Archives For August 2011

Be Good At Everything

August 29, 2011 — 10 Comments

“You can’t be good at everything.”

Why not?

Ok, I guess you can’t be good at everything. But, I’m gonna talk about “fitness”, and why I hate it when someone everyone says that “you can’t be good at everything.”

Defining fitness briefly, and I actually like the CrossFit definition-(I can hear the eyes rolling and cries of despair).  The aspects (aspects, not skills. Skills are things like running, climbing, throwing, catching…) that make up fitness are strength, power, speed, agility, coordination, endurance, and flexibility (I actually prefer mobility).  The standard thought regarding training is that you have to sacrifice one area for another, and be strong and powerful with no endurance or mobility; be skinny and have great stamina but cannot squat your bodyweight; be a yogi that can’t do anything other than the broken wing eagle pose.  These arguments are of course ridiculous, just typical “this or that” thought.  Realistically you can be good at all those things.

We just gotta have a better view of what “good” is.  Good is not the best. Good is better than average. Good is something you are proud of. Good is good. We have a tendency to compare ourselves to the best(s) in every category. That’s frustrating and can be demoralizing. You can be good at all of those aspects of fitness; you may most likely not be the best at any one aspect-but being better than the vast majority of others in all aspects is pretty damn awesome.  Let’s be honest, most are NOT competing in any events; so the obsession with slightly improving one aspect- be it strength, endurance, etc- by focusing on that aspect and ignoring the other aspects is pretty useless.

Now, if you are competing, or are very focused on one personal goal or set of similar goals, then tailoring your training to support your goals or contest is great. However, the vast majority of us do not compete (running in the rock and roll marathon isn’t competing unless you have a chance at winning, BTW), and those specific and arbitrary goals of focused individuals are also not terribly common. The most common goals are to “be fit”, “not hurt”, “move better” and of course, to “look good naked” (or something along those lines).  You can accomplish those things at once-and you don’t have to follow a nazi esque approach of one method or another.  Getting “fit” is not a “my way or the highway” endeavor. Getting good at all of it is pretty simple: do some strength work, some mobility and agility work, some conditioning, some play, sleep well, eat well, and don’t obsess over arbitrary aspirations to take your back squat from 450lbs to 455lbs, or your 10k from 40 minutes to 39 minutes. Take what is lagging or lacking, emphasize it a bit more than the other aspects, and have fun. Seriously, have fun, enjoy yourself-otherwise it’s just another job.

My general split:

  • Monday: Strength and Power @ gym or with rocks outside
  • Tuesday:rest, or MovNat Conditioning or Basketball or yoga
  • Wednesday: Rest, or conditioning with MovNatting
  • Thursday: Strength and Power @ gym or with rocks outside
  • Friday: Rest. Foam Roll and TV with stretching, or a massage.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 8 hour MovNat workshops and practice. Endurance.
Author’s note:  In MovNat the focus is on the quality of movement, and once you have mastered certain skills you can start to address your personal goals of conditioning through the technical practice of your mastered skills. 

Well, 3 days ago American Ninja Warrior was on TV-and while I’m sure it’s really tough, it also looks really fun.  As luck would have it, I ended up in this gym in Santa Cruz, CF Maxim, and got to play around on some similar stuff.

I started out with different rolling on the ground stuff on the mats, then did TGU’s w/35,44,53,62,70lbs on each arm.  Then did 3 more sets with the 53lb where I would press in each different position of the TGU.  Then I did 5 95lb barbell TGU’s.  Then I started playing around on the camera and worked up to 120lbs on barbell 1 arm snatch, and various climbing fun.  Also did a couple of 445lb deadlifts, and some bottom up press work with the kb’s.

Here is some of the fun stuff

Butt Cheeks

August 19, 2011 — Leave a comment

I saw this magazine, GLUTES, in the store the other day…and it irritated me.

