Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buy a Product and Get A Personal Training Session Worth $120

Dear friends and fans of my blog, the festive season is coming and what better way to prepare for it than to get in shape so that you can eat big in the festivities and not feel guilty.

So i am offering you this very special privilege of a personal training session worth $120 when you buy any of the following products.


These are affiliate links and i get commission on your purchase.

How to claim your personal training session:

1) Click on the links and purchase the product(s). Each copy of a product purchased entitles you to one personal training session.

2) Email me your clickbank receipts to hermanchauw@gmail.com, together with your contact details.

3) After i have verified your purchase, i'll contact you to arrange your personal training sessions. Alternatively, contact me if you don't want to wait for my call:

Name: Herman Chauw
Mobile: +65 96406544
Email: hermanchauw@gmail.com

To your fitness success.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fitness Equipment has Arrived

Here are some photos of our gym and fitness equipment.

 Full matted area

 Kettlebells and barbells

Dumbbells and weight plates  

Racks and benches

Clubbells and ropes 

Medicine balls 

Heavy Clubbells

Parallettes
 See you in class soon.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TACFIT Report from Suquamish Police Department Chief

Reproduced from Coach Scott Sonnon's blog, original article here: http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/?p=703



SUQUAMISH POLICE DEPARTMENT
18490 Suquamish Way, Suite #105 / P.O. Box 1021
Suquamish WA 98392 OFFICE (360) 598-4334
SERVICE, DEDICATION, INTEGRITY
Mike Lasnier, Chief of Police
Friday, May 14, 2010

Dear Coach Sonnon,
I wanted to write to thank you for sharing your Tacfit and Tacfit Commando programs with my agency, and for allowing me to attend the Tacfit certification in Bellingham.

As you know, I have a background in military and law enforcement special operations. During my time in the Marine Corps, I spent time in a special reaction force that secured nuclear storage sites, and later was a Platoon Sergeant for a STA Platoon, more commonly called Marine Scout Snipers. My service included deployment overseas with a Special Operation Capable Marine Amphibious Unit (SOC-MAU), and live operations on foreign soil. I was also a primary marksmanship instructor in the Marines, and shot competitively on rifle and pistol teams at the commands I served. In my 23 year law enforcement career, I have been a Master Defensive Tactics Instructor for nearly 20 years. I served 8 years on a regional SWAT team in an urban metropolitan area. I spent 3 years undercover working street level narcotics, and several more years as a detective assigned to a Federal Narcotics Task force. I have founded and commanded Tactical Tracking Teams at 2 different agencies for the past 8 years, and the team I currently command is used state-wide to hunt down fugitives, find missing persons, and engage in operations against foreign drug trafficking organizations which use rural areas in Washington State to manufacture illegal drugs.

As a Chief of Police for over a decade now, I have seen the cost of law enforcement officers not staying in good physical condition. Many agency administrators wince every time they have defensive tactics or other physical training, because they know that there will be multiple injuries, L&I claims, and officers taking sick days in the aftermath of such classes. It’s often mundane, everyday things that cause officers to go out with “work related injuries”; walking, getting out of a car, bending over to pick something up. In my experience and observation, most “work related” injuries aren’t really “work related”. They are “fat related injuries”. They are “sedentary related injuries”. They are “inflexible related injuries”. The job requires them to move their bodies more than they do at home, so it’s likely that when something finally snaps, it will happen on the job, and is then labeled a “work related injury”.

The costs of such injuries are massive, and the damages are spread broadly. The government ends up paying higher rates for health insurance and L&I claims, and those costs are spread to taxpayers. Co-workers are required to work the shifts for the officers who are out injured, losing their own rest time, spending less time with their families and increasing their stress levels. Many employers require the employees to bear a portion of the cost of the L&I insurance, so all employees end up paying a financial cost for the on duty injuries. If the officer held a specialty, such as K9 or Tracker, the department no longer has access to that resource while the officer is out of commission, and those specialties are very expensive to create and maintain. Training programs are blamed for injuries, and are cut back or defunded. The reduction in staffing leaves less officers available to engage in special projects and proactive police work, and the agency ends up having to become more reactive, which benefits only criminals.

Throughout my career, I’ve striven to stay current on the best methods of training my people, to ensure that they had the abilities they needed to accomplish their missions. My search has spanned nearly 3 decades. In the Military, it was fairly easy; we had 3 or 4 hours per day to train fitness, and ample equipment and facilities. As I moved into law enforcement, time became more critical. Agencies do not have an over abundance of training time, and many agencies are suffering staffing and manpower issues in the current economy that are putting a further strain on available training time. Early in my Police Career, I attended F.B.I. fitness instructor courses, and was certified as a fitness instructor by the State. As a Master Defensive Tactics Instructor, I attended courses on advanced concepts in motor learning and development, and fitness program design, and even became a certified personal trainer for a period of time. Within my own agencies, and in my own life, I’ve experimented with a vast myriad of programs and systems. In my early years, I lifted free weights, ran, and used machines such as universal and nautilus. In recent years, I’ve stayed on what was perceived as “the cutting edge”, and experimented with P90x, Crossfit, TRX programs, various military programs, Kettlebells, and other devices and programs. In addition, I still train in the Martial Arts, and even engage in amateur boxing occasionally for charity events, no small feat in my mid 40’s. I have nothing bad to say about any of those programs. They are all good sources of exercise. Most of their practices are sound for attaining their goals. However, something was missing.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing. Intuitively, I knew that I hadn’t yet found what I was seeking. When I encountered a new program that seemed to have some of the things I was looking for, I’d give it a test drive. Several of my key instructors would help me, and also test out each program. Many of them were great programs for what they were designed for. The problem was, none of them were designed for us. None of them were put together specifically for the needs and challenges that face law enforcement officers, and especially the special needs of the law enforcement tactical community.

