Friday, October 21, 2011

Competition Prep - Performance Objectives

This post is an extension of the Competition Prep Overview post.

The volume of total work that goes into competition prep is vast.  This post is written with the assumption that the physical workload has been blocked out in a periodized manner and that there is a pre-existing level of conditioning and technical expertise in the given sport.  Addressing Real vs Perceived Limits can help you clarify how to orient to your performance objectives. 

When preparing to compete, it is important to set an intentional performance objective. Setting the blanket objective of "winning" is not enough.  You must break it down more specifically.

My preference is to choose one physical and / or technical objective and one mental strategy objective.

The physical and / or technical performance objective might fall into one of these categories:
-something that has lagged and is now ready to improve
-something that is already an asset and can be enhanced
-something that is newly relevant in this specific event

For a grappler, examples of a physical and/or technical objective might be:
-developing explosive power (physical)
-choosing to fight from the top position instead of the bottom (technical)
-developing explosive power to initiate transitions or submissions (physical and technical)
-improving specific cycles for moving from transition to submission (technical)

The mental strategy performance objective might fall into one of these categories:
-maintaining confidence
-remaining "in flow" or in "the zone"
-honing and directing aggression
-committing to perform through discomfort
-rewiring weak or repetitively unhelpful thought patterns
-managing emotions

Again, for a grappler, this might look like:
-continuing to engage with intensity regardless of point status or opponent's dominance
-remaining committed to breath and technique regardless of point status or opponent's dominance
-adhering to a specific mantra (and / or visualization) for the duration of the preparation and competition

These points can be adjusted so that they apply to specific opponents, specific competition habits, and specific sport challenges.  Even when training, the above can be used to test run athletic improvements.  Its rewarding and helps keep trainings fresh and focused.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Competition Prep Overview

When I began my work in health and fitness I made a personal commitment to compete in a minimum of 1-2 athletic events each year.  This decision is rooted in my own desire to prevent complacency and to keep my perspective fresh, thereby remaining at pace with the requests I make of my clients.

"Winning" is fun, but it is not my primary focus.  My competitive purpose is more closely related to personal development and building a foundation of intention, flow and follow-through.

Typically my competition prep is comprised of the following points:

1. Set the intention - what is the specific objective of participating in this event?

2. Set a performance container - from preparation start date to one week after the event, block out the time in which physical preparation, strategy and inner work will occur.

3. While in the performance container make conscious agreements to match the intention in very specific ways.  Choose 1-2 successful athletes to "model".  Establish a success ritual and choose a mantra that is relevant to performance objectives. 

4. While in the performance container do all the planned physical and technical prep, tapering as needed.  

5. Compete! - By the day of competition the toughest work has been done. Aim to be in a state of self-directed flow.

6. Debrief one week after the event.  Consciously release any inner performance agreements that were made at the start of the container.

This is a very bare bones version of the prep.  It can be done as simply as listed above, or in much deeper detail, depending on the time available and the significance of the event.  Sometimes it is helpful to create strategy around Real vs Perceived Limits.

Having a competition prep outline is helpful in determining competitive improvement over time.  The more competitions there are, the more the relationship with competition evolves.  

Regardless of event outcome, digging deep and discovering what is possible is unbeatable.

Special thanks to D.Cody Fielding, T.Thorn Colye, Vince Brown and Mushtaq Ali for their insight on competition strategy, and to Jeff Samson and TJ Burleigh for their recent competitive direction.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Barebones Beginner's Guide to Working Out

Here is a very basic exercise technique overview for those of you who are just starting out.  It is best to learn proper technique from the beginning so that you develop good habits that deepen as you progress.  It is recommended that you work with a trainer to learn safe movement patterns.


General Technique: Video

hops and jumps: land as quietly as possible, focus on decelerating jumps by bending knees, when in doubt hop. Aim for forefoot first landing

squats: Keep your knees behind your toes & over your ankles. Press through a triangle from your heel to the ball of your foot to just below your little toe. Keep your spine long, neutral and aim for upright -though a slight forward lean will occur (do not round your back).

lunges: keep your knee over your ankle, behind your toe, keep your torso upright.

rows: engage your shoulders - draw your shoulder blades down and back as though you are creating a part line down the back of your shirt.  Keep your shoulders in this position for the duration of the exercise.  when doing body-weight rows, keep your body in an upside down plank position.

chest presses: keep your shoulders engaged!  If it is a body-weight exercise such as a push-up, keep your torso in a firm plank-position even though your shoulders are engaged.  When doing yoga style planks you will be creating space around your shoulder blades by pressing your rib cage upwards - please make a note of this difference when moving between the two positions.

