Weekend Workouts, Events, To-do Lists & Relaxation

This weekend was a mix of everything.  Seriously, I think I did everything.  I worked, I played, I worked out, I relaxed, I soaked in the sun, and was soaked by the rain.  As I mentioned in my last post, this week was the first Friday’s After Five, which pretty much signifies the start of the summer season in Charlottesville.

charlottesville-pavillion

 For those of you who don’t know much about Charlottesville, it’s an amazing town that has an intense focus on community, a love for live music, and an absurd amount of amazing local beer and wine vendors that come together every friday from spring through fall to present a free concert series at the n’telos wireless pavilion on the Downtown Mall.  It’s amazing, fun, and completely taken for granted by those of us who no longer remember a life without Fridays.   Friday was sunny and beautiful, so needless to say the live music only made it perfect.

Saturday was a windows and doors open (but screens closed) kind of morning.  With coffee in hand I was able to get work done at a relaxed and pretty enjoyable pace.  I love having time to relax in the morning and use the weekends to prioritize my to-do list and schedule for the next week.  Since this week is shaping up to be particularly crazy (read: exciting), it was invaluable for me to have the time to get things organized.  The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key including dog walk + hill sprint adventure in the park that doubled as Tank’s 7th Birthday outing (and the best shot at tiring Bug out, even if just for a second).

bug says IMG_3262

Both dogs have 50′ leads instead of short leashes so they can have more freedom to run, but not enough slack to take off towards the street (or an appealing looking dog).  While the main purpose is to give them exercise and expend some of their pent up energy, let me assure you, it never fails to leave me winded as well.  As someone who typically prefers longer distance running (at least 3 miles), the short bursts chasing the dogs helps me to get in the sprints intervals that don’t make it into my routine nearly enough.

The rest of the night included dinner at Bella’s with great friends, and then the most entertaining parking lot event that I’ve been to in quite a while: CLAW.  I have heard about the Charlottesville Ladies Arm Wrestling group for years, but somehow never actually made it out to witness it first hand.  It was nothing like what I had imagined and was, in fact, amazing. 

CLAW

I had imagined pairs of super serious arm wrestlers sweating it out at tables, fully engrossed in the fiercest battles of strength.  And I imagined it was going to be scary, like sumo-wrestling scary.  It was neither.

CLAW is mostly theatrical, and fiercely entertaining with each competitor fully engrossed in their own special ‘persona.’  The wrestlers are escorted by full entourages of complimentary characters that tell a story sparing no cheeky (or blunt) innuendo or four letter word.  It’s fantastic.

The event always benefits a cause, this time supporting Common Ground Healing Arts, and was followed by a full fledged dance party.   There are 20 different leagues across the country now, all spin-offs of the original group here in Charlottesville (co-founded by Jodie, pictured on the right with the cowboy hat), so if you don’t live here, check to see if there is one near you.  It is more than worth your time.

Today was just as grey as the forecast predicted, which actually helped me to buckle down and crank out a few more of the tasks on my to-do list before getting in a short workout in the late afternoon.

DAR TABATA

Dar had done this workout just before I got out there, so those are her numbers for each round written in under each exercise.  Per usual I made a few changes to the program, this time simply using both arms for the swings, and replacing the Turkish Getups with plank variations keeping little to no transition rest in between variation changes or intervals.

One thing to remember with swings (which I don’t have the best or most complete or professional pictures for from today) is that it’s a hip hinge and extension.  It’s a common misconception to bend the knees to a near squatting position rather than focusing on the hinge and keeping an engaged and stable core.  It helps to start with the kettle bell in front of you just far enough that you can reach it from that hinge position without a deep knee bend.

KB swing setup

If you train with Dar on kettlebell technique, she usually refers to this position as the football hike position.  For girls that’s usually met with a sort of blank stare, but for guys it’s more like a perfect english translation to their understanding.

KB swing

To start the swing keep focus on the hinge and swing the KB high between your legs and then drive your hips forward to a full extension position, keeping your arms straight (holding ON TO THE KETTLEBELL) launching them up to eye level as you snap your hips forward.

KB swing KB swing

Dar is working on a series of kettlebell posts to help translate common misconceptions into proper technique, so hang tight, it’s coming to you soon.  As someone who didn’t start using kettlebells to train until the last two or three years, I have to say it is my favorite and most versatile tool for everyday workouts.  (If you don’t own one already, get one.  You can get them for cheap at target, and they fit in your closet.)

While Dar loves the turkish getup since it falls into her beloved ‘kettlebell movement’ category, I love planks.  I love lots of planks, for long periods of time, with little rest and lots of variations.

standard plank

Maybe it’s my pure barre background, or maybe it’s the plank holds we used to do in my ‘younger’ days, but forearm planks are a happy comfort place for me, relatively speaking.

side plank 1

I started to love side arm plank variations when I got into yoga.  My alignment isn’t quite perfect in these pictures, and my spirit fingers are sub-par, but the basics are there.  Since I was holding the plank series for nearly 4 minutes straight I transitioned through center with a slight rest in a straight arm plank until I was ready for the other side.

side plank 2

For the last 45 seconds I played around with a borderline mountain climber prep position, alternating sides for a knee to elbow movement that really helped to keep a more than steady burning through my core.

mountain climber

All in all this weekend somehow managed to be productive and relaxed, while also being activity laden and highly social.  I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but I’m not complaining.  The week starts for me bright and early tomorrow morning at the 6:15 bootcamp class, followed by a full day of task mastering so it’s time to shut down and scoot to bed.

