Fired up a video yesterday when a flash of inspiration struck… plus I was in a shirt and tie and felt I owed it to y’all to not look like an utter slob in every single piece of media that ends up on this blog (such as this fine sample here). You’re welcome, friends. Also, I am just running a ridiculous streak on this vlogging. I know I will return to more writing soon (since it is profoundly important to me to write as much as possible), but damn… this is just FUN.
Today’s vlog is all about priorities and why we all need a Top 5. I hope you enjoy. -Kuz
My last post, as well as the Hartford Courant’s Websters awards for best blogs, got me thinking a little bit about restating what is really the purpose and goal behind this blog. And why not do that with a totally snappy video from first thing this AM? Then, all of you incredibly lucky folks would get the chance to partake of my magical language skills in full color and gander at my chiseled, handsome self while doing so. That’s not even a win-win. That’s like a win-win-win-win-win. It’s so powerful that People who haven’t even seen the video will be moved by it.
So sit back, take a sip on your latte/tea/bourbon/goat’s milk and enjoy the show… unless your drink is actually a mixture of latte, tea, bourbon and goat’s milk. If that’s the case… warm up the car for a trip to the hospital because your night can’t possibly end well with a concoction like that.
I’ve just hit a point where it occurs to me that I’ve never really gone into much detail as to what exactly I do when it comes to lifting, conditioning and all of that happy nonsense that keeps me fit and sane… or at least as sane as I’m ever going to get. I do touch on bits and pieces of it all, but I’ve never really laid the whole thing out before in this blog. Time to correct that today. Maybe you will find use in it or at least a moment to peer into what makes me tick.
Now, like my friend pictured above, I do enjoy hoisting some heavy objects around and I have yet to find something that gives me the same kind of satisfaction. There’s something purely primal in weightlifting and its ability to help you reshape your body that is utterly and hopelessly addicting. And therein lies the cornerstone for my own physical training philosophy. Strength first and then figure out where everything else falls into place. Here’s what it all looks like:
Always best to start with my favorite piece. First and foremost, the goal of my training is to keep getting stronger over time. I’m sure there may come a day where that will be more about maintaining that strength as opposed to building upon it, but that day isn’t today and it sure ain’t going to be tomorrow either.
The template I use is Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program, which you can find right here if you are interested in it. The beauty of the program is really three things: simplicity, effectiveness and the notion of improving over years, as opposed to “Get hawt abz in 30 days!!!” Also, it’s a template that can be used by anyone. Truly. From rank beginner to very experience trainer. From someone looking to play high level football to a soccer mom looking to get in better shape. It’s a flexible thing of beauty.
I am not going to go into endless detail about how it works, but basically you use four major lifts as your foundation: squats, bench press, deadlifts and overhead/military presses. Each lifting day focus on a big lift first and then you need to decide how to fill in the rest depending on your goals. Fear not – guidance is provided in the book on this sort of thing.
The 5/3/1 comes from the fact that in the first round through of those lifts, you do sets of 5; on the second round through, sets of 3; and on the final wave, you do a set of 5, a set of 3 and a set of 1. The twist is that on the final set in any week, you are really shooting for more than the 5, 3 or 1 that is set up for that week.
Anyhoo, my focus is to use this template to lift with three times per week. This basically means that I don’t get to all of the major lifts in a single 7 day period, but it rolls more into a 9 or 10 day period. I find I recover better this way and I feel a lot fresher when I do get to my lifting.
So, this is the big base after which everything else follows. I think it’s important in any training plan to prioritize things accordingly or else you will end up with a big soupy mess of awfulness. Seriously. That’s science.
Ahh, mobility and flexibility. My oft-ignored friends that have reared up to bite my behind with a fierce (and mighty?) vengeance. This has taken on a whole new life for me because I really gave it short shrift for far too long.
Let me make this as simple as possible: If you are an office working desk jockey, you need to be doing A LOT more of this. Period. There is just something wholly unnatural about sitting in a chair at a desk for hours on end every day. I didn’t need to see any of the recent reports on how sitting too much is bad for you to know that. I have long contended that for a lot of people, it’s not the aging process that really does in their bodies as much as it is the sedentary lifestyles that often accompany being a working, responsible adult. I am utterly convinced that even with all the lifting I do, it’s really the sitting most of the day that has done a world of hurt to my lower back.
