Workout of the Day

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It’s no secret that cardiovascular fitness is an important marker for health and longevity in aging populations, but did you know that power is a significant predictor of mortality?

Preliminary results from a recent study out of Brazil examined power (how quickly a load can be moved -- think along the lines of a power clean) of nearly 4,000 participants aged 41-85, and compared their performance to all-cause mortality in a follow up ~6.5 years later. They found that those who performed in the bottom 25% had a 10-13x higher risk of mortality than those in the top 25%. That’s astonishing. For reference, that’s a far stronger effect on all-cause mortality than being a daily cigarette smoker.

What this signifies is not a new notion -- fitness and health exist on the same spectrum, and the performance demands of grandma and a professional athlete generally differ in degree, not kind. The fitness space has pushed a persistent trend away from any focus on performance-minded training for the general population, and this has nothing but negative outcomes to offer us. Training for power is not a luxury or a misguided waste of time, it’s an essential element of your health and fitness.

- PS


4/23/19

  • 3 rounds for time:

    • 400m run

    • 12 DB push press (AHAP)

    • 20 bent over DB row (AHAP)

Then...

  • EMOM 9

    • Min 1: 12 DB hammer curls

    • Min 2: 12 DB tate press

    • Min 3: 12 DB reverse flyes


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Do you draw yourself towards the efforts that make you uncomfortable, or do you gravitate towards the path of least resistance?

While it may seem a little counterintuitive to lean harder into the thing that’s causing you pain, it may just be the best thing you can do for your own growth and development. I can’t guarantee you a 100% success rate with this method, but I can tell you that it has served me and countless other individuals who have come before me quite well. The things that sting most generally do so for a reason, and that reason probably has something to do with you as a person.

Consider, for example, an attribute of the so-called mirror effect. We see ourselves and our own traits in others, and as such, are often most upset with others when they exhibit traits that we subconsciously dislike about ourselves. When I find myself particularly bothered by someone’s lack of commitment, it’s a good sign that I may harbor some challenges with commitment myself. We can move beyond pop-psychology, too, and consider something as basic as physical training. The majority of the fitness industry is built on sales pitches paraded as comforting reassurances that you can have your cake and eat it too. It’ll only take 6 weeks, no heavy weights, nothing new or scary, it will be cheap or free, your process will be sealed in luxury and comfort -- and people fall for it again and again.

Are you following sales pitches and convenient lies that pad the walls and coat your world in placations? Or are you leaning into the admittedly uncomfortable process of growth and development?

- PS


4/22/19

  • 3 rounds for quality

    • 30s front scale hold (ea. leg)

    • 30s back scale hold (ea. leg)

    • 10 front scale to back scale (5/leg)

Then...

  • EMOM 16

    • Min 1: 5 plyo push-ups + max strict push-ups

    • Min 2: 5 box jumps (30”/24”) + max reverse lunges

    • Min 3: 10 lateral hurdle jumps + max air squats

    • Min 4: Rest


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Unless you’re in a serious car accident or fall off of a cliff, your ailments and injuries probably aren’t from one thing. Sure, crouching into the backseat of the car to get your daughter out of her carseat sealed the deal and “threw out your back,” but it probably actually didn’t. 99/100 times, the “event” that leads to your injury is just the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Our tendency is to fixate on that straw. “If I just don’t do X ever again, I’ll never be injured,” we think triumphantly. Too bad the back-breaking weight is made up of 700 other bits of straw you’re turning a blind eye to.

Of course, just informing you that your problems are likely due to an overwhelming number of little things rather than one big thing isn’t exactly helpful or actionable in and of itself; but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Some basic Q&A, some pattern recognition, and of course the watchful eye of a good coach can set you on the path to working on your weaknesses before they break you.

Ask yourself:

What movements or postures do you spend a lot of time in? (sitting, standing, hunched, twisting, etc.)

What movements challenge you more than the rest (and why)? (overhead, hinging, squatting, single-leg, etc.)

Where do you hold your stress and tension? (neck, shoulders, abdomen, etc.)

What past injuries do you have, what pattern do they reveal, and what can that tell you? (rolled ankle on one side and constant subsequent knee problems, etc.)

