Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Do You Really Need to Warm Up?

I haven't warmed up or foam rolled in over 2 years, and yet I feel fantastic physically. I move well, I lift heavy, and I enjoy my workouts/playtime more because I don't have to spend extra time doing things that aren't conducive to my workout goals. In fact, my movement quality has increased dramatically in the last 2 years, and I contribute not warming up or foam rolling to that.

Let me explain.

It started with the idea of experimenting with getting my soft tissue to a higher quality tone (so, as few knots, sticky spots, etc as possible) without the use of massage (whether it be from a therapist or a lacrosse ball/foam roller). After all, old school martial artists (especially Kung Fu-type martial arts) never had these tools, nor did they get regular massages, yet they can move like none other! I began exploring different ways to manipulate my soft tissue through movement, and found that foam rollers, though useful with the right implementations, aren't necessary about 95% of the time.

How the hell am I supposed to travel with all this shit??

The key: Mobility work with attentiveness and intention.

I prepare my body to do what I want it to do later. I'm making sure the joints move as they should. Muscles follow joints. Joints follow muscles. I get them working as they should, and then they can be used correctly during my workout. If your joints and muscles work correctly during your workout, you get much bigger gainz, no matter what your goal.

Before any planned strenuous workout that I do (anything from hand balance stuff/stupid human tricks, heavy lifts, martial arts, mobility, flexibility, etc), instead of just going through a series of movements that will "get the blood flowing" or smashing my soft tissue with round objects, I'll do mobility drills, focusing on the parts of my body that will be worked (which 99% of the time is everything). I don't do any stretching, physical warming (ie jump rope/jog in place/jumping jacks). Only mobility. If I feel like my breathing needs attention, I'll give a couple minutes to breathing, and then be conscious about that while I do my mobility. If my back ("Stega") is feeling funky, I'll get it back in line and be conscious of that during my mobility and my workout. But the rest of it is simply just good quality mobility (NOT flexibility) work! The whole thing takes maybe 2-5 minutes before I start with my actual workout. I'm not sweating, I'm not tired, I feel refreshed, and ready to use my energy towards my workout, and not on my warm up. My brain and body also have a much better connection because of it, making my actual workouts even more effective.


(edit: If I'm lifting heavy that day, I'll do a set or two of lighter lifts after my mobility and build up to heavy....but that *should* be common sense to any experienced lifter)

After my workout, I might do some more mobility stuff if I feel like my workout would make me sore anywhere, or if something in my workout made Stega upset (it's pretty sensitive, despite what's depicted on social media). Making sure my body is working properly before and after my workouts/playtime allows me the freedom to not have to rely on outside sources to take care of my body, and is a more complete approach to soft tissue care.

To be absolutely transparent, in the last few years, I have gotten a few full body massages (for self-pampering purposes, not therapeutic), and each time, the therapist would assume I had regular bodywork done because of the quality of my soft tissue.

Since then, many of my physical capabilities have gotten better than they ever have in my life, I don't have to explain to airport security why I have a ball with metal in it (lacrosse ball) in my carry on every time I travel, and I don't have to look for "something to foam roll with" when I want to get a workout in. Less is more. Mobility is the the perfect movement prep. Ironic, isn't it?

Move it or Lose it. 

Move With A Purpose

There are many reasons for movement:

- Cardiovascular health
- Therapeutic (emotional/mental/physical)
- Strength
- Skill
- Energy management
- Mood elevation
- Creating an energy deficiency (ie, fat/weight loss)
- Transportation
- Survival
- Fun
- Etc...

If you move without purposeful intention, you will be less successful with your goal.

Example: If you want to increase active range of motion in your shoulder, but just swing it around as you would for fun, it will take you longer to increase your active range of motion than if you were to perform AROM-increasing-specific movements.

The "Wacky Wild Inflatable Tube Man" Workout Program won't get you very far in your shoulder rehab, sorry.
...But it'd be a great way to entertain!

Or, if you want to move for transportation, get from Point A to Point B quickly, but all you do is running high knees (like you would for cardiovascular health), it won't be very conducive to getting to Point B quickly.

Running in place definitely won't get you to the grocery store very quickly, 
but you might end up driving there because you're so hungry from using all that energy!!

