Monday, May 26, 2008

Searching for Deadlifts.....*sigh*

This weekend I was away from home for a few days. Naturally, today I got a bad hankering to do some deadlifting. My freind gave me a pass to a new commercial gym that had recently opened in their town. I thought I'd try it out. I went in the gym and immediately they had me fill out an information packet. Next, one of the employees had me go over to her desk and sit down for a questionare. The conversation went something like this:

Employee: So, what are you hoping to get out "___ Gym"?

Me: Uh, just looking for a place to deadlift.

Employee: Oh, what is that?

Me: (with puzzled look on my face) Where you lift weights off the floor....

Employee: Oh, sure..... So, would you describe your current fitness training?

Me: Well, basically I deadlift, squat, press, and row. I do bodyweight stuff, sled dragging, sandbag work, jumping, climbing rope, hill sprints, car pushing, and jump rope. Um, let's see..yeah I've done all that in the past few months.

Employee: (staring at me)

Me: Oh, yeah. I forgot, I love kettlebells, too. Swings, snatches, turkish get-ups, you know....the usual.

Employee: (not sure what to write)

(awkward silence)

Employee: ....... Well, ok..... On a scale of 1 - 5 how would you rate your knowledge on our new, state of the art cardio machines ?

Me: .......1?

Employee: Really?

Me: Well, I'm sure I could get them to work....if I had to.

Employee: Would you like me take you over and show you how to use all of them?

Me: (shifting uncomfortably in chair) ...No, thanks.

Employee: (puzzled look on face) Uh, ok. How would you rate your knowledge on resistance training from 1-5?

Me: 5, I guess.

Employee: Ha, all of the men always say "5" on that one. So, you know how to use all our resistance machines?

Me: (getting annoyed) No, I know how to deadlift and squat.

Employee: (awkward smile)

Me: (silence)

Employee: Well, uh, let's go to the next question. How would you describe your current eating habits?

Me: In one sentence?

Employee: Well, what foods do you normally eat?

Me: Meats, fruit, vegetables....and water. Sometimes I have cake.

Employee: Ooook....What goals are you hoping to achieve at "____ Gym"?

Me: I'm just looking for a place to deadlift.


Employee: And what would say are your main fitness goals? Toning up, getting a good pump, losing weight?.....

Me: To get as strong as humanly possible.......And to touch the top of the backboard.

Employee: (writes "strength?")

Employee: Alright, well let me just bring this over to my manager.

Me: (looking around) Do you guys even have a squat rack?

Employee: (walking away and yells) Yeah, we have 7 smith machines!

Me: (vomits in mouth)

Long story short, I ended up training outside and relying on my trusty one-stop-gym-in-a-trunk. In my car's trunk I currently have:

2 kettlebells
a 20 ft. thick rope
70 lbs. sandbag
20 lbs. weighted vest
tire sled w/ weights

The moral of the story is: DON'T LET ANYONE OR ANYTHING GET IN THE WAY OF YOU HAVING A PRODUCTIVE TRAINING SESSION. It's just not worth it, in my opinion. You only have so many hours in a week and so much physical/mental stress your body can handle. If your not having fun and getting results from your current training, then what are you doing? Life's too short. Don't let negativity in any form stand in the way of your goals. If your gym doesn't allow you to do the things you know you need to do to achieve your athletic goals, then get out! Work at at home, at a playground, find a new hardcore gym, buy some weights for your own, or whatever it takes! Don't pussyfoot around and waste your valuable time. Figure out how to get the most "bang for your buck".

After I left the gym I found a nice spot outside and did the following:
practice dunking with weighted vest (15 lbs) until noticeable power decrease
box jumps 2 x 5
kettlebell snatches 5 x 5
kettlebell swings 4 x 20

When I finished I was a happy camper. Although I was pissed off about they gym's sassy attitude and lack of power racks, I didn't let that stop me from getting in a short, solid workout.

