Tag Archives: Dragon Door HKC Las Vegas

DOMS, or Actually Dying?

Askhole. A person who constantly asks for your advice, yet ALWAYS does the complete opposite of what you told them to do. (Source: Urban Dictionary)

We all know at least one Askhole, and they are exceptionally common in my profession.

A guy I know recently took up weight training. Although he is completely new to training, he refuses to hire a trainer (even for a consult) and is getting all his training advice online.  I stopped giving him any help due to his being a complete askhole.

Not long ago I received this message: “Bro, how can I tell if my pectoral is torn?” To say that this triggered some alarms would be an understatement.

While I’m supportive of people getting in the gym and trying things on their own. I also recommend obtaining the assistance of professionals when needed. I have more than 100 professional contacts just for this sort of situation. My recent adventures with this gentleman indicates the first scenario isn’t going in a good direction, and that the second scenario needs to happen.

After an examination by his Dr, my suspicion proved true.  He experienced a strong case of Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and it was nearly a week (1) before he could painlessly put his own shirt on.

He’s lucky, things could have been much worse.(2)

After some interrogation, I found that this wasn’t his first experience with severe DOMS. On DAY ONE he performed an uncounted number of curl variations (basically all the curls) and couldn’t straighten his arms for several days afterward (basically he turned himself into a T-Rex.)

Remember, this is a person that hasn’t adapted to training. He also happens to be nearly the same age as myself and sits on the other end of the fitness continuum.

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I know these types of images are supposed to be “motivational”, but I honestly question the sanity of any trainer posting this sort of material.

Some amount of discomfort in training can be expected,especially with beginners. That said, there is a point of diminishing returns. Being ungodly sore after exercise is not some badge of honor or proof that a workout was good. If anything, it indicates the workout was beyond your capacity and tolerances. It would be like laying out in the sun until blisters appear and calling it a “good tan.”

Excessive DOMS interferes with recovery, which is actually where the benefits of your training occur.  Pre-supposing you can make it back to the gym, your session performance could be lowered due to the soreness on more than one level.

Excessive soreness can also affect the training of seemingly unrelated body parts.  For example, the gentleman’s massively sore chest prevented his ability to put a barbell on his back for squats, get in and out of the leg press or curl dumbbells. Even the Elliptical was out of the question.

Recommendations: Start sensibly. Every Gym God started with an empty bar and built themselves up over time.  For the older guys getting back in the gym, my mantra “I’m only as good as my next workout” applies.  Your actions can decide if that workout takes place this week or after months of physical therapy.

 

(1) A perspective on training and recovery balance from a Masters Class competitive lifter. My training is divided over four days, two days are designated as a type of maximum effort, where I work towards the heaviest lift I can control that day.  The other two days are set at lower percentages (between 70-85% of my maximum.)  I rarely train to failure, and if I do I keep it to 1-2 exercises that involve small muscle groups, usually this type of work is done at 20-30% of what I’m capable.

24hrs after my training I do either small workouts (something I can do in 30min or so) or a form of active or passive recovery (mobility work,massage,ligament/tendon training etc)

It’s rare for me to be anything beyond mildly sore. I like leaving like the gym with a win and knowing I had another 5-10lbs or extra reps left in me.  On the platform I like knowing I gave it all I had that day.

The above is not what a beginners training looks like.

(2) On the severe end of things, Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down rapidly. Breakdown products of damaged muscle cells are released into the bloodstream. Some of these, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure. (Source: PubMed)

Although Rhabdomyolysis requires a medical diagnosis, if you’re peeing something the color of Coca Cola it would be best to get to the ER.

 

 

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Succesful Personal Trainers

“Don’t nobody know nothing? What up with this?”   Nino Brown, New Jack City

I recently read a question on a personal trainers board that despite a 6k membership has gone unanswered.

“What are the common characteristics of successful fitness professionals?”

I contacted the original poster asking them if I could use the question for this weeks blog.  My question was not verbally acknowledged, but I did get one of these…

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Despite a love of comics, I prefer words over pics.

There are a ton of potential answers to the question. How is success being defined? I ask because some people will read past “characteristic” and focus on “successful.”

Characteristic. A feature or quality belonging typically to a person, place, or thing and serving to identify it.

