Same Training Road, Just a Different Point

I had a recent run in this last week, one that doesn’t happen very often in our facilities, but one I suspect happens to a lot of gyms all over the country. I don’t know if it’s a new trend brought on by society’s level of intolerance, or maybe people are just more outspoken with opinions now than they were. Either way it gave me pause. As a coach and a health professional I have to ask, when did it become ok to judge people who need (or want) to lose weight and are doing the things needed to make that happen? Shouldn’t we be cheering them on and encouraging them rather than putting them down and labeling them?

Hard training will be different for everyone. 10 years ago, for me, it was 8 hour training rides in the mountains with 60 min tempo efforts up the canyons in Salt Lake. I’m pretty sure that would put most people in a body bag. At RFT Coaching, we train hard, very hard, but that should never mean we are unwelcoming toward the new and uninitiated. And we extend that to people who are brand new and going to another gym. Believe me, they will hit plateaus and start looking for the next step eventually, and we will be there when they are ready. But in the mean time, let’s congratulate them on taking that step, not tear them down for where they are currently. Humans can change physically, pretty easily actually, it’s our way of thinking and our opinions that may really need to be shifted and trained out of us and this can be a harder process.

As coaches, we want to help you get better than you were yesterday, nothing more, nothing less. As fellow athletes in our facilities, you have an obligation to welcome new members, be encouraging, and help them along (you were there not that long ago, remember?).

We said from the beginning our gym is a tool to get better, not a competition. As long as you do the work for the time we set and put in effort you will get results. We don’t care what you look like, how good or bad you move right now, who you sleep with, vote for, pray to, do for a living, or where you come from. Pay the iron price when you come in, work hard, and you will always have a home here.

Aspera Non Spernit

Coach Chris

Setting Priorities

What if you knew that by doing one thing a day you would be more productive at work, calmer in the face of adversity, happier with your family, and have more energy for your other daily tasks? Would you take that time out of your schedule to do it, if it guaranteed results like that?

We’ve all heard it, we’ve probably even said it ourselves….the dreaded “I’m too busy for ‘x'”. This is something we as coaches hear all the time when we ask people what’s been holding them back from achieving their goals. I’m going to tell you a secret though, it’s not a time issue, it’s a priorities issue. All of us have 24 hours in a day, we prioritize what we want to do, suffer through what we have to do, and put off what we don’t want to do.

Humans are fantastic animals. We have this capability to think in a logical manner and to create timelines. This allows us to complete complex tasks efficiently and to learn how to do even more complex tasks. But here’s the other side to that coin, it also allows us to make excuses. Since we don’t only live in this moment, but can imagine and plan future tasks, we sometimes get lost and bogged down in those future tasks and ignore the immediate. This results in putting off the less fun tasks for something that may seem more important, even if it’s something that could wait, but isn’t as painful.

Fitness and training is one of these things that gets put off for many people. As adults we have been conditioned to think of training as another thing we have do during the day. And since training isn’t always enjoyable, it gets put into the category of ‘need to do, but I don’t really want to’. But, here’s the rub, we should be making fitness a priority. A study that was conducted by the University of New England, Australia found that after only 4 weeks of resistance and cardiovascular training there was a marked decrease in psychological distress, perceived day to day stress, and emotional exhaustion. It also saw an increase in well being and personal accomplishment (Brettwood 2015). Now while this study applied to office workers, there’s a good likelihood it will pass down to family as well since we all bring work stress home with us. This study was short, only 4 weeks, so imagine if we made this a lifetime change. How good of a family life, work life, and friendships do you think you could have if it became a priority?

For those of you who have families or careers (so all of you) let me ask you something. You don’t need to answer me, but just think about it. When was the last time you did something for yourself?

The most selfless thing you can do is take care of yourself first. I know that’s not a popular opinion. We have spent years being told that parents should give everything to their families. Or we’ve had bosses that insist on working late, using you up until you’re just a shell of what you were. The truth is you can’t help anyone, be super productive, or enjoy life to the fullest if you’re not healthy first. Take that hour, unplug from your work, family, and social media. All of those will be there when you finish, and you will be calmer and able to enjoy these things more by taking that step back and doing something for you.

Make yourself a priority and you will be amazed at how things in your life improve.

See you in the gym! Aspera Non Spernit

– Coach Chris

  1. Bretland, Rachel Judith, & Thorsteinsson, Einar Baldvin. (2015). Reducing workplace burnout: The    relative benefits of cardiovascular and resistance exercise. PeerJ, 3, E891.

 

 

Motivation Issues

Recently, I’ve had motivation issues, my wife has had motivation issues, some of our clients have had motivation issues. Motivation can be hard to come by, especially when things aren’t going the way you want. It’s hard to get up and train at 5 or 6 am. It’s hard to train after work, when it’s 95 degrees outside and you’ve had a rough day. It’s easy to stay home and sleep in. It’s easier to drive straight home, grab a drink and watch a television show on the couch. Life isn’t easy, adding a strict workout plan makes it harder. The workouts are hard, getting up is hard, having the energy every day to get yourself to the gym is hard. But that’s why you train. Because it’s hard, and you enjoy seeing just how far you can push yourself. It’s an awesome feeling lifting a weight that is the heaviest you have ever lifted in your life. It’s a good feeling to walk in and see a workout that just looks so brutal that for a split second you think about just going home. But you stay, you push through and you complete that workout.

