Perform Better “Hands On” Notes

This is the Movement Chart from the Lecture.  The “Sixth Movement” doesn’t lend itself to the chart as well as the other Five. So, “basically,” it would be something like this:

Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo:

Sit on the Floor.

Now Get Up”

Get Back Up Drill (See Below)

Vertical Bird Dogs/BDs

TGUs/1/2 Kneeling Work

Crawls (Bear, Spiderman)

Tumbling: Rolls to Cartwheels

Monkey Bars

For more information on the Hip Instruction Trinity, go here.

Get Back Ups

 

I have a little tool I use called “GetBackUps” to warm up my people and practice groundwork. It’s easy to add into any program.

 

There’s an important key to using this drill: Do not overcoach. In fact, intentionally undercoach the whole movement.

 

Announce the position on the ground (on the front, on the right side, on the left side, pushup position plank and on the back). Wait for the client, or clients, to get in position. When all have stopped moving, announce, “Get back up.” When all are standing still, move to the next position.

 

Series One

The hands are free.

  • On your front (or on your belly)
  • Get back up
  • On your right side
  • Get back up
  • On your left side
  • Get back up
  • Pushup position plank
  • Get back up
  • On your back
  • Get back up

 

Series Two

The right hand is stuck to the right knee (tell them a puppy dies if their hands come loose from their knees).

  • On your front (or on your belly)
  • Get back up
  • On your right side
  • Get back up
  • On your left side
  • Get back up
  • Pushup position plank
  • Get back up
  • One your back
  • Get back up

 

Series Three

The left hand is stuck to the left knee

  • On your front (or on your belly)
  • Get back up
  • On your right side
  • Get back up
  • On your left side
  • Get back up
  • Pushup position plank
  • Get back up
  • On your back
  • Get back up

 

Series Four

The right hand is stuck to the left knee.

  • On your front (or on your belly)
  • Get back up
  • On your right side
  • Get back up
  • On your left side
  • Get back up
  • Pushup position plank
  • Get back up
  • On your back
  • Get back up

 

Series Five

The left hand is stuck to the right knee.

  • On your front (or on your belly)
  • Get back up
  • On your right side
  • Get back up
  • On your left side
  • Get back up
  • Pushup position plank
  • Get back up
  • On your back
  • Get back up

 

 

Doing all five series is a total of twenty-five reps of going up and down, and the body will be hot and sweating. It’s a fine warm-up, but it also seems to improve movement. As the movements are restricted (hands on knees), the client needs to come up with new strategies to get back up and down.

 

For more of a challenge, try these variations:

  • Right hand on right knee AND left hand on left knee
  • Both hands clasped behind neck
  • Putting your hands in your back pockets

 

Throughout all of this movement, most people, as they tire, will begin to become more and more efficient. When they move to one foot, the lunge position, they will stack their knees vertical over their feet. They begin to roll and use momentum to continue the movement. Generally, as they tire, most people will do “less.”

 

The movement becomes more beautiful as the person simplifies things.

 

Moreover, it begins to look like the Turkish Get Up.

Yes, I once ran a 10 K race…and nothing was chasing me

When my wife’s grandma died, I showed up at the old house with various cousins, aunts and uncles to help move grandpa to a residential community. After living in the same house for sixty years, they had acquired a fair share of things that may have seen better decades. I pulled up in my pickup truck and immediately loaded it with far too much stuff. I noticed that my wife’s cousin Trey’s pickup was absolutely empty. It was big, black four-wheel drive monster with enough chain mail on the lights to fight the Black Knight. I was about to load a device that may or may not have been a washing machine into his truck when I was told: “Oh, we can’t use Trey’s pickup.” “Why?” “He doesn’t want it to get scratched.”

Trey’s truck was big and beautiful, but completely worthless for the task of “pickup truck.”

Throughout my athletic career, I have seen the same problem over and over. In football, we have a motto for it, “Looks like Tarzan, Plays like Jane.” I believe absolutely in the concept of “form makes function,” but in training paradigms, we all too often spend our lives on looking like Tarzan.

But, when it comes to life, like moving family and picking up couches, we play like Jane.