Some of the programs had pieces of what we were looking for, but were put together with other elements that were not desirable. Many of them were designed as crash courses to lose weight, but were not sustainable over the long haul. Some used “body building” techniques to pump up muscles for show, but developed little in the way of usable, functional strength. Some caused large amounts of wear and tear on the joints and connective tissues. Many resulted in over training, which subsequently lead to injuries. Some used movements that were valid, but simply do not resemble anything we do, or are likely to need to do.

What we were seeking was the “holy grail” of law enforcement and tactical training; something that met our challenges and needs, didn’t waste our training time, prepared us properly for the risks we face, but didn’t destroy or injure the officers as they tried to attain that goal.

I first saw a link to the Tacfit Commando program on a facebook page. I clicked on the link, and initially wasn’t sure what to think. The marketing program appeared to be geared towards “wanna be’s”, with references to Navy Seals, secret agents, and commandos. That alone would normally be enough for me to immediately dismiss the program and move on; previous programs using similar advertising tactics have been strong on hype, and weak on substance. The thing that kept me reading was that a few of the testimonials were from real world operators and combatives experts from the U.S. and Israeli Military Special Ops, and Law Enforcement Community. It was when I read past the hype to the content and fine print that my eyebrows went up.

The first sentence that caught my eye as I scanned down was “The ideal tactical training program must also target the energy system of crisis response: that means high intensity, three-dimensional movements done for repeated bursts of short duration, with fast recovery”. This was the first sign to me that there just might be something solid under the hype. That statement alone went up like a flare; clearly, someone knew what they were talking about, and more importantly, someone understood the realities of what we are required to do when things get really “hot”.

The next was “The extreme psychological stress experienced by active tactical responders requires a method that safely reabsorbs the adrenal dump of “fight or flight.” You’re of no help to your teammates if you’re sick or burnt out.” My jaw dropped on this one; the depth of understanding required to make this statement is astounding. This demonstrated that this program wasn’t just going to be about pushups, or busting a sweat. It demonstrated an understanding of our profession and the toll it takes on the human body, at a chemical and cellular level.

I read the rest of the fine print in depth, and I liked what I saw, so I took the plunge and purchased the program. I used my personal funds, since I still considered the program a risk, having been disappointed so many times before. After downloading the program and reviewing the material, I was impressed. I really liked that the program was instantly available, was downloadable, and came in formats that work on any computer, and also in a format specific to IPOD’s, which makes it incredibly portable. The fact that this program uses no equipment means it can be done anywhere. The fact that it’s on my Ipod means I don’t need a timer; I just hit “play” on my Ipod playlist, and follow along. The videos have a robust audio element, so not only is the timer included in the audio, but you also have coaching and specific reminders on proper form and effort throughout the program. The program is scorable, so you can easily keep track of your effort and progress, and the workout can be used as a test.

The real proof needed to be in the “test drive” of the program. At first, I was a bit skeptical of the 4 day wave protocol. On paper, it looks good, but it seemed a bit “light”. It was only after I experienced a couple cycles of it that it became clear just how effective it was. I felt GOOD. Really good. I had some specific moments that stood out. I got up to go down the hall from my office to get some coffee, and my body felt strange. I wasn’t thinking of working out, just grabbing coffee. What was so odd was that my hips were open from the compensation day. My body was more open and flexible than it had been in years, from a workout I’d done the day before. I could move. My range of motion was increased. My body was unlocked, and I wasn’t used to it, but it felt incredible.

Another thing I recognized right away was that I already knew the movements. I’d done them before. Not in the tacfit commando program; in real life. When I did the plank push knee for the first time, it clicked right away. “This is how I get up and move forward quickly with my rifle after firing from the prone position”. I’d been doing that movement since I was 18 years old in the Marines. The same was true for the other techniques.

I was scheduled to teach a defensive tactics class with another instructor after a few weeks of doing Tacfit commando. I spent most of the time as the demonstration dummy, being aggressively thrown, taken down, and put through counter joint techniques and handcuffing for 8 hours a day, for 3 days straight. What stood out was that, at the end of 3 days of this abuse, I felt fine. No sore muscles. No sore joints. No pulls. No tears. Nothing pinched or tweaked. I actually felt good. Normally, I would have been popping ibuprofen like candy, and sore and tight. Not this time.

I went to my Tactical Tracking team training, which includes a conditioning workout. I blasted through the workout like it wasn’t there. I recovered with lightening speed, had tons of energy and stamina, and could have kept going for a long, long time. I was finishing the work at each stage, and standing there, waiting for the rest of my team to get their reps done.

A friend called, who is coaching a 19 year old boxer who is preparing for an upcoming fight, asking if I’d help him prepare, by sparring with him. I haven’t sparred for over 8 months. Without Tacfit, I doubt I would have lasted 2 rounds. With my Tacfit training, I was able to keep going, round after round, and kept going for nearly an hour.
A friend of mine was training for a marathon, and invited me to go for a run. I hadn’t been running in several years, but wanted to try it again, so I agreed. I expected it to be pretty challenging. It wasn’t; it was easy. The aggressive, condensed conditioning of the Tacfit Commando program had prepared me to easily deal with standard cardio demand of running. I ran like the wind, and felt great both during and after the run.

