Monday, December 8, 2014

Fight Club on Snow - Part 1

If you’ve seen the cult classic movie, “Fight Club”, then you are already familiar with some themes the characters embrace:
          -       A routine opportunity to fight recreationally (think: physical outlet for competitive efforts)
          -       A chance to break out of the mundane, humdrum life and have ‘real living experiences’ (beyond just being a consumer that lacks a soul, that’s part of a soft and lazy culture)
          -       Development of strong bonds and camaraderie built through intense competition (fighters would routinely hug and thank each other after bouts)

In addition, there were generally two reactions to learning about Fight Club and/or interacting with one of its members:
          -       After watching one (fight) you want to join in
          -       Confusion from co-workers and colleagues as to exactly what it is they were doing (and why) with their weekends/nights
Eager Crowd Waiting to Hit the Course

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Client Success Story

Before relating one of my client’s success stories, I want to describe a few standards I follow when training and working with people:
-     It’s my experience that no matter how great you perform in the gym, none of that matters if your improved strength, endurance, etc. does not translate to results outside of the gym.
-     I also believe that one’s overall health and wellbeing are just as important as their sport specific goals and achievements.  You should look and be (inside and out) a real example of fitness, health and athleticism.

Both these ideas match with my business mission:
Develop/administer effective, creative, specific and safe exercise programs/training sessions to help my clients achieve their personal health/fitness, athletic performance and competition goals.
Ale Getting SBX Ready

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Product Reviews and Recommendations #2

My last product review post mostly covered snow gear with the exception of GenerationUCAN, which I use in the gym and on the trails year round.  I’m a little over 4 months through my off-snow training and have been using some new gym gear for the duration.  As mentioned in the last product post I’m not under any contract to promote for these companies.  I actually wear this apparel because of function, comfort and they hold up under extreme abuse during training sessions.  By sharing this info, my hope is you can also have an improved exercise experience by using some or all of the items.
Reliable Gear Should Handle Heavy Training Abuse

Friday, August 15, 2014

PSIA - AASI LinkedIn Topic Reply

You can read the LinkedIn discussion here.

This is not a question that has a simple one or two line answer. Though it's common for ski publications to give the impression that there is a quick, shortcut method to the process by running articles (usually in October) promoting the "Best 3 Exercises to Get in Shape for the Season".  This ‘advice’ doesn’t really offer a true training solution for anyone working to get ready for the snow season.  I wrote more about this topic a while back.

I would use the following bullets as my guide to figure out what the client needs to do in terms of preparing for a snowsports lesson session (or a few right?) for the upcoming season:
         -               Overall Health and Fitness
         -               Foundation of Athletic Strength and Conditioning
         -               High-end Sports Specific Training

If the individual does not exercise regularly, or have a history of athletic activities in their life, they need to work with a professional to achieve a basic level of overall health and fitness.  A well-rounded program would cover everything from learning appropriate form and equipment use (think “how to exercise right”) to nutritional guidelines (think “how to eat well”) and beyond.  So no real sports specific training happening here (though the basic exercises of a squat or lunge could be argued as perfect for mountain sports) – just getting ‘in shape’ will be enough of a change to help them enjoy the day(s) on the mountain.

Once a client has developed an aptitude for working-out and improved their health to a decent degree, they are ready to build a foundation of athletic strength and conditioning (if that’s their goal).  I would expect someone in this category is working with a trainer and exercises a minimum of 2x to 3x per week along with other recreational athletic activities (think hiking, mountain biking, etc.).  Do they need sports specific exercises?  Maybe.  If they have a good coach, it’s probably already part of their exercise routine, just in smaller doses.  Could they do a few extra balance related drills?  Sure.  Would it help to do exercises in varying planes of direction?  Yes.  What about their core?  Absolutely. 

Again, if they are working with someone who knows what they’re doing, all these topics are already covered, with maybe the exception of the balance related drills.  So I’d want someone at this stage to be sure to incorporate a few dual and single leg balance exercises if they are not already present in their program.  And they do not have to be crazy, stand-on-a-tightrope style movements.  If they work with a good coach at this level, they’ll already be strong enough, poses enough endurance and be mentally used to working through challenges in the gym that a ski or board lesson will be “no big deal”.

