Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tabata

I'm doing this blog after seeing that some folks are having a tough time with weight loss in what I presume are New Years resolutions. If you're only familiar with the "ho-hum" gym routines of using treadmills or elliptical and whatnot, I suggest you try a tabata workout. I will briefly explain what a tabata is, but here is a website that has plenty of good information on it.

The Tabata Protocol was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Izumi discovered that high intensity aerobic training done for four minutes burns just as much fat as moderate aerobic workouts done for forty five minutes. If you want to learn more of the specifics and the "how and whys" of how it works, check out the website I linked above.

The basics of it is that you should pick four exercises. I typically do body weight exercises such as push ups, squats, crunches, and burpees. I change it up frequently, but you get the idea. You will do each exercise for 8 sets of 20 seconds each with a 10 second rest in between. Once you are done with that exercise, it's on to the next, but take a 1 minute break between exercises. It's best if you have an interval timer like the one found at http://www.gymboss.com/ That's what I use. If you don't have one, just use a watch. It's also helpful to find something to help you keep up with the 8 sets because as you get tired, it will be harder to keep track. Make tick marks on something or have 8 pennies you can move after each set.

So your timing will look like this: 20-10-20-10-20-10-20-10-20-10-20-10-20-10-20---1 minute rest......next exercise.......go!

This workout can be as easy, or as tough as you make it. If you give a good effort, it will be really tough and you will see great results. If you don't really try hard, you won't see great results. It also depends on your fitness level how hard you can go, don't hurt yourself, but push yourself. My motto is that it's all about going harder, faster, and further just when you don't think you can. I'm usually ready to puke by the end of this workout, and I do it on my "tabata Tuesdays". If you're not used to these kind of intense workouts, you will see results quickly. However, always remember, if you're trying to lose weight you can workout hard all day long, but if you don't have a good diet it won't matter.

If you have anymore questions about it, consult the website above or feel free to contact me. Now drink some water and get to it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day

Since Veteran's Day is forthcoming, I'll take a moment to pause and reflect on that as opposed to fitness. As Americans we should pause and reflect on what our Veterans mean to us and think about whatever family and friends you have that were Veterans.

When I talk to many Veterans of the Vietnam war and earlier wars, they often admire the Veterans of the War on Terror, but we often admire them more. I believe they endured more hardships, and for that, I admire them. I also admire our Vietnam Veterans because they came home to less than favorable conditions and without love and support from the public. Those same Veterans have vowed that they would not let it happen to us, and have done many things to take care of the Veterans of younger wars. For that, I am forever grateful to them.

I have been asked what it is that I reflect on as a Veteran. I will say, with Thanksgiving coming on as well, I reflect on things that I am grateful for. The thing I am most grateful for as a Veteran is that I am here, I'm alive. I have many friends and comrades that cannot say the same. They were not only soldiers, but fathers, sons, brothers and in some cases sisters. When we lose a soldier, we also lose a great American who saw fit to serve something greater than himself. When thinking back on the trials and tribulations, there are several things I reflect on.....I'll share some so that people understand some things a soldier at war deals with....

-I remember the countless "brothers" I have made through the sacrifices and hardships of being in the Army. We own a bond that civilian friends cannot know nor understand. We are the few and proud who can still claim being straight, yet have shared a sleeping bag with another man because we would have frozen otherwise. lol

-I think back on the blessings of having learned many valuable skills for free, many life saving skills that I have worked hard to pass on to others. I think about how much I've enjoyed being on shooting ranges and in shoot houses with the lovely smell of gunpowder and lead....and getting paid for it. I remember having great soldiers who I still talk to and loved my time serving with them. The blessing of having served with some of the military's more elite units up the most elite units is another high point.

-I think about talking to a Lieutenant about how cute his 6 month old son was on the day we left for Iraq, only to see his lifeless body a couple weeks later. Having to walk by body bags that hold your friends and still go on about your business is a tough thing.

-I think about the families that take on the hardships of their spouses or parents career and respect those that honor the service and stay faithful and true waiting on their loved one's return. I feel sorrow for those that never get to see their loved one return.

