Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Power of One (workout plus intervals)

As many of my loyal readers know, I have been following Dan John's 40-day program (for more information, click here ) with much success, having achieved 2 personal records (Snatch grip deadlift for 215 lbs for 5 reps) and a single arm dumbbell shoulder press for 70 lbs for 5 reps.  That being said, I have started to rotate reps and sets (10 total reps, or 2 sets of 5) and today I was in the mood for a strength 'circuit', so I got a little creative.

Here's the workout, with my weights:
1A Snatch Grip Deadlift x1 rep @ 179 lbs
1B SA Shoulder Press x1 rep @ 60 lbs
1C Reverse Grip (palms facing me) Chinup x1 rep with 16k kettlebell (my weight 175 + 35lbs = 210 lbs)
1D Ab wheel standing x 1 rep
1E Lateral Lunge with kettlebell swing, alternating (lunge with swing to one side, switch to other side, repeat) for 3 reps each side with 20k kettlebell

As little rest as possible between exercises, roughly 20-30 seconds rest after completing 1A-1E.
10 sets or rounds of the reps prescribed above. Perfect form only.  Never sacrificing form
Overall time to completion: 19 minutes and 52 seconds.  Could definitely have been faster with lighter weights.

Then the real fun began. 

I headed over to Central Park and the famous 'Cat Hill', named for the statue overlooking the hill.
Bottom to top (light at bottom of hill to light at top of hill), the hill measures exactly 1/4 mile.

Since I'm running for better fitness and fat loss, I'm utilizing a work/rest ratio that sufficiently counts as intervals (bottom to top takes roughly 1 minute 45 seconds, a brutal work interval), but today I did something a little different, alternating the work to rest ratios each interval: 

  • First interval (bottom to top) 1 minute 45 seconds.  
  • Second interval started about 3/4 down the hill (instead of the bottom) sprint up, work: 1 minute 15 seconds
  • Third interval started about 2/3 down the hill, sprinted up, work 1 minute.  
  • Fourth interval started about halfway, sprinted up, work 45 seconds
  • Fifth interval started about 1/4 down the hill, took 30 seconds.  
After each interval I jogged and walked slowly down to new starting point.  Obviously each rest time kept getting smaller and smaller...

Then I repeated the intervals, back down to bottom, up to the last interval.

Total time: 35 minutes.  

Lucky for me, I found an old friend (Hector!) to run with me, and he pushed me to run faster than usual (he runs 10K - 50K's). 

All in all, today's workout was one of my favorites, not to mention one of the hardest.  Think you're up to it?  Try one part or both, but be warned, neither workout was easy, and I definitely burped a few times after some of the sprints.  Kept lunch down though!  Let me know how any or all of today's workout works for you. 

Until next time...

-Coach Kev

Monday, June 20, 2011

21 Summer Tips to Get You FITTER, FASTER!

It’s almost here: The halfway point of 2011, with 6 months down and 6 more to go.  Are you 50% closer to losing bodyfat?  50% closer to running a faster race?  What about workout goals?  Are you working out 3 times a week on average?  

With the approaching 4th of July holiday, more and more people will be self-conscious as they shed t-shirts for board shorts and cover ups for bikinis.  Your wardrobe might be ready, but are you? 

Here are a few methods I have used with clients to help them reach their workout goals, get bikini and board short ready, and continue on their journey towards excellent health and fitness.   


