Back pain treatment – drug free!

Looking for effective back pain treatment?

There can be multiple causes and multiple solutions.

The first steps in any back pain treatment are:

  • Diagnosis
  • Figuring out whether it’s a muscular, skeletal or nerve issue
  • Seeking help from a health care professional.

back pain treatment

**The following article presumes you don’t have something nasty like a herniated disc or sciatica.**

If your (particularly lower) back pain is deemed due to muscular tightness, there is a drug free back pain treatment you can try. It’s like this. In my experience, doing this gets rid of the problem in 9 out of 10 cases. Even if it isn’t the solution, it won’t do any harm.

Sounds like a pretty good back pain treatment, right?!

Here goes:

Squat and Stretch.

That’s it.

Check this out for the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’:

First of all, let’s start with the squat.
Here’s a video of Coach Nav with a beautiful demonstration.

Having a squat that goes deep without losing back position is fundamental to hip and spine health.
No part of the system is having to compensate for another part.
If you can squat like this then chances are you don’t suffer from back pain. 🙂

squat

gluteal stretch

shinbox stretch

hip flexor stretch

pretzel stretch

hamstring stretch

plank hold

Here’s a squatting drill (do this freestanding or holding a post):

  • Go to the bottom of the squat
  • Hold it there
  • Hang out as long as you can (up to 10 mins)

If you can stay there for 10 minutes, you probably don’t have back problems (anymore!)
If you can’t stay there (muscles of the legs or back start hurting too much), then do this every other day – building up to 10 minutes.
We aren’t looking for excruciating. Aim for improvement over time.

Now stretching. Hold each for at least 30 seconds. Let’s have a look!

Gluteal Stretch

Tight, weak ‘glutes’ are a common factor in sore lower backs.
Turns out, muscles ‘go to sleep’ when you sit on them 8+ hours a day!

Get into this ‘figure 4’ position and pull your knee towards you.
Play with the knee position until you feel it in the meat of the muscle.

Alternative Gluteal Stretch

For those that ‘don’t feel’ the other one, this is an alternative that works for many.
Get the foot of one leg to touch the knee of the other leg.
Stay ‘tall’ and hinge at the hips to apply the stretch. Don’t bend your back.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Chronic sitting leads to short hip flexors.
This set of muscles attaches to the back of your pelvis.

  • Get into a long lunge position
  • ‘Tuck’ your tail bone under to get into the front of the hip of your rear leg.
  • Let your hips ‘sink’ forward as you relax and breathe into this stretch

Pretzel Stretch

A great multitasking stretch.
This combines gentle lumbar twist, hip flexor, quad, pec and some thoracic mobility too.

  • Lie on one side and grab your ‘bottom’ leg at the back (like a quad stretch)
  • Bring your ‘top’ leg up to 90 degrees.
  • Aim towards getting both your top knee and opposite shoulder to the floor. Enjoy!

Hamstring Stretch

Another important link in the ‘posterior chain’.

  • Keep the stretching leg straight, or slightly bent
  • Don’t pull your toes back – that’s a nerve stretch
  • Your other leg can be bent or straight
  • This can also be done standing, but keep your back straight

The Plank

  • Use your posterior chain to keep your whole body in a straight line.
  • Great for developing global core strength and endurance.
  • Can be scaled back by putting your knees on the floor.

Check out these links for more ways you can move better, hurt less and look after yourself.

For more information on more serious issues and back pain treatment for them, read this article from Gordon Physio.

Why train Olympic Lifts?

I have been asked the question: “Why train Olympic Lifts if you’re not an Olympic Lifter?”

Simple.

Because they’re awesome.
Seriously though, it’s a good question and there’s a good answer (I think). Here goes.

Why train olympic lifts? - Weighlifting Woman

There are a few point to share that go into my thinking about training.

  1. People should be striving to improve themselves; Be “Better Than Yesterday”.
  2. Improvement can (and should) be objectively measured; see “What is Fitness“.
  3. Most people aren’t as strong as the could be; see “How Strong are You?“.
  4. Therefore progressive strength training is important; enabling greater work capacity, generally.
  5. Fundamental bodyweight exercises and powerlifting movements are relatively simple to learn* and develop strength well.
  6. Almost all physical activities require the application of strength at speed –> Power.
  7. One of the best ways to develop power is Olympic Lifting.

*Before all you powerlifters get upset, I’m not saying powerlifting is simple, just that it is less complex than Oly lifting. 🙂

So if you want to improve your performance at pretty much any physical endeavour, train the Olympic Lifts.