Of course, there are some purposes that can overlap/be paired if done properly. Let's say you wanted to get from Point A to Point B quickly, you could sprint. Sprinting would qualify as efficient transportation as well as increasing cardiovascular ability and explosive power. You could also focus on sprint techniques/mechanics while you're sprinting to get to Point B, and use transportation as a secondary purpose that comes as a result from a primary purpose of improving a skill.

You can work on your sprint techniques while being chased by a hungry mountain lion. 
Bam. Multitasking.

Combining purposes of movement can be pretty fun, as long as you put some educated thought behind it to make them successful.

Find your purpose, and then structure how you move around that purpose.

What's your purpose for movement?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Preventing the “Gradual” Disaster

The most dangerous thing we can do to ourselves is to let things happen to us gradually. It’s the little things over the long run that shape us, physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. If you’ve ever heard the anecdote about the frog that got cooked in a pot without even noticing, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who put on 15 pounds in 3 years, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who’s been in a shitty relationship for a long time, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who went bankrupt after years of keeping their head above the water, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I swear, I just walked in and the dog was just there. 

How the hell did this happen? ....it definitely wasn't overnight, I'll tell you that much.

It’s easy to overlook or ignore the little things we do or allow to happen to us in daily life. An extra snack or meal once in a while is fine, but on a regular basis can turn into an extra 3 lbs gained a year. 5 pounds doesn’t seem like much, nor a year seem like an inappropriate amount of time to have weight “fluctuate” 5 pounds, but after 5 years (which comes sooner than we realize, as we all know), and 25 pounds later, we’re wondering how that much weight “snuck on” when we didn’t have any changes to our lifestyle. 

Getting in 5 hours of sleep versus your necessary 7 or 8 is ok once in a while, but when it becomes a habit and your body adjusts, it will start to increase in cortisol levels, leading to higher stress levels, cravings, weight gains, weight loss, and possibly other hormonal issues. A couple years later, and you find yourself 15 pounds heavier, digestive issues, moody, and always tired. But you didn’t change anything. 

Allowing tiny irks from your romantic partner that you know bother you might be ok at first, but if not addressed, could turn into a relationship filled with resentment and annoyance that is hard to get out of, simply because of convenience and amount of time already invested. Even abusive relationships start out fun an innocent, and the first instance of abuse may not have been very severe, or just brushed off, but allowed to continue, can turn into years, decades, or even generations of abuse.

Spending the $5 on a coffee might seem like chump change because it’s only $5, but do that on the weekdays equals ~20x/month, $100/month, and $1200/year. Just on coffee. Add other regular small purchases, like a subscription you never use for $10/month ($120/year), the occasional pair of shoes ($100 avg) once a month ($1200) that you probably will either only wear fewer than 5 times if at all, gym membership you never use but is just too cheap to cancel ($14.99/month = $180/year), an extra meal out a week because you were too lazy to cook ($15x50 weeks = $750/year), and then you find yourself at the end of the year with no money for Christmas presents (which to me is a whole other blog-worthy topic), even though you effectively wasted $3,450 on just the said items above. 

It’s the little things, done regularly, that shape who we are, and what situations we find ourselves in. So, like we would do for children and puppies, we want to keep things in check for ourselves to prevent future “not sure why/how it happened” disasters. Do a regular “check in” with yourself. This way you can identify any issues early on, and choose to be proactive to prevent the continuation of those issues. Perhaps it’s once a month, once every 3 months, or even once a year. I like to do a bit of each. Every month, I do my financial P&L for my businesses, goals/projects progress check, and personal life check. Because one month is only a small snippet of time in the year, I will also take a quick look at the past 3 months while I’m doing those checks. I’ll look at trends along with evaluate what reasons things might be fluctuating or continuing at a steady rate (good or bad). Then I’ll decide if I want to take action on those items, and then go from there. It seems like a lot of work, but it’s kind of like keeping the house clean. Do a little bit frequently, and you won’t end up waking up to a house that looks like 100 people had a party in episode of Hoarders. 2-3 times a year, I’ll do a little more serious of an evaluation of how things are going, to see if I need to change my big plans of actions/goals. And at the end of the year or beginning of the new year, I’lll use those results from the previous year to make new goals and plans of actions that are realistic and measurable for that year.

Try keeping yourself in check this year, frequently, and you won’t likely find yourself in those frustrating “how did this happen?” situations. 

Happy 2017!!