Ask and answer these questions, and you’ll be one step closer to developing a blueprint for a more functional, injury-free version of you.

- PS


4/19/19

  • EMOM 12

    • Clean pull + squat clean + front squat + push press + push jerk

Then...

  • 3 rounds for time:

    • 15 unbroken front squats (95/65)

    • 15 unbroken shoulder to overhead (95/65)

    • 15 unbroken hang power cleans (95/65)


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There’s a concept called plasticity in the neural sciences that refers to one’s capacity for reorganization and change (in the brain). Children, for example, are said to have the type of neural plasticity that allows them to learn a new language with greater ease than an adult counterpart, and the concept of plasticity can have effects on everything from behavior to vision to pain to emotional regulation.

While your own plasticity will be partially determined by basic physiology, you’d be a fool not to recognize that your potential for change is still partially within your control. You are not a finished product. I’ll grant this: it’s certainly easier to close up shop, say the mold has hardened, plasticity is no more, and you are who you are, so the world had better learn to deal with that because it’s not changing. But I know I’m not interested in throwing in the towel on my development yet, and I would hope you’re not either.

Enter: humility. This is your tool for keeping the mold soft and pliable, for keeping the plasticity alive. As much as a middle school brat can be a thorn in their teacher’s side, I’m willing to bet that even the brattiest among them operate with a basic humility that makes them more teachable (and therefore have greater potential for development) than their adult counterparts. Little Johnny knows, deep down, that he doesn’t know as much about algebra as his teacher. That humility alone give Little Johnny a fighting chance.

Unless you’re a true subject matter expert, you are better off assuming you know very little about anything at all (and even then, you should assume that you’ve still got more to learn). At worst, you surprise yourself and get it right. At best, you maintain high levels of teachability, foster your own continual personal development, and outstrip the rest of the competition.

Be humble.

- PS


4/18/19

  • AMRAP 10

    • 200m run

    • 30s max cal row

Then...

  • With a partner (alternate)…

  • AMRAP 5

    • V-ups

  • Rest 1 min

  • AMRAP 5

    • Strict push-ups

  • Rest 1 min

  • AMRAP 5

    • Floor GHRs


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Yesterday I wrote about an old tradition in baseball of using a weighted doughnut on the end of a bat to warm-up with the idea that it will prime the batter to swing with greater velocity (read the post HERE). Despite its popularity with pros and amateurs alike, the baseball doughnut doesn’t actually make players swing faster (it has the opposite effect, actually). But before you go and throw the baseball doughnut out with the bath water, realize that its inefficacy at increasing bat speed doesn’t mean that it’s a useless tool. In fact, the baseball doughnut can be a highly useful tool when used properly.

While researchers found that warming up with a weighted doughnut around your bat will actually slow your bat speed, they also found that using the implement regularly helped strengthen the muscles of the forearm and wrist, an effect which could have positive performance implications and may aid with injury prevention. Other researchers also found that while warming up with the doughnut decreased bat velocity immediately after, long-term use of the doughnut in a training context increased players’ upper body strength, ultimately leading to greater bat velocity. What we have is a case of context defining the result.

In human performance and just about anything else, you will rarely find something that is absolutely bad or absolutely good. This can make things difficult and uncomfortable. It will require you to pay attention to details, to understand things deeply, to speak and think carefully and with an attention to nuance, and to ultimately acknowledge that you may not know as much as you’d like to think you do.

If you find yourself being fed absolutes, there’s a good chance you’re being lied to or led by someone who might not know what they’re talking about.

- PS


4/17/19

  • Deadlift - 3x5

Then...

  • 2 rounds for reps/cals:

    • 90s max push press (95/65)

    • 90s rest

    • 90s max double-unders

    • 90s rest

    • 90s max burpees over bar

    • 90s rest


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If you’ve ever played baseball or even watched a baseball game, you’ve probably seen batters warming up for their at-bat with a weighted “doughnut” around the end of the bat. The idea is that the added weight on the end of the bat will prime the player’s nervous system to swing the bat with more force, and when they take the weighted donut off and swing a normally weighted bat, they will be primed to swing harder and faster. Seems logical, right?

The only problem is, it doesn’t work that way.