Have a look at this video for a bunch of different athletes from Catalyst Athletics performing Power Cleans.
Note the sort of weight they are moving. Think about their potential power output. Why train Olympic lifts? Now you tell me! :O

Fitness Newbie? Read this getting started guide!

Fitness Newbie?

Get started with these 10 Tips For Success

Stepping into a new gym for the first time can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming.
You might see a bunch of people lifting really heavy things. Doing unfamiliar movements and using peculiar vocabulary. Fear not fitness newbie; these people won’t bite. They’re actually pretty friendly and supportive once you get to know them. It can be a lot to take in at first glance, especially if you’ve had limited exposure to functional fitness training prior to starting at FunFit. But don’t worry; we’ll look after you. The following are 10 things to keep in mind as you begin your FunFit journey.

1.) Have fun

Let’s face it, not all workouts are fun. But when it’s over, you feel a sense of accomplishment (or relief!). You shouldn’t be upset that you didn’t get as many reps as the person next to you. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile. Laugh. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. If you’re not having fun, why are you here?  Do you enjoy your overall time spent at the gym? Do you enjoy the people, the community, the knowledge and support that it provides? If so, then don’t be too concerned with your competitive nature.

The things you’ll learn at FunFit are fun: making your life easier and helping you engage more. Learn new skills of controlling your own bodyweight, kettlebells, movement, olympic lifts. A lot of the stuff you can’t do in a Fitness First. The attitude is different too; the feeling you’ll have the first time you get an unassisted pull-up or move with effortlessness is an amazing sense of power and accomplishment.

fitness newbie: challenge yourself and have fun

2.) Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, over and over again


It’s your time, money, and most importantly, health. If you don’t fully understand something, ask. If you still don’t get it, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t fully grasp the concept, or you think others in the class will get frustrated with you for taking up too much time. We were all a fitness newbie at one point. We’ve all been there. Learning the mechanics of certain movements like the squat, deadlift, or any of the olympic lifts takes lots of practice and critique from a trained eye. If you need help, just ask.

3.) You’re competing against yourself, not others


When it comes time to doing a workout, don’t feel like you have to do everything, or be able to complete as many rounds as other people right off the bat. Go at your own pace. Let the intensity find you. You need a solid foundation of strength and flexibility in order to progress into more demanding workouts.  Start light, get your form sorted out, and improve from there. Chase your own capacity before chasing the person next to you. Which brings me to my next point…

Fitness newbie: Leave your ego at the door

4.) Don’t be too proud to modify


Learn new movements. Progress to more complexity over time. You have to know your own body and its limits. Most importantly, there’s no substitute for common sense.

5.) What you eat is more important than what you lift

Nutrition is the key to every aspect of your life. It affects your energy levels, your recovery, and your overall defence against disease.

“Junk in, junk out.”

When you’re first starting out, the quality of your food is far more important than the quantity. Eat ‘cleanly’ (as much real food as possible / as little processed food as possible). If you’re eating as cleanly as possible, you don’t even need to worry about the quantity at this stage. You are a Ferrari. You wouldn’t put low quality fuel in a Ferrari, would you?


6.) Training isn’t everything


We are doing a strength and conditioning program that focuses on building general physical preparedness (GPP). It can improve almost every aspect of your life, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be your sport or your lifeblood. I train so that I can do whatever I want: Go out, play sports, learn new things. Having that GPP allows me to take on new challenges. Training is not my life. I train so that I can have a life… and get the most out of it.


7.) It doesn’t get easier, but you get better


Persevere. You get stronger, build a greater aerobic capacity, and become mentally tough.  All of these aspects, combined with experience, allow you to know when to push yourself and when to back off, so that you can do each workout to the best of your ability.

Fitness newbie: keep calm and do your best


8.) You won’t PR every day


Don’t mistake intensity for hard work. Even if you’re having a bad day and the intensity just isn’t there, you can still get a lot out of your time in the gym through hard work. Intensity and hard work are not the same thing. Don’t skip a planned session just because you’re feeling a bit flat. Not feeling too strong that day? That’s fine; scale back. Something is better than nothing.

