Training, Goals, and The Lessons Learned along the Way

Training, Goals, and The Lessons Learned along the Way

Discipline: The desire to achieve is rooted in discipline.

Motivation will wane moment by moment, it is the consistent action of doing the work towards your goal that will help determine your success.

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White belt to black belt mastery:  Process and building the foundation of success.

When it is our desire to learn we do so as a beginner. Through our studies and with a patient and disciplined approach we continue our growth. This takes us to new levels as represented in the color of our belts. But deep within the levels or belt colors lies lessons beyond what we see or experience or for that matter what the belt color might tell us or others. The true mastery is going beyond the lesson of the belt and observing and learning the deeper lessons being offered.

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Teachers and being a student: The best teachers are students.

The best teachers have teachers. Even the master has a teacher. Yes it is possible to learn something from anyone, any situation. But learning from a master provides a level of understanding that goes far beyond learning in random situations and circumstances of daily life. Teachers have a wisdom that can help convey and teach lessons that go beyond the experience. Teachers can help to understand what is beyond say the movement or sport. Learning from an experienced teacher and being open minded like that of the white belt mentality will provide more wisdom than can ever be obtained otherwise.

Preparation: 

When setting a goal it is important to be clear what it is you wish to achieve. To broad a goal and it will be difficult to set in place a plan and properly prepare. As the great coach John Wooden once said, ‘failing to prepare is preparing for failure’. Additionally preparation provides a number of other potential benefits when it comes time to achieve your goal. In cases of performance it can help alleviate many of the stressors aka much of the noise that potentially will hamper or hinder you potential. Understanding what lies in hand and ahead is a powerful way to set your minds potential and adjust your attitude to a place/vision of success.

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Know your limitations:  We all have them regardless of what you may believe.

These limitations are an opportunity to empower oneself. They offer us a deep insight and understanding of who we are and what it is we need to be our best self. Respect the limits, know the limits, understand the limits and move within and beyond.

Become your best self, there’s nothing to achieve: 

Contrary to popular believe there is nothing to achieve other than that in which you have determined worth achieving. If you allow others to determine what is important you will not be living your truth but theirs. While we may see something another is doing or has done as a source of motivation it is important that it aligns with our true self, our true nature. In a world where everyones ‘achievements’ are easily shared it is easier to be distracted and become derailed. It is difficult to ignore what are some amazing human feats and the potential that exists, but it is crucial that we understand how these relate to us before allowing them to impact our direction and choices.

Practice: 

To be good we must learn, we must study, we must observe, we must listen and by all means we must take this into a daily practice. Practice must be clear and directed. One must practice with attention to detail and an open and critical mindset. Practice should not be taken lightly, it is the foundation of success. “All practice takes hard work but not all-hard work is practice.” Practice helps not only develop the skill but also the mindset of success.

It’s not always fun: 

Truth be told, training, practice, preparation and the process is not always enjoyable and it should not be. The essence is the moment, being present and be challenged. Moving the body and mind in a healthy way requires learning how to do so. Most skills take time and have a significant learning curve. Many of the tasks along this curve will be less than enjoyable and leave you wondering if its worth it. I can say that if it is important enough then yes its worth it. Its not always the goal that we are chasing but we don’t often understand this until we are deep into the process and training. As Bruce Lee famously said, “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

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3 Aspects of Human Being Worthy of Daily Cultivation

There are 3 aspects of the Human Being worthy of daily cultivation; Body, Mind, & Breath. I will go one step further and state that these are a necessity.

Body: Movement is the key. Moving in a variety of ways is crucial, whether you do yoga, martial arts, Crossfit, run, climb, bike, hike, dance, etc. The key is move and keep learning new ways to do so. This will not only benefit the body, but the mind/brain as well.

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Mind: I will sum this up purely from my personal perspective. Mind is attitude, perception, thought process, mindfulness, ones ability to see things beyond the social norms. Mind is and may be the most challenging of all. For me it is an understanding of life and what is happening in and around me at all times. It is being compassionate and remaining calm in the present moment. It is being mindful of those whom I am communicating with, relating too and thus not holding judgment. It is a practice cultivated through meditation, reading, body movement practices, interactions with others, and reflection. Consistency in this area is by far the most challenging as I have so many social norms, environmental norms that I developed at a young age when I had no concept of this aspect of life and how crucial it would become. I feel that for the past 20+ years I have been working to change patterns of my mind and through this time I have progressed far but as would be the truth, I am only at the beginning. 🙂 For this reason and many more I am placing more emphasis on this aspect of my being. For myself, for my wife, for my family, client/patients, friends and general encounters with strangers. I feel this part of me needs more attention to detail and more practice and time developing. I feel I have great strides to make and I am excited for this.

