I am the kind of person who enjoys a lot of interests. I train and teach martial arts. I train and teach strength and conditioning. I love to cook. I am into traditional archery and hit the woods during hunting season with a longbow. (As if hunting with a compound bow isn’t difficult enough…but that’s another story.) And that’s not counting the pastimes I’ve retired: guitar and pottery to name just two. My point is I enjoy a lot of different things and while this is healthy for the mind and a key to happiness, doing many things is detrimental to training. Physical training requires a focus. Without it, results will suffer. As Pavel says so succinctly, “Random training will produce random results.”
But coming up with a specific goal can be a challenge too! Personally, I would love to PR my kettlebell press and barbell deadlift and front squat every month as well as max out on my high volume kettlebell snatches. But I think we can all agree that just ain’t gonna happen. Something has to give in order to get. Right now for me I’m giving up my dead lift, front squat and KB press so I can focus on the bench press. I will admit, I hate to bench, but it is a requirement for me to finish the StrongFirst Lifter certification so I am on it 3x/week. To say I can’t wait to send in my test video is a massive understatement! But my point should not be lost in the humor. Simply put, I am focusing on what I need to accomplish. There’s really no other way.
Doing a bit of everything might be fun but it’s not training. Find what you want to accomplish and then hold yourself accountable.
Here’s to a stronger 2019!
January is as full of New Year’s resolutions as February is with folks who’ve already broken them, but please don’t let that stop you from making one! The new year is the perfect time to assess what you accomplished last year and plan your goals for this year. So what are your goals? Well if you’re not sure, here are some suggestions:
- Eat better. What exactly does that mean? For most of us it means eat better quality, less processed food, and eat less of it. Barring some medical aberration, most of us benefit greatly from lowering our sugar and grain intake. You don’t have to go full on Paleo, but cutting back on these two things will go a long way toward making you feel and LOOK better!
- Do something physical. ANYTHING! My parents are 80 years old and they just completed the Camino de Santiago de Campostela. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a 500 mile walk across northern Spain. Check out the film, “The Way” by Emilio Estevez (or my folks’ blog frankandettieonthecamino.com) to get a sense of this beautiful landscape. My folks are retired so they have plenty of time on their hands to travel for a number of weeks and do an epic adventure like this but my point is that even at 80 they are very active. The physical and mental benefits of consistent activity are countless. So find something you like doing, and DO IT a few times per week!
- Keep in touch with loved ones. Time flies when you’re in your working years and before you know it, our loved ones are diminishing in number. Do yourself a favor and link up with some aunts or cousins you enjoy but haven’t been in touch with for a while. You will both enjoy it!
I think you’ll agree all of these suggestions are ones anyone can take up at a moment’s notice. There’s this lovely thing called the internet that allows you to research anything… Use it and get going!
If you’re curious, one of my resolutions is to write this blog regularly…
Happy New Year! Here’s to a spectacular 2019!!
Click HERE for my most recent article for Breaking Muscle. It’s on the proper wrist alignment for pressing the kettlebell. Please check it out and enjoy!
Sifu Francis has been a pivotal part of my martial arts life for almost 20 years. His approach to Wing Chun is “traditional but not old fashioned.” It is not what you expect. Yes, he has fast hands. But he understands boxing, kicking, locking and weaponry. The breadth of his knowledge is seemingly endless and it means he can adapt to any environment. He is not in a box. Or if he is, it’s really big!
I was thrilled to host him for a seminar on March 10. Here’s a little taste of what he gave us that day. More clips to come!
Please join us for our official grand opening!
The date is Saturday, Jan 27 from 10AM – 4PM…or later! We will have a hydrostatic body fat test truck on hand! Book your appointment through bodyfattest.com. In addition to free hourly seminars on kettlebells, martial arts and powerlifting, we will have a Rock Tape clinic with Dr. Ira Schneider, awesome music from DJ Johnny Hawkes and delicious Paleo food catered by chef Lynne Tolentino of Partido.
And naturally we will have grand opening specials going on all day so come see us!
New Year’s resolutions seem to have gone the way of the Do Do, but I strongly feel they are a terrific way to focus yourself on goals and make reaching them more of a reality.
So what do you want to accomplish this year? Is it something in your career? Marriage? Training? I’ll leave your career and marriage goals to you and your spouse to be, but I’ll make a simple recommendation on training: improved body composition.
Everyone likes looking good and the simplest way to make this happen is to control what kind of food goes in your mouth. Arguments for portion control can and should be made, but more important, I believe is what makes up the bulk of your diet. The single most damaging “food” that we eat way too much of is sugar. Period. End of story. If you can cut back on your sugar intake you will make a dramatic, positive impact on your body composition. (While eliminating all sugar from your diet would be optimal, I live in the real world and will be thrilled if you just cut back!)
What to cut back on?
