Misc

4 Reasons Why I Listen to Disco When Training.

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Music is a big thing when it comes to training. Many use it to motivate oneself for a set, or to push oneself further when going for a run. Activities that require a certain rhythm would benefit from this as it provides a pace for you to follow when running. However, in strength sports such as weightlifting and powerlifting, how does music affect one's training atmosphere? So here's why I listen to disco when training:

1. It teaches me to zone out the distractions.

There are many things that can distract us in a lift. Someone walking across, a phone going off, people talking in the background. Music that is playing and is not within your preferred genre will help you zone out and train you not to be easily distracted.

office-distractions Many things, big or small, can throw you off easily before a lift. 

2. It helps me to zone into myself and my lifts.

By clearing out the distractions, the internal focus becomes stronger and the needed cues for each lift can be internalized alot better. This makes the pre-lift routine more prominent and subsequently make lifts more consistent.

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What you tell yourself before a lift will help you set the tone for the lift. Image credit to Ironmind.

3. It allows me to calm myself down and be composed before the lift.

By being able to zone in as mentioned in the previous point, I can figure out if I am ready for the lift or not. Music that seem to motivate you sometimes brings your heart rate up. With your heart racing at 1000 beat per minute, you will find it difficult to be composed in order to move properly through the lift.

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Psyching up is good. Psyching out isn't.

4. We all need alittle bit of grooving in the gym.

Being able to psych yourself up for a lift is important. Being able to relax after a lift is also crucial in order to reset yourself for the next lift. Groovy music will help you keep the vibes positive throughout your training session, rather than angry and upset all the time.

Night Fever[1]

Getting the groove on to help keep the atmosphere positive and allow the mind to remain relaxed. 

The Weightlifter List: The 8 Qualities You Strive to Have In Weightlifting.

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070719_jackieberube What does it take to be a weightlifter? This is how I see it if you want to get better at the sport of weightlifting.

1. Physical Strength

One of the most important aspects of weightlifting that can't be neglected. No strength, no power, no tension, no lift.

2. Mental Toughness

You are bound to fail lifts. You are bound to not understand how certain things work or how to make something work. You need to have the resilience to bounce back from all that to get a good lift.

3. Patience

Patience in the lift itself to make sure you don't cut the pull short. Patience in a sense that what you do as training will one day make sense and help you improve.

4. Control

The barbell is an inanimate object. You need to have the ability to control your actions to make the barbell work for you. You can't use excessive aggression to approach lifting, if not nothing will be achieved.

5. Intent

Intention is what is going to ensure you do well in weightlifting. If you don't have the intention to move fast, you are not going to. Intention is the key to having control over your actions.

6. Desire

Desire is close to intent but in a more general context. Desire is what is going to give you the drive to train hard. Desire is what's going to push you to pursue the feeling of the movement. Desire is what's going to help you improve technique and perform better.

7. Open-mindness

Learning is a never-ending process so being open-minded allows you to see weightlifting from more than one aspect.

8. Humility

Humility encompasses the willingness to accept changes and the appreciation for different perspectives. Keeping this in check will not only allow you to gain more knowledge but also have better interactions with others within and outside of the sport of weightlifting.

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Striving to attain these qualities will make you not only a better weightlifter in terms of performance but also a contributor to the development of the sport.

The Rebuild: Fixing The Wrist

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As mentioned in my previous post, I have taken a break from proper training to fix myself up. Main issues to work on include my wrist, my hips and some technical bits for my lifts. So in the first part of my rebuild, I am going to look at how I actually approached my rehab for my wrist. rack-position

Picture from StrongLifts.com.

The Issue

It began with a strain in the wrist from catching the weight in the snatch. With time, it developed into a slight pain at the distal end of the radius (the forearm bone closer to the side of the thumb). I also felt it when doing my cleans as I usually have a slight grip on the bar when racking the weight. On a daily basis, I feel a pain in the left wrist when going into flexion or extension and I do not have as much range of motion as compared to my right wrist.

So here are some of the things I implemented in my wrist rehab:

Wrist Stretching and Strengthening

After having the physio (Jim from Pinnacle Physical Therapy in Mount Eliza) smash my wrist up with a brutal massage, I started working on stretching out the left wrist from all planes of movement. At the same time, I was introduced to Ido Portal from my mate (Benny at Cohesion Strength and Conditioning) and I started looking up on his videos. One in particular was the wrist routine he recommended. A post on All Things Gym on wrist mobility provides a very good illustration of this as well. This involved stretching the wrists out in four directions (fingers facing North, South, East, West) in flexion and extension.

