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My Daily Grinds

Crossfit. Calisthenics. Marathons. Ultramarathons. Extreme Workouts. Diary of a fitness fanatic

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MAINTAINING FITNESS OVERSEAS | TRAINING TALK EPISODE 6

You have managed to fit your training regime into your hectic life. It has become a routine; you know what are the equipment that you have, you have planned your training program around the equipment that you have, you know what time to get up because you know how long it takes to get to your gym and from your gym to work.

There is the ELEMENT of certainty. You know you can get in your workout.

However, when you are going on a vacation overseas or being sent overseas for work, the element of certainty is gone.

You don’t know whether it is safe to run there, you don’t know how far the gym is from your hotel, you don’t know what are the weights AVAILABLE in the hotel, what are the specific equipment available in the hotel.

ON TOP OF THAT, you don’t know your TIMETABLE!!! (Vacation/ work overseas can be quite uncertain).

Therefore, in order to minimize disruptions, here are some tips which I use when I am going overseas:

1) IF POSSIBLE, get an accommodation with a good gym

Few things which I look for: squat rack, pull up bar and free weights (best if there are kettlebells). If not, pretty much you can do quite a fair bit with these 3.

But more often than not, they don’t have all 3 (usually only a dumbbell rack).

But if you do manage to find a gym close by or in your hotel with this 3 equipment, you should be quite safe.

2) Bring along equipment

I will usually bring equipment with me just to make sure that I am doubly prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. I will usually bring along:
– Gymnastic Rings/ TRX
-Resistance bands
-Running Vest (If I need to run)
-Dip belt
-Running Shoes
-Workout attire

Of course, I don’t bring EVERYTHING; but these are some of the things which I may bring along, depending on my training schedule, which I will talk about later.

3) Plan your TRAINING PROGRAM

If you know that you are going to be REALLY BUSY, and you know your duration of travel in advance, do plan for it to be a deload week or maximize rest/active recovery days. This will reduce the probability of you missing key sessions.

Usually, I will plan my training sessions to be done in the morning, as they are the time of the day which I get most control of the time. I like the idea of checking off my workout before the day starts; the endorphins make me feel better and it is always great knowing that you have gotten the hardest thing out of the way!

If you need to schedule a run, do use google maps to “recce” the area prior to your run to plan your route and also go for a recce run (easy paced) on your first run out in the city! Remember to bring extra cash, your phone and your passport with you in case anything happens.

If you are doing ring work, do keep a lookout for places to strap your rings. It may not be as easy to find a sturdy overhead structure to strap your rings on; that is where a TRX will come in handy as you will only need the door!

Usually, when I am overseas, I will try to put my fitness on maintenance (unless I am going to be there for quite a while). Here are some key concepts to do so:

– Make sure you select multi-joint exercises. These will give you the greatest bang for the buck; saves time while hitting loads of muscle groups at one go. My favourites are thrusters, clean and presses, snatches, burpees and muscle ups.

– Make sure that you have a clear objective in your training. You are tight on time and won’t want to waste time deciding what to do at the gym itself. This will also allow you to decide what equipment you will need to bring overseas!!!

With these pointers in mind, you should be able to incorporate a training regime overseas with greater ease. The key is to plan out everything ahead of time!

If not, keep training and train hard!!:)

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SURVIVING IPPT: 2.4KM RUN | TRAINING TALK EPISODE 5

 

Apologies everyone!

I know it has been a while since I blogged. Have been really busy recently; I will definitely work towards blogging more!

In this episode of training talk, we will be talking about the 2.4km run A.K.A the 1.5-mile timed run: a common mode of measurement for stamina adopted by military units all around the world.

And we are going to talk about how to survive.

In the video, I talked about surviving the run specifically to the Singapore Armed Forces standards, but when I looked across other units, pretty much the standards are about the same.

A good time to hit will be sub-10 for a conscript army, anything less than 9 minutes will be good, sub-8 is excellent.

My best time in the 2.4km run is 7:55 and that was done during my days when I was racing cross country; now it is anywhere between 8:15 to 8:40, depending on which training cycle I am in.

HOW DO WE TRAIN UP FOR THE RUN?

I am not going to sugar coat anything, nor sell you a cookie cutter program.

