What Is Fitness to me?

*Disclaimer
Grammar Nazi’s keep your editing to yourselves! Im a Strength and Conditioning Coach.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend the CF Football/ Power athlete Certification Seminar in Providence, RI. I will be righting some posts about CF Certs and my feelings about them very soon. However I experienced something unique and enlightening this weekend that I wanted to share with you all. For the first time since I started coaching, I was asked as part of our homework over the weekend, to share what my personal definition of Fitness is.
This was an amazingly difficult thing for me to do. You would think that someone like me would simply be able to rattle off a summary of what I thought were truths that could never be disproven, unless partaking in an discussion that was absent of reason and logic. I thought long and hard and could not understand or articulate the thing I have chosen to teach and share with others as my life passion. While the other coaches enjoy my internal obsession with how we represent fitness to the CF community and the sports teams we train at Trinity College, I was frustrated beyond measure. Hundreds of people depend on my staff and I on a weekly basis for guidance in the pursuit of physical health wellness and performance, yet as the captain of this ship, I could not define the very purpose of out mission.
It took a nights sleep and the imminent arrival of a deadline for me to force myself to put into words what believe. Any way enough of the insights into the inner working of my personal psychological conundrum, this was my answer.
“As a coach, mmy definition of fitness changes on a daily basis. Often my definition changes from athlete to athlete or client to client. I do however believe that STRENGTHis the most useful physical skill or attribute one can acquire above all others. Fitness, I believe, should combine the use and training of basic and advanced barbell movements, as well as running, jumping and SPORT. What is fitness if it has no expression?
When I was studying the CF Level 1 training guide, correlations were made between the movements that coaches use to improve performance and the relationship between those movements and overall health. Many times in CF training the structures associated with performance based training are ignored in favor of capacity based programing. However these two things are unquestionably directly related. My contention is, certain programing variables should regularly be implemented into the training of the CF community to better enhance there training and development.
Nutrition and Recovery, are 2/3 of the equation and unfortunately the most frequently neglected. If more people participating in a regimented training structure were truthful with themselves and there coaches, nutrition and recovery would be a much larger part of what they do. Leading to a result or adaptation of training that would be greater than what currently occurs in a majority of cases.
Creating a balance between basic anti-inflammatory nutritional habits, consistent effort dedicated to recovery and mobility coupled with a well rounded athletic and performance based strength and conditioning program based on your personal goals, is Fitness.”

I know it isn’t perfect but this is what I believe. I strongly recommend that each and every one of you who are training, develop a personal definition of what fitness is for you, and define what you are training for! These things matter. If you don’t know what you think, ask you coaches what they believe and why they train. See you under the bar!

Coach Doyle

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Cycle 1 coming to and end!

Some announcements.
1) I have a son now! His name is Thomas and he’s cool as fuck, and to answer your question, the answer is yes! I fully intend on turning him into a National level lifter, BJJ Black Belt, Ruthless Kick Boxer and Monster of the gridiron, but only if he does his school work. (But school doesn’t start until he is 5, so I’ve got 5 years of GPP development to do MUhuhuhahahah!)

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I’ve been grinding hard as fuck on your programing! Ive learned a ton during my Paternity leave! Good for me, Good for you!(kind of, I think?) Either way, there was a purposeful reduction in you conditioning this month due to the emphasis I put on your conditioning through Barbell work. During the next 4 week cycle, your insanity, I mean intensity(that means % used for lifts), will go up and reps will decrease. Now what that does is open the door for an incremental increase in your Mixed Modal Training (that means crossfit met-cons dumb ass). I also wanted all of you to try to gain some muscle during the last cycle.
Why would I want that you say? Well, let me tell you (prepare for exercise science lesson). In order to do well in a Met-con, you need to be able to work and recover in a fluid transition between energy systems(there are three we work from in crossfit go look them up). More Muscles = more cells, More cells = more Atp, Glycogen & Oxygen, more stuff for energy = faster recovery & more energy available during met-cons (and Lifting duh). Also, the lifting we have been doing hasn’t just been conditioning your muscles and CNS but it has been strategically addressing the conditioning of your connective tissues. Due to the lower levels of blood that flow to connective tissue, the volume at lighter loads has helped your body adapt its connective tissues for the work loads (BB work + Mixed Modal) to come at higher intensities!
To wrap it up, next week Micro Cycle 4 is your most difficult week in Macro Cycle 1(I know you probably have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about, but thats ok). That means that you should be at home doing active recovery, stretching, fantasizing about the perfect Snatch at double your body weight and a sub 2min Fran. I will be sending those of you who are Approved Competitors your next four weeks of training this weekend. This way I don’t need to answer the same question 697,342 times the first week of cycle 2. I’ll also do a better job of linking up Demo Videos for new movements.