All of that was in the first few weeks of doing the program. As for weight loss, I made a bet with my fiancé that I could lose more percentage of body weight than her in 30 days, me using Tacfit commando, and her using P90x. She was skeptical of the Tacfit Commando program, because of the active rest and recovery days built into the system. Her program took more time every day, had very little rest and recovery, and she was tired and burned out. She conceded defeat after 3 weeks, when I’d lost 12 pounds by doing Tacfit Commando, and following the diet that comes with the program. I felt strong, energetic, well rested, relaxed and flexible. I didn’t lose any muscle. I lost blubber that I’d collected by sitting at my desk.

After a test drive like that, I have made the decision to implement the Tacfit Commando program for my department. I can’t find anything wrong with it.

• It’s time efficient, saving my agency money and resources compared to other programs. A common saying among your coaches is “More isn’t better. Better is Better”. Your program has proven that to be a true statement.
• The Officers are building skills, not just working out. Tacfit practice isn’t just sweating for sweat’s sake. They are learning to move tactically. They are practicing and developing survival skills, firearms skills, ground fighting skills, as they work out.
• It doesn’t require any special equipment or dedicated space.
• Its health based. It isn’t about getting “big” quick, or doing crazy workouts and being sore. It’s about staying balanced, strong and healthy for life.
• It can be done by a team, side by side, in the same time and place, even if the people are at different levels of development. A beginner can work side by side with an elite athlete, training together, each being challenged to an appropriate level.
• The officers stay operationally ready. There is no “burn out”. There is no need for “down time” due to the officer’s bodies being destroyed or injured by some “crazy” workout. The workouts are challenging and demanding, but they aren’t insane; far from it, they’re intelligent.
• We all cognitively know that if we work on flexibility, we will be healthier, and less prone to injury. Your program is the only one that actually builds that concept into the program in an appropriate ratio. Joint and connective tissue flexibility isn’t a preface, or an afterthought. It’s at the heart of the program. It’s one of the massive pieces missing from other programs. For every exercise in your system, there is a joint mobility exercise that precedes it, and a compensatory stretch that comes after it. Over half of the system is focused on building healthy flexibility, movement, and injury prevention. It should be.
• The moderate and high intensity days are based on the best science and techniques known. No time or effort is wasted.
• The high intensity training is specifically targeted to the energy systems used by the emergency response community.
• Your program is the only one I’ve seen that has actual tactics, effort, and focus on the ability to develop recovery ability. And it works! Many suspects and officers can perform one massive burst of effort, but then they are “gassed”. Your training will give officers the ability to “burst”, recover with lightening speed, and “burst” again, and again. This is what wins fights. This is what resolves tactical and use of force situations with a positive outcome for Law Enforcement.
• Tacfit Commando is a step above other general functional fitness programs. Why should we focus our efforts on “general” fitness? We aren’t in a “general” business. We know what the requirements of our job are. We know what movements we need to perform, and the energy systems that will be called upon. Why waste our time pretending we don’t, or developing capabilities we don’t need, and won’t use? Tacfit programs are built for what we need; Tactical Fitness.
• Tacfit develops circular strength. Instead of becoming strong in a narrow, limited, or artificially defined range of motion, Tacfit works to develop complete, usable strength throughout the full range of motion of each key joint. 

This is incredibly valuable in our unpredictable and violent environment. I don’t always get to pick what angle my opponent will be at when I need to use force or energy. Having circular strength means I’ll have the power I’ll need to deal with challenges that come at me from any angle.

Thank you for your work in service to the tactical community. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for the outreach you’ve made to my department, and our brothers in the military and fire services. Thank you for the health benefits we’re enjoying from your program.

Please feel free to forward this letter to any public safety personnel considering your excellent programs, and feel free to give them my contact information as a reference for your programs.

I look forward to working with you in the future, and am excited to see what’s coming next!

Respectfully,
Chief Mike Lasnier
Suquamish Police


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just for Fun

Just for fun, copy this and spread the love around.

What is 4x7

Updated 2 May 2013

4x7 is the official periodization model in CST.

Another commonly used synonym for "periodization" is "cycling".

Why Cycle

Instead of giving you the reason straightaway, let's take a look at what people usually want.

"I want to gain ten pounds of muscle and lose twenty pounds of fat. Oh i also want to get strong. And i want to run faster. And also to jump higher. etc etc..."

So they do weight training in addition to cardio (or HIIT for the better informed ones), and a lot of other training mixed in.

An example of this kind of "i want it all" programming may look like this:
Monday: weights
Tuesday: cardio
Wednesday: weights
Thursday: cardio
Friday: weights
Saturday: cardio
Sunday: sports (eg soccer)

If you have just started physical training, achieving some of these goals may be easy. Even if you train without any specific goals or proper training program, you will make progress in the first few weeks to months. Then you would hit a plateau.

Along the way some people would think that they are "hargainers". Some people train the same way year after year, lift the same weight year after year, look the same year after year, and get nowhere. At least some are enthusiastic enough to continue this active lifestyle. But a lot of people drop out. How many times have you heard people say "i used to work out", "i used to lift weights" or something to that extend?

So then, to avoid this lack of result, we need to have a plan to achieve our goals. And yes, you cannot achieve all of your fitness goals at the same time. Some complementary goals like strength and mass can be trained at the same time, but opposing goals like mass and fat loss are not so ideal to be trained at the same time.

Rather than waiting for the time plateau comes, why not start right? You would be less frustrated with lack of results. Furthermore, would you want to save time? Save energy? Train less while getting more? Prevent injuries at the same time?