Training for a decent 2.4km time takes time.

You will have to put in the effort to train for it.

By training for it DOESN’T mean you do insanity, go cycling, do skipping, Crossfit…

It means building a solid aerobic base AND doing intervals correctly.

BASED on this principle alone, we can break down the ways to improve your time based on your current run time.

HOW TO TRAIN BASED ON YOUR CURRENT 2.4KM RUN TIME?

14< minutes run time

If you run your 1.5-miler in more than 14 minutes, you should work towards building a consistent habit of running. Start by going for walks if you are really not conditioned to run; build towards a series of run/walk intervals. Work at doing these sessions 3x a week and try to build up to at least 10 minutes worth of running with 5 minutes of walking in a single session.

13-14 minutes run time

If you are in this range, to bring your time to a sub 13 or low 12, it is time to work towards running/jogging for the entire 2.4km. Start with run/walk intervals and SLOWLY reduce the time you spend walking.

Build up to being able to run for 15-20 minutes for three times a week.

12-13 minutes run time

From this range on, to bring your time down to sub 12 or even a low eleven, pretty much you will just have to do more running. Build up to running 3-4km 2 times a week with a slightly longer run of 5-6km.

11-12 minutes run time

This is the time when you can start to add in some form of interval work; 6 x 400m or 3 x 800m are great sessions to help you out with improving your time.

The key when performing these intervals is to be as SPECIFIC as possible.

Run at your target race pace (if you want to run a 10 minutes, you should be averaging 100s/400m) and keep your rest time consistent. I always start of with 2 minutes rest for the 400m intervals and 3 minutes for the 800s, slowly bringing them down to 1 minute and 2 minutes respectively.

The reason for sticking as close to race pace as possible is for you to teach your body what it feels like to run at that pace; turning it into muscle memory. Reduction of rest time will act as the variable to ensure that you are improving.

Do continue to run the conversational runs; but now prioritize speedwork and try to increase your long runs to 6-7kms.

Do ensure that you are getting enough recovery during these key sessions (interval and long runs). Don’t perform interval work for more than once a week.

9-10 minutes run time

This is where it gets tricky; when you are here, there is either innate talent, or you had worked hard to get here. Nevertheless, the important thing is to periodize your training properly. To improve your run time from here, the gains are getting marginal; what you will want to do is to establish a proper base through easy runs and long runs 3-4x a week, you may cap your longest run at 10km. Do this for about 2-3 months, then take a month to a month and a half performing some interval work at desired race pace (NOT more than 2x a week).

The reason now you can perform interval work for 2x a week is because of the larger aerobic base which you had developed, which allows you to handle a more intense workload and recovering sufficiently from it. Usually I will space the interval sessions far apart (E.G. Monday and Friday).

From here on, any improvement will be based on cycling through this periodized approach; building more mileage and sharpening performance with precise interval work.

Hope this article helps!

If you guys have any questions, feel free to drop me an email, contact me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/coachjacklian) or Instagram (@thefitnessextremist)

If not..TRAIN HARD!!!

BENEFITS OF SCALING | TRAINING TALK EPISODE 4

Scaling workouts. Scaling resistance of exercises.

We all have heard of the term “scaling”. It is a term popularized by Crossfit. However, the science behind it is not new: to cater the workout to the specific needs of the individual.

Scaling allows people of various fitness levels to train together – which helps build an inclusive community around fitness – a huge motivating tool for people to keep up with an active lifestyle. Long gone is the mentality that a certain workout is designed exclusively for advanced athletes or beginners.

SCALING AS A TRAINING TOOL

With that being said, how can scaling be APPROPRIATELY applied?

Scaling is not just about making sure that EVERY single exercise in a given circuit is doable by the athlete; it is about achieving the training objectives of the prescribed workout/ session.

Take for example this workout below:

Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes:
5 pull ups
10 push ups
15 squats

You will need to identify the key training objective of this workout. For this instance, the workout listed above would be one of muscular endurance and increasing your general cardiovascular endurance.

Therefore, if you ONLY have a max pull up score of 5-9 pull ups, some scaling needs to be done in order to achieve the training objective above. If you do the workout as prescribed, you will end up being able to do the first 2 rounds in 3-4 minutes and end up having to spend the rest of the 16 minutes only completing 3 more rounds as you need to take long breaks to complete the set of 5 pull ups.

