Picking up 7,300 piles of dog crap

And I’ve already picked up about 1,100 or so of them.

Some of these piles will be well formed, others will be runny. Some will smell foul and others will have little smell at all (I’ll be thankful for those). Some will be on grass, some on carpet, some on other locations that I will quickly clean up so other people don’t notice. Some of them will be spraying diarrhea that if I didn’t see the stain on the asphalt I would have never believed that it happened.

Sometimes the bag that I pick them up will have a hole in it, and I won’t notice until it will be on my hand. Sometimes it will be at the beginning of the walk and I will have it with me for the next half hour plus swinging at my side. Some of those piles of crap I’ll step in while mowing the yard. Some of those piles of crap he might roll in and then I’ll have to clean him up and still pick up the rest of the pile. Sometimes he will roll in the ones inside his cage and then I’ll have to carry him outside and my wife will hose us both off.

Why does this even matter?

Well if my dog takes two craps per day, each day of his life and he is projected to live for 10 years then by the end he will take approximately 7,300 poops. My wife and I will clean up the majority of those piles. (In fact my wife said he will live fifteen years so now we are talking about 10,950 poops.) This is part of the cost of having a dog. There is also the food, water, vet bills, boarding, grooming, treats, and toy costs. This is part of life. In order to get to enjoy having a dog there are certain costs. You have to pay these costs all the time (sometimes there are more expensive than you’d think, I’m looking at you vet bills). But in order to get the happiness that comes from having a dog you need to be ready to pay the costs. If it takes me 15 seconds to pick up each dog poop we are now talking about just under 30.5 hours of my life and my wife’s will be spent picking up dog crap for just this dog.

This is Life

When you look at all the math then you can start to think “why bother?” since this is a lot of work (poopy work at that). But there are plenty of things in your life that take time, but when you put in that work you get so much more out of life. There will always be some costs you have to pay such as cooking, cleaning, exercising, and so on, but the return on your investment will make this more than worth it over the long run. Take for example that I squat heavy at least once per week. Figure I’m going to live in to my eighties at least (I’m kinda healthy), so that gives me a total of around 2,600 more squatting workouts to look forward to. That is 2,600 more times I will have a bar on my back with weight trying to crush me, but by doing this I will have a higher quality of life. I’m going to sigh looking at stairs I have to walk up or down 2,600 more times the day after heavy squatting. I’m in my early 30s right now and I can squat over twice my body weight without any issue. I can run, jump, hike, and carry objects with ease. If I can keep this train rolling with lifting all the way up to the end of the line, then I will be able to live independently and never be in a wheel chair. I just have to get under that bar a couple thousand more times. The same argument can be used for eating vegetables or any other healthy life choices. You have to do them constantly, and so there is a large volume of work left to do. In the end though, all of these positive choices add up and make your life fuller and richer.

Norbert collage
The source of all the piles of dog crap. Isn’t he just precious.

Wrap up

This post isn’t meant to be so much about training, but about mindset towards life. Everything in life has its own costs and then benefits that come afterwards. By making some sacrifices in the short term you can reap long term benefits so remind yourself why you do things. At some point years from now I’m going to miss my dog and no longer have any dog crap from him to clean up. I’ll actually miss picking up dog crap. I hope this makes sense to you reading, and helps you with your mindset towards some of the things you don’t enjoy doing, but how it all has purpose.

Leave a Dent On the World: Transitioning to Olympic lifting

I’ve been working with a student at Eastern that is trying to transition from power lifting to weight lifting. Before everyone who has actually witnessed my Olympic lifting technique start laughing, then gagging, and stop reading this give me a moment. This person is a good general athlete (meaning good body control and coachable). They have potential, but it will be interesting to see what happens since this is a hard road to go on. Let’s lay the framework where we are starting from first.

Foundation

This athlete has a good base. Yes, they are a powerlifter but in a lower weight class. This is good for two reasons; since they have a good aerobic base for a powerlifter, so they will be able to recover from exercise faster than if they were a full blown SHW (super heavy weight) powerlifter that has to waddle up to the bar and waddle back to their chair after each set. The other reason is obviously they have a good base of strength in general for total body, specifically with squatting and deadlifting. Furthermore this person is just athletic in general so teaching novel movements is not too much of a struggle and they haven’t been taught much in the Olympic lifts previously so they have few bad habits that need to be fixed from the start.

Limitations

The big limitation is mobility. Specifically in the hips and ankles to fully sit in to the bottom of the squat. This is an issue since with powerlifting you just need to hit parallel, but Olympic lifting requires you to drop lower. Also, her shoulders are a bit tight from benching so mobility to loosen up the shoulders is required. Specifically her ability to hit thoracic extension and to allow her lats to release so she can hit a better overhead position.

Programming

This is training for Olympic lifting, not Crossfit. So the first rule is that no set will have more than three reps. Why? Because our goal is movement quality not quantity. Think about if you were to do a very precise movement say for example a cart wheel if you don’t have much gymnastic experience. If you try and throw thirty of them in a row without taking a break the first few might look good, but by the end you are more likely to screw yourself up than anything else. With fatigue your movement quality is always going to decrease.