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Breath: Breath is the essence of life, without it we will cease to exist. Breath is something we spend little time thinking of and we need to spend more time developing. Meditation and movement are to excellent practices which offer us a chance to develop our breath. And, these practices offer us 2 unique ways to do so. I believe meditation is the key practice as this teaches us how to calm the mind and body. Once learned one can then learn how to apply in different situations where a strong foundation and breath practice will serve. Examples include movement, stressful experiences and beyond. Yoga is an excellent practice for cultivating breath and breath within movement.

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S.M.A.R.T., Structured, Progressive Training = Results

In some circles the idea of progressive training is rather poo poo’d. While there is a case to be made for those whom choose to do as they wish rather than plan, I am a big believer in planning and preparation.

First lets start with a simple idea known as S.M.A.R.T., a method used for goal setting.

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I have rarely if ever met an athlete of any caliber whom did not wish to improve their performance. Whether this be a 1 rep max, a time related goal, etc. most if all athletes train with the idea of getting better. What I know the best athletes in the world is they all have a plan in place to do exactly this. There is little left to chance or error. Minuscule details and 100th’s of seconds can be the difference between gold and no medal at all. I believe this point is clearly evident in many sports especially observed in the Olympic events such as track and field, swimming, ice skating, skiing, gymnastics, etc. And what must also be noted is not always does the ‘best athlete’ or even the ‘best prepared’ athlete win.

The reason this topic came to my attention was a bit of self reflection. While I am not competing on a particular stage, I am always competing in the gym and training against myself. I have specific goals with easily measurable aspects and achievable outcomes available. All of these goals and potential outcomes require attention to detail and very specific programming. While there is room to play and have fun, this is just more part of the process and something enable as such. And just to be clear, achieving goals is fun.

So looking at my numbers over the last number of months and even couple years I have specific examples of measurable and achievable goals I have reached and continue to surpass to new goals which are as a result of prior outcomes.

Example 1 is the Kettlebell 1 arm Swing. For the past 3 years, nearly every Saturday I have done some sort of variation in terms of reps, sets and weight with this movement. The programming is done by our Coach Mark Reifkind and as he will tell you we PR nearly every week in some way or fashion. In laymen terms we are consistently improving our performance and it is backed in real effort and numerical statistics. And note we have successfully completed each test day over the length of this timeframe.

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Example 2 is the Deadlift. Since July of 2016 I started back on a deadlift program. It has been 6 years since my last program cycle which resulted in a PR of 560lbs. My current program is based of a specific rep number and total each week based of a percentage of my PR which I most recently achieved. At the end of my 5 week cycle I will attempt a new PR which at this point I have successfully achieved at the end of cycle. Note the last lines 455, 481.5 and planned PR attempt have yet to be completed at this time. What is important is that regardless I will do the work at 455 and 481.5 and take a 545 minimum attempt because this is the planned work and end of this cycle, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

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(Notations ex: 70% for 1 rep every 30 sec x 15 reps. The black numbers aka 7/19 is the date of the lift). What these numbers show is the importance of planning and setting realistic goals. Also, the first cycle was arbitrary meaning I choose to work off what I felt was reasonable considering my past and present. Cycle 2 I simply added 20lbs to each week sans week 4 where I wanted to feel a bit more weight as an specific adaptation. Cycle 3 (515lb) and 4 (535lb) are based of the cycle 2 and 3 PR’s respectively. This will be the case for cycle 5 and beyond.

Example 3 is Gymnastics. Currently I am following the gymnastics bodies foundations program. Since June of this year I have spent an average of 5 days a week training progressions and movements based off the programmed laid out before me. I have had to be humble and patient to allow my body to adapt to the physical demands and stressors of not only the current movements but what lies ahead. I have a specifics goals, with a measurable program which has set out achievable results. This program is far from easy, quite demanding on time and getting more so as I continue to improve. And, yes week by week I just get better setting more PR’s and most important improving my competence in the movements.

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The point of this article and the examples to show how Smart planning and programming in a progressive manner produces true results. Week by week, training session by training session I know I am getting better. This is not just by feel but by specific application of in terms of numerical performance, statistics and overall physical performance. Setting PR’s of week in and week out feels great and it is truly a testament to my training and the planning. And yes it is simple progressive resistance training based of real numbers. I realize this approach to movement and training is not the most appealing due to the structure, it does produce results.

A personal philosophy of mine is to simple to work to get a little bit better everyday in all aspects of my life. Having structure and goals helps to make this possible as does having a tremendous support system and coaching. As a coach myself I value the expertise of other coaches and thus use their wisdom and experience to help guide me along my path. The commonality amongst my 2 coaches is they both come from a gymnastics background and know and understand the value of structure, planning and preparation. The results speak for themselves.

