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Shoulders, they aren't just held together with tape and spit . . .

Although one might think so.  Shoulders are one of the most common complaints I get when training individuals, especially my older male clients.  The shoulder ball and socket joint is not like the hip joint where the bones fit together nice and snug.  It is a rather open structure held together mostly by muscle and connective tissue.  And yet, most sports that include throwing, lifting things overhead, as well as most daily activities that use the arm rely on the integrity of this joint.

Dan John, in his most recent blog post, talks about the kettlebell clean and how it can help to strengthen this somewhat "delicate" joint.  If you don't currently subscribe to Dan's blog or haven't read any of his articles, or more importantly, his book, Never Let Go, by all means, start today.

Dan John



As an added bonus, here is Steve Cotter's instruction of the kettlebell clean.

Some kettlebell workouts to do at home

So, I know a lot of you are traveling for the holidays.  But, if you have a kettlebell or dumbbell, you can get a good workout in wherever you are.  Here are some workouts we've done at kettlebell class the past couple of months.

This is a strength workout, you'll need a slightly heavier bell than you use for our conditioning circuits.  For example, if you usually use a 4-6 kg bell, try using a 8-10 kg bell.   These movements are meant to be done for precision and not speed.  Work to get a full range of motion on each repetition.  Rest 30-60 seconds between sets as needed.

Turkish Get Up:  10 each side
Windmilll: 3x10 each side
Split Squat: 3x10 each side
Bent over row: 3x10 each side
Goblet squat with 3 second hold at bottom: 3x10
Curl and Press: 3 x10 each side

Finish with 100 swings.

Turkish Get Up

Windmill
From Chapter 11
This is a muscle endurance workout.  Use the same sized bell you use for all classes and try to get approximately 10-15 reps for each exercise.  Perform …

The Warrior Dash is coming to North Carolina!

In August 2011!  Wait a minute, August?  In North Carolina?

Warrior Dash, Huntersville, NC

Well, it will be hot, but at least there won't be frost on the ground when we jump into the pond.   And besides, we are of warrior stock, sweating like pigs and getting muddy is what we do best.

That, and pillaging. 


We will be registering on Saturday, December 18th. If you would like to join us and/or at least run in the same wave, it would be a good idea to register close to that time.

Holiday Workouts

Do those two words even go together?

Well, yes. They do and more importantly, they should. During the holidays we tend to overeat, get overstressed, and tend to get our exercise herding children through shopping malls and putting up holiday decorations.



However, during this time, there is nothing better for your body AND mind than a little exercise. During this time of year, when the days are colder and definitely shorter, its also difficult to get out and just play with the kids or find the motivation to go for a walk or a jog in the dark. By far, one of the best ways to get motivated is to have some accountability and by that, I mean make yourself an exercise date. Find a few friends with whom you can commit to training with consistently. Or, join a group exercise class or boot camp. My favorite way, by far, is to turn on the floodlights and go outside to play with the kids. Swinging, running races, playing tag, and even playing on the swing set are great ways to get your heart rat…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I know, I've been remiss in posting.  But for a good reason.  I've been working on a textbook for my training organization, the ISSA.  Trying to succintly explain how to safely and effectively program boot camps and group classes for a broad range of people takes up a lot more space than you might think.  We hope to release the course next summer.  ISSA is accredited through the Distance Education and Training Council, an organization recognized by the US Department of Education. 

Yes, but what about exercising and eating this week?!

Okay, well, don't sweat it too much.  Thanksgiving is about enjoying time with family and the truth is, turkey is not bad for you.  Too much gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie might be bad for you, but nothing you can't work off with an active weekend and some yard work.  Get outside and sweat a little, even if it just means walking around the block, going for a bike ride, or hanging up the Christmas lights. 

Or maybe just some …

Training Schedule October 25th - October 30th

This week, we resume barbell training.  After two weeks of teaching kettlebell classes and barbell skill training, I am over the DOMS threshold for more frequent training and my joints feel much more stable.  It took two weeks of pain, but now I feel good and can get back to daily practice.



Huh?  Aren't you always yammering about overtraining and overuse injuries?