So after warming up with general stretching and barbell complexes (I use a variation of the Bergner warm up and the JTLC from Justin Thacker), the first set with actual weight will be for a set of three and possibly so will the second. After that the goal is doubles (two reps) ascending to where technique starts to decline and then either drop back down for more high quality reps or switch to singles and do a bit more work there. This is the slow cooker approach where we will slowly increase her training weights, but do so without sacrificing technique. I like to slowly add load to the point where we start to have some technical issues. If you only work with an empty bar for your Olympic lifting when the weight gets heavy you will find you are having huge problems with technique. As the bar weight gets closer to your body weight and start to exceed it, not only does your margin for error decrease, but the technique you have to employ moving around the bar also changes.

Altogether I only let her do 25 total training reps each day. This is based on a bit of Prilipen programming, but also the fact that once again the goal is perfect technique. So by having a cap of how many reps she can perform limits rushing the attempts and increases focus on each repetition.

This Friday her programming for snatch went as follows: 3×3 warm up weights followed by 3×2 and then 10×1 taking about a minute to two minutes between each set. Altogether this gives her a total of 25 completed reps in which she increased her PR in the movement. In the future we will likely decrease the total number of reps. This will not go lower than only 15 reps per session, and I’m wary of going over 25 just due to that volume will likely see a decrease in technique. Keep in mind that she is in shape, if she wasn’t in as good of shape I would have her do less reps per session.

Movements

The goal with Olympic lifting is mastery of the snatch and clean & jerk. For now we have a number of mobility flaws and lack of mastery of technique that I’m working around trying to build good habits. So she is doing the classical movements, but they are slightly modified. For example on the snatch we are doing one good pull from the ground and then she hang snatches the weight followed by overhead squatting it. This is for a number of reasons. She simple pulls the weight with good technique so we don’t rush her pull from the floor and get her out of a good position. This allows her to be aggressive on her hang snatch which she then catches aggressively. Her overhead squat is still shaky and needs work so hence no matter where she catches the snatch I have her pause there and then squat down and stand up. This helps build that technique in the portions of the movement that are lacking. Eventually she will snatch from the floor, but only after her pull from the ground becomes clean enough to move forward with (if you can’t do it right slow is going faster with a movement going to solve your problems?). Here are some example reps from her training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkUKcc0LYhc  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmCPe_E-BRw

For the clean and jerk she is cleaning from the ground since her movement is good here. She then hits a hang clean and does one front squat. Her front squat and catch position is good, it is her bar turnover and catch that needs help so hence we do two catches (sometimes three). From there her jerk catch is good, but her leg drive needs work (knees buckle), so she does two jerks and really focuses on jumping the weight up.

Summary

So this is a basic approach of taking a powerlifter and then working them in to being an Olympic weightlifter. We will slowly progress this basic frame work not really aiming to max out each time, but allowing her to move up as high as she can before technical failure. I hope that this makes some sense and is useful for anyone reading this. Another aside is that fact that for the sake of both of our schedules we do all of this work on one day. In a perfect world I would like her to be training this three or four times per week as a way to get more exposure to the movements and hence learn them faster. That would require decreasing the volume of the movements though so we don’t over stress the athlete. If you have any questions or anything you want me to elaborate on please just let me know. Thanks again for reading.

Program for A Todd

A friend of mine from Kansas just got a good job for the year before he heads to grad school. He will be managing a popular bar in a college town which requires working late nights and being pretty busy. His goal is to stay in shape and not hemorrhage strength while working over 60 hours a week. After shooting a few messages back and forth and going from the stand point that he likes Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 (full disclosure so do I) I came up with what I think will be a good plan for him moving forward.

Two days a week ala 5/3/1

Day 1 Day 2
Squat 5/3/1 Deadlift 5/3/1
Bench 5/3/1 Press 5/3/1
Accessory Squat or deadlift movement Accessory Squat or deadlift movement
Accessory bench or deadlift movement Accessory bench or deadlift movement

 

Since he can only train with weights twice a week due to his schedule right now my goal for him will be to work total body each time. Run the typical 5/3/1 on the main lifts and then depending on the goal at that time (muscle size, or strength) run either Wendler’s Boring but Big 5×10 (for size) or his First Set Last 5×5-8 (for strength) for the accessory movement. I would suggest doing a three cycle block of each program and then switch to the other. The accessory movement can be the same movement as before, but I would suggest doing something like the safety squat bar squats or some other type of movement that has good carryover to both movements that is easy to program for.

Hills

Day 1 Day 2
Long Hill Short Hill
Ab wheel Pallof Press, Planks
Push ups Dips, incline pushups

The hill day is meant to be a form of conditioning. For this individual and anyone familiar with where he lives, the short hill I’m referring to is the JRP and the long being the campanile hill. The goal here is to move and slowly increase the number of reps with the weeks. Don’t go out and destroy yourself here, instead start off with only doing about half as much as you feel capable. Run through this like a circuit and make sure that your work on these days isn’t taking away from your heavy lifting on the next day.

