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Some trainers are funny

Discussion in 'Weight Training/Bulking' started by zenpharaohs, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. Nico

    Nico Well-Known Member

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    I think you're hitting the main reason why so many people hate functional training, because it's not really competitive and you can't see your progress as easily as the size of your arms or how much you can squat.

    Your success is determined by how healthy your spine is, how effectively you can move in various planes. Your ability to maintain good posture particularly during heavy lifts. It's mainly in athletic movements that functional training shows itself to be of value. In your case the training has also helped your bench.

    I don't think there will ever be a true measure of one's core stability or functional strength based on one exercise.
     
  2. chicanerous

    chicanerous Elite Member
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    I believe I see what you're saying, zenpharaohs.

    No, I'd never make the mistake that arbitary ratios will determine if one has functional strength. And, my reason for training is not to increase my functional strength, but to simply see those numbers improve.

    The definition of functional strength is so muddled and varied itself that it's almost impossible for anyone to agree on what it really is. But, do I have functional strength? I would say "yes, I do," but not based on how much I can lift, rather according to my definition of the term: the ability to perform common tasks easily.
     
  3. Kino

    Kino Well-Known Member

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    I think that you may be trying to squeeze the essence of what Functional Training is...into something as focused as core training, which depending on who your speaking too...could have as many as 18 different definitions on its own. :rolleyes:
    In it's most simplistic terms, Functional Training trains movements, not muscles. A functional exercise is integrated. This means it must act on muscle systems not indivisual muscles. Think compound exercises...but moving. Integrated movement helps to develop neuromuscular efficiency...the quality that allows a fluid expression of power.
    Functional Training is, Progressive, Multiplanar, Velocity Specific, Activity Specific, Balance Dominated, and last but not least...functional training should be Fun.
    The fact that somebodies bench weight went up after performing this type of training, really isn't any surprise if you think about the increased nueromusclar efficiency that resulted from that training. I guess that the question I'd be more inclined to ask would be...Why wouldn't it?
     
  4. jsbrook

    jsbrook Well-Known Member

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    And this is quite good.

    yup
     
  5. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    In my case, the reason it might not have could have been that I was in the process of cutting 30 pounds.

    In fact, the reason we check the bench press 1 rep max is not because it is a goal, but because we wanted a way to tell if I was gaining muscle as I was losing weight. So we use bench for upper, squat for lower strength.

    If we knew of one, we probably would think about using another exercise as the yardstick for that.

    I think 20 rep maxes are probably usually more interesting for functional strength than 1 rep maxes. 1 rep max seems like "emergency" strength, rather than what you can deal with on anything like a continuous basis.

    But 1RM bench is convenient, so we used that to check that I wasn't losing muscle.
     
  6. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Bummer

    My trainer (the one in this thread) got a nice offer to work at this swanky suburban club. He is happy for me to continue to work with him, but it's not been possible for me to figure out how I could schedule that with the additional hour and a half of commuting.

    So one alternative is to continue to work at the current (non swanky, "urban") club with another trainer. Hey - it's across the street from my office. There are at least three trainers there who I'm sure would be good - I've seen them working with other people. They do not go as far into the goofy stuff as Andre. One of them is a strict boxing style trainer, but hey, that works. The other two are clearly body builders. One of those is a guy that was pretty close with Andre but I don't know his training style that well.

    Another alternative is to train by myself for a while. I learned a lot of useful exercise from Andre and I can set up my own program for a while.

    I didn't work out the whole week - combination of crush of business, and the problem of figuring out where to work out, and with whom, if anything. I promised myself I would work out at home, but until tonight I didn't get to it. I didn't really think it through, I just did some upper stuff with free weights.
     