Be A Better Lifter

Grammar Nazi Advisory
Let Me start off by saying, there will be grammar errors and misspellings in the following blog post. I don’t care, and if thats what your paying attention to welcome to the club of people who missed the point, its probably not your first time.

There are an infinite number of ways that we can become better lifters. Here are some of the things as a coach I see every day that every one can invest more in.

The Warm-up
Many of you you have gotten very comfortable in your warm up. It is important to not only warm up but use that time as an opportunity to practice the skills associated with the movements. As we Progress I will give you all specific combinations of movements to use in your warm up sets based on your particular faults and inconsistencies.

For example, if a lifter has a problem receiving the bar in the bottom position of the snatch, and on that particular day the working sets are 5×3 @80%. The warm up would consists of the ABC’s three part warmup leading in to the warm up sets as follows. Power Snatch + Heaving Snatch Balance 2 sec Pause + Snatch @50%, 60%, 65% then a final warm up set of three full snatches @70%. This is just an example of what a prescribed warmup would look like. The lifter will be responsible for prescribing there own percentages in the warmup. this means to use some intelligence and air on the side of warming up too much or using to light of a weight.

Bar speed and accuracy are the most important factor in the transference of power production in the olympic lifts or any weight lifting exercise. For almost any lifter at our gym no one is proficient enough in there lifts for the priority to be heavy full lifts and 1RM’s. You need to become intimate with every position and transition in the lift. This is the only way you will know where the lift is breaking down under heavier loads.

Following Your Program
This brings me to another important point in regards to you training. Never marry yourself to a a routine in a way that doesn’t allow for skill acquisition. There a factors associated with stress/rest and recovery that do not always allow a lifter to achieve the prescribed 5×3@80% sets reps on that particular day. If you sleep for five hours the night before, your diet hasn’t been healthy and you haven’t been doing religious restorative activities, there is no way you can ever expect you body to perform what is programed.

Be intelligent and reduce the loading to a weight that is productive. It is better to get 80-100% out of a workout that has been scaled down vs. 30% out of a work out that you forced yourself to do despite missing multiple lifts and being emotionally frustrated to the point where you are outwardly angry and un-coachable. Forcing yourself to make lifts that are programed when your body is not ready to perform, will only reinforce poor mechanics and prolong your ability to achieve your goals. Yes you are very tough and discipline, and also very stupid.

Yes im telling you not to follow your program. What I am not saying in any way is for you not to train. If your serious about your training(meaning you have any thoughts or ideas which include competing on any level), you will invest the time necessary to first and foremost finish your workouts, and secondly do whats required in regards to restoring your body from the work you’ve done. If 3 out of 4 workouts you don’t finish because you ran out of time, then…

1)Work faster if your time is limited. Your coach is not a stop watch, pay attention to the time between lifts and make sure you work at a pace that gets you through what you need to finish.

2) Not stretching, resting or performing any other restorative work is on you. Basic maintenance is not something that should ever in any way interfere with your workouts. The time you have access to your coach should be time spent getting coached in your sport not being told you should stretch and mobilize. Nothing is more frustrating to a coach. Picture a school teacher with the intention of reviewing the chapter of a book that the students have not read. The time that is spent with their class that day is a wash and the progress through the lesson plan is delayed.

Being Coachable
Realize that your coach has taken the time to write out the program with very specific plan for skill acquisition and physical development, based on the goals you have stated you intend to achieve. Also realize that when a coach talks to you about a specific correction they are sharing about your form, that it is the piece they feel is most important for you to focus on even if it changes from set to set.