Your heart rate will not be elevated, there will not be sufficient repetitions to induce muscular endurance adaptations due to the long periods of time spent resting on the pull ups.

Yes you did the workout as prescribed.

BUT the training did not achieve its objectives.

If you had either:

A. Scaled down the pull ups to incline pull ups/ ring rows after you aren’t able to perform pull ups anymore OR

B. Just scale 5 pull ups to 10 incline pull ups from the get go,

you will be able to elevate your HR, get in more repetitions and achieve your training objectives.

KNOW WHAT ARE YOUR TRAINING OBJECTIVES, SCALE YOUR WORKOUTS ACCORDINGLY.

Planning of workouts calls for another episode of training talk. The tips offered below will be useful in helping you scale your workouts effectively.

Metabolic/Endurance Workouts
Do make sure that the exercises used for such workouts are of light – moderate resistance TO YOU.

Strength is relative.

Some of who can do weighted pull ups might classify bodyweight pull ups as “light – moderate” but to someone who has a PB of 3 pull ups, “light – moderate” resistance might be scaling to banded pull ups/ incline rows.

A key tip would be to ensure that you are able to perform the exercise for the entire duration while keeping ur HR up and with minimal rest.

Strength Workouts

Again, strength is relative.

As you are aiming to increase your strength, do pick a weight which is challenging enough for you to feel the effects BY the last set. 

And the weight must allow you to do the repetitions with full range of motion and proper form.

Hope you guys find this useful!

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a personal message on my blog, Facebook or Instagram!

Train Hard!!

Jack

WEIGHT TRAINING FOR RUNNERS | TRAINING TALK EPISODE 3

In this episode of Training Talk, we talk about how weight training (calisthenics and free weights) can benefit runners.

As runners (myself included), we tend to shy away from the weight room and embrace the pavement and trails. After all, the more mileage you clock, the better you will get at running right?

This is indeed true.

However, there is a huge BUT.

Doing nothing else but running alone will set you up for a wide variety of problems which are usually chronic overuse injuries as well as being dysfunctional.

Yes, that means you can only run and anything physical tasks aside from that either hurt you or you cannot do at all.

WANT TO FEEL STRONG, FAST and INDESTRUCTIBLE?

Here is the secret: Hit the weights.

Essentially, weight training complements running – it helps to reduce injuries caused by running and can even improve running performance.

REDUCING INJURIES

How many of you feel that as you log in more mileage during the week, you start to feel your ITBS, piriformis syndrome, shin splints, strained Achilles and all sorts of pain starting to appear? Then you are forced to take a rest and when you build back up again to the similar level again you get injured again.

Then you are forced to take a rest. And when you build back up again to the similar level again you get injured again.

And when you build back up again to your old fitness level you get injured again.

All these can be reduced via weight training.

Weight training helps to reduce injuries by:

1, Improve your running biomechanics

Your running biomechanics is USUALLY the main cause of chronic pain. Because we are running SO much, a slight misalignment in running posture can cause pain. When ignored, they can blow up to inflict some serious damage to your body.

Take for instance for myself. I had an issue with my ITB – it was causing some serious pain as I was running with a less than ideal gait; my knees were caving in slightly during the landing phase and as such, over time, it adds up and caused the injury.

After reducing the mileage and picking up weight training, I learnt how to squat with the proper technique by engaging the glutes and applying external rotation in order to prevent valgus knees. I applied this technique to running as well, making sure that my knees don’t come inwards upon landing and it worked WONDERS. Nowadays I don’t really feel pain in my ITB anymore and I believe this is partly due to the correction in running gait!

Similarly, the deadlift is also a great exercise which teaches your body how to engage the power of the posterior chain (glutes and hamstring) while you are running. This will prevent you from “leaning from the hips” and instead learn to “lean from the ankles” which translates into more efficient force generation during toe off!

2, Correct muscle imbalances caused by too much running (too much specific work)

The motion of running builds the hamstrings more than the quadriceps (if you are only running on flats), and does little to work on the abs, obliques. As such, there can be muscle imbalances caused by strong lower back-weak abdominals, weak quads-strong hamstrings, etc.