A few years ago, I stumbled into bed rather late on a Friday evening. Saturday morning, I got an urgent telephone call from a friend. She was pretty, otherwise this story would have stopped right here. They were running a “centipede” in a 10K race and needed someone to be the tenth person and, “oh, by the way,” wear a huge mascot head.

Twenty minutes later, I was connected to a rope line and began running somewhere around six miles with an enormous bulldog head stifling my breath. I’m not sure of our time, but I finished strong and I am willing to bet no one has ever worn that mascot head again. I sweat a lot and it doesn’t smell like Irish rain.

So what? Nice story, but so what? Well, I had never run 10K in my life. In the year previous, I hadn’t run a lap around a track. I simply hadn’t run for distance. I had played flag football, Olympic lifted, and thrown things. In other words, while the other nine members of our centipede had actually run to prepare for the 10K, I trained in short bursts. We all finished together, but I was the one with the helmet on and I did just fine.

I had seen this before. While I was at Utah State, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Enyeart, an Aggie Olympian in the 800 meters. He radically changed the mindset of the incoming freshmen and transfers. The incoming athletes all wanted to “Be Like Mark,” but Mark didn’t do what they expected. He spent long hours in the weight room, pushing some fairly impressive weights. He never went s-l-o-w around the track, he only went fast.. The other runners had trained more like joggers getting ready for “Eat a Bigger Bagel 5K.” Mark, though, was an Olympian.

If you train for explosion and power, you can “pride” through endurance. Obviously, you can’t do this all the time. The converse is not true: If you train for pure long slow endurance, you will have a hard time finding your explosion.

No matter what your fitness goals are for this year, you will find that learning the core lifts, training with variety, and mixing athletic movements will be far superior to treadmilling or jogging. My brother, Gary, in his early 70s, learned this a few years ago: after a lifetime of running, he began to throw the discus and hammer. After one year of training centered around lifting, carrying stuff, throwing, and explosion, he told me simply: “I look buff.”

So, learn the core lifts of squats and deadlifts. Use the barbell and add load when appropriate. Pick up some heavy dumbbells and take them for a Farmer Walk. Do some honest Pull Ups.

If you want superior athletic performance, start tossing around some big weights. Get a couple of scratches on your pickup truck and join in the fun of lifting and living.

Uncle Somebody

Thirty-seven years ago, I sat at my dinner table at 106 Ramona Avenue in South San Francisco. It was my family home and I had spent my life sprinting in and out of this room chasing and chased by brothers (and my dog, Paint), enjoying conversation with my family and shoveling down food.

This night was different. I had flown in from college to go to my Mom’s funeral. My cousin, Ken Hansell, sat across the table from me and told me stories about my mother. They were funny, heartwarming and, well, it turns out her kids inherited her gift for sneaking in the house late at night. I was lucky to have family like Ken and his wife of 71 years, Alyse.

Today, I am traveling to Ken’s funeral.

Arthur Schopenhauer noted:

“When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect.”

I talked about how I discovered that my Mom was dying in my free book, From Dad to Grad.

(You can also buy it on Kindle and read the reviewer who complained it was free on my site.)

I wrote this in 2004:

My mom died of breast cancer. She got the disease before the modern treatments and it quickly got out of hand. My father continued to guarantee that mom was getting better and better, but then your Aunt Corinne would call and tell me she was getting worse. Since I was living in Utah and they were all in South San Francisco, all I had to go on was the telephone…so, I believed my dad.

At the time, I was just starting my Masters Degree at Utah State University in Logan…a good two-hour drive to the North from Salt Lake City when you could legally only drive 55 miles per hour. A group of us arranged to come down to see Phyllis Diller in concert with the Utah Symphony. She was a comedian and the seats for the matinee were very cheap.

So, about four of us came down to Salt Lake City one afternoon and watched the show. It was pretty funny, but I barely remember now. As we left the theater, it was still day and we had that odd sensation when you come out of a dark building and it feels likeyou get a whole new day given to you.

Yet, jogging down the street was a friend of mine from South San Francisco, Howard Will. It took God some extra work to arrange this: I lived in Logan, and then went to a show in SLC and a buddy from SSF jogs by us. A minute or so either way and I would have missed Howard.