People in both these groups could do a few technical movement based drills each day to prepare for whatever lesson is in the future.  If a client intends to take a board session, they could stand in a board stance and practice toe/heel movements braced against a wall or other support.   A skier could practice moving their hips/knees/ankles from edge to edge, again braced against a support.  While these are not fitness exercises per se, they can help the individual develop a comfort level with the new movements they’ll experience in their first several lessons.  If they own their own equipment, encourage them to wear their boots while practicing some of these movement patterns.

The two previous categories cover most of the clients who show up at the mountain for lessons.  There is a smaller group of clients who use coaching on the mountain (think USASA or NASTAR Competitors, big mountain enthusiasts, etc.), but they generally need no advice when it comes to taking a session.  These people fall into the high-end sports specific training zone and probably have used coaching, both on and off the snow for a long time and are physically and mentally prepared for whatever you can throw at them.  Many have their own private coach as well or participate with some sort of team training system.  

There are a few common mistakes to avoid when it comes to getting someone ‘snow ready’:
         -               Too much focus on Quad development
         -               Only trying to improve ‘core strength’
         -               Not starting a fitness training regimen early enough prior to the season
         -               Thinking balance exercises need to be ‘crazy’ to be effective

While quad strength is good, ideally you would have a balanced strength compared to your hamstrings (and glutes).  We don’t just use our quads when skiing or snowboarding in an isolated manor.  There is also a direct link to some knee injuries rooted in excessive quad dominant training.  So besides experiencing a performance benefit, for injury prevention a balance of leg strength is encouraged. 

Core strength is important, but is not the magic source of all that is needed for mountain sports as some people believe.  Sometimes the way people train their core does not translate to how we use our core when skiing or boarding.  A mountain athlete needs endurance, strength, speed, power, balance, agility/coordination – which core strength is a part of for sure, but is only a piece of the whole system.  If core training were the only thing needed for on-mountain success, the Olympic Training Center facility in Utah (Center of Excellence) wouldn’t have so much weight lifting equipment on the floor.  Make your entire body strong.

“Hey it’s the week before Thanksgiving, do you think I should start training now?”   Physical adaptations take time.  That’s why we spend so much time allowing our students to practice new movements before teaching a new skill (you do that right?).  Changes in strength, endurance, power, etc. take time.  There is no shortcut, get fit quick scheme or way to speed that process along.  Starting a training program in October for a December season isn’t nearly enough time to prep appropriately for the rigors of mountain sports, especially if you expect significant improvement compared to a previous season.  The clients I train start their off-snow work-out programs in late April.  Do we have a specific pre-season conditioning phase?  Yes.  That starts in September or October, but they’ve already been training for at least 4 months prior to the pre-season work phase.  Start early, work hard and see real results.

“Ok, you need to do a one-leg squat while balanced on the handle of this kettlebell, with a bar held over your head….and go! “ If your coach suggests this path to improving your balance, you need a new coach.  When it comes to balance training, simple exercises/movements with just your body weight are extremely effective (and safe!).  I use bosu’s, balance/vibration plates, swiss balls and other unstable surfaces to aid with improving my clients’ balance skills, but in an intelligent and specific manor.  These people aren’t trying out for Cirque du Soleil, they want to be better mountain athletes.  We work on skills that will directly translate to the slopes and save the crazy stuff for acrobats.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What I Eat

Most people think I eat super-strict and never have foods like pizza, ice cream or cheeseburgers.  I often get comments like “I wish I could be as disciplined as you with food” or “You must eat kale sandwiches all day long”.  I don’t feel like I’m “disciplined” when it comes to food in any special way.  I eat a lot and like to eat good food as evidenced by my Tweets of SBX Gold Medalcelebration meals.  What I do have is a certain level of consistency with following some simple food guidelines over a significant period of time.  You too can apply these principles and experience a significant improvement in your health and physical condition (this is assuming you do not have any specific medical conditions that require a specific nutrition plan).
Hungry Yet?
A few things go along with eating the way I do:  intense physical exertion in the gym and on the snow/trails along with adequate recovery time (sleep/rest).  It’s not enough to just work out in the gym - you can’t out-work crappy nutrition.  You also won’t get the most benefit from quality foods and solid training without appropriate rest and recovery.  The results of eating well will help and have an effect, but you can have a much greater impact on your physical state with all 3 elements working together.
How About Now?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Boardercross (SBX) and Skicross (SX) are not like NASCAR