- Max

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Plague of The Mediocre Athlete: No Glutes = No Results

Here's a great article by Kelly Baggett, No Glutes = No Results. I think this is a big problem with athletes, especially skinny basketball players like myself. While going to this extent may not be neccesary for some of you, for others it might be your missing ingredient.

Evem if you don't need/want to follow this program, I hope you realize the importance of not only having strong, but properly functioning glutes. At the very least, I hope you start including glute activation drills in your warm-ups. Doing this along with some good joint mobility drills will only take you an extra 10 minutes and will go a long way in helping you stay injury free and get more out of your training. If you can't achieve proper form when lifting do to inactive muscles and lack of mobility/flexibility, how do you expect to get anything out of them?

On a seperate note, if you haven't already read all of Kelly's articles that pertain to you and your sport, DO SO NOW. This guy really knows his stuff and gives out a lot of great FREE info on his site.

- Max

Let's talk feet.....

Well, I haven't posted in quite a while. Don't worry though, I'm back. I have a lot on my mind so I'll be trying to post quite often so be sure to check back every couple of days.

Now, let's talk feet. If you haven't read either of these articles, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

Feet Hurt? Stop Wearing Shoes.

You Walk Wrong.

Hopefully, after you look those articles over, you'll understand why I hate most shoes and think people should stop wearing them. You'll also understand why I spent $80 to buy a pair Vibram Five Fingers.

Yesterday was the first day I wore them. Here's a few things I noticed:
1) Walking without shoes all day is hardwork. Today my feet and lower legs are sore. This is no surprise seeing how feet are probably the weakest part of most people's body.
2) My heels became very sore if I didn't make sure to walk correctly. Most of us bang our heels on the ground because of years of conventional shoe wearing.
3) I felt more energetic. I know it sounds weird, but being in contact with the ground of the earth gives you a sort of an energy. Some people might call this "chi". I don't. It's hard to explain, so I guess the only way to understand is to go barefoot all day outside or start wearing Five Fingers.
4) My joints felt much better throughout the day. It's very rare that I go the entire day without some discomfort.
5) I felt loose and relaxed. I was sitting down for much of the day, but I never felt tight or stiff as I normally do when sitting for long periods. This doesn't mean you should sit around all day. Get up and move.

Wow, that's a lot to notice after just one day of use. Besides the benefits of going barefoot or wearing Five Fingers listed in those articles, you might be wondering, "Max, what do you specifically hope to accomplish by wearing those weird slipper things?" Good question. Here's what I hope to accomplish:

a) I have weird, nasty feet. There I said it. I attribute this to years of wearing shoes that were too big for me. Some of it might be genetic, too. My toes clawed at the sole of the shoe to try and stay balanced. Now, well for some time now, I have what's known as Hammer Toes. It's not a pretty sight. Add on to that the fact that I have EXTREMELY high arches and that I'm also a supinator, and you have a recipe for disaster. It's no wonder that I have a history of ankle sprains and foot problems. I hope to correct these problems and return to the state of how God made us: barefoot.

b) I also have some other physical ailments that I hope going barefoot will correct. These are moslty lack of mobility in the ankles and hips. This doesn't mean I still won't be working directly on my mobility in these areas. I'm probably better than most, but still not at the level I want to be at. If you didn't already know, having optimum mobility paired with being strong leads to being able to stay low, jump high, run fast, and be explosive. Just in case any of those things are important to you.

So, there you have it. Even if you don't decide to wear Five Fingers, try going barefoot whenever you can. Around the house, when you work out, mowing the lawn (watch those toes), etc. I hope you've changed your mind on the facny new shoes with shocks and pumps you just got. We were made to be barefoot, just like we were made to eat earth-grown foods, lift heavy stuff, and move everyday. Something to think about. Well, I'm off to go deadlift at my gym while wearing my Five Fingers. I expect to get some looks.

- Max