shoulder presses: keep your arms in line with your shoulders, not in front.  when pressing up, keep your shoulders relatively down - if you look in the mirror, your shoulders should be below your ears.

dips: keep your shoulders down, ribs up.  Shoulder and elbow angles should both move to 90 degrees when in the dip.  bend your knees if you need to in order to reduce difficulty.

ab work: draw belly button to spine and move carefully.  when in doubt, reduce the range of motion, keep your low back in contact with the floor when doing leg raises etc..  (There is scientific discussion as to the relative risk of performing sit-ups with regard to disk compression. It is suggested that plank work is effective for strengthening the core).

Sample Beginner Workouts:
(Note: These workouts can be scaled up or down depending on your experience and current fitness level)

Begin each session with a dynamic warm-up of:

a. Circle your joints and perform dynamic stretching as needed for approximately 5 minutes (this includes forward leg swings, high knees, lateral leg swings, gentle head circles, shoulder rotation, hip circles)

b.walk or jog for 5 minutes

For now, spend 5-10 minutes post-workout stretching into the passive stretches of your choice.  Include a chest-opening stretch/doorway stretch, hamstring stretch, hip opener, quad stretch, cat-cow, and childspose with alternating hand positions.

Workout One:
20 squat jumps or hops
10 full or knee push-ups
10 dumbell bent over rows
20 squats
10 shoulder press
front plank x 20 seconds
repeat x 2, rest as needed

10 chair dips,
10 dummbell biceps curls
repeat x 2-3, rest as needed

10 burpees (push-up-jump-up or step-to-plank, step-to-stand)
repeat x 2, rest as needed

Workout Two:

5 - 10 x 30 second run/walk intervals (sprint/jog if you are able)

20 seconds walking lunges with biceps curls, 20 seconds triceps dips, 20 seconds rest
x 2 -4 sets

20 seconds band or dumbell row, 20 seconds shoulder press, 20 seconds rest
x 2-4 sets

30 seconds leg raises (keep low back flat to floor), 30 seconds supermans (face-down, arms and legs come off the ground together for a 2 count)
x 2-4 sets

5 - 10 x 30 second run/walk (sprint/jog if you are able)

As always, try this at your own risk, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program.  

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Beginning Again

Last summer I began shooting short movement sequences en route to some longer pieces I am planning.

These are silent and are very much spontaneous use of location.

Yes, there are a couple moments where technique could be better dialed in!   

These mark the beginning of the Athletistry Training Dept. clips.  These were a lot of fun to make and I look forward to where this project is going. 


Simple Stair Crawl & Push-Up Exploration
House Training

As always, explore at your own risk.  You are responsible for your independent exercise safety decisions.  Consult your physician before beginning an exercise program and check in with a certified trainer when in doubt about proper technique.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Intimacy for People Who Resist Intimacy

TJ has been reading John Douillard's book, Mind, Body, and Sport. It is really good.

At one point either Douillard, or TJ, or both of them mention the benefits of nose breathing while exercising (and in life). The objective is to remain calm, centered and in proper technique. As technique improves, speed increases. Speed or strength cease to cover up gaps in technical skill and overall effort is efficient.  Essentially an intimacy develops between the athlete and the technique through presence and practice.

Being present is being intimate.  Presence makes it easier to notice what works and what does not work. Intimacy accelerates progress and deepens what's important.

My practice of intimacy is not full-time self-exposure and vulnerability, though I used to think that's what it meant.  I prefer self-preservation and selective vulnerability.  I definitely thought that intimacy would kick my butt if I applied it using my old interpretation.  TJ in fact recommended my current way of framing it, which finally clicked.  Now I practice intimacy as an attention tool, focused on the parts of life that are most important.  

One way to explore intimacy is to examine relationships with various aspects of our lives.  For instance:

If you have a vice, what is your relationship with it?  How exactly does it make you feel in terms of  emotion, sensory experience, initial contact, aftermath?

If you workout how does that activity make you feel? What are the high points, low points and effects?  How does that experience impact you mentally and emotionally?

What is your relationship with your job?  How do you feel effective?  What is your relationship with the level of challenge presented in this arena?  How fulfilled do you feel?

What is your relationship with your community?  What is the essence of the connection?  Do you feel a particular way when you spend time in this group?  Does it make you feel more at home? How does membership flavor your life?

Exploring these connections will either deepen the relationship or highlight a necessary shift.  

What will you change through becoming more intimate with your life?