-I remember the times of terror and adrenaline like coming around a corner only to be face to face with "bad guys" who have guns aimed at you, only they weren't fast enough, nor was their aim true enough. I remember carrying a friend to a medevac chopper in the middle of the night, not being able to recognize his torn face but hoping I'll see him again. Or bandaging a comrade's gaped open leg wounds from an rpg round that was close, but nearer to him than me......and the humbleness of being able to chuckle about it later.

-I think about the love and support I have received from my family and how without them, many things wouldn't be possible. I think of my father, who is a Vietnam Veteran, and a hero in his own right for going to serve when many were forced and many did not. I think about my daughter and hope that she will one day be able to see the things I've done and the sacrifices I've made for her and she will be as proud of me as I am of her for enduring it.

-I think also of my friends who are firefighters, paramedics, emts, policemen, or any other public service that serves a cause higher than theirself.

-I think of my friends who are deployed and pray for their safe return.

-Most of all I think of the great Americans who paved the way for our freedom.......Veterans. Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and those who came home safe to lead fruitful lives.


There are many great and sad memories I have, those are just a few. I am not scarred by these memories, these were events that have been a part of my life. I do not have PTSD, but I hope the best for those who do. Some things just affect people differently than others. God blessed me with the ability to handle many things in stride. So on Veteran's day, think about all you have and all that you enjoy as an American. Thank a Veteran and if given the chance, learn from them what it's like. Show your support in whatever way you can. I respect those who were never able to serve, but show their support. When you wake up in the morning and walk across your clean, carpeted floor to a toilet 10 feet away......be thankful...there are many service members who are in dusty tents and have to get fully dressed in gear to walk 30 yards away to a nasty port-a-potty. When you see the sunshine, when you eat a good meal, when you buy something you've been wanting.....when you feel the love of your spouse, parents or children....be thankful...because there are many people who can no longer do that because they gave their lives in service of their country.

Not to offend anyone who hasn't served or been to war.....I just love this quote.
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. ...The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." -19th Century English philosopher John Stuart Mill

Monday, November 2, 2009

Goals = Motivation

“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.” Denis Watley

“If you’re bored with life — you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things — you don’t have enough goals.” Lou Holtz

So this blog will be about two things; goals and motivation. To me, the two compliment each other. If you have goals to achieve, then working towards them should be your motivation to do what is necessary to reach those goals. You can have short term, long term, or both kinds of goals. The key is that you must have goals in order to successfully and efficiently achieve what it is that you want.

When setting goals, you must remember to make them achievable. For example, I want to gain 20 pounds, so realizing that's a lofty goal....I settle for a 10 pound gain in a certain time period. Once I reach that goal, when I'm ready, I'll set another goal for 10 more pounds. Scale your goals back to make them easier to attain through "stepping stones". If you don't have goals, then you have nothing to work for. If you don't have a legitimate goal and plan of action, you will most likely be more talk than anything else. I hear tons of people who say "I want to get in shape", but have no plan or real intentions to work toward that goal.

You can tell yourself all day long, "I want to lose weight", but unless you actually set goals for yourself to work towards, you won't be successful. I suggest using a calendar, notebook, or document on the computer to write down your goals and any plans to achieve them. Set "checkpoints" for yourself to achieve to let you know you're making good progress towards your goal. Plan your path to reaching your goal as much as you can and it will help you along the way. If your goal is to run a marathon, you're not going to go out and run 20 miles your first day, you're going to want to start easier. Maybe even start as low as 2 miles. Just make sure to scale your plan for reaching your goal accordingly. Expect possible set-backs, they do happen. If you have any set-backs to your plan or achieving your goal just adapt and overcome, but never give up.

Timeline, timeline, timeline. You need to set a timeline for achieving your goal. If you do not have a timeline, you will not be very efficient at achieving your goal and may not be successful. Again, it needs to be realistic. Do not make your timeline too hard. Better to make it easier than harder. If you make it too hard and don't achieve it, you will loose motivation. If you make it easier and achieve it ahead of time, you will feel that much better about yourself.

The most important step is the first one. All you have to do is get started and turn it into habit. Most people fail at reaching their goals because they don't make the practice of working towards them habit. If it's part of your daily or weekly routine, it's much easier to do without a lot of effort. Again, make yourself take that first step! It's always the toughest to take!

