22 December 2016

Friday


Strength
5 Rounds:
6x Bench press AHAP
100ft Chaotic method yoke walk
Rest 3 mins between rounds

Note: Warm-up to a hard, but doable set of six reps on the bench and then use that load for the five rounds. For the yoke walk, use a barbell loaded with bodyweight, then suspend a 35lb kettlebell by a resistance band off each side of the bar. As you walk the kettlebell will bounce around stretching the band sporadically, hence the chaotic method. Keep your midline engaged and locked in and be mindful of each step this is not a race.

21 December 2016

Thursday


Work Capacity
3 Rounds:
10x Tire flips
20x Seesaw kettlebell press
15x Burpees

Note: Find a challenging tire to flip (5 reps should be hard to get unbroken). For the seesaw press alternate pressing one KB at a time overhead keeping the other KB in the rack position NOT resting on the shoulder. Then finish with 15 burpees as fast as possible. This is not for time it is for INTENSITY without sacrificing INTEGRITY. Train with purpose! 

20 December 2016

Stressed and Depressed, The Truth Behind My Mess!


Immediately evident, everyone sitting at the table could see it. My facial expression sold my feelings as quickly as they arose. Don't get me wrong I have a great poker face. In fact, more often than not I am incredibly hard to read, quiet, and keep to myself – cryptic, sometimes to a fault. However, as I ingested the words disdain, adamant opposition, and disagreeableness flooded over my appearance faster than I could verbally respond in the affirmative. Unlike, individuals who operate in the civilian sector, in the military you are expected to immediately comply with all orders and tasking from senior leadership. Actually, I can't say “Unlike the civilian sector” because I have no idea what that is like. Perhaps the world has evolved so that pleasing your boss, over choosing what is feasible for you as a sane individual, is the norm. 


For me however, not afforded this choice, but required to respond I now quickly tried to internally process the storm of emotions and clear my face to void their existence. Anger surfaced – that I was again being tasked with a plate that was over full – as I rushed to recognize that the root cause was in fact fear. Fear of failure, failure to keep up and continue to exceed expectation. Bitterness found its way in as I considered the amount of work I would make myself bring home. A continuous effort to balance the lack of hours afforded me at work. Panic, how would I fit in everything else I was trying to accomplish, my personal goals, my side jobs, my passions. Where would my family fit into all this? Why do I even bother? There is never any real reward other than my own pride in completing quality work. At the core I was simply overwhelmed, I was stressed to the max!


This was my normal. This was my existence. I would swallow up each emotion, orange-glowing coals pushed down deep inside. I would sacrifice sleep and rest. Quality time with friends and family would be stressful and devoid of enjoyment, my patience already eroded. There was no relief until I cleared my plate. Pretty healthy – right. Unfortunately, this was only one of the two wars daily fought in the mysterious realm of my psyche. On other days, when I had strived, struggled, driven myself to succeed and found myself still standing, breathing for a moment with my stress corralled, my “other normal” would surface. 


Sadness. A little blue, handwringing, worry-full, Inside Out version of myself – except without the glasses, I have legit eyesight – would grab the reigns. One minute all is well, and the next I am slapped in the face with depression. What only seconds ago was rest, became a jaded perspective of never ending stressful days redundantly relived. To avoid being trapped, I would again pour myself into my work and the pursuit of excellence, trying to out perform my seemingly destined fate.


How does this happen? What is wrong with me? Is everyone else like this? Is it the demands of the military? These questions swirled in and out of my mind as days, weeks, months, and time, precious time was swallowed up in the cycle: overwhelmed by internal pressure to excel, over-stressed without balance, striving and sacrificing without purpose, temporary relief replaced with depression. It is easy to understand where loss of hope and the mindset "that there is no escape" creeps into people’s lives.

As a man who believes in God, hope did not escape me. As a broken individual who has benefited from speaking with a counselor, there were tools and perspectives that helped to mitigate circumstances. As a strength and conditioning professional there was recognition for healthy exercise, nutrition, and recovery. Yet, as a human there was a gut instinct that something was wrong.

Then one day I took a test. No, not a written exam, not a blood test, not a pregnancy test – I took a personality test. I had been listening to a podcast, something I routinely make use of during my commute time, when Charles Poliquin began explaining the training protocols he employs with his Olympic athletes. Two athletes could be training for the same sport, to compete in the same event, at the same level and weight class and yet their training could be entirely different and individualized. As a coach I understood this, but what I didn’t know was his “Why.”



What came next was an explanation of the uniqueness and diversity of neurotransmitter dominance within individuals. A neurotransmitter is a messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another. Essentially, a chemical that when released signals the body to respond in a certain way. Mr. Polinquin began explaining that each of us has a single dominant neurotransmitter type, either dopamine, acetylcholine, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), or serotonin. Based on neurotransmitter dominance, training methods can be specifically applied to provide the most optimal stimulus for your system. My curiosity peaked.