Be respectful to your coaches. No matter what your personal feelings on your performance, do what your coach asks of you. Any questions, personal ideas or feelings you may have on your training are to be brought to your coach in private before or after a training session. Being insubordinate to a coach is disrespectful and deteriorates the atmosphere for all athletes training at the gym. Yes, you made it awkward for everyone, yes your an ass. Understand that you are undermining a person who made it their life to help others achieve their goals, also he/she has spent a unmeasurable amount of time learning the specifics and intricacies of a sport that you pay them to teach you.

Being a lifter is not like eating at a restaurant. You don’t get to send back coaching if you don’t like the way it tastes, if you frequently find yourself unhappy with the coaching your receiving, 1st evaluate your commitment to your sport, 2nd evaluate where your at emotionally in general then 3rd reach a conclusion about what you are trying to achieve and either speak to your coach about your feelings, or decidce that maybe the gym you are currently training at may not be the place for you.

Invest Personal Time In your Sport!
There is this thing called the internet. If you are reading this you have access to it! In this amazing convergence of the electronic compilation of all information ever recorded in the history of mankind, except for the books kept by the illuminati, basement of the vatican and pentagon, you can find anything about anything including weightlifting. There are blogs, web sites, message boards and this little thing called youtube, where you can read, watch and listen to the methods thoughts and practices of almost any serious athlete or coach on the planet.

Use your access to these resources to…

1)Learn the language of your sport. Look at your workouts and if you don’t know what something is look it up and then ask your coach about it. Until you personally invest some time to study the things you are asking someone to teach you don’t expect to get better. Also, it prevents you from asking a lot of stupid questions.

2)Find a message board or online community where people like you do the same things as you and get involved in the conversation. Ask questions about movement you dont understand, but make sure you take it for what its worth always run an idea by your coach BEFORE YOU UNILATERALLY DECIDE IT SHOULD BE SOMETHING THATS PART OF YOUR TRAINING(more stupidity)

3)Watch lifters lift. If you don’t know who the best athletes in the world at your sport are, get with it. There is no better thing you can do than watch the those who have mastered your passion perform in action when there life’s work is on the line.

Lastly invest some time in attending events or being at the gym even when you are not training. Watch your teammates train and listen to the coaches work with them. There is a constant exchange between coaches and athletes, sometimes the corrections or cues they share with someone else will help you. Going to competitions is essential as well. If you have never seen a competition in person, how can you ever expect yourself to perform well at one or know if it is even something you would actually like to do?

Wrap up
Blah blah blah, I know, where is the stuff about what to do and when to do it? If your training you should know exactly what your coach expects from you, go do it. If your coach doesn’t let you know what is expected come find me I would be happy to be your coach. If your reading this chances are I already am, and you’ve made an excellent decision!

I would be lying if I told you that olympic lifting was for everyone. We use them in crossfit and training athletes for sports all the time because of the effect they have on the body’s performance and health. But becoming proficient and competent in these exercises takes a significant investment on your part as an athlete, wether you are a hobbyist or someone who believes they want more from there sport.

Olympic lifting hurts sometimes, it also can be frustrating, aggravating and there will be days when you literally feel like you have no idea what your doing and nothing will make you better. Here what you should do, suck it up butter cup! You are not alone we all experience these days and your job is to listen to your coach and continue to train. It is the time invested the thousands of reps you do that every once in a while culminate in a magical moment of victory, a day when even the heaviest loads feel like warmup sets. Cherish those days, as well as the days spent missing lift after lift, those too are how you should measure your success, those are the days that those who coach you and train with you remember.

So now that I’ve told you the basics about what you should be doing to get better, go do it. Not all of it every day, but take a look at what your patterns and habits are and make adjustments where necessary. There is a persistent misnomer in our modern society that there is a faster, easier or better way to do things. Guess what, the genetics in your body ended up where they are now after millions of years of evolution. Sometimes the answer for certain questions, is simply work hard. If your going to commit to hard work then don’t be stupid, follow the basic premisses I have laid out and you will be fine. Just stick with it!

Get Your Mind Right,

Coach Doyle