Some curious researchers thought to test this long-standing tradition of warming up with a baseball doughnut and found that although the batter felt as if they were swinging the bat with greater velocity, their bat speed actually slowed and their timing was off. In a game where milliseconds and millimeters make a significant difference in the outcome, that can be a big problem.

So why, if we have evidence that this practice does not do what it’s supposed to do, will you still find little league and major league players alike warming up with the weighted doughnut around their bats? The unfortunate reality is that people often do things simply because that’s what they’ve always done. Major league players are just doing what they’ve done since little league, and little league players today are just doing what they see the major league players do on TV, and so the cycle continues. Add to this the fact that perception (falsely) supports the theory -- the player feels like they swing faster after they remove the doughnut, even though they are not -- and you have a recipe for unwavering persistence despite contrary evidence.

Humans are stubborn creatures that will often continue to do things a certain way simply because that’s the way they’ve always done it or seen it done. This habit creates massive blind spots in your awareness and performance. “I/We have always done it this way” is not a statement of value of efficacy. Get rid of your preconceived notions and you might find some blind spots that need your attention.

- PS


4/16/19

  • “Blake”

  • 4 rounds for time:

    • 100’ overhead plate walking lunge (45/25)

    • 30 box jumps (24”/20”)

    • 20 wallballs (20/14)

    • 10 handstand push-ups

  • *35min time cap


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Over the last few weeks, we’ve included an intentional focus on dumbbells and kettlebells in our programming. Among many other reasons for this phase in our training, we’ve chosen this focus because of just how effective these tools can be at producing the type of functional strength that barbell exercises can’t match.

Consider, for example, how heavy a front squat with two 50lbs dumbbells feels compared to an equally loaded (100lbs) barbell front squat. The 100lbs barbell front squat, for many athletes, would feel rather light. The same weight split up into two dumbbells is a different story. You can do the same math with the difference between pressing two 53lb kettlebells overhead compared to a single 105lb barbell, and so on. And while the way an exercise feels is not always a good indicator of its efficacy (i.e., just because something feels hard does not make it effective), in this case, your feelings are telling you the truth.

This phenomenon is not, nor has it ever been, much of a secret. But it’s a good reminder not to get lost in the numbers. There is more than meets the eye, and a heavier weight does not always equal a better result (this is why our standards for squatting involves a full rather than partial range of motion). It’s common to equate training quality with pure quantity (reps, weight, distance), but that is an egregious error that sabotages many athletes and coaches alike. Your success hangs on stimulus and adaptation, not arbitrary numbers.

- PS


4/15/19

  • 1k row time trial

Then...

  • 4 rounds for time:

    • 500m row

    • 400m run

    • Rest 1 min


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You may have noticed we don’t have any fancy heart rate monitors, wrist watches, or screens on the wall telling you how many calories you’ve burned in today’s training. In fact, we don’t even mention “burning calories,” unless it’s to crack a joke about that soul-crushing 50 calorie row you just did being equivalent to 5 gummy bears, if for no reason other than to point out the ridiculousness in this way of thinking.

We make the conscious choice to avoid a focus on “burning calories” for a host of reasons.

First and foremost, it’s not what we aim to do. I often use the analogy of driving your car: you don’t get in your car and hit the gas pedal with the sole intent of burning fuel. That’s a silly and irresponsible thing to do. Likewise, I would argue that exercising for the sole purpose of burning fuel is missing the point entirely. Our efforts are directed towards fitness. We want to coach you to move better, to improve your function, performance, and health, not to rev your engine over and over in a futile attempt to erase poor dietary choices.

(You can read more about why this is a dead-end approach to training HERE.)

Second, it’s a wildly inefficient way to go about things. Did you know that an hour of non-stop running will burn somewhere in the ballpark of 500-600 calories? For reference, that’s a decent peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a large slice of pizza, or an average size serving of ice cream. That's not much bang for your buck. On the other hand, consider that if I were to lie in bed all day, my body would need roughly 2100 calories just to break even (resting metabolic rate). Your body is not designed to burn through fuel for the sake of burning through fuel. Take the hint.

