Every Garage Gorilla wants to be a beast, (apparently because its the most common adjective for any young athlete who performs such monumental tasks as double bodyweight deadlifts, a kettlebell snatch, or a circuit of battling ropes, burpees and kung-fu-ninja-chops) but nobody wants to put in the time and dedication to learn how to do things beautifully first. There is a time and a place for all types of training styles in your strength & conditioning program. But trying to be a "Beast" when you haven't yet learned shit about the basics of strength training will be as beneficial as a single square of toilet paper after an evening at the local sushi buffet during a wasabi sniffing contest.
In the beginning, your main priority is increasing your strength, mobility and stability. You want strong muscles and joints moving safely and pain free through a full range of motion. You want your muscles to keep your joints in a safe position while moving about freely, kind of like a grazing hippo. Although you'll most likely look more like a newborn deer after training a few sets of walking lunges. If you don't understand the grazing hippo, you're dumb. I know this is true, because I don't even understand it, and I wrote it.
One of the mistakes I see a lot with many new coaches is trying to put the cart before the horse. They want to see results so fast that they forget who they are working with and what their needs and goals actually are. They take no consideration that the room of 20 people all consist of 20 different
needs and abilities. They conjure up all sorts of variations of simple exercises like kettlebell swings and have a room of people of varying abilities perform double banded kettlebell snatches with a donkey kick supersetted with reverse handstand chained med ball slams while performing a circumcision. "Of course for time, you idiot! Hell no, there's no rest, rest when you're dead, you PUSSY!" I know what you're saying right now, "That sounds like a sweet WOD, dude!" Yeah.
To quote Greg Glassman of CrossFit fame in his ever popular "Virtuosity" article...
Rarely do trainers really nitpick the mechanics of fundamental movements. I understand how this occurs. It is natural to want to teach people advanced and fancy movements. The urge to quickly move away from the basics and toward advanced movements arises out of the natural desire to entertain your client and impress him with your skills and knowledge. But make no mistake: it is a sucker’s move. Teaching a snatch where there is not yet an overhead squat, teaching an overhead squat where there is not yet an air squat, is a colossal mistake. This rush to advancement increases the chance of injury, delays advancement and progress, and blunts the client’s rate of return on his efforts. In short, it retards his fitness.
Read the article in full here...
I used Glassman's article for 2 reasons, 1. because it's good, 2. because most beginning CrossFitter's suck on that big fat CrossFit Cock so good that they won't listen to anyone else's perspective. So here is CrossFit's faithful leader telling them to chill the fuck out and master the basics, while his puppet cronies write some Jack WOD on the Main Site consisting of 50 of these and 100 of those and 36,239 of these, 7 rounds for time. The actions don't match the goals. Its confuses people. From this point on, you will not blindly follow some idiotic mess of a program without thinking for yourself first. HAHA, I know thats not gonna happen, you sad silly Kool-Aid sucking fitness freak. But just keep working hard and don't hurt yourself, ok? Cool. Of course most CrossFitters are not silly, but some are, and they MUST be laughed at. I pick on CrossFit a lot because they are popular, and "Everything popular is wrong" - Oscar Wilde. But in reality, I love 90% of CrossFit and what it has done for us fitness fucks. (I love those silly Comedy Central Roasts too, with that ugly Jewish dude, Jeffrey Ross, so that always makes me feel better about making fun of people that I like. If I make fun of you now, or at any other time in the past, it's because I love you, I mean that, sincerely. So don't get all Suzy Sandypussy on me just because you got caught with your pants down. We can go have a beer later and talk about where I went wrong in my youth.) But the other 10% really needs to get a beatin' and deserves to be made fun of on a regular basis. You obviously can play with those 90/10 percentages as you see fit. But it's not even CrossFit that I am making fun of, it's the silly trainers doing silly shit, and they need a damn beatin' and an edumacation. Check out Beastmodal Domains
or Drywall CrossFit
to see what I am saying. Or this video...
