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Saturday, January 29, 2011

"The Mind Is Primary"

This the end result of when myself, Dave, and Mo brainstorm after a Saturday Pain Clinic. You guys will love it...

The Importance on developing mental fitness....

Rob Shaul of is a strength coach whose philosophy I follow and respect. Unfortunately, I wasn't made aware of him until after I was out of active duty. Besides the physical components of designing an effective strength and conditioning program, Rob understands that the "mind is primary" (evident from him being heavily influenced by Gym Jones) and more importantly it can be trained and developed inside the gym...

I'll never forget during a timed set of dead hangs, after falling from the bar, Primetime looks at me and asks something to the effect of "why the hell do we do that horrible s$%t?!" (answer follows shortly)

Or more commonly, a lot of questions typically revolve around "what can I do to get rid of (insert common problem area of the body) love handles, gut, thighs, etc..."

The answer can't really do anything, and anyone who tries to sell you a magic pill or some magical exercise is full of s$%t. But that doesn't mean you should be discouraged. Your whole body will change and recomposition together as a unit...not piece by piece.

 But I don't want to just develop your body....once again to quote Mark Twight...THE MIND IS PRIMARY. What does he mean by that? The following excerpt is taken from a 2009 interview found here..

Can you briefly explain your training philosophy at Gym Jones?

The mind is primary. Physical training is easy, especially if you only do what you already do well. Psychological training is hard. If sport performance is 90% mental - as most people insist - and you aren't training your mind in concert with your body you are wasting time. Unf@#k your head and physical performance increases instantly.

Our athletes carry their engine or fight in a specific weight class so power-to-weight ratio is our main objective. No one has ever gained weight in our gym but everyone is stronger, faster, and more capable than when they arrived. Yes, we know how to put on size and we've done it for certain fighters but really ... yawn.

Improving sport performance is a question of attention, discipline, and effort. Practice makes habit. You become what you do. Do it right and evolve. Do it wrong and stagnate. Every level of performance has an entry fee. If you can pay you can play. Want to race bikes or Nordic ski at an international level? It costs 1000 hours of training volume per year. 1100 would be better. Only have 500? Welcome to the regionals, maybe nationals ... there are no shortcuts. Want to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu? Invest nine or ten years ... there are no quick fixes.

Work + Recovery = Training. Everyone forgets the second point. Many will work hard. Few treat recovery with equal discipline. Do it and surpass. Don't and plateau. It's simple.

Some might consider [what we do] tough simply because what constitutes hard work has slipped over the last 30 years. These days unremarkable fitness is called elite. What we do in the gym isn't old-school hard. But it's passable and our guys fairly capable.

So why the dead hangs (or wall sits, or plank holds, or any other suck factor)? I want you to engage in that internal dialog where it's only up to you to drop off the quit.  Everyone has a breaking point...but by constantly reaching that breaking point, going to that dark place, you are able to push it back further and further each time you train...not only becoming physically stronger....but more importantly mentally stronger as well. And the more importantly strong you become...the more disciplined and self-confident you will become as well....which will lead to greater gains in body recomposition and physical performance. A workout split of chest/tris, back/bis, legs/shoulders...just doesn't cut it in the real world. To paraphase Mark Rippetoe, there is no cardio, no firming or toning, only stronger or weaker....and that stronger or weaker applies to both the mind and the body. 

In closing Rob leaves with some points of performance to further develop the mental below and use them out the next time the wizard starts tracking you down. 

I’m a strength coach who believes that mental toughness should and can be trained in the gym. Further, initial gym-based mental toughness can’t be seen as the ultimate judge of an athlete’s character.
What I mean by this is gym-based mental toughness can be learned. Often, new athletes will suffer with mental toughness their first time in the gym. But the next time they come in and endure one of these work capacity/mental toughness sessions, they do much better. They have some idea what to expect, and their performance improves.
Further, I think mental toughness can and should be coached. Here are some guidelines we use:
1) Don’t go to complete failure. Stop and rest before digging yourself into a deep hole. I instruct my athletes to stop with 1-2 reps left and rest then instead of going to complete failure before stopping.
2) Limit your rest to 5 breaths. That’s it.
3) No rest between transitions. This is the hardest one. Move right from one exercise to the next and start it. Your mind will want to rest. Your body doesn’t need to. You’ll surprise yourself.
4) The darker things get, the shorter term your thinking needs to be. When things rally suck, just tell yourself, “one rep at a time.” – don’t think about the whole set.