9.) Respect rest and recovery


Too many people new to training (and even those of us who have been doing this a while) get caught up in over-training. Don’t be afraid to schedule in a de-load day once per week, or a de-load week every 4-6 weeks where you cut the weight, rounds, and intensity in half. You have to think about this from a longevity standpoint. If you’re killing yourself every time you step foot in the gym, week after week, month after month, year after year, you’re going to eventually break down. You need to respect your time outside of the gym. There’s an old weightlifting adage that goes something like: “You don’t get bigger and stronger from lifting weights, you get bigger and stronger from recovering from lifting weights.”

Proper nutrition, hydration and sleep all play their part in recovery, but you also need to listen to your body. If you continuously beat yourself down, you’re going to get hurt, injured or worse. Stay on top of your mobility work. Don’t know what that is? Ask!

10.) Thank yourself

Overcoming inertia and getting off the couch isn’t easy. Especially in winter. Thank yourself for making the effort, training consistently and reaping the rewards. You’re investing in yourself. It’s worth it. 🙂


So, what now?

You’ve made a commitment to yourself. You’re about to start eating better. Your vocabulary will soon include words like burpee, deadlift and snatch. See you in training. Welcome to FunFit.

Ready to get started? Get in touch!

Strength Standards – How strong are you?

Strength Standards

Strength Standards - Weak Link

How can you gauge your progress?

Strength Standards are a notoriously difficult beast to wrangle.
There are a wide range of opinions, and more than one of them is correct.
Obvious strength benchmarks for a powerlifter (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) aren’t necessarily relevant to an Olympic Weightlifter (Snatch, Clean&Jerk).My goal is to provide as comprehensive a guide as possible for non-specialists to gauge their strength progress.
To put it another way, this isn’t definitive for powerlifters, strongmen or olympic lifters.
This is for regular folks who want to know how they’re doing, strength-wise, and what they may need to work on.
So whether your strength training includes barbells or kettlebells – there’s something here for you.

This isn’t meant as an “I must get to 10/10 in everything” challenge. (If you’re getting all 10s here then everyday strength probably isn’t your issue.) Use this tool to see if there’s a chink in your strength armour. Do you get a 5/10 in squat and hip hinge, a 4/10 in push and a 2/10 in pull?
Maybe you need to work on your pull!

Recognition of those who have gone before (influences on this project and any modifications I’ve made, and why):

  • Using the framework of a very elegant Dan John principle of Squat / Hip Hinge / Push / Pull to classify movements. I’ve added a fifth movement class (strength-endurance / stability) which covers Turkish Getup and Farmer’s Walk. I feel these movements are part of strength and too useful to ignore but don’t really fit anywhere else;
  • strstd.com (currently broken) 🙁 for a very neat strength graph for back squat, bench, deadlift and press. It clearly shows both further absolute benchmark levels and the lifts relative to each other. It has helped inform my understanding of relative strength. It also provides a great Wendler 5/3/1 calculator;

  • ExRx.net for general strength benchmarks and great calculators and tools;
  • Bob Takano for a great explanation of the relationship between Back Squat and Clean & Jerk and Clean and Jerk to Snatch Ratios which makes the Olympic lifts easier to compare with powerlifting movements;
  • Starting Strength – because no strength standards synthesis would be complete without Starting Strength’s Standards. 🙂

For strength standards for Olympic lifting specifically, please check out the Catalyst Athletics Guide.

*Please note: ‘Hip hinge’ and ‘pull’ both have intentional gaps. I wanted to include only commonly held standards, rather than filler*

That being said, here is my synthesis of strength standards. This is a work in progress. Feedback is welcome and encouraged. 🙂

Strength Standards for Men

Squat Movement

1. Squat with proper form
2. Goblet squat: 0.25 BW x 10
3. Goblet squat: 0.33 BW x 10
4. 2xKB Front Squat: 0.25 BW ea x 10
5. Back Squat: 1.25 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.00 BW x 1
6. Back Squat: 1.00 BW x 15
7. Back Squat: 1.75 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.40 BW x 1
8. Overhead Squat: 1.00 BW x 1
9. Back Squat: 2.25 BW x 1 / 1.25 BW x 15 / Front Squat: 1.80 BW x 1
10. Overhead Squat: 1.00 BW x 15

Hip Hinge Movement

1. Hip Hinge with proper form
2. Kettlebell Swing: 0.25 BW x 20
3. Kettlebell Swing: 0.33 BW x 20
4. 2xKettlebell Clean: 0.33 BW ea x 10
5. Deadlift: 1.50 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 0.95 BW x 1 / Snatch: 0.75 BW x 1
6.
7. Deadlift: 2.00 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.33 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.05 BW x 1
8.
9. Deadlift: 2.50 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.70 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.35 BW x 1
10.