Right now, I feel many of our athletes are struggling with motivation. Classes have been small, minus a few here and there. It’s even harder to get the energy to come to the gym when you know it’s going to be a small class and you may be suffering by yourself. What I have noticed is our biggest class right now, by far, is the OCR class. That’s because the Utah Spartan race is coming up in 2 weeks. They have a goal to complete that race to the best of their abilities, and that goal is coming up quick! Coming to the gym without a goal is just going through the motions. One of the first blogs we posted, talked about the difference between working out and training. I would highly recommend giving that and our blogs about goal setting a read. Changing your mindset is hard, you don’t go from being a home body who likes fast food to an avid gym goer with a healthy diet by just deciding one day you want to. You need to set goals, long term goals and short-term goals that lead you to the life and lifestyle you want. We as coaches at RFT cannot make them for you. We have goals for all of you as well. But we can’t make you come to the gym and lift the weights or work as hard as we want you to. Your goals will be the goals that drive you to do this. I would highly recommend you all have a serious sit down with yourself, especially if you’ve been lacking motivation, and ask yourself what it is you want. What do you hope to get out of your training? Part of our jobs as coaches is to help you with this. If you have a question about how to create a good goal, ask us. If you have a goal but aren’t quite sure how to get yourself there, ask us. You come to the gym for the workouts, the atmosphere and the coaching.  We can’t help you if you’re not in the gym. Everyone will have times they struggle to get into the gym, even your coaches. Find out your goals, make new goals constantly, and ask for help if you need or want it. That’s what we’re here for.

 

-Coach Matt

The Difference Between Our Mtn Fitness Program and Crossfit

This last week brought some new things to light, namely that our program is being confused for the largest trend to hit fitness in the last 20 years. The coaches here are RFT Coaching do not hate Crossfit, in fact I held a level 1 Crossfit coach certification for many years, and got started coaching out of a local box in Salt Lake City, UT. I even used their system for awhile when I was first in the SOF community, and I continue to add things here and there that are very similar to their system. However as a training system and program, RFT Coaching is not affiliated with the brand of Crossfit and there are some glaring differences in how we program and the results you can expect. Click here to try us out! 

Crossfit has it’s merits. It has brought to the forefront the idea that people need to lift weights, and lift heavy, often. That’s a fantastic accomplishment. It creates muscle confusion and helps to increase gains (more on this later), and it has plenty of uses when it comes to military and law enforcement applications. They believe the definition of fitness is: increased work capacity across a broad range of time and modal domains. This in itself is a fantastic definition of what all coaches are trying to achieve, not just Crossfit. They use this to describe what fitness is, and RFT Coaching respects that definition, in fact there is a lot of truth to it.

With all that being said though, we have found some glaring holes in the system. One of the biggest is endurance. There are not a lot of Crossfit athletes out there winning Spartan races, bike races, road running events, or trail running events. If you watch the Crossfit Games you will notice during the endurance events they all seem to struggle, a lot and those events are (surprisingly) getting shorter and shorter to accommodate. I had a lot of respect for them when they did a full triathlon, but since then they have gotten away from events that might last 2 hours+. A lot of this is due to the methodology and packaging for television. Many Crossfit coaches (not all) believe that if they increase the lactate threshold capacity (about 2-4 min) really high this will transfer to other areas. This is sort of true. If you only train in the <30 min realm you can expect to have good results only in the <30 min events. Once it goes into the 45+ min time frame the athlete will suffer.

Another issue is with the randomization. In some ways this works well, but it leads to plateaus in training over time. RFT Coaching uses a periodized system which focuses on one specific pillar of training for a period of 3-6 weeks. These pillars of training include: strength, work capacity, stamina, endurance, and durability. There is room for some randomization here, and rarely are our athletes doing the exact same workout during a phase or even a complete cycle (6 months), but instead we focus on the overall goal of the training. We have found that this promotes more advancement over all of these modes of training. Our system may take a little longer to hit some strength goals, or work capacity goals, but ours is much more sustainable and we can predict the outcome after a phase. For example, our gym in Salt Lake is finishing up an eccentric strength phase and they will expect to see a 5-15% increase in strength (based on the lift and experience of the athlete). We know this because we have tested it out and have years worth of data using this training style, so we can easily make those predictions with a high level of accuracy.

A big argument against Crossfit over the years has been injuries. This is an area of contention because those that have been injured doing it are going to say it’s bad and promotes injury, while those that have never been injured will argue the opposite. As a whole I do not believe that Crossfit itself is to blame for injuries. I believe the use of overly complicated movements and the inexperience of coaches and athletes are more to blame. For example, an athlete will never see snatches done at RFT Coaching. We feel that this lift is too complicated and specific for the majority of novice lifters to accomplish safely. The snatch does have a lot of great benefits like learning to engage the shoulders, and knowing how to control your body in space, but the risks of a shoulder dislocation if done improperly are simply too high. Also, to use this lift for a timed workout totally goes against the function and purpose of this lift (it is meant to showcase total explosive power and body control, and as such to be used properly requires enough rest time to allow your body to recover from the effort and a high enough weight to elicit the proper physiological response). When I see this lift, or other like it, programmed in a high intensity workout I cringe. Add to that a hyper competitive setting and it’s no wonder why some people get hurt. We use clean and jerks in lieu of the snatch, and will only teach the snatch to people who can execute a clean and jerk with perfect form, which may take years.

Another big difference is that we do not put names on the board after the workout, nor are we “always competing”. Many boxes out there insist that athletes turn themselves inside out every day just to have the fastest time on the board. We have found over the years that this has a great effect if someone is in the top 3-4 spots consistently. Maybe they will work harder to make the next step in order to beat that other person. However, for the lower ranked folks this simply discourages them. Many will feel that they can’t make that top spot even after years of training so why bother trying that hard anymore. We have found this to be especially true with new clients who are already rather intimidated walking into a gym. We want our place to be welcome to all, elites and novices alike. We like to tell people “we are all on the same journey, just some of us are a little further along”.