So take some time to ponder those points and see if you can apply them the next time out at PSKC.

Now enjoy some action shots from throughout the week..
6pm Relay Champs
7pm Relay Champs
Leslie rocking her first Get Up
Beginning of the Scioto County Ninja Warrior Course 
I am the missing link
Familiar scene at the end of a Saturday Pain Clinic
Shep enjoying the vertical rope pulls

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Never Settling for Mediocrity

The last couple of days have been rocking...full classes each day and people getting after it. Monday we worked the difficult skill of handstand pushups along with heavy kettlebell swings. We finished up with a 40 seconds work/20 seconds 3 round circuit of:
hand to hand swings
handstand kick ups
battling ropes
ring rows
jump rope

Today we worked on our Turkish Get Ups combined with pullups.
Alex doing his first TGU
After that it was a 3 round sprint of
10 push presses w/s
20 swings
30 sledge strikes
40 air squats
The top times were finishing under 9 minutes!

More importanly, on Monday in a true moment of awesomeness...B.A. (bad ass) Barb Coriell wanted a piece of "goldie" (goldie = 106lb kettlebell). She dialed in...and completed 5 swings with it. Swinging (or doing anything) with Goldie is a true accomplishment for anyone....but here's the kicker Barb is a 51 year old mother of two!
(B.A. Barb is on the left) true definition of willpower and strength
Lots of time people will tell me "that stuff you do is crazy, there's no way I could ever do something like that". Usually, I'll just smile and reply "you never know". But deep down I know that person probably will never do something like that because they've given themselves permission to quit before they even started. What exactly are you going to do if you aren't willing to subject yourself to that "crazy stuff"?

Another round of the weight circuit followed by some "light cardio"? Another set of bench press followed up by cable crossovers?...have you ever really felt proud about that? Has the entire gym erupted with cheers and applause when you finished 20 minutes on the elipitical?

I can tell you that when B.A went over to goldie the whole crew stopped what they were doing to watch her and then shouted like crazy when she finished....that's the kind of atmosphere you surround yourself with when you come down to PSKC....hard working, positive, encouraging, everyone bonds together because everyone suffers together.

I'm by no means saying our gym is the only way, you don't have to come to PSKC to bust your ass...but if you aren't willing to test your limits and reach new goals on a consistent basis...whether you realize it or not, you've given yourself permission to settle for mediocrity...the same old s$#t day in and day out, never really making any progress or results. There is a different way out there...just ask Barb, oh by the way she can also climb a rope...

Intro Class Switch

Jack - "I have more strength in my pinkie than you do in your entire body"
We are moving Wednesday's intro class to today (Tuesday) at 5pm. So if you wanna come check us out, we'll see you at 5. Then stick around for the regular class at 6pm! See you all then..make sure you're hydrating!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Great Pain Clinic..

It was legitimately 0 degrees this morning in Southern Ohio...that didn't stop close to 20 people who wanted a piece of the Pain Clinic. Some folks were even willing to give blood to get their workout in...
Shin scraping on box jumps..
Now most people would freak out...stop what they're doing, call an ambulance, and have a significant emotional event over this. Not the folks who go to PSKC...
"Memories fade, scars tell stories forever"
Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy this happened, had Primetime not rushed through and tried to get an extra box jump her shins wouldn't have kissed the edge of the box. But I am happy she's such a bad ass to Ranger Up'd the rest of the workout.
Wes getting close to full extension on the roll outs
Coach Dave posting the official thumbs up
People aren't just born can be a skill that is acquired. But you've got to put in the time/work to get there. You've got to be willing to test yourself, to go to that place that is be willing to continually test your self-imposed limitations..."if you train like everyone else, you'll be like everyone else". Let us show you how to be different...

See you all Monday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Special Saturday Intro at 10am...

No one messes with the MUSCLE one!

Click the photo for the full effect

As you can see...Sara "the muscle hamster" is no joke. That's a total of 106 lbs she's rowing/cleaning/pressing...impressive to the say least.

But that's how we for how you look will only get you so far...we are more concerned with how we perform and overall athleticism/health. And guess what, when you're strong, powerful, and fast you will look that way too. To "look" like an athlete, you gotta train like one...plain and simple.