So now that you have a goal set, you also have motivation. Your motivation should come from wanting to achieve the goal you have set for yourself. There are many ways to motivate yourself. One way I have recommended to a female I helped that wanted to lose weight was to go to Wal-Mart and buy a cheap bathing suit that was the size she wanted to be and take a picture of herself in it. She wasn't trying to loose a whole lot, so she could get it on. You can do the same thing even if it won't fit on, just have it there to know you want to fit in it. Take pics of your progress, or if it doesn't fit, then keep trying to get it to fit. The key is to stay positive. Just because your progress may seem slow, don't get down on yourself. That is just one example of motivation used by someone I knew and helped. By the way, it worked for her, and she was thrilled when she finally made it to her goal.

Immediate forms of motivation may be something like music. I have a playlist on my ipod specifically for workout music. You can throw on "Monster" by Skillet or "Game On" by Disciple and I'm ready to workout anytime, anywhere. Know yourself. Find whatever gets you going and helps you crank up and use it. If it's a picture of the beach because you know you want to look good for bathing suit season next year, use that. More importantly, if it's seeing your child, knowing you want to be in better shape to be able protect your children if the need arises or just to be healthier for their sake, use it.

So again, if you have a goal to work towards, that should equal motivation for you to do the work. The thing I want to stress is having goals. If you don't have legitimate goals and a plan to achieve those goals, then you're just "spinning your wheels". In the end, it's you that has to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of what you've done or just be happy idling your way through life. I believe you should constantly strive to learn and make yourself better.....so set your goal, make your plan, make a timeline, and get up and do it!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

"I Can't"

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Margaret Thatcher

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” H. Ross Perot

The inspiration behind this post comes from hearing people that I've worked with utter the phrase "I can't" over and over. Most often, when I encounter people saying this, it's simply because something I am having the attempt is hard for them due to flexibility issues. Flexibility is something that can be fixed with a little effort and time. I understand that in life, there are things you can't do. Wiping this phrase out of your vocabulary completely may not be feasible, it just needs to be left out of your vocabulary when dealing with physical exercise. The only exception is when you have a limitation due to medical causes.
The caveat to having medical issues is that you should not use them as a crutch. Many people will "stretch the truth" about their ailments or injuries in order to "get over". I am not suggesting at any time you should do something painful, but realize your limitations and do the best you can. If you're ever training with me, I am not a physical therapist, so I will not attempt to fix you. I may simply work around whatever issue it is you have.

When working with a trainer and trying a new movement, or one you've failed at before, simply keep an open mind. For instance, if I ask you to do a squat and you cannot perform the movement correctly, that's where you should NOT be thinking "I can't". Any knowledgeable trainer can scale back the movement and start you with progressions that will eventually work you up to being able to properly execute that movement. Most new things you shouldn't start with weight, but if you're doing something involving weights and it's too much, then simply state that. There's no need to enter the mindset of "I can't".

In my career, I have improved many people fitness wise. You can achieve whatever you can get into your head is possible. Negative thinking will not get you anywhere. If you're a person who often says "I can't" or thinks negatively when the going gets tough, simply realize that. The first step is to realize that's how you are, and then go from there. Train yourself to think positively and to have the I CAN attitude. Teach yourself that you cannot fail. Below is probably my favorite poem. Read it. I interpret it as meaning we are all built the same and can accomplish whatever we want. In the end, if physical fitness were easy and without challenges, wouldn't everyone be fit? Look around, not everyone is. Enjoy!

EQUIPMENT

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You've all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say, "I can."

Look them over, the wise and great
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes.
The world considers them brave and smart,
But you've all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will.
You're well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go,
How much you will study the truth to know.
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself, my lad.
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began,
Get hold of yourself and say: "I can."