Yes, as a matter of fact I do.  However, the key to avoiding overtraining and overuse injuries is to work with adaptation and not against it.  The way a person's body responds to training is unique and a personalized approach is always good.  We often urge people to listen to their bodies, but this can sometimes lead to individuals not pushing themselves hard enough or sticking to a consistent program.  Inconsistencies or deficiencies in appropriate intensity, volume, or training can  actually cause a lot more discomfort and potential for injury than consistent practice.

A lot of adaptation is neurological and for tho…

Training Schedule October 18th - 23rd

One of my friends and fellow trainers, Chad Edwards, is now the proud owner of Crossfit Local in Chapel Hill.  Chad and his crew recently participated in a fundraiser to raise money for breast cancer, Barbells for Boobs.


 They are now gearing up for the Carolina Fitness Challenge, a CrossFit competition to be held at CrossFit Durham this December 11th.

Back to things going on in my basement . . .

Kettlebell conditioning, for one, but not in my basement.  Tuesdays and Fridays at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.  This 45 minute class is designed for general full body strength and conditioning.  If you are interested, send me an e-mail.  flemingsj4616@yahoo.com

The rest of the schedule is going to assist us in returning to weightlifting from running.  So, this month, general strength and conditioning and back on the barbells. We'll start easy and go from there.

Training Schedule: (sets X reps)

Monday: 
Power Snatches, 6x2
Overhead squats 3x15

Pullups, 10
Bulgarian split squats…

Warrior Dash! and Kettlebell Pump at St. Francis.

Well, I have to say, the Warrior Dash was an absolute blast.  Everyone was clearly there to have a good time, the weather was gorgeous, and the pond was only slightly freezing.


From  left to right, our times were 27 minutes, 44 minutes, 28 minutes, 40 minutes, 44 minutes, and somewhere between 28 and 40 (Sorry Brett, they didn't list you).  Stay tuned for some live action mud crawling. 




In other news, I will begin teaching Kettlebell Pump at the community center at St. Francis this Tuesday and Friday and 9:30.  I have kettlebells available for purchase or you can order them from Randy and Mary DeAngelo at this url:  http://www.cjetsfitness.com/cjetscart/

These kettlebells are not "competition" kettlebells, but are ideal for this class and basic fitness.  They are also priced a lot more reasonably than most.  A four kg bell is most appropriate for beginners.  Please contact me if you have any questions about the class.  flemingsj4616@yahoo.com

Warrior Dash and Kettlebell Class

Hey everyone, we're finally leaving this morning to head up North for the Warrior Dash.  Patrick has made his warrior helmet, Francis is encasing himself in duct tape, and Elizabeth has the warrior tummy bug.  This should prove interesting. 



So, when we get back on Sunday, it is going to be the start of something entirely new.  I will be teaching kettlebell classes on Tuesdays and Fridays at the St. Francis of Assisi Community Center in the Cupertino Room.  Class starts at 9:30 and will run for approximately 45 minute.  What will be really fun and exciting is that I don't know if I'll actually have kettlebells by next week, but details like that are pointless to worry about.  I am an expert at "winging it".  The class is free, but I am asking everyone to bring their own kettlebell or purchase one from me at cost.  (Approximately 25$ for the smallest size, add two dollars for each 2kg increase in weight.)  The appropriate size for a beginner is 4 kg, or 8.8 lbs.  …

Old School Circuit Training

I have an old moldy copy of a book on circuit training written by the original developers of the technique, R.E. Morgan and G.T. Adamson from Leeds University. It smells weird and the pages are brittle, but it is very interesting.

There were no machines used in this gym, it was all full body gymnastic and strength work that would be pretty hard for a lot of relatively fit folks to complete. I'm going to list some of the exercises and try and provide a description that is relatively accurate so you can see what I mean.

Rope Swings: So, picture this, you have two ropes about arm length apart. You must grab a hold of both, take two steps back and then heave yourself forward with enough force that your feet touch a horizontal beam that is approximately 8-10 in the air.