1)      Sleep more than 7 hours. And try to get to bed around the same time each night.
2)      Eat before you're hungry, and average 3 meals a day and 2 smaller 'meals'
3)     Practice similar food and eating habits (instead of a diet) for 2 weeks.  After that point, you should be more accustomed to the foods, food preparation, and how you feel with more fuel. 
4)      Do not avoid fruits and vegetables.  Yes, they have small amounts of sugar in them, but strategically placed after a workout or as dessert (instead of a calorie-bomb sundae) wins out every time. 
5)      Eat a hearty breakfast, mostly protein and fat.  Have a healthy lunch, protein, fat, and greens as 'carbs'.  Dinner consists of protein and vegetables.  Simple, really!
6)      Avoid beer, juices, and/or blended Starbucks or Dunkin Donut drinks
7)      Practice eating no sooner than an hour before and no later than an hour after your workout.  You need to prepare muscle energy stores (and blood sugar levels) for the workout and also fix lower blood sugar and damaged muscles. 
8)      Practice more than one 'trait' (strength, endurance, mobility and speed, for example).  Surefire way to increase metabolic efficiency of many muscle fibers and nervous system, while completely enhancing others (long distance runners practice sprints with great results).  
9)      Do NOT be scared of fat.  If you are avoiding carbohydrates then you need to increase your fat calories (extra-virgin olive oil, fish, grass-fed beef, nuts) in order to prevent your metabolism from coming to a screeching halt.  
10)   DO NOT follow a diet/cleanse/workout program. LIFESTYLE MANAGEMENT!
11)   Go to the gym with a plan and a program.  Can't afford a trainer?  Fine.  But you can pay the best trainer in your gym (or yours truly) to make you a program.  
12)   Do NOT jump right into your workout without warming up.  You don’t have time to warm up?  But you have time to get hurt because your posture is awful and you like physical therapy?  Didn't think so...
13)   Get out of your comfort zone.  Good at running slow and long?  Add sprints.  Good at lifting light weights?  Add strength workouts and heavier weights. 
14)   Judge your progress by the scale, but get your body-fat tested to tell the whole picture.   
15)   Going on vacation doesn't mean your eating habits have to.  In fact, that should be more of an excuse to eat perfect! More time, less stress = better eating habits. 
16)   All calories are not created equal (my problem with Weight Watchers).  If that was true, then you could have 5 glasses of wine, 4 english muffins, 3 bowls of pasta, and cereal, and still be 'under in points.'  Protein, fat, carbohydrates (size demonstrates importance).     
17)   Have a business dinner or party to go to?  Plan to go to the gym the day before, day of, and day after.  You owe your body better than to completely let go of your health and lifestyle.  Plus it's MUCH more expensive to get BACK in shape, than it is to KEEP yourself in excellent shape. 
18)   Big movements = big metabolic disturbances.  Especially the rower, interval training, and circuit workouts.  That’s why hardly anyone does them (except celebrities getting ready for movies).  
19)   Pay attention to how dairy makes you feel: if you feel bloated after yogurt, avoid it.  Cottage cheese though, is a different type (much more whey, remember Miss Tuffet?).  Same with skim or 1% milk. 
20)   Going out with friends for drinks?  Try having 2-3 glasses of water before, and you will find yourself less thirsty (especially in hot weather) and forced to drink alcoholic beverages for 'hydration'. 
21)   Watch your carb intake, and manage your blood sugar.  Keep your blood sugar steady and you will be SHOCKED at your progress.  This picture below is of me in Puerto Rico in 2010 at just under 8% bodyfat, and the program I used included no cardio, a strict 4 weeks of eating and lifting 3 times per week for 45 minutes.  This is the leanest I've ever been.  168 lbs at 7.8% bodyfat. 
Most people don’t want bigger cars – just a bigger engine.  In other words, they don't want 20 lbs of muscle,  just a faster metabolism. 

These recommendations are staples of many a trainer; try to implement some of them now, and others later, and watch your body look more like that of a trainer.  

-Coach Kev
email: coachkevdineen@gmail.com

Monday, June 6, 2011

Perform Better Functional Training Summit Thoughts Part II

Yesterday I posted an article summarizing some of my favorite speakers from this past weekend's conference in Providence, RI (article HERE ).  With this article I would like to highlight more take-home points specifically from a bunch more speakers. 

Gray Cook:
Tough to explain without a video, but Gray had some fantastic exercises and lessons. 
   1) His Half Turkish Get Up Progression (he has a DVD on the topic with Brett Jones) and how even half of the movement can be a teaching tool, assessment, and exercise all in one is remarkable.  After previous injury, an asymmetry can be a huge predictor for future injury, and Gray chooses this exercise as a self-limiting, self-explanatory tool to check for imbalances between right and left sides of the body.  Awesome!  Also, he pointed out how they have more recently started the TGU in a snow-angel position, with arms and legs more spread apart from the body.  My favorite cues from him: sternum to ceiling, knuckles flat and parallel with the ceiling, and make sure each stop in the movement is PICTURE perfect. 
    2) Quadruped/Child's pose external and medial rotation exercise sequence were taken to another level; Gray uses the prone position to further examine and mobilize someone who is having difficulty rotating from the thoracic spine.

Thomas Meyers
Few thoughts and quotes:
--We can't turn a building upside down, it was designed for gravitational forces.  But the human body?  We can put it sideways, upside down, and in every direction. 
--Fascia is the entire environment of fibers contained in a glue-like substance around and between muscles, ranging from watery to very thick cartilage.
--One of the keys for the 21st Century Personal Trainer is to embrace what it means to live in an electronic world.  Most treatments are based on industrial-age techniques, while the electronic era of the last 10-20 years has completely revolutionized our physiques, postures and demand for physical movement. 
--We are grown from a 'seed', not put together by a machine into parts.  Yet some still train on machines, and in parts.  Without dissection, it is IMPOSSIBLE to activate ONLY one muscle at a time.  Even when 'isolating' muscles during a bicep curl, the tricep, brachialis, anterior deltoid, brachioradialis and other wrist muscles all contract to maintain integrity. 
--Does the body REALLY have 600 muscles?  Or 1 muscle in 600 fascial 'pockets'? 
--Fat is basically a wetsuit surrounding your body.  Hopefully it's thin!
--Fascia is extremely responsive to tension, and lays down more tensile structure as a result.  In some cases, bone can re-knit faster than fascia!

Bill Parisi
Great thoughts and quotes from Bill:
--Are you really honest?  Tell me the last time you lied...(interview question?)
--Know your numbers - break even, investor versus business partner, etc.  Know them!
--over 240 investors initially passed on Starbucks' initial offering (think big!)