Like most would assume, I imagined that the balance and measured levels of my chemical make-up would need to be assessed in a laboratory where vials of my blood or saliva were collected, cross-sections of tissue biopsied, and filling a small cup with translucent yellow liquid might take place. What do I know! Enter the Braverman Personality Type Assessment or simply the “Braverman Test.”

This unique T/F personality test aims to identify the level of each of the previously mentioned four neurotransmitters in your body. Here is a simplistic view of what each of these four are purposed to accomplish:

1. Dopamine – provides power to the brain
2. Acetylcholine – controls the speed of the brain
3. GABA – sets the rhythm of the brain
4. Serotonin – allows for recharging of the brain

With a basic understanding of what I was attempting to discover, but not realizing the gravity of the results, I dove in headfirst. Upon, finishing the assessment I was surprised to discover that my results of being heavily dopamine dominant described my personality and demeanor to the “T.” But what was more telling were my deficiencies. The test is oriented into two separate segments; the first section purposed with highlighting dominant neurotransmitter types and the latter half created to identify any deficiencies. I quickly discovered I was deficient in both GABA and serotonin. The point system used to assess deficiency is as follows:

0-5 Minor concern
5-10 Moderate concern, requires attention
10-15 Major concern, significant health risk
15+ Go to the hospital immediately


My deficiency score was an 11 for serotonin, AND a 16 for GABA. Deficiency in serotonin can manifest itself as:
Personality Issues: Codependency, depersonalization, depression, impulsiveness, lack of artistic appreciation, lack of common sense, lack of pleasure, social isolation, masochistic tendencies, obsessive compulsive disorder, paranoia, perfectionism, phobias, rage, self-absorption, shyness.
Memory Issues: Confusion, memory loss, too many ideas to manage.
Attention Issues: Difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, restlessness, slow reaction time.


Deficiency in GABA can manifest itself as:
Personality Issues: Problems adjusting to stress, anxiety, depression, feelings of dread, excessive guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, emotional immaturity, manic depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, rage, restlessness, thoughts of suicide, psychosis.
Memory Issues: Poor verbal memory, global memory problems.
Attention Issues: Difficulty concentrating, disorganized attention pattern associated with anxiety, high anxiety, impulsive attention errors (jumping the gun, erratic driving), inability to think clearly.

The words jumped off the page, each symptom staring back at me challenging me to action. My initial intention to discover how I should alter my physical training for performance, immediately transformed into learning what steps to take to balance out my body’s health. Fortunately, the assessment provides recommendations for supplementation to return your levels to normal (although, with anything concerning your health you should always consult a trained medical professional). Within weeks of supplementation with GABA (the body’s calming mechanism), and 5-HTP and magnesium to help balance out my mood, my symptoms literally dissipated. Random episodes of sadness became nonexistent. Panicked bouts of stress from seemingly insurmountable responsibility were erased. 


Yes, there are still times when stress adds up. But this is because I keep a hefty load of projects and responsibilities like working full time, being a husband and father, coaching, and writing a book. I recognize that continued growth, maturing perspective, lessons learned through experience and finding balance in life are all keys to operating optimally and soundly. However, I also have fully experienced both the tremendous disadvantage and side effects of an imbalanced system and the absolute wholeness of a system restored. Which is why I am now a huge proponent of this assessment. There is only one caveat, you can only take the test once. After that the responses are no longer as accurate or valid. What will you discover about yourself?


I invite you to assess your system and learn more about what makes you tick. Perhaps you'll discover something life changing, like I did!

19 December 2016

Tuesday


Endurance
Perform 90 minutes of activity in either running, swimming, biking, intense hiking, snowshoeing (if your up North) or rowing 

Here is some Wisdom from the past: 
Now a days people push short highly intense training sessions, which cover all bases. This is true to a degree. You get the best bang for your buck training short durations at maximum intensity, and the majority of our training is centered around this method. However, I am a firm believer and have tried and tested this approach, and find that long bouts of intermittent endurance activity do serve a purpose. It is also important to keep our bodies guessing, because in real life sometimes we're sprinting for our lives and other times we find ourselves just grinding through. Overall what is important to understand is that we should never settle for one approach, but rather challenge ourselves on all facets. Who knows what tomorrow will bring or what obstacle we may face.

Monday


Strength
5 Rounds:
5x Strict muscle-ups
100ft Farmer carry
10m Handstand walk
90 second rest

Note: You have to hold yourself accountable! Cutting corners, partial ranges of motion, speeding through your training without purpose, and sacrificing movement integrity will get you NO WHERE! That being said, patience with the process, consistency with your practice, and diligence with continuing to learn will take you far. In time you will develop the recognition of when and how to apply intensity. Today PRACTICE your best muscle-up, scale if needed. Go as heavy as possible with the farmer walk and challenge yourself with intensity. Then bring intensity into your practice with the short handstand walk. Train hard, be safe!