Can success be tied to an annual income? Is it having a good work/life balance? Is it having a sustained business model? Is it based on the results consistently obtained in clients? Is it daily happiness in ones work?  Is it the number of social media followers one has? Is it not looking like a DYEL?  Is it simply remaining employed for greater than the average drop-off points?

People have used all of these to validate success, and I’m certain there are plenty of other measuring sticks. I’ve met trainers that meet nearly all the above, yet are actually poor trainers. I also know some exceptional trainers that only meet a few of the above criterion.

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Below are some of the common characteristics of the best trainers I know based purely on my opinion.

They are largely humble about their accomplishments. They don’t speak down to those with less prestigious educational pedigrees, less enviable physiques, smaller social circles or lower income.

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They enjoy teaching,but will not suffer fools gladly.

They are scholar-warriors. They continually advance their knowledge and abilities both in depth and breadth. They consistently study and can separate sources of information. They question what they read.

They have no problems saying “I don’t know” (or admit having limited knowledge on a subject) but often know someone that does. They can admit when they were wrong on a subject.

They are comfortable holding conflicting thoughts in their head. They are open to hearing/reading material that opposes their line of thinking, not just the material that supports their way of seeing things.

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“To give a person an opinion one must first judge well whether that person is of the disposition to receive it or not”  The Hagakure.

They know their opinion will not be shared by all, no matter how well articulated or the strength of supporting evidence. We live in a world with a Flat Earth society and trainers that have only read one book.

They let principles guide their practice, not fads.

They realize it’s not the tool, but what you do with the tool that counts.

They can explain complex things simply.  They do not talk like they swallowed a Latin dictionary, unless they need to.

They don’t get their clients hurt.

They don’t bring anecdotes to a science fight.  If they DO bring anecdotes, they state such and do not attempt to pass it off as facts.

 

Sabbatical

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I’ve been on sabbatical for a little while now, but haven’t dropped off the grid.

I parted ways with Iron Addicts Gym Las Vegas due to a disagreement regarding our business relationship.  I worked as an independent contractor for the gym, which meant I paid a monthly fee to rent space in the gym and was responsible for obtaining and retaining my own clientele along with maintaining personal liability insurance.  I was not an employee or paid by the gym in any way.

I believe the gym owners were wrong by insisting that I wear the gyms shirt whenever I trained my clients. I would not be allowed to wear personal branded shirts or any other suitable shirt.  Mind you, I had been renting space in the gym for more than two years, and this rule came out of the blue.  The gym is not a franchise operation and is Iron Addicts in name only.

This unforeseeable situation represented not only a contractual issue, but also a slippery slope. Would I be told to change the branding on my business card? What about any social media platforms that I have? How about having to perform janitorial duties on messes that I, or a athlete of mine didn’t create?

The decision to leave was both difficult and easy, and not without some follow-on pains. It was made easy by the fact that I don’t NEED to work for a living.  Fact is, I never did.

Since then, I have remained unemployed as a private strength coach.  Some of that time I believe was due to feeling down about things, but I fully accept the consequences of my decision to stand up for myself, and have put my time to very good use. I still study daily, and have two live courses already lined up. Daily study has been a habit for so long that I can’t see myself changing.

My sabbatical has allowed me to become nearly a full-time student and opened up greater time to train myself. My training log proves I’ve gotten stronger, having to give away shirts proves I gained size and I would like to think I’ve gained an I.Q. point or two from the studying. I still consult for a number of individuals,including other trainers and administrate a small international online network of health and fitness professionals.

I honestly believe I will come out of this sabbatical a better coach than I am now, and I can’t stand the thought of 2018 me being no better than 2017 me.

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Watching YouTube isn’t the same as Education.  I don’t believe there is any controversy to this opinion.  In fairness, I can say the same applies to blog sites such as this.

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There are trainers out there that consider YouTube a go-to resource.  Why do I have the feeling they view Wikipedia in the same light?

Yes, there are some YouTube sites putting out exceptional material that can either serve as an adjunct, or possibly clarify a topic through visual examples. The trick is managing to land on a page that is putting out quality information.  Overall I find YouTube to be handy and have picked up some gems over the years.

If you did you manage to land on a quality YouTube channel, the material covered can often require a level of understanding beyond what the video covers.  For example, I know that a kettle bell swing video from StrongFirst, RKC or StrengthMatters will demonstrate exceptional technique.