  7. Kino

    Kino Well-Known Member

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    I'd ask Andre to recommend which of the other trainers would be best for you to continue your training with? You began this thread two months ago, so I would assume that you've been working balance and stability for at least that amount of time. You could effectively move to a bodybuilding type workout if you chose to do so for the next few months while you think some stuff through in the mean time. You have a great foundation, and you've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with somebody such as Andre.
    I'll be looking forward to seeing which direction you decide to take next. :tu:
     
  8. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Andre already recommended the guy to go with if I stay at the current club. That guy (Ken) is one of the body builders. And he is a prime example of a built body. But you never know what people can schedule. I've seen the other two guys train people and they appear to do good work too.

    I worked out with Andre for a little over a year. Until I started with Andre, I wasn't working out at all. I started the thread after about ten months of working with Andre.

    Oddly enough, yeah, I've built a good foundation with the core and stability stuff. The way we did it was a bit different that that suggests though.

    We started out on machines. Nice, safe machines. Andre didn't know what kind of workout I was really looking for - I suppose everyone says they want to work hard, but you get this fat guy who's been driving a desk for twenty five years and you don't dive in at the deep end I suppose.

    The only real exceptions to this were step-ups on bench, and hamstring curls with feet on the Swiss ball and those crunches where you hold the Swiss ball with your ankles.

    OK well we made a little progress on machines. Andre learned about my low upper strength and big lower strength and huge cardio capacity. He was figuring out what my goals really are, how my body responds to exercise and learning what stuff to focus on. Not surprisingly, the focus falls on the stuff that needs improvement. I got the heart monitor after a couple months and we learned how to use that to plan rests.

    Some of the machines there just aren't heavy enough for me. The hip machines they have there only have 100 pound stacks and that just got watered down. The arm machines are plate loaded Hammer Strength iso-type machines so there is always plenty of resistance available there. On the other hand we were way down the calf raise machine stack.

    Another machine we quickly outgrew was the crunch machines. Once you get past 4x40 it's time to do crunches with twists and other stuff. The crunch machine, in my opinion, is basically just training wheels until you can do a lot of crunches.

    Then came the freeweights. Part of it is that our workout doesn't have a lot of rest time. That means that Andre would be looking toward which of the machines he wanted to use that day would come free at the end of the set. Well I was ready for freeweights and there was usually a bench, or floorspace, and dumbells ready to go. And dumbells can give you great exercise. Andre has a huge vocabulary of dumbell exercises. And a lot of single leg work came in at this point. It was at this point I showed Andre fencing footwork and we incorporated fencing lunges into the exercises. Fencing lunges have much more power from the back leg than weight lifting lunges, and they are very stable for doing twists on top and stuff.

    I found the running was bothering me. Shin splints and maybe knee irritation. So I switched to walking uphill. But quickly, the available hill (15%) was exhausted. They don't have an incline trainer. High resistance on the ellipticals and bikes wasn't cutting it either from the calorie point of view (I do HISS for an hour right before or right after the workout - hey it works for me). So uphill walking with a weight vest was the answer.

    The weight vest adds a huge dimension to a lot of things, especially pushups, squats and lunges. A whole new aspect to single leg dumbell deadlifts. Highly recommended. Take the manufacturer's recommendation of a small fraction of body weight with a grain of salt - they are thinking of you going out and doing plyo stuff with the vest. Add more weight and slower, lower impact stuff to get what I am talking about. Slow and heavy. I now have over 15% body weight in the vest and will go up again soon. The weight in the vest is what I have lost since I started out, which helps keep the intensity up even though the body weight is coming down.

    The weight vest prompted the first medicine ball stuff. Doing lunges while catching the medicine ball over the shoulder and tossing it back over the shoulder is great.

    Then, cable stuff. The cable machine is frequently in use though. Cable machine is great. Which is why it's frequently in use. They have a separate lat pulldown though which we had been using from the beginning. What we added here was one hand one leg stuff.

    Then within a week, bosu stuff. This was about six months into working out.

    Then stability ball stuff. We had done a couple exercises early on with that. But now the real stuff came out. Swiss ball rollouts with pushups and weight vest are not easy. It's like doing a rollout and benching 75% of my max and pec dec at the same time.