Ladies, your lower body, especially your gluteus, is made to potentially move heavy stuff.  This includes picking heavy stuff up.  It’s comical/a shame that mainstream fitness screws the message up and perpetuates beliefs that girls will bulk up if they lift heavy weights.  I wish more would listen to Rachel Cosgrove.  Magazines like

Oxygen screw up good exercises with poor advice and examples.  The GLUTES special edition of Oxygen has 5 or 6 exercise routines, and in fact includes some good exercises-Bulgarian split squat, wide stance deadliest, front squats, hip thrusts, RDL’s and step ups-BUT, they take those good exercises and turn them into silly exercises by having their models using 3lb pink rubber dumbbells to curl or press! No wonder their models look lean and not actually strong (I mean, where are the glutes even at in the magazine called Glutes?!?).  Girls have misconceptions that men like skinny girls-nope, girls like skinny girls for some reason. Men like healthy curves. Healthy means strong and capable.

So what to do? Find a qualified trainer to help make sure your form is good, and then move some actually heavy weight with the following exercises.

Deadlifts, with varied stances. Squats, with varied stances. Bulgarian Split squats. Hip thrusts. Kettlebell swings. Step Ups. Single leg RDLs.  I like the following setup.

To “warmup”-hip thrusts (bilateral and unilateral) and swings to “activate” dat ass

Do a bilateral and a unilateral lift each workout. example:

  1. Back squat and Bulgarian Split squats
  2. Wide stance deadlift and Step ups
  3. Front squat and Single leg RDL
Use heavy weights, as in if you can do 8 with good form, go heavier. 
Finally-take your ass outside and sprint uphill.

Your jeans will look better.

More muscle confusion…

August 18, 2011 — 3 Comments

Train the core everyday.

Train the core high reps.

Train the core as a mover.

Train the core in order to resist movement.

Now it’s don’t even train the core: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/are-crunches-worth-the-effort/

Here is my opinion on core training: it’s just more isolating muscles.  The fitness industry is moving away from triceps kickbacks and lateral delt day and towards multi joint/muscle exercises, which is nice….but the core is getting left behind in the isolation drills. Before I go further, I do think that planks, and anti rotation work, and even some crunches/bicycles etc (gasp!) have a place in every beginner’s/not consistent exerciser’s training regimen. These folks may lack the base of core strength needed to perform complex drills.  I really think that core training is akin to corrective exercise in that it is needed until its not needed any more. (Yeah, I’m a smartsass) Why would I need to plank for 3 minutes? Nope, progress that drill. How many reps of bird dogs do I need to do? Progress that drill. 100 crunches? Progress that drill!

The core is part of your whole body, and is going to be challenged in that system when training multi joint exercises-that’s why I believe once a certain baseline of core strength is reached, it may not be necessary to continue to directly train the core. Here are some of the drills I regularly throw in to my training which aren’t direct core exercises-yet do provide lots of stimulation. Front squats (both barbell and single KB), suitcase deadlifts, bulgarian split squats loaded one side at a time, all types of medicine ball tosses, odd object (stones, logs, sandbags, people) lifting, uneven carrying (my favorite), single dumbbell presses of all types and single arm pulls of all types. This isn’t a full list obviously, but while these aren’t direct core work-they certainly challenge the core.

Now-if you enjoy specifically training the core, I don’t think anyone would ever say that’s a bad idea. This is different than other isolation exercises in that if you really like your chest day, and you do it all the damn time, you end up with asymmetries that can be problematic.  However, if you keep performing core centric exercises, I can’t see any issues coming out of that. So it becomes a personal preference and time issue-you may not need to dedicate extra time to the core if you are already strong and performing intelligent and challenging full body drills.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to progress some common drills and make them more challenging.

Instead of crunches do Turkish Get Ups. A crunch is only the beginning of sitting up and standing-so why would we keep training only partial parts when we’ve reached a certain level of strength?

Instead of static planks, hold a plank and row. But row heavy! Keep those hips level.

Instead of bird dogs, crawl. But crawl for more than 10 yards. Keep your hips level with your shoulders, and to really make it fun, crawl on curbs, and don’t fall off.

MFCEO KPowers

August 17, 2011 — 1 Comment

I think that it’s important to bring attention to the following advertising campaign by KSwiss. It’s amazing. Kenny Powers is the fictional ex pro baseball player from HBO’s Eastbound & Down–which you should have watched by now.

One of my favorite bits from the show is here.