Tomorrow we’re going to kick off a new (modified) real food challenge, so expect a little more nutrition talk complete with grocery lists and meal planning.

Easy at Home Workout: Barbell Circuit

Bug is pretty much summing up the ‘it’s been a long week’ sentiment that has been lingering in the air.  I’m not sure if last weekend just blended into the week, or if this week has been that non-stop, but I found myself being slightly jealous of her ability to throw down and nap, anywhere, anytime.  It’s an enviable skill.

tired bug

Since end-of-week workouts can be sort of blah when you’re drained, here’s one that I did with Dar last week for a quick and dirty garage gym workout that was felt for days.

circuit workout

This is a barbell workout, so anywhere you can find a 25lb, 35lb, or 45lb barbell, or just a really big stick (kidding!), you’ll be good to go.  While I love all the awesome toys that we have these days to make workouts more dynamic and varied (i.e. wall balls, medicine balls, bands, kettlebells, etc), sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple and just crank out a workout with one tool only.

barbells

This workout was TABATA style, 45 seconds on/15 seconds off, cycling through all the exercises and repeating the circuit for 4 full rounds. It did change a bit from how I wrote it out (note: ad-hoc arrows), so here’s how it works best:

1) composite rows: starting with the bar at/against your shins with feet hip width apart, and knees slightly bent. Drive through your heels to drive the bar straight up, standing tall, finishing with a high pull and returning all the way back down to the initial set-up and repeating the pull in a continuous cycle.  These are tough (essentially a narrowly set up sumo deadlift high pull, simulating the full body rowing motion). These were my nemesis circa 2002, thanks to Jim (GYM) Ferris.

2.  Back Squat: just what you think it is – standard back squat.  Feet about shoulder width apart, drive through your heels to keep your glutes and core engaged.  Since there’s no extra weight on the bar emphasize rhythm, sticking with a consistent speed and getting a full range of motion (hip crease drops below knee level). Think about pressing your knees out as you pull your hips towards your heels.

3. Push Press: Feet hip width apart, bar resting high on (in front of) shoulders.  Grip slightly wider than shoulder width, elbows in front (pointing at 45 degree angle), fingers wrapped around the bar.  Bend from hips and knees to initiate the dip, keeping your core engaged, drive through your heels to straighten your legs (and extend through hips). Finish by pressing the bar overhead right in line with your shoulders, hips and heels.  Just tilt your head back so the bar doesn’t hit you as you press it straight up to the ceiling (arms fully extended).

4. RDL : for this one you’ve got the bar in front, set up similar to the composite rows – feet hip width apart, slight bend in the knees, back straight (core engaged) and hinging from the waist.  The movement here is keeping your core engaged, weight in the heels, hinging forward until barbell comes to mid-shin, and standing straight up keeping the bar close to the body, and hinging back down to repeat.  This is one of my favorite moves of all time because it feel so good like a hamstring stretch while you’re doing it, but always leaves the glutes and hammies screaming the next day.

5. Front squat: Just like the back squat you’re keeping your weight in your heels and squatting until your hip crease is below knee level, but the bar is resting on the front rack position (on shoulders).  Arms are in front, elbows pointing forward and high, with the bar resting and balanced on your fingertips.  Unlike the back squat that emphasizes gluteal and hamstring work, this will light up your quads and tops of your thighs.

Like all interval workouts, the key here is really setting a consistent, and challenging pace.  If you push it during the work time, you are guaranteed to get your engines going.  If you just survive it, you’ll still be sore but you’re missing most of the benefit.

Give it a shot, and even modify whatever you’d like (time, weight, sequence) and let us know what works or doesn’t work for you.  We’re always playing with different combinations and love to change things up.

Happy Squatting!

Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Certification + A weekend in PA

Coach Dar here!  This past weekend, I spent almost 3 days in Pennsylvania attending the Functional Movement Certification.  New to the Mid-Atlantic region, I enjoyed that 5 hour drive as I had no clue how close I live to Northern Virginia, Washington, Baltimore and Philly!  This little town of CVille, is surrounded by some of the best Metropolitan areas of the country.

map of charlottesville to New York

I’ve been looking forward to this certification for over a year now.  It’s just one more thing as a coach and trainer to aid me in working with clients.  In a nutshell – the FMS is comprised of 7 basic fundamental movement patterns, that expose a person’s dysfunction, pain or Both!  Here’s the thing I find most interesting;  we all can perform a wide variety of activities, yet, we are unable to efficiently perform these movements in the screen.  If you score poorly on the screen you most likely are using compensatory movement patterns during regular activities.

FMS squat

So, who cares?  You should care, because compensation leads to sub-optimal movement patterns being reinforced, leading to poor biomechanics and the big kicker: this can contribute to  a future injury.

Just hit me up at dargloww66@gmail.com if you would like to have a complimentary screen performed on your movement patterns.