Arm jumps: They utilized a ladder placed horizontally at "jump height. So, picture doing this on the monkey bars. Hold on to the outside support beams and by pulling up explosively, use your arms to "…

Training Schedule September 27th -October 2

Two more weeks until the Warrior Dash!  If you haven't started running, you'd better get started.

If you're interested in this sort of thing, I wrote a new article for my Back to Basics Training blog on old school circuit training (and by old school, I mean 60 years ago).



I have nothing interesting to say today so I'm just going to get on with the schedule.  Please note, this is geared entirely towards being able to run through the woods, climb over walls, and jump over stuff.  If you don't intend on doing that, search this blog for something different with the Google search bar at the bottom.  Or, if you feel like exploring your testosterone boundaries, check out this article on T-Nation:  The Ten Manliest Exercises Ever

Monday:

Ladder
1 jump squat, 1 pushup, run 200-400 meters
2 jump squats, 2 pushups, run 200-400 meters
continue until you reach 8-10 total rounds

Tuesday:

Supersets:
10 jumping Pullups
10 walking lunges, weighted
5 rounds
Walk or jog 1 mile

Wedn…

Tinkerbell

My daughter told me yesterday that I looked like Tinkerbell.

I don't look anything like Tinkerbell so I asked her why.  She got kind of embarassed and then she put her hands on my hips and said, "Well, your . . . um . . . "

"Butt is big?" I finished for her.  She smiled and nodded her head.

"Why thank you!" I said. "I've been working on that." 

I think that Tinkerbell would probably be an excellent athlete.  She has the figure for it.  Like it or not, most of our power comes from that large muscle group on our backside so having a big engine is quite an advantage.

Training Schedule September 13th - September 19th

So, four weeks until the Warrior Dash.  Truth is, its not that far of a run.  But, we still have train with some distance if you aren't used to running.  Regular runners, you just need to do some pullups. 

If we were training for a longer distance, a 10K, half marathon, or marathon, we would phasing out the heavy weight training and doing some maintenance strength and power training with bodyweight, light implements, and/or plyometrics (jump training).  But, this is a short distance and its not worth detraining all of our strength just to run three miles.

And so, we continue to lift.  I wouldn't lift heavy a day or two before the actual race just because running with DOMS is not fun, but there's no need to give things up entirely.

 Monday:



Power Clean, doubles, 6-8 sets
Front squat 3x10
Push Press 5x5

Run 1 mile

Tuesday:

Weighted walk, 3-5 miles, carry, drag, and/or push weight

or

3 mile run

Wednesday:

30 kettlebell swings
Run 200 meters
3 rounds

Then run 1/2 mile

Thursda…

Training Schedule September 6 - September 11

Happy Labor Day! My personal take on Labor Day is that it is a way to honor mothers and so I take the day off.  Of course, holiday weekends always warrant a little slacking off in my opinion.  Or maybe I'm just lazy. 

So, same as last week, training for the Warrior Dash!  And that means MORE RUNNING!

Again, if running isn't your thing, well, I have almost eight months of training schedules to choose from here.  Pick one and get started.  If you haven't noticed, I have a google search function at the bottom of the page so that you can search my blog for different exercises and training schedules.  For example, tire flips.  Here is a picture of Jason Davidson, my fellow weightlifting coach, demonstrating a tire flip with one of the lighter tires over at the Athletic Performance Center.




Tuesday, August 7th

Clean and jerk, eight sets of doubles, increase weight to a max
Assistance, sumo deadlift, 3x10 (yes, this works the adductors and helps you get up from your front squat wi…

Training Schedule August 30th - September 4th

"Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can't live long enough to make them all yourself."

Just a little wisdom to start the week. And now back to the training schedule. I'm going to change things up here a bit and put in exactly what I'm doing. And, I a weightlifting coach who is also training for the Warrior Dash. So, I'm looking for strength and endurance, both cardiovascular and muscular.

If you are strictly strength training, use the template posted in the training schedule for August 9th - 14th.

We also have a new challenge on the horizon. Bodyweight carry, max distance in 30 minutes. That means, you must carry your own bodyweight as far as you can in 30 minutes. I would advise you not to wander too far from your starting point unless you have a cell phone and someone willing to pick you up. Use a ruck, weighted vest, farmer's carry, etc.