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Why Yoga is The Best & Most Complete System of Movement

When we think about the human body and movement we must simply look at anatomy and biomechanics. The body is able to only do so much in terms of these 2 biological mechanisms. All movement systems have these things in common, some focus more on special aspects of the bodies mechanical system and therefore anatomy which is completely logical. This does not mean to denigrate any specific system over another. However, in terms of physical therapy, body awareness, body balance structurally and mechanically, and simple body harmony nothing compares to Yoga. Now, one caveat, not all yoga systems under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga are created equally. Again, this is not meant to denigrate any particular style.

First lets take a deeper look into why Yoga is the best for the aforementioned reasons.

One, Yoga can be and in best learned in a slow manner that focuses on awareness of how the body moves into and within a particular posture known as an Asana.

Two, Yoga is a combination of multiple movement factors including, flexibliity, strength, neuromuscular coordination, balance, mobility and breath.

Three, Yoga is moves the body through and within multiple planes and in various manners of movement. This high level of coordination requires one to have the strength to obtain the position, the ability to coordinate multiple muscles to make the movement happen and this create the mobility and flexibility required to obtain the end result.

Four, Yoga requires coordination of multiple high level elements of human movement done with 100% attention to detail and held in place for time all while controlling heart rate and respiration to a well below other traditional movements.

Five, building off of 4, Yoga was designed as a breathing practice with movement following breath. This means the breath drives the movement. It is to be done in a controlled manner through the nostrils. It should follow the edicts of steadiness and ease as then should the movement. Therefore, all students move at a different pace which makes the Mysore practice so brilliant in its ability to have all students do the same practice taking into consideration their personal breath and their personal ability within the posture.

Six, it is a moving meditation practice and that is a prime focus of Yoga. Meditation in action and in stillness.

I can go on but I believe this is a great start to the conversation. I know personally Yoga has helped improve my other movement system practices not only physically but mentally as I am better able to control my breath and mind. While we often associate Yoga with stretching and flexibility that is a very short sided view to a much more complex and highly evolved system.

The best place to start is with the Iyengar method. The student is taught about the postures in a slow, controlled and supportive manner. Practicing in this light will help students evolve into other forms if so they choose and thereby enhance their awareness and ability to perform the postures as asked by the system or more playful methods which give freedom to the teacher to sequence.

The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness

  • Discover your passion
  • Find a way to express and live your passion
  • Find meaning in your work and life
  • Be generous, often finding passion in work that helps others brings more joy to your own life
  • Find joy, smile and laugh
  • Be compassionate, place yourself in the shoes of others and see life through their lens. This will often provide clarity and perspective and this will lead to a great understanding, empathy and compassion. This is similar to the concept of non judgement but in my thoughts an easier way to conceptualize and integrate.
  • Be grateful and make the most of out lives everyday opportunity (refer to the above)
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  • Meditation is a form of absorption. It is being so consumed by what we are doing in the moment that all else ceases to exist. I would surmise that many of have experienced this. I know as a practitioner of yoga, an athlete, a doctor and a coach I have felt this many a time. One instance that stand outs was my first ever rock climbing experience in Joshua Tree. Scared, sweating profusely and filled with negative self talk there were 2 distinct moments when all ceased to exist, I consumed and at peace, my mind quiet, my breath at ease and I was able to take it all in. I can still to this day relive this moment in my mind and body.
  • Think Happy, See Happy, Breathe Happy, Be Happy, it is an attitude and state of mind. If we surround ourselves in our everyday lives with passion, meaning, empathy, generosity, laughter and gratitude we will find our peace and be happy.

This meditation and reflection came about from my current reading and listening.

Here are links to the 2 talks

Principles of Corrective Movement & Therapeutic Exercise

Principles of Corrective Movement & Therapeutic Exercise: It’s all about Anatomy and Biomechanics 

The human body does not lie, it is up to us, the clinician to discover and see the truth.

1. It’s all about relationships

It comes back to anatomy and biomechanics. The body is an interlinked system aka connected albeit joints, tendons, muscles, organs, etc. understand the relationships, understand the movement mechanics and you have begun to solve the puzzle.

2. It’s all linked.

Yes we are made up of connnective tissue and thus must understand a connective tissue disorder in one area is bound to reach beyond to a much larger area. Again biomechanics, anatomy and relationships.

The picture below is a great example of the interconnected dynamics of the body. I use the plank as a tool to teach and understand how the body integrates and then further apply to other movements. The cues for example are looking at how the shoulder girdle connects to the hip girdle including the role of the navel; how the hips girdle connects to the knees and how the action of squeezing the legs ever so slightly together enhances this; and how the knees connect to the ankles. This is only a small sample and goes much further but sets the tone for a deeper understanding of the body in action.

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3. Use the best method and tool for the job to produce the result. 

The better ones understanding the better equipped to successful do the job. More is not better, better is better.