Weak quads-strong hamstrings are one of the most common reasons why runners get the runner’s knees – the weak quadriceps (specifically the VMO) prevents the proper track of the patella (knee caps), coupled with the strong force production of the hamstring, is the main source of knee pains. By doing more squats it can essentially strengthen your quadriceps and this helps to keep your knee cap in place and thus removing the pain.

Lateral movements are also often neglected –  as such runners tend to have weak abductors and adductors. They are a huge contributor to pelvic stability on top of your core and thus they need to be worked on to prevent injuries caused by excessive rotation of the pelvis, which can also cause knee pain and ITBS.

3, Prevent overuse injuries by switching up your training.

Lastly, weight training gives your body a chance to REST your legs from all the pounding while getting in work to strengthen your body, which mitigates the chance of overuse injuries. All the running is catabolic in nature. Weight training helps to strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments in order to increase their tolerance to the high impact nature of the sport!

ENHANCE PERFORMANCE

Weight training can ALSO improve running performance (WOOHOO)!

1, Bombproof legs

Squats. Deadlifts.

The two most essential lifts that you can do to increase fatigue tolerance in those legs. By being able to lift more, the power generation in your legs increases, each step that you take will also feel easier due to the decreased percentage of max power in every toe off.

2, Able to hold an efficient running posture for a longer period of time

Push ups, pull ups, dips, planks (plus their variations).

These will form the bulk of a runner’s upper body regime, and are some of the exercises which forms the building blocks of my strength development.

Get good at them.

They will help you to hold your posture late into a race. A loosely or poorly held upper body and a weak trunk will cause poor force generation and will be an energy leaking tap which prevents you from moving efficiently.

By building up a strong CORE and UPPER BODY strength, you can hold your running posture much better. The upper body strength that you acquired will give you the energy in the arms to sprint to the finish. Yes, when your legs are tired and when your arms are still fresh, taking advantage of contralateral movement patterns between the arms and legs, swinging your arms as hard and as fast as you can will induce your legs to do the same and that is how you get the “edge” in a sprint to the finish!

SO..HOW DO YOU START??

Here are a few tips for weight training which will help you achieve BOTH benefits:

1, HEAVY SQUATS AND DEADLIFTS 

Try to shoot for 5 x 5 reps of squats and deadlifts at a relatively challenging weight, with 1:3 to 1:6 work to rest ratio. The idea is to not put on mass, but to induce the neuromuscular stimulus which increases force generation without putting on significant mass (which may affect your running performance).

2, CALISTHENICS WORK

Get good at pull ups, push ups, dips and planks. The idea is to develop a base level of strength and you can do that by performing these exercises for reps. A good benchmark will be:

50 push ups in a minute
15 pull ups
20 dips on the parallel bar
30s planks with contralateral limbs lifted off the ground

3, UNILATERAL LEG WORK

Single leg balance on unstable surfaces, Bulgarian split squats, lunges and pistols squats. Work on them to develop single leg balance and strength which can help a lot in injury prevention. I like to build up to being proficient at pistol squats (10 per leg) for 3 sets.

4, ADDUCTORS and ABDUCTORS WORK

Grab a resistance band and perform adductor and abductor raises.

3-4 sets of 15 reps will be a good.

Alternatively, you can try clamshells and adductors lifts.

SO. 

There you have it, the tools necessary to build up a strong body to handle the rigours of running. Treat strength training as an integral part of your running program – I’d replace 1-2 sessions of running per week for weight training rather than it on to the running session itself. That is the level of importance that I rate strength work.

During your off-season you can afford to have 2 sessions of weight training, but during on-season you can afford to reduce to just 1. During the sharpening phase you may remove it entirely.

I strongly recommend all runners to incorporate weight training into their regime.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, feel free to drop me a message in the contact me section, or drop me a PM on my Facebook page or Instagram!

Mastering your BODYWEIGHT!! | TRAINING TALK EPISODE 2

Yet another summary of Training Talk!

This episode we discuss an interesting topic: mastering your ability to lift your own weight!

I feel that being proficient at lifting your own bodyweight crucial regardless if you are an elite athlete or a working professional.

