Squat Every Day: Week 2

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All done week 2 of Squat Every Day. This week beat me down and built me back up again all at the same time. It also caused me to create Squat Every Day version…..4.0 I think, I have honestly lost track of what version I am on. The big hitters this week were 10 second pause back squats on Tuesday and then on Thursday doing front-back squats (all the same rep scheme as any other squat day but you do front squat for a number of reps and then straight to the same reps of back squat then up the weight and repeat for the next set). With those two days so close together I was really dragging my butt by the end of Thursday. Friday rolled around and I ended up having a pretty decent day still so that was good to see I could recover after some pretty tough workouts. I’m pretty sure my CNS took a big hit on those two days, especially having them so close together. Looking back on it 10 seconds is a LOOOOOONNNNGGGG time to sit in the active bottom of a squat, everything was shaking by the time I went to stand up. Then on Thursday with the front-back squat I accumulated over 11,000lbs of squatting. I think I’m allowed to be tired after that, I’d actually be concerned if I wasn’t. So that is why in Squat Every Day 4.0 the 10 second pause squats are one week and the front-back squats are the next. I have also added in one more lunge session per week, two bench days per week and 2 gymnastic sessions per week.

I have a feeling that by the time I get through these next two weeks I will probably be on Squat Every Day 6.0 or 4.2 or something, I’m not really sure what warrants a change in the first number versus a change in the decimal. Along with being on a whole new version, each training session is getting longer and longer as I find things I want/need to add into my workouts. Right now each session ranges from 30-90 minutes, not including a cool down. At this point if I start adding much more I’m going to have to start breaking them up into two-a-days.

On the note of two-a-days, I did one this Saturday again and it actually wasn’t too bad. After doing squats, deadlifts, and lunges in the morning it ended up that the workout later that day had more deadlifts (much lighter) and squats (back, front, and overhead all with light weight but 20-40 reps). Needless to say I was pretty bagged by the end, and had zero issue falling asleep that night.

As far as numbers go I am still increasing all my lifts. My 3 rep max for deadlift managed to increase by about 10lbs, my back squat went up 5lbs, and my front squat went up 20lbs. My body has been holding together pretty well thus far as well. I think I need to take a few more minutes to stretch, roll, and mobilize at the end of each session just to keep up with the high demand of maxing out pretty much every day. Exercises like pigeon, glute smash (with lacrosse ball), hamstring smash, and cooling if down on the air bike are the main things I find that help me stay loose and healthy.

Here is the link to Squat Every Day: Week 1 if you want to check out how things went then.

Stay Positive, Be Better, and Go Get It!

Squat Every Day: Week 1

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Last Monday I started on a mission to be better which relied heavily on increasing my leg strength. I have known this to be an issue for a long time but just recently some testing that I did really showed me how much I needed to improve my leg strength. Here are the numbers that got me really thinking:

#1 – Front Squat 1RM 270lbs in relation to Close Grip Flat Bench 1RM 270lbs

#2 – Clean 1RM 235lbs in relation to Push Press 1RM 225lbs

When people hear those numbers they usually say something like “How can you bench that?” or “How is your bench as much as your front squat?”. Sure maybe my upper body press is good but my answer to those questions: My legs are weak. There is no way that my arms should be able to push as much weight as my legs. There is more muscle and much bigger muscles in your legs than your arms so your legs should be able to push more weight. When doing a clean and jerk the hard part should be the clean. Well for me it’s different. I know that if I can get it to my shoulders…. I can get it over head. I knew that was kind of backwards but it wasn’t until I saw the actual numbers that I realized just how backwards it was.

So how did this happen you ask? To be honest, I don’t really know but I do have a theory. My theory has a lot to do with the fact that over the last several months I have been playing hockey once a week, ultimate frizbee twice a week, and flag football once a week, all while working out at the gym six days per week. That is a lot of running (and skating which is basically one in the same as running in my theory) which is a lot of volume and cardio type work for my legs. Cardio and strength are not always friends and usually do not play nice with one another. So my theory is that my legs were doing a lot of cardio which stunted the strength side of things (there were still some strength gains). Where as with my upper body I had just been doing strength work basically (1-15 reps rather than hundreds like there would be for my legs when running) so there was big gains in the strength department for my upper body because cardio didn’t get in the way.