Now, back to the commercials:

Enjoy

You could check out my about me section….but below here are 4 better insights. Also you could read this http://chasingcapacity.com/2011/07/talking-movnat-with-clif-harski/

I really love halloween.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I sometimes grow funny mustaches for things like the RKC

 

 

 

 

This is how I feel about running for quasi to actually long distances.

 

 

 

 

  I had very cool bumper

stickers for my group fitness classes.

Big ass delicious meals.

August 10, 2011 — 18 Comments

I commonly am asked how to put on size while MovNatting/eating Paleo.  Pretty basic 3 steps.

  1. Create an overload on the body
  2. Eat lots of nutrient dense food
  3. Let your body recover before thrashing it again
There is so much info out there that I’m not going to rehash much-rather I will just share a couple of my favorite, big ass meals that I eat for the dense nutrition (read calorie heavy).
Sweet potato marrow mash
1. Cook the sweet potatoes (yams, whatever you wanna call ‘em) on 400 for like, an hour in the oven.  Don’t be disrespectful and boil them, or put them in the microwave.  We want them to get all syrupy and awesome.  Don’t waste your time cooking one either, cook as many as you can fit in your oven-its time efficient, and you’ll need the sweet pots for other meals on this list.
2. Cook the bone marrow during the first 15 minutes that the sweet pots are cooking.  MDA has a nice article about how.
3. Remove the marrow from the bone while you are waiting for the sweet pots to finish cooking.  Then don’t you dare throw the bones out-instead you had better make a bone broth.  Also use the remaining time to cook whatever meat and veggies you got going on.
4. When the sweet pots are done, add in the bone marrow and mash it up.  I personally don’t eat the skins.  If you’d like, you can cook the marrow on low in a pan so it becomes like butter.
5. Eat this and feel powerful.
Sweet potato discs
1. Take some of the cooked sweet pots from the fridge that you cooked when you made the bone marrow mash, and slice them into discs.  Fry these discs in either butter (if you’re not a paleo nazi), ghee (if you are), or coconut oil.  I alternate because they all taste different in good ways.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  I like to serve this with fried eggs.
Lazy shepherd pie
1 lb of ground meat ( I like wild boar, bison, cow, elk, antelope) cooked in butter and cumin.  Add precooked sweet potato and cinnamon.  Get fancy and layer it in a bowl, devour.
Enter the Plantain
Part 1
Eggs + Best Bfast Sausage Ever + Fried Plantain = Hercules
1. In a copious amount of coconut oil and butter combo, put diced plantain and diced sausage and brown it up.  Seriously, go try that applegate maple sausage, unless you live in a city I’m visiting, I can’t risk it being out at whole foods when I go to buy it.
2. Cook eggs in left over oils…which there won’t be much of since the plantain sponges it up real quick like.  So put in more.
Part 2
This is the ultimate calorie bomb, and should be eaten only if you aren’t a Paleo Nazi, enjoy life, and really wanna put back some calories.  It’s my favorite prefast meal.
1.  Put in A LOT of coconut oil, fry up diced plantains til browned a bit.
2. Remove plantain with slotted spoon and place in a bowl.
3. Chop up really dark (84%+) and sprinkle over plantains.  Then pour the left over hot oil over the chocolate-creating a magical coconut oil-chocolate syrup.
4. Add a scoop of crunchy peanut butter.  (Or macadamia, or almond, whatever your preference is….but peanut butter is scientifically proven to be at least 74% more better)
5. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Hagen Daaz Five Vanilla Bean is my go to.
6. Sprinkle coconut shreds ontop.
7. You’ll probably need to sit down as the cold/hot/crunchy/soft/gooey/salty/sweet/crispy/gooey stimulation to the mouth is a little overwhelming.
8. You’re a better human now that you’ve eaten this.
Coconut Oil
If you do smoothies, salads, or anything…eat more of this.  It is really damn good for you, and doesn’t give me (n-1) any belly problems like a lot of coconut milk can.
EAT MORE
The BIGGEST thing to remember when trying to put on size is that you have to eat to put on size.  If you eat “paleo” it can be tough to pack calories away.  Stop being a little wuss, you’ll get better at eating more, it just takes practice-like everything. For a more thorough look at exactly what type of commitment this is, you can look forward to the Whole9′s Dallas giving the lowdown on how he put muscle mass on in his fabled and forthcoming #cleanmassgain post.  I don’t think my ice cream plantain dish makes the cut… :(
These were just 4 calorically and nutritionally dense meals to try, sorry it doesn’t get into when, where, how much.  Quickly I would say
  • when-post workout
  • where-your kitchen, learn to cook
  • how much-LOTS AND LOTS if you wanna gain lbs
Visual Aid 
Gracias

AHS11. Holla.