Our Way

There is a wrong way to doing things, like the example shown above. And there are many right ways. There are very convoluted periodization programs that can put you to sleep just looking at them. But we are not interested in them, we are interested in how you, as a layman, can utilize this simple formula in your training to reap the benefits of periodization.

The 4x7 periodization model looks like this:

Day 1: No Intensity*
Objective: joint lubrication and active recovery
Content: joint mobility only
RPE: 1-2**

Day 2: Low Intensity*
Objective: compensation
Content: joint mobility and Prasara Yoga
RPE: 3-4**

Day 3: Moderate Intensity*
Objective: moderate intensity training/strength practice
Content: joint mobility, training and Prasara Yoga
RPE: 5-7**

Day 4: High Intensity*
Objective: high intensity training/conditioning
Content: joint mobility, training and Prasara Yoga
RPE: 8-10**

*Intensity is defined in the Intuitive Training Protocols.

**It is assumed that RPT => 8-10 and RPD =< 0-3.

Repeat this 4 day microcycle 7 times for a total of 28 days. That makes your mesocycle. Then you can either switch to another program, which can be of an opposing goal or similar goal, or repeat the same program with a higher level of difficulty (sophistication).

As an aside, another option if you need to keep some days free from training for whatever reason is the 7x4:

Version 1:
Day 1: No
Day 2: Low
Day 3: Moderate
Day 4: No
Day 5: Low
Day 6: Moderate
Day 7: High

Version 2:
Day 1: No
Day 2: No
Day 3: Low
Day 4: Low
Day 5: Moderate
Day 6: Moderate
Day 7: High

Pictorially, it looks like this:

Important Features and Benefits of 4x7

1) The No and Low Days

We are not saying "two days on two days off". You are indeed training two days and not training the other two days. But the non-training days are not "off" days. They are there specifically for a purpose, collectively defined as recovery. No Day focused on your joint health, Low Day focused on your soft tissue health.

You need to balance training work and recovery work. If you lack recovery, your ability to hit a real High Intensity would suffer. And please do not think that you can hit High Intensity all the time without injury or burn out.

It is a common saying that most people don't train enough to be overtraining, but they are underrecovering.

As mentioned before, you can add more recovery but not more training.

2) The Moderate Day

This day seems superfluous at first as it is only a practice day. If you can do High Intensity, why not High Intensity only right?

In simple terms, it acts as a psychological and physical preparation for the High Intensity session to follow. Having gone through a Moderate Intensity session, you would be more prepared mentally and physically hitting the High Intensity session.

3) The High Day

This day can seem superfluous to people who are not competing or don't want to achieve a high level of performance.

However it is a very important piece in the puzzle which makes your progress fast and furious. After the three days of No, Low and Moderate preceeding it, you have a surge of energy waiting to be released. If this is not utilized, it is wasted. This is the day when peak performance comes.

If you have done your High Day properly, when you come to the next Moderate Day, the load that was High becomes Moderate, ie it is a sign of progress*.

*Ache/pain/soreness is not an indication of progress. Progress is when one or more of the following occurs:
-A resistance that felt heavy now feels lighter
-A load that was High Intensity now feels easier
-More reps with the same weight while RPE (and RPD) decreases

Precise Yet Flexible

The 4x7 can be used for any training goal. Here are some examples:

For pure strength gains:
Strength (moderate), strength (high)

For strength and conditioning*:
Strength (moderate), conditioning* (high)

For pure conditioning*:
Conditioning* (moderate), conditioning* (high)

For pure mass gains:
Mass (moderate), mass (high)

For strength and mass:
Strength (moderate), mass (high)

*For simplicity sake, conditioning here is interchangeable with fat loss.

These are other possible combinations too like conditioning-strength or conditioning-mass but not that ideal.

Check out Bodyweight Exercise Revolution to see how to integrate training programs into the 4x7 cycle:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Does a CST Workout Look Like

Updated 2 May 2013


A workout in CST in structured in such a manner to:
1) Improve performance
2) Prevent injuries

Warm Up (5-10 minutes) is joint mobility. It can be a multi purpose warm up using movements from the original Intu-Flow or Bodyflow warm up; or as prescribed in some programs, a specific warm up using unique movements to prepare you for the training exercises.

Training proper can be ANY proper program. Bodyweight training, Clubbell swinging, kettlebell lifting, sandbag lifting etc. for all kinds of fitness goals can be done exclusively or in combinations. Though we are not fond of barbell and dumbbell based training, you can do them if you like. Even single planar exercises like powerlifts or Olympic lifts can be done if they fit your fitness goals. The good thing is that CST does not restrict its practitioners to a specific style of training. Rather it empowers you with the tools necessary to negotiate your training better.

Common program design principles (acute training variables) apply.

Just make sure that you are not doing isolations like ten variations of curls or a thousand crunches everyday and think that you are training properly.

More on this would be discussed under a future article Is CST for Me.

Cool Down (5-10 minutes) is Prasara Bodyflow Yoga. It can be a multi purpose cool down using poses and/or flows from 1) Prasara A Flows, 2) Prasara Primer or 3) Bodyflow; or as prescribed in some programs, a specific cool down using unique poses and/or flows to unload your soft tissues from the tension created in your training.

The Importance of Warm Up and Cool Down

While a lot of people already know the importance of physical training and so called "know"* how to train, a lot of people do not know the importance of prehab and rehab, which is represented by the Warm Up and Cool Down.

*I say "know" because people could just go for a jog, do a few pull ups etc. and think they know how to train. Whether their program design is good or not is another story.