The reason being:

1, It allows you to be more athletic; you are more nimble and agile, which helps you to perform physical tasks (daily household chores to moving around in combat load during reservist) more easily.

2, Sets a solid foundation for you for further strength development – your ligaments and joints will be stronger after a period of bodyweight work and thus allow you to move on to lifting heavier loads with lesser risks of injury.

3, OF COURSE, LAST BUT NOT LEAST, perform fancy bar skills and increases obstacle immunity during Obstacle Course Races (OCR)!

In this episode, we focus on how to go about mastering your own bodyweight in order to achieve the third benefit. We specifically focus on three skills which I thought would be of interest to you guys:

1, Getting your first muscle up

2, Clearing the monkey bar

3, Clearing the multi-rig

There are 2 huge concepts towards training in order to help you achieve these 3 feats which demonstrate feats of bodyweight mastery: Physical training and technical training.

Physical training prepares your body to handle the rigors of technical training, allowing you to practice technical drills safely and is the foundation strength builder for these 3 movements.

Technical training grooves the motor pattern of these movements via drills and thus allowing you to pick up the skills gradually.

1, Physical Training

This refers to the development of strength specific to the muscles, tendons and ligaments required to perform these movements. This concept applies to mastering any other intermediate-advanced bodyweight movements.

The Muscle Up

There are 3 primary movements in the muscle up: the pull, the transition and the dip.

The pull and the dip are the primary physical movements that we need to get really strong at before we are ready to handle the technical drills of muscle ups.

I always recommend my clients to be able to first perform 15 pull ups  and 15 bar dips before attempting technical training for the muscle up. I am sure some can pick up this skill with 10 of each, however, it is not safe to do so. I remembered how I injured my rotator cuff through technical training of the muscle up and that is when I was able to do 20+ pull ups and 30+ dips. If you don’t have adequate strength, the movement drills that you

If you don’t have adequate strength, you will not have deliberate control over the movement drills that you practice. You are just “trying your luck”. There is no deliberate and purposeful practice of the drills and it can lead to injuries.

Even when you are able to do 15 pull ups and dips, don’t stop there –  the better you are at your basics, the better you will get at the more advanced movements; after picking up weighted pull ups and dips + some explosive pulling work, my ability to perform the muscle up improved dramatically – all these with little technical work and thus I firmly believe in the development of your foundation movements to build up performance for more advanced movements.

Multi-Rig and Monkey Bars

Primary movements for monkey bars and multi-rigs are the ability to shift your bodyweight from one arm to another while hanging in mid-air. Thus, it is crucial to first develop your grip endurance. This can be done by:

1, Hanging on the bar (or different handholds such as globe balls, fat grips, cliffhangers, etc), first with both arm, then subsequently 1 arm.

2, Performing loads of pull ups

2, Technical Training

Technical training gets you smooth in the movement itself. Therefore for the case of the muscle ups, here are some drills which can be performed in order to groove in the necessary movement pattern:

1, muscle up negatives

2, banded muscle ups

3, other muscle up progressions

Some drills for practicing the multi-rigs and monkey bars (getting used to shifting weight from one arm to another):

1, monkey bar traverse (monkey swing/ single rung method; bent elbows/straight arms)

2, gymnastic ring traverse (with differing height and handholds)

3, switching grip pull ups

As you can see, technical training for multi-rigs and monkey bars are quite straightforward, whereas for the muscle ups it can get a little more technical. This all depends on the complexity of the movements. The muscle up is definitely more technical than the monkey bars/multi-rigs but I firmly believe that with proper strength development via physical training will definitely expedite the learning process in the technical phase of training.

So before you try out any fanciful bodyweight skills, always ask yourself this question:

Do I have the adequate strength to perform the movements?

If no, it is better to work on developing the basics (e.g. pull ups, dips, push ups, hollow hold) first before moving on to practice technical aspect of the movement.

If you have any queries or need a customised plan to build you up towards achieving your first muscle up, clearing the multi-rig or monkey bar, feel free to drop me an email, or DM me on Instagram or Facebook!

Goodluck and Train Hard!!

Jack

Obstacle Immunity in OCR: The MOST neglected secret | TRAINING TALK EPISODE 1

If you are not up to watching the video, you can read about it below!!