The competition mindset can also lead to burnout, over training and injuries. If someone is going 100% every time they train they are going to eventually get hurt. Ask any top coach or athlete and they will tell you about the 90% rule. Always come home feeling like you could have done one more interval, one more rep, one more round, or one more set. Save that extra 10% for competition day, when things are actually on the line. RFT Coaching encourages our athletes to work hard, train often, but always leave one more in the tank…..you never know when we might just change things on you mid training session :).

Hope this helps to clarify some things about RFT Coaching’s signature Mtn Fitness Program and the Crossfit method. Click Here to get set up with a pass and come train with us!

-Aspera Non Spernit-

Coach Chris

6 Tips For the Beginner OCR Athlete

1) Build your endurance base. Get outside and run, walk, hike, etc. Using a bike, rower and swimming can be good if you have a history of injuries, but getting outside and using your legs will be paramount. Try to build your time up to at least 90 min of running/walking at one time.

Add intervals as you are able to handle the 90 min. Adding in speed work will increase your ability to run more efficiently over terrain. Start with fartlek runs (random speed increases, random rest) to keep you more interested and then add more dedicated time intervals (2, 5, 10, 20 min) as your abilities improve.

 

2) Build your grip strength. Test how long you can hang from a pull up bar, hang as long as possible and note the time. Train both dead hangs and active hangs (arms remaining bent). Start at 6-8 rounds 25% your max hang and add time as you get better. Retest every month to see improvement.

 

3) Improve upper and lower body strength and muscular endurance. Use pushups, pull ups, squats, lunges etc. Vary up the rest time, reps, intensity and variations of these movements. You don’t need to be able to lift 500 lbs., you just need to be able to lift your bodyweight many times with limited rest.

If using weights, keep it simple. There is no need to get fancy with balls and balance boards, your improvements will be minimal at best and has a high rate of injury. Master the basics and then add more advanced movements as you improve.

 

4) Obstacle preparation. Find weird shaped items that have weight and carry them for a distance. Go to playgrounds and play on monkey bars, climb over fences and walls. Jump into cold lakes, then run, and then crawl on all fours. Pretty much go play, like when we were kids. Have fun with it, that’s the essence of OCR.

 

5) Fuel properly. If you eat properly you won’t need gimmicks to finish the race. Eating a little something every 60 min on the course will be all you need. Test out different fuel sources (we like Advocare Rehydrate Gel) in training to make sure your stomach can handle it before race day. There’s nothing worse than needing to find a port-a-potty in the middle of a race. Water is continuous, but to a point. You don’t always need to hit every water station and in fact that may cause something very dangerous to happen. Alternate between plain water and an electrolyte solution (like the Advocare Rehydrate Mix) . The hotter it is the more you will need to replace electrolytes.

 

6) Take care of your body. Grind down calluses so they don’t rip, superglue cuts together to make sure you don’t get an infection afterwards. Protect your feet from blisters, wear long socks to avoid rope burns, and wear compression gear. Learn to conduct self massage on legs, arms, back, etc. Treat your body like a fine piece of equipment (because it is) and it will be ready and will work well when called upon on race day.

 

7) Work with a professional. We at RFT Coaching are dedicated to the sport of OCR. We race it, we coach it, we manage a professional team, and support local OCR teams. This is a big part of what we do.

If you need any help with these your coaches here at RFT Coaching will be happy to help. We have our OCR classes available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday here at the facility. If you live out town, or just don’t want to train at the gym with us, we can always provide online coaching. Hit us up at info@rftcoaching.com for package information. 

21 Guns

The 29th of May will mark a day that is very important to Chris and I. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all of those that have sacrificed their lives for this country. We hold a tribute workout every year that is always talked about as the hardest workout we do. We honor those that have fallen the only way we know how: with sweat, hard work, pain and beer. Chris and I have noticed that many other gyms hold similar difficult workouts on Memorial Day to honor the fallen. However, our biggest issue with them is they tend to do Murph (a common CrossFit workout) or some other tribute workout dedicated to or named after a single person. Now these named tribute workouts are great, the men and women they are named after are heroes. Those men and women have done extraordinary things for their brothers and sisters in arms as well as for this country. But Memorial Day is not about one man or woman. Memorial Day is about all service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This is why RFT Coaching hosts a tribute workout named “21 Guns”. The 21 gun salute is customary at military funerals and we feel, better symbolizes the Memorial Day meaning. We ask that if you know someone who has paid the ultimate sacrifice, keep them in your thoughts and hearts during this workout, but understand this day is to honor every man and woman who has given up everything for this country.

 

New Year’s Goal Setting

New Year’s is a time for many to reflect on where they have been and where they want to be next year. Let me ask you, did you accomplish your goals this year? Be honest, I’m not judging, I sincerely want to know. I know I didn’t hit my goal of running 1000 miles this year, and I have plenty of excuses why I didn’t make that.

This brings me to my next question, why didn’t you make that goal? For me it was because I just wasn’t that into the goal in the first place. I wasn’t really committed to it. Life happens to all of us and staying committed to a goal like that takes effort and a plan, I wasn’t really up to do either of those for this one.

All this brings me to my next point: how to commit to and accomplish your goals for next year.

It doesn’t really matter what it is. It could be getting a podium in an obstacle course race, qualifying for the World Championships, finishing a trifecta or even losing 10 lbs. The rules for goal setting stay the same.

 

1) Set a S.M.A.R.T goal. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. This is the beginning of your journey.

Specific be very clear on what you want. Don’t just say, “I want to be in shape”, find something to shoot for. We like Spartan races because they have specific criteria and are something very specific.