So I am trying like heck to be better about this. Before every time I lift (and most times before I do a conditioning session), I go through a pretty darn thorough mobility circuit that I had custom-built for me by Eric Cressey at Cressey Performance outside of Boston. If it’s good enough for a bunch of professional athletes, then it’s darn sure good enough for me. I spent a few hours with Eric several weeks back to get myself all sorted out and for a custom plan to use going forward. Since then, I have truly begun to feel a heck of a lot better and move better as well. I’m not all the way where I would like to be, but it’s getting better. With hips tighter than a snare drum (see the sitting most of the day reference above), it’s not going to happen overnight.
In other words… don’t be that guy or gal who thinks this is just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have.
I keep my conditioning pretty simplistic. It involves one of 3 things: playing a sport (soccer or basketball), pushing my Prowler or doing hill sprints. That’s pretty much it. What’s great about all of these activities is that I don’t need to carefully craft some kind of program for them – I just do them 3 or 4 times per week and try not to kill myself in the process. When I first got my Prowler, I quickly realized what I had read before was true – just go out, push it and you will just know when you are done. Sure enough, it’s 100% true. If you put a lot of weight on it or use very short rest periods, you will be done sooner.
And since this video still makes me chuckle, I present my pain for your enjoyment:
Ahh… the good ol’ days when I was still new to the pain and agony of the Prowler. Now it’s just a welcome friend… well, if you have friends who consistently make you drop to your knees, stare at the sky and wonder what would possess you to willingly go through something so awful. But maybe I just have odd friends.
So what exactly am I training for? Fair question, no doubt. It seems to be morphing over time. In short, I want to be able to get out, play sports, be athletic and be strong on any given day. That’s the more general, over-arching goal. There are other goals too: squat 550 lbs (I hit 500 lbs a few months ago), deadlift 500 lbs and bench press 315 lbs. Those are the more clear-cut tangible ones I am aiming for.
Anyway, I hope this post was at least semi-interesting to some of my readers out there. I thought about including a bit on diet, but this already feels like it is running long.
This is a huge part of what makes me who I am. The good. The bad. The completely ludicrous. I am proud of it all.
A topic very near and dear to my heart is perspective – why it matters, how people lose it, how to get it and how it just frames the every day experience of life so beautifully. It’s just one of those things that when I am doing my best at cultivating it, I feel unbelievably blessed to have the life I do.
I have bad days, just like anyone else. Days where I feel beaten down or stressed out or lacking motivation or just feeling a bit sad. I just generally accept this as being part of life, but I do my best not to dwell on these kinds of moments… at least not for too long. Stopping for a moment, clearing my head and gaining some of that valuable perspective is always the best way to move past these kinds of events and feelings.
Why? Because when I do step back and look at my life objectively, how can I not see how good I have it?
This video excerpt from the CBS show “Undercover Boss” does a perfect job of showing why perspective matters:
Boom. If you’ve always had it good, it gets reaaaaaally easy to not appreciate the fact that it’s not always that way for many people.
And the video is also a perfect and powerful reminder that the absolute worst of the worst days I experience in my life are a dream to hundreds of millions of people. Not hundreds. Not thousands. Not even millions… but hundreds of millions. And it’s not because I am just so amazing and everyone should aspire to be me and that I have the ultimate secret to success. I don’t and I would hardly qualify as anything amazing… but I like to think I qualify as someone with a healthy sense of self-awareness and understanding of my place in the world.
I hope and pray I never lose sight of that fact so that it keeps me grateful, humble, balanced and reflective with a willingness to always help out those around me.
Because if the above oft-shared poster is even half true, I should never, ever have something to complain about.
For a small change of pace, I decided to fire up a video blog for today instead of the typical typed post. Why? Change of pace. Not in the mood to type. A chance for all of you humble people to soak up the handsomeness that is me. Just a little post about how my own ego sometimes gets in the way, but I end up learning something anyway.
Also, feel free to check out my new Facebook page for the blog right HERE.
I thought I would mix it up a bit and use some video as my blog post instead – yes, the dreaded “vlog”. Just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely as blog, does it? But here is a video tour of my home gym in all of its crazy obsessive glory. Enjoy.