Prehab here refers to prevention of injury. Rehab here refers to recovery from the training load. There is another definition of rehab which is recovery from injury which is another story.

Note that these are not good or sufficient warm ups:
1) Stretching (especially hamstrings and quads)
2) Jogging (some even do this on the treadmill) or some other steady state cardio

A better warm up would be to do light(er) reps with the training movements. But still this is not sufficient.

And then how many people actually do any cool down?

A lot of people wonder what is wrong when they get aches and pains after training or picking up physical training and want to try less relevant solutions (eg. heat therapy, acupuncture, arch support insoles etc.) when the simplest thing they can do is proper warm up and cool down. Of course it goes without saying that good technique for the training proper is required.

Never skip the warm up and cool down if you want to be injury free. This is opposite to training in that you need to err on the side of doing more. Don't be caught in a situation which is too little too late. You can add more recovery but not more training.

Now, may i introduce you a program that would demonstrate to you exactly how it is done? This program uses only dumbbells to perform. Check out TACFIT Mass Assault.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Exactly is Yoga and What is its Place in CST

Updated 2 May 2013

Definition

Yoga is a word which means "yoke" or "union". What are we uniting in yoga? In most yoga schools it is defined as union of mind, body and spirit or something to that extend.

However in CST it is defined as the union of breath, structure and movement.

Therefore in the broader sense of the word, it can refer to any physical activity: weight lifting and swinging, running, jumping etc. As long as you need to coordinate breath, structure and movement you are doing yoga.

General Practice

In the narrower sense of the word, it refers to the specific physical practice of improving your quality of motor skills through the balance strength and surrender, usually using only the bodyweight (in poses and transitions) as a tool. Quality must be emphasized here as yoga practice (not yoga training) differs from bodyweight exercise or bodyweight strength & conditioning in that we do yoga not to do more, but to do better in our motor abilities.

We are seeking to improve our health, mobility and function, rather than attributes in yoga practice.

How often have you heard that doing yoga can help to improve strength and help with fat loss? And then how about those that say that yoga is "just stretching"?

Indeed you can use yoga for improving strength as there are poses that require a great deal of strength to perform.
Wheel pose (aka hand bridge)

However to separate strength from surrender is a physical impossibility. In the example of the bridge above, while everything on the back side of the body must exert strength to perform the pose, everything on the front must surrender to allow the strength from the back side to be expressed.

How about fat loss? The common practice of yoga with the emphasis on static poses has a limited use in terms of fat loss. Remember that there must be a middle point between resistance and velocity to produce the maximum amount of power. To elicit a fat burning effect, you also need to focus on the movement (aka transitions).

Specific Practice: Compensatory Movement

In CST, there is a specific practice under the second ring of Prasara Yoga for compensatory movement. The basic idea is that any kind of physical conditioning produces specific adaptations. These adaptations can be classified as the good (training effect) and the bad (residual tension).

Training effect refers to better strength, endurance or a combination of the two.

Residual tension refers to tension that lingers after training. If this tension is not released, it is going to cause a more chronic adaptation called myofascial density. The body recognizes the chronic tension and tells itself rather than and instead of maintaining muscular tension which requires energy, it would save the energy for the contraction by shortening the involved muscles and lay more fascial fibres to maintain the contraction.

Isn't it a very common observation (and warning) that doing "too much" crunches would cause shortening of the rectus abdominis and doing "too much" bench presses would cause tightening of the pecs.

And sooner or later (most likely later, over a long time, but it is a very real thing) you get sensory-motor amnesia, which is just the fancy name of forgetting how to move. Since the shortened tissues have been contracted for so long, the body forgets how to surrender them to lengthen.

This would happen if you do not release the residual tension through specific poses* to restore normal length to the soft tissues involved in your training.

*You can call these exercises "stretches" for all i care but they are not stretching in the traditional sense of lengthening isolated muscles past their normal length. You are also putting a stretch in the fascia (the connective tissues) and many other muscles. Isolation is a myth. The whole body works as a whole.

Sooner or later you are going to develop fear reactivity, which means that the body would tense up when you are called upon to perform unfamiliar movements. This is characterized by reflexively bracing upon perceived effort. This kind of sudden muscular contraction in soft tissue which are already tight from their limited range of motion is what causes a great deal of injuries to sedentary people. Heard of people injuring themselves lifting furnitures or other "heavy" weights?

As a general rule, after training always do poses that are opposite to what you trained for. Even if you don't do physical training, you also need compensatory movement. Do you know people who sit on a chair 8 hours a day, 5-6 days a week? I do. Don't you think it is going to cause a training effect of making you more and more chair-shaped?

If this describes you, do a lot of the upward dog pose and/or pigeon pose to open the hips and the front of the body.
Upward Dog Pose

Pigeon Pose

Further, in CST there is at least one day in a microcycle, the Low Intensity Day, which is dedicated to compensatory movement.

Transitions Between the Poses

The majority of the yoga world focuses on the poses. But an overlooked aspect of yoga practice is the transitions between the poses.

The transitions are as important as the poses or maybe more important. Each pose has an entry and exit. The ability to entry and exit to and from different poses gives an indication of the overall motor quality a person has. Being good in poses doesn't guarantee you good movement between the poses. Movement is also a balance of strength and surrender.

Take a look at this video of Tumbleweed Flow from Prasara A Flows. The poses are classic yoga poses which any decent yoga athlete should be able to do. Putting them in a flow using different transitions make so much of a richer practice.



Furthermore, practicing challenging (mobility wise or strength wise) poses also prevents fear reactivity by practicing the skill of the movements and making them more easily accessible during activities.

