Self Potentiation and Strength

“Strength is more important than anything you face in life – it’s literally tied to how many paces you will be take…it’s directly tied to how far you will go, you’re degree of self-potentiation, and what you can and will achieve.”

Dan Piper, CPT, FMS, HKC, Dan’s Kettlebell Club, Alameda Athletic Club, Workout4Results.com

 

 

isolation or athleticism for strength training

Isolation VS Athleticism

 

Isolating muscles leads to imbalances, poor body mechanics and injuries.  Most folks dedicate most of their time in the gym to creating these imbalances without even knowing it.  Isolation is executed by folks who are there for improving their looks, not for those who are developing athletic strength.  Changing your focus away from your image, and gearing more towards strength training and health are surefire ways to avoid confusion in your protocols.

Examples of Isolation, and how to change it up:

Bench Press – While a great exercise, most overdo it.  Pressing too much makes your chest tight, pulling your shoulders into a forward slump.  This affects your body mechanics, and will cause you to be injured during another type of lift, most likely a press or a pull.  I’m still a fan of building up your chest – just don’t make it 2-3x stronger than your core, lower back, glutes and legs can support – Do push ups in volume, wheelbarrows, and kettlebell military presses instead.

Curls – Curls are for looks only.  If you want to get truly strong, go in with a buddy and play some tug of war with the battle rope.  Or you could try some bent over rows – challenging your core, back and legs while pulling – Now that’s an ATHLETIC  pull – and you’ll be the real deal compared to the scissy who craves your attention to their fat biceps.  Think about it some – when in life is weight ever held out in front of us like it is during the classic curl?  Answer – NEVER.  Practice like you play –

Back Squat/Machine Squat – These are great exercises for your quads, back, and hips – also great for expanding lung capacity and for your heart.  But most folks erroneously believe that this builds the entire lower body, but are stuck with a weak butt, hamstrings and back after years of squatting!  Balance out your routine with some barbell and kettlebell deadlifts (there are many variations).  The Deadlift is the the #1 most powerful human movement, the #1 builder of your posterior chain (butt, hamstrings, shoulders, trapezius and back), as well as the proven #1 fat burning resistance exercise that exists.

 


 

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS,  Workout4Results.com

Strength Training at Dan’s Barbell and Kettlebell Club, Alameda, CA

bodybuilding routine vs kettlebell routine

Confessions From a Recovering Bodybuilder

Reblogged Confessions From a Recovering Bodybuilder

Hey Awesome Athletes! I’m re-blogging this article from Strongfirst.com Scott Iardella, Physio, whose training protocols I’ve studied and used, so please enjoy. Note the CK-FMS designation below, which combines Russian Kettlbell Training with FMS.  To look like Scott does, we’ll still need to bench press –  this is a type of usable strength that can not be ignored in sports such as Football, Disc Throwing, and Wrestling, among many others What one coach says is not the have all to end all – but it’s great to take in the opinions and experiences of people who are quite smart, and who dedicate their lives to improving your health.

Dan

____________________________________________________________

Article by Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS, CISSN, SFGII, CK-FMS, USAW. Scott is an SFG Level II Instructor, former Orthopedic/Sports Medicine Physical Therapist.

This is a little embarrassing, but I admit I was an obsessed bodybuilder for about six years of my life.  My training was completely different about twenty years ago.  One of the key things I learned through all these years is that functional strength training and bodybuilding training are radically different.  Yes, the way I used to train was outstanding for hypertrophy, but not much else.  Let me explain exactly what I mean.

As a former competitive bodybuilder, bodybuilding was a very life changing and rewarding experience for me.  The six years I competed were an amazing time of what I thought was “hard core” training.  You know what, it was “hard core” training, just in a very different way.  At the peak of my bodybuilding career I would spend four hours in the gym, six days a week.  That’s right, 24 hours out of every week were dedicated to high volume lifting with my training partner who was, at the time, training for the Teenage Mr. America.  You can probably guess, we did a lot of sets, reps, and isolation exercises.

I can still remember an example of a chest workout we used to do twice a week:

*    Four sets of flat barbell bench

*    Four sets of incline barbell bench

*    Four sets of dumbbell flat bench

*    Four sets of incline dumbbell bench

*    Finish off with four sets of either a cable fly or dumbbell fly

What you may notice is that all the exercises were done while lying down on a bench.  This is not very functional, obviously.

After our chest training, we’d then proceed on to our back program, usually 20 to 24 sets, and then abs or calves to finish. Slightly crazy as that was 24 work sets, not including warmups.  Rep ranges were in the 8 to 12 range for everything.  You can see why the workouts were four hours in duration.  The word “overtraining” should be coming to mind here.  There were many problems with this type of training, but it served the purpose, at the time.  This was typical bodybuilding training.  This was not strength training.

I still train for muscular hypertrophy, but it’s totally different for me these days. I absolutely want to increase lean muscle mass as much as I possibly can (once a bodybuilder, always a bodybuilder), but the training protocols have completely transformed.  A major contributor to this transformation was the simple discovery of the kettlebell.  It was that tool that helped to change my entire training philosophy, as soon as I learned how to use it properly.