Monday, August 30th:

Snatch, 6-8 sets of doubles, increase weight as needed
(alternative to sn…

Kettlebell Classes

For those of you local to Raleigh, I will be offering kettlebell fitness classes at St. Francis of Assisi's new community in North Raleigh starting in October. The classes will run on Tuesday and Friday at 9:30. I will post more details as I figure out the logistics.   This class uses a single kettlebell for resistance through a variety of exercises and techniques for the purpose of strength and conditioning.  It is scalable for a broad range of abilities and fitness levels.  I will probably incorporate an "early bird" fifteen minute skill session for new folks before each class.



Time to get serious!

Okay, the Warrior Dash is in seven weeks and its about time we did some RUNNING! That's right, just flat out plain old running. For this reason, I am going to explain the concept of PACING INTERVALS. Pay close attention. (Or have a cup of coffee and skip ahead to the workouts.)

So, lets say you are used to walking or jogging at a moderate or pathetic pace, but every time you try and push yourself to go faster, you end up with a stitch in your side, or just plain worn out before you go the distance. Pacing intervals are designed to help you increase your intensity over time until you can maintain your new intensity for the entire duration of your run/bike/swim/row, etc.

For example, using a rate of perceived exertion scale, you are used to running at an intensity level of 5 on a scale from 1-10 with 1 being walking through the mall and 10 being close to death. You want to increase your pace such that the distance you run in 45 minutes is longer. To do this outright, you could jus…

I'm at the beach

Good thing my programming is so redundant.

You guys can just repeat last week or grab something from July. School starts next week so it'll be time to get serious again, in the meantime, I'm sitting here listening to the waves and contemplating doing some burpees with the kids. Yes, I'm that kind of mom.

Have a a great week.

Here's some food for thought. And, just my two cents, cardio is NOT a joke, but it shouldn't be the basis of your exercise program. Here's why:

Training Schedule August 9th - August 14th

If you are interested in fitness science and some new thoughts on what actually causes muscular fatigue, check out out the new article I wrote for my other blog, "My brain is making me tired".

This week’s schedule is going to contain a mixture of lifting and circuit training. You “can” mix the two if you’re smart about it, but don’t do all of it. If you are doing the barbell training, stick with the conditioning circuits for cardio. Any other cardio work needs to be done much later in the day or on another day entirely.

As a side note of explanation on the barbell training, we’ve been experimenting with a format where we increase weight until we reach a 5RM, perform as many sets as we can at the 5RM (should be no more than 1-3 for a true 5RM), and then do one or two back-off sets. This is not for the novice lifter, this is for someone who gone past the novice stage and is handling heavier weights. Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program is another more advanced program that works f…

My brain is making me tired.

You’re running and suddenly you can run no more. You slow to a walk until your muscles feel “ready” to run again and you do. Or, you are squatting a barbell for reps and on the last one, you pause at the bottom of the movement as your muscles temporarily fail. (Hopefully, you are in the cage or have someone to lift said barbell off your back with minimal damage.) What exactly is going on here?

Over the years, we’ve been lead to believe that this is a simply linear process of depletion of fuel and build-up of waste products that cause our muscle to reach a point of temporary failure to contract. Makes sense, right? This is because a long time ago, skeletal muscle cells in culture were made to contract with electrical impulses and when they failed to contract despite stimulation, it was shown that they were depleted of nutrients and/or had accumulated a high level of metabolic waste.

However, what happens in the petri dish does not always happen in real live organisms. When musc…

A fitness project for the kids

So, I've been doing some reading about fitness and motivation.  I've read that intrinsic factors, internal motivators, are the most likely ones to contribute towards sticking to an exercise program.  Some of these factors are: autonomy, self-efficacy, teamwork, and knowledge.

So, today, I found myself with a house full of children, eight total, all of whom we've been trying to get more active.  Three of these children are my own and the other five live on both sides of me. I needed a way to motivate them to exercise that did not rely on me or their mothers to nag them, that had an element of self-guidance, and incorporated teamwork.

And so, we came up with the following idea.  Together, the girls and boys were going to ride their bikes a total of five hundred miles over the next three months.  Sounds crazy?  Well, not so much. 

