Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday's Learning Curve

A peek into Thursday afternoon's training. Lots to work on, but these four are learning and incorporating new stuff every day. It takes time and purposeful practice to learn new motor skills.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Positive Shin Angle But Never With Squats?

What is the angle of the shin when one lands with good mechanics on one foot? On two feet?

What is the angle of the shin when one uses proper acceleration mechanics?

What is the angle of the shin with skipping?

What is the angle of the shin in the "athletic stance" or "ready position" for many sports? Batting stance? Getting low on defense?

Doesn't effective ground-based force production require a coordinated effort using the foot, ankle, knee and hip?

Shouldn't the squat mechanics we teach support teaching a coordinated effort of the entire lower extremity, not just focus on the heel and the hip? The forefoot, midfoot, ankle and knee are also important parts of the equation. Center of pressure on the foot is dynamic, not static. Shouldn't the athlete learn to feel this? Isn't this a part of being balanced? Can we really reduce squat mechanics to the heel and the hip, when so much else of athletic movement calls for a positive shin angle and integration of the ankle, knee and foot in basically the opposite manner?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1 Year with Elmo and Without TV

He's driven almost3,000 miles over the last year without a single visit to the gas station. We track our monthly electricity usage and cannot discern an increase in our bill. We could be off-setting any increase by the fact that also dropped cable / network TV at the same time, so we do not run the projector very often.

It's very interesting to drive Elmo out among other cars. You realize just how powerful and large the average car is and how fast people drive on neighborhood roads. Few, if any, people drive the speed limit on roads with 30-40 mph limits unless a cop is visible. I even notice a difference in my temperament when I drive Elmo vs Sheila (2004 Subaru Forester XT, 5 speed). I have more patience and calm--I cannot really be in a hurry and I cannot use my car to vent frustration. It makes me wonder how different the roads would be if people could not show aggressiveness through their driving.

Speaking of calm, not having TV in the house for a year has been fantastic. I guess we are in the minority, according to this NYT piece. We can watch online stuff (Hulu, PBS, YouTube) if we want to by connecting the laptop to our projector, but we don't do it very often. Background noise is limited to NPR or music, and I'm finding that I have less tolerance for repeated news and discussion on NPR. If KF wants to watch the Twins, Badgers or Packers, he goes to the JCC (gym) or to the GC (local restaurant & bar).

Many evenings we end the day quietly discussing how things went at school and the gym. We play with the cats and get the kitchen, laundry and other chores done together, rather than fall asleep in front of the tv. Seriously, we've probably slept a year in front of the TV over our 16 years of marriage. No more.

When you are not subjected to a constant stream of talking heads and streaming images, you realize just how much excess noise throughout most of our daily environment. Take the constant stream of information out of your day--most of which doesn't really impact our immediate lives and is stupidly alarmist and argumentative--and eventually you will find yourself with more mental and emotional energy to focus on what is really necessary in life.

The next step is to possibly get a phone that is also a Wi-Fi hotspot and ditch Charter altogether. I'm a little nervous about the quality and speed of service, but you know what, I'm probably better off with less internet time anyway. There's so much more to life than being online.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trusting in the Process: Our Great Adventure

Today is the end of week three in our training for the hybrid Crossfit / USA Weightlifting competition October 1-3. I'm working with 4 individuals and we train 8+ hours a week, over 4 days. Two athletes only train 2x a week with my, while the others train 4 days. I told my 4x/week people that I would work with them only under the following conditions:

1. No Crossfit class workouts for duration of our training (2 months). If you have withdrawal or a panic attack, text me and I'll talk you down and give you something appropriate.

2. The following exercises are off limits: deadlifts, kipping pull ups, KTE, CF-style KB swings, ring dips, muscle ups, Prowler pushing, thrusters, push presses.

3. The following exercises are ok: double-unders, rowing, sprints, bodyweight squats, lunges, front squats (strict form), snatches, cleans, power and split jerks, incline DB presses, HSPU.

Just 8 weeks. I know you can do it. Let your bodies recover from your training for and participation in the Crossfit Games. Trust me.

At first it was pretty hard for them, but they are starting to get it. They are seeing progress in their technique and feeling changes in posture and mobility. They are able to sense movement errors and make corrections themselves. They are learning the sweet sensation of the legs moving the bar. They are learning patience--that improvement comes in spurts and some days we learn the most from failed attempts.

In my mind, it has been essential for them to develop a completely different mindset--to break away from the constant nervous system overload and physical exhaustion of individual daily workouts. The weightlifting mind, or any technically demanding individual sport for that matter, has to be calm and able to focus intensely on the task at hand. It's not overhead anyhow; it is lift the weight with precise, efficient technique. Maximal effort, executed with precise control. Some parts of the body must stay relaxed, while others work all out. The nervous system cannot go haywire or function under a state of alarm.

It has also been essential to eliminate movement patterns and postural adaptations that are counter-productive to weightlifting. It is my experience and observation that an excessive amount of kipping pullups, high-rep, sloppy push presses and hard style KB swings contribute to chronic tightness in the shoulder rotators and scapulohumeral musculature, along with an athletic-induced thoracic kyphosis. This combination of this type of inflexibility in the upper quarter makes keeping the bar close and developing a smooth turnover very challenging. It makes an optimal receiving position in the clean and snatch almost impossible.

The kyphotic upper body posture is then reinforced and combined with lower-body movement patterns if the athlete is allowed to do thrusters with a barbell, sloppy heavy front squats or deadlifts. Combine this with a little tightness in the hammies and you will struggle to have an effective lift off position or bottom position in either lifts.

From an efficiency and movement pattern standpoint, we have focused on:
  • Learning to use the hip, knee and ankle to push the weight off the ground, vs use a high-hip, back-dominant deadlift type start.
  • Keeping the feet on the ground as long as possible in order to connect the leg drive to the barbell. No donkey kicking.
  • Keeping the bar close and getting the hips back into bar.
  • Meeting the barbell, not just diving into the bottom position.
  • Greasy-fast, efficient turnover of the shoulder / elbow / wrist. No extra torso, arm or torso gesticulations.
I'm excited to see what today's training brings. It is very rewarding and refreshing to work with adults who are so enthusiastic and talented. And they have been just tough as nails in this stifling heat and humidity. I too, am learning to trust in the process and not over-correct. Trying to learn how to modify things here and there to let their athleticism figure it out whenever possible. It's been a great adventure thus far!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fascinating History of Osteopenia

I say ditch the Fosamax and get a Hexlite bar, a set of Hitechplates and a few iron plates. I'll come teach you to lift correctly and we'll use gravity to build your bone density.

Pure Joy

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday, August 01, 2010

What does it all mean?

Sometimes there are differences between the L and R sides. Do they matter? If so, do you know why they are there? How might they affect performance and training down the road?