OK, enough picking on people, back to subject. Do not put the cart before the horse. As you begin your journey of fitness or athletic domination, or beastial destromination, remember that your initial goals should always be increased strength, stability and mobility. It will be a rare challenge to find a new trainee that this will not hold true. Therefore, trying to train for speed and power where there is
little strength, stability and mobility, and inventing countless variations and performing hundreds of repetitions for time, will lead you to a place I call Eternal Beginnerville, it's located somewhere near scenic Marcus Hook, PA as displayed in the lovely photo here, and you'll probably be hanging out there with a busted shoulder and jacked up knees. Sure you will sweat a ton, and burn some calories and see a quick minor change, but you'll be going down a dead end road really quick. So in the beginning, your goal is to train with control and beautiful precision of movement. Of course things will not be perfect, but your goal is to do things to the best of your ability without anyone counting the seconds or the reps in your ear making you go faster and perform shittier, just so you can get sweaty and call yourself a BEAST while increasing your risk of injury and totally retarding and fucking yourself. Comprende Amigo?
Let's demonstrate what I am talking about with a cool exercise that I recently saw on Tony Gentilcore's website that he performed at Cressey Performance. It's great stuff, watch his mechanics and pay attention to the stability of his body as he builds strength and mobility for athleticism and fitness. This is how you demonstrate precision, technique, and grace.
Did you see that? WOW! You can read the entire article on Tony's website HERE
. Seriously, read the article, it will make the rest of this article make more sense, as Tony is smarter than me is.
That was so perfectly executed, from the pause at the top of the rep, to the laser like straight line of his body from the ankle to the neck. In fact, it was so sexy, I actually envisioned myself licking him from his calves to the back of his ears while riding him like a fat ex-pole dancer trying to live out her glory days on stage, but now she's just swinging around her basement posting videos on YouTube when the pole breaks and she lands on her head in front of her kids and they steal the last of the ice cream out of the fridge because she can't stop them because her back just landed on a 6 pound plastic Tonka truck. (I know this happens, I used to date a fat ex-stripper). Where was I? Oh, yeah, perfect technique... Well done, Tony. Seriously, this needs to be practiced, especially as you are learning what is happening with your body, developing kinesthetic awareness, and developing strength and stability in your early years of training.
However, the problem with this, over time, after you develop a sufficient amount of strength, you will be limited in your ability to use this type of training in your life and on your chosen field of battle. Take a look again at Tony's technique, while flawless, envision moving like that in real life, or during a football game. Real life moves at a much faster pace. What he is doing is safe, and correct for all beginners and even for advanced athletes. But the advanced athlete has different needs as well. The advanced athlete needs to be powerful as hell and be prepared for some crazy shit. Because a shit storm is coming, whether you want it or not.
Now I am NOT saying you need to mimic your sports exact technique in the gym, I am actually against doing that. But once you are not a beginner any longer, you need to challenge yourself in different ways. The key here is, AFTER you have already trained for strength and stability for a sufficient amount of time, only then do you increase the demands of the body and increase the power and speed of the drills you choose in training. You will never stop training for strength, but training for power too soon, before you have developed any basic strength, is a big mistake. That is putting the cart before the horse. Power is strength and speed combined, so where there is little strength, there will be very ineffective power training. Build a bigger, stronger motor, before you try to trick it out with a bunch of new sexy training thingamijiggers.
Below I show a variation of the same type of exercise that Tony just demonstrated above, a split stance pulley row. Except mine is performed dynamically with a lot more power but less stability. These are similar exercises, with different goals in mind, designed for different athletes, during different times. Like I said earlier, there is a time and place for all types of training. This next video is not for beginners, as they will not benefit much from it if they failed to develop any real strength or stability yet in their training, it is probably too risky and will provide little positive benefit. But, if you are a well prepared athlete, it doesn't take much time to realize the benefit you will get from the power and dynamic mobility you will gain from such an exercise. It is very athletic and extremely demanding.
If you are at all interested in this style of sled training, keep an eye out for my Sled Training Manual for Athletes, coming soon to an Interweb near you. Now that I am done with that shameless plug, I am by no means telling you to go out and do banded sled pulls for power. I am trying to state a point of what is appropriate and what is not for certain athletes. I find "imperfect training" to be an invaluable asset to my non beginner athletes. Many other top level coaches and athletes would agree. The same coaches that preach perfect execution of the basics also sell you extremely sexy DVD's showcasing insane variations to challenge you in ways that your body isn't used to and isn't prepared for, also known as imperfect training. Here's proof from one of my favorite coaches and one of the most popular fitness and strength dudes on the innerwebz.
Back to Basics Seminar!
Click the photo to see the page for the seminar that Smitty and I put on last year at TSS. The basic exercises, performed safely and as perfectly as possible, are the best way to train novice (most) athletes. We all think we are more advanced than we really are. But a few key movements, trained with focus and diligence, will yield the greatest results.
