In all the posting I’ve done about yoked shins and motor learning, I failed to post the presentation that Keith and I had gone to California to perform live and uncut! We didn’t really practice, unless you call EE TV practice. In spite of this I think it went off well and we received great praise from Boyd Eaton and great questions from the audience. Next time I promise my shoulders will be wider so we can have the big stage, as it would be needed to hold us both!
It is often stated in strength training: get good at the big movements and you won’t have to worry so much about the small movements. This is due to the indirect effect of strength training: doing a barbell squat takes strong abs, arms, back, stomach…oh, and strong legs too! This is also why you might hear a coach say “Train movements, not muscles.”
However, when an athlete is weak in something, pathologically weak, we throw that recommendation out the window. Being in Austin, I get a lot of runners and dollars to donuts those runners have suffered shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and ankle issues. I also know that they’ve never, ever trained their shins. Enter the tibia dorsi flexion:
Or if you want to see it in action:
Or if you REALLY want to see it in action click here.
So while I love helping my clients there has to be something in it for me. These are toys for a trainer and I have one goal in mind:
Pretty crazy, eh? I’m not blessed with the longest calf muscles bellies (neither was this guy) so the more 3 dimensional girth I can add, the bigger and better they’ll look. I can think of a lot of natural pro bodybuilders who might get their first pro win with a little more lower leg definition and dimension but you rarely to never see this in a gym. So how is it? Well it feels like training your calves only smaller and more hot. My calves are always on fire when I train them and training my shins is no different. I think that as time goes on and they move out of the “holy shit you’ve never worked me like this before” stage that they’ll feel less molten.
If you’re a runner and you can get your hands on one for a good price (I got mine here for a steal) I highly recommend it.
So this semester I’m taking 2 courses to fulfill my leveling requirements for entrance into my M.S. program. While I find motor learning and exercise physiology terribly fascinating, I’m even more fascinated by the the fact that so few trainers and fitness enthusiasts have anything beyond a mere clue when it comes to these subjects. So what I’m going to do is this:
Shit all of my notes from two 3000-level notes onto the internet!
Actually, I’m going to post information from these classes that I find most trainers to have little to know practical understanding of. This is of course selfish, as reexplaining my notes will help me better learn the material but I figured that if a PT told me in person that throughout his coursework that he only experienced “a little” motor learning material, laypersons and working trainers could stand to benefit from this stuff. Of course I’ll label the posts as either “motor learning” or “exercise physiology” so if you’re not interested you can go back through my extensive achieves and find something else entertaining and enlightening.
So I recently was bit by my dog. Understand that she wasn’t trying to bite me but rather kill my other dog. The bite ruptured my tendon sheath and made extension of any sort mind-numbingly painful, never mind the medial epicondylitis that appeared in response to constantly having a certain degree of flexion at the wrist. I’ve been dealing with this injury basically all summer and it has really put a hamper of my training. Your hands are your interface with the equipment and if you can’t grip without pain you can’t lift sufficient weight.
After a nice fat shot of corticosteroid (thanks Doc Pyron!) I started exploring how to train the muscles in the back of my hand without any wrist flexion/extension, in part because I think such movements increased recovery time. I remember in the good ol’ “Beyond Brawn” that Stuart McRoberts liked to use rubber bands to train the finger extensors but they’re such a pain in the ass. They offer no way to improve other than wrapping more rubber bands and you need to use a sufficient amount to get any sort of real resistance going. So after a bit of perusing I picked up a pair of Outer Limits Loops from Ironmind. They look like this:
While the image above shows the loops attached to loading pins, I attach them to a cable unit and do holds for time. You’re not going to need a lot of weight, I’m only using the lowest plate setting, but doing holds for 45 seconds a pop will light up the small muscles you never knew you had in your hand. In addition to the orthopedic possibilities (balancing the wrist, reducing/preventing carpal tunnel syndrome), there’s the knowledge of knowing that, after a year of using these, just about anywhere you go you’ll have the strongest finger extensors of any person there. Take the small victories where you can.
I highly recommend them.
First, give a listen:
Now, this doesn’t have to do with rock or flutes or being a ham for the camera. Rather this is about a device I recently picked up: the Expand-a-Lung.