As a person that has attended the StrongFirst Kettlebell three and single day courses, along with working with three different SFG instructors, and having attended Dragon Doors HKC certification, I can assure you that there is a reason why half a day is spent covering the swing.  

Personally, I believe its possible to spend more than an entire day on single technique.  It comes down to how much knowledge the instructor can pass on and the level of the class.

Remember, with the possible exception of the StrongFirst single day course, people TRAINED  to be ready for these courses.  Hiring an SFG/RKC/SMK certified coach in advance is a wise idea and well worth the investment.

How well do you really think you’ll understand something when the sum of your education came from watching some YouTube videos? Well enough to apply it to another human? Well enough to pass a testing criteria under the eyes of a coach that actually does knows what they’re doing?

The world is full of  YouBoob trainers. This is a profession that sincerely needs more professionals, and less amateurs.

Be Real.

 

“Look the Part”

Them: “So were you a gymnast, or a sprinter?”                                                                  

Me:  (Hearty Laugh) “Neither, I’m a stiff biff and move at the speed of a tectonic plate”

Truth time, I enjoy the programs offered through GMB (1) and am not the worst sprinter in the world thanks to Training for Warriors level 2.  My stiff biff and tectonic plate comparisons are a bit off and looking like a gymnast or sprinter certainly isn’t the worst look (or more importantly, physical abilities) to have at any age.

In the eyes of a gym goer and a coach that didn’t previously know me, I “looked the part” of a person that was/is one or the other.  While I am not without some skill in teaching bodyweight strength training or improving sprinting form, I don’t consider myself an expert in either.  There are other coaches that fill that need and its good to have them on speed dial. I gladly refer business their way and only ask that they return my texts. (2)

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I didn’t look the part of a Powerlifter, much less a coach that happens to teach the Powerlifts (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift and their variations)  What were they expecting? The classic big guy with a power gut that gets out of breath eating third lunch?  While there is some truth to the stereotype, it is not representative of all Powerlifters. One visit to Powerlifting meet will prove that fact when you see the lighter weight classes compete.

Mind you, I genuinely liked these people at first meeting, and I can fully understand their perception, especially since I had just dropped off a horizontal bar working on lever holds.

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On one side is what the trainer looks like. On the other is what they are actually capable of doing, and how well they do it. While I believe a balance can be achieved, I favor the side of ability. 

I can reasonably speculate the entire “Looking the part” thing stems from three major sources;  (a) Gym Bro’s that look particularly impressive and won’t take advice from anyone that doesn’t look MORE impressive than they do. (b) Trainers that look a certain way, and believe that no trainer that looks otherwise is qualified to lend an opinion.  (c) The general publics belief that the better the trainer looks, the better they are at training other people.

Speaking on behalf of the Gym Bro’s, I’ve observed a small gradual shift in this line of thinking, and that a percentage of serious Bro’s will seek qualified information regardless of what the source looks like.  They live in a world of results, if a smaller or fatter trainer can get the results they’re seeking, they will listen.

Older trainers can swing either way and be viewed as being either highly knowledgeable or not in touch with modern training science.  As an older trainer myself I will state that wisdom (in training) does not always accompany age.

Possibly BroScience on my behalf, but based on observations I’ve found many of the trainers that overstate the importance of a trainers appearance tend to lack in other areas.  I can’t fault them for playing their strengths, but applying that thinking broadly is illogical.

As a trainer, especially one that deals with the general population, I can understand that overweight or underweight trainers finding themselves at a disadvantage in terms of perceived credibility.  This can be professionally overcome, however it can be an uphill battle.

I believe the worst-case scenario would be a trainer that doesn’t look the part and cannot perform the part either.  Having seen this firsthand, my standing advice in this is if the trainer is serious about this profession, they need to hire a trainer of their own (ideally more than one) and spend a year in the trenches learning the craft.

(1) My testimonial for GMB: https://gmb.io/reviews/#is

(2) Sprinting Education: https://primalspeed.com/events/

 

 

Sucker Punch

“Life can change your directions, even when you ain’t planned it
All you can do it handle it, worst thing you can do is panic
Use it to your advantage, avoid insanity manage
To conquer, every obstacle, make impossible possible
Even when winning illogical, losing is still far from optional”

“No Matter What” by T.I, 

Its been barely a week since I posted “Five Years Later”, and I now find myself in a somewhat familiar place.  I no longer have a gym in which to offer my services as I chose to terminate my agreement with the gym over a matter of principles.