Measurable: know what you will use to measure success and how to measure it

Achievable: knowing how long something will take and being a little conservative will go a long way. When I decided I wanted a professional cycling contract, I was already a well known amateur, had over 1000 races under my belt, and was ranked nationally. Knowing the time line for something will be important.

Realistic: let’s be honest, most of us will not climb Mt. Everest. Set a goal you know you can achieve

Time-Sensitive: this is the most important part. Set a date for the goal. This makes it more real.

 

2) After you have set your goal comes the hard part. The work.

Having the goal is great, but if you’re not willing to put in the time and pain to get there it will never be realized. Our motto at RFT Coaching comes from our family crest “Aspera Non Spernit”. It means “Fear No Hardship”. Achieving a goal can be hard, but if you put that work in day in and day out, never shying from the challenge, you will have it.

Understand there will be good days and bad days, that you will have giant leaps forward and minor step backward. It’s all part of the process. Embrace that pain, embrace the suffering and you will learn to no longer fear it, you will look forward to it.

Having a coach who has been down this road before helps, especially when you want something challenging. We know the challenges you will face and we know how to get you through it. We are just as much invested in your success as you are.

 

3) Setting micro goals.

After setting your big goal(s) and committing to the work, setting micro goals is going to be even more important. This is your road map to getting to the big goal. If you goal is 12 month out, set a 6 month goal that has a direct relationship to the big one. If it’s an Ironman Triathlon, maybe do a half Ironman at the 6 month mark. Once you have the goal for the middle, set a ¼ time goal and a ¾ time goal. In this scenario it would look like this:

12 month goal: Ironman Triathlon competition

9 month goal: full Ironman distance for swim, bike and run in a single week

6 month goal: half Ironman Triathlon competition

3 month goal: full half Ironman distance for swim, bike, run in a single week

This is just an example, but you can see the clear roadmap to achieve the 12 month goal.

 

4) Don’t be afraid to change the micro goals

As you train and your benchmarks come and go sometimes you don’t quite make the micro goals. That’s ok. Remember that these goals are not the big goal; they are simply mini tests to ensure your training is on track. With a long-term plan you can make adjustments and still hit your goal. The trick is not to be so married to the micro goals that you forget the real goal.

 

5) Ask for help

Long-term goals and planning take time and practice; having a coach who knows how to set them and monitor them makes this process easier. No matter whether you choose to enroll in our group classes, our obstacle race classes, personal training or online coaching we are here to guide you and monitor you. Taking the work out of your hands and putting it into ours means all you have to do is the work, the planning and adjustments are up to us.

 

We are looking forward to an epic year at RFT Coaching and look forward to achieving your goals right along side you.

Happy New Year to you all, tomorrow is the first day of the new you!

Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

There tends to be 2 different types of people who train. One lives for the gym, and the other centers on endurance sports. These two, for years, had never really had anything to do with one another. I still remember my old cycling coach’s answer when I asked about gym work in the off-season, he answered with a simple “does it look like George Hincapie spends any time in the gym?” With most endurance sports, the big worry is that the athlete will gain weight and become slower by lifting more. Well, let me say this, that’s complete bullshit.

That answer that I lived by my entire pro cycling career was an over simplified answer given to me by a coach who had no idea how to use the gym to further my goals. I don’t fault him for that, it’s how he coached, and I will never say he held me back. But I am older and wiser now in my training, I have been educated on how to squeak out that little more that will make the big difference later on. If I had known then what I know now, I may have been able to turn a sprint just that little bit harder.

Nowadays this same idea, that the gym is useless, has started to gain some traction, especially with the obstacle course racing crowd, after a multitude of videos and books on training by some who they look to as “experts”. No I’m not saying these people are not smart, nor am I saying it won’t work, it will, for a while. Eventually though, these athletes are going to need more and that’s where the gym and a coach who understands their needs as an athlete comes into play.  Below I’m going to detail several myths that have come up through the endurance world and why they are false.

 

Myth #1: I will get bulky by lifting.

The truth is, getting bulky takes a lot of work. People with this goal spend hours in the gym, and I’m not kidding. To get that physique requires a specific amount of reps at a specific amount of weight with a specific amount of rest. And, after they leave the gym, they eat all the time. It takes roughly 2800 calories to build a pound of muscle per week, that’s an extra 400 calories a day on top of what you’re already taking in. If you’re an endurance athlete, chances are you’re already eating a ton, I eat about 3500 calories per day just to maintain my weight, plus another 350-1000 to offset my training. The thought of having to tack on another 400 above that makes me nauseous.

The truth is that if you want to get bulky, you will, but as an endurance athlete, chances are that’s not going to happen. You will get more definition, which may look like bulk, but it’s really just muscles being more developed than they were before. Even if you do gain a little weight, you’re going to burn it off once the season hits anyway, so don’t worry about it.

 

Myth #2: I might get hurt.

Ok, I can see this one a little more, but only if you don’t know what you’re doing and you jump into something you’re not prepared for. Walking in cold off the street and suddenly trying to do a 1 rep max snatch is a sure fire way to get hurt (I’m looking at you, a certain program that will not be named). However, with knowledgeable coaches, a solid program, and knowing your own limits the weight room is a very safe place. And once you spend some time in classes (like our Mtn Fitness) you will develop the confidence needed to execute complicated lifts, lift heavy (within your abilities), and make friends too.

 

Myth #3: I don’t really need it.

Ok, there are some people that no matter how well I word this and lay it out, they won’t believe me, but here goes.

Last year how many overuse injuries kept you from participating, how many times were you sidelined due to a fall or other injury, or how many times did you find yourself just unable to keep going?

For most endurance athletes, they will answer at least once, probably multiple times if you get the honest truth. Strength training can help with all of those issues.