I took all eight of them outside and we measured the distances of our driveways and the distances between.  (This took some time because I only had…

Training Schedule August 2nd - August 7th

We've been going pretty hard for a good month or more now and so it is time for a deload week.  A lot of us are on vacation and so I am going to give you four options for workouts to do in your spare time.  If you haven't been working out in a while, these will be good for easing back into things.  If you just started back up and aren't ready to take a break, simply repeat the cycle beginning this month.

Goblet squat, 10-15 reps
Pushups, 10-15 reps
Sumo Deadlift, 10-15 reps (use dumbbell, kettlebell, or small child)
3-5 rounds

Bodyrows or pullups, 10-15
Overhead Walking Lunges, 10 each leg
Pushup press, 10-15
3-5 rounds

Jump rope, 100 reps
Situps, 30
Kettlebell swing, 30
3-5 rounds

Weighted carry (piggyback with partner or kids works well), 50-100 meters
Sprint same distance
rest 30-60 seconds
5-8 rounds
(If you do this with kids, carry child piggyback the measured distance and then race back.)

Get strong, Get lean. But, be careful how you do it.

We all have fitness and training goals. And we use a variety of techniques to reach them. The truth is, a lot of them are pretty straightforward and a lot of them are over-hyped.

The downside to the variety of training techniques is that not a lot of folks really know exactly how they work and what's best for us, the individuals who use them. I wrote an article on the use of circuits that may shed a little light on combining strength and cardio and when its good and when its not.

Getting Strong, Getting Lean

Getting Strong and Losing Fat

To get strong, we lift weights. To lose fat we do cardio, right?

And who has time for all that?


So, about sixty years ago, circuits were invented.  It was shown that you could perform weight training exercises in a continuous circuit for 2-3 total sets and get both a cardiovascular and strength benefit.  But, how much benefit do you actually get?

The original circuits, done in the fifties and published in the book Circuit Training, by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Adamson, utilized such exercises as burpees, rope swings, clean and presses, barbell squats, wheelbarrow lifts, dips, pullups, and a few that I didn't recognize, but looked like fun like arm jumps across a ladder.  These circuits would vary in length from 10 to 25 minutes and although they were meant to strengthen, their main effect was cardiovascular. 

For years, circuits have been used with calisthenics, light implements, and bodyweight only exercises. Circuit weight training is a familiar sight in commercial gyms and healt…

Training Schedule July 26th - July 31st

Well, some exciting things have happened this week! First of all, we finally walled off the back area of the basement and that means, yes, the whining has paid off. We got an air conditioner! Now the workouts will only be horrible because they are hard, not because they are hard and you are doing them in a sauna.

Second bit of great news! I got a bench! Well, my husband bought a bench and I had forgotten how much I loved bench pressing. Definitely going on the regular schedule more often.

So, I did not check in last week with my weight loss which I'm sure seemed a bit suspicious to some of you. However, fear not, my methods are working and I'm down to 131.5 as of this morning. I have added in a 3 mile walk twice a week either pushing a stroller holding a pre-schooler or carrying a 25 lb back pack. Now, this is no ordinary walk, we have hills, lots of large hills. So, heart rate and fatigue come into play rather quickly (sometimes crying, me or the kid). Intensity is…

Training Schedule July 19th through July 26th

Monday July 12th

Back Squat 3x10
Press 5x5

Tuesday July 6th

Complete the following circuit at a moderate pace:
Rest one minute between sets
Jump rope 50 reps
Knees to elbows, 10-15
(alternative 10 chin ups or body rows, 10 hanging knee raises)
Bulgarian split squat right leg 15
Bulgarian split squat left leg
Kettlebell swing, 25
Perform 4-5 rounds.





Wednesday July 7th

This is a high intensity workout.  Make sure you have an extended warmup such as 20-30 minutes steady state cardio, body weight circuits, and/or dynamic stretches.  I will typically run 400 meters and then complete 30 reps of 6 different exercises that loosen the joints and stimulate all the muscles such as overhead squats, standing russian twists with a light bar, lunges, body rows, club bell swings, etc.