Click the photo for the EXTREME! DVD. It's random, it's chaotic, it's INSANE! You'll NEVER get bored again with over 130+ new, never before seen exercises that have never been performed by anyone on the face of the universe!! You'll be blown away by shit that no one has ever fuckin done before!
These are two polarized concepts being promoted by the same guy, WTF? On one hand he gives you a KISS, keep it simple slut, on the other, he says GO EXTREME! It's the key to advanced athleticism. Which one is right? They both are is the cop out answer, but it is the truth. You just have to know when and how to apply the concepts, not just throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and hope that something sticks. It usually depends on the ability of the athlete and their training "age". Meaning, are they a newbie or advanced. The reason for this extreme training, ironically, is to prepare you for the inevitable. The tragic missed step, the twisted leg on the rebound, the over rotation of the bat or club, the blind side hit on the grid iron. I am kind of mocking the sales copy of Extreme, but only because I love it, I only roast the ones I love. I loved the DVD, I love all the products that Smitty, Joe D, and other like minded coaches put out there. They are all valuable, you just have to know when and how to apply them, which they cover in detail in their products.
Below is a must see video from Ido Portal, his Improper Alignment speech, which covers essentially what I am talking about with being prepared for a shitty situation if, and WHEN, it occurs. Imperfect training needs to be introduced to your training, but in a gradual, safe manner.
To be honest, I would absolutely love to attend a seminar by Ido, the guy is amazing and is showing insane results from his athletes for a few reasons, he preaches HARD WORK and consistency. While all the perfect programming in the world sounds awesome, if you don't have the work ethic and desire to get better, nothing great will happen. One of these days, I'll get out to an Ido seminar and have him get inside my head and butt fuck my medulla oblongata with all his incredible bodyweight training information. But if you got the BALLS, you can jump right in to EURO TRAINING! I think thats probably too manly for you just now. Eventually, you'll get there.
Learning to deadlift properly with great technique is extremely important to keep you safe, healthy and progressing towards your goals. If you are not strong, and you try to pull a weight off the ground with improper alignment of your spine, you are begging for disaster. If you hurt your back, you are royally screwed for a long time. However, as Mark Rippetoe says, "You can be wrong if you're strong." This means that imperfect training is not only "not dangerous" but can help keep you safe by preparing you for the shitty situations you may encounter over the period of your training career and your life. What does it mean, "to be wrong if your strong?" Well, one example, they say you must always keep your back flat when deadlifting, or you could herniate a disk, etc.
I got it, that makes sense, well, explain this...
So you can try to argue about how he is going to hurt himself, he's going to wreck his spine, etc.I dont care if you're Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove,the top trainer California or Jesus, you wont tell Konstantin that he is doing it wrong to his face, and if you do, please show us the right way to pull 900 lbs. But the fact of the matter is, while most critics are quoting Dr. Stuart McGill articles, Konstantin Konstantinovs could, if he wanted to, shit in a cup and make them drink it through a crazy straw with a smile on their face. That would be "wrong" of him, so very damn wrong indeed. BUT, because he is so freaking strong, he could do it. Now shut up and stop criticizing. I am not even saying his technique is bad, but he has prepared his body over many years of strength training to handle the type of stress that would snap a mortal into pieces. He can get away with murder in the gym, figuratively speaking, if he wanted to, and still achieve much more greatness than any of us guys trying to do things perfectly. He can do this because he is NOT a beginner, he is a very well prepared advanced athlete. On the other hand, a beginner should not do anything like this at all, or it comes across looking like the following video, and everybody laughs at you and points fingers and says you're hurting your athletes. Because when you're a beginner, doing it wrong is stupid and dangerous. But if you're strong as hell and you clean 225 kilos with God awful technique, it's pretty rad.
As I wrap up this rambling mess of an article, I want you to consider taking an honest assessment of yourself, your athletes, your coaching ability, your athletes needs, goals and abilities. And when trying to build the BEAST that you so eagerly want and deserve to be, be realistic about your current situation and do things BEAUTIFULLY and master the basics (remember the Virtuosity article) before you think that you need a million new exercises to impress all your fellow trainers and athletes. Remember, strong can be wrong...