15 December 2016

Friday


Strength
Weighted pull-up 5-5-5-5-5*
*After every set of weighted pull-ups perform 10x alternating pistols squats

Note: Upper body strength, with lower body skill work. Use whatever type grip/hand position you prefer today. Go as heavy as possible on first set and then use five pounds less for the remaining four sets. If you cannot perform pistol squats yet, instead work in an ankle and hip mobility exercise each. Enjoy your weekend!

14 December 2016

Thursday


Endurance
For time:
1000m Swim

Note: Utilize any stroke, although if your occupation requires the use of fins, mask and snorkel, or other gear - don it and get after it!

12 December 2016

Tuesday


Work Capacity
3 Rounds:
Run 400m
Max effort thrusters w/50% bodyweight
Rest 2 minutes

Note: All out run as if being chased immediately followed by a max effort set of UNBROKEN thrusters. Scale load as needed. Rest should be just enough time that your sucking wind is reduced.

11 December 2016

Monday


Strength Endurance
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Double KB front squat
Strict pull-ups
Double KB push-press
Clapping push-up x2
Suitcase deadlift each side

Note: Choose a weight that is hard, but doable for each of the kettlebell exercises. Use a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell for the suitcase deadlift. Whatever number set you are on double the reps for the clapping push-ups. This is NOT for time, but it is expected that you will continuously grind through each exercise progressing purposefully. As always movement integrity is priority number one. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!

08 December 2016

Friday


Strength
Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes:
1x 20ft legless rope climb

Note: Finishing the week off with some grip work and pulling strength. If you need to scale down and use your legs to practice rope climbing technique, do it. If you have no resource for a rope climb, substitute with 12x strict pull-ups every minute. If your pulling strength is still developing scale to 12x ring rows each minute. Enjoy your weekend!

07 December 2016

Sleds, Stones, and Swimming


Strength Endurance
800m Sled drag w/bodyweight on the sled
Rest 5 min before next evolution

Then
10-8-6-4-2
Atlas stone-to-shoulder 100+/60lbs
Followed by a 100ft bear hug carry w/stone
Rest 5 min before next evolution

Then
10 Sets:
25m Swim sprint, finning only
Rest 30 seconds

Note: For the sled drag alternate walking forward with walking backward every 50m. When you get to the stone, explosively open the hips after hugging the stone up off the ground. Heave it up and over your shoulder, alternating sides every rep. After the last rep carry the stone in a bear hug for a hundred feet, drop it an begin the next set. If you don't have a stone use a sandbag or substitute with a set of double kettlebell cleans and rack carries. Next, transition quickly to the water, if you don't have fins just use a kick board. If no pool, sprint for 15 seconds on an incline and walk back to the start before going again. Crush it!

05 December 2016

Tuesday


Stability 
3 Rounds:
5x Dead hang pull to inverted
30 sec Table bridge
5x KB windmills each arm
5x Glute ham raise 
10yd Handstand walk

Note: Everyone can benefit from greater GPP, general physical preparedness is developed through exposure to and practice of a wide variety of diverse movements that challenge our capacity to express strength, coordination, balance, endurance, and flexibility. Today we are challenging our systems with movements that demand we have sound kinetic chain function through different ranges of motion. For the dead hang pull to inverted, begin suspended beneath a pull-up bar or rings. Raise your feet to the bar, next fully engage your lats and pull your torso into a horizontal position while driving your toes to the sky and full extending your hips. Slowly reverse the movement and continue on for the next rep. The table bridge is a good shoulder extension stretch, fully engage your glutes and make a flat table top with your legs and torso. Use a challenging, but manageable load for the windmills. Movement integrity is always OUR highest priority. Glute ham raises done correctly with no break in the hips are exceptionally taxing, hold yourself accountable. Finally, practice your handstand walking over this short distance. Rest as needed between rounds.

04 December 2016

Monday


Work Capacity
NOT for time:
400m walk carrying sandbag 80-100lbs/40-60lbs
1st 100m every ten steps stop and perform 5x Zercher squats
2nd 100m every ten steps stop and perform 2x sandbag shouldering
3rd 100m every ten steps stop and perform 2x clean and press
4th 100m every ten steps stop and perform 5x bent over rows

Note: M/F prescribed loading. Today's session is a gut-check. Walking around a track with a sandbag, that weighs as much as half your bodyweight or more, is taxing. Stopping every ten steps to perform an exercise adds up quick. For the first 100m do not put the sandbag down at all, take your steps, perform your squats and leave the bag in that baby cradle position as you progress forward. This will get your heart beat thumping. You will find some relief the second you get to drop the bag before shouldering the load once each side. Keep going. The clean and press section is where your mental fitness will grow. Two reps, carry forward; just step it out and don't stop grinding. The last portion requires you to bend over and maintain a flat back and fully engaged mid section, you are almost home free. You can do this, show up!

02 December 2016

Shedding Light On The Hero Factory


What Do You Have to Gain?

Hey guys if you've heard the buzz surrounding this new book The Hero Factory and are wondering what the heck everyone is talking about, let me give you the low down. First off, thank you to everyone who has been sharing and promoting the book already. Each of you have reinforced my decision to share these stories and lessons, with your encouragement and support. So what's the big deal, who is this book for, and what can I benefit from reading it? 