4. There is no magic & no tricks.

The body is logical and works accordingly. Understand the anatomy, biomechanics, relationships and modalities application as such as you are that much closer to getting the results.

5. Make it applicable.

Understand what it is the person does in sport, work, sleep, and daily life. Besides history which helps provide framework, I want to put them in position, teach them the position and cue them within the position. I do not just release the pain & rehab I also teach in particular the how to of what it takes to do the movement aka anatomy and biomechanics. A educated patient and client means they are more likely to succeed and never return because they are healthy movers.

Guide to Shoulder Stretches for Health, Mobility and Better Posture

The following document includes some basic and effective stretches for the Shoulders. Included is variations for differing levels. As always there are additional things that could be added in to any health shoulder program. One is simply adding these into your daily regimen of stretching. Another is doing joint mobility drills such as rolling the shoulders, swimming motions, etc. that take the joint through active and various ranges of motions. Third, one can add in simple strengthening exercises from pressing, to side/lateral raises and more commonly rotator cuff exercises.

Hope this guide helps and if you have any questions please feel free to email. Also, please feel free to share this guide with anyone you feel can use these stretches.

Shoulder stretching guide

Yoga for Running (PDF link included)

Yoga for runners

When ever designing a Yoga based program one must take into consideration a couple things.

1. What type of running is this person doing and any additional training or factors that might influence the biomechanics.

2. How does this apply to their body specifically.

From a simplified and general approach I look 3 major joints and their associated muscles: Ankles (calves, peroneals, tibialis anterior/posterior) , Hips (gluteals, hip flexors and yes hamstrings, quads and adductors) and Knees (same as hips and ankles as this is a junction for the other joints). Note: I do take into consideration the shoulders, spine and neck which easily incorporates into the yoga poses for the Ankles, Hips and Knees.

List of Poses

1)  Downward Dog

2)  Kneeling Lunge (and added variation with quad stretch)

3) Triangle

4)  Instense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana)

5)  Wide Leg Forward Fold

6) Heros pose or Malasana aka Garland as a substitute)

7) Pigeon

8) Bridge (supported is more gentle where as unsupported more of a strengthen/stretch)

9) Supta Baddha Konasana (lying bound angle)

10) Legs up the wall

How to Incorporate and utilize these Yoga Postures.

These can be mixed and matched but are best done as set forth here in this list. No less than 30 seconds per pose and for one sided, 30 seconds/side. Best done post run.

For a pre-run warm-up use dynamic running drills such as ankling, Marching and Skipping A & B, walking lunges, bodyweight squats, high knees.

This link contains pictures and modifications.

https://www.icloud.com/pages/AwBUCAESEJNfNU4mc_XlsGk4aR3owiMaKXAk8pK8wp_mZ3on8KAE3i-ZWKoZ6ardWSpKlZ1u3YrL60-6bn5eRJo4MCUCAQEEINoRBE4o2-9Ta8eIcWGbB6I1mTBsB8C1YCSu13IDwqRK#Yoga_for_Running

New Years Resolution Tips

My New Years Resolution Tips:

1) it all starts within you. Our attitude can have a tremendous impact on the state of our health. It is important to have a healthy relationship with yourself. This includes your mind, body and relations with others. Put yourself in places that help to foster this healthy attitude.

2) food is #1!!! Yes not exercise but food. I see plenty of people who exercise but are overweight and truly unhealthy.

A) Get rid of the sugar first and foremost!!!! This alone will have a huge impactOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

B) embrace healthy fats as a substitute such as avocado, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, almond butter, etc.

C)Eliminate dairy. This is often a huge cause of allergies and this is in large part to the production processes. If you can get fresh, raw made then do it but otherwise avoid.

D) gluten may or may not be an enemy. Best to eliminate and proceed with caution. I believe the verdict on this is still yet to be determined despite the common media perception.

E) eat your veggies! Dark leafy greens, garlic, onions and more! Steam them and enjoy. Cook in some healthy oils and and enjoy.

F) embrace spices and herbs in your cooking. There are ample health benefits and medicinal qualities.

3) move your body! Simple! Exercise is important and depending on your goals you can tailor the type, intensity, duration accordingly.

A) breathe! This is beyond important and often overlooked. But it is the hallmark of yoga, tai chi, qigong and many other healthy movement systems.

B) find some quiet time and meditate. No books, screens, or even other distractions. You can use music and candles. You can sit l, lay down or take a walk in nature. Breathe deeply and enjoy!

C) stretch! Our lifestyle changes the structure of our body and the relationships of various muscles, joints and affects the organs. For
Instance if you have round shoulders and mid/upper back it collapses on the lungs and makes breathing more difficult. This is one of many examples. So open and stretch. Yes, yoga is by far the best system and way. From here you can discover what works and do your own practice in time. Be mindful
And pay attention!