Showing your ability to smash yourself or your clients to pieces with a high rep cluster fuck of a WOD does not make the athletes better. Showing your ability to constantly enhance their technique, keeping them safe and healthy and progressing for years is the hallmark of a great coach. Always preach what's important to the athlete and stay true to yourself to maintain your integrity. If the athlete has spent the time to prepare themselves accordingly, then a few sloppy reps at the end of a ball busting set won't hurt them. It will, however, make it a little easier to get those same few reps, even at a heavier weight, that much easier next time around. So for now, put the camera down when coaching your athletes, and get back to hands on teaching and focus on what's important. I hope this article was informative to you, maybe enough to share with someone whom you think needs it. But more importantly, I hope I succeeded in getting your hand of your pecker long enough to learn something valuable, you porn addicted numb skull. HAHA.
If you like what we are doing here, do yourself a favor, and by that, I mean do ME a favor, and check out The Consummate Athlete
. Its FREE for a week, and only 3 Starbuck's Mocha Latte's a month after that.
Also, if you are interested in attending one of The Strength Shop's Seminars
, we have a few in the works coming up very soon in Europe. If you are in the Copenhagen area, or anywhere centrally located between Okinawa and Ohio, you really want to give it a go, or be forced to face the wrath of the Irish Circle Jerk when I see you.
I believe that when trying to maximize your athleticism, finding a good balance of high power, big weight, and high reps is important. This first video shows one of my favorite drills for mobilizing my back, hips and legs, and getting me ready for more intense exercise. The straddle forward roll is a fantastic drill to create body awareness, activate and stimulate many muscles, and get you dizzy as hell. Spread your legs while keeping them straight, roll over while using your arm strength to protect your head and neck, and pull yourself back up with momentum and core strength.
After my warm up drills, I like to begin most of my sessions with a variation of a high power exercise. This will be dependent on your goals and personal situation, but one of my favorite drills is simple jumping and occasionally flipping. If you are serious about learning gymnastics, see a coach and stop trying to learn everything via YouTube. I'm a 34 year old dude training in a park, I enjoy flipping and practicing basic parkour drills to enhance my athleticism. If you want perfection, seek out the best coach possible for personal instruction and learn whats best for you and your ability. These drills are just a few of the many movements I do for dynamic preparation. Sometimes done right at the begining of a heavy session, sometimes on a totally separate day. You can try and find the perfect program all you want, but nothing is more important than manning up and getting it done whenever possible, regardless of your situation. Insane work ethic trumps perfect planning every time. Like Dan John says, "If it's important, do it everyday."
Because I enjoy gymnastic training so much, and have fun teaching the basics to my athletes, I am heading out to Arizona in a few weeks to train with Coach Sommer and his crew for a 3 day seminar at his amazing facility. He is one of the most highly respected gymnastic coaches in the country. I am so excited about this 3 day workshop because of the amazing information I learned at the 1 day workshop a few months ago in Miami. Of course, as I acquire new skills and hone my coaching ability, I will have tons of new information to pass on to those who seek high quality training information from me.
Like I said, I am not a tricking or parkour pro, I just like getting out and having lots of fun and experimenting with my body. This is a great way to express my athleticism, but not necessarily my favorite way to develop it. These guys below, and many others like them, express amazing athletic ability with their tricking. But it is all almost purely dynamic effort. The best thing for them, in my opinion, to supplement their tricking, would be heavy slow movements, and not any more dynamic work. Squats, deadlifts and pressing is ideal for them to strengthen and stabilize their muscles and joints. Jerks, snatches, and other high power explosive movements in the gym are redundant because they are already doing plenty of that shit already with their tricking. It's similar to a basketball players in season training. There should not be a need for the basketball player to do any box jumps, or high power exercise in season due to the high volume they are already getting with jumping and sprinting in the games. The only thing they really need is basic strength and stability exercises to keep them strong and protected from injury. Off season jumping and power training is a different story, just like if these guys in the video took a few months off from tricking, they could add lots of power drills in the gym as well.
Speaking of the ability of the hips and torso to generate power, check out how efficient Sergey is, and imagine the power that he has learned to harness over the years of training full body exercises. He utilizes massive spinal flexion and extension to generate a tremendous amount of force over a very long period of time.
And of course, getting a few heavier reps in always feels great. This was my last set of five triples. To avoid being limited by my grip, I used straps and went double overhand grip to protect my elbow, which has been giving me minor issues lately with the increased gymnastic rings training I have been doing. I have been tweaking my pulling style and playing with sumo for a bit to see how it goes. It feels much easier to pull the weight and I'll keep experimenting until I get what I am looking for. Is this going to be the year I rip 600 off the floor?