No matter how many TV ‘talking heads’, newspaper/magazine articles, or random chairlift conversations make mention of it, Boarder/Skicross is not like NASCAR.  This comparison is inaccurate and using the reference as a talking point demonstrates a limited understanding of our sports and shows a complete lack of any research done before one assumes their role as ‘expert commentator’. 
Ever See This in a NASCAR Race?
One might argue that the two sports are alike in that they both are races, sometimes have crashes/collisions during the events and there’s a lot of sponsor logos floating around on equipment.  This is a flimsy line of reasoning as most motorsports are races, have occasional crashes and almost all gear is covered with lots of sponsor logos.  Not nearly enough unique similarities to declare an official ‘match’.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stick To Your Program

Most of my athletes are on the same training schedule: 
       -        Off-season – End of April to October
       -        Pre-season – October to December
       -        In-season – December to April
Focus on Form and Function
There are several separate Training Phases during these three time frames with specific physical adaptations expected from each.  The whole season is planned out in advance, though may be adjusted depending on the particular needs, progress and competition schedule of each athlete throughout the year, though the overall template remains generally the same.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Muscle-Up Elements Video

There are a ton of ‘how-to’ MU videos online.  This one is different.  I focus on the fundamentals of developing appropriate strength in order to successfully perform muscle-up’s.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2014 USASA Nationals Re-Cap #5

Be sure to read Nat’s Re-Cap #1 + #2 + #3 + #4.

Nationals Race Day was generally overcast with moderate temperatures and some occasional snow alternating with sun, then back to clouds.  Wax selection was perfect and the boards were running fast even with the varied weather conditions.
Oxess Ready to Go Fast

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2014 USASA Nationals Re-Cap #4

Be sure to read Nats Re-Cap #1 + #2 + #3.

Final preparations for race day include tuning and waxing boards (lots of waxing), some gym work, visiting with friends and family, and of course the traditional Nationals lasagna dinner.  How you manage your time and activities during a longer break (I had 3 days off before race day – technically 4, but I worked the day after practice was done) makes all the difference in staying in the peak zone for performance.
Ale's Board Getting Some Speed Mojo

Sunday, May 11, 2014

2014 USASA Nationals Re-Cap #3

Be sure to read Nationals Re-Cap #1 + #2.

SBX Practice days, hosted by the Rocky Mountain Series, are awesome.  You’ve got access to the course for 3 hours each day with a limited number of participants.  Most of the skiers/riders there are pretty good and are working with a Coach/Race Team so you get to watch a lot of solid riding during practice as well.
Copper Course - Practice Version

Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 USASA Nationals Re-Cap #2

Be sure to read Nationals Re-Cap #1.

As you’re working through an off-season training program it’s sometimes hard to see/feel how the efforts are going to benefit your performance during the season, especially when the snow is 5 months away.  It can be difficult to imagine how doing mega-rep squats on a random day in June is going to set you up for success in March, but that’s exactly what is happening.

Deadlifts = Simple, Effective and Fun

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 USASA Nationals Re-Cap #1

This year marked the 25th Anniversary of the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) National Championships hosted at Copper Mountain,Colorado.  Close to 2000 athletes spread across 14 age divisions (for both Men and Women) were on hand for events in 5 disciplines - Boardercross, Halfpipe, Slopestyle, Giant Slalom and Slalom.

Earned the Top Spot on the National Rankings

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 USASA SBX Race Update #2

Snow, snow, snow and more snow.  That was the theme of last weekend’s RockyMountain Series SBX Races at Copper Mountain.  In fact it seems like it’s been snowing in Summit County since the beginning of January.  RMS did a great job keeping the course in solid shape for racing both days and other than super-low visibility, the conditions were pretty good.

Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 USASA SBX Race Update #1

The first weekend of SBX Racing is in the books and things went pretty well.  I won two Gold Medals and felt like my riding picked up right where it left off at the end of last season.  Gym training has been solid and I feel physically strong, though there’s still a lot of work to do before Nationals.
Copper Course