For females especially...who cares if you're skinny. Almost every time skinny = weak, and the weak get trampled in the real world. Strong is definitely the new here for some inspiration (dudes you will appreciate it too)

A lot of the time I get asked questions like what is the difference between what you do at PSKC and the XYZ (insert any other group fitness class offered somewhere else) classes? I could offer up a very long list of the differences....but the real simple answer is....train at the XYZ class for one month and then train at PSKC for one month ...the person you become after training at PSKC for one month would physically dominate that same person from the XYZ class. I know that sounds rather brash...but it is the truth. Come find out for yourself...we are doing a special Saturday intro at 10am...then stick around for the 11am Pain Clinic. See you guys then!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

SCHEDULE UPDATE: 6pm is a go, 7pm is a no go

We are still having the 6pm class, however, due to white death we are cancelling the 7pm class tonight. As always use common sense and be safe on the roads if you're coming to the 6pm class.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How much is too much?

A lot of the talk lately at PSKC has focused on how much exercise/training is enough? The good thing about PSKC is that it attracts driven individuals, who are always looking to do more. But is exercising more going to give you results? 

People are somewhat surprised when they find out the coaches/trainers at PSKC typically only train 4-5 hours in a out of 168 hours in a week, we typically are only working out 4-5 of them. So why so little? It's a matter of quality versus quantity. 

I would say a "long" workout for us a 1/2 hour...typically the conditioning workouts usually last 10-20 minutes. Now granted there are the special cases (sissy test), but the majority of the training is around 20 minutes. Just because it doesn't last long, doesn't mean it's easy. Trust me those 10 minutes seem like 10 hours sometimes (thrusters and burpees anyone?). That's the beauty of high intensity exercise, you don't need 2 hours a day to see results if you're truly performing at maximum intensity. As a matter of fact if you're working out more you could be making very difficult for yourself to see results...

Tim Ferriss' excellent book 4 Hour Body talks about the Minimum Effective Dose (MED). Tim describes it as this,  "(MED) is defined simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome". 

Tim further explains using the boiling point example. How hot does the stove have to be to boil water? 212 if you crank the temperature up to 400 degrees are you going to boil the water more efficiently or better?'re just going to burn your pot up and waste a bunch of energy in the process (e.g. overtrain). 

"Anything beyond the MED is wasteful. To boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it "more boiled." Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive.
Ashley enjoying the minimum effective dose
He further illustrates the point by sun bathing..and you all know my pasty white ass could use some sun. 

"If you need 15 minutes in the sun to trigger a melanin response, 15 minutes is your MED for tanning. More than 15 minutes is redundant and will just result in burning and a forced break from the beach. During this forced break from the beach, let's assume one week, someone else who heeded his natural 15-minute MED will be able to fit in four more tanning sessions. He is four shades darker, whereas you have returned to your pale pre-beach self. Sad little manatee. In biological systems, exceeding your MED can freeze progress for weeks, even months."

To remove stored fat, do the least necessary to trigger a fat-loss cascade of specific hormones."

So if you're "in the gym" several hours at a low-moderate pace you could be actually making it worse to lose fat based on the hormones you're producing in your body. Now, by now you guys know I'm not a science/math guy..but I'm smart enough to here are snippets about the hormone cortisol and it's effects on fat gain...

Click here for full article from Melissa Urban..

"Let's hit the basic background principles first. The adrenal glands produce many of the body's hormones, including epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol. The function is to help us under stress - the release of certain hormones puts us into "fight or flight" mode, to help us deal with crisis situations. Trouble is, when you are under constant stress, the glands are working overtime, pumping out these hormones. The excess cortisol wreaks havoc on your metabolism, and seriously circumvents the processing of fat, protein and carbohydrates and fat loss efforts."

Extra training = extra stress = extra cortisol = your body is hanging onto the fat instead of losing it. Don't take my word for it, please,  I urge you to conduct your own research on this matter to gain a better understanding...just do a simple google search on "exercise and cortisol" and see what pops up. This is especially important to do for the runners out there who are putting in a huge amount of hours and miles throughout the week. 