I am very excited about what the future holds for TSS. The week after I return from Arizona from my gymnastics seminar, I go back to the Dirty Jersey to be one of the presenters at Zach Even-Esh's Underground Strength Conference
, which is sold out by the way. Check out the link, insane info will be shared and there are some incredible coaches presenting on business, success, training, and life.
After that I am we are on our way back to Europe, this time Copenhagen, for my BBB seminar at CrossFit Copenhagen. There are a few spots left, so if you are in northern Europe, you need to get to this seminar. SIGN UP HERE!
I will be fresh out of two amazing weekends myself, so the new information and content that I will have acquired will blend nicely with my current seminar information.
We also have a few more seminars in the works, the sign up links will be available soon! Thanks for stopping by, leave any comments or questions with what is going on with you. And Finally, if you're interested in joining our training camps here in Fort Lauderdale, contact me and we will set you up with a big time introductory discount. Be good, and Happy Mother's Day to all you Hot Mama's out there!
I recently competed in the Mia Classic 2 of 2012, held on March 31. It was a developmental meet held on a local level, so national quality lifting was not the theme of the day, but it was a lot of fun, and the following video gives you a good example of what you can expect from your first weightlifting meet.
It was my first official oly competition, and while I trained hard to perform my best, I failed to do what I came to do. I wanted to set PR's in both my snatch and clean & jerk, but as usual, had a few issues along the way. Firstly, one week prior to competition, I took the IKFF certification to become a Certified Kettlebell Teacher (CKT). One of the goals with kettlebell training is power endurance, maintaining high levels of output for a sustained period of time. This is slightly contradictory to classic weightlifting, where each lift takes a total of a few seconds, where you then get to take a rest before lifting again. I trained for both of the goals, power endurance and max power, simultaneously. Thus, neither of the ends were maximized. Thats the way it goes.
During this time, I weighed in at 204 on Feb 29, just a month before competition day on March 31, in which I registered to compete at 85kg (187 lbs). That left me a month to lose 17 lbs. I actually dropped 20 lbs and weighed in with a few pounds to spare at 184.
Fat Matt ogling over a bunch of cake at Harold's Deli in New Jersey, after my seminar with Uncle Mike at The Training Room, hanging out with Chris Dillon, talking about healthy shit while eating a bunch of deliciously oversized sandwiches, on Feb 29.
Vanity Matt taking a gay pic of himself a month later, March 30, 20 pounds lighter. All the crap in the picture to the left, was dumped in the toilet to the right. To be honest, I need to start bench pressing more, but I digress.
Dropping that much weight in a month left me a little depleted of energy, and not only did I not set my PR goals, but I didn't even come close to what I was lifting in training just a few months prior to the competition. Competition nerves compounded with battling some shoulder and hip issues and I was pretty disappointed with my performance, but I had a great time at the meet, met some great people, got to lift and had a bunch of fun. I will do it again, I will learn from my experience and I will perform better next time.
I came in 2nd in my class, and the guy who won my class won the Sinclair total (basically the best overall lifter). One of the funny things I realized is that if I stayed heavier, I would have came in first in the 94 kg class, as my numbers were the best in that division, but I wouldn't have had the struggle of losing all the weight, would have remained stronger and put more focus into performance instead of weight loss. Lesson learned. Especially at this level, just focus on performance. But if I didn't lose that weight, you wouldn't have asked the question, "How did you do it?" Well, I outline my basic nutrition and training plan on The Consummate Athlete
if you're interested. Enough talking. Here is the video of the meet if you have an extra 15 minutes. You'll see the guys warm up and snatch. You'll see me power snatch because my shoulder was giving me issues in the bottom of the catch, so I just powered it to be safe. And I hate that because competition isn't always safe, you just gotta get it done sometimes, even if that goes against my beliefs. Then in the c&j, again you see me power clean easy weight for me and witness me get my ass kicked by the jerks. I totally sucked balls in the jerks, it ruined my day. For both the snatch and the c&j, I choose easy openers to take the pressure off and get on the board. It was fine with the snatch, and I could have snatched a lot more weight which is evident in the video, but that doesn't matter. But my "easy opener" for the c&j proved to be a different story. Easy clean yes, but the jerks went to crap, and it is my training's fault, I rarely practiced them and they are my weakest link. Take a gander...