Instead of 24 hours a week, I’m down to four hours a week and usually less than that.  That’s four days a week of one-hour training sessions, where the actual training ranges from 30-45 minutes, with the other time being spent on joint mobility and technique work.  That’s an 83% reduction in my weekly training time.  I’ve also become a “technique fanatic” for the primary benefit of training with maximum safety, efficiency, and results.

If you remember one thing from this article, remember this.  Proper technique combined with smart programming equals optimal results, period.

For me, long gone are the days of hours of training, and double digit sets and reps.  Today, it comes down to just three simple modalities, for the most part.  The kettlebell, the barbell, and bodyweight applications.  It’s a training session that has five fundamental movements and usually includes such movements as a hinge, squat, push, pull, and a carry.  (Thanks Dan John!)

“Fundamental movement is fundamental.” ~Dan John

A typical training session today usually looks something like this:

(By the way, I like to use the term training session as opposed to workout.  Anyone can “work out.”  A “training session” means you are working to improve and build your skills.  Keep this in mind.)

*    Barbell Deadlift, two warmups then 3×5 (pull)

*    Double Kettlebell Military Press, 2×5 (push)

*    Barbell or Double Kettlebell Front Squat, 2-3×5 (squat)

*    Kettlebell Swing, 3×50 (hinge)

*    Kettlebell Turkish Get Up, 2-5 reps (plus one)

*    Racked Walk (or other loaded carry) for distance. (carry)

*    Done…

Take notice of the differences from my previous bodybuilding workouts.  All of these exercises are total body movements, nothing lying down or even seated.  All exercises are a total body integration with no isolation exercises.  This is how the body is designed to be used, as a system.

The big benefits?  Less time, total body integration, functional movement, and skill development, just to name a few.  All are major exercises that work the big muscle groups, stimulate the maximal hormonal effects, and have the greatest systemic benefits.  This is important.  We get stronger, we move better, we feel better, all with the added bonus of gaining muscular hypertrophy.

I change my protocols, rotate different periodization approaches, and sometimes perform more volume to match my training objectives.  But, my primary goals now are improving strength and skill mastery.  All the other goals come after that.  Training the way I used to for bodybuilding did one thing really well.  It was excellent for increasing muscular hypertrophy, but it lacked so many other things.

Now, in addition to increasing muscle mass, I have countless other benefits and I understand what it is to truly train for strength and performance. Pure strength training is king and all goals can be accomplished by being stronger. In my early years, I didn’t realize what I know today, that you must be strong first.


Are you ready to start getting stronger and fitter? Why not book your ONE WEEK FREE TRIAL NOW?

Strength Training at Dan’s Barbell and Kettlebell Club, Alameda, CA

rehab for muscle imbalances

Rehab of Muscle Imbalances Is Easy

Exercising to Fix Muscle Imbalances

Why do I say that….that “Fixing Muscle Imbalances is Easy?”  I say this because, if you start with the approach I recommend below, you will feel better THIS WEEK.  And that is easier than what you are currently doing….which is dealing with lots of pain.  See my approach below – life’s going to get much better for you.  

Muscle imbalances are the root of most muscle and joint pain, and may easily be corrected without surgery.  As we extend our lifespans through modern medicine and health awareness, our musculoskeletal system gets used and beat up for many more years nowadays, much more than it used to.

Pretend that you have muscles in your spine (below) that are tighter on one side than on the other.  The cause could be one leg that’s shorter, something MOST of us have, perhaps you previously played contact sports, or simply payed little attention to good posture, immersing that’s more and more common today.  The effect will ultimately be back and joint trouble if this isn’t dealt with by someone who works with postural alignment, is certified in FMS, or has physiotherapy experience.  I deal with this every day in my practice – easy to fix, but not easy if ignored.

low back pain weak muscle

Do we have any Tennis, golf, bowling, baseball, or basketball players here? If you have ever played or play a sport (past or present) where one side of your body is favored, you probably have muscle imbalances that cause you pain. Even if you haven’t played any of the above sports, most of us were born with one leg longer than the other, which sooner or later lends to back, his and knee pain, as the muscles that are shorter on one side of your body, keep you out of alignment, acting on your skeleton over time into further misalignment. Most of us have one leg that’s longer to some degree and it’s easily detected with an FMS screen.  Whether it’s back, neck, shoulder, hip/sciatica, knee or hip pain, the root cause is usually these muscle imbalances.

Fixing muscle imbalances is easy. The problem we have in our fat and lazy culture is laziness and excuses. Finger pointing is also a good one that’s sure to keep you in pain – “It’s the doctor’s fault, my gym is smelly, I don’t have time etc.” I’m not speaking right now to those who have these excuses – I have plenty of willing athletes/clients who have gotten out of pain, and none of them were the crying, complaining type, but rather, the type who have taken healthy action in their lives.