Howard had “heard” that mom was doing really, really badly and I got on a plane and saw her. She looked terrible and died not long after. The last time I saw her, I started to cry and she told me to “Get out of here.” Not the great last words you expect if you are used to movies, but I think I understand better now that I am a parent.

Ken made an interesting point that night at the kitchen table: People don’t go to weddings, reunions, and family events. Yet, everybody comes to funerals. He had this idea that we should call up members of our family every so often and lament that “Uncle Somebody” died and we all need to meet and gather.

Tomorrow, it is Ken’s funeral and we will all gather and bury one of the best of the best. He was certainly “Somebody.”

And…will be missed.

Excess is the Enemy of Nature: Report from the Field

“…Excess is the enemy of nature.” But athletes pay no attention to these or others of his wonderful sayings which they transgress., and their practices are in direct opposition to his doctrines of good health. Furthermore, the extreme conditioning of athletes is treacherous and variable, for there is no room for improvement and it cannot remain constant, and so the only way which remains is downhill. That’s their bodies are in good shape while they’re competing, but as soon as they retire from competition degeneration sets in. Some soon die, some live longer but do not reach old age.”
Galen, Exhortation for Medicine, circa 200 CE

 

I have always loved sports. I paid for my education throwing the discus and traveled the world after college through athletics. My friend, Mark Reifkind, makes a great point, echoed here in Galen’s quote, that the first step after a peak is a cliff.

 

“Degeneration” is obvious with some of my friends. Triceps and bicep tears, poor knees and backs and inevitable belly spread that comes from years of training and little moderation in diet. Sadly, their attempts to get “back in shape” tend to make them try to get ready for the World Cup or Combine again.

 

And, that just leads to more immoderation and issues.

 

A friend of mine, Maurice, just gave me a program that works wonders for people who are trying to turn things around. Now, I like insane challenges as much as the next, but if you are trying to turn the corner back to feeling good, his ideas make sense to me.

 

It comes in three steps, diet, exercise and reality. Don’t miss that third one! First, Maurice tried an old and dusty “Way of Eating” that I used to have my older athletes follow: Meat, leaves and berries. Basically, it is a diet of fish, fowl, eggs, meat and anything that “had eyes.” Avoid the lunchmeats for a while. Next, eat all the leafy veggies you can shove in your mouth. And, finally, eat the in-season fruits. For many of us, that is apples in the fall, citrus in the fall (I know, weird, but true) and the berries in the summer.

 

Maurice couldn’t follow this exactly and still had pizza with the kids. No matter: he still lost fourteen pounds the first month!

 

Next, each and every morning, he “jumped” out of bed and went for a 45 minute walk. Following that, he did 100 swings with a Kettlebell. The reps varied every days, but usually it came in around five sets of 20.

 

And, then he drank coffee with heavy cream, worked, lived and strives to be the best husband and father he can be every day.

 

That’s it. He continues to lose weight and feel better every day. It’s not the magic of the MLB diet or something in the 45 minutes walk or voodoo in the swings.

It’s the reality that turning your life around is more about taking the time, the steps (45 minutes worth!) every day to walk the walk back up the hill.

 

Don’t worry about getting to the peak and don’t try to worry about the details. As my college coach, Ralph Maughan, used to say: “Little and often over the long haul.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping you on the path for those New Year’s Resolutions

I am a big fan of Tony Robbins and his system of incurring “instant” change. His work has taught me what a big lever I have as a coach with pain. Pain motivates people better than any golden ring somewhere in the future. In my life, losing my ability to function normally to both illness and injury has provided more motivation than all the “Win one for the Gipper” talks I have ever heard.

 

Sadly, if I can get an elite athlete to think about all the pain of failure, it seems to give them the motivation to continue to push forward. And, honestly, I hate to do it. It works, it is a valuable tool, but it diminishes the journey for all of us.

 

For years, I didn’t know a better way. Then, I was told about making small changes.

 

For most of us, we need to try another path: we need to improve our fitness and health one habit at a time. I’m a big fan of the work of Josh Hillis in this area, but the work of B J Fogg of Stanford University made me realize that we need to make our habit setting even easier than I ever thought.