It ain't just for endurance athletes either. Same principle applies to those seeking maximal strength...just google Louie Simmon's Westside Methods on powerlifting. You can't max out every time you train with the same exact lifts and expect to PR each time out. You must constantly change the lift/exercise, otherwise you're body gets used to what you're doing and progress halts...the law of accommodation. Louie describes it like this, "this simply means, if you handle the same loads and same training percents, your performance will go backwards." 

Why is this? Please click here to understand the law of accommodation and it's effect on maximal strength -

212 degrees is all you need to boil water...more does not equal better. It's the quality of the exercise not the quantity. That's what makes the kettlebell such an amazing tool..if used correctly you gain simultaneously increase your work capacity and strength levels. That's why we are always switching up the workouts and the tools we use...we never want the body to get used to what we're doing. 

However, those hardcores who come to class and want to exercise/run/swim extra throughout the won't see the results any faster and more likely than'll remain stagnant. 

Minimum Effective Dose...short bouts of high intensity exercise = get to PSKC 3-4 times a week bust your ass while you're there, eat clean all natural foods, and get plenty of quality sleep. Easier said than done..I know. 


Here's some clips of what goes down inside PSKC...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday & Tuesday

Big congrats to Shad Ford, the winner of the PSKC TGU challenge, last night Shad hit a TGU with the 106lb kettlebell earning him 12 free sessions and bragging rights for the entire West Side. 12 free sessions are stil up for grabs for the first female to hit a 70lb get up.

Monday we focused on skill development for the gymnastic knees to elbows exercise and the best all around exercise, the Turkish Get Up. This morning, I think it's safe to say everyone woke up with some sore stomachs. Gotta respect the strength and core control that gymnasts possess.

We then ended in a 15 minute AMRAP of:
10 X one arm swings
8 X Push presses
7 X Knees to Elbows..
top record of the day finished at 11 rounds.

Brent didn't want to be outdone by Shad's get he threw 2 X 35lb kettlebells on his toes and cranked a pullup

Tonight we worked on double kettlebell strength in the first portion of the workout with front squats, presses, and pullups. There's nothing better that demonstrates pure strength than good old fashioned squats, presses, and pullups. It was great to see people finally learning to incorporate full body tension to move the maximum amount of weight.
Renee showing pullups are for chicks too..
 After the strength portion we ended with a combination of two of the most hated movements; thrusters and burpees...mixing burpees and thrusters together is like having herpes and gonorrhea at the same time; it just burns and you want it to be over. We did them in a descending/ascending ladder format.
10 Thrusters
9 Thrusters
2 burpee
8 thrusters
3 burpees
all the way down to
1 Thruster
10 burpees

So that's a total of 55 burpees and 55 thrusters. Mo took the top time with 6:36 with a 16kg bell.
Keep spreading the word guys...we'll be having our weekly intro tomorrow at 5pm. Now is the time for change, no other facility in the area offers what we do. Come experience for yourself...see you guys tomorrow!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

End of another great week...

After the last second ticked away at Saturday's Pain Clinic..
What a great week at PSKC! We put in a lot of fun and work this week. 6 new people came in throughout the week to begin their journey to the best shape of their lives. Also people are already dropping pounds from the holidays by sticking to clean eating and at least 3 times a week at PSKC.

Today we ended it properly at our weekly Saturday Pain Clinic workout. (If you're wondering why we call it the Pain Clinic click Why The Pain Clinic?)

Primetime getting some..

The Pain Clinic Partner Suffering workout format never changes...however we do mix up the exercises. The format is as of follows: we put you into two man teams (partner 1 and partner 2). Partner 1 is assigned a specific task (reps of exercise) while partner 2 has to continue doing an exercise until partner 1 is finished, hence the name partner suffering, or the military term BLUE FALCON...Blue = Buddy, Falcon = F#@ker. So the longer it takes you to complete the exercise the more your buddy is suffering...therefore it's quite a motivational tool to finish the exercise as fast as possible to avoid your partner's suffering. Not to mention that you keep rotating back and forth for 6 then it will be your partner's turn to make you enjoy the ride.