Third, it’s downright inaccurate. Research conducted on projected calories burned vs actual calories burned on traditional cardio equipment has shown that the average cardio machine tends to overestimate calories burnt by up to 40%, and smartwatches such as the Fitbit have been found to overestimate calories burnt during exercise by as much as 50%. As smart as any smartwatch or elliptical may be, the human system is complex enough that whatever tools you employ on a daily basis aren’t going to accurately capture what’s going on underneath the surface. Not to mention, food labels are allowed 20% margin of error. Inaccuracies stacked on inaccuracies.

Here’s the thing: exercise is not, and should not be, used as an eraser for your poor food choices. Not only is this ineffective and silly for the reasons listed above -- it creates a negative relationship between you and your fuel (food) and health and movement. Food becomes guilt-laden, and exercise becomes punishment. Does that sound like a healthy or sustainable practice? Is that the relationship you’d like to have with your body?

If you want to indulge in a few beers, some chicken nuggets, and/or an ice cream sandwich, by all means, go for it! I’m a strong advocate for occasional indulgence. But if you’re getting caught up in the game of “I just earned myself a treat because I exercised today” or “I’d better punish myself in the gym later for eating that slice of pizza,” I would challenge you to reconsider.

Instead of an indulge-and-punish model, consider making better nutrition choices that contribute to fueling your body with quality foods in the right amounts, move and exercise to improve your function, health, and quality of life, and enjoy a treat now and then because that’s perfectly okay -- but not because you think you can erase that choice later.

- PS


4/12/19

  • Take 12 minutes to establish max time freestanding handstand hold

Then...

  • With a partner (alternate)...

  • AMRAP 4

    • Floor GHR

  • Rest 2 min

  • AMRAP 4

    • GHR back extension hold

  • Rest 2 min

  • AMRAP 4

    • L-support hold


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I think it’s no coincidence that every restaurant I’ve been to with a firm “no substitutions policy” and a chef-driven menu has made the ranks of one of the top meals of my life. While food is certainly subject to individual tastes, it would be an error to assume that I, the consumer, know more about what ingredients should be in this dish or how that dish should be prepared than a renowned chef who has spent decades mastering her craft.

Unfortunately, steeped in the consumerist American spirit of “the customer is always right,” many people have lost sight of an appreciation and understanding of what a professional does. Our “Have It Your Way” market has convinced the masses that your choices ought to be based on your tastes and what you think is right rather than what expertise may tell you. If it does not align with what you think the answer should be, cast it aside until you can find someone who tells you what you want to hear, and then give them your dollars.

A market based on truth is slipping between our collective fingers. Quick fixes, diet pills, and low commitment sell like hotcakes to consumers who bounce from one unsuccessful attempt to another before giving it all up as futile.

Our hopes and efforts are directed towards sharing tried-and-true principles, uncomfortable truths, and undeniable results to stand as an unwavering answer in contrast to the false comforts peddled by those who go wherever the wind blows.

Truth often isn’t what you want to hear, but you can’t argue with results. Join us in the fight against fake fitness! No substitutions.

- PS


4/11/19

  • EMOM 12

    • 4 sandbag shoulder to overhead (AHAP)

Then...

  • 3 rounds for time:

    • 250m row

    • 10 DBL KB C&P (AHAP)

    • 60s rest


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When is the last time you publicly patted yourself on the back for something you’ve accomplished? I’m not talking about gloating or oversharing or playing an ego-driven game of one-uppery. I’m talking about a public-facing -- in conversation with a friend or family member, or even to a crowd of social media followers -- authentic sharing of something you’ve worked hard to accomplish.

We’re caught in a funny space where it’s often taboo to authentically acknowledge the accomplishments we’re proud of, but commonplace to dress up how great our lives are in what we share with individuals in conversation or with the world on social media. Consider this: what would you say to your best friend if they had accomplished what you accomplished? A raise at work, a PR in the gym, a piece of art, a personal challenge overcome. Would you be excited to share in their hard-earned victory?

There’s a good chance you’re overdue for a little recognition of your diligent efforts and the accomplishments that have come from those efforts. I think the world could use a little more public celebration of the incredible things we’re all capable of doing.

Share it up, friends!

- PS


4/10/19

  • “Helton”

  • 3 rounds for time:

    • 800m run

    • 30 dumbbell squat cleans (50/35)

    • 30 burpees

  • *45 minute time cap