Injury prevention is critical for endurance athletes; by having stronger muscles and increased bone density, due to lifting, injuries decrease. This is especially true for obstacle course racers and trail runners. The type of pounding the body receives and the uneven ground these racers compete on is much different than normal runners or cyclists. By strengthening areas like the lower back, hips, legs, and shoulders they will find they are less fatigued at the end of a hard training session, and can compete better during races.

The mindset to keep going is strong in endurance athletes, arguably better cultivated than in strength athletes. The tricky part with this mindset is that once they are done, they are really done. This is especially true with obstacle racers where they are being bombarded with more than one mode of movement, and have different demands on their phosphocreatine system and anaerobic systems. The gym will provide a training medium for both of those, and will give them the knowledge that they can, in fact, handle whatever is being asked of them.

 

Myth #4: It’s too expensive.

My response to this is “how much does it cost for an overuse injury, or not finishing an event that you paid for?” To me this is so much more expensive than anything I could charge.

I know that there are gym memberships out there for $10 per month, and I know many people use them and get results. But that $10 per month gets you access, nothing else. When you’re looking for a coach to guide you through your goals, has knowledge of the sport, and will take responsibility for writing your training this is not going to be $10 per month.

To join us it’ll cost you 1 latté per day. That’s it. Skip your Starbucks in the afternoon on your way home, or maybe only go out once that week to dinner, instead of twice, for a month and you’re covered. As an athlete, you must think of it as an investment in yourself, as opposed to a cost.

 

Myth #5: I’ll get slow if I lift.

This is my favorite myth only because it’s such nonsense. During the off-season you should be a little slower than your peak season anyway. Even if you never lifted and only did your sport, you’d still be slower than in-season. The off-season is the perfect time to work on this, while still maintaining a base endurance level.

Matt and I are great examples of this. Matt squats over 400 lbs now, but is still able to run an 8 min mile pace for 5+ miles. I can hit all of our strength standards and still run a half marathon in sub 1:50. Those are not overly fast times, but they aren’t slow either. Our elite OCR athletes are starting to hit 9-10 miles for their hour time-trial and they lift heavy.

It’s more about how you lift, not if you lift. Putting on a lot of extra size and decreasing your body’s ability to transport nutrients to and waste from the working muscles is what makes an endurance athlete slow. We want you to lift heavy, for a few reps, build the strength up, but not put on a lot of extra size. That is the key, strength without extra size.

The bottom line for any training is to make the athlete better. For endurance athletes that means expanding their idea of what training is to include time in the weight room. Keep it focused on the sport needs, keep it heavy, and keep the reps within the proper ranges and you will have the best season you’ve ever had.

If you want to talk more about how we can help either through classes or our online training please contact us at info@rftoaching.com.

 

Aspera Non Spernit

 

-Coach Chris

The Off-Season

Spartan Worlds are over, the OCR Worlds in Canada are over, the race season has slowed down and it’s getting to be holiday season. This is what we like to call the off-season, a perfect time to relax and enjoy what you worked hard for with family and friends. And you know what? You earned it, take those couple of weeks off, maybe go outside and enjoy the leaves and the cooler weather before winter sets in. But after that it’s time to get back to work.

Something I hear often as a coach are people who say “I’ll start my routine after the New Year” as if it’s some magical thing that makes training easier. I’m here to tell you, if you wait that long to start training for the next race season or your spring and summer adventures you are way behind the curve and playing catch-up is a major challenge.

For our elite athletes, training starts for real in the next few weeks. We will be working on their base endurance and strength. We follow the mindset that if you’re not willing to train outside when it’s cold and wet, you won’t be willing to race well in it either. That means getting outside and putting some miles in no matter the conditions.

For our general fitness athletes they will be working on work-capacity, hypertrophy, and stamina this winter. We still follow our basic programming cycle, and these areas are very important to work on. This will provide them a solid strength and muscle density base along with the endurance to go a long time doing various tasks at various intensities. Perfect off-season training for the amateur racer, outdoor adventurer, or fitness fanatic.

The bottom line here is that no matter what you do this winter, do something. If you want 2017 to be the best year ever, you need to start preparing for it now.

If you want help this winter, RFT Coaching has classes available to get you in the best shape of your life for next season. We have our Mtn Fitness and Spartan SGX classes available, as well as 100% custom personal training, and 100% custom online coaching. If you’re looking for something a bit more generic we also sell ready-made programs for the Sprint, Super, and Beast Spartan Races, and we will be releasing the Agoge, and Hurricane Heat programs soon so be sure to check back often.

For the ready made programs go to: https://home.trainingpeaks.com/products/trainingplans/list.aspx?DCI=18&PS=50&searchtext=Spartan&searchmode=anyword&categoryfilter=0;&orderby=0;

Be sure to choose one from RFT Coaching, and use the code “WSOM” for 10% off at check out.

For more information on how we can help you have the best season ever send us an email to info@rftcoaching.com and we will get back to you right away!

True Spartans

First off, congrats to everyone that ran the Spartan Super this last weekend, that was a very hard course, one of the hardest I’ve ever seen. We had a great time leading warm ups and helping some of you learn to climb the ropes. We can’t help but be inspired by some of your stories and the true mental and physical toughness that many of your showed out there. I want to take a second and mention one person in particular.

Our friend, teammate and client Misti committed to doing the event with us. it was undoubtedly the hardest thing we have ever asked her to do. It took us almost 8 hours, a whole lot of soul searching, some coaxing and encouragement, and the help of some other teammates but she finished it, got her medal and earned the title of Spartan. We couldn’t be more proud of her.