So it's 4 stations, 6 minutes each as many rounds as possible at each station. At the end of each station, we rest for 2:30, then onto the next station.
Station 1:
P1 = Renegade Rows 6 each side
P2 = 1/2 burpees
Station 2:
P1 = Wall Ball X 10
P2 = Plank Hold
Station 3:
P1 = Clean & Press X 4 each side
P2 = Jump Rope
Station 4:
P1 = Swings X 15
P2 = Sledge Hammer

Monday, we're going to train Turkish Get Ups and Knees to Elbows (remember the knees to elbows will help with the rope climb) in the skill portion of the workout. So, especially for the rookies, do your homework ahead of time. Also, keep working on the 7pm attendance so we can split up the groups for Monday. It really helps out.
Click here for TGUs -
For the knees to elbows, see below

Also, since it's the weekend you've got some extra time to work on your mobility and do some research. Recently you guys have heard me preach about the magical properties of foam rollers. You can do your own research, but trust me nothing has ever "hurt so good".  We only have 3 in the gym, so it's first come first serve...but you owe it to yourself to get to the gym early and unglue your scar tissue with the foam roller. And honestly, you really need to have one of these in your house so you can can do a lil self therapy while you're watching the game. If you're interested in buying your's where I got mine from:
If you guys want we could put in a mass order from the gym if enough people are interested.

Also...please check out: It's a phenomenal resource for self-myofascial release and explains why stuff like the foam roller works.

See you guys Monday for another great week of training. Make sure you guys check the "DUES" board, we've got several people who will be up for sessions. Also, please make sure you guys are signing in and paying before training starts. So that means you need to get to class 10 minutes early to square everything away. Sometime in the future I'll get with the times and get a swipe card/PIN system...but we are rocking the hand jam method until then.

And finally, here's something you can do in the house to practice increasing your hip and glute mobility.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Team Relay Throwdown!

PSKC Relay Champs!
Just how much fun is your typical gym experience this? Does it look anything like this...

A Pharmacist and a Ninja? 
Not only do we bust our ass...but we have a good time doing it. If you need a change..come see us.

Also due the demand we are having a special Saturday Kettlebell Intro class at 10am!  So you don't have to wait until Wednesday..come down Saturday morning and take the prerequisite class so you can start attending the regular classes. It will be the best decision you can make.

After the 10am intro...stick around for the weekly Saturday Pain Clinic. See you all there!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thrusters, Wall Walks, Pullups, and Tire Flips

Shep and Dave moving the heavy bells

Today we started out with some strength focusing on a blend of wall walks, double thrusters, pullups, and tire flips. We quickly learned we need to be doing more wall walks. After the 3 rounds were complete on the strength portion we went into a dirty lil lactic acid finisher. 20 seconds of work / 10 seconds of "rest" of:
Air Squats - rest in the bottome
Traveling Plank - rest in the plank
Slamball - rest in the overhead lockout

Also, it was great to have newcomers Brandy and Whitney on board. You guys did great! At the the 6 & 7 classes tomorrow we doing nothing but team relays all class long. We'll break into 4-5 events and see which teams can complete the most amount of rounds.

Let's try and split the groups up as much as we can, I'd like to see some more love thrown to the 7pm group if you can. Fun will be had for all!
How awesome is this photo?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Memento Mori

Considering my recent 30th birthday I wanted to let the group know more about a little excel spreadsheet called MEMENTO MORI that I keep track of on a weekly basis at the gym. I discovered this powerful tool while reading Craig Weller’s blog BAREFOOT FITNESS.

Craig spent six years as a member of a Naval Special Operations Force known as SWCC, the Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen. He has a very similar to approach to physical fitness that I do…stripped away of all the unnecessary nonsense and focused on helping people achieve results they never imagined through plain old hard work. The biggest difference between the two of us is that Craig is an extremely introspective and talented writer, where I am not. However, I am smart enough to know when something is of value.

So how does this spreadsheet work? Craig explains it like this;

"Since I was about eighteen years old I have been maintaining a tally on this piece of paper. It's 52 blocks wide and 80 blocks tall. On the top left corner is my birthdate, and on the bottom right is the same date, 80 years later. Every week I mark off a block. 

I don't write anything or make any kind of notes. I just black it out. The only thing left is the memories I have of that week and reality of how it has affected my life. In the end, the only things any of us have are our actions and our memories.

Doing this keeps my life in perspective. Each time I fill in a block I briefly consider what I did with that week. Sometimes I do so with a feeling of satisfaction. I want mine to be a life well lived. Other times I look back and realize that I frittered away most of my time on things that didn't really further my life, didn't make for any remarkable experiences, and didn't really make me happy."

