KySCA notes from the presentations

In April of 2017 the Kentucky State chapter of the National Strength and Conditioning Association had their annual conference at Georgetown college. It was a good conference and the night before it was fun to sit back and chat with a number of the speakers. To protect the innocent I won’t talk about any of the conversations that we had that night, but I will say our speakers and members of the state board are funny human beings. So without further ado, here are my notes from each speaker along with links to the speakers.

Quinn Hennoch

Dr. Quinn Hennoch a physical therapist from Kentucky, but working in California. He was our first speaker on the day. He talked about different progressions with training depending on where people are at with mobility and coming back from injury. So if they can’t barbell back squat, have them safety bar squat, if they can’t do that then front squat, to kettlebell squat, to split squat. Try to progress your clients to the most difficult variation of the movement they can do with pain free full range of motion. Simple stuff, but easy to overlook. He had his progression for Olympic movements also, like doing the snatch balance and overhead squat first and progressing eventually to the true snatch from the floor.

He spoke about programming isometrics as analgesics to get folks able to train. Along with using the bear position then rock back to kettle bell squat stretch. There was some interesting stuff on programming your rehab more frequently if the type of stressor you are applying is very low and then decreasing your rehab frequency (times per week) when the intensity of each session increases. Also when joint health and positions are limiting factors there might be a time and place for doing partial range of motion exercises.

Jason Cholewa

Dr. Cholewa presented on nutrition and athletes. Specifically how improving body composition is useful for nearly every single sport. Leaner athletes typically were faster and more powerful relative to their body mass. He advised taking in a higher protein diet along with making better nutritional decisions. I enjoyed his talks on protein threshold for each meal being about .25g/kg of body mass, along with having a protein refractory period of 3-5 hours to give the body time to clear out ingested protein. Lots of good advice on not bulking for too long since it causes more fat weight gain and less lean mass gain. Other points on how protein post workout is likely more important for hypertrophy than the carbohydrates (though the carbs are important for energy store recovery in some athletes).

John Rusin

Dr. John Rusin is another Physical Therapist who spoke about different types of psychological profiles for trainees which was interesting, along with their methodology for warm ups followed by the workout. I liked his basic set up and it is worth looking up his work since he posts a large amount on the internet on different websites and has his own online program.

I did like his idea of potentiation exercises like doing face pulls before pressing, hamstring and hip activation before squatting, and pull overs before heavy pulling exercises. Other parts he talked about was how to select your supplemental exercises depending on your goals along with how you want to finish workouts which looked like often the active cooldown was simply to go take a walk for five to ten minutes (yeah walking).

A final point that I enjoyed from his presentation was to find the linchpin for the fitness with the people you are working with. What is the one movement, exercise, joint, etc. that when you improve that all other function moves forward. This was also applied to the psychology of the individual you are working with. Do they enjoy different training stimuli (ala crossfitesque)? Do they avoid pain? Do they want to always see some type of reward? Finding out what excites them to train harder is a big carrot to help improve their effort.

Heather Engel and Alex Calder

Coaches Engel and Calder work at the University of Louisville with a variety of division one sports. They spoke about athlete tracking using both expensive GPS methods and then inexpensive methods like ratings of perceived exertion. By tracking the volume of work that your athletes are doing in both the gym and field you can help decrease risk of injury. The goal is to avoid training monotony (meaning nearly the same training volume each day) and avoid increasing the total training load to greatly from one week to the next (not doubling your normal work performed each week or day to day from what the athletes have done before).

The simple method of using the athlete RPE (rating of perceived exertion) for a training session in conjunction with the total length of the training session is an easy way for a coach to help track the difficulty of a training session to make sure that you aren’t over stressing the athlete much less causing them to have monotonous type of training.

Pat Rigsby

Pat Rigsby is a gentlemen who seems to have worn every single hat. He’s been a baseball coach, strength coach, teacher, administrator, and business owner (which he spends most of his time doing now). He spoke about his keys for starting and running an effective business. He’s got a lot of his stuff up on the net that you can check out, but I’m going to put his basic steps down that he gave without the additional notes that I took.

Step 1: What’s the goal?

Step 2: Create the plan

Step 3: Play to your strengths

Step 4: Make it happen

I did enjoy his talk a lot and think there is some good information he added to each point. I’m obviously not much of a businessman, but I did enjoy his ideas and thoughts on how to be successful in this area. Along with you get paid to get things done, not to just start them.