Push Movement

1. Pushups with proper form x 10
2. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.25 BW x 5
3. Press: 0.60 BW x 1
4. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW ea x 5
5. Bench Press: 1.00 BW x 1 / Press: 0.60 BW x 1
6. Weighted Dip: 0.50 BW x 1
7. Bench Press: 1.25 BW / Press: 0.85 BW x 1
8. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.50 BW x 1
9. Bench Press: 1.50 BW x 1 / 1.00 BW x 15 / Press: 1.10 BW x 1
10. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.50 BW ea x 1

Pull Movement

1. Batwings: 2xKettlebell 0.16 BW ea x 10 sec
2. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 20
3.
4. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 10 – Feet Elevated
5. Chinups x 5
6.
7. Pullups x 8-10
8.
9. Pullups x 15
10. Weighted Pullup: 0.50 BW x 1

Strength-Endurance / Stability Movement

1. Turkish Getup: 0.12 BW
2. Turkish Getup: 0.18 BW
3. Farmer’s Walk: 0.25 BW each hand
4. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.25 BW) – benchmark 100
5. Farmer’s Walk: 0.33 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.25 BW
6. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.30 BW) – benchmark 100
7. Farmer’s Walk: 0.50 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.36 BW
8. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.36 BW) – benchmark 100
9. Farmer’s Walk: 0.75 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.50 BW
10. The Bear Complex: 60kg

Strength Standards for Women

Squat Movement

1. Squat with proper form
2. Goblet Squat: 0.18 BW x 10
3. Goblet Squat: 0.25 BW x 10
4. 2xKettlebell Front Squat: 0.18 BW ea x 10
5. Back Squat: 1.20 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 0.95 BW x 1
6. Back Squat: 0.75 BW x 15
7. Back Squat: 1.65 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.30 BW x 1
8. Overhead Squat: 0.75 BW x 1
9. Back Squat: 2.00 BW x 1 / 1.20 BW x 5 / Front Squat: 1.60 BW x 1
10. Overhead Squat: 0.75 BW x 15

Hip Hinge Movement

1. Hip Hinge with proper form
2. Kettlebell Swing: 0.18 BW x 20
3. Kettlebell Swing: 0.25 BW x 20
4. 2xKettlebell Clean: 0.18 BW ea x 10
5. Deadlift: 1.20 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 0.90 BW x 1 / Snatch: 0.72 BW x 1
6.
7. Deadlift: 1.60 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.25 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.00 BW x 1
8.
9. Deadlift 2.00 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.52 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.20 BW x 1
10.

Push Movement

1. Pushup x 1 (Excellent Form)
2. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.18 BW x 5
3. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.25 BW x 5
4. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.18 BW ea x 5
5. Bench Press: 0.75 BW x 1 / Press: 0.50 BW x 1
6. Weighted Dip: 0.33 BW x 1
7. Bench Press: 1.00 BW / Press: 0.75 BW x 1
8. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW x 1
9. Bench Press: 1.25 BW x 1 / 0.75 BW x 15 / Press: 1.00 BW x 1
10. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW ea x 1

Pull Movement

1. Batwings: 2xKettlebell 0.16 BW ea x 10 sec
2. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 20
3.
4. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 10 – Feet Elevated
5. Chinup x 1
6.
7. Chinups x 3
8.
9. Pullups x 3
10. Weighted Pullup: 0.33 BW x 1

Strength-Endurance / Stability Movement

1. Turkish Getup: 0.12 BW
2. Turkish Getup: 0.18
3. Farmer’s Walk: 0.25 BW each hand
4. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.25 BW) – benchmark 100
5. Farmer’s Walk: 0.33 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 16kg
6. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.30 BW) – benchmark 100
7. Farmer’s Walk: 0.50 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.36 BW
8. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.36 BW) – benchmark 100
9. Farmer’s Walk: 0.75 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.50 BW
10. The Bear Complex: 40kg

Would you like to track your strength standard progress?

Get a FREE spreadsheet I created for you to do just that.

Sign up for my newsletter below and I’ll email it to you. 🙂

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Primal Blueprint Review: 10 ways to better Health

Primal Blueprint Review

There are a number of books on my shelf about fitness, health and nutrition.
The Primal Blueprint is my number one pick for “START HERE”. Other books can (and do!) go into more specifics. The Primal Blueprint is a great overview for the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle.