Being a visual person myself, this is an extremely powerful tool that keeps me in check about the important things in my life. No matter what, each day is going to go by...days lead to weeks, to months, and to years. Before I know it I will be filling in the 80th row. How will I feel when that happens? Will it be life well lived full of memories, laughter, love, and experiences? Or will it be the opposite? Nothing lives changed, no friends made...

Each week through the action of physically blacking out each forces to ask the tough questions. What did I do this last week that was a worth a damn? Was I consumed with the minutia of life...or I did I make an effort to make myself and those around me better? Each week what is your answer?  

Considering it's the new year this is the time most people look back and review the previous year and think about what they want to accomplish for the next year. What this sheet does is allow you to do this reflection each and every don't need to wait 52 weeks to make a difference. Each day is a gift from God...don't waste and let it spoil. 

So what does the term "memento mori" mean? It loosely translates out to "we all die". Nice huh? From the minute we are born we are stamped with an expiration date. This can be a very morbid and depressing thought...or it can be something much more....the exact opposite..a very powerful and liberating thought. 

This spreadsheet is a weekly reminder to fully live your life. To steal the often over used cliché from Braveheart; “every man dies, but not every man truly lives” very true. Are you just simply existing? Letting life happen to you passively...or are you truly living life, making yourself and those around better? 

If you would like a sheet, please visit Craig's website or stop by the gym, I've got some extra copies. 

Now onto what's happened the last few days. Monday was another great crowd at both the 6 & 7pm classes. It was an awesome sweat and smoke producing effort. Exactly what was needed after an extremely long Saturday night out. We did a triple triplet workout consisting of:

20 seconds of 3 exercises at each station for a total of 3 minutes. Rest 1 minute in between, and repeat the entire sequence twice.

1) Snatch w, Snatch s, Slamball

2) Jump rope, swings, dual press

3) Step up, ½ Burpee, MTN Climbers
the end result..
Tonight's class we allotted some time in the beginning to work on a skill or exercise you suck at. We also introduced the kipping pullup to help with getting that chin over the bar. After the skill section we went into a team workout...that involved wall ball, kettlebell deadlifts, weighted situps, and double kb cleans..sprinkled with about 50 burpees to keep it spicy.

See you guys tomorrow at 6pm, hopefully we'll have some new faces to introduce to the family for those who come to the 5pm intro session. Looking forward to it!

Also, don't forget Awesome Ann Marie's 12pm running clinic class...this is truly unique training that is designed to increase your capacity as a runner.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

More Than A Gym....

The big 3-0 happened over the weekend, and I thought I was going to spend a nice quiet weekend at the ranch, just another day nothing special. I'm not one to put much excitement into birthdays and didn't really broadcast the fact that my birthday was today.....well other people had other things in mind.

It started with Saturday morning's Pain Clinic workout. After the workout ended the crew got together and brought in a surprise cake for me and everyone. But before we could get our cake on, the birthday boy had to receive the customary PSKC b-day gift..BURPEES. One burpee for each year..
on my way to 30 burpees

The fact anyone even remembered my birthday was enough, I was truly surprised and honored they went out of their way to get me a cake. Well... unbeknownst to me that was only the beginning of several more surprises to come later on in the day.

Long story short, over the course of the last several weeks my amazing wife Tia, had been scheming to throw me a surprise birthday party at my favorite watering hole, Port City Pub. As I thought I walked into the Pub,  I was just supposed to have a small dinner with a few friends. As I opened the door, I walked into a jam backed Pub full of family and friends...all there to wish me a Happy Birthday.
the west end of the bar is always the most dangerous end..
I cannot express how truly thankful I am to all you guys who came out to celebrate. It means more to me than you'll ever know.

When I started PSKC, I didn't want a place that was simply another "gym", where you go in, "workout" and leave. At most gyms you're on your own, no guidance....and there isn't a group of people that are willing to suffer and sacrifice alongside with you, who want you to be better.  

The vision I had in mind when I started PSKC was more than just a gym, but a community....that's why we're a CLUB, not a gym. I wanted a group of strong, fun-loving people who are linked together by the common bond of sweat, sacrifice, and smiles. If you've done a "sissy test" with somebody, you've got a friend for life.

And after seeing you all last night, I know without a doubt we're on the right path. (we are hard some training sonsofbitches...and apparently can run an impressive tab as well!) 