Now I have no hard core proof that that is what happened but in my head it makes sense, as well as in the heads of a few other people I have ran the theory by. In seeing the numbers and thinking my theory has some truth to it I started looking for a way to improve my leg strength. I looked into 5/3/1 method a bit. I thought about not playing sports for 2 months and seeing what would happen (going insane would probably be what would happen, so that was crossed off the idea list pretty fast). I thought about doing CrossFit Football again (only this time there wouldn’t be as many sports so hopefully the strength gains would be better for my legs). And then I heard about this “squat every day” thing. I was immediately hooked, just the name flicked on the ‘leg strength” light in my head. I did some research, watched/listened to a few podcasts, read a few articles online, and applied some of my own creativity. The main influence behind squatting every day is Corey Gregory. I went through his program and figured out patterns for when he did deadlifts, lunges, and pause squats and then added in my own little twists here and there.

So one week in I have increased my front squat to 275lbs and my back squat to 320lbs (from 310). I have done front squats twice and backs squats five times. I did deadlifts on two days and lunges on three days. Every day was to a one rep max for the squats except for Sunday which was a 70% day and a day I looked forward to from about Thursday on.

I’m not 100% sure about the science behind the lunges but I think they are what saves you in this program. Using lunges as a warmup every day my legs feel pumped up, turned on and ready to do work, which when you are maxing out on squats is fairly important. Adding them in three times per week as a “cardio” gives my legs lots of reps under low impact and keeps the ligaments, tendons, and muscles strong and engaged.

All in all, week one went well. I increased both squats and made my legs do a lot of work without being very stiff and/or sore at all. I’m excited for week two which is much of the same but I am going to add in some gymnastics work as well. On days that I just squat I will add in a gymnastics workout. On days I do squats with lunges, or squats with deadlift I am going to add in some skill and accessory gymnastics. On the day I do squats, deadliest, and lunges I’ll probably just leave it at that.

We will see what happens as this is kind of an ongoing experiment.

Stay Positive, Be Better and Go Get It!

Sometimes You Win and Sometimes You Learn, Because There is a Reason

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Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

A bit of a twist on the saying “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose”. Every time you lose, or fail, or do something wrong, there is an opportunity to learn. You learn to not do that activity that way again. You learn that that plan was not the plan you want to use next time. I think there is something to be taken away from every situation. Losing, failing, falling, doing it wrong. All these things happen but they also teach you something every time. I’ll share an example with you.

When I was travelling in Australia I had a work/holiday visa. I had travelled for 6 months and just got some work lined up to go for the next 6 months. Things were looking good. I had achieved my dream of going to Australia and travelling around the east coast and now I was about to check off another item from the “To-Do List” and work in Australia for 6 months. Then I got an email. My personal training certificate needed to be renewed by the end of March and in order to do that I had to renew my CPR training. So I started to look into getting my CPR renewed before I started work in Australia. Eventually I figured out that a CPR training was only good in the country it was taken in. In other words I had to go back to Canada to renew my Canadian CPR so I could keep my Canadian personal training certificate. After talking with my parents and going over scenarios in my head it was decided that I would go back to Canada, renew my CPR, and find a job there. I was super bummed out about it all. I mean it was one of my dreams to travel AND work in Australia but I knew I would need my personal training certificate after my Australian visa expired, so I bit the bullet and came home early.

Now you are probably thinking that really sucks. And honestly as I write this I am thinking that really sucks, but then I remember some things that happened when I got home. The main thing was that about two weeks after I got home my grandpa passed away. Now had I still been in Australia working I might not have even found out about it till weeks after as the area I was going to be working in was in the outback and had minimal cell and wifi service. So I would not have been at my grandpa’s funeral, and I would not have got to read his eulogy. Getting to read my grandpa’s life story at his funeral was a great honour for me. Especially when people that knew my grandpa very well came up to me after the service and said things like, “You did an awesome job”, “Your grandpa would be proud”, and “Your grandpa would have really liked that”.