Primal Blueprint Review

The Primal Blueprint is not a weight loss or diet book. It’s a lifestyle program from an evolutionary perspective. Using historical and contemporary hunter-gatherers as a model, it attempts to apply those lessons to life in the 21st century. He does it in a way that’s accessible to nearly everyone.

Mark Sisson is an athlete, coach and student of health. The Primal Blueprint is the distillation of 20 years of his research and experience. Utilising aspects from a number of scientific fields, Mark has devised a concise list of behaviour principles to improve your health, fitness and participation in life.

If you keep in mind that this is a blueprint for general health, fitness and well-being – you won’t get bogged down in minutia. Or throw the baby out with the bathwater because of one or two things with which you disagree.

I like the fitness suggestions because they focus on functional movements, encourage strength training and some cardio for conditioning. Walking more will work for almost everyone.

I like the diet suggestions because they focus on real food. The Primal Blueprint principles are simple, practical and relatively inexpensive. They require minimal, if any, sacrifice or deprivation. Mark is not a drill sergeant. He tries to create a plan that will be sustainable in the long run, by staying positive and allowing for flexibility.

The most important take-aways are:

The 10 Primal Blueprint Laws
The Primal Food Pyramid
The Carbohydrate Curve
Walk lots, Sprint Occasionally, Lift Heavy Things

If you can, read the whole book, cover to cover. Then reread certain parts.
If you can’t/“don’t have time” then read the chapter summaries and ‘snippets’.

The table of contents is as follows

Welcome from Mark
Introduction: What is Going on Here?
Chapter 1: The Ten Primal Blueprint Laws
Chapter 2: Grok and Korg- From Indigenous to Digital: One Giant Step (Backward) for Mankind
Chapter 3: The Primal Blueprint Eating Philosophy
Chapter 4: Primal Blueprint Law #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals
Chapter 5: Primal Blueprint Law #2: Avoid Poisonous Things
Chapter 6: The Primal Blueprint Exercise Laws
Chapter 7: The Primal Blueprint Lifestyle Laws
Chapter 8: A Primal Approach To Weight Loss
Chapter 9: Conclusion

Welcome from Mark

Read this just for the 80% Rule.
The gist. No one is perfect, but strive for perfection. That way, even if you don’t quite “get there” you’re still doing really well.

Introduction: What’s going on here?

Mark compares “Conventional Wisdom” and “The Primal Blueprint”. He does this by contrasting an archetypal hunter-gatherer called Grok, and his 21st century counterpart, Mr Korg. This section contains very brief sections on grains, saturated fat, cholesterol, eggs, fiber, meal habits, strength training, cardio, weight loss, play, sun, footwear, prescription drugs and goals.

Chapter 1: The Ten Primal Blueprint Laws

In this chapter Mark outlines the specific laws of The Primal Blueprint – the foundation of the entire book. If you read up to the end of chapter 1 and actually apply what you learn, your life will change.

Chapter 2: Grok and Korg – From Indigenous to Digital: One Giant Step (Backward) for Mankind

Mark compares the typical day of many Americans (this applies to many Australians now too, sadly) to a prototypical hunter-gather ancestor. It’s a frightening contrast.

Suffice to say, it’s been a different lifestyle scenario for the past blink in human evolution (some 10,000 years), and DRAMATICALLY different over the past few decades.

* Even if (like me) you’re not convinced of the ‘hunter gatherer model’ for health, what with so many factors, both genetic and environmental, that go into health – eating real food is still the right answer.

Chapter 3: Primal Blueprint Eating Philosophy

If you eat real food and don’t eat fake food – you’ll look, feel and perform better.
Sounds hard to believe, but it’s true.
The longer you eat properly, the less you want to eat crappy food- because it makes you feel just that way, crappy.

This chapter also covers the role of insulin in fat storage, cholesterol and the lipid hypothesis of heart disease, the role of healthy fats, macronutrients and transitioning to a Primal way of eating.

*Here’s where people often get hung up. Even if you don’t buy into the insulin/carbohydrate hypothesis and think dismissal of the lipid hypothesis is dangerous – eating real food and cutting down on fake food is still generally the right answer for improved health.

Chapter 4: Law #1- Eat Lots of Plants and Animals (Insects Optional)

Mark has a sense of humour. The Primal Blueprint is NOT a textbook.  It’s professional, yet enjoyable and even comical at times. Perhaps that’s even one of it’s strongest aspects – since what good is great knowledge if the communication is confusing?

