Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gu-Ru and the Secret to Superior Huh?

Does anyone really know a guru? I haven't met or seen one and don't know anyone that has so they are definitely taking on the characteristics of other similarly fascinating but unseen creatures such as the unicorn, bigfoot, etc. Did you know that the word guru is taken from Sanskrit, specifically Gu is darkness and Ru is light. So a guru is literally one who guides others to light through darkness, or in other words, a teacher. Thank you wikipedia.

With that said there are many who while not acknowledging themselves as said creature, would have one believe that they have the secret to superior insert superhuman physical ability here and an ego to match. Notice that if we are working from the original definition there is no mention of secrets or superiority, only light and darkness, or knowledge and ignorance. So in the classical sense of the term guru is a term of respect. Today, it speaks to ego and greed.

So here is my best take on that which is guru in the present day meaning of the word:

Snatch Extended Warm-Up:
As an extension of more traditional warm-up means at lower intensities, this extended warm-up variation allows me to focus on several positions important to my own success in continuing my development as a weightlifter. Primarily this warm-up helps me stay over the bar from several different positions with a weight (80K) that still forces me to work through the lift.

Also, moving the bar to the front of the platform forced me to focus on finishing vertically and not cutting my pull short or finishing forward. Some lifters/coaches will use a chalk line drawn horizontally across the platform. I find the risk of losing the lift off the platform to be more devastating. There are chalk advocates worldwide singing my praises as well. Save the chalk!

Core Work Superset:
This is sweeping. It is an excellent core/abdominal exercise and also fundamentally necessary to maintain the condition of the gym. How's that for killing 2 birds with 1 stone? My old weightlifting coach Oleg, from the former Soviet Union, used to say "What you Americans call exercise, in Russia, we call work. Walking home to the farm? Work. Walking on treadmill? Exercise?!" Notice I sweep using both sides of my body to address muscle imbalance/asymmetry.

I don't know why Yankees in Boston feel it is necessary to attack the awesomeness of Bon Jovi when the music was clearly not intended for wusses. We've gotta hold on to what we've got...!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Off-Topic (Relationships)

Visited my mom this morning and she has been struggling with some things lately. Have to admit that initially my thoughts were centered on just how busy of a day I had in front of me and how I was getting more and more behind by the minute. I tried to look past that, appointments, meetings, and a court date for a speeding ticket be damned, and think about just how important she is to me. How important everyone in my life is to me.

I talked to her and really just tried to listen more and give feedback when appropriate. The main thing that came out of our conversation is that her problems are everyone's problems, and that while the solutions to said problems take time often it is just having the opportunity to speak out that makes our problems seem less overwhelming and insurmountable.

I even shared a funny story with her about a job I had in my late teens:

I was working as a waiter and one day a manager saw a napkin and a bit of trash centered in an aisle of the restaurant. I was told later that at least 4 employees had walked past the trash ignoring it either just to ignore it or to focus on their task at hand. As I walked past it (really my walk is often less of a walk and more of a half jogging, beaming bounce) I picked it up and took it to the wait station to throw everything away. That earned me a free lunch!

I told my mom that despite our daily tasks/objectives we should stay focused on living life and clean up the trash when necessary so we can move forward and continue to enjoy things. Clean up the trash and put it behind you so you can get back to that bounce.

After talking with my mom I realized that my court date is not until tomorrow, a day in which I have much more time available. Use the time that you have and by all means do not keep it all to yourself. Getting everything done on time, including the court date, would have been much less satisfying that some quality time with my mama. Love you mom!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Periodization Schmeriodization

I fantasize daily on the concepts and application of periodization, especially those associated with the development of the high performance athlete (for me specifically, volleyball players). I like to say that I have a close, intimate relationship with performance training dating back to my early youth. To this day, I can watch a training scene from any documentary, movie, or tv show, no matter how bad, over and over. I am truly fascinated by the process.

As young as 4 and 5, I was a training nut and this has continued through my adult life thanks to the special influences of all of the great coaches, athletes, and people I have shared my competitive career with. My dad, mom, Coach Gary Green, Michael Boyle, Steven Plisk, Ikki Soma, Oleg Kechko, Ursula Garza, and many others have had a profound influence on my development as a coach, athlete, and most importantly, as a person.

With that said, I can't claim the confusion many feel when they study and examine periodization, the planning and organization of training. I'm sure some of this is based off of my education and experience, but a lot is that whether I knew an advanced method or not I have always been able to make sense of a good training plan. I can't perfectly reference this now but I believe it was in the CFTS (Charlie Francis Training System, now sold as Training for Speed) that Charlie Francis wrote that early aircraft design followed the mantra "Looks right, flies right." This is my fundamental view of periodization. While that statement strikes me and others as too simple, especially when most yearn for complexity, it makes perfect sense. But as this introductory post on periodization will demonstrate, sense is less than perfect and never common.

The difficulty arises when we begin the organization and design process of the training program. Most often it goes in 2 directions:

1-You can't catch 2 rabbits at once or as recently stated by Charles Poliquin, ubertrainer, "If you have one ass, you can't sit on two horses." Funny how when we hear a guru state something that sounds so brilliant we forget things we know like killing two birds with one stone. This process can, and does, go in circles.

2-Cocktails. Programs attempt to address every aspect of their program in every session, in the same way yankees drink Long Island Iced Teas and Texans drink Texas teas (same, but with tequila, sans gin) looking for a quick fix. This is the opposite argument of the catching 2 rabbits example. Trainers and coaches here attempt to address every quality, no matter how complex, in every session. A jack of all trades makes a great handyman but be cautious before you hand over the keys to your ferrari. There is a hierarchy of needs in athlete development as there is to human development (read maslow): as you ascend the pyramid it is not necessary to backtrack on the ascent (unless you have somehow forgotten your way; read detraining).

The key to making a successful distinction of training variables is in the analysis of the training program on the long- (macrocycle), medium- (mesocycle), and short-term (microcycle) level. Fundamentally speaking, you have to be willing to analyze your training program on every level to determine success. If you are analyzing your training program from workout to workout (on the microcyclic level) or from phase to phase (on the mesocyclic level) with no concern for the interaction of each then you are not maximizing your program's potential.

In my next post I will specifically analyze the "common" program and give my personal views on the benefits and shortcomings as well as provide a specific example of the early stages of program design (the Trinity University Training Program I will be writing in the next couple of weeks).