Friday, November 13, 2015

You and Your off-season - make a commitment to strength training

Hey all,

So its been a while since I posted, but I wanted to start a series of posts regarding what athletes should be doing during your off-season. Instead of doing more "base training" which is essentially spinning your wheels, and going no where fast, commit to working at things you suck at. For endurance athletes, that usually means 2 things - strength and mobility. For functional fitness athletes, it can mean endurance, mobility, or any of the more technical gymnastics movements. The key is to take a no-bullshit assessment of yourself, what you've done, and where you want to go. For the purposes of this post, I'm speaking to the endurance athletes out there. For a reference point, I'm going to use the classes I teach at INTENT as an example.

As most of you know, we offer 2 types of strength classes - 

1. Strength and mobility - focus is on a lift, auxiliary work that supports the lift and mobility work to provide you an opportunity to find out what's tight, and how to make changes to the sticky tissue. The mobility is something that you can take home and continue to do as you deem fit.
2. Functional Strength - focus is on performing a number of movements at intensity - think 90% of max effort and harder. The purpose is to get your heart rate up and work to achieve EPOC - a fancy term for calorie burning post exercise. Studies have shown that when you train at least 12-24 minutes at 85-95% of your max HR, you will continue to burn calories up to 32 hours post exercise.
Now, the question is, how do you get the most out of either class? The first step is not what you would expect. It involves 1 of 2 things - Ego and fear, and how you need to overcome them to get a real benefit from classes. Understand that both of these things give you a ceiling, they are your limiters. They are preventing you from improving. And the more you rely on them, the more often you will hit your ceiling and come crashing back down.
Let's start with Ego. I know we have said it as coaches, but its important to reiterate here. When you come to INTENT, before you cross the threshold of the gym door, you need to check your ego. That means, you need to keep your eyes on your own paper when you are in class. If you are new to strength, guess what? We will be coaching you more than someone who has done it for a while. We will want you to do modifications, use lighter weight. If you are new to strength, odds are, you will fail at first. You'll probably fail a lot. Get over it. To get better at anything, you need to understand what it means to fail in order to improve. So fail. I fail constantly. Its part of life. You aren't going to hit a home run every time. Get past yourself, get past your bullshit, take the coach's advice, and get after it. Its for your benefit, not the coach, not anyone else. You. So if you aren't lifting the most, or moving the fastest through workouts, that's fine. Get the movements down, and practice, practice, practice. Be humble. It will pay off.
Now fear. This is a bit trickier because its actually a few things happening at once. First, the notion that strength training is going to make you big is ridiculous. You would need to stop endurance training altogether, lift 2-3 hours a day, 6-7 days a week and consume close to 5000 calories a day. As someone who has friends who are power lifters, I know what I'm talking about here. So stop with that.
Second, the fear of "getting hurt" is really code for "I don't want to be sore". If you fear getting hurt, that's an indictment on the coaching staff. And folks let me assure you, we are all looking out for your best interest. We aren't there to let you get hurt. We air on the side of caution. Which is why I know a lot of you tend to go lighter in lifts or weighted movements because you either think you are going to get big or you don't like the idea of being sore. This is what blows my mind - you don't mind being sore after swimming, biking or running, but you don't want to be sore from lifting. Wow. Have you considered that maybe you would feel better if you did strength and conditioning that you would move better in your sport? By understanding the need to squat heavy at certain times you would learn how to engage your core, develop a stronger posterior chain, learn to fire your glutes and hamstrings, as well as find out if your knees, ankles and hip flexors are weak and/or tight? That one movement provides that much information. But if you aren't going to move weight, its like doing junk mileage, after a few weeks, it provides little benefit.
And please, please don't use the "well I'm strong for a triathlete/runner/cyclist". I'm not even sure what that means. Better yet, for those who use that excuse, do you know what it means? Is there a correlation that you can point to that tracks your version of "strong" to performance in your sport? Odds are, there aren't any.
The point is, if you allow either of these things to run your attitude, you won't reap the benefits of the classes we offer. Or any strength training for that matter. So figure out what is running you - fear or ego. Own it, then commit to getting past it. Otherwise, your built in limiters, your self-created ceiling will prevent you from improving. You will constantly run into them, and get knocked back down. Be the wolf. Work your weaknesses until they become your friends, and then destroy them. If you don't, you lose the right to complain. Its on you.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Stay strong,