I will admit that I’m feeling slightly down about this, but I have a number of options in front of me, and it certainly isn’t the only gym in town. As a matter of fact, a gym just opened up around the corner.  Full retirement is also an option which I have considered.

In the meantime, I have my routines. The single most impacted one is where I can train myself, and even that can be worked around.

Daily routines are an important thing to me.  My morning routine and “daily do’s” has seen some changes over the years but my daily professional reading has been consistent. I am presently reading SuperTraining by Dr. Mel Siff and Dr. Yuri Verkoshansky.  It is a 500+ page encyclopedia  of incredibly dense material steeped in Russian and Eastern European training science.

I’ve found that on average, I can best manage its material in ten-minute chunks in order retain the information.

There are pages with large question marks scribbled in the margins as I need other books to explain this book. Luckily, every now and then I run across topics which I am comparatively more knowledgeable,can absorb the information and apply it in a practical manner.

I’ve been told it takes roughly a year to get through the book during the first read through.  So far that is looking to be a pretty accurate estimate.

It was during one of my ten-minute reading snacks yesterday when I paused my timer (yes, I time things) and asked “If I stopped training people, would any of this (my daily study habit) matter?  I’d have this knowledge, but nobody to share it with or that could benefit from it? Am I simply doing this out of habit?

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Leave no stone unturned. Be able to explain and practically apply each of the methods shown on a athlete defined basis.                                                                                                                                           

Despite the Sucker Punch, I don’t believe the universe wants me to stop doing what I’m doing just yet.  It simply reminded me that standing up for your principles will sometimes mean that you’re going to take some shots in the process.

 

 

Five Years Later

Over the past fives there has been some significant changes, while other things have remained relatively intact. I’ve changed my mind on a number of things and make no apologies.

I still prefer free-weights over machine training, however I am not as opposed to machines as I once was and they serve a purpose beyond aesthetic development.

It’s been my observation that many trainers cannot teach the proper execution of the basic barbell lifts, or even machines for that matter.  This is indicative of a problem in the certification process.  The value of courses with live components that test ones ability to perform and coach lifts cannot be emphasized enough.  Simply passing a written exam is not enough, not matter how academically challenging.

Bodyweight training has always been present, and over the past two years has increased in my programming.

I still don’t train people on unstable objects, but would if there was a direct need. Trainers that are quick to put people on unstable surfaces often have a very hard time telling me their “why?” behind the exercise.

My client base has completely changed completely, and many of the clients I had five years ago are still with me. For that, I am a blessed man.  In addition to my in-person training, I have several international clients as well as deployed military personnel.  At present, all my clients are younger than me.

Five years ago greater than 70% of my clients were older than me and nearly 100% had notable physical issues.  Although it partly contributed to minor professional burnout, part of me misses working with that population, and I still believe they are under-served.  I’ve found that I do best when my client types are relatively balanced. Being something of an extrovert by nature, I thrive with stimulation.

Due to a highly packed schedule it was previously difficult to find time to train myself.  Now I have more than enough time to accomplish both, as I intentionally limit the number of clients I see in a single day.  I’ve personally found it best to separate my training from days I train others.  Both ends suffer when I combine them, and I refuse to be one of the idiot trainers that get in their own workout during the clients paid time.

While not a present issue, If licensure for Personal Trainers were to become law, then there is a good chance that I would leave the profession both as a coach and an educator.  Would I still attend courses and keep my reading habits? I’m sure I would.  It would just suck that there would be nobody to share it with.

I have found myself moving in the opposite direction of my initial certification body.  This feeling has continued to grow stronger over the years and I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

In terms of the majority of commercial gyms, I am convinced that I am unhireable. Not so much due to my education or certifications but rather due to a combination of my age and the 100% likelihood of me speaking my mind….and the fact that I’ve been told I can be intimidating  during interviews.

My advice to first and second year trainers, if you are offered upon hire the position of assistant fitness manager/assistant personal training sales manager I ask that consider NOT taking the offer.  Did you go through the process of getting certified in the first place to sell personal training packages, or actually train people?

Professionally, I have become less tolerant of under-performers. This could be a result of age,unrealistic expectations or previous bad experiences.  I will gladly help someone trying to elevate themselves, and I continue to do so at my own financial expense. You wouldn’t believe how many books have never been returned, and even some equipment loans have failed to come back.