Hands On Training

Ever since Dan Martin came up with the idea of a “weekly gathering” that became the Coyote Point Kettlebell Club (the PDF is available here), I have discovered the value in offering free training sessions to literally whomever shows up. I continued this tradition when I moved to Crosspointe (The Crosspointe Kettlebell Club) and now with my move up to this house with all the bedrooms, bathrooms, sauna, hot tub and all the extras, I have begin a new group. It is basically the same people, but it is still great and the location is quieter and more private.

With Geoff Hemingway in town, we moved up to daily sessions. His blog includes this week’s work, but there are a number of things I want to discuss. First, one of my former coworkers noted, years ago, that we should “Never scrimmage with our athletes.” His point was this: don’t lift while your athletes are lifting.

Obviously, these sessions break this rule. By the way, it is a good rule. Here in Utah, one of the local strength coaches at a high school uses this period to train and the kids can do whatever they want for an hour. A local track coach used to take his runners off for a six mile run leaving the throwers, jumpers and the rest of the team to, well, “do whatever.” I’m not working with kids, I am working with adults. Well, people over 21 anyway…”adults” is a loaded term.

While in Canada, a friend told me that a very famous strength coach insists that all pictures be staged in such a way that no one stands with him…because he is “vertically challenged.” Others always have people seated, posed or propped in such a way to look wider or thinner depending on the need. I get it, the photos I see of me on Facebook after two full days make me look like a sweaty mess. The point here is this: training WITH others exposes you. My faults, my weaknesses, my physical issues all come out in these training sessions. If I plan to “do this” and we follow that plan like Lemmings into the sea, I feel the muscle soreness, the lack of movement and the tingling of early warning for injuries the next day.

By doing what I wrote on the board, I become an active member of the training analysis. In the book that I am currently working on, I discuss Deductive Logic as one of the ways we discover what is right or wrong in training. I use the example of Josh Hillis’ blog where he finds articles on the hottest new celebrity babe then breaks out the common themes of how they got there (minus photoshopping, surgery and simply being born better):
Squats and Lunges
Fruits and Veggies
Lots of Sleep…oh, and a full time staff supporting you on this journey.

So, I try to use our sessions and my group’s feedback to not only write future workouts, but discover some things that will allow everyone we train in the future to benefit.

So, let’s look at a workout that has been a standard. Please don’t ask about the specific names; you will be disappointed when you see how simple it all is in practice. Basically, you do three “loops” of each three movements…going heavier on the first movement every single time. Here is Hypertrophy B:

Press L/R
1. 10-5-10
2. Windmill Stick
3. Flying Bird Dogs

1. Hip Thrusts x 20
2. Front Squat 10-5-10
3. Swings x 15

1. T x 10-5-15
2. Stoney Stretch
3. Three Point/Bird Dog/Single Side Bird Dog

1. 30-15-30
2. TRX Biceps Curl x 15
3. Overhead Squat Stick

Suitcase Walks

After doing the workout, I do some math: how many pushes, pulls, hinges and squats? I often find that my workouts are overwhelming press heavy; this means that we do far more press reps than pull reps. The other thing we discovered by doing this workout is that Hip Thrusts (Pelvic Tilts…Supine Bridges?) need to be in the range of 25 reps. Those last five (we loaded with twin 20 Kilo Kettlebells) seem to really set up the Front Squat (which is MISERABLE after doing the Hip Thrusts).

But the big insight was this: with TRX work, because we are all so capable of cheating, has to be done in the 25 range, too. TRX Bicep Curls at 25 are miserable two days later when combing hair. That also tells you why I keep mine short.

Another workout that we analyzed and changed radically was “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.” The name comes from Stoney Beckstead’s comment: “Well, that’s a winner.” Originally, the press scheme was 2-3-5-10 and after doing the math, we had far too many presses. So, this is the current version see to the right.Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 11.12.08 AM

As I look at it now, we are going to change those Press sets to the first 2-3-5 being Left Knee Down Half Kneeling Presses and the second 2-3-5 becoming Right Knee Down Half Kneeling Presses. It would also be “informative” to go heavier somehow through this, but this is the process of Hands On Training when we explore training programs.

The recent insights are valuable to me: with TRX moves, we need more reps. With correctives, ignore time and reps and do them as long as your partner needs to do whatever. It’s also very easy to overdo the press when a group is good at pressing. You need to be vigilant in looking at programs and workouts for the things that are dropping out.

By the way, I had a marvelous insight into the book, Never Let Go, while in Canada. In the section of my workshop on Epistemology, I outline the six basic ways in which we know what we know. It occurred to me, and probably all of you that have ever done something for decades, that your answer to “how do you know this?” is probably a mish mosh of all kinds of ways that the human mind learns things. It occurred to me that NLG is an exploration of how I learned the basics of strength and training through the lens of all these different methods. We all do, honestly, learn in multiple ways, but sometimes, especially since the internet, many of us forget some of this.

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