Steve Burba and Tyler Young

These coaches spoke about strongman training and how to use implements like sandbags, stones, and kettlebells for high rep conditioning exercises like practicing loading, carries, and presses as a low skill but high carryover exercise that is approachable for just about anyone to try. The interesting fact is they use this type of training with their clients of all age groups. So they would have grandma loading sandbags (once she showed decent technique with it) for a set period of time. It really is nearly all concentric style work so the amount of stress and damage on the musculature is minimized and I think a good training methodology to be applied on occasion to someone when they are in an off season of potentially in season and just want a simple lower stress training program for a period of time.

Summary

So that was the abridged version of the notes that I took from the presentations that each of our speakers gave. Thanks again for all of them coming to the conference. I linked to them where I could in the post so please look up the speakers if you are interested in knowing more or getting some coaching from them. Thanks as always for reading and have a great day.

Basic weight training plan for the cheer team

With the summer in full force not all of you will have a large amount of time to train in the gym, much less have access to a gym. With that basic knowledge here is a program that you can do quickly in a gym or with just your bodyweight. The goal is to do these two training days once each week and separate them by at least one rest day. Be sure that you warm up before doing the circuits and do a very light set or two of each exercise before you start counting your sets.

Exercise performance

Make sure that you always use a full range of motion and the best technique that you can. Increase the load from one set to the next where possible. When you are able to get all of the reps on each of the sets then it is time to increase the load by the smallest increment (2.5-5lbs.). If you are already lifting weights frequently then take and add in these exercises to your program and if you are already doing them, then change nothing. Take a minute or two between each set on the weight training program. On the bodyweight program take as little rest as possible to do all of the exercises and reps of them without letting your technique breakdown.

Weight training program

Day 1 2
Exercise Squat Dead lift
Sets x Reps 5×6 4×5
Exercise Shoulder press (standing) Close Grip Bench Press
Sets x Reps 4×8 4×8
Exercise DB Rows Seated DB shoulder press
Sets x Reps 5×10 3×10
Exercise Back Extensions Bodyweight Low Rows w/ shrug
Sets x Reps 5×15 5×10+
Exercise Hanging Leg Raises Waiters Walks
Sets x Reps 5×10+ 5 trips each arm (25 yards minimum)

 

Bodyweight circuit

Day 1 2
Exercise x Reps Squat x 20 Squat x 20
Exercise x Reps Pushups x 10 Clapping push up x 10
Exercise x Reps V-ups x10 Sit ups x 20
Exercise x Reps Walking lunges x 20 Reverse Lunges x 20
Exercise x Reps Superman x 20 Hip thrust x 20
Exercise x Reps Side crunches x 20 each side Side plank :30 each side
Exercise x Reps Burpees x 10 Burpees x 10
Exercise x Reps Lateral lunge x 10 each leg Lateral bounds x 10 each leg
Exercise x Reps Diamond Push up x 10 Hand stand pushups x 10 (or hold for :20)
Exercise x Reps Deck squat x20 One legged deck squat x10 each
Rounds of the circuit 2 2

Each week add another round of the circuit until you are doing each circuit for a total of 5 times through.

Exercise selection

It is ok to change the exercises to versions you can do. For example, changing the back squat to the dumbbell goblet squat. But you should not change the exercises to something that is unrelated, an example of this would be to take out squats and add in bench press. You can switch from doing dumbbell presses to kettlebell presses or barbell presses. For bodyweight exercises if you can’t currently do all of the reps on pushups switch over and do pushups from your knees.

Summary

This basic program should help you lay down a simple framework of strength that we can further develop in the fall when we get you in to the weight room (one weight room or another). Make sure that you are doing one of the two above programs if you aren’t currently doing any resistance training. If you have questions please comment below and click the links on the exercises that you aren’t familiar with. If you are already doing a program that has these types of movements in them then don’t worry about using this. If your program doesn’t have these exercises in them, then be sure to add them in to your program.

Basic Cardio plan for the EKU Cheer Team

With our conditioning test for the team being able to run an 8 minute mile, here is the basic plan to follow to help train yourself up for hitting a mile run in under the time constraint. The goal is to train for three days per week.

This should be done in conjunction with gym training involving both stunting and tumbling along with weight training. Listen to your body and progress yourself accordingly each week. If you have questions please comment below and we will try and answer it to the best of our abilities. Be sure to warm up a bit before each of these training days and to take some time to stretch out afterwards.

Day 1) Short Repeats

For these you are going to run 200-400 yards as fast as you can then walk to recover for 60 seconds and then perform another run. The goal is to do this at a pace that is faster than an 8 minute mile. If you do this on the track your goal is to run one lap in less than two minutes or half a lap in less than one minute. This is going to help you get used to the speed that you will need to go in order to hit your mile time goal. If you don’t have a track nearby, a football field or basketball court will work. For the basketball court just run a suicide (shuttle run that you can look up easily online) on it instead.