I need to get something off my chest now though. Talking with my parents last night, they came out to witness our finish, they told me a little story about a guy out there. This guy was out of shape, clearly out of his element, and nowhere near the condition he needed to be in to get through the event on his own. Apparently he was working out at a Crossfit box somewhere in the valley. His “coach” (yes I mean this sarcastically) convinced him to do it and decided that it would be best to do it with him. On the surface this was a great call, step up and support your client. According to the Spartan, his “coach” left him after only a couple of miles (if you were there you know that that would have been right after the major hill, just when a person who needs help needed it the most) to finish on his own, and never came back.

Now I hope this athlete is reading this, and I pray that the piece of shit “coach” who left him reads this too, if ANY of our coaches, interns, or anyone from the leadership pulled that kind of shit they would be looking for a new job effective immediately. I don’t care how slow your teammate is going, I don’t care if that teammate is an inch from death, you NEVER leave a teammate behind. Both Matt and I come from a military background, we know the importance of your team and family, we are only as good as the the weakest among us and if they fall we pick them up and carry on, period.

I’ll be honest, there was times when we were a little frustrated with the pace we were keeping, it can be a major test of mental toughness to go slow, but we never once thought to leave anyone behind to finish on their own. That meant we did their burpees, we did their heavy carries, we did what needed to be done to get them off that mountain safely and before dark.

You want to know what true Spartan does? They hold the line, take care of their teammates and fight to the bitter end. The saying “either with your shield or on it” does not ring hollow for true leaders.  The selfishness and lack of leadership that was displayed by a “coach” who “forges elite fitness”, is indicative of a poorly conceived system that only looks out for itself. If that athlete is reading this, come on in to our facility, I’ll take care of you personally and any other athlete you bring with you. You deserve better than that, your “coach” is the lowest form of human waste I can think of, a simple coward.

Whew, I feel better now. I hope everyone is recovering well from their Spartan weekend. Always remember nothing tastes better than a victory beer, even a Coors Light.

 

-Aspera Non Spernit-

Coach Chris

Independent Review: Blonyx HMB

I have finally completed another long term test on a supplement that is widely seen as beneficial in the strength training and endurance worlds. I had never really considered using this product before I saw an ad for it mixed in with my order of FitAid (which I liked, and still use). After reading the claims and other reviews I decided to try it out and let all of you know what I thought.

So, what exactly is HMB? Let’s get a little sciencey here. Your body uses a number of amino acids to produce proteins. A major one for humans is leucine, and it is widely accepted that leucine makes up about a third of all skeletal muscle. Leucine has some interesting properties on it’s own. For example, it’s a protein that does not require the insulin pathway for uptake, meaning you don’t need insulin to allow absorption into the cells (a major plus for diabetics), and it assists with lean muscle integrity, meaning it keeps you from breaking down your muscles too much. With this amino acid the scientists mixed a calcium salt. Calcium is needed for your bones, true, but it is also a major component in muscle contraction. With these two things mixed, you would think that you would have a super supplement, one that increases the power of muscle contraction, and keeps muscles from breaking down and therefore keeps you going harder the next day.

Claims:

Blonyx claims that HMB will increase strength, lean muscle tissue, promote recovery and increase power. These are awesome claims, one supplement that will do all of that? Where do I sign up?!

Other studies: 

Before I get into my own experience with this product, lets look at some studies. HMB is one of the most studied supplements on the market, a fact that Blonyx loves to mention on the container and they are not wrong. Looking for research available on HMB there are literally hundreds of research studies from all over the world that have looked into this. From elite level athletes, elderly folks, even testing it on animals to see if it will produce more lean meat to sell.

All of these studies, however, mean there are wide ranges of results. I decided to look at a total review, I’m all about another researcher doing my job for me, and found that there is about a 50/50 split on its effectiveness (Wilson, 2008). According to the extensive list of articles it appeared to have the most effect on the elderly, and then on untrained individuals. Both of these populations make total sense because they are the most likely to have muscle damage when starting a new training plan or loss due to aging.

What about elite and amateur level athletes, or event the average fitness guy/gal? The results here were very inconclusive. Some said yes, some said no. So, naturally, I had to test it.

My test:

I bought 2 months worth of HMB + Creatine from Blonyx about 30 days prior to the Salt Lake City Marathon. I had never done a marathon before, so I figured this would be a great chance to test out the claim of reduced recovery time. I took it twice per day, 1 scoop per serving, as recommended, for the first month and the second month I cut that in half to see if the results were the same.

The consistency is what you would expect from a supplement in the form of a salt. It mixed ok, but if you allowed it to settle you would get a little shot of it at the bottom of your protein shake (yuck). I found that mixing it with OJ helped, especially at night. I’m curious if the acidity of the OJ had an affect on it, but I’m not doing this in a lab, so I have no way of knowing for sure.

During the 4 weeks leading up to the marathon I increased my distance at a rate of 5 miles/week ending up with a 40 mile week prior to the race. This amount kept me from becoming injured and allowed me to test the effects of the HMB on increased exercise over time. I also trained some strength and work capacity, but mostly it was endurance.

After the marathon I moved into a hypertrophy phase and into a basic strength phase after that to test the effects on increased strength.

Results:

This is the part everyone wants to read about. Does a $50 month supply of magic powder work? My answer is yes and no.

My recovery time from my marathon was much shorter than I thought it would be, only a couple of days. Now I’m not a top level runner (it took me 4:09 to complete it), but I remember friends doing an event like this and being out for a week. I was back to training on Wednesday. So the claim of decreased muscle damage during prolonged endurance training is likely true.