The Big Deal

This is the first book of its kind where beyond the reports of heroics that we enjoy reliving through social media posts, magazine articles, and YouTube videos, you will experience rescues from the eyes, minds, and words of the actual men who were in the midst of it all. Every story details the reality behind what is actually experienced during a harrowing search and rescue case. From the rescuer being jolted awake in the middle of the night, to the survivor's peril of waiting helplessly for a miracle. But these stories are only a fraction of the knowledge and insight held within the pages. Here is a synopsis of what you will discover within each chapter: 

INTRODUCTION
The introductory section provides context for the intention behind the book. Although, seemingly elite and interpreted as heroic, the men and women who serve as helicopter rescue swimmers are just as human as everyone else. However, amongst weakness there is strength where purpose has been found. You are invited to draw upon the knowledge and practices these individuals employ to maintain physical and mental readiness that allows them to continuously overcome.


Who Are The Men In Black
Who are these individuals cloaked in all black, save a set of gold wings over the left breast accompanied by the word instructor? Men whom other men fear, characters that when thought of induce sleep deprivation, individuals whose physical capacity rivals that of competitive athletes. Here a peek into the internal composition of the helicopter rescue swimmer instructor cadre is uncovered. The mindset that drives our actions and behaviors is intimately portrayed through personal account, opening the door into our world. The challenge lesson offers an opportunity for you to test and assess your internal resilience and forge greater resolve.


Building A Tactical Athlete
There has been long standing tradition for military institutions to rely on long endurance efforts and bodyweight physical training regimens to prepare candidates to meet the rigors of mission readiness and operations. This has proven inadequate in matching the modern day’s evolving challenges. Learn why we train the way we train? There is purpose behind the physical hardship and the mental marathon of stress inoculating games. On the other side of the fire purpose is finally understood, perspective realized, and lessons truly learned. The challenge lesson prescribes a novel mindset for you to adopt and simple behaviors to employ to slowly begin developing resolute character. 


Alpha Bonding
We do what we do because we are who we are; in turn we are who we are because we do what we do. This speaks to the importance of the company we keep. Who we surround ourselves with, often influences our actions and behaviors the most, highlighting the absolute importance of relationship. The relationships shared amongst alphas, breeds competition, strength, strict discipline, sacrifice, integrity, respect, and initiative. But we must recognize the vulnerability to give into pride, envy, ego, and strife. When humility is learned, trust garnered, and acceptance freely given only then are mature relationships fully established. The challenge lesson presents the opportunity for you to build greater levels of healthy intimacy with those in life you most care about. 


Stamp Of Approval
What is the end goal? How are the incessant training days, the hard-learned lessons, the hours of physical exertion, and the mental faculty transformed into the success of lives saved? Relive the first rescue of one of my students as he battles the peril of the ocean’s tumultuous grasp. Four men are arduously towed to safety in one of the greatest endurance efforts ever performed by a rescue swimmer. For his actions AST2 Darren Harrity was awarded one of the service’s highest honors, the Coast Guard Medal, yet his humility is what demands the most respect.


leading from the front
As an instructor, you are provided a unique perspective to what each candidate is experiencing. Having formerly undergone the same training as a student yourself, you are afforded the vantage point of viewing both sides of the coin. With this perception wisdom is gained in discerning the appropriate method for teaching the next generation. When do individuals need to be pushed to dig deep and find inner strength, when should we throttle back the intensity to facilitate understanding of the necessary skills, and when should we call students out when excuses start to fly? Hats are changed from instructor, to teacher, to coach, sometimes to mentor, but always remaining a leader. Integrity, morale courage, and selflessness the tenants of quality character are our opportunity to lead from the front. The challenge lesson delves into one of the principles of leadership – followership. You are encouraged to first recognize strength of character in the individuals in your life that you hold in high esteem, and then to model your behavior to reflect the same, incrementally each day.   


one percenters
In life we all experience hardship, often in many different forms. Although our experiences may vary in kind and degree, ultimately we always have the choice to either succumb or persevere. The experience of trial by fire presented to rescue swimmer candidates is no different than any other hardship in this way. We can learn from these individuals and the elite select few that have the privilege to train them in how they respond to dire circumstances. The challenge lesson invites you into the practice of self-awareness. Opportunity is provided for you to recognize that every experience in life is a chance to learn and to then grow.


sewing machines and parachutes
In life there must be an appreciation for both purpose and intent. Although, we (fellow AST’s) jest that even a monkey could be trained to do the work we are responsible for, due to its simple and uncomplicated process; there is a level of unprecedented care that goes into each task. Any one step that is overlooked, could potentially lead to loss of life. The battle is not in learning advanced technologies, solving complex equations, or explaining scientific theories; for us eliminating complacency, adhering to the rigid practice of attention to detail, and mitigating risk is the goal. To do this requires integrity, it demands that each of us do what is expected and follow through with procedure no matter what we assume, how we feel, or how minuscule the task may seem. Live through another call to duty as two fighter jets collide and an aviator must be cut out of a mess of debris and trauma in the pitching sea and darkness.