Start off with 800 yards worth of sprinting and then add 200 yards of sprinting each week. IF this is too much for your body to handle then only do 200 as your sprint distance and only do 600 yards worth of volume. If you are out running the program just do 400 yard runs and only build up to 8 repeats at most. Instead focus on just increasing the speed that you run these at.

Day 2) Fartlek Training

Fartlek training is really just a fancy term for going from a jog to a run then to a walk and back to a jog again. Aim for the walk to be at a very fast pace, the jog to be what is comfortable, and the run for you to be pushing yourself regardless how you feel at that time.

You can do this just about anywhere and aim to either hold each speed for a set distance (100 yards of each) or for a set amount of time (15 seconds each). Both methods will work, but pick one and keep up with it. Start off with doing this style of training for one mile worth of work and then increase your total distance by one tenth (.1) miles per week.

Day 3) Long Slow Distance (LSD) training

This is what it sounds like. Either go for a long easy run, or find a piece of cardio equipment and put in at least half an hour of constant work. Your goal is to get your heart rate over 120 beats per minute and keep it there the entire time. IF you are out running don’t worry about this, but if you are doing this on a piece of cardio equipment in a gym then you need to stay on top of this. Focus on putting in the work here and increase your duration by 5 minutes each week.

Other notes on training

Softer surfaces like grass, turf, and rubberized tracks will be easier on your joints than running on concrete or pavement. Having a watch to time yourself with the different training days will be very useful along with making sure that you follow the right recovery and training times. Having a training partner here will also make all of this work a lot easier to do.

You will likely be the sorest after the short repeats day and have the least soreness after the long slow distance day. Try to take a day off between each training day, but if you need to you can go back to back with your training days. Do this training after your do your skill training of weight training for that day or make sure that you separate the sessions by at least four hours.

dragging sleds
Long slow distance with a sled

Summary

Follow this basic plan and you should be able to make the eight minute mile test at the end of the summer. Make sure that you start right now then progress slowly. The longer you put this off, the less likely you are going to pass the test when the time comes. Good luck with your training and I hope that this helps.

Nootropics, a primer on supplements for your mind

Supplementation is often used as a means to enhance your physical performance, but another interesting part of supplementation is nootropics. Nootropics are chemicals that you can use to enhance different forms of mental performance. This can be things like reaction time, concentration, and memory. There are a number of different nootropics on the market that have a variety of individual ingredients in them that may or may not have a positive effect on performance. This post is meant to be a basic primer of different major classifications of nootropics that might be worth you money.

Don’t worry about supplementation as a means to enhance your cognitive performance if you are failing to do basic things for brain health like sleeping and eating a healthy diet. Just picking better food sources that have things like omega 3s and avoiding running huge amounts of sugar seems to do you more favors for performance than you would see from using these substances detailed below.

As with all supplements remember there is always individual response, so you might find some are worth you money and others have no effect. Also, if you cycle off and don’t notice any changes keep in mind that some supplements take time to build up effectiveness and have some residual effects, so do your diligence (on research). Furthermore, the placebo effect is a major confounding factor where your own psychology is what gives the supplement its power not the pharmacology. Be careful to not abuse these substances, since high intakes of any compound can cause desensitization on occasion (decreased number of receptors) which in turn will cause you to become dependent on them for just normal function and when you stop you can have a decline in performance.

Another little note on using nootropics is that when you take them you might have an enhancement of your cognition, memory, focus, etc., but they also tend to have a fall out afterwards in that you can simple be cognitively tired (feel like your brain is fried). I have had friends use these compounds and all it gave them was a headache. Others I know that have used these thought they would wait for them to kick in before they started studying so they would clean for a few minutes, and 6 hours later had completely cleaned their entire apartment. So individual effects may vary, read up on the dosages yourself and start conservatively and work your way up. Also some of these agents work well by being “stacked”, this means taking one with another can help bolster the effect of both. I won’t really advise how to stack these compounds, but do your own research here is you think that it might be useful for you.

Amphetamines

This is anything that will help you speed up. The most commonly used amphetamine in the world is caffeine. Caffeine not only increases energy, but also improve aerobic performance, decrease perceptions of pain, and potential increase power production. There are other amphetamines like ephedra, Adderall, and cocaine. Now these amphetamines also have their issues like putting stress on your cardiovascular system, can cause anxiety, and have habituation/addictive effects. Keep in mind that you will get used to the effects of caffeine and with time require larger doses in order to have the same effect. The ergogenic effects of caffeine seem to be seen at a dosage of 3-6mg/kg of bodyweight, so for a person that weighs about 155lbs. we are talking about a total dosage of 210-420mg of caffeine. This comes out to a good espresso or two. Things like ephedra have been linked to sudden death in athletes and other more potent ones like DMAA have also been taken off the market for having serious life threatening side effects. Dosage on all of these compounds is incredibly important to follow and should not be used on a frequent basis.