 

I would love it if you told me you were going to add eight different vegetables to your diet every day. I doubt you will even get to the store. And, when you do, you might find yourself frustrated without the knowledge of what to do with all these veggies. Let’s make it easier:

 

  • Let’s commit to adding ONE vegetable a day to my diet.
  • If you buy canned veggies, only buy them with the pop-top lids to save that extra work of opening the can with a can opener.
  • Buy the precut, prewashed veggies. Yes, they are more expensive, but you can just drop them into your eggs, soups or stews without a second thought.

You want to drink more water? Convince yourself…and congratulate yourself…that for every cup of coffee or adult beverage, you will have a sip of water. Why not a glass of water?

 

Good question. I know this: I can always have a sip of clear water. Just rinse out the mug, splash a little extra in my mouth, say “Yes!” loudly to myself and carry on.

 

Here is the funny thing: most of us think we are walking hulks of discipline. Actually, you are just a mass of habits and part of the flotsam of the community you float around in. In high school, we had Sixth Period P.E. and all the athletes went to Varsity practice. At 1:30, a mass of the school population headed over to the locker rooms.

 

It wasn’t my self-discipline marching off to war; I was caught up in the current of people going to practice. For most of us, the day high school ended, so did our training.

 

Fortunately, I was in the “habit” of training in my backyard. Later, I got caught up in my college track team and the Pacific Barbell Club training schedule.

 

Years later, with two kids, a dog and a cat and a mortgage, I would come home every night and lump down.

 

But, it was time to train! I just had to “show up!” in the gym and get going!

 

Simple to write, simple to say and simple to follow but few people adhere to fitness programs for the “simple” reason they fail to show up. Even if you go to the gym or walk over to your fitness equipment and just wave a few things around for thirty seconds, I think you are doing better than staying on the couch, bed or computer chair. Trust me: if you just show up, you will do more than just a few waves.

 

Twyla Tharp said it best in her book, The Creative Habit (Courtesy of James Clear):

 

     I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.

 

   It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it — makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.

 

Then, finish the program. No matter what you are going to do, whether it is a two weeks to bigger biceps or six weeks to ripped abs, I want you to finish the program. Charles Staley noted years ago “the best program is the one you are not doing.” The diet you are going to start next Monday is miles better than what you are doing today and the thing you just read online is far better than the program given to you by the world’s finest trainer. Rarely is this true, but we tend to do it.

 

And, that is fine, of course. Just finish the program you are doing. You might want to remind yourself that just a few weeks ago, THIS program was the greatest workout ever devised.

 

Do NOT criticize, condemn or correct a training program that you are doing until you complete it.

 

Years ago, I followed a strict and disciplined diet that involved only protein shakes and 28 days of hard living for everyone around me. Upon completion, a friend told me: “Now that you have finished it, you can criticize it.”

 

The insight was so simple and clear that now I use it as a tool. Finish it; then fix it.

I put together a 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge featuring two training programs for two different tasks. I undertook this 10,000 swing challenge twice to figure out what rep schemes worked best for doing the entire twenty day program.

 

Upon publishing the article, that day I began receiving emails and posts with “better ideas.”

 

“Wouldn’t it be better to do twenty sets of twenty-five reps to get 500 a day?” No, because you can never keep track of the sets as we tried it and you simply get lost after 12 sets or so.

 

“Wouldn’t this rep scheme be better (insert a bunch of random numbers)?” No, you see…wait, I just realized something: you are asking questions without even trying the 20,000 reps. On Day One of the article’s publication, the readers were already coming up with “better” ideas without doing a single swing.

 

It reminded me of something my brother-in-law, Craig Hemingway, told me: he works as an EMT and often gives presentations to schools. He has a rule just before the question and answer period. He simply explains two things: when you raise your hand, I want a question. A question finishes with a question mark. A story, on the other hand, is when you tell us about your grandpa has been in an ambulance. We only want questions right now.

 

You see, most people want to tell their stories. They don’t really want to follow my programs or anybody else’s program; they want to tell me about their programs. It’s funny: in our gym, we don’t often follow “our programs” because we are often experimenting with ideas that we find other people doing.

 

If you know your history, reflect on this quote by Amelia Earhart: “In soloing, as in other activities, it is far easier to start something than it is to finish it.”

 

For nearly every single goal you have in mind, someone else has cleared that path before you. Why not just follow it?