Part 2 in our look at how training like a competitive athlete can help keep you plugged into your fitness goals.
2. Find something new.
I’m a competitor in the kettlebell event Long Cycle Clean & Jerk. In the end, it isnt the most stunning or exciting thing to watch. Its a grinding, heavy, chalky, high intensity slog through 10 minutes of lifting heavy objects over your head as many times as possible.
So, to keep myself interested, I have to find new things like kettlebell juggling, circuit intervals, new grip work, and alternate endurance work to keep things interesting. The key is to find movements and exercises that contribute in a positive way to your ultimate goals. The newness keeps you plugged in and engaged while you get the useful goodies too. Its like Flintstones Vitamins, wrap something you have to get into something tasty that keeps you coming back.
Performance training for aesthetic gain is a concept that’s gotten lost in a sea of “perfect pushup” gizmos, hip swiveling hula chairs and a whole host of garbage pushed on us every day. However, performance training (in coordination with proper nutrition) can be used as a means to improve the way you look, not just a way for some pro to excel on the gridiron.
If you don’t have 6 or 7 hours a week to devote to working out, performance based training, as opposed to sets based on your biceps, traps or pecs, can be a massive key in setting up an extremely time efficient program with long lasting results.
If you’ve never though about anything beyond body building based training, here’s a couple of basic concepts to help you start putting together a performance program. This will help ensure the aesthetic results you want while also enhancing your coordination, injury resistance and overall fitness.
1. Develop single leg strength: Single leg strengthis crucial to developing performance. If you’re already on the leg press, leg extension and leg curl, break it up. Get up off the machine and sub in some single leg drills . The addition of split squats, step-ups, and lunge variations will go a long way in developing your lower body muscle development, tone, power, speed, and balance.
2. Exercise selection: Performing exercises such as squats, dead lifts, military presses, pullups will lead to your quickest results. Multi-joint exercises allow you to hit multiple muscles at once, eliminating the need for bench flys and tricep extensions for example. Train more joints and muscles at once, gain functional ability and development and save a lot of time.
3. Training your core: Now, if you know me, you know how much I don’t like the way the “core” is marketed, packaged and sold. However, developing strong muscles around the spine is crucial to injury prevention. Throw out the ab rollers, bendy balls and b.s. Introduce some planks, full on situps and bridges into your workout if you really want to. But here’s the thing. If you’ve already got the dead lifting, squatting, lunging and overhead movements in your program, you’ve got all the “ab” exercises you’ll ever need built in. That “core” has to fire off so hard to stabilize you for those kinds of movements, you’re doing all the strengthening and toning you’ll ever need.
Why? Because that’s what works. I just had the opportunity to have this conversation again last week. I love having this conversation.
It’s why my clients look at their programs and regularly see 50, 100, 200 or more repetitions of something and no predetermined rest.
Let’s set aside my favorite aspect, the performance development side of things for a moment. Let’s set aside the elevated quality of life through improved stamina and movement patterns too. Finally, let’s set aside the improved safety through heightened proprioception and coordination. Let’s go purely superficial. Let’s go skin deep. “But I just want arms like ____,” or “abs like ____.”
Every last one of us has surface level aesthetic goals. Every single one of us wants to go to the beach and be able to take our shirts off without feeling embarrassed. We all want that body.
Who are these bodies everyone’s lusting over and coveting for themselves? Maria Sharapova, Amanda Beard, Madonna, Becks, Kobe, Ryan Reynolds.
If not professional athletes, all of these people have widely known and documented training programs that emulate those of professional athletes.
Here’s the point.When have you known any of these people to pull a Kirstie Alley or Tyra and blow up only to have to crash diet before their next shoot or event?
They haven’t, because they approach their programs from an athletic point of view, not a reductionist, body building point of view. Aesthetics are a consequence of fitness. Train body part by body part, and sooner than later, you’re going to let something fall through the cracks. Train the body as one system, in an athletically minded, performance oriented stance and make gains you can keep.
If you’ve been able to work up to it by now, substitute in the kbs with a clean and jerk on the man makers. If not, just use the dbs as you normally would. In either case, these do include the front squat with each one. Refer to last week’s video demo for reference.
20 minutes max rounds
3 Man makers w/front squat
6 Pullups (modified as necessary)
9 ball slams
Record number of rounds, load and type of load used on the makers.
Keep in mind the fundamental difference in the hip movement of these two exercises. High pull is based more on the deadlift, so the hip moved back and forth in space to create power. Wallballs are essentially a progression of a squat, with a very pronounced vertical component to the hip’s path.
Choosing load: On a scale of 1 to 10, you should be lifting at a 7 or 8. Go at your own pace. Be honest about your ability and scale the loads to your ability.
Use the video archive for reference. Work to your capacity and be safe.
10 Deck Squat Ball Slam
20 Deck Squat Ball Slam
30 Deck Squat Ball Slam
40 Deck Squat Ball Slam
Yes, you can hate me in the morning. Suggested loads, intermediate women begin at 30# for SDHP & 10# MB. Intermediate men might want to look at 45# for SDHP and 15# MB. Listen to your body and be honest. Mark loads and time.
3 Rounds: 5 minutes of each, 3 minutes of each, 1 minute of each
Partner Row Kettlebell swing Box Jumps at 18″ tp 24″
If you don’t have a partner, go make new friends. If you still don’t have a partner, set the load on the cable row at your gym to an appropriate resistance for this kind of endurance movement. Attach the rope tricep handle to the cable and go to town. As far as the kb swing, men try starting with 40#, women 30#, but adjust from there depending on your own fitness. The same goes for the box jump. Adjust to whatever height is most appropriate for your fitness level. Do not rest in your comfort zone. Push yourself, but be safe.