So yeah maybe I missed out on 6 months of achieving a dream because I didn’t think ahead, but had I renewed my CPR when I went home in December I would have missed my grandpas funeral. And now next time I travel I will be sure to check that I do not have to renew or update anything while I am gone.

Failure-is-simply-the

It happens all the time, to everyone. We lose, or things don’t go to plan. They come in all shapes, sizes, and have varying degrees of effect on our lives.

As I was writing this and rewriting it, and rewriting it again, and again, and 5 or 8 rewrites later I realized this wasn’t just about winning and learning, but also about coming to understand that things happen for a reason. Chances are they don’t make sense at first but in the end those wins, losses, hardships, and eventual successes, made you who you are today. Without every single one of those experiences you would not be the you you are today. Had my grandparents not passed away when they did, I would not have the same appreciation for life, and living it, that I do today. Had I taken a chance on a possible full-ride scholarship in the states I wouldn’t have got into the personal training field as soon as I did. There was a reason, or a lesson to learn from all of those experiences, from my grandparents passing away, and from me not going to university in the states.

I don’t know if there is one ultimate plan for each of us or how that all works but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Stuff doesn’t just happen so that it can happen. My grandparents didn’t die just because they did. I didn’t go to university in Canada just because that is how it happened. My trip to Australia didn’t get cut short just because I had bad luck. My brother didn’t get in his accident, and almost die, just because he had bad luck. My grandparents passed away and I learned that life is precious and I need to embrace it and live every day to it’s fullest. I went to university in Canada and ended up in an area of work that I find hard to call work because I enjoy it so much. My holiday in Australia got cut short so I could be at my grandpa’s funeral and so I could start my career as a personal trainer and learn from all my amazing co-workers and new friends at the gym. My brother was in a very horrific accident so that I could again learn to appreciate life even more, and so that I could see that determination pays off and gets you walking way before anyone thought you would.

Doesn’t the second version of those situations seem a bit more happy, and purposeful? Like I said earlier, things don’t always make sense at first but I have found that if I trust that eventually something good will happen or I will learn something from that experience it takes the sting out a bit. Sometimes it may take a few hours for it to sink in and for you to realize what the lesson was. Other times it may take months or years before you stop beating yourself up about not going to university in the states, and for you to finally realize that if you had gone you would not have this amazing job. Trust in the process, you will eventually pick up on the lesson or the reason. Sometimes you have to fall before you can achieve greatness.

Stay Positive and Go Get It!

Denis-Waitley

Why Not Be Positive?

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Think for a second or two. Think of that thing you want to try. Think of that goal you want to reach. Think of the type of influence you want to have on your family, friends, community, country, even the world! For some of you this may be easy, some of you this may take more than a second, or two seconds, or two minutes. Some of you may want to influence the world, some of you may not have plans that large. Some of you may already have goals in mind or on paper, some of you may not have had anyone ask you these questions before. So take some time and think about it. Now, how many of you wrote some of those things down? Or how many of you thought of them and didn’t write them down because “I can’t do that” or “that’s not possible”? Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right – Henry Ford. Little fun fact for you, that is my favourite quote.

When you have something you want to do or achieve how do you approach it? Is the first thing that comes to mind “I can’t” or “that’s too hard”? Or do you tell yourself “I can” or “I’ll do my best”. Thinking in a positive light can help to keep, or start, your life going in a positive direction. If you don’t think you can do something, chances are you wont do it, whether you actually “try” or not. If you think you can do it, at least you give yourself a fighting chance rather than accepting defeat before you even start. I know that life ain’t ALL sunshine and rainbows but there is sunshine and rainbows here and there throughout it. Why not try to have as much sunshine and as many rainbows as you can? Sometimes the rain might go on for a bit longer than you would like, but if you stay positive and keep trying, eventually the sun and rainbow will show up. And when they do, it will all have been worth it. And if you fail, contrary to popular belief, the world will not end. Failing isn’t fun but it’s not bad either. In most day-to-day situations it gives you an opportunity to try again or refocus with a better approach and more knowledge and experience.