During the strength training phases after the marathon I beat several PRs, including one for my power clean I had been trying to break for a year, and my deadlift and bench press. Now this may have been the creatine (this is known to have a positive effect on max effort strength and speed), but my ability to bounce back seemed unchanged from normal max effort training. I still had soreness, I still had residual exhaustion from extra hard days, and I’m not certain how much better I was due to the HMB. On top of the, Coach Matt even gave me a run for my money (and beat me once) at work capacity!

Verdict:

This product does work on most of the claims. Recovery is probably to most readily apparent one though, and this is best seen during a prolonged endurance training cycle. With that said, it probably will not work as much as you’d expect unless you’re a top level athlete looking for the smallest edge (and be careful with it because you may pop during drug testing, just like any supplement), and if you’re brand new to training, and here you may not even know what it happening. I didn’t have it tested on anyone that I would consider elderly (I can hear you all laughing, burpees for everyone), so I cannot tell you whether or not it will work for that population, but I can see how it would based on the science. Endurance athletes will probably see the best results in long term use, especially ultra endurance runners and cyclists due to the nature of lean tissue loss during prolonged training and competition.

With that said, would I spend $50 a month for it? Probably not. It’s much too expensive with too little gain to warrant that price. If it were half that, yeah, maybe, especially if I’m getting ready for an event, but for everyday use it is much too expensive for the average fitness buff or amateur athlete. There are more affordable options out there, and these may be a great way to go if you really want to try HMB, but Blonyx is a bit overpriced for the results you get.

 

Aspera Non Spernit

Coach Chris

 

References:

Wilson, G. J., Wilson, J. M., & Manninen, A. H. (2008). Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on exercise performance and body composition across varying levels of age, sex, and training experience: A review. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5(1), 1. http://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-5-1

Become the Hardest Person Anyone Will Ever Try to Kill

I know, I know, it’s been a few weeks since we last posted on this blog. It’s been a little hectic here both at work and at home, and frankly school is being a pain, so this had to get put on the back burner for a bit. With that being said, I felt it was necessary to say a few things given the recent events in this country. Now I’m not here to argue politics, or take a stand one way or the other on a religion, what I am going to talk about has more to do with everyone on a personal level.

Tragedies happen. They suck, they are unexpected, and unpredictable. Whether they come from a human like last week, or Mother Nature (who can be a real bitch sometimes btw) no one goes into their day thinking “hey, I feel like something awful is going to happen”. However if and when it finds you, you need to be ready, both physically and mentally. This, my friends, should be your WHY for training.

Matt and I have mentioned this concept to several of you. Having your WHY will keep you going when the event or the training gets hard. Having that goal gets you up in the morning. Having that reason makes you dig that little more into yourself when you think you don’t have another rep. When I was in the military I trained hard, very hard, to keep my brothers next to me alive. That was my reason to go kill myself in the gym and out at the range. Most people will never actively seek out those dangerous situations like Matt and I did, but sometimes those situations find you, and sitting bace hoping for help may not be an option.

Think about what would have happened if that gunman walked into a room of capable people, not just physically (the videos showed lots of people who seemed to be in great shape), but mentally capable. Chances are many of these people lifted or went to a gym of some sort, and that’s great. But their WHY was probably more along the lines of looking good naked, or losing a few pounds. Now I’m not saying that their goals are less valid, but what if that same gunman walked into a room full of people who all thought like this: I may die in the process, but dammit I’m going to take him with me. That’s a state of mind that only can be earned through suffering. You may not know it, but that’s a big reason the workouts are the way they are here. We encourage you to build that mindset and the physical capabilities to defend yourself, to help your loved ones, and to survive because no one else will do it for you.

This week we are knee deep into our stamina phase, arguably one of the hardest phases we do. Those that have made it through the first week undoubtedly have seen glimpses of themselves that I’m sure they have never seen before. In all of us there is a place that you must go during extreme difficulty that can only be tapped when you are placed in it. During selection I was in that place, I remember being so tired during my long walk that I just wanted to quit, go home, eat some hot food and sleep. I refused to quit though, I told myself that for them to stop me it was going to take at least 4 of them (one fore each appendage) to force me into that van. That same mindset can be said of you, just coming in and knowing you’re going to suffer every day. When you’re suffering this week, remember that we’re not just training your body, we’re training your mind. As your coaches, Matt and I want you to be hard minded, to know you can make it, to have the confidence in yourself to say I will survive no matter the cost, and when that extreme situation comes along, no matter what it is, you will be the hardest person anyone will ever try to kill.

Aspera Non Spernit

-Coach Chris

Memorial Day

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, for many of you that means BBQs, family meals, and the beginning of summer. For those that have worn a uniform or those that love them, this day means much more. This is the day we remember our friends and our brother and sisters that paid the ultimate price in defense of our nation. I personally have a couple of people in mind every time this day comes around, and with every passing year this list seems to grow a little more, such is the way of my old profession.

This year we will be holding our annual Memorial Day workout. It will not be easy, you will suffer, but this is the way we do things in the warrior class. We suffer for those that can suffer no longer. Keep this in mind tomorrow as you join us, remember why you’re holding that weight or doing those burpees. We will honor our dead with our sweat and pain so we will never forget their sacrifice.

If you cannot join us tomorrow morning, we encourage you to do the workout on your own or with a group elsewhere. Nothing fancy about this one, just simple, brutal work.

Semper Fidelis and RLTW

BattleFrog Review (Salt Lake City 2016)

As many of you know I love everything outdoors, granted I haven’t been able to get out as much as I’d like so far this year (thanks school), but I am committed to changing that this summer. To kick things off I decided to do the BattleFrog obstacle race out at the Miller Sports Park in Tooele (I know, not really Salt Lake City).