August 8, 2011 — 15 Comments
I wanted to get all up in the action of recapping what happened at the AHS11 at UCLA this weekend.
Cavemen tweet
Seriously, a lot.  The AHS11 hashtag was blowing up, with conversations happening from people in the same room (or next to each other), to loads of folks whining about not being there.
Hotness
The people at the symposium were damn attractive.  You might think that just having a bunch of active people together would make that obvious-BUT, I’ve been to a number of fitness conventions and am usually alarmed by how fat or skinny fat a bunch of “experts” and the crowds really are.  Not at the AHS.  The vast majority were walking around fit, toned, with healthy skin, healthy hair, and a general healthy “vibe”. This is personified perfectly by the Whole9 couple Mellissa and Dallas, which every blog has mentioned as being amazing, and rightly so.
Carbs are bad
A number of presenters (Taubes, Nora, Eades, etc) told us the evils of excessive carbohydrate intake.
Carbs are good
A number of presenters (Guyenet, Nikolai, Lindberg, more) said that carbs are fine.
Just eat food
This was the overwhelming message, and I really liked to hear it.  I advise people with the following advice, “when choosing food, just don’t be an asshole.”
Seriously, if you’re reading this, then you probably have an awesome 3 hour a day addiction to the Paleo blogosphere and will read anything with the AHS11 tag…so you know enough to eat healthy and you may just want to start doing it, and not stress over the details too much.  Please see the Whole9 poster (best poster of the AHS)
Fodmaps
I gotta look into these a little bit more, as they came up a lot during the talks.
The Kraken
M@ LaLonde talks really fast about chemistry and can pronounce multi syllables with no hiccups at all.  #itslikehestalkinginonereallybighashtag
Poop is loved
Seriously.  Paleo folk love talking about poop.  Dr. BG gave one of the funniest and informative talks at the symposium.  Melissa McEwan also gave a great talk about the gut.  It’s important. How come nobody discussed the importance of the squat in conjunction with the poop talks though?
Just move
Frank Forencich, Mark Sisson, Erwan Le Corre, Keith Norris, Doug McGuff all gave talks about exercise/movement/play…and I can’t wait to watch them all.  AHS is ancestral HEALTH, not just diet, and it was great to have these smart presenters round out the talks over the weekend.
Baby Jesus has a poo poo mouth
Lyndsay Starke started calling Robb Wolf by the name of Paleo Baby Jesus on her #twitter feed, and I don’t know why that didn’t get picked up immediately.  I hope it catches on.  Regardlessly, Baby Jesus (who gave a very entertaining talk) got up during the Town-Hall-like open mic session after Denise Minger’s talk and told the people who won’t listen to “go fuck themselves”. AMEN
Taubes is a dick
I wasn’t there, but Taubes started laying into Guyenet, even when Taubes was up next to present.  Poor form, IMO.  No worries though, as Stehpan seemed to handle himself intelligently and came out looking the better man.
N-1 is good
This is an extension of carbs are good/bad or just eat real food.  Find what works for you. Experiement, learn, evolve. Richard’s talk was cool, glad he, as a very vocal member of the community got a chance to speak.
Milk is bad
The person who I dislike the most is Pedro Bastard. I mean Bastos.  Not because he’s a bad guy (in fact he’s quite the opposite, a very polite and inredibly smart guy), but because his antiDairy* talk has me rethinking my ice cream addiction habit. Jerk.
Denise Minger
Every blog has pointed out how sweet and cute Denise Minger was, and what a great job she did in her hilarious presentation.  I’ll echo all of that and add sexy to it. The Lazy Caveman and I have a battle ahead of us over her imaginary love.
The “Feel” in the air
Pride, happiness, excitement-this is what I felt floating around the lecture halls and it was damn cool.
Smart, funny, sassy, sarcastic
I spent a good amount of time this weekend hanging around Andrew of @evolvify, David of @thrivenaturally, and Lyndsay of @gone2croatan and I felt really fortunate to do so as they were great company.  Each of them very intelligent, and funny as hell.
ANIMAL
OVERRATED. C’MON!! It tasted great, but I want dinner, not appetizers.  (damn the marrow was good though)
New Connections
I don’t mean professional, I mean human connections with new people.  I had the pleasure/luck to have brunch, and dinner with the Dallas and Melissa of Whole9, and they blew me away as people-just amazing quality people who want to help others get better.
Also: Justin Doran, Colin Pistell, Greg Carver, James Dang, Diane Sanfilippo-thanks for the fun weekend.
MovNat Workshop at Venice Beach
Sensory overload.  That place is nuts, but it was a lot of fun and we had a great group including the super smart likes of Jamie Scott, Emily Deans, Dr. BG, and Jack Kruse.  They, and the entire group put forth a fantastic effort and focus in the craziest location I’ve taught at yet. Oh yeah, we also had the frenchman himself, Erwan Le Corre sharing his knowledge.
I had a hell of a time.
*Bastos’s talk was much more anti industrialized dairy than actually dairy-I’m just very protective of my ice cream!