When it comes to obstacle course racing, gaining strength and learning the right technique to clear each obstacle comes to many people’s mind. As such, many boot camps focus a lot on high-intensity circuits, heavy lifting and lots of grip/hanging work.

Don’t get me wrong, these sessions will get you ready for obstacle course racing; however, I felt that one aspect of training is SEVERELY lacking – time on feet AKA running/walking. There simply is not enough time spent consistently moving around to develop a strong aerobic foundation which is so crucial in building a high work capacity for obstacle immunity.

The next question many will ask is: how does running/walking and an improved aerobic capacity improve obstacle immunity in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)? Here are the benefits:

1, Reduction in fatigue during the race.

If you take a look at most OCR races, they are in actual fact, a form of a footrace, with physical tasks to be cleared between the start and finish line. Thus, having the endurance and stamina to complete the distance is a primary requirement. If you cannot complete the distance (without obstacles) without significant fatigue, you will have issues clearing the obstacles

If you cannot complete the distance (without obstacles) without significant fatigue, you will experience difficulty clearing the obstacles during the footrace itself, as the fatigue from covering distance will set in and make obstacle clearance that much harder.

By increasing your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular efficiency via running/walking, you will be able to cover the distance without much effort, and this sets aside your energy and allows you to focus on clearing the obstacles itself.

2, Ability to beat the crowd to obstacles.

As more people clear the obstacles, the more slippery the obstacles (such as monkey bars, multi-rig, atlas balls, etc) gets, which makes the obstacle much harder to clear as you will need more energy to grip onto them. In addition, OCR races are usually designed to be on trails; certain segments of trails with soft dirt will turn into gooey mud after being trampled on by thousands of feet, which increases the difficulty in moving through them.

Therefore, to conserve energy, with a strong aerobic foundation developed from running, you can beat the crowd (in your wave at least, or even better if you are in the earlier waves), to run on firmer dirt and clear dryer obstacles which will not require as much effort as the wet and slippery ones, increasing the chance of clearing the obstacles!

3, Faster recovery between obstacles.

With a strong aerobic base developed from running/walking, the runs/walks between obstacles will become recovery segments instead of wearing your down, allowing your body to clear the lactic acid in your body and gets you ready for the next obstacles in a few minutes’ time!

4, Better performance on long loaded carries.

How many of us dread the sandbag carry, bucket carry or tractor pull? With a strong aerobic foundation developed from running/walking, you will be less winded while performing these draggy loaded carries (possibly even move faster than the rest), and thus conserving energy to clear the more crucial obstacles (multi rigs, Atlas carry).

How can you build a strong aerobic foundation specific to OCR?

1, Long runs

Spending time on the feet at low intensities is the cornerstone of developing endurance. Below are the recommended distances which you should build up to prior to each specific distance in the Spartan Race:

Sprint (5-8km) – 10-12km long run

Super (14-16km) – 16-20km long run

Beast (21km) – maximum 25km long run

These runs should be done at a conversational pace; running with a friend will be enjoyable. Ideally, you should try to get in these runs on the trails with some elevation as it will mimic the course to a certain extend. Since the key is to keep moving at low intensities, don’t be afraid to walk up the inclines.

2, Burpee-long runs

I particularly love such runs as it mimics the Spartan Race. These runs can be anywhere between 5-16km long. At each kilometer mark, perform 30 burpees. This will build up your burpee resistance during the race and it is a REALLY good way to build OCR specific endurance. Start off with 5km and you will know what I mean:)

3, Obstacle specific intervals

This is to simulate fatigue on the course itself and clearing of the obstacles under high heart rate. This should be done closer to the race itself when your aerobic condition is at its peak and after gaining the ability to clear obstacles properly (without fatigue).

An example of OCR specific intervals will be:

6 rounds of:

-800m run

-clearing the monkey bars

-20 burpees

-200m sandbag carries

Hope that these gives you an insight to training for OCR from the endurance perspective.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email (contact me section), drop me a DM on Facebook or look me up on Instagram (@thefitnessextremist). I do design

I do design customized training programs and do personal training as well so if you are looking at upping your game in OCR with proper programming,  you may drop me an email and we can further discuss how I can help you achieve your goals.

Goodluck and train hard!