Racetams

This is a class of chemicals that have a positive effect on cognition and learning. There are a number of variations in the racetam class with the first one to come across would be piracetam. This racetam has been investigated for its positive effect on cognition specifically it seems to be useful with things like potentially decrease the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s and other neuro degenerative diseases. As far as its ability to improve cognition that is relatively mild compared to some other racetams. I’m going to discuss a few of the more popular racetams, but this list is far from comprehensive. Do some personal research on this if you think you might be interested in using one of these supplements.

Oxiracetam

This is a more potent version of the racetam family that can help with excitatory neurotransmitters along with potentially help with increasing memory. The key here is once again related to their ability to decrease cognitive decline with age. The research in humans to enhance overall performance in young people isn’t quite there (but rats and mice seem to work).

Aniracetam

This is another more potent form of piracetam that I have experience with using. This seemed to have a positive effect on my memory retention along with allowing me to visualize structures in biochemistry (felt like having a photographic memory). Overall use in humans has shown it to have effects on association and might have some uses with anxiety and depression. I did like this compound, but it is fat soluble so you need to make sure that you are taking this with some form of fat.

Phenylpiracetam

This is the racetam that is illegal in Olympic competition. It conveys benefits by having the same effects as piracetam but is known to be stimulating of the nervous system (hence being illegal in sports) along with enhancing tolerance of cold. This was used by a friend that informed me that it greatly increased his energy to a point that was uncomfortable.

Anxiolytics

These are compounds that help you calm down. One of the most popular here to look at is theanine. Theanine is an amino acid that you will find in things like green tea. Taking an equivalent dosage of theanine with you caffeine can help with decrease the jitters and anxiety you might get from larger caffeine consumption. There are other compounds like 5-HTP which work as a serotonin precursor which can also help with relaxation of the mind. Phenibut is another one that helps with relaxation and specifically can be used as a sleep aid. I have used this some and found it to work well, but if you don’t sleep enough you will feel like you have a hangover when you wake up in the morning (for me sleep less than eight hours). The research on this is mostly Russian, but it seems to have an effect, be sure to not use this on a daily basis since it seems it can be habit forming.

Cholinergenics

Choline is a molecule that is an important precursor to neurotransmitters in the brain (such as acetyl choline which causes muscle contraction among other roles) and works to help with membrane integrity and health. Variations on this compound like DMAE can help with avoiding the accumulation of beta amyloid plaques but like to not really enhance cognitive performance. Other versions like Alpha-GPC potentially can improve power output and cognitively decline also, but further research must be done. The nice thing about choline is a good source of it are foods like eggs.

Mushrooms/Adaptogens

There are a number of mushrooms that are being popularized for their ability to improve cognitive processes. These are not the type of mushrooms that will cause you to trip out, but instead have individual factors that help with cell signaling in the brain specifically to grow more structures. Currently, one popular mushroom for cognitive performance is lion’s main (also known as Yamabushitake mushroom) which does seem to help increase signaling molecules to build neurons (neurological growth factors). The dosage here seems to vary on the study but it might help with anxiety, depression, or cognition in general. Cordyceps is another mushroom that is currently touted to have a positive effect on aerobic performance and health in general, but for now the research in this area is lacking. It is often mixed in with a variety of other compounds for supplements so it is hard to pare down to see if it really had the main effect. One final mushroom to highlight is Chaga, which might have some effects on cognition and being an anti-inflammatory but further research must be performed before any serious conclusions can be made.

Adaptogens are herbs and spices that can have positive effects on the body’s adaptations to stress. Some popular examples of these are rhodalia rosia, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba. Rhodalia is an herb that has been shown to have effects on decreasing fatigue, but hasn’t been shown to have the greatest effect on cognitive performance. It might help with depression and dealing with toxins or stressors on the brain, but more research must be performed. There may also be positive effects on longevity by taking this compound. Ginkgo Biloba is a popular herb that can help with slight improvements in cognition and help avoid cognitive decline. Overall it has a good amount of research backing its effects and it is a plant that is relatively easy to grow.

Ginseng is the most popular herb to take throughout the world as an adaptogen. Ginseng has been shown to have a variety of effects on the brain and body. Overall, it can help with improving mood, decreasing fatigue, and perhaps having other positive effects on performance from improved circulation. There isn’t a huge body of knowledge on this compound (compared to caffeine and creatine) but there is a solid amount which suggests a variety of positive effects on cognition, but nothing too massive.