Get started with Prasara Yoga with Prasara Primer:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TRX Versus TACFIT R.O.P.E

So i just got my hands on a TRX Basic Training DVD. And this post is a comparison review of TRX and TACFIT R.O.P.E. (TFR)

Before i go on, i must tell you that the goal of my comparing TRX and TFR is not to bring down TRX, rather to give it a fair trial from a customer's point of view. And such, share an unbiased view of the value of the products in question.

I mentioned that i was not sold on the TRX some time ago. However i did not have access to their DVD so i can't really comment fully on its value. Hopefully this time they can convince me.

That said, i admit that it is still a bit unfair for TRX as i am not comparing their Force Training DVD with TFR. So until i get my hands on it, i just have to make do with this one.

It would be organized according to the 4Ps of marketing, ie price, packaging, place, product. I'll not review the equipment for product, but only the training program.

Pros are highlighted in blue. Cons are highlighted in red. Arguable points are not highlighted and would be elaborated below.

Summary

Components
TRX
TACFIT R.O.P.E
Price
  • SGD380.00
  • Not sure if the DVD is available separately
  • Force DVD USD54.95 + shipping
  • USD49.95
  • E-product, no shipping cost
Packaging
  • Nice presentation in a nice studio
  • Very hip kind of style
  • Charismatic instructor conducts the follow-along
  • Nice looking models demo the exercises
  • Instructions are not detailed
  • Models are wearing athletic trainers
  • No fluff
  • No charisma
  • No hip
  • No studio
  • Shot outdoors in the woods/park, super low budget production
  • Detailed instructions
  • No pretty models, only Coach Sonnon
Place
  • Needs a DVD player
  • Can be more portable since it can be uploaded to an ipod.
Product
  • 40 minutes
  • No warm up program
  • It is not clear if the flexibility program included is the cool down program
  • Flexibility program is not specific to the training movements
  • Flexibility program requires the use of the TRX
  • No recovery protocol/techniques for the recovery periods
  • Not detailed biomechanics taught for all exercises, eg. push ups are taught with the elbows flared and it is not explained why
  • Manual is very brief
  • 30 minutes
  • Warm up program included specific for the training movements
  • Cool down program included specific for the training movements
  • Cool down program does not require any equipment
  • Detailed biomechanics for all exercises
  • A detailed manual outlining all you need to know to complete this program from the easiest to the hardest progressions


Discussion

Price wise, TFR wins.

Packaging wise, depends on how you see it. If you like to see a nicer package and don't mind spending the cash, then go for TRX. On the other hand if you don't mind the austereness and therefore budget savings, then TFR got it.

Place wise, TFR is more portable as if you have an ipod, you can view the video anywhere. TRX needs a DVD player. But this problem is a minor one as you could always write down the program on a piece of paper to make it even more portable. Tie.

Product wise, for me it is a hands down win by TFR for all the reasons stated above. The only contention is the use of the TRX for the flexibility program. You can say that it is a good marketing tool for them to show you that you "need" the TRX for it. There is even a Flexibility DVD sold on their website. On the other hand, if you are like me, i am a minimalist. If i can use nothing except my bodyweight and the floor, i would prefer that, like what is presented in TFR.

Special Mention: Push ups

One glaring thing that caught my attention from TRX is that they teach the push ups with the elbows flared. Why it is taught this way not explained. We know that according to the 7 Components of Structure, the elbows should be tucked in to the ribs to engage the lats to protect the shoulders.

At least if a certain technique they teach deviates from the norm, they should explain why it is done that way.

Somebody please give me a convincing explanation why it is a good idea to flare the elbows for push ups.

More on tools

As an aside, it seems that most popular fitness systems are very attached to their tools. New tools are being produced and marketed and new hypes are being promoted every now and then of a whole array of programs using these tools.

Tools are not wrong by the way, but hey, if you have to spend so much money to get these tools, why? Why oh why? If you are just looking for functional fitness, it can be achieved using commonly available tools, like your bodyweight alone. Your bodyweight is the most readily accessible tool everybody has.

If your sport depends on a specific tool exclusively, like weightlifting/powerlifting or kettlebell sport, then sure, that tool should be the mainstay for your program. But for the rest of the population, isn't it a better idea to use tools that are more readily available? Or if you have a variety of tools, to have decent proficiency in using them instead of just a limited range?

As Coach Sonnon says: the protocol is more important the technique, the technique is more important than the tool.

Verdict

I recommend TFR anytime over TRX. On the other hand, i cannot recommend TRX. Even if i get it for free, i wouldn't want it. Thanks but no thanks.

Get your copy of TACFIT R.O.P.E. here by clicking on the picture:

Monday, November 1, 2010

What is Sophistication

Updated 2 May 2013

Sophistication is simply defined as "increasing motor complexity". There are many exercises that can be done for strength & conditioning. Some easier some harder. Some simpler some more complex. In fact there can be an infinite number of variations of an exercise. The limit of the number would depend only on your imagination.

So what is a beginner to do when presented with an encyclopedia of strength training exercises? He gets confused. So many variations of squats: back squat, front squat, dumbbell squat, one legged squat, bulgarian squat ad nauseum. And then there are variations designed by the "functional training" community: squats on a swiss ball and the like.

And then there are people who say that you need to change your routine every now and then. The reason being your body would get stale from doing the same movements over and over. Who wouldn't get bored doing squats after squats after squats year in year out? The common recommendation ranges from 3-4 to 4-8 weeks. But what to change? How to change? How to determine when to change?

Let's look at how sophistication can answer all these questions and stop all those confusion.

