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Making the Case for Heart Rate Based "Running"

Rather than a strength or physical preparation coach, I've recently taken to calling myself a "systems analyst."  I didn't come up with the term - it's borrowed from Dr. Stuart McGill - and I don't have the huevos to say it at a social gathering.  But it's always fun to pretend in the land of the internet.

Analyzing systems captures how I approach movement, conditioning, strength, and goals. Breaking down large topics to biomechanics, biology, and how it's all one big system, is usually met with positive feedback (even if it comes with a few "Office Space" jokes). But what's the one topic that tends to meet the most resistance?  How to increase one's running ability, because it's counter to what most people think.  

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Rethinking the Single Leg Deadlift

As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."  I love how sane and civil the contestants make me feel, but I hate how I can't. stop. watching it.  And by the way, the newest season premiered this past Monday and I'm currently tied with my wife in our fantasy league.

Yes, it exists.

But many of you don't know that I have the same love/hate relationship with single leg deadlifts.

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The Not-So-Secret Secrets to Reaching Goals

April was a fun month.  

Aside from my beloved New York Yankees currently sitting in first place, I competed in the Tactical Strength Challenge on April 8th. The event is made up of a max deadlift, strict bodyweight pull-ups, and a 5 minute kettlebell snatch test.  Anyone who competes deserves respect and in the immortal words of Ice Cube, "it was a good day."

I was fortunate to hit a new personal record on the deadlift at 556 pounds, but kept some gas in the tank for the other two events. Still, it was good enough for the 8th heaviest deadlift in my division.

A few hours later, I clocked in with 139 kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes - also a personal record.  This performance was even better than my deadlift, as I placed 5th on snatches and #9 overall in the Men's Open.  And in true egalitarian fashion, you don't receive anything for how you perform, just a pat on the back.

But last week, I finally conquered the one goal that's been haunting my dreams (only 50% joking) - I finally pressed The Beast.

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How to NOT Suck: Avoid These 4 Common Fitness Mistakes

I guess you can say I'm feeling nostalgic. And perhaps a bit click-baity.

This is my fifth year in the strength and conditioning industry and it feels like it's flown. But I can't stop thinking back to my naive, younger self, who worked in marketing, and thought he knew everything when it came to exercise.  He made a lot of mistakes and hated reality - because it always slapped him square in the face.

So consider everything below as part memoir and part road map for success.  Enjoy!

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What the Squat?

Last summer, I had a meathead's equivalent of a "come-to-Jesus" moment.  It occurred while back squatting, and I can even tell you the day - July 10, 2016.

I can also tell you the weight and rep scheme (300 lbs for sets of 5) thanks to my meticulous record keeping.  That weight is important, because it's where all my secret compensations started to show.  I reviewed the video of my squats and saw that my butt was winking, my hips were shifting laterally, and my left knee continually caved in as I came out of the hole.  Angry and frustrated, I yelled the title of this post but substituted one specific word (sorry Mom!).

After some introspection, I calmed down. Why was I doing this exercise? Was it helping my goals? Was I seeing gainz? Or was it throwing me deeper into my compensations and developing new ones?

The answers were don't know, no, no, and probably yes.  The only reason I was back squatting was for vanity. It boosted my ego to see myself squatting heavy(ish) weights, and I thought I was more advanced than I was.  I decided I needed to take it down a notch and work on my squat pattern. But a funny thing happened shortly after - I fell in love with the two kettlebell front squat.

 

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