice gym time. Just sleep, eat, go on family vacation, get the senior year of high school started on the right foot and train with me 2-3x a week. No extra calories were to be burned with sloppy pick-up volleyball. The mind and the body desperately needed a break from any practice or sport training. And Chris listened to us in spite of peer pressure from many around him.

So in 10 weeks, he has refreshed his mind, his legs and that big swinging arm. What is the lesson here? Less is more. Better is more. Chris didn't need to play more volleyball to improve. He needed time away from volleyball to build his body and refresh his love for the game. He needed time to rehearse proper swing mechanics slowly, without the ball (see this post). At 196 lbs, he sees what he is capable of when his frame has the foundation it needs. My goal is to have him at 205 lbs by Thanksgiving and maybe 215 lbs by the time high school season starts in March, but the Jan-Feb club season might hurt us with lots of weekend tournaments and travel to Chicago and California.

And so this formerly awkward, pain-fully thin, 6' 9" middle hitter is slowly but surely transforming himself into a knowledgeable, powerful right-side hitter, capable of getting low and playing defense, even when no one but his 17s coach and I believed he could do it. We knew it would take time, but his dedication to is paying off. Chris has been invited to make official visits to UC-Irvine (reigning NCAA volleyball champions), USC, Hawaii and Pepperdine. Pretty cool for a Missouri boy to be courted by the West Coast power houses. He doesn't yet know where he'll end up, but he is excited to see what he can do over the next 6 months. And he now fully appreciates the importance of rest, recovery and the value being process-oriented.

Pearls of Wisdom from Tommy Kono

For those of you interested in the sport of weightlifting, Columbus Weightlifting recorded a short presentation by Tommy Kono (multiple-time US Olympic and World Champion) last March at The Arnold. I've embedded the second of six videos of the hour-long talk. I highly recommend the entire presentation. The link to the CWLC YouTube channel, and all six of the presentation videos, is here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Get Psyched for Vancouver with HG and Roy

HG and Roy
were a complete joy to watch on Channel 7 each evening during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. This clip is from their show "The Ice Dream" during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Wisdom from Mini-Phinney

Some good insight from the young Mr. Taylor Phinney. No one can maintain the highest levels of competitive fitness indefinitely. Work smart; pick your battles; listen to your body.

Stairs? What a novel idea!

I find this video fascinating. I make a point of trying to take the stairs whenever possible and am frequently frustrated when almost forced to take an elevator or escalator. It is amazing how stairs are hidden in some buildings, particularly hotels. I have to take an elevator to the second floor? That's ridiculous. And it is amazing how people just step onto the escalator (or moving walkway in an airport) and immediately STOP moving, like their legs have suddenly become inoperable.

I guess I find the stairs to be an opportunity to exert a little effort in my day and celebrate the fact that I have the ability to climb them. There are those around me who cannot and that fact is not lost on me. You know, use it or lose it. Furthermore, taking the stairs is one of those many small daily choices that impacts our health over time.

Give your body small challenges and the right fuel and it will thrive. Think about why you do what you do; how you do what you do. If you don't, one day you might wake up to find you no longer have any choice.