Prowler days

Day 1 Day 2
Prowler Light Prowler Heavy
Back Raises Reverse Hypers/GHR
DB rows Pull ups
Hanging leg raises Choice Abs
Arms Arms

He will be doing his prowler days in the gym that he lifts at, so I tried to add in a bit more volume of assistance work in since he won’t have the time for it likely on his lifting days.The light and heavy prowler statement is about the weight he actually loads on the prowler which in turn will change the distance he can push it and such. He could also change this to one day it is push and the other it is pull (as in with a rope or handle). I suggest that he does a set of the prowler and then one set of the assistance menu and go back and forth that way he gets in quality volume while keeping his heart rate up and not deviating too far from the prowler work. An example of this would be: Prowler push, back raises, prowler push, back raises, prowler push, back raises, prowler push, db rows, prowler push, db rows, and so on.

Recovery

Sunday should be spent doing nothing other than relaxing and maybe doing a bit of active rest. This means just going for a walk, hiking, or otherwise. Anything on this day is completely optional and is not going to be required.

Basic Schedule

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Recovery Prowler Heavy Short Hill Squat Day Prowler Light Long Hill Deadlift Day
medium easy hard medium easy hard

 

He can switch the way the lifting days are set in that if he is sorer from squatting then deadlifting move deadlifting to Saturday so he has a solid day to recover before doing more training. Otherwise it will be a bit of trial and error for him to find what is the appropriate amount of volume to do on the conditioning days, and not zap his strength for his actual lifting days. He lifts on those days since Wednesday is his only consistent night of sleep and he takes Sunday off from work.

Summary

So this is a basic program for him to test out doing my best impression of Jim Wendler (let’s be honest it wasn’t that good). I hope that this program makes some sense to any of you that are reading this and if you have any questions please just let me know and as always thanks for taking a minute to read this.

Dominating PT tests: The Ivan Drago Protocol

I got a chance to catch up with an old friend the other day when I was at a conference. He is currently in the military and working on improving his run times for PT. We chatted about his program for a little while on how we could make him a better distance runner since he is naturally a gifted strength/power athlete (woe is him). He told me that with his PT test one issue that he has is that he can dominate each test individually, but when he has to do the whole battery of them (like on his real test days) he has a hard time recovering from one test before the next one. When I got back home I finally sat down and started to put something together which should help (well maybe).

alex and I in new orleans
Bourbon Street with the alleged individual. Good time, and crazy stuff there.

One of Alex’s problems is his ability to do work in the anaerobic zones. Meaning he is in good power shape, but when you have to run over a mile and a half you can’t keep up that level of anaerobic work without crashing. That energy system is only meant to hold you over for a few minutes (think running a 400-800 meter), he needs to further develop his aerobic base so he can have a higher intensity with all of his training. This however, requires him to do longer moderate intensity training to build up that part of his energy systems.

This program also needs to fit in to the PT that he is already doing on a frequent basis, so I won’t be trying to give him hard and fast structure, just ideas on when he should plug in each day (or try to take a rest day afterwards).

Distance work

The running aside from doing legitimate pace work will now give way for one to two runs per week at a relatively relaxed pace, but last for forty five minutes to over an hour. The reason for going slower, but for longer durations is to build his aerobic capacity. In order to force the body to give you greater aerobic adaptations you have to do a solid amount of work. Aim to run at a pace that you could talk with someone while you are out there. This is the most important part to add to your training first.

Cross training

Once again he is not a small guy (over six feet tall and 210 lbs. or so), so to avoid beating up his joints some of this distance work volume can be done on a bike, with swimming (since he is tested on that also), or an elliptical. Heck, he lives in New Orleans so running in sand (soft sand) can be used as a form of cross training. This is simply going to be done as a means to decrease the stress on his joints, while taxing his aerobic system. This should be done up to three times per week, but decrease the number according to how many distance days he is doing each week. This is the second part to add to the program.

Anaerobic threshold work

So now the real painful stuff. My goal for him would be to do some repeat work above his anaerobic threshold (point where you can’t talk while running). This will mean doing a 400-800 meter run with a minute rest. Do a total of 3-5 reps and then do 2-4 sets of work. This will not feel good, but the goal here is to do work get better at tolerating the pain of this training. Add this in about a month out from the PT tests and cut back on the distance work when this goes in. Do not start this up immediately and run it hard out the gate.

Lifting

The difference here will be to add in long pause work. This will come in the form of squats, bench press, and RDLs (hopped on a bit of Cal Dietz’s work right now). The advice is to hold the bottom part of the movement where you are the weakest and hold this for 5-7 seconds of pain. This will be done with heavy loads (70% or more of the 1RM) for sets of 3-8 reps. 3-5 sets later of pain and you will be good to go. Do this for a week or two and move on. This might help, but at least it will make him tougher. This is the cherry on top.

Wrap up

I think the increase in his aerobic base is the key element here to enhance. He currently does a lot of high intensity circuit training which is good, but to get the greatest improvements in aerobic capacity will require that he does work in those zones. Now for other folks that are reading this, the aerobic base is one of the foundations of performance much like maximal strength. Take time and develop it and keep in mind that it isn’t built in a day. I hope you enjoyed reading this and as always comment if you have any questions.