So next time you want to achieve a goal, or try something new, say “I Can” instead of “I Can’t”. You never know how soon the sunshine and rainbow might make an appearance.

Stay Positive and Go Get It!

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Do What YOU Can Do

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Do what you can do, GENIUS! Of course you’re going to do what you can do, what else would you do? You’re not going to do something you can’t do, because, well…..you can’t. If you can do something then that is what you will do.

If you had to read that once, or twice, or maybe six times over don’t worry, even I read it over, and I wrote it. What I’m trying to get at is that if you know you can’t do something right at that moment then don’t worry about it. I see lots of people getting caught up in what other people can do and freaking out because they can’t do it. If you know you can’t run a 15 second 100m that’s fine. How fast can you run 100m? Then run it that fast. You can’t squat 400lbs? Neither can I, but I can squat 275lbs so that’s what I’m going to do. I might try 280lbs because I like to challenge myself but I’m not going to throw 400lbs on the bar and crush myself with it. That doesn’t help anyone, especially not me. I am also not going to dwell on the fact that he can squat over 100lbs more than I can and let that mess up my day. Maybe some day I will be able to squat 400lbs or run a 15 seconds 100m but today is not that day. I am going to work smart and hard to try to progress to those goals. Just don’t let yourself get caught up in the moment when you see the guy behind you deadlift 600lbs and you are about to lift 400lbs. Once upon a time he was struggling to lift 400lbs too. He has put in A LOT of hours to get to that 600lbs deadlift, plus he probably weighs another 80lbs more than you and is probably a half a foot taller. You may not be able to lift it now, but maybe with lots of hard work you can some day lift that 600lbs too.

Most of the time it is not going to do you any good to be worrying and stressing over what other people can do. It is not bad to know what they can do and the difference between them and yourself, as it can give you something to work towards. But if you are stressing out because someone else is better at something than you are, you’re not doing yourself any favours. You can’t do what they can do, that’s fine. There are probably a couple things that you CAN do that they CAN’T. It does you no good to focus on what you can’t do, that’s not a very good mentality. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and you just have to try to play to your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. Try to create the best you that you can and be better than yesterday.

It comes back to competing against yourself rather than the people around you. So next time you hear about or see someone lifting more than you or doing something better than you, don’t sweat it. Just focus on your task at hand and do it to your best ability. Use that difference between you and the other person as motivation rather than let it cripple you. Do what YOU can do!

“Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is youer than you” – Dr. Seuss

Stay Positive and Go Get It

Goals. Of the hockey sort, or maybe not.

This post started off being about thinking positive and mentally preparing for workouts and other events in your life and then slowly shifted focus. In honour of the hockey season starting this past week I decided that “goals” may be an appropriate topic. As a defence-man I am usually concerned with stopping goals. However, today I am shifting to the offensive a bit and addressing the topic of setting goals. It’s a mash-up of things I have learnt in university classes, books I’ve read, and methods that have worked for me and other individuals I know.

I feel that goal setting is important, as it gives you a sense of direction and accomplishment. The goals you can set can be related to an endless list of things. Health, family, work, sports, and school to name a few large categories. Things like why are you working out today?  Are you trying to get stronger? Or are you trying to get faster, or work on your endurance? Maybe you want to just be able to do a full squat today with good form. Maybe you need to take an hour out of your day to read something that you can learn from. Or if you are super busy all the time and hardly ever sit down and relax, your goal could be to sit down and ENJOY reading a book, having a nap, or watching a TV show. Maybe you want to finish that project, report, assignment, paperwork, or blog post by the end of the day (my goal for the last week…oops). There are tons of goals you can set within one day that can help to make you a better person, parent, employee, hockey player, etc (this list of things you can improve on is also endless; whatever you do, you can always improve at it). I find that if I do not wake up and determine a few goals for the day then I end up doing nothing, going through the motions, and I end the day frustrated because I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything (usually because I don’t). Whereas if I have some goals for that day, even if I didn’t fully achieve them, I feel like I at least accomplished something and improved myself in some way.