    The story is that we worked core and stability a little all the way through, but we really came to focus hard on it once I had advanced to the point where I could do the more advanced exercises of that type.

    Was this a philosophical choice? I don't know. A lot of it was driven by the fact that starting from way out of shape, you can work on almost any aspect of your fitness and make progress. I think only in the last few months did we get to the point of focusing that carefully. Up to that point, it was more along the lines of "we need to do any of these seventeen different things for your uppers/lowers and this is the one that is available next so let's do those to keep the rest down." Opportunistic, in other words.

    I like keeping the calorie train rolling in the strength workout. It's not the point of it, but it feels better, and it gives a sense of attacking and initiative.
     
  9. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    And so today I worked out with Ken. It was a really effective workout. Very conventional, since Ken is just getting a handle on me. But it was very smooth. I showed him how we had been using the heart monitor to limit rest, and he was very interested in the idea, and he likes it a lot. This lead to a very heavy workout since he was pretty effective at keeping the rest down.

    For the kind of strength endurance we are after, Ken likes 15 rep sets. 3 or 4 sets for each. We set rest at heart rate of 135 and moved up to 140 in the second half. This led to a lot of volume.

    It was upper day, and that entailed:

    Low Row machine.

    Lat Pulldown with pushups as active rest (this other guy was working in with us for the pulldown machine).

    Single dumbell rows on bench with this odd dumbell row for rest - squat position and row the dumbells but with a twist so your hands are facing each other at the bottom.

    Pec Dec both ways.

    Dumbell presses with bench dip active rest.

    Incline dumbell presses with legs straight out and crossed (sort of like a V-sit with crossed legs). Immediately into one handed version of the same. Pushups and bench dips as active rest. Ken seems to like active rest that isn't restful at all....

    I may be forgetting stuff, but then it was Russian twist time. Ken uses a normal version of this - just on the floor with what felt like a 6 pound medicine ball. I ripped through the first set of twenty and he asked what weight I usually do those with. I fessed up to using the 15 pound ball and we did the next set with that. But they aren't that hard the second and third set because the first set stretches you out.

    So we then did the least nasty _looking_ exercise of the day, which actually was the nastiest. Sort of bicycle crunches without the alternation, one arm used in touching elbow to opposite knee and the other arm straight out to the side palm down on the floor. I could do these, but with great difficulty.

    It was one of the more successful arm-based workouts I've done from a calorie point of view - just over 1000 calories in an hour. Not anywhere near as functional/core/etc. as Andre, but a good solid workout. Ken explained that he "speaks everything" in terms of exercise style. We'll see where it goes.
     
  10. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    OK the whole week I worked out with Ken. And I had a lot of fun doing that. Mostly conventional stuff, but with the abs workout yesterday, some not conventional. For example we did Ken's twisted dumbell row on an inverted bosu. The twisted dumbell row starts with the palms facing each other and ends with them facing backward. Plus, a squat stance so it's not an upright row.

    Then there was sideways medicine ball toss with twist in a squat. In other words, squat stance, Ken throws the medicine ball straight past me and I catch it as it passes directly ahead of me, and then with arms straight out, twist 90 degrees in the direction the ball was going, then untwist and throw the ball back in one motion.

    Then we did medicine ball catch while I was on the floor in an up position of a crunch holding a Swiss ball between my ankles with legs elevated about 45 degrees. Ken throws the medicine ball over the Swiss ball, and I catch it completely over my head and return it keeping the crunch position. Again, we use a 15 pound medicine ball and this exercise got pretty nasty.

    Finally, one that seemed very hard at first but ended up easy. Lie on the floor, knees up and lower legs parallel to the floor. Do the upper body part of about half a crunch, and have your arms straight at your sides toward your feet with palms down. Now, hold the crunch and vibrate your hands down towards, but not all the way to, the floor, as fast as you can. You do not raise the hands above arms level. Just hold the crunch and keep vibrating. See how long you can do it. That's it.