Also, I love listening to Bill; he's a great speaker, he knows his business, and is not afraid to admit a wrong or two.  I liked how he spoke candidly about staying with his gyms too long before selling, all the while he was moving into franchise mode with Parisi Speed.  Finally, the fact that he and Martin Rooney still co-exist under the Parisi umbrella is a testament to two men working commonly towards a different goal. 

Thomas Plummer
Oh man, this is definitely the 2nd funniest guy on the Perform Better circuit.  Simple quotes and statistics from his presentation (keeping it less than 10...there's so many!)
  • 2009 was the single worst year in the training industry, after having peaked in 1995
  • BodybyJake was your 'personal trainer' in 1995
  • There are 28,000 commercial gyms in the US, and still, 84% of the population does NOT have a gym membership
  • Generalists are chosen for convenience
  • Specialists are chosen for expertise
  • The future of gyms and personal training studios is the 300 member gym/studio in 2,000 square feet
  • The past is the 3,000 member gym with 30,000 square feet
  • Curves: as of 3 years ago they had 10,000 facilities, today they have 5500 and are closing 1200 this year
  • HEH stands for Human Energy Hours: after so many hours of working in a week, working past that point is no longer useful.  At all. 
  • Doing something is better than doing nothing.  You can fix a mistake.  But you can't fix inactivity.
  • Most people are who they are by accident.  Be who you want to be by choice!
That's all for Part II, for Part III I will be gathering most of the motivational quotes from my notes and then Dr. Stuart McGill's teachings for implementing into your programs and coaching.  Stay tuned!

-Coach Kev

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Perform Better Functional Training Summit Thoughts Part I

This past weekend I attended the Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Providence, Rhode Island, with 900 other trainers, coaches, therapists and educators.  Perform Better routinely over-delivers with knockout presentations, helpful staff, and an atmosphere of energy, passion, and most of all: learning. 

I attended many great presentations this weekend, including presentations from Dan John, Todd Durkin, Alwyn Cosgrove, Eric Cressey, Dr Stuart McGill, Thomas Meyers, Gray Cook, Todd Wright, Bill Parisi, and Thomas Plummer.  Because one of the recommendations from the panel of experts at Saturday's Q and A session was to try everything BEFORE giving it to clients, I wanted to add a few things I learned from each presenter that I will be practicing in the coming weeks:

Dan John:
His 40 Day Program, found HERE.  My 5 exercises for the next 40 days or so:
  • Snatch grip deadlift (my grip and upper back need work)
  • Single Arm Military Press
  • Pullups
  • KB Snatch SA or Dual
  • Ab wheel
Todd Wright:
Todd's movement matrix and methods for getting athletes to move with exceptional ability is something I will be integrating as a warm up, including, but not limited to:
  • anterior, lateral, transverse ankle touches
  • anterior, lateral, transverse lunges
  • the above movements with upper body movements in different planes (sagittal, frontal, transverse)
  • Including Medicine ball or dumbbell work to prepare my body for higher loads but in multiple planes (his squat warm up and squat jump progression is great)
Todd Durkin:
From a motivational perspective, Todd is my favorite presenter: he starts the wheels turning in your head that literally ANYTHING is possible, especially if we do two things (the $25,000 question):
1.  Every morning write a list of 5 things that need to be done

So simple, yet Todd's own life is a clear example of how greatness has thought, believed and eventually executed. 

Alwyn Cosgrove:
If Todd is my favorite motivational speaker on tour, then Alwyn is my clear-cut favorite for two reasons:
1) Bluntness and honesty
2) Fat Loss

Alwyn is NOT afraid to speak his mind (having told me my acronym for my company name 'sucked'), and is also someone literally obsessed with changing the way fitness (and fat loss) is done.  Alwyn's continued research on the best fat loss methods reinforces what we know (train with weights) and enlightens us to what we don't (use self-limiting exercises such as the Turkish get up, goblet reverse lunge, and other movements that when you cannot do them anymore, you are at a low risk for injury).  These exercises are key for metabolic acceleration training, which both increases fat utilization during (but more so after) and can increase lean muscle tissue. 

Eric Cressey:
Having learned from Eric for almost 6+ years now, I am always curious to see what Eric is presenting, and the amount of information presented in 60 minutes was stunning.  For one, he covered Sports hernias, Spondylolysis, back bracing, ankle taping, the difference between Flexion and Extension-intolerant athletes, and femoral anterior glide syndrome to name a few.  Second, his presentation always stimulates more thought, more research, to fully understand the injuries and rehabilitation to training protocols and transitions that are so often misunderstood. 

Finally, Eric also dishes out what he's currently working and learning from, and he piqued my interest in www.posturalrestoration.com, which has helped him fix problems with numerous athletes.  Worth checking into in the near future. 

More to come Monday 6/6.  This brain needs some rest!

-Coach Kev