In this chapter, Mark gets more specific with eating habits and choices. The vast, vast majority I agree with. A few details here and there I’m not exactly in agreement with, but overall, another excellent portion of the book.

Here Mark presents the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid. On the whole an excellent, clear guide. I would swap the positions of meat and vegetables, but hey, that’s me, and the difference for most people would be negligible.

Regarding supplements, I’m not “anti-pill”, but obviously only take supplements if you actually need them (i.e. you have a tested, measurable deficiency in a vitamin or mineral).

Chapter 5: Law #2- Avoid Poisonous Things

In this chapter Mark argues against the ‘conventional wisdom’ surrounding grains in a systematic way. He goes into detail regarding the effects of grains, legumes, processed foods and sugar on insulin levels and immune function. He also discusses gluten, lectins, phytates and polyunsaturated vegetable oils and their effects on nutrient absorption and health, clearly and logically.

Chapter 6: The Primal Blueprint Exercise Laws

Mark’s stance on exercise and physical activity is far superior to the run of the mill “chronic cardio” and bodybuilding crowd. I have read some accounts of the Primal Blueprint by fitness professionals that disagree with this section. I believe this is throwing the baby out with the bath water. In my opinion, moving frequently at a slow pace, lifting heavy things and occasionally sprinting is a great way to get basic general, functional fitness.

It is true that you can get into far greater specifics with how you lift heavy things, what heavy things and how often. That will depend on specific goals, training age, required recovery, energy levels and a host of other variables. What Mark offers here is a quick guide on how to effectively go from sedentary to moving (or from overdoing it to balance).

He discusses the case against chronic cardio and the importance of functional, compound movements in strength training and in play.

Chapter 7: The Primal Blueprint Lifestyle Laws

Without proper sleep and sunlight the rest is built on shaky foundations.
Also, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” holds true for humans generally.
Mark ties these together and shows how they affect our health (mental and physical).

He also covers the final Primal Blueprint laws of “Avoiding Stupid Mistakes” and “Using your Brain” – making this book comprehensive and not just a typical diet or exercise book.

Chapter 8: A Primal Approach to Weight Loss

The chapter begins by linking, and purposefully repeating which aspects of The Primal Blueprint will help you lose weight (fat)- although I hope by the end of the book that most people will realize that health, body composition, daily habits, and so on, are all inter-related, and very rarely exclusive to one another.

The carb/insulin vs reduced calorie intake for fat loss debate is still raging. The jury’s still out. Studies have shown that just about every weight (fat) loss method that is adhered to is effective – at least in the short term.

The major advantage of the Primal Blueprint method (and others) is that it involves lifestyle change, rather than ‘dieting’. This makes it easier to maintain medium to long term – which makes the results last.

Primal Conclusion

A strong ending for an excellent book. This book is a gem in the field of nutrition and lifestyle.

Mark gets really down to earth and a bit more behind the scenes. Not only in terms of psychology, but also in what a few days out of his life typically look like – specific foods eaten, activities, and so on.

Also, what you appreciate at the end of a health book – a complete list of foods and habits to aim for, and foods/habits to avoid. Simple as it is, I think most people will really appreciate this final section – especially people new to Paleo/Primal thinking.

Personal Conclusion

Overall, I give this book my highest regard and recommendation when it comes to proper nutrition and positive lifestyle habits to develop. This is the definitive book on nutrition and lifestyle change, especially considering how practical the information is and immediately applicable.

There are detractors to this book. Apart from “you can’t please everyone”, there are some flaws in this book. Domestic plants and animals are very different now than in the Paleolithic. Does that mean eating real food is bad? Of course not!

I agree with 95% of the content of this book. The things I don’t agree with won’t stop you from being successful with this lifestyle change. If you get bogged down in minutiae you will find fault with this book, and Paleo/Primal in general. If you see the big picture of ‘eat real food’ and ‘move/use your body in a functional way’, then the Primal Blueprint is a great template.

Like what you’ve read? Please leave a comment.  🙂

If you found this Primal Blueprint Review useful please share it with friends and family.

FlowFit – Move better, feel better

FlowFit helps you move better

Could you move better / more fluidly?
Do you have some problem areas of flexibility/mobility you know you should work on?
Are you someone who would like to do yoga – minus the “OMM”?!

Strength and speed diminish with age. Flexibility doesn’t have to – it just requires the right training.
You have heard “Move it or lose it”, right? Train now to move better later!