    OK this was interesting. My first "rep" was good for four seconds. I was wasted. This was the last exercise and we had already worked quite hard. OK I thought, look, this is not good for my ego. So the second "rep" I went really hard and got ten seconds. Then it occurred to me that this motion could be approached from the ideas of fencing that I should have had in mind about decoupling the upper and lower halves of the body by relaxation, which is something I ought to be good at. So I thought about this, and concentrated on relaxing all the parts of the body that I could during the motion, then my next "rep" was 40 seconds. The last "rep" was 110 seconds. It is still a weird exercise.

    The oddest thing though, was that Ken told me Andre would be back on Monday for my workout. Don't know what that's about yet.
     
  11. chicanerous

    chicanerous Elite Member
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    Gymnastics alert: this sounds like just the upper-body portion of a hollow rock. The hollow position is, lying on your back, your shoulders and straight legs held off the ground and your straight arms held, off the ground, either at your sides (like you were doing) or behind your head. You should generate tension throughout your entire body in this position.

    For a hollow rock, you assume the arms-at-your-side hollow position and then by shifting your weight cause yourself to rapidly rock back and forth.

    A great combo is to superset a hollow hold with rocks. Or switch (without rest) between a hollow hold, hollow rocks, an arch hold, and arch rocks (doing so your legs, arms, and shoulders should never come in contact with the ground). As well, simply rolling from hollow to arch and back repeatively is very good.
     
    #111 chicanerous, Sep 25, 2005
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2005
  12. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Interesting. I am not surprised that it's like a gymnastics exercise. Gymnasts have a billion body weight exercises.

    And yes, there is a whole lot of tension which limits how long you can do it. Obviously, I reduced a lot of that tension by remembering body control from my fencing days, and this is why I could do it much longer.

    When I relaxed everything except the muscles necessary to do the exercise, I was succeeding at perfoming the exercise. What you say might suggest that I was also devaluing the exercise. I'll have to ask Ken. But at the time he told me to maintain tension in the torso, so that's the only extra tension I did.

    Ken said this exercise came from yoga. I have to tell you that there is some cognitive dissonance with that coming from a guy that looks like Ken. I assume Ken benches way over 300 because I once saw him work out and his benches were 315 for reps, and they looked easy and he didn't call anyone over for a spot.

    Well it turns out that this gym has training classes for their trainers where they do all sorts of exercise flavors. Ken said that some of the hardest stuff he does is in those classes - there's one where you stand on one leg and hold a resistance band that you are standing on in a lateral raise. He points out that exercise is much worse for big people who have very developed upper bodies because of the pressure on the single leg and that they stretch the band farther, and that some of the nearly massless aerobics and yoga instructors can do stand like that easily while he is struggling to stay up. Of course, it's not hard to think of exercises that Ken would be more suited to than most of the aerobics and yoga instructors. Does make you think about what sort of body you are trying to develop.

    That explains at least one place Ken would pick up scary yoga knowledge.

    Oddly enough back in the fencing days we did stuff from yoga - but it was about learning relaxation and flexibility. There wasn't any vibrating yoga.
     
  13. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Some trainers are really funny

    After my workout today, I did my cardio and showered. When I came out, Ken and Andre had finished their own workouts and were playing a game. Here's the game:

    A deck of cards is face down. Each player takes the top card and exposes it on the table. He then has to do as many pushups as the value of the card, with Jack, Queen, King, Ace, counting 11, 12, 15, and 20. As soon as he finishes his pushups the next player has to take his turn. And so on, until one player fails a rep - then he's out and the other players keep on going.

    Andre and Ken got to the end of the deck. That is an average of 224 pushups each.

    This looks like a pretty hard game to play, especially after a workout. Memo to self: do not play this game with either Ken or Andre.
     
  14. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Today's workout was interesting. We did 4 sets of 25 on the Hammer Strength shoulder press machine. This killed my anterior delts. Andre does this from time to time to see what you can do when one muscle is really fatigued. Then we went to incline bench press with pushups with elevated feet as active rest. That is more like Ken's style - active rest which is the same as the set you just did. We did some high row machine, with more pushups as active rest but then the interesting exercises came.