Summary

This is just a quick list of different compounds that may have some positive effect on cognition. Always keep in mind that the dosage of the compounds are important. Taking too little will give no benefits and taking too much can cause some negative health consequences. If you are going to try any of them go read up on them some more (examine.com and peer reviewed research is the place to start). I hope this has been useful for you and if you have any questions of otherwise please leave a comment. Thanks as always for reading.

References:

Used a number of them but below are the big ones to take a look at outside of peer reviewed journals.

https://examine.com/supplements/oxiracetam/

examine.com

1st Principles

“The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aristotle was the first major philosopher to put forth (at least in recorded history) the idea of working from your first principles. This is the ability to come all the way down to the very basic concepts and build up from there. Now he did make a number of mistakes when it comes to chemistry and biology, but the basic idea of working from first principles is a great thing for each of us to attempt.

Why should I care?

This is the foundation of the entire pyramid. With a strong base you can move forward and build. Take the time with whatever you are working with to find the real base of the problem and move forward from there. Once you have deduced the base you can also make your process more efficient as you only direct your attention at that which will have a great effect.

An Example

When it comes to maximal strength there are three different key components at the base. They are; your technique, your ability, and your psychology. The ability to enhance your strength through ability (muscle size, anthropometrics, etc.) is the hardest to increase and takes months and years to appreciably improve. The ability to perform a movement with optimal technique takes minutes to hours to improve but will let you perform at a higher capacity very efficiently. Finally, if you have a mental block or are not psychologically ready for a heavy load, no amount of ability or technique will allow that load to move. So if you are working with someone trying to enhance their maximal squat first check their technique followed by their psychology and final we start training ability.

Another Example

At the end of the day the biggest component to body weight change is simply the amount of calories that you are taking in relative to the amount of calories you are burning. Ketogenic diets, paleo, vegan, or whatever diet you are on won’t cause you to lose weight if you are in a caloric surplus. The first principle of the human body is simple thermodynamics where if you keep adding energy to a system the body will store that energy (I’m not talking about heat energy, hopefully you catch my drift). From there your macronutrient breakdown will have a large effect on the type of weight you gain or lose (hint: protein helps on all fronts). Things like supplementation and meal timing don’t have that big of an effect, so don’t fall prey to supplement companies touting how their raspberry ketones are going to make you lose weight.

Summary

Find the first principle of whatever you are working towards and then move forward. This will feed in to another post I’ll be putting up in a few weeks about thinking about the mechanism of action. I hope this was useful for you and if you have any questions about how to apply this please let me know. Thanks as always for reading.

Something Fishy or Should I take Fish Oil?

Intro

On occasion I will have a friend or family member ask me about taking fish oil. Now this is a good supplement to add to your diet in certain situations. However, there are big differences in quality and effectiveness of the fish oil depending on what kind you buy, how it was manufactured, and how you store it. My goal here is to just put together a simple primer on why you might want to take fish oil and what to look for in a good fish oil (hint you pay for quality here like other areas of life).

Why

In the human body and your diet there is a class of fats known as poly unsaturated fatty acids. These fats have multiple double bonds (hence “Poly”) which causes them to bend in certain ways. This bending influences how they are going to function in the body. If you count the carbons (that is what a fatty acid chain is, just carbon linked together) starting from the end that doesn’t have oxygen on it (omega) the first double bound you come to is what type of fatty acid it is. If your first double bond comes up just after the third carbon you have an omega three fatty acid, if your first double bond comes up just after the sixth carbon you have an omega six fatty acid. This goes on and on accordingly. Now aside from where the first double bond shows up you have differences in the length of these fatty acids, some might be chains of 20 carbons in a row others might be only 16 in a row (and many more variations from here).

The ratio of our omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid intake in the body is important for inflammation and overall health (science). The problem here is that most processed foods and grain fed meats are higher in the omega 6 fatty acids (also your vegetable oils). So we want to balance this out by either eating foods that have a higher amount of omega 3 (like wild salmon) or if obviously those higher tier food choices are prohibitively expensive we supplement.

Buying your fish oil

There are a lot of options in the store that you can get. The key is don’t just buy the first fish oil supplement you see or the one on sale. The goal here is to first look at how many omega 3s are in each serving. This is where “double strength” capsules can be useful. Some supplements are less than 10% omega three fatty acids (the rest of the fat is different monos, omega 6s, and even potentially saturated). So look at how many grams or milligrams are in each serving of the supplement you are looking at. Your goal will be to take in at least a gram of omega three fatty acids each day and that amount increases with your size and caloric intake (tend to take in more omega 6s with more calories in the diet).