Critically examine this sequence in the video.

http://youtu.be/xcA7v1eyIFE

Identify each joint at work. Observe the range of motion. Imagine yourself doing this. (Or try it as you watch!)
If you can do this sequence without trouble (correct position, balance and coordination) and flow easily between sections – good for you! If you had certain ‘sticky’ sections (lack of flow, lack of strength, lack of coordination) then you may need to do some more work! Can you see your self being able to do this sequence in 10 years? 20? I’m sure you’d agree that if you ‘got’ the flow and practised regularly you’d move better and – never ‘lose it’.

Flexibility training is something most of us know we need to do. The trick is making time to do it and being consistent in it’s maintenance. Unfortunately there aren’t any magic bullets, but there are great tools available to you.

Coach Nav is running a ‘FlowFit’ course. Specifically designed to unlock tight joints. Work through dynamic mobilization drills for shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, elbows and wrists. These are simple drills made into sequences. (For examples of static mobilization drills see here and here.)

Get flowing movement and witness the change it enables. This is FlowFit sequence number one. As proficiency improves, the drills progress.

If you know your flexibility or movement needs some attention – give a term of FlowFit a try. After all, if it improves your lifts, performance and life generally through better movement – what do you have to lose? 🙂

If you can’t make it to the studio then keep up with our mobilization videos on FunFit’s YouTube channel.
Super keen? Then have a look at Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, for more great mobilization tips.

9 ways bands can help you stretch

Have you ever used bands to stretch?

Aside from providing elastic resistance in workouts, bands are also a great tool for stretching. Improve your flexibility by using this guide for a 9 stretch sequence you can do with just one little band.

See also this video and these drills.

Give these a try and post your thoughts and experience to comments.

Upper Back Stretch
Upper Back

  • Keep weight on your legs – don’t rely on the band
  • Your arms stay as close to your head as possible
  • Try to get your bicep behind your ear
  • Relax and breathe into the stretch
  • Go to discomfort rather than pain
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Lat Stretch
Lats

  • Keep weight on your legs – don’t rely on the band
  • Your arms stay as close to your head as possible
  • Try to get your bicep behind your ear
  • Try to lengthen the whole way from shoulder to hip
  • Relax and breathe into the stretch
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Chest Stretch
Chest / Shoulder / Obliques

  • Keep weight on your legs – don’t rely on the band
  • Your arm stays above shoulder height
  • Try to open your chest as much as possible
  • Try to open from shoulder to opposite hip
  • Relax and breathe into the stretch
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Hamstring Stretch
Hamstrings

2 options:

  • Leg straight and toes pointed or
  • Leg slightly bent and toes back
  • Keep both hips on the floor
  • Band around upper back; Relax and breathe
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Adductor Stretch
Adductors

  • Same setup as the hamstrings stretch
  • Keep both hips on the floor
  • Open hips / take foot out to the floor
  • Band around upper back; Relax and breathe
  • Go to discomfort rather than pain
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Internal Rotator Stretch
Internal Rotators

  • Same initial setup as the hamstrings stretch
  • Put both feet into the band
  • Move your knees to outside the band (the band will run to the inner knee/thigh area
  • Move elbows/forearms to inside the band
  • Put your feet on the floor and add pressure with elbows
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Hip Stretch
Hips

  • Get into squat position with feet on the wall
  • Keep both hips on the floor
  • Run the band under you – at pelvis level
  • Loop the band over each knee
  • Let femurs draw to hips; Relax and breathe
  • Hold for 1 to 2 minutes

Hips and Shoulders Stretch
Hips and Shoulders (Less Intense)

  • Same initial setup as the hips stretch
  • Continue to keep both hips on the floor
  • Take broom handle “overhead” with hands wide
  • Keep neutral spine
  • Relax and breathe
  • Hold for 1 minute

Hip and Shoulder Stretch
Hips and Shoulders (More Intense)

  • Same initial setup as the hips stretch
  • Continue to keep both hips on the floor
  • Take broom handle “overhead” with hands narrow
  • Keep neutral spine (no raised or puffed chest)
  • Relax and breathe; allow shoulder to ‘sink’ open
  • Hold for 1 minute

As at the top: see also this video and these drills.

Technique Tuesday: Dave does a Power Clean

Here’s the first of our new regular feature, Technique Tuesday, in which Tim analyzes the technique and form of a particular lift. This week, the power clean as performed by Dave.

As always, we’re interested in your thoughts and comments, so please post them below!

Quad, Hamstring and Lower Back Mobility Video

Mobility Wod Quote

Here’s the inimitable Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD delivering a great lesson on how to improve mobility to hips and spine and flexibility to quad, hamstring and lower back.