Cheers,

Jack

The Secret to building a HUGE Work Capacity 

We all have seen elite endurance athletes run at a superbly fast clip for almost forever. Crossfitters who can perform really well for several metcons over 3-4 consecutive days. MMA fighters who can fight at high intensities for 15-25 minutes. There is a secret to building this large work capacity other than just high intensity work.

Build a huge and efficient aerobic system.

You build your aerobic system more efficiently by exercising at lower intensities. However, many athletes are not going slow enough and thus not able to build their aerobic engine efficiently. Over a long period of time, an underdeveloped aerobic system can cause plateau in fitness. On the extreme end, it can lead to burnout or overtraining. 
The aerobic system, unlike the anaerobic system, has a greater room for development and thus, a properly developed aerobic system will be able to bring your performance to another level in most of the sports.
So how slow do you need to go?

If you are measuring your intensity using the 5HR Zones, then your aerobic efforts should be spent in Zone 2.
If you are measuring your intensity based on a rate of perceived effort scale of 10, then it should be hovering around 6-7. 

In short, the pace should be conversational (it should not allow you to sing though). Another way to find out if you are going slow enough is to use the breathing test; you should be running at a pace slow enough to run to breathe in and out through your nose without using your mouth comfortably.

The heart is a dumb muscle; as long as you stay in this heart rate zone/ conversational effort for a sustained period of time, it really doesn’t matter what form of exercise you do – good news for athletes as they can apply this concept and introduce sport specific exercises to develop the aerobic system to the specific requirement of the sport.

If you truly want to build a large engine which helps to increase sports performance, do cater time to put in those easy continuous efforts!!! You might feel that you are not doing much as these sessions might feel “guiltily easy”, but the adaptations gained are worth it over the long term!!

Run Training – Part 3: Strength Training for the Lower Body

Many runners (including myself in the past) place strength training for the legs as the lowest priority in our training program. Reason being: we are running so much! Our legs are bulletproof and strong, why is there a need for strength training? It is a waste of time!

This thinking flawed because of a few reasons:

1) Development of Strength and Range of Motion

I am not denying running hills and stairs can build strength in the legs, but they are not enough to develop strength throughout the entire ROM of knee flexion. Yes you can climb steep elevations, but can you do a full pistol squat? Can you do a full depth goblet squat? The last bit of depth of ROM in the squat is crucial – it aids you in getting you from a standing position to a sitting position on a stool, or simply to squat to reach for something which is on the lower shelves in the bookstore or supermarket.

2) Transferability of Movement Pattern

The squat and hip hinge are two of  the most important movements that we will utilize in our daily lives.

The hip hinge helps you to lift loads efficiently off the ground, while squatting and its variations aid in power generation (lifting/pushing loads) and helping us get from ground position (prone,supine, sitting or kneeling) into an upright standing position.

These movements cannot be developed by running stairs and hills alone! The range of motion, mobility required are much larger.

In addition, running hills and stairs do not teach you proper activation of muscles required to perform the hip hinge and squat, however, with squats and hip hinge work (deadlifts and kettlebell swings), you will learn the mechanics and transfer these skills into running hills and stairs, which increases running efficiency (activation of the glutes while running) and reduces risk of injuries.

3) Balance and Pelvic Stabilization

Running hills and stairs does not work on balance (unless you are running on trails). However, unilateral leg exercises like single leg deadlifts, pistol squats, single leg squat, all help to work on your balance and strength while maintaining proper pelvic position. To maintain proper pelvic position requires trunk and leg stabilization – all not explicitly “trained” during running of hills and stairs.

If you break running down into the different stages, you will realise that it is a continual series of single leg hops! With every footstrike, it will get you into a single leg hop landing position – In order to be strong in running, you will need to be able to hold that posture for extended periods of time.

Many runners are not able to hold a neutral pelvic position during running because of poor core and leg stabilization and is the cause of injuries such as ITBS. I was one of those in the past but thankfully things had gotten better after I started to include more leg work in my routine!

Ending Thoughts

With that being said, I still feel that hills and stairs work are essential for run training! Afterall nothing beats training for running other than running!

