With the year 2012 in full force, I figured that instead of coming up with a bunch of things that I will do for the first 2 weeks of January only to abruptly move on to new and better things, I would post lessons that I have learned in 2011. What better way to do it then to post a list of do’s and dont’s.
Dont wear Vibram Five Finger shoes. The rise of this ridiculous reinforced “toesie” sock has infuriated me to no end. I’m sure that there are a ton of rabid Five Finger supporters out there chomping at the bit to put their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle resembling Vibram-clad feet upside my head. Truth is, I can’t deny that using a minimalist shoe has helped my running game out tremendously… But running ability does not have to be inversely proportional to dignity. Might I recommend something a little easier on my eyes and on your pride: Inov8 FLite 230’s for comfort, or 195’s for appearance.
Do wear weightlifting shoes. One of the largest, strongest men I have ever met, John Welbourn, was asked if he would prefer lifting in Vibrams or lifting barefoot. His response was something along the lines of comparing the question to being asked if he would rather be kicked in the testicles or have hot coffee poured in his lap. To paraphrase: neither. If you are going to take your strength gains seriously (which means you frequently squat, deadlift, and olympic lift) there is no substitute for a good pair of Olympic Weightlifting shoes. They come in many brands, from Pendlay to Nike. My first time using them I literally added 12 pounds to my clean just from the added stability. Invest in a pair if you haven’t already.
Don’t sacrifice 6 weeks of functionality for one day of competition or training. When I make mistakes, 90% of the time I hone up to them. This year, I competed in a local throwdown even though my back was in terrible shape from an injury prior in the week. Big mistake… I knew deep down that I was hurt but could not bring myself to drop out of the competition. Life does not workout like Disney movies, where things are miraculously healed just in time for game day. 4 grueling workouts and 6 hours later I literally went from moderately injured to completely useless. 3 weeks of constant pain ensued, followed by another 3 weeks of watching everyone else prance about like coked out reindeer while I moved like Herbert from Family Guy (minus the creepiness towards children). Never again.
Do take flexibility issues seriously. In relation to the injury, my hamstrings are tighter than… a really small glove. This inflexibility in my hammies was more than likely the main culprit in my back injury, yet prior to my aspirations of returning to health and being re-released into the wild like an injured young polar bear I paid little if any attention to the fact that I couldn’t touch my toes if my life depended on it. Spend 20-30 minutes a day working on becoming more limber. Specifically, loosening up tight hamstrings, tight pecs, and calves will help prevent a significant amount of injuries.
Don’t run through a red light with a camera on it. Seriously… I just saved you 580 dollars. Yea it was my fault, and I shouldn’t have driven home tired. But I just cant see that being a near 600 dollar burden to the city.
Do take a trip somewhere. Sometimes you just have to get away. I took my first vacation in 4 years to Yosemite Valley. Such a beautiful place. I think it’s important to experience beautiful things in nature that have been around for much longer than you. Nature has a way of making you feel small and insignificant. It makes life a little easier to swallow when they forget to put extra sauce on your burrito. No that isn’t paleo, but more importantly it is not a dirty joke.
Don’t be afraid to be accountable to someone else. In the fitness industry, much of our business is done on the basis of keeping clients accountable. I can’t keep count of how many people who’ve come into my presence with the ambition of MacBeth and the focus of a Buddhist monk on Ritalin when it comes to their fitness goals. That is, until I see them in 3 months and they have done absolutely nothing to get closer to their fitness goals. The truth is that the majority of people will eventually talk themselves out of situations in order to stay comfortable. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how many times in the last week you’ve said to yourself “I will do it tomorrow”. If you answer 1 or more times, then its probably time to seek help. You have issues. Sarcasm doesn’t translate well over text, I know.
Do have a training buddy or two. I don’t care what you say about being non-competitive and it only mattering if you tried. That’s loser talk… Losers don’t read this blog, so that’s not even a possibility. In all seriousness, I understand that quality of effort and integrity and safety of movement is what makes training successful. But once that is accomplished (it’s not hard if you have a good coach and listen to them) there is no better tool than having a measuring stick. It makes training that much more fun, but also makes you give that little extra bit of effort that will take you over the edge. Yea, that’s right I said it… over the edge.
Don’t forget to wear a belt and wrist wraps when you lift heavy. Pretty self explanatory, but I used to be one of those “only men with girlie parts lift with belts” type of men. I now advocate wearing a belt whenever the weight gets heavy… your spine will thank you. The only people who have something to say about wearing them are those who lift less than you. Everybody knows they have no relevance.
Do at least one thing you couldn’t do the year before.