Reductionism: is this where we went wrong?

re·duc·tion·ism   
[ri-duhk-shuh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
–noun
1.
the theory that every complex phenomenon, especially in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.
2.
the practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, or the like, especially to the point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it.

Humans’ analytical minds are amazing, we have and continue to unlock the “secrets” of the universe. More often than not this has allowed us to move forward through time advancing in many areas in life: sciences, technology, medicine, philosophy, etc. And while our advances are impressive, it still is truly daunting to try and understand even a small fraction of what is going on around us. In fact I believe it’s rather arrogant to think that we can analyze and break down all of life’s complexities into small pieces. This is especially true with our bodies, both nutritionally and physiologically. In 2003 the American journal of clinical nutrition “http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/3/514S.full”http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/3/514S.full said the same thing. The idea of focusing on the whole rather than the parts has been realized through a paleo-esque diet which encourages people to just eat real food. Yet the same can’t generally be said for exercise.

Just as a ground up meal of synthetic vitamins, minerals and macronutrients doesn’t add up to the same nutrition as real food, a program of targeted resistance exercise combined with some aerobic conditioning doesn’t add up to a human who actually moves well. This isn’t to say that programs that compartmentalize body parts or capacities are bad-rather that they are lacking the nuances and complexities of moving our body in response to different contexts.

Instead of truly adapting to context, we attempt to create artificial scenarios to address specific goals. Typical Programs are often so focused that they seem blind to all the areas outside of that focus. Strength goals are sought at the expense of mobility and flexibility. Endurance is sought at the expense of strength and power. Capacity is sought at the expense of recovery and hormone levels/health. If one really strives to excel in one area, then they should go for it because goals are important; however, if one really wants to just move comfortably and confidently throughout life they can’t afford to focus on one thing.

Just as we can’t (yet?) reproduce the intricacies of real food, we cannot artificially reproduce all the possibilities of human movement in a static environment. The real test of capability is one’s adaptability. And while some S&C training may translate to ability in certain situations, it doesn’t translate to many others. We must expand our comfort zone and skill sets in varied contexts if we want to truly be capable movers.

Movement capability is sometimes addressed by corrective exercises. These can be fantastic drills to help undo, fix, or reprogram faulty movement patterns and/or missing capability. However, these drills should be a means to head toward full movements in context. This is the same as trying to fix disease with one vitamin or mineral-it may help in one aspect, but you must address the whole diet to elicit real change.

One reason why complex movement is important, it makes us smart. A recent huffington post article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacques-henri-taylor/mindful-movement_b_892955.html discusses this. Children with disabilities are taken through complex movements to stimulate brain development. So I guess I’m saying curls and stationary machines, both cardio and strength, aren’t just boring, they make you dumb.

Get out and move.