the grinder
What does it take to be successful in becoming an AST? How do you know if you are truly ready? Learn how to persevere by developing self-awareness of current abilities, by learning lessons from each past experience, and by getting up again and again each time you are knocked down. Here the formula for achieving your physical goals is outlined, a process that can be applied throughout all other aspects of life to aid in accomplishing an objective. If you are a prospective candidate for AST A-school this will provide you the necessary steps to prepare yourself physically prior to entry. Other individuals can use this information to progressively ready themselves for any other physical endeavor using the embedded principles. The challenge lesson provides you with guidance on developing physical preparedness, while additionally sharing tips from the pros for preventing injury. 


uniform inspection
Part of living life is enduring life. The challenges, obstacles, and hardships that when presented provide an opportunity to learn and grow, can be forks in the road. We all have bad days, but “bad day” doesn’t quite do justice to the experience of almost losing your life. Some of us are prepared to handle these unfortunate and trying situations when confronted with the raw power of the natural elements. Some us are caught off-guard, pants down, and at a loss how to respond. This is what we try to teach the students. We must extend our ability to overcome. They need to recognize that they will be the helping hand in someone’s bad day, that they will be the light on a dark and stormy night. Here I recount stories of rescue from Mother Nature’s unforgiving seas and frigid winter grasp.


the burden of constant fitness
Here the concept of the Tactical Athlete is fully explained bringing clarity to the importance of physical preparedness for rescue professionals. General physical preparedness and specific physical preparedness are both outlined in detail and you will find embedded in the writing, a starting point for any training goal. The principles of Direction, Purpose, and Focus are each discussed highlighting wisdom gleaned from over a decade of working with military athletes. The tools used by professional strength and conditioning coaches for competitive athletics are introduced in an easy to understand prescription for tactical athlete implementation. Finally, each of the seven requisite fitness attributes of the tactical athlete our identified and explained to ensure understanding and incorporation. The challenge lesson provides you with a roadmap for purposefully attacking a physical fitness goal, and also emphasizes one of the most effective training tools for any athlete.


family men
My personal failings serve to introduce an opportunity for you to empathetically connect. Through stories of struggle and falling down, the mindset to overcome is bred by emphasizing the concept of “being effective” over “being right.” How can we set the precedent for how to react and respond to the hardships, obstacles, and challenges life presents, becoming a model of character to everyone around us? Learn how to operate from a foundation of acceptance, trust, confidence, peace, joy, integrity, fortitude, patience, and resilience. There is something to learn in every situation, a lesson behind every failure. The challenge lesson highlights the fact that each of us is continuously in an opportunity to teach. Through self-reflection we can learn to reprogram how we respond to difficulty and become role models to everyone within our sphere of influence.


surviving
Surviving extremes is not so easily taught in the confines of a four-walled classroom. To prepare the mind and physically ready the body, training requires we steep ourselves into the harsh realities of adversity. Experience first hand the perspective of being both a survivor and a rescuer as the students undergo the most dangerous training evolution conducted at the Rescue Swimmer Training Facility—rescuing a downed military aviator. With a wave-generating pool, strobes flashing in the dark, debris everywhere, a cacophony of alarms, 70 m.p.h. winds, and an individual in the water trapped under a collapsing parachute canopy, will the student forge through or succumb to difficulty? Here success demonstrates ability, but more importantly the confidence to persevere through seemingly insurmountable odds. Whether they recognize it in the moment or not, slowly throughout school the never-quit, learn-to-adapt mindset is being forged.


the long haul
Preparedness comes at a cost. Hours cramped in the rear of the helicopter, shock absorbed while jerked out of the water on the rescue hook in heavy seas, and miles of running and swimming accrued training to be mission-ready, all take their toll. For tactical athletes, careers lasting 20 to 30 years with diverse training resources, inconsistent sleep patterns, a range in quality and quantity of food selection, and a demand for year-round operational readiness can leave an individual abused and broken. Here you are afforded insight on developing a professional habit of fitness, while training your mind and body not just for today, but also for tomorrow and years down the road.


early morning wake-up
You can’t know how you will react in the face of danger or peril until you experience it. You also never really know how another individual will react in those circumstances either. From an armchair view it may seem comical, shocking, or even wrong; however, the more you experience it, the less sensitive you are to the surprise. It is in this light that we draw out the most realistic scenarios, because when lives are on the line, there is no room for almost and could have, only did and done.

CONCLUSION
Hardship comes in many forms and no one is left invincible. How we respond and move forward will determine how effective we are at enduring and overcoming. The conclusion highlights the core principle presented throughout the writing as our ability to overcome obstacles rests on our ability to respond in positivity. How we respond or react to hardship determines the nature of our character. Moreover, it models for others how to behave or what to believe in similar situations.

Who Is This Book For?