Why sophisticate


In CST, our goal is not only to avoid staleness as defined above. But also a plan to increase our neuromuscular efficiency. The idea is that you don't want to be stuck doing the same basic exercises all the time. As you get proficient in the basic exercises, you need to add more stimulus to your nervous system to keep progressing.

A common progression used by most systems obviously is the protocol, ie time, reps, sets, rest periods etc. Another commonly used is the resistance. But these do not change the motor complexity of the exercises.

In the movement disciplines of gymnastics, dances and the martial arts, sophistication is a highly sought after progression. Beginners and veterans are easily recognizable by the grace they have (or lack thereof) in executing simple and complex skills.

In these disciplines, points are rewarded for more complex movements or combinations. The reward doesn't go to "who can do the most push ups" or "who can do the most handstand push ups", but "who can do the most complex skills and make it look easy".

And indeed when you master the more complex skills, the more basic and easier skills would feel...easier. Much more than if you only practice the basic skills.

Not only your motor skills improve, by training more sophisticated exercises, you get a greater training effect compared to training the simpler variations. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You save time and effort while getting a greater stimulus.

How to sophisticate

I'll give you some examples first then give you the explanation. For simplicity sake, i'll use conventional exercises (and programs) as examples and separate them according to different sophistication needs.

Original exercises (if applicable) are highlighted in blue.

Pavel's Power to the People
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
2H BB Military Press 1H BB Military Press BB Side Press BB Bent Press
2H Deadlift 1H Deadlift Suitcase Deadlift 1L Suitcase Deadlift (opposite arm)

Weightlifting based a big push and a big pull
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
BB Military Press BB Push Press BB Jerk BB Clean & Jerk
BB Deadlift BB High Pull BB Clean BB Snatch

Pavel's Enter the Kettlebell Rite of Passage
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Goblet Press Military Press Side Press Bent Press
DeadliftSwing Clean Snatch

Pavel's Enter the Kettlebell Program Minimum
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Floor Press Get Up Sit Up Half Get Up Full Get Up
2H Deadlift 1H Deadlift 2H Swing 1H Swing

KB Sport based a big push and a big pull
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Goblet Press Press Push Press Jerk
Deadlift Swing Clean Snatch

There are many ways of sophisticating exercises, some of these are:

Adding explosiveness, eg: squat -> squat jump

Adding/changing a different degree of freedom, eg: press -> side press

Adding *instability, eg: front squat -> overhead squat
*By adding instability, i don't mean doing everything on the swiss ball.

Adding range of motion, eg: box squat -> full squat

Increasing leverage, eg: push up on knees -> push up on feet

Combination movements, eg: clean + jerk = clean & jerk

This list is by no means exhaustive. As mentioned above, the limit is your imagination.

When to sophisticate

The general guideline is to increase the sophistication when RPE drops to =< 6 while keeping RPT => 8 and RPD =< 3.

Another guideline is to increase the sophistication every month. Go through a full 4x7 cycle with Level 1. The next time you come back to the same program, start over at a Level 2, and so on.

You need to spend time on the lower sophistication levels before moving up. So even though we are a big advocate on sophistication, the importance on the basic exercises cannot be overlooked. Sophistication is powerful medicine. Used improperly, like progressing too much too soon, can cause residual tension and injury. Used properly, after mastering the lower levels, can be one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox.

Check out TACFIT Mass Assault to see how to sophisticate conventional dumbbell-based exercises:
Or TACFIT 26 on how to sophisticate a variety of bodyweight and weighted exercises:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Are the 5 Levels of Breath

Updated 2 May 2013

There are many ways to breathe. Some better some worse. Some good some bad. Some safe some dangerous. In this article we'll introduce some of the common types and arrange them in order.

We'll also answer once and for all the question of "how to breathe during (weight training) exercises?"

Why is this so important? Breathing properly during your exercises can make or break you. It is one of the components of proper technique (remember the 7 Key Components of Structure). Done properly, your breath can maximize your performance. Done improperly your breath can kill you.

The 5 levels of breath are summarized in the Breath Mastery Scale (adapted from Prasara Yoga by Scott Sonnon):

1) Fear Level Breath: passively (reflexively) inhale and brace on perceived effort

2) Anger or Force Level Breath: actively inhale and brace on perceived effort


3) Discipline Level Breath: actively exhale on perceived effort/discomfort; passively inhale on cessation of effort/discomfort

4) Flow Level Breath: passively exhale on compression; passively inhale on expansion

5) Mastery Level Breath: control pause after exhalation on activity
For all intents and purposes, i'll only cover what is important to you, ie the layman, and not give exhaustive explanation of the hows and whys.

The breathing techniques highlighted in red are not to be used at any exercise. The reason being the breath holding would increase your blood pressure. And if the pressure increases to very high, it can cause stroke or heart attacks. It can be argued that for maximal efforts such as powerlifting you need to hold your breath, but remember that we are a health first fitness system. Performance at the expense of health is not real health.

As an aside, even when you encounter fear or anger, you should not inhale and brace either. As prolonged exposure to this type of breathing would increase your overall muscle tension (read upper thoracic breathing, tight upper traps, forward head posture etc.), which would lead to poorer health and performance. You should instead exhale and do some exercises to release the tension (ala RESET, included in the FREE Recuperat8 package).
Discipline Level Breath is the one that you should employ in most of your strength & conditioning exercises. The exhalation causes activation of the core muscles that serves to stabilize the body and in that manner you tie the body into one unit to create linkage for force transfer from limb to limb or one part of the body to another.