There isn’t a large difference between buying the liquid or the capsules. Essentially the two will be flavored differently in the liquid form which can make it more palatable for some folks. Emulsified fish oils tend to taste even better but won’t make a big difference on the yield of the fatty acids. Also, higher quality fish oils will pull out the mercury and other “toxins”. Aim to pick fish lower on the food chain when given an option. Finally if the fish oil says that it is processed in nitrogen or an oxygen free environment that is a good thing, since those conditions don’t allow for the fish oil to become rancid when it is being processed.

The next part on the label you will notice is the EPA and DHA servings. These are two very important omega 3 fatty acids that have slightly different effects in the body. Though EPA can convert in to DHA. Look at the total dosages of each of the omega three fatty acids to see which it happens to have more of. Here is a quick breakdown of what the differences are between EPA and DHA:

EPA

Eicosapentaenoic acid is the omega three that is important in inflammation signaling, neurological function, and even endothelial function. It seems to help with avoiding the development of plaques in your arteries along with helping for normal cognitive development.

DHA

Docosahexaenoic acid is the omega three that is important in the nervous system, specifically being a big part of what makes myelin (the insulation to make your nerves fire faster). By getting in adequate amounts of this you can help your nervous system and there seems to be some evidence that supplementing with it can decrease the risk of concussion and speed the recovery from one.

ALA

Another fatty acid that I haven’t brought up yet is ALA (alpha linolenic acid). ALA is the basic omega three fatty acid that your body then converts in to EPA. This is the form you find in plant based omega three fatty acid supplements or foods. This isn’t a bad thing, but doesn’t have the same positive effects and the conversion of ALA in to EPA is not that efficient (also depends on your genetics to a certain extent).

Basics of fish oil supplements

When you buy a fish oil supplement after reading the label you want check a few things. First make sure that the supplement isn’t cloudy. If the fish oil is cloudy that can often mean that it is starting to go rancid (these fats breakdown relatively easily), which in turn causes the supplement to not have the positive effect that it is hoped to have had. You can buy the oil or capsules, but there is really no big differences between the two choices as long as you are buying quality. Finally, if the fish oil smells off it has definitely started to go rancid and you need to throw it out (you can crack a fish oil capsule smell that too to check).

Once you buy fish oil supplements due yourself a favor and store them in the fridge. This tends to keep down the “fish burps” and helps the supplement stay good for longer. You can try to mix this in with shakes and such, but don’t use it for cooking since the heat can cause it to break down and change.

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If you live in Alaska and catch fish all the time you don’t need to buy fish oil.

Summary

There are a few components to keep in mind when looking at fish oil supplementation. If you are already eating a diet that is high in quality meat sources that have adequate amounts of omega threes don’t worry about supplementation. But if you are on a budget, investing in a decent fish oil can be worth your money especially if you happen to participate in a number of sports and activities that cause inflammation, have a risk for concussion, or just want to have better health in general. This is a supplement that I suggest nearly everyone takes.

References

http://advances.nutrition.org/content/3/1/1.full

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/1/5.short

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273230003001004

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1043661899904954

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2004.00552.x/full

Getting paid to walk (short post)

So one of my hobbies I picked up since getting a severe concussion is to go on a nice long walk. I try to do this once each day. It seems to help clear my head and tends to make it so I have less issues with my brain on that day, which is always very nice. I do this in the mornings or evenings, but it either way I get it in. There are a number of reasons that I walk, but mostly I’m doing it for the money.

Making that Paper

When walking I come across a penny, nickel, and occasionally a dime or quarter. In fact I find change when walking at about a rate of one coin per week (did the math). So in about a year of long walks I can figure I make about $3.65 (average coin I find being between nickel and a dime). With good compounding interest and another 50+ years of this I figure I might make a grand total of $500.00. We will see what inflation brings there, since that might eat in to it. As you can tell this is a great part time job for me to have. Ok, so the real uses for all this walking comes in other areas.

walking for money
Woot, making that paper!!!

The gains in health

Turns out walking is a very simple form of exercise where you can get some positive effects on not only cardiovascular health, but mental. It can seemingly have positive effect on cognition, idea generation, and problem solving (science). Exercise in general has a positive effect on cognitive function and low intensity work can have these positive effects without additional risks that higher intensity exercise can have and doesn’t leave you fatigued. Walking enough steps has also been related to improving insulin sensitivity. This is important for avoiding things like type 2 diabetes. It can help lower your blood pressure and your resting heart rate. Overall, walking can help improve a number of different parts of your health

Summary

Take a walk. It is a simple and cheap way to get in some light recovery work that will help you not only burn calories, but feel better. It helps improve your heath and helps avoid some chronic diseases of living that can occur. So once again go take a walk and pay yourself with good health. Thank for taking a moment to read this short one, but I wanted to share how I’ve been enjoying this.