YOU! If:
1. You enjoy stories of courage.
2. You want to learn the principles and methods to be better physically prepared.
3. You want to develop resolute character and the mindset to overcome.
4. You are a rescue swimmer and want to stay in the game for a long career.
5. You want to be a rescue swimmer and need to prepare.
6. You know a rescue swimmer and want to understand what makes them tick.
7. You have an appreciation for those that serve our country and sacrifice their safety to save others.
8. You are curious what it takes to operate at an elite level.
9. You want to cultivate healthy behaviors and attitudes in yourself by learning from those who have persevered through failure, suffering, and hardship.
10. You want to support me, because you're a good friend or family!

Grab your copy of The Hero Factory today by clicking the link to Amazon in the upper right corner!

01 December 2016

Friday


Strength
EMOM20
Odd min - 3x Front squat/6x ring rows
Even min - 3x Hang clean/6x ring dips

Note: Solid grind today of consistent purposeful work. Front squat/hang clean weight is bodyweight on the bar. For the ring rows utilize a prone grip in the bottom position as you pull your body up rotate your grip into a supine position and finish with rings contacting chest. Enjoy your weekend!

30 November 2016

Thursday


Strength Endurance
3 Rounds for time:
12x Pistol squats, alternating
100yd Sprint
12x Strict pull-ups
100yd Farmer walk
12x Handstand push-ups

Note: Getting after it today with some solid bodyweight training paired with some aerobic demands. Hold yourself accountable to strict form and full range of motion on the pistols, pull-ups, and handstand push-ups! If the twelve reps, is outside your ability to keep moving through efficiently, scale the reps back. For the farmer carry use a dumbbell equal to 50% of your bodyweight in each hand for loading. Enjoy!

28 November 2016

Tuesday


Strength Endurance
EMOM12
Odd minute - Sandbag shouldering, alternate sides every rep
Even minute - Max effort band-resisted push-ups

Note: For the sandbag cleans to your shoulder, get in as many reps as you can in the first thirty seconds. Whatever that number is maintain that rep count for the remaining sets, within the allotted minute. For the band resisted push-ups, place a resistance band around your upper back and thread each hand through one end. This will create more tension at the top of each rep. When you reach failure remain in the push-up position, arms locked out, for the rest of the minute. Work hard, be strong!

27 November 2016

Monday


Strength
6 Rounds:
60yd sled drag 1.5x bodyweight
5x Trap bar deadlift 1.5x bodyweight 
10x Zercher squats .75x bodyweight 
Rest 3 minutes

Note: Heavy strength focus on the legs, hips and core today. Pull sled from the hips, driving through each step keeping the heels flat. Maintain as much of an upright torso as possible and brace your midline for solid core work. With the trap bar we are using a more conventional deadlift style, squatting instead of hinging at the hips. Drive through the heels and explosively open the hips by firing the glutes aggressively. For the Zercher squats hold the bar in the crooks of your elbows and squat nice and deep, keeping your trunk rock solid through every rep. You should be breathing hard on the squats making it a little more challenging to stay rigid, but push through it. Scale up or down as needed. I scaled up on the Zercher squat.

24 November 2016

Friday


Endurance
For time:
10-8-6-4-6-8-10
Burpees
Swim 50m after every set

Note: Here's your chance to put that Thanksgiving "stored energy" to use while getting better conditioned. No sloppy burpees! Squat, don't bend over. Hips and chest touch the deck in unison, avoid the weakness of peeling yourself off the ground and press out of the push-up in a solid plank posture. Explode into the air trying to stay off the ground for as long as possible at the top of the burpee. Swim strong and smooth and have fun!

23 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!


Endurance
3 Rounds:
50-100x KB swings 53/35lbs
Rest 2 min

Note: Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Before you get wrapped up in the throws of family, food, and fellowship, get after it! Straight forward work. Push your grip and lungs as you tackle three large sets of swings. Each time go for broke. Scale loads as needed, either up or down. M/f weights.

Circus Arts, Life Skills, and Crushing Your Game!


A few days ago I wrote a note, that both what we do and don't do, matters. Today, I want to elaborate on that and get into the nitty gritty. Yes, you should roll up your sleeves, because were about to go deep. A friend of mine presented the question and concept of transferability, which will serve as the platform we're about to dive off. He wrote:

"I've been moving into circus arts over the last year and kind of backed off other disciplines. I'm curious on your take on cross training for transferability from functional to artistic movements?"

Before we go any further, I want to address "Circus Arts." Now, I am not going to pretend to be well-versed in something I have never explored myself, but I have seen a Cirque Du Soleil show so I feel confident that I have the authority to speak on such matters. Circus Arts refers to the physical practice of skill sets revolving around hand balance and balance board, acrobatics, feats of strength, body contortion, aerial expression on circus rings, ropes, silks, or trapeze, juggling, and tight-wire performed in an aesthetic presentation for entertainment/artistic purposes. Although, not necessarily truly categorized as such, I would add acro-yoga, free-running, and aesthetic gymnastics to this group of skill sets.