One of the key elements about this is to keep the arms in full extension as any flexion in the elbows takes away the stretch in the forearms and movement would come from the elbow or shoulder when we are supposedly stretching the wrist. Even if your range of motion is minimal with a locked elbow and compact shoulder, start from there and work to a better range of motion. Do these wrist stretches to a point where its tolerable. Do not push till there is pain.

The strengthening aspect of this comes from performing these stretches as well. While you put yourself into the positions for these stretches, you will be either on your palms (when stretching in wrist extension) or the back of your hands (when in wrist flexion). To strengthen the wrist up, I have tried putting some pressure on these areas while stretching. Firstly, it's to build up the confidence to put pressure on the wrist and secondly, it's to build up the strength in the wrist. It is also important here when you apply pressure to make sure that your arms are locked out and shoulder is compact. This is to emphasize the idea of a lockout in a snatch or jerk or the top of a press or bench press.

Wrist Mobility

Think of stretching and strengthening as giving you the ability to maintain the required positions of the movement. Mobility is the ability to transition from one position to another in regards to the joint. So mobility is more associated with movement than a fixed position.

So with help from Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr Kelly Starrett, I applied the method of compression bands on my wrist and start working not only on the stretching exercises with the bands but also the movement that my wrist gets involved in in the lifts with the bands as part of my warm-up. I felt that this really helped loosen up the structures in the wrist but also gets the wrist pretty warmed-up for movements to come.

Technical Changes in the Lifts

Sometimes injuries surface from the technical errors which you have let slipped in your lifts. The wrist is one that easily falls into this category. That's why if you think you can get away with sloppy technique, think again. So what I did in terms of this for my wrist were just two simple adjustments.

First adjustment was just the width of my grip in the snatch. Because of a grip that perhaps was too wide (that wide so that I could get the bar higher), this wide grip put more strain on  my radius at the distal end when catching the weight. So I just brought the grip in closer and it seems alittle better. Only time will tell. The second adjustment I made was more of being more focused in maintaining a good lockout. Locking the arms out allows the weight of the bar to be effectively transferred down the arm into the shoulder and the torso for the catch. This was done by using a lighter load and emphasizing the lockout everytime I caught the weight. Only when I could do it confidently then I would increase the load being used.

That was for the snatch. For the clean and jerk, i also made a few conscious adjustments. Firstly, the rack position in the clean is one of the culprits for wrist injuries. Rack the weight wrongly and you would probably feel it in your wrist straight away. Having a death grip while racking the weight on your shoulders is another way to strain your wrist in my opinion. Racking of the weight should be the bar coming in contact with your shoulders and having the weight on them, not in your hands. I can't seem to time this right so this has been a limiting factor for me (not relaxing my grip to rack the weight). So I have been practising the racking of the weight on my shoulders and letting my fingers cradle the weight. This also allows my elbows to turn around faster and remain in that position rather than collapsing and eventually letting my torso collapse as well.

On the flip side, in the jerk, I have been focusing on getting a grip on the bar and maintaining my grip while performing the jerk. This keeps my wrists in a more stable position and somewhat gives me a better ability to transfer my drive into the bar during the jerk (could be a placebo but it seems to be working so far). The problem with that is the issue of timing again. I have to have a grip while pulling the weight, let go of my grip when racking the weight and then firming my grip up again for the jerk. Seems complicated right? Yes, that's my thought process when performing the clean and jerk (probably why I find the snatch so much easier).

So that's my rehab process for my wrist for the past 6 weeks or so. It has helped me so far and I have managed to get back into lifting at Phoenix again. And so, I have managed a 95kg snatch since stopping and implementing this program (though I still suck at the clean and jerk and only managed a 105kg since taking a break) so I think it has worked for me somehow.

 

Stay Strong and Keep Training Your Wrists,

The Training Geek

Rant from the Training Geek.

Well.. I am not one who usually rant in public about others in what they do. But there is too much talk around in the area of sport science, weightlifting and all that. Plus, I am tired of people who try to sound like they know it all. Everyone should take a page out of the book from my friend Kirk from lifthard.com. One should always be on the path of discovery and learning. No matter how many years of experience, no matter how many athletes you have or are training, you should always seek to learn. No one system works all the time and everything is so organic that even perspectives and ideologies themselves have to be adapted as we go along.