Pec and Labrum Repair Saga: part 1

So after trying to rehab for six months the only thing left to do was get my pec reattached and labrum repaired since I had fully peaked out on how much my pec was going to handle. Furthermore my labrum, which I injured back in the day when cheering at Kansas went downhill very quickly. I was lucky enough to get hooked up with some shoulder specialists in Lexington to do the repair, after an MRI and physical examinations confirmed what had occurred it was time to get the surgery scheduled.

The week and night before

The week before the surgery I went hard in the paint with training since I knew I would be taking some time off afterwards. Along with getting a few supplements to help with recovery in the house, I met with other folks that have went through things like this and their advice on this. The sleep the night before was definitely not the best since I was obviously a bit nervous. I finished up my eating and drinking by 11pm.

Surgery morning

Rising up, back on the street. Took my time, took my chances. We got up somewhat early since I was supposed to be in by 8am to get taken back and prepped. The surgery center was pretty quiet and empty when we walked in. I was taken back after not too long and then went and got an IV put in that they missed on the first try.

Anesthesiologist

While on the bed I got to meet my anesthesiologist where I learned about how I would be trached and how I might wake in a huge amount of pain needing a nerve block in my shoulder. That was exciting to hear about. He was very pleasant and nice which I enjoyed while laying on the bed.

Knocked out

After long enough my surgeon came in to say it was go time and I was carted off. Nothing like being wheeled to a room where you see all the tools about to be used on you and then hearing your pulse quicken (from the monitors) as they start to put the numbing agents and then the knock out juice in your veins. Very strange… Then I time traveled forward.

Waking up

I can’t tell you the defining moment of when I woke up, but I did wake up and I was sore. Honestly it was  nothing too bad. I had a huge pack of bandages on my shoulder and my brace for my shoulder and arm was strapped to me in the sling.

Pain scales are stupid

So remember how I said I don’t remember waking up, that’s because I was up for a bit and have no memory of it. Aside from asking for my wife as the first thing I did, I was a real pain in the backside. They kept asking me to rate my pain on a scale from 1-10. I told them that pain scales are a dumb and abstract method to rate discomfort. How do we compare the pain that one person is experiencing to another? Can you make direct comparisons? Needless to say I was a pain… to them.

Trached

While they did the work on me I was sedated enough that they needed to put in a trachiometry so machines could breathe for me. I don’t remember it going in or out, but my throat was a little sore and taking a deep breathe felt weird like I had bronchitis or something. This happens to some folks and just a heads up to others that might go through this.

The sling

The sling itself is interesting, keeping my arm internally rotated with a 90 degree bend at the elbow. A solid bar wrapped in foam with a belt keeps it strapped to my rib cage and then another strap keeps my hand up that loops over one side of my neck. I also had a little foam grip to hold that started to smell after a few days since turns out my hand likes to sweat.

Nausea

The put me on Percocet (aka perkies), these did not make me perky. Instead it made me nauseous, nothing like dry heaving and feeling rough when you have an arm brace on so you can’t get in a comfortable puking position. Thankfully, this was only the night this happened (I stopped taking them that night). After getting off the perkies I had no more issues with this. We switched to acetaminophen and ibuprofen mix for about a day then no more pain drugs at all.

Sleeping (well kinda)

Due to the brace I could only sleep inclined on my back. We used a ramp pillow for me to lay on the bed and then used a number of pillows to prop up my elbow and keep me from rolling over to the other side. I would wake up a number of times throughout the night, then move around a bit and fall back asleep. The good news is each night this gets a bit better.

staples in the arm
Here is how I looked four days after when I got to shower and take off my bandages.

Summary

This is enough for how things started off for now. I tried typing a lot of this with one hand directly after surgery and boy howdy was my typing horrible. I’m currently one month post operation and doing rehab which is progressing well. The next post will be about what I really did after the first few days. I hope this helps for anyone that might go through a surgery like this and feel free to share it with anyone you know that might be about to go through a procedure like this.

Post edit: I went through and fixed my spelling and grammar throughout since there were a large number of mistake initially.

The Bodyweight Program

I’ve written a bit before about how the body is a barbell and some folks barbells are loaded a bit heavier than others. The nice thing about doing bodyweight training is it is always available to you. You don’t need special equipment (but that does add in more options), and you don’t need special places for it. Really all you need is gravity and breathable air. However, since we can’t just add weight to the bar we have to do different things to make the program more challenging and to progress it accordingly with time. My goal here is to offer up some basic programming and then after that give you some progressions on how you can just focus on bodyweight training if that is all you have available.