10 burpees
10 dumbbell thrusters
50 meter sprint
2-4 minutes rest

Thursday July 8th

Rest Day

Friday July 9th

Perform the following at a medium high intensity. 

Overhead Walking Lunges, 50 meters (use dumbbell, bar, plate,…

Training Schedule July 12th through July

First of all, I'd like to congratulate Adam Mathias on his MMA debut win at the Bull City Brawl Saturday night.  He won by unanimous decision.  30-27, 30-27, 29-28  It is a testimony to his hard work and skill.  Adam trains at the Triangle Jiu Jitsu Academy in Durham.





And, to get back to the mundane, in an article posted on my Back to Basics Training blog, I challenged myself to reduce my bodyfat and lost 5 lbs over the next  month by adding in some cardio and making some changes in my diet.  This week, I have made progress, albeit slow progress, but that's the kind that sticks around.

I did 4 workouts this week, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday and I added in 2 additional cardio sessions, one being a 3 mile bike ride over hilly terrain, the other being a 1 mile walk (over same hilly terrain) with 20 lbs in a backpack.  I am officially down 1.9 lbs (133.1 from 135) via my morning weigh in.  Now, that may be due entirely to other factors, so next week's weigh-in wi…

Back to Basics Training

Guess what?  I wrote a few articles where I talk about myself incessantly and then give a little bit of good advice.  Typical of us fitness bloggers, but you may find it useful.  Click on the links below to read the following two articles.


Fat Loss, What Does It Take?
Holy cow!

I've been trying to lose a few pounds over the past two months and instead, I've put on five. How can this be?

(click on above link for rest of article.)

Trying to Gain Wisdom Without Hurting Myself
Over the past two years, my fitness philosophies have been challenged, modified, and finally returned to their original form. And all I can say is thank God I'm not as wishy-washy as I thought I was turning out to be. As it turns out, fitness is pretty basic. It doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be interesting and challenging enough to maintain the attention span of the participant. Doing a machine circuit and walking on the treadmill is neither interesting nor terribly effective for the…

Trying to gain wisdom without hurting myself.

Over the past two years, my fitness philosophies have been challenged, modified, and finally returned to their original form. And all I can say is thank God I'm not as wishy-washy as I thought I was turning out to be. As it turns out, fitness is pretty basic. It doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be interesting and challenging enough to maintain the attention span of the participant. Doing a machine circuit and walking on the treadmill is neither interesting nor terribly effective for the long run and so its no wonder most folks abandon their gym memberships a few short weeks after their New Year's Resolutions and long before bathing suit season is upon us.

The key to working out effectively is intensity. And when I say intensity I mean all different ranges of intensity. This must be coupled with appropriate volume and by this, I mean how how many repetitions or sets of a particular exercise you are going to do or how long are you going to be doing said e…

Training Schedule July 5th through July 10th

Well, it is about 3 months until the Warrior Dash.  Time flies, eh?  So, if you're not doing it already, its time to start running.  And, don't forget about the mud.



If you are lifting heavy, steady state running for 20-45 minutes after your lifting sessions is fine and will not effect your strength, but you can split up your running and lifting days if you have the time.  Three each, per week, is a good aim.  In September, we will increase the number of running interval workouts aimed at conditioning specifically for the race.  For those of you doing more conditioning based workouts, there is still no substitute for running and one to two short runs (or running intervals) and one long run a week is going to become necessary now.  Work on increasing your distance and speed each week.


Monday July 5th

Barbell complex:
Deadlift
Hang Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
(after last press, rack bar behind the neck)
Split Squat, left leg
Split Squat, right leg

8 reps each, 5 rounds

Tu…

Happy Father's Day!

I have a great one myself who taught me to fish, hunt, plant a garden, build a fence, use power tools, split wood, feed a baby bird, enjoy a long hike, kayak and canoe, how to be a good listener, and to also be patient and kind.


"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." -Ralph Waldo Emerson


And so, what to do about training these next two weeks?  I'm taking two weeks off and so I am going to be ecological and recycle. 

June 21 - June 26th

June 28th - July 3rd

Take care and have fun!