As a coach, we can read alot and learn alot. But it doesnt stop there. The way we pass down the knowledge is as important as a parent teaching their kids life lessons. If you think the way kids were handled in the past could be used in today's modern society, you got to be living in the wilderness or in a certain tribe where if you make a mistake it means you lose a limb to your siblings. Like parents, coaches should make sure that they teach their athletes everything they know so that they are gonna be successful on their own, and not hold anything back in order to make a consistent buck from them.

Too many people these days have this mentality that they need to bring others down in order for them to rise up the ranks. Before looking at what is wrong with others, look at what's wrong with yourself. This is the only time you can be self-centered. Instead of always pinpointing the mistakes of others, try asking yourself what is it you can do to make yourself a better coach, a better athlete or a better person. The ability to accept that you have your own faults as well and not at the expense of putting others down is going to show your sincerity to those you have under you. Show you are willing to learn and others will be willing to learn from you.

Most importantly, a coach should always lead by example. If you want your athlete to do something right, at least make sure you are competent in it. So many "coaches" these days want to coach something they are not even able to do. If you can't do it, what makes you think you can teach it. What I know about Olympic weightlifting is barely scratching the surface. That's why I only teach beginners and I do not even think of taking anyone advanced yet. If you do not even snatch or clean and jerk properly (and I don't mean the strength and conditioning style of Olympic weightlifting), you should think twice about using it in your programming. If you really want to, get someone who knows the how-tos to come in and assist you. A snatch or clean is not even close to a RDL.

With that, I am satisfied. The strength & conditioning world is not going to change with a rant like mine. But just examine yourself first. That's all I gotta say.

Stay Strong and Thanks for Listening,

The Training Geek.

The Fire Burns..

Day by day, the fire that has been lit burns brighter and brighter. As long as it lasts, I will make the best out of it.

Yesterday's session:

1. Back Squats

Worked up to 125kg for triples. Legs slowly coming back and I am slowly finding my feet under me. Need to also get comfortable yet strong at the bottom of the squat. Working with a slightly wider stance at the moment to facilitate the bottom position and get the hips stretching out more.

2. Power Cleans

Despite doing 80kg-triples on Saturday, I backed off and did 75kg triples. Because 80kg felt heavy and I actually caught a few in a full clean position, I thought I would be better off with 75kg to make sure I can still pull and catch it high. Need to remind myself not to lean back too much in the pull.

3. Clean Pulls

115kg for triples for this session. Weight felt manageable despite doing additional warm-up on 110kg. Higher volume for pulls but working on the bottom and extending the pull made it feel lighter and faster. Need to translate this into the clean itself.

Back onto a program and feeling good about it. Yes I may look like it's all about fun and games. But remember, a dog that doesn't bark doesn't mean that it doesn't bite.

dsc_0172Picture from Glenn Pendlay's Blog.

Stay Strong and Keep Training,

The Training Geek.

The Return to Training.

I have slacked for 6 weeks. No training. Barely touched a barbell. Not much weight lifted.

Now that I am back in Melbourne, it starts all over.

But this time it's different...

 

The first week is tough.

The first step back into training is difficult.

The first squat is rough.

However, the fire is lit. All I needed was a spark.

Now the fire burns.

It's no longer a game.. It's a war.

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Picture from hookgrip

Get Yourself Ready for the Olympics: The Training Geek Way.

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It is coming. The London Olympics are so close and we are all excited to see records being broken or even simply anticipating to support the athletes we know who are participating in the Games. But are we ready to do all that? Even though we may not be the athletes who put their bodies through the intense training and the crazy athletic performances in their events, we as spectators need to prepare ourselves for the toll that we will experience watching the Olympics. So here is a different perspective to getting yourself and your body and mind ready for the Olympics:

Work on our postural muscles.

"Shoulders back", "long spine" etc. Working harder during this time to maintain good posture is important. As spectators, we are always in a single position when watching the athletes perform: sitting down. If we do not maintain good sitting posture, we put ourselves in a bad position for the duration of 30 days, considering that we are going to watch the action everyday. So a simple workout like some core stabilization exercises or postural muscle activation exercises will take you a long long way during this exciting period. Not to forget (from my weightlifting perspective), your pulls (or deadlifts) and squats will help with maintaining posture as well (in a heavy way).