Programming

Since you are working with bodyweight how you can improve your performance is to add in volume by increasing the number of sets or reps. There are ways you can change the leverage of an exercise in order to make it harder for progression. For now figure when you can do a set of 12 reps with no issues of technique breaking down then progress to the harder version of the exercise. You can also invest in something like a weight vest to easily be able to add weight to the movement (or you can gain weight, but this will be much harder to accomplish). Below is a basic programing that you can use with bodyweight to help yourself improve with time.

Week Sets Reps Total reps
1 5 5 25
2 5 6 30
3 6 5 30
4 6 6 36
5 5 7 35
6 4 8 32
7 3 9 27
8 3 10 30

 

Now this progression might be a bit too aggressive for most, but just an idea of how you can go about this. Aim to add a rep to each set each week, another set, or at the least increase your total number of reps performed each week. Play around with this and find out what level of progression works best for you and your body.

Aim to train the movements at least once per week, but with bodyweight don’t be afraid to go up to 4 or 5 times per week. As always follow your body and a simple one day on and one day off programming can work well. Follow your body and how well it recovers to figure out if you want to add in more days of training each week.

Progressions for the upper body pushing

When people think about upper body pushing most people will think about simply doing push ups. This is a great start, but here is a basic table of how things work for progression and regressions.

Push up variations Handstand push up variations Dips
Push ups on knees Pike push ups Bench dips feet on floor
Push ups on toes Pike push ups feet on bench Bench dips feet on bench
Push up feet on bench Kipping Handstand push ups Bar dips partial ROM
Diamond push up Handstand push up partial ROM Bar dips full ROM
One armed push up Handstand push up full ROM Ring dips partial ROM
One arm and one leg push up Handstand push up on paralettes Ring dips full ROM

As always focus on technique and only progress to the next movement once you have conquered the previous. You should be able to google a video of any of these and if you have questions about any of them as always please just leave a comment. Play around with hand placement when you can to get slightly different recruitment patterns and find out what works best for you.

plus size handstand push ups.jpg
Hand stand push up with a weight vest on. Notice the lack of pluralization on the “push up”.

Progressions for the upper body pulling

With the pushing work you need to balance things out to be sure and have enough pulling volume to keep in balance here is the basic progressions to use for pulling exercises.

Pull up variations Low row variations
Jumping pull up Knees bent high level low rows
Pull up negative only Legs straight high level low rows
Iso hold pull up Legs straight low level low rows
Pull ups Feet elevated low level low rows
Pull ups chest to bar Feet elevated low level low rows with iso hold
Pull ups with one arm negative Feet off ground low rows
Muscle ups One arm low rows

Same rules apply on pulling in that you can try different hand placements to have slightly different effects on recruitment and how the exercise will feel. Play around with this to find what feels the best, or just change on occasion to give yourself some more variety.

Progressions for the lower body

This one can be hard to find progression with, but play around with foot placement, tempo, and don’t be afraid to go crazy with the volume and do sets of 20+ repetitions once you get in good enough shape.

Squat Variations Lunge Variations Hip Thrust Variations
High box squat Hands supported on rails lunge Two legged hip thrust
Moderate box squat One hand supported on rail lunge Heels together frog thrust
Low box squat Lunge One legged hip thrust
Bodyweight squat Walking lunge Shoulders elevated hip thrust
Deck squat (can use variation on lateral lunges like this) Shoulders elevated one legged hip thrust
High box single leg squat    
Moderate box single leg squat    
Low box single leg squat    
Single leg squat    
Single leg deck squat    

You can apply the same lunge variation progression to exercises like Bulgarian split squats. Choose what works well for you and your mobility.

Progressions for the “core”

We will apply the same methods that we applied before only now to basic core exercises. Here is a list with some progressions.

Sit up variations Leg raise variations Plank variations
Crunches Knee raise Elbows and knees
Sit up hands on hips Straight leg raise Elbows and toes
Sit up hands on chest Knees to elbows Elbows at forehead level and toes
Sit up hands on head Toes to bar Hands in front of head and toes
Sit up arms over your head   (can apply this to side planks to
V ups   Star side plank
dragon flags
Dragon Flag demo. Yes that isn’t in the table, this is harder than V-Ups

Take and work your way up the ladder when you can. At some point your duration and volume are going to peak out.

Summary

So that is the basics of how to program and progress bodyweight exercises. You can get in good physical condition and moderate levels of strength by just using body weight exercises (especially in the upper body). Don’t be afraid to experiment with different exercises and schemes and use a good bodyweight exercise on each of your training sessions. Nearly all bodyweight exercises can be modified to be easier or harder so play around and program to the level you are at. Now when you get strong enough it is time to look at external loads like barbells, but as a good starting point (and inexpensive one) the body is a barbell so go lift it.