What we do is different, hell our language is different (burpees, Turkish Get Ups, AMRAP, kettlebells), but difference is good, when weakness and mediocrity is the norm for our area.
we train our asses off and party our asses off..
So once again thank you guys very much, this without a doubt has been the best birthday was exactly this time one year ago when I first started teaching kettlebell classes...there is no way I could have ever dreamed we'd be where we are at one year later, with so many people to celebrate with along the way.

You guys are awesome....and I know there is more people out there wanting to join our little "cult". It can be a little intimidating at first, thinking it's "too hard" or "there's no way I could ever do that stuff"....but these people won't let you fail. It will change your life for the good if you let it...

See you guys tomorrow at 6 or 7pm. If you came out on Saturday night, I've got just the cure to get the Miller Lite and Jager out!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Embrace the feet..

Take a look at your shoes that you train/exercise/run in....did you buy them for looks or for the functional purpose they serve? Odds are you went to the store saw the pair that looked the coolest and snagged them. At least that's what I used to do up until a year ago when I started researching "minimalist footwear" and its effects on strength, conditioning, and overall health. 

I've received a couple questions via email and lots of folks at PSKC have been asking about my shoes (Inov-8) and why some many hardcore kettlebellers train barefeet or with minimal footwear (like the funky toe condom looking Vibrams). So much so that I spent the first 10 minutes of class yesterday to further explain/demonstrate the importance of the foot (more on that later). 

Essentially the whole point behind miniamlist footwear movement is mimicking being as close as possible to barefeet when you exercise, run, walk, etc. So why the hell do you want to do this stuff barefooted?

God engineered the human body to run, jump, throw, climb, and lift heavy do any of these things requires some significant mechanical effort from the feet (1/4 of the bones in the human body are in the feet). I don't mean to speak for the Man Upstairs...but I don't think He had cushy Nike shoes in mind when he designed the human foot. You can pretty much do all these things straight out of the box without having fancy footwear to support you. 

So maybe the fact that you've been wearing these cushy elevated heel supported shoes your entire life has actually impaired your ability to run, jump, throw, climb, and lift heavy things. And maybe the source of your knee, back, hip, shin, etc pain could all be generating from your feet?

Let's look at the mechanics....

If you're wearing a cushy elevated heel, you don't feel any direct contact with the ground. Furthermore you're up on the balls of your feet at an angle. See illustration below..
Figure (A) demonstrates proper posture and body alignment (how many times do you guys hear me say "shoulder over hip, hip over knee, knee over ankle"? If any of those joints aren't stacked over one another you're out of alignment), having your foot "rooted" and connected to the ground. This is essential for kettlebell and strength training. 

Figure (B) demonstrates the higher angle in your heel, the farther away you move being connected to the ground

Figure (C) demonstrates the compensation factor you stress upon your body to achieve standing up straight. 

Tim Ferriss explains a bit better in why he wears Vibrams. 
"Postural compensation is unavoidable while wearing shoes that elevate the heels. It’s necessary to maintain balance.Chronic use of heels can result — and usually does — in some degree of kyphosis-lordosis and related pains in the lower back and mid-upper back."

So some of you maybe thinking, that's great Dale but I don't work out in heels....or do you? I bet if you take a hard look at your sneakers right'll notice quite a bit of elevation in your heel compared to being barefoot. Simply leave one shoe on and take one off and notice how far your foot from the ground really is. It's like wrapping a pillow under your foot.  
Looks cool...but notice the high elevation of the heel. 
Inov-8s the shoes I train in...only a 3mm difference from heel to forefront

Minimal footwear and kettlebells.....

For strength and kettlebell training, one of the legends in kettlebell training, Steve Maxwell, explains it best;

"minimalist footwear for resistance training and kettlebells assist the feet in transmitting more stimulus to the brain which in turn results in recruiting more muscle fibers, which in turn allows you to lift more weight or perform more explosively in exercises like the KB Snatch or heavy deadlifts. Wearing thick soled, heavily padded shoes creates dumb feet, a sort of neural amnesia. The brain doesn't know where the feet are in space or relationship to the ground surface."

Don't believe me? Here's what I had some of my folks do the other day to illustrate the importance of being "rooted" to the ground. We were working on single kettlebell deadlifts...