Essentially, what my friend is asking is how does General Training (training without a specific objective), either benefit or detract from his ability to perform during his Specific (Circus Arts) objectives? Great question! Because if we don't know why were doing something, we have no purpose and operating without purpose can be limiting and wasteful. 

Everything I coach, teach, or instruct always starts with a principle. Principles provide the foundation for Why, we do or choose to do what we do. Enter the Principle of Providing a General and Versatile Foundation for Future Specialization. Say that five times fast! Hold on, while I catch my breath. What are we talking about here? Before we begin specializing (narrowing down our focus to address a specific set of skills or abilities), it is imperative to develop a variety of general skills and abilities. Imagine trying to perform a handstand on a pair of gymnastic rings before expelling yourself through the air in a series of svelte tucks and then landing on two feet. This example highlights gymnastic ring training as the specific objective, but underneath it all, the glue that makes it all possible are the general abilities of upper body strength, balance, coordination, shoulder stability and mobility, core strength, spatial awareness, accuracy, precision, muscular endurance, proprioception, and motor control. Removing proficiency in any one of these general skills negates ability in executing the specific skill. 


In essence, developing general abilities establishes the base of our pyramid. The wider the base, the higher we can build the pyramid. If we limit ourselves to a narrow base (training finite skills and focusing on specifics too soon), we will not be able to achieve greater heights. So what are these general skills and abilities? I don't own a "debate hat" so I won't try and sell you the rigmarole you'll find plastered across the incorruptible and reputable Internet. But, I will give you the benefit of how I approach things and program training for others. These are my "Three Keys" to building a solid base (blue section of the above pyramid):


1. Mobility/Stability
Mobility is a "golden" word right now. People eat it up like cake and bacon, and other yummy things. Everyone is foam rolling, sticking lacrosse balls deep into their iliopsoas, pulling traction on joints with rubber bands, standing on golf balls, and doing other painful things to "supple-up." Nevertheless, when I say mobility I am referring to our body's ability to mobilize or move freely. Mobility is the ability of a joint to move through a given range of motion without becoming susceptible to injury. We should all be able to move freely and articulate our joints into healthy positions that allow for us to express function, form, and enjoyment. If we can't do this or have identified a deficiency, moving past this and on to other forms of training can be detrimental, inhibiting, injury-inducing, and time-wasting. Stability refers to having strength throughout those ranges of motion, that protects the joint while expressing or resisting movement at different angles of articulation. Just because you can move your arms into an overhead position doesn't mean you have the stability to support yourself inverted on your hands. 


2. Strength
There are many types of strength, especially if you ask Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell, but for our purposes we are simplifying our understanding down to: The expression of force against resistance. Resistance being anything from gravity or bodyweight, to weighted barbells or tractor tires. Our ability to apply force against these factors equates to our level of strength. Strength is mandatory in life. Every time we move we are applying strength, because we are resisting the forces of gravity. The more strength we possess the more able we are to accomplish greater degrees of work and activity, and overcome challenges. Please, note that training strength without the appropriate foundation of mobility/stability is asking for complications and setbacks (you've been warned, trust me I've been there).   


3. Endurance
Most people hear endurance and think running, Ironman, or skinny weak athletes that can last forever; wait, maybe that's just what I think. In the context of this article however, endurance is used to describe our body's ability to resist fatigue. I don't know about you, but that sounds desirable, especially when your newborn baby thinks that when the sun goes down its time to party and by party I mean cry, a lot. So we are not only talking about going long, being faster farther, or sustaining sub-maximal effort, we are including both intensity and duration. How efficient are your aerobic (oxygen requiring) and anaerobic (non-oxygen requiring) systems at producing energy throughout the performance of all activity. Remember our opening example of performing a handstand on the rings, this too is a demonstration of endurance. Your muscle fibers are fighting to resist fatigue as energy is expended sustaining an inverted and balancing position. 

Harnessing appropriate levels of mobility for each joint in the body and building the necessary levels of stability in those ranges of motion allows us to move well and safely. Developing strength, so that we can apply force while expressing or resisting movement provides us with ability to complete tasks, enjoy activities, interact with others and our environment, and tackle obstacles of various natures. Lastly, establishing greater levels of endurance ensures we can continue to operate and function in both occupational and recreational capacities while negotiating the demands of life. Proficiency in these three combined attributes establishes the base of our pyramid. The greater the degree of development in each, the wider the base we create. 

After our base is built up, we can begin to refine each of these attributes to achieve specific and focused objectives or goals. Mobility/stability can be increased to allow for advanced postures or body positions. Strength training can be tailored to develop power, speed, maximal force, or muscular endurance with specific purposes of competitive athletics, recreational endeavors, martial arts, aesthetics, career necessity, or personal desires. And endurance efforts can be oriented toward single modalities like running, biking, swimming, or diverse skill sets like fighting an opponent, conquering an obstacle course, or climbing a rock face. 