    We did tricep pulldowns kneeling on a Swiss ball (no other support). You want to keep your butt off the ball otherwise it stresses your knees.

    Then:

    Lateral raises kneeling on the Swiss ball.

    Active rest was medicine ball toss and catch while bridging on the Swiss ball.

    Lateral raises kneeling on the Swiss ball with only one hand. This is actually harder than both hands loaded. Active rest of pushups with one foot elevated.

    Bridge on the Swiss ball and do cable pulldowns across the torso away from the cable column.

    More pushups with one foot elevated.

    Then the least enjoyable one today: Sit on the Swiss ball holding a pair of dumbells. Lower the dumbells both to one side, then lift them diagonally up and across the body so they are as high as they can go. Weight wasn't that big, but these were sets of 25 one side and then 25 the other.

    Oh yeah then, we did these things called "pushups Maybe you have heard of them?

    The last set of pushups was the ones where you the feet close together and have dumbells in your hands. Instead of the normal "up" position, both arms are extended so that you are forming a letter "T" with one of the dumbells up in the air. I don't know what these are actually called, but I think there is a name. Something like "T pushups".
     
  15. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    I never knew this...

    The end of today's workout was squatting an unloaded Olympic bar on inverted bosu.

    When I was done, this other guy I've seen got off the incline bench where he had been benching and tried to get on the inverted bosu.

    This was one of the two times I'd seen someone try the unconventional stuff that I do. The guy is just some average middle aged guy and he was new to the whole concept of instability, so it was a little rough. He asked about that kind of training and I told him about Verstegen's book. But I said to Andre as we were walking away, "at least the guy is trying this stuff - almost nobody does it".

    Andre told me "that's just because you're not here, after you leave, lots of people try the stuff you do but you don't see it. At first, people snickered a bit, but when they saw you shrinking they wanted to see what it was about."

    I never knew.
     
  16. Nico

    Nico Well-Known Member

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    It's funny how people don't want to come out and admit that they want to try the exercises that you're doing. There's some type of shame or embarassment from not wanting to look like a trendfollower or something.

    I think that guys like Verstagen and Santana are correct and that functional training will eventually be extremely common, despite the resistance from the traditional bodybuilder/weightlifter community. Just look at the new certification programs-they all seem to start with core conditioning. You're training in NYC-which may not be the center of the fitness world but there are a lot of cutting edge trainers in NYC. You will see the changes there before people start training like that in middle America.

    The kiwi's and aussie's have been training like this for quite awhile. Functional training is incredibly valuable for rugby and an aussie rugby player even invented a core stability measurement device recently.
     
  17. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Yeah none of the trainers where I train are at all surprised by the stuff we do. They do things like that with their clients too. It's mostly the casual guys who think they know what they want to do at the gym and it's the same thing for a long now that don't get it.

    It's no big deal as far as my progress whether other people get it or not.


    So what is this core stability measurement device?
     
  18. Nico

    Nico Well-Known Member

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    It's like a blood pressure device-it has a bladder that you put under your back as you lie on your back with your feet on the floor. I guess it's measuring your ability to reduce the space between the floor and your low back. I'll try to find the link.
     
  19. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    New exercises today

    Aren't there always?

    I made a journal entry and actually forgot some.

    Today's oddballs were:

    Scorpions. Man these looked stupid when I tried them. Some people were looking on, and I think Andre wanted them to see what they are supposed to look like. So he did some. It actually helped me - my next set looked better.

    Squats on a medicine ball. These are actually easier than it sounds.

    Inverted rows. Supposed to be the big deal for training shoulder retraction. I could do three "good" ones where the chest touches the bar. I wonder if this has the same impingement issue as the bench press all the way?

    Most of the other unconventional stuff I've mentioned before. Pushup rolling catch with the medicine ball being one of them.
     

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