--Edgar A. Guest

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Kettlebell Snatch

Many of you have asked me about the kettlebell snatch, so here's a quick 101 on the snatch. The kettlebell snatch is considered the "tsar" of kettlebell lifts in the RKC realm. It is the exercise that is used to test physical fitness for Russian military and several elite operators in the U.S.. Specifically, the US Secret Service CAT team uses it. The feat you must accomplish to become an RKC instructor is 100 snatches in 5 minutes with a 24kg bell for males. More can be read about this at www.dragondoor.com.
The snatch is a true test of endurance, strength, and guts. It will work most of your body and is an intense cardio-respiratory workout. A good workout with high reps of snatches can get your heart rate going better than sprints, depending on the number of reps and sets as well as weight of the bell. It also forges a mind of steel. You must possess heart in order to do lots of snatches. If you lack the mental fortitude, you will not succeed at intense snatch workouts at first. If that's the case, you should use the snatch to help build that mental pain tolerance.
The snatch should not be attempted until you have mastered two-arm and one-arm swings. I also suggest becoming proficient at get-ups and practice at holding a heavy kettlebell locked out overhead. Safety first always. If the kettlebell wants to go somewhere, let it. Let go and drop it moving your body out of it's way. This means working out outside as I'm sure you don't want a kettlebell ruining your floor. I've included a video here of me doing some snatch training. This is video from my train up for the snatch test. This is by no means an example of perfect technique, at this point I had already done about 50 snatches non-stop. This is also not a tutorial on how to do a kettlebell snatch. If you want to learn, email me at chadraysfitness@gmail.com. Enjoy!
video

Friday, October 2, 2009

Discipline of Another Kind

For starters, here is a great quote for you. "The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus." -Bruce Lee

Now, what I mean by discipline of another kind is that I learned a new form of discipline. That discipline is being able to not workout, even when I want to. I learned this through my train up regimen getting ready for the Russian Kettlebell Challenge. I have never been much of a power lifter or trained really heavy, but the snatches with the 24kg (53pd) kettlebell was a heavy task for me. I wanted to snatch more and more to work towards my goal, but had to relegate myself to snatching only 3 times a week. I did it 4 times only once. It was hard for me to not workout on certain days, even though I wanted to, but I wanted to give my muscles the maximum amount of time to repair and grow.

This meant not working out AT ALL on my off days. The only thing I would do is run. The snatch, when done in high volume is a very taxing cardio workout. So in order to increase my cardiovascular endurance, I would do some short 2 or 3 mile runs with hills incorporated in. So remember, even though you may feel like training, it's not always best to. Just know that if you're working out heavy or have done an intense workout, you also need recovery time. And of course, without proper nutrition and rest, your workouts and recovery time won't be as effective.

I am extremely excited that I am only one week out from my RKC. It's going to be great. I am already wearing a t-shirt from OPT when I do my snatch test in honor of the man who got me there, and I'm also wearing one from Rapid Results Fitness in Durham that Miss Betsy Collie is sending me. So that leaves one more day, if anyone else is interested in using me as a billboard. lol

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Achievement

Had I written this blog a little over 3 weeks ago, it would have spoken of my optimism about being able to reach the goal of passing the snatch test by my RKC on 9 October. Thanks to some excellent training and pointers from Tim Anderson of OPT, I have achieved that goal as of 5:30 pm today.

For those of you who don't know, the snatch test for the RKC is being able to snatch a 24kg (53pd) kettlebell 100 times in 5 minutes. This is a major feat for me considering I only weigh 165 pounds and I'm 6ft tall. Add to that the fact that I only really started training with the 24kg 3 weeks ago. I really concentrated on getting the snatch technique down before I really got my volume in. I could only do about 10 snatches at all when I started. I tore my left hand some, but other than that I feel great. I was setting the bell down as the timer went off, but I know I can shorten that time by October 9th.

My training for these three weeks has just consisted of snatching every other day just about. I have taken two or three days off in some instances where I felt like I needed the extra recovery. I over-analyzed a little bit trying to figure out what exercises to do in order to increase my snatch ability, then just said screw it all and just snatch. So I started doing 100 to 120 without timing myself and taking good rest periods to near full recovery before going again. I then started testing myself to see if I could make pace. I started with doing 20 snatches in 1 minute, then went on to 40 in two minutes, and 60 in 3 minutes. When it came time to test for 80 in 4 minutes, I just decided I was ready and went for the 5 in 100. I did it, I made it.
My plan from here forward is to do other exercise to maintain my fitness and only do the snatches one more time. I'm going to do the 100 in 5 minutes once more (with gloves to save my hands), and that's it until test time at the RKC. I have to say the snatch has been a true test for me in many ways, it's an awesome exercise. Thanks again Tim!

About Me

My photo
Fort Bragg, NC, United States
My blog is currently under construction.