Where to start with an exercise programme?

To do this you must take a new approach to exercise until you’re better. Here’s the system I recommend. I encourage each one of you to approach this in your own unique way – but these are excellent guidelines and where you should start.

  1. Get a correct diagnosis of your musculoskeletal pain from a Doctor,Physiotherapist,A Respected Chiropractor,or an FMS certified Personal Trainer or Chiropractor.
  2. Build a team to help you. You will need a gifted and respected Chiropractor to adjust your skeletal misalignments, but will need to do the muscle re-lengthening work on your own or with a Personal Trainer (and a good Massage Therapist – more on this below),  so that your skeleton does not get pulled out of alignment over and over again. Find someone who is willing to work with you who is qualified. As an FMS Certified Personal Trainer, I spend much of a 55 minute session with folks correcting these muscle imbalances, incorporating stretching and exercise techniques, some of which are outlined in my previous blogpost Muscle Imbalance Exercises.  This is not something that can be fixed in the Chiropractors office, nor the Doctors office, or even the Physiotherapists. BUT, you will need all of the above to diagnose you and re-allign you from time to time.  Re-lengthening the muscles as outlined in the above link, takes months and months to fix, although relief starts happening immediately, the pain subsiding dramatically.  Believe me, when pressure is taken off of the joints through the proper exercises and protocols, the relief is immediate and people get almost euphoric when pain starts to leave their body.  Let’s look at the below diagrams for one minute…..

rehabilitation training

If it’s YOUR body in the above diagrams, and if it’s the left side that has one short leg (left being the left side as you look at the diagram), this will cause your hips to sag down on the left side.  All of the muscles in the above chart will become shorter, and many more, including the Psoas, Adductors,your IT Band,Illiacus etc. This muscle shortness will cause the phenomenon illustrated in the diagram shown above, effectively holding your hips out of position, causing misalignment and slippage of the Sarcoiliac/Iliosacral joint, the knee, the shoulder, the ankle, rib cage and most importantly,the spine including subluxations which, even after your Chiro treats them, will pop right back out due to these imbalances until they are finally addressed the proper way. Tightness in one side of the hip is also the leading cause of sciatica. These must ALL be re-lengthened (go to the the link above to my previous article to see the process),and this is all done during your exercise routine. It takes a few minutes extra, but you can get this done done in the gym or on a nice patch of grass with a scenic view at least,and not with an expensive Physio, and not in a hospital. Now look at the diagram above on the left. If your left leg is shorter, causing the hip to sag downwards on the left, then the muscles above your hip, up your back and all the way to your neck, will possibly need to be lengthened due to becoming shorter and tighter. The muscles below the hip will also need to be lengthened for the same reasons.

3. So,after you visit my blogpost, Muscle Imbalance, where I outline precisely this process,your next step is to work with a Massage Therapist. The Massage therapist will help re-shape and re-align your body, getting your muscles loose, bringing blood to them that is currently being constricted by poor muscle quality, tightness, knots and adhesions. Skip the massage,and this will take much much longer.

4. Understand that having a team is crucial, as none of the above professionals alone can fix you.

In short:

The Doctor diagnosis you.

The Chiropractor adjusts your skeleton

The Personal Trainer prescribes exercises and stretches, coaches on form and function – so more long term work.

The Massage Therapist, who is licensed to work on you with their hands, brings blood to the muscles, reshapes them, realigns them, and makes your body loose, and malleable.

(None of the above can, nor has the capacity to do all three jobs, yet all three are very necessary, when re-lengthening large muscle groups, and effectively changing the way you walk on this earth, and through this good life.)

As a side note, and possibly more on this for another blog post – here are a few things that CAN and WILL cause muscle imbalances:

Pretty much anything you do in life, that you do unconsciously, including –

Sitting with bad posture

Being Negative

Always sleeping on the same side

Eating poorly

Drinking too much (these above two are documented over and over again, and are shown to directly affect posture, and hence muscle imbalances.

Working out with improper form

Sitting too much without breaks

Inadequate exercise in your daily routine

Improper exercise protocols (too much pushing, not enough pulling), too much emphasis on hypertrophy, not enough full body movements such as deadlifts and sumo squats, which are recommended by the worlds top Olympic Coaches, as well as Physiotherapists and Doctors

Playing sports like golf, tennis etc, where the demand is placed primarily on one side of the body – this is sure to land you at the Chiro!

(In February of this year, I met a highly successful Chiropractor in San Jose del Cabo, while enjoying a beer and some mandolin at my favorite Tapas bar by the ocean.  He was extremely well connected, having lived there and thrived for the last 20 years. He said that his approach is simple – he tells the golfers that they need to stop golfing for 9 months in order to be fixed.  100% of them tell him to go to hell.  Then they come back and get fixed when they’re finally done golfing with pain, when they’re ready to they can live and feel well again, and play their best!)

 

By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS  Workout4Results.com

Rehabilitation at Dan’s Barbell and Kettlebell Club, Alameda, CA