Do lots of stretching especially for the posterior chain.

Why do I say that? What position would you be in when watching the Olympics? Sitting down most of the time right? So, stretching muscles like your hamstrings and glutes are critical to maintaining back health when we are going to be couch potatoes for an extended period of time. By keeping our muscles nice and loose, we would not end up tightening up into a slouch position and end up straining our lower back. Good time for some yoga or pilates at home just to maintain flexibility and mobility and best part is you can do it while watching the Olympics.

Ensure proper recovery techniques.

Sleep deprivation has been found to provide the same amount of stress to the body as exercise would. This means that if you are up catching the Games and neglecting your sleep, you would end up feeling as fatigued as going through an intense workout. So if you do not ensure that you sleep enough, your body is definitely going to take a toll from the Games. Also, with your attention devoted to the Games, our regular routine gets messed up. Meals are at irregular hours because you do not want to miss a certain event or you hardly drink any water or might even be drinking some other forms of liquid (a beer always goes well with television). So your hydration levels and nutrition plan would be thrown out of the window. So ensuring that you maintain your recovery techniques in terms of nutrition, hydration and rest is definitely critical for you to pace yourself through the Olympics.

So, want to make sure you enjoy the Olympics? Bear in mind these tips and hopefully they will help with keeping you in shape while supporting our athletes as they put themselves on the line for the medals.

 

Picture by Jason Lee (Reuters).

Stay Ready and Keep Watching The Olympics,

The Training Geek.

Geek P.O.D.: Listening.

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This is something everyone thinks they are doing but in fact they are not. Listening is different from hearing in the sense that listening involves understanding what is being heard.

In training, listening is very important. It helps you get things right. If you do not listen to who's training you, you might end up not being able to train properly and not getting the results you want or worse still, injuring yourself. Listening to yourself is also important as you need to understand what your body is going through and listening to it helps you moderate your training intensity and volume. Lastly, listening in training allows you to use feedback as a learning tool for you to do things right and be the best you physically can be.

So don't just hear but learn to listen. You will actually learn something from it.

Geek P.O.D.: Embracing Success.

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Sometime in our lives, we have experienced the joy of success. Be it big or small, we probably have gotten the taste of it before. However, every individual has his or her own way of embracing this success and this comes in their own form of celebration after achieving this success.

For Dmitry Klokov, it was in the form of a huge roar after his lift in the Olympic Games. His way of celebrating his success in weightlifting is in the form of very manly and beastly roars after each lift with arms punching the air. Other forms of embracing success could be just a simple shout-out into the sky, a fist pump into the air or a jump up into the air. To each individual, we all have our own way of celebrating success.

Mine is simply smiling and looking up into the sky, thanking Him for making it happen. What's yours?

 

The Training Geek's Gonna Be Boss?

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Recently I have been shown this graphic design by many back home which has sparked the formation of this post. For my regular readers from other parts of the world, currently in Singapore, it's our Presidential Elections and the campaigning is full-on at the moment. Being overseas, I have the option to vote but that means heading down to Canberra to cast my vote. Plus, I have no preference over who becomes President as long as the country continues to survive I suppose (as you can tell I'm not so keen in regards to the political scene).

So back to the point of this post, the picture below has drawn some of my attention and I find really amusing that they are somewhat similar.

"Your Training Geek logo same as -Name removed-.."

No it is not. Reasons are:

  1. My Training Geek logo is graphically adapted from the glasses I currently wear. Although the other mentioned logo is also based off the actual glasses worn, the next few points explain how they are different.
  2. They are more rectangular in shape, not as square as the ones in question.
  3. They are also not rounded at the corners. I have three additional grooves on each side, again similar to my own glasses.
  4. It's just glasses in their logo. The Training Geek logo has a barbell at the corner of the glasses.
  5. Moreover, The Training Geek was established in February, before the Presidential campaigning began.

So with that, I rest my case that the Training Geek logo has no relation to the Presidential Campaign logo. However, should anyone (even Presidential candidates are welcome) need a personal strength & conditioning specialist, always look out for the barbell at the corner because that's the logo which leads you to the Training Geek.

Disclaimer: This post is a light-hearted piece with no intention of swaying anyone's political views and defamation. But I am serious about the personal strength & conditioning specialist bit, if you are looking for one, make sure you look out for that little barbell at the corner.

Stay Strong and Enjoy Voting,

The Training Geek.

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