Sure setting a goal and not reaching it isn’t always the best. It can leave you disappointed and feeling like you are just wasting your time. Sometimes that is the case, and sometimes we need those failures or shortcomings to bring us back to reality so we can work harder next time. Sometimes it just isn’t your day and you accept it and move on. Think about it this way: maybe you did not get exactly the outcome you wanted but at least you made some progress, you are better for it now than before you started working on that goal. At the very least you know that way doesn’t get the outcome you want, and next time you can try a different approach. You can’t go into the gym every day and set personal records, just like you can’t reach every single goal you ever set. Part of that is because some days you just don’t have your best stuff, but also if you are reaching every single goal you set then you aren’t challenging and pushing yourself as much as you could be.

When I am setting goals I try to use SMART Goals. Most of you have probably heard of SMART Goals but incase you haven’t or need a refesher here is an overview.

SMART Goals:

S – Specific

Your goals should be specific in that it has an end date, dollar amount, can be broken down into smaller bits, and/or a list of items you will need in order to achieve the goal.

M – Measurable

A goal being measurable means that you can track your progress. Be that through the time, dollar amount, smaller goals accomplished to work towards the bigger goal, or what items you have collected.

A – Attainable

It has to be within your wheel house. That being said challenge yourself. Don’t make it a sure thing, make it just a little bit better, higher, harder than that sure thing. You will be surprised what you can do when you really put your mind to it and challenge yourself.

R – Realistic, Relevant, Re-evaluate

Your goals should be something that is possible within your life and should help you to get you where you want to go.  You may also need to re-evaluate your goals every once in a while as things in your life change, or as you get ahead of your goals, or if you bit off more than you can chew.

T – Time-Bound

Your goals NEED an end date or time. Within each goal you should have smaller “check-points” that also have end dates so that you can track your progress. Don’t just set one goal for a year from now, chances are you will procrastinate and not reach that goal. Or you will have this awesome big goal but not know what steps to take to achieve it. I find it helps to also have little goals you can achieve every 4 months. Then within that 4 month goal you could have goals that break down to 1 month, then a few weeks, then even every day or two. Again the more specific you get with things like end dates, and breakdown of goals, the better chance you have of achieving that goal.

So when setting goals for yourself make them SMART. Also make sure to challenge yourself a little bit and see how good you can really get. If things don’t go your way don’t get discouraged. If you don’t reach your goal, you at least made some sort of progress. You may not be where you want to be but you are closer now than when you started. Or if you have not mode much progress it is not the end of the world, at least you know that the approaches you have taken so far are not going to work and now you learn from them and come at that goal with a new and improved approach.

Now go out there, set some goals and make yourself and your life better, you deserve it!!

BONUS INFO:

To help you with goal setting I will give you an example of a goal I have.

One of my main goals is to take at least one hour every day to work on something to improve myself. As a personal trainer this mostly comes in the form of a workout. And within each workout I always set a goal. Whether it is to get a new personal record on a strength lift or try to complete more rounds in a conditioning workout than I did last time. Within this “hour per day” goal I know that the workout part comes easy for me so I also make a point to take at least an hour each week to read a book. Depending on how my day was and what time it is will determine what kind of book I will read. Sometimes it is a novel, other times it is a book that I can learn from (textbooks, anatomy books, mental coaching books, do it yourself books etc.). Another area I struggle in is stretching or mobility so I also make a point to work in an extra hour worth of stretching or mobility work that comes outside of my workouts.  There are a few more areas of my life I hope to add to the list such as mental and spiritual. Also for this to be even more effective I could add in exact amounts of time per area per week rather than “at least…”, or I could have a notebook or whiteboard to keep track of the hours I spend doing different things each week, month or 4 month block.

Hope this was helpful.

Go Get It

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