- Soft drinks likely constitute a great percentage of sugar intake, cutting back on them is a necessity. And don’t fall for the “sugar free” and “diet” soft drinks. Just steer clear. Drink sparkling water if you like the fizz, or still water if you don’t care either way.
- Sweets like candy, cookies, brownies, etc are in abundance throughout the year, and in overdrive during the holidays. Simply cut back on the volume of sweets you take in during the day, especially in the evening before bed time.
- Bread is one of the tastiest creations of humankind. Unfortunately how good it tastes equals how bad it is for you. I don’t care if it’s whole wheat, Wonder bread or a 12-grain artisan loaf. It’s going to spike your blood sugar and make you fat. Cut back
These are some simple steps to give you an improved body composition with absolutely ZERO extra time in the gym. Give them a go!
Corrective exercises with the kettlebell allow us to address internal imbalances between right and left sides of the body as well as a general lack of mobility. After decades of martial arts training, one of the areas I needed the most work was in my T-spine. Simply put, my posture was terrible: rounded shoulders, slumped upper back, etc. Everything was just locked up from so many years of training and not returning to proper posture after training ended or doing the essential recovery work on the foam roller and other tools.
I’ve used corrective exercises with the kettlebell to address my numerous postural issues as well as balancing out stability between right and left. One of my favorites is the Half Kneeling Bent Arm Bar. It will be part of an article I recently wrote for http://breakingmuscle.com/ outlining a handful of similar exercises. The article will hopefully drop soon, but until then, check out a little video on this exercise here.
Here’s to looking, feeling and moving better than ever!
Let me start this post with the ubiquitous disclaimer. I am not a nutritionist. Do not take this post as any kind of strict recommendation. This is merely a collection of my own personal experience with diet as well as many of my students over the years. If you have a medical condition that requires a specific diet that was crafted for you by a nutritionist or doctor, please buy all means FOLLOW IT!
Ok, that’s out of the way.
Diet is the single most powerful factor you can affect in your physical, mental and emotional transformation simply because you have control over what you eat. There are a ton of approaches to diet. I’ve tried more than a handful: vegetarian, macrobiotic, vegan (yes, vegan…), intermittent fasting, paleo, primal… You get the idea. There are countless differences in these approaches to proper eating, but one aspect that runs throughout is limiting your sugar consumption. I’d say the man who has done more to bring to light the dangerous nature of processed sugar in the diet is Gary Taubes.
I was first introduced to Gary when his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” came out a few years back. It is quite a dense piece of work. Gary’s research is both incredibly thorough and incredibly technical, and to be honest, more than my brain could handle. Though I never finished it, I liked the material a lot and recommended the book frequently. I must not have been alone in my difficulty getting through Good Calories because Gary then released “Why We Get Fat“, a much more readable work for the rest of us.
His newest book, “The Case Against Sugar” is a must read for anyone interested in the subject of general health or obesity, diabetes and/or heart disease specifically. Similar to Why We Get Fat, this book is quite readable without a medical degree. I remember as a kid being told that sugar is “empty calories”. I didn’t really know what that meant, but like most kids I took it to mean that sugar didn’t have any negative effect on us. This was the intended meaning, and we have the current epidemic in diabetes and obesity to thank for it!
Gary Taubes is an author you should definitely read, start with this article from the New York Times and see if you want to go deeper. If you’re not much of a reader, Gary is also all over YouTube. Check him out and see what you think!
Here’s to looking, feeling and moving better than ever!
Training, like life, is full of challenges. Given the constant onslaught, I’m trying to reprogram myself to appreciate small victories as much as possible. Forget about hitting PRs, with a crazy schedule, just getting to train 2 or 3 times a week is a victory! This week the victory was visible!!
Gotta love this!
I was very lucky to be able to attend the Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) law enforcement workshop last week at the Gracie Jiu Jitsu headquarters in Torrance, CA.
WOW, what a week!
I’ve been around martial arts my whole life, I’ve been teaching for over 20 years and I can say without any reservation that Rener and Ryron have put together a masterful course here. They’ve chosen the techniques from jiu jitsu that relate directly to street fighting scenarios that LEOs face daily and provided simple, high percentage solutions.
Basic guard control to minimize an assailant’s ability to punch.
Long range defense against a standing assailant.
The pace of the course is fast but not frantic. The amount of material is a lot, but not overwhelming. And everything builds off of previous material that’s been covered so the learning process is streamlined. Most important, each scenario is a realistic one for the attendees so they immediately see the value and rep it out.
I know the Gracie family has always been pioneers and I was curious what kind of spin they’d put on techniques I’d already seen. They did not disappoint. Terrific little details on each technique were in great supply. In short, I was supremely impressed by the instructors, their assistant instructors, the material and the attendees. I was honored to be there.
Thanks for a great week!