What this (rather simple) device allows me to do is increase the resistance against which I breath. Over time I increase the resistance and thus increase the power of my lungs (or the LOCOMOTION OF MY BREATH! HA! DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE!?!)
If you dig around on google scholar you can find all sorts of studies showing increases in performance for endurance athletes. But I’m not an endurance athlete (though I have considered attempting to be the biggest guy at a stair climb races. Similar to where crazies race up the Sears [Willis] tower in as fast as 13:26) so why would I want to increase the strength of my respiratory muscles? Why to blow up a hot water bottle, of course:
If I was still single, that would get me all the chicks at 2am on 6th street in Austin, but since I’m married it nets me eye rolls from my wife with the best punctuating line: “You have strange life goals.”
I only have one life, so why the hell not?
I hate traffic. Not that I think anyone in the world actually *likes* being traffic (which is the case, as opposed to being stuck “in” traffic), but I think some people handle it better than others. Traffic used to irritate me to the point of intense rage. I would quickly find myself in a very foul mood over something that I had no control of whatsoever. I also got quite good at diving off the freeway and taking side streets. Sure, I was moving, but here in Austin it took me just about the same amount of time to get where I was going on surface roads than to suffer as part of traffic. I had the illusion of being faster even if I wasn’t.
This mindset of wanting to find the fastest route, to find an unknown shortcut, seems ingrained culturally. It’s how bay area “productivity” gurus make their money, selling the idea of being able to take anything, no matter how complex, and break it down into bite-sized mastery. It’s how late night infomercials sell you on the idea of a 6 week total body transformation. And you know what, everything they say is true but it is low hanging fruit. Anything that can be “hacked” was never actually time-consuming in the first place. You can streamline your systems for increased efficiency, but you’ve in no way shape or form moved into a realm outside of the actual time something can take. In other words, if you are building a house, it is fastest to have all of your materials and workers on site ready to go but this merely lets you build the house as fast as it can be built, not faster. That’s not a shortcut, that’s being efficient.
This is the dilemma in my world, the world of physical fitness. Nobody is actually after mastery and they really do feel that they’ve moved to a new level, skirted the time it actually takes to get in great shape and obtain superior health, by going to a week long boot camp in the woods or starting a new fitness regimen. Excitement is contagious and new insights hold applicability but you still have to put in the work, you still have to incorporate what you’ve learned into the bigger system of your daily life. You still have to get stronger/faster/more efficient if you are going to improve. That doesn’t happen overnight, even with things like steroids, DNP, and pergolide.
How long something is going to take is how long it is going to take. You can’t shortcut it but you can streamline and remove inefficiencies and constraints. Eventually efforts to streamline come with increasing stress and reduced response but hopefully by the time you get there, you’ve reached a place where streamlining is unnecessary. At this point you’ve accepted the practice as a practice and attempting to “get there” misses the point entirely. Shortcuts are meaningless at that point. I hope you find it soon.
There are approximately a gajillion posts about this event (hell, just crank through the twitter hashtag #ahs2011) but I thought I should throw my 2 cents in. First, I’d like to show you the greatest thing I’ve ever seen:
Right in the fat of the UCLA campus no less.
Keith and I presented with what we called “Physical Culture at the Spearhead of Healthcare Reform.” We gave a short taste of where the term came from, examples of physical cultures of the past, how the steroid era of bodybuilding buried the good of these integral systems under the weight of the strength training component, why dogmatism gets people nowhere in the long term, and finally how we changed a few lives with Project: Transformation, which required 30 minutes of workout a week. I know, it was a run on sentence.
I was also able to have dinner with Richard Nikoley at the restaurant Animal. Bea made the comment that we are “so much alike” while we yelled at each other over brains, livers, and pig ears. New friends made over wine and beer.
In a bit of geekery, Chris Owens and I discussed, among other things, the shocking fact that Starbucks is investing is quality coffee for use in the Clover and the fact that Barley Swine is probably better than previously mentioned Animal. That and how his new venture Handsome Coffee has a wicked, wicked logo.
It was a fantastic event, really special stuff. I’d like to present again in 2 years time. In fact I’ve already started working on the presentation. If you’ll have me Brent I’d love to come back.