Also check out an earlier post on thoracic spine and hip mobilization.

Check it out – and do it!

Also have a look at Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, for more great mobilization tips.

My love hate relationship with Crossfit

crossfit

My love hate relationship with Crossfit

The motto of our gym is “Better than Yesterday”. Tied into this idea is that there’s no perfect system or perfect person – there’s always something to work on, always something that can be improved.

I first heard about Crossfit from a friend when in Japan in 2006. I remember I tried a ‘mainsite’ workout (scaled) with dumbbells and got through it – barely. At that stage I’d been doing Martial Arts regularly for about 5 years and considered myself reasonably fit for a 25 year old. I was so shot through the core that when I was getting into the shower afterwards I was unable to maintain my spine position and had to lie down. I felt like if I’d stayed standing I would have done myself some potentially serious damage.

finished-a-crossfit-wo-baby

That experience taught me a valuable lesson. Scaling is good but is second choice after progression. (Also, learn what you’re getting yourself into and don’t push too hard at first!)

I did my Certificates III and IV in Fitness in 2008 and got my Crossfit Coach’s Certificate in 2009. Looking back I recognise how important the ‘mainstream’ skill set has been in terms of my understanding of simple anatomy and physiology. The Crossfit Certification has been instrumental in my growth as a Strength & Conditioning coach and the application of functional movements to the prescription of exercises to my clients.

Had I never encountered Crossfit I am fairly sure I wouldn’t be nearly as effective as a trainer as I feel I have become. That said, had I not had the grounding of the Cert III & IV, and just had the weekend Crossfit Coach Cert – I would be downright dangerous.

Let me be clear – I am not saying that all Crossfit coaches are dangerous. Most aren’t, some are. Some ‘mainstream’ coaches are dangerous. I’m just saying I feel I would have been a dangerous trainer without the conventional skills and experience to be my (and my client’s) seat-belt.

What does all this have to do with a love-hate relationship with Crossfit?

What-is-Crossfit-Infographic

The concept of Crossfit is great. I think the idea of constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements is fantastic. The implementation of that idea has evolved, for me, over time (Better than Yesterday). No longer do I program 20+ minute AMRAPs where at the end of the session you feel like you need to be scooped up with a trowel. The sledgehammer has been replaced with a scalpel. Clients who have been with me for the last 5 year would readily agree that the programming has changed – and for the better. A progressive overload strength program is now the bedrock. A strength-endurance or Olympic lifting progression is alternated cyclically. Constantly varied (within a thought-out pool of purpose-driven) Metcons of no more than 10 minutes duration rounds out the ‘cardio’.

Great results for clients (with very low injury rates) have been the result.

Many a coach seems to confuse ‘constantly varied’ with ‘random’. Random workouts is an easy out for the coach as they can just check the Crossfit main site or other Crossfit gyms WOD feed for ideas to pinch or modify. This method does the coach and the clients a disservice. Copying another coach’s programming without understanding the intended progression (if there is one) or appropriate scaling (if you must use scaling) means the workout will not be optimally challenging for the client(s) or fit their needs or goals.

‘High intensity’ is not the same as ‘wiped out’. If your client doesn’t walk out feeling better than when they walked in – this is a symptom of overloading them and can be steps down the path to adrenal fatigue – or unhappy clients who get sick of ‘punishment’ (especially if it is associated with eating habits). At the end of a workout the headspace should be ‘proud of my achievement of completing a tough workout’ not ‘I’m glad I survived and kind-of dread next time already.’

‘Functional Movements’ are hard to get wrong. You do need to remember to ask yourself “functional for what?” The movement you ask the client to perform should have some link to the things they want to be able to do in their everyday life, or specific sporting event or challenge they’d like to participate in. Doing a hard workout full of functional movements is good – and better than hard non-functional movements – but there needs to be a point. There needs to be a WHY this movement is good for you and how it applied to YOU.

There is huge variety in the quality of training in the fitness industry. There is huge variety in the quality of coaching in Crossfit. My major criticism of Crossfit is that (perhaps due to the prevalence of the competition aspect, bromances or macho vibe) people do things they shouldn’t. (Clapping Fran??? – see below) Often those things are cool TO BE ABLE to do – but can and should aren’t the same thing. I don’t think this was addressed in 2006, and I still think it hasn’t been adequately addressed in 2014.

Very, very keen to hear your thoughts.