So this is what you can a couple reps of the single leg deadlifts on each side with your shoes on. Then take your kicks off and do the same amount of reps on each side and see if you don't notice immediately that your balance and strength has increased because your feet are allowed to actually feel the ground and therefore recruit more tension throughout your body...more tension equals more power, equals more strength.

Twins of Awesomness learning to use their feet...
So am I saying burn all your pairs of sneakers in favor of being barefoot all the time? No not'll need some time for your feet to be "broken in". The easiest transtion is to get a pair of Nike Free 5.0 and try them out for awhile and then start moving down towards the Inov-8s or Vibrams. I love my Inov-8s and probably would like the Vibrams too as multiple people swear by them...but honestly I just don't see myself wearing them because they are just a little too weird for me.

So is it possible to run barefooted? Hell yes it is and it's quite healthier for your joints to do so..I'm not a big distance runner so I'm not gonna give advice on things I don't know about....but look at it this way. Where are the best distance runners in the world from?....Kenya baby and the majority of them run in their barefeet....coincidence? I think not....ohhh and side note...what in the exercise world causes the most injuries year in and year out?'s no wonder why now.

You've got thousands of people who are forced to be heel strikers because of the cushy shoes they wear. If you run in barefeet you immediately notice that you must run with your legs underneath you on the balls of your feet.....for all you runners out there I highly encourage you to research this in-depth...and more importantly start looking at the POSE Method

And since I have a lot of running nuts at PSKC....below is an article discussing barefoot running. Do your own research and experimentation...but I think if you go with minimal footwear you'll avoid a lot of unnecessary injuries in the long run and become much more stronger...see you guys Saturday at 11am!

Running Barefoot Creates Less Collision Force Than Running in Cushioned Shoes, Study Says

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 27, 2010 -- Running barefoot causes less collision force to the feet than running in cushioned shoes, a new study says.

Researchers reporting in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Nature show that runners who run without shoes usually land on the balls of their feet, or sometimes flat-footed, compared to runners in shoes, who tend to land on their heels first.

Cushioned running shoes, which date back only to the 1970s, may seem comfortable but may actually contribute to foot injuries, say Daniel Lieberman, PhD, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, and colleagues.

The scientists, using motion and force analyses, showed that barefoot runners who strike on the fore-foot (land on the balls of their feet) generate smaller collision forces than shod rear-foot strikers.

The researchers say that although there are anecdotal reports of reduced injuries in barefoot populations, more work is needed to test their view that either barefoot runners or those with minimal footwear (such as sandals or moccasins) have reduced injury rates.

Running Barefoot Can Be Comfortable

By running on the balls of the feet or the middle of the foot, runners avoid more forceful impacts, equivalent to two to three times of body weight, that shod heel-strikers repeatedly experience.

"People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike," Lieberman says in a news release. "By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike.

"Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world's hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain."

He says a few calluses can help runners avoid injuries.

Build Up to Barefoot Running

Lieberman and colleagues analyzed the running styles, or gaits, of five groups of people -- U.S. adult athletes who had always worn shoes, Kenyan adult runners who grew up barefoot but now wear cushioned running shoes, U.S. adult runners who grew up wearing shoes but now run barefoot or with minimal footwear, Kenyan adolescents who have never worn shoes, and Kenyan adolescents who have worn shoes for most of their lives.

And they say they found a striking pattern.

Most shod runners, which would encompass 75% or more of Americans, strike their heels when they run, experiencing a large and sudden collision force an average of 960 times for every mile they run, "making runners prone to repetitive stress injuries," the authors write.

On the other hand, people who run barefoot tend to land with a step toward the middle or front of the foot, causing less impact force to the foot.
Madhusudhan Venkadesan, PhD, a co-author and researcher in applied mathema
tics and human evolutionary biology at Harvard, says in the news release that heel striking is painful when running barefoot or in minimal shoes "because it causes a large collisional force each time a foot lands on the ground."

But barefoot runners point their toes more at landing, avoiding the collision effect by decreasing the "effective mass of the foot that comes to a sudden stop when you land, and by having a more compliant, or springy leg."

Modern people have grown up wearing shoes, so running barefoot is something to be eased into, Lieberman says. Modern running shoes are designed to make heel-striking easy and comfortable. He suggests runners who want to shed their shoes do so slowly, to build strength in the calf and foot muscles.