Flow Level Breath is the one you should employ when the effort level is low enough that you do not need the exhale to create sufficient stiffness in your core. An example of this is during joint mobility exercises in Intu-Flow. Another example would be in endurance efforts where energy conservation is a primary concern, like marathon running.

Your breath would evolve from Discipline to Flow as you get better in a particular exercise. The evolution from Discipline to Flow cannot be forced. It happens subconsciously as your nervous system gets more efficient in a particular skill. As you make the exercise more difficult through increased resistance, volume, sophistication etc, you may need to go down to Discipline again, going back and forth as needed.

Sounds complicated? If you can't remember anything, just remember these:

1) Exhale on effort

2) Exhale on compression

3) Exhale on impact/contact (with the floor, punching bag, your opponent etc.)

Why did i not give instructions on when to inhale? Because the body already knows how to inhale. People already have a tendency to inhale forcefully and therefore we shall not promote that kind of breathing technique and decrease their health and performance.

Monday, October 25, 2010

TACFIT Mass Assault Video Compilation

My blog post TACFIT Mass Assault Review is the top viewed post in my blog. For those of you who have read the review, here are some more goodies for you: excerpts of the program with Clubbells.

Enjoy!







Thursday, October 21, 2010

TACFIT Rope Review

What is suspension training

Simply put, suspension training is using a suspension system to create instability in bodyweight exercises to challenge the body even more than if the body is supported on a solid surface.

What is normally easily done on the floor (eg. push ups) would be harder done if the hands or feet are suspended on a rope.

My background and rings
My first exposure to suspension training was when i was in artistic gymnastics. The high school teams in Singapore did not compete the rings so it was just a novelty training equipment at our gym. Sometimes we would try some movements on the rings and find out how extremely difficult just to swing on them.

Fast forward a few years to National Service. My unit did not have a gym, so i made do with bodyweight exercises.

So after a few years of not having regular access to gyms, i have grown accustomed to training bodyweight only or with minimal equipment.

Then i discovered that there are people selling rings out there. I recalled the good old days in gymnastics team when we would play with the rings. So i bought myself a set and an instructional DVD for the rings.

Great exercises for building extreme strength and stability in the shoulders. However, the rings are somewhat bulky and heavy (mine are the original Power Rings, made of steel). And the training methodology is not that portable. I mean would you train max strength most of the time, with a high degree of instability and narrow margin for error. Not practical to be trained often especially in highly fatigued state. So they stayed in my closet for a few years.

Enter the TRX

Since the TRX was released several years ago, it has become synonymous with suspension training.

My first exposure with TRX was at an SnC gym in Singapore. I didn't give it much attention since i am not a fan of foam padded handles. And if unconditioned people like it, it must not be hardcore enough.

What can be harder than exercises on the rings? Hardcore gyms use rings, not TRX.

Only after the release of TACFIT R.O.P.E. did i pay more attention to TRX.

After looking at it in more details, the marketing of TRX says something to this effect:
-You don't want to train for hours at the gym.
-You can have a great workout anytime, anywhere.
-There are hundreds of exercises that you can do with it.
-Of course the usual stuff on attributes like strength, endurance, cardio etc.
-You can lose weight, gain muscle and the usual physique stuff.

Why i am not sold on TRX

Well, i have no doubt on the effectiveness of the program. What is holding me back is everybody seems to be saying the same things on their fitness programs. Everybody says their program and tools can help you save time, do hundreds of exercises, lose fat, build muscle, build strength etc. You could effectively substitute the name of their product or program with another and it won't make a difference.

I have had enough of the marketing of attributes and physique. Even the most simple program (eg, Pavel's PTP, ETK etc.) can achieve these things. Nothing special. Btw, i am not saying that simple is bad. These simple programs are much better than a complicated program made of ten variations of isolation exercises. But what i am looking for is complex skill development.

I don't train for hours at the gym. If you do, that is the problem of your program design. You need to rethink how to design your training program. The solution is not changing the tool to TRX.

I don't need TRX to have a great workout anytime anywhere. I have this through bodyweight exercises. I already had kettlebells and clubbells so i can have a great workout using them anytime, though not fully anywhere (if you don't have a car).

I don't need hundreds of exercises. Yes you can know many exercises, but how many are you going to do in a workout? The magic of program design is in knowing when to do what and how much.

If you don't know, kettlebell sport, International Clubbell Sport, Trial By Fire, has only two to three exercises and practicing them in exclusion to other movements can make you stronger than a lot of people who do more than a dozen ineffective exercises.

And lastly the TRX cost almost 3x as much as a set of rings. Crazy pricing. I have no doubt about their quality, but i am not going to spend my cash on them.

Why TACFIT R.O.P.E.

What got me sold on TACFIT R.O.P.E is this:

"Suspension training gives us the ability to use gravity in new dimensions. The suspension aspect of ROPE builds strength in all 6 Degrees of Freedom."

That simple. The unique thing about CST is the movements. We are taught and encouraged to train more complex movements. To become more neurologically efficient. Because in real life, movements are never only one dimensional.

You can keep your movements simple and basic, increasing the difficulty and intensity through resistance, time, reps etc. But it is boring. To keep progressing you need more complex movement patterns that covers more than one or two dimensions, ie in the 6 Degrees of Freedom.

If you haven't known TACFIT yet, you should get acquainted with it and CST. It's not the tool that does the magic, although good tools definitely make things easier to do, but it is the program design. Everything from the protocol, exercises and tools play a part in creating the perfect program.

Alright, i think i have said enough on how good this program is. Click here to get your own copy now: