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Even More Pressing Matters

There's a few things I hate:

  1. When people spell "defiantly" but mean "definitely."
  2. People that rush off an airplane, eager to beat everyone seated in front of them.
  3. A general lack of gainz.

Luckily, I haven't come across #3 in the past four months. As I wrote here, I've spent that time on a simple - but not easy - program, to improve my pressing, pull-ups and get-ups. The results were fantastic and the gainz were plentiful. 

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The Tabata Fallacy

I think there's some masochism inside all of us.  At least when it comes to suffering through conditioning and cardio. It's why high intensity work is so popular, and the association seems pretty clear - work hard, embrace the suck, get results.  And to some degree that does happen.

But only using high intensity conditioning, or using it too frequently, is going to lead you nowhere fast.  It's a lesson I learned through my own conditioning, as well as writing programs for my clients.  Both myself and (most of) my clients loved sweating, breathing hard, and getting smoked.  But I couldn't figure out why some people weren't getting better, and why they weren't improving markers of fitness (lowering their resting heart rate, increasing their heart rate variability, increasing VO2 max, decreasing musculoskeletal pain).

That's because I had fallen for what I like the call the "Tabata fallacy."

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Squatting Woes: Fixing the Lateral Weight Shift

The more you know, the more you really don't know.

That's one of the many things I've learned from being a continuing education junkie. What used to look like a straightforward fix is no longer that way, as I've refined both my eye and education.  

One stark example is the lateral weight shift on a squat.  This compensation often takes the form of someone's knee caving in, a lateral bend to one side, or someone shifting their entire pelvis over one foot.  If you're me, you have all three.

This pattern doesn't have anything to do with one leg being stronger than the other.  And you can't just coach someone out of this compensation by using a band between their knees, or using a (bigger) band to pull their hips to one side.  It may make the person more aware of the issue, but it doesn't completely FIX it.

That's because the problem is neurological, not physical. So much like the movie "Inception," you need to go deeper.

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What is "Good" Training?

I often feel like I'm a salmon.  Not in a bad way.  More in a "swimming against the tide of outdated fitness information" way.

But sometimes, that tide is just too strong.

Whether it's someone's preconceptions of training, or previous experiences with other trainers/coaches, people are often surprised when they go through one of my sessions or classes. There's this idea that in order for training to be "good" it must be 1) hard, 2) intense, 3) bodybuilding style, and/or 4) cardio based. And really, it shouldn't be any of those four.

So let's start with what "good training" is not:

  1. Good training isn't how high you can get your heart rate.
  2. Good training isn't how much you sweat, how hard you breathe, or how sore you get.
  3. Good training doesn't involve punishing yourself, for whatever reason.

Those thoughts are exactly why so many people - trainers included - get burned out so quickly. After all, most personal trainers don't last beyond 1-3 years, and the drop-off in gym attendance by March illustrates the fleeting nature of New Year's Resolutions.

So what makes for good training?  Here are three things it should encompass:

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Lower Back Rounding: How Much is Too Much on a Deadlift?

From age 14 to 25, I was convinced that heavy deadlifts would break my spine in half.  After all, it seems legit.

But my view was molded by user error.  Or as I like to say, "deadlifts don't hurt your back. What you're doing will hurt your back."

Deadlifts look as simple as picking it up and putting it down. However, it's one of the most nuanced and technical exercises out there.  While I field a ton of questions about the deadlift everyday, one I hear most often is:

How much can - or should - your lower back round during a deadlift?

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