As we pulled in to the venue I saw all kinds of big rig trailers wrapped in logos, photos of the pro team and all the extras you would expect from a big budget company. I mean these guys sponsored a bowl game this last year, so I expected a lot. However as I pulled into the parking lot, it was a ghost town. I have never seen anything like it at an event like this. Maybe it’s just Utah, or maybe it’s the location or the timing, but every obstacle event I have ever been to was always crowded even as I pulled in to the elite heat.

Walking up to the registration tent I could clearly see they were under staffed. Some of the volunteers were pulling double duty at the tables, and ours just happened to be unmanned when I first got there. In addition the race numbers and bibs were all under my girlfriend’s name even though we had entered both our names separately when we registered. They had to hand write it in, which may be one reason why results are taking forever (it’s been 36 hours as of this review, and still no results).

The festival area where all the booths, bag check, etc. were seemed a little crowded and thrown together. There just seemed to be very little coordination involved with this area. It was weird, but I never got the feeling that someone was actually in charge. The announcements, music, everything just seemed a little fly by the seat of their pants.

The race itself was good. I had never done an event at the Miller Sports Park, but I have been to other motor parks before and I knew it would be pancake flat. The obstacles were largely similar to what you would expect, with some notable differences. The multi rig for example was a bit longer, and had more variety. You could actually use your feet for parts of it. There was an inverted V traverse (a BattleFrog exclusive) that I actually failed. This one was more grip and reach than I had anticipated. The Jerry can carry was a nice throwback to the military roots, and I will gladly do a farmer’s carry over a bucket any day. The penalty here was either a lap carrying something heavy, or 10 8-count body builders, and for many this is pretty rough, however for us military types I prefer these to burpees.

Something that I want to point out that is different and a nice change with the BattleFrog is that they have different difficulties to the obstacles. At almost all of the more technical or challenging obstacles there were three different difficulties (novice, intermediate and elite). This was a great touch, and one that I think serves the community well. I realize it’s supposed to be a challenge,  but sometimes people just cannot get over that wall no matter how much they struggle. So making it a little more attainable for the average newbie is a big plus to expand the sport. Bravo BattleFrog for realizing not everyone can do things perfectly and allowing them a way to feel accomplished. Teams especially will benefit from this because most have mixed abilities so this allows the more advanced to challenge themselves on the elite levels, and the more novice to attempt another option.

Final verdict: I would suggest this race to anyone, especially someone new to the sport. The varying levels of difficulty make this event one that almost anyone can do with a little training. There are some kinks in the system, as noted above, but I’m sure those will get fixed over the next couple of seasons. We need to remember that BattleFrog is the new kid here, Spartan and Tough Mudder have been doing this for a lot longer, and they still have a host of issues as well. Time will tell if BattleFrog has what it takes to keep things going, but I have a feeling we will be seeing them for awhile. If you missed this one this year, better mark your calendars for next year because they’ll be back.

* As if this writing I had just gotten word that one of the obstacles had an issue due to the sudden high winds. The cargo A-frame was blown over due to a poorly secured base. Luckily no one was hurt by this, and hopefully next year everything is secured better.

Pillar #2: Endurance

I’ve talked about the importance of strength and why that’s central for overall health and injury prevention. This time, lets talk a bit about endurance. I love endurance and many of you know I come from a heavy endurance background. As a former professional cyclist and special operations soldier I learned how to suffer and that’s really what endurance is all about, learning how to suffer well and silently.

Notice how I didn’t call it “cardio”, I personally hate that term, and it is not one we use in the facility. It brings to mind all those spandex clad people on machines at big chain gyms, reading a magazine. I hate to break it to you, you’re not doing yourself any good by doing that.

Why is endurance the second pillar you ask? At RFT Coaching we train for the outdoors. How good do you think you will be moving over land in various terrain, during an emergency, or in a race if you don’t have a heavy endurance base? We need to train it, if for no other reason than it makes the faster, more intense stuff just a little easier.

We use several methods to train endurance here. We use running, indoor cycling, and ruck marching (backpacking) to build the various levels of endurance needed for outdoor activities. Before you ask, no we do not use rowers, nor do we use ellipticals or Assault bikes. Rowers are out because we live in Utah, how many lakes and oceans are you going to row on to get away from an emergency? I like rowers for those that are injured or if weather is crappy, or if you’re in the military and boats are a part of your job, but they do not make any practical sense otherwise, and we train like we fight. Ellipticals are in the same boat (see what I did there?), I have never seen anyone elliptical their way out of a combat zone or off a mountain. Assault bikes are all the rage right now, but that’s because of another company we previously distanced ourselves from, and it’s a lazy way to get endurance training, it keeps people inside and what’s the point of having a ton of fitness if you’re never going to head outside? Now to be fair, there are those with injuries that these items are the only things that do not hurt them, and for them we say go for it, but for the majority, they serve little to no purpose. Bottom line, train like you fight, and get outside more often.

When we train endurance we separate days into short intervals (2 min or less), medium intervals (3-10 min), long intervals (11-20 min) and LSD (long slow distance). All of these methods serve different purposes, energy system speaking. We tend to start people on LSD and as they get more fit the intervals get shorter and more intense, but always with an eye on the long distance/time aspect. As things get faster and more intense rest time becomes an issue and we control how much rest you get to achieve a specific training stress (don’t worry, we’re very good at getting adaptations out of you).

 

Endurance is not glamorous. Many people hate it for various reasons, most of them revolve around the fact that they get bored. We use the intervals to break things up, and that does help, but at the end of the day you just need to put your head down and go. Remember training isn’t always about what’s sexy and glamorous, it’s about performance, and for you to perform you need endurance to be a major part of your training regimen.

 

Aspera Non Spernit

-Coach Chris