To build our pyramid up to the next level we need to train for specificity (white section of the above pyramid). Enter the S.A.I.D. Principle, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. What did you just call me? In plain English, the body responds and adapts to the demands (training stimulus) we subject it to, therefore we need to expose the body to the appropriate stimulus in order to achieve the desired effect. If you want to increase your vertical jump, it doesn't make sense to start running long distances. Instead you need to expose yourself to stressors that induce an adaptation of explosive power in the hips. This introduces another important principle, the Principle of Specialization. To fully realize your potential in a given activity, sport, or endeavor you must fully concentrate on that single discipline. If we look at the diagram of the pyramid we can easily recognize that although the base is wide, covering a diversity of general ability, the base is shallow and in order to climb higher the range of ability begins to narrow. 

This is where my friend's question comes into context. His goals revolve around performance in the circus arts. To become proficient in tight-wire walks, ring routines, acrobatics and the like, those objectives must be specifically focused on to the exclusivity of eliminating other activities that hinder or detract from their advancement. Hence his departure from other disciplines. However, we also have learned that without a solid base of general ability he will not be able to excel in those specific skills. So the question becomes am I deficient in any of my general abilities, mobility/stability, strength, or endurance? If so, targeting that weakness and bringing it up to standard will afford greater ability in reaching specific goals. So there is value in cross training and ensuring a variety of general ability. Yet, it is equally important to focus on your chosen discipline. The key, as with most things in life, is establishing balance.

What about the rest of us who don't have dreams of eighty-foot leg-less rope climbs in an L-sit, or aspirations of twirling another human being on our feet while we lie back pressed into the ground? My recommendation is to continue to develop as wide of a base as possible. Learn as many different skills as you can. Develop proficiency in the functional human motor patterns of squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, throwing, climbing, jumping, crawling, and moving. I am an avid promoter of gymnastics training to develop quality movement shapes, healthy connective tissue, and stability to support your frame in these positions. I advocate strength training with heavy resistance and odd objects to prepare yourself for the challenges of life. Picking up something heavy off the ground, carrying heavy awkward odds and ends, pulling yourself up on top of something, sprinting from danger, jumping to safety, rolling around playing with your kids, these are each life skills. Why, because they are the skills that allow us to overcome physical adversity in life. 

Assess Yourself
General Mobility/Stability
Can you press a broom stick overhead without hyper-extending your spine or craning your neck?
Can you squat with that stick overhead without pitching forward, hyperextending your spine, or driving your knees inward? 
Can perform a back bridge fully opening the shoulders and accessing healthy range of motion in the thoracic spine?
Can you perform a pistol squat on each leg? 
Can you extend your arms behind you past ninety degrees with ease? 
If you answered no to any of these, I highly recommend taking a serious look at your movement quality. Consult a professional coach for drills and training to address/correct your deficiencies. 

General Strength
Can you perform a strict pull-up?
Can you perform strict push-ups and dips?
Can you lift twice your bodyweight up off the ground without compromising proper body mechanics?
Can you support yourself in a handstand?
Can you carry your own bodyweight for at least 400m?
If you can't complete all of these, no crime has been committed. However, addressing the areas where you are lacking will grossly increase your ability to tackle life head on.

General Endurance
Can you run a mile without stopping? 
Can you go for an all day adventure and keep up with everyone around you?
Are you capable of sprinting to safety if chased for 100 yards?
Conditioning is not an end goal, it is a continuous practice. No matter how efficient you currently are never stop growing or pushing to progress forward.  

Please, feel free to leave your comments below. Present your perspective for myself and the benefit of others. If you are wondering, my deficiencies are found in the first group, and so I am diligently working to correct my mobility. There's no shame in addressing your weakness, only fault in ignoring it. 

21 November 2016

Tuesday


Work Capacity
3 Rounds for time:
7x Strict ring muscle-ups
15x Double KB clean and press

Note: Today is for time, IF you are proficient in these two movements. Before we do anything for speed, we always learn the mechanics, demonstrate repeatability in applying them consistently, and then we add in intensity. If you are going for time, hold yourself accountable to full range of motion on the muscle up. Use a challenging load for the KBs - I recommend double 53 pound KBs. Post your time and weight to comments!

20 November 2016

Monday


Strength
5 Rounds:
5x Kettlebell single leg Romanian deadlift, each leg
6x Strict ring dip w/leg raise
Dead hang from pull-up bar 30 seconds
50yd Double kettlebell rack carry, 2x 53lbs
Rest 30 seconds

Note: Grab a challenging kettlebell in your opposing hand for the single leg Romanian deadlifts. Always pivot from the hip, driving the movement from the glute. For the dips set the rings to a height so that the dips can be completed in the hollow position. When you return to full extension at the top of the dip drive your legs up to your chest as in an L-sit, this is one rep. Maintain active shoulders pulling the scapula in and engaged during the dead hang. Finally, grab two challenging kettle bells for the rack carry. Keep the elbows down and tucked to the ribs. KEEP THE KETTLE BELLS OFF YOUR SHOULDERS! Rest briefly and jump into the next round.