However, I feel that deadlifts and squats gets your legs ready for run-specific training (getting in more mileage) and is the basis for injury prevention and general leg strength development and thus improve your body’s functionality in playing other sports and carrying out other physical tasks other than running!

So, to all runners: Don’t EVER neglect strength training for the lower limbs!

Picture taken from: https://towerrunninguk.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/istock_running-up-stairs-2.jpg

4 Tips that will get you ready for the Hurricane Heat

1. Train at Night

Do incorporate some training sessions at night. Most Hurricane Heats are conducted through the night. If you had done a night event before (be it running an ultra marathon or taken part in previous Hurricane Heats), you will know that it is psychologically much harder to get through the night as compared to the day. Time seems to pass slower, much slower if you are alone.

There will be physical benefits as well when training in the dark. Your body will learn to cope with the stress of staying awake the entire night (when you should really be sleeping). If you had not been doing night training, you might experience severe sleepiness and fatigue really quickly during the event.

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Photo taken from: https://www.spartan.com/en/community/blog/spartan-news?article=20777

2. Include LONG Workouts

Do incorporate long workout sessions into your training program leading up to the Hurricane Heat. My advice would be to include one of such session every fortnight OR if you can manage the workload, once weekly. I would not recommend incorporating it too frequently as it will be really stressful on the body and your body needs time to recover from such workouts.

These sessions should be 2-3 hours long. You can kill two birds with one stone by doing them through the wee hours of the morning. During these sessions there will be several objectives:

  1. Test out your hydration plan
  2. Test out your equipment (hydration pack, hydration bladder) and see if they feel comfortable, making adjustments if necessary.
  3. Test out your fueling plan (what gel/food works for you)
  4. Learning how to cope with such workouts psychologically.

Do plan out the workout before hand; write it down on a piece of paper and bring it with you in a ziplock bag. This will prevent you from changing your plan on the fly when you are tired. If you are doing this alone, an extra motivation would be to post your workout plan on Facebook and/or Instagram and announce it to the world, which keeps you accountable to the workout that you had planned. The best way would of course, be to ask a few of your buddies to sign up for the Hurricane Heat with you and train together during these sessions! It will give you the extra motivation to push through the workout and reduce the psychological stress as compared to doing these workouts alone.

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3. Include Loaded Carries

Carries are one of the primary movements involved not only in Hurricane Heat, but in every Spartan Race event. During the Hurricane Heat, you will be required to carry odd objects which might not have uniform load distribution and regular shape unlike a kettlebell or a barbell.

Therefore, it will be crucial for you to incorporate loaded carries into your training program in order to familiarize yourself with carrying weird objects. Some of the objects which you can use to practice loaded carries are sandbags, weighted duffel bags, bucket carries, huge rocks, logs, etc.

If you do not have access to such equipment, you can also simulate irregular load distribution by performing unilateral loaded carries (farmers walk with heavy kettlebell/dumbbell in one hand), loaded carries with different weights in each arm.

Do practice these loaded carries in various positions as well: rack carries, shoulder carries, bear hugs, briefcase carries are some variations of the various ways which you can carry a load.

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4. Master Your Own Bodyweight

Finally, the final tip would be to master your own bodyweight. Being able to pull yourself up the rope, get through the monkey bars, multi rigs, over the Spartan walls or getting across and beneath the barb wire requires a combination of great pulling strength, athleticism as well as power.

Some of the exercises which you can incorporate into your training programs as such would be your Ape, Beast and Crab Crawl. These will improve your athleticism by improving coordination of your limbs. Do include pull ups, working towards towel pull ups in order to tackle the rope climb, monkey bars and multi rigs more efficiently.

Lastly, DO NOT forget to get in your BURPEE CONDITIONING! Unlike the Spartan Races (Sprint, Super, Beast), whereby burpees are optional (if you clear the obstacles, you will not have to do them), in the world of Hurricane Heat, burpees are the absolute favourite of the Krypteias!

So do turn up prepared to do loads and loads of burpees!

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NOW..GET BACK TO TRAINING!!

Whether you are an aspiring Hurricane Heater-to-be, veteran Hurricane Heater aiming to complete your next Hurricane Heat, I hope that this 4 tips would be useful in helping you get ready for your next Hurricane Heat!

All the best for your next Hurricane Heat!

AROO!!!!!

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