Sunday, October 19, 2014

Does your sleep suck?

Let's get one thing straight, sleep is the most under-valued, overlooked component of ones lifestyle that can quite possibly affect it the most. Per Kelly Starrett (, I believe he's said that if we are getting anything less than 8 hours of sleep, we're at a 20% loss of immune function. Sounds awesome. Don't expect to be very productive that day or expect much out of your performance. Now, there are some of you out there saying "Well, I live off of 4-6 hours of sleep and do just fine!" I'm sure you think you do, but you may also have a ticking time bomb waiting to explode on the inside. Our bodies are made to rest at sunset and awake at sunrise. Our cortisol levels are supposed to be high in the mornings to allow for alertness, functionality and performance and low during the night to allow for proper rest from the days events. We should be able to sleep restfully at night, allowing ample amounts of melatonin to take us into dreamland, rather than supplementing with sleeping aids to do the trick. If this sounds like you, messing with the natural processes of the body, then you may be flirting with a lot more than you think.

Take 20 minutes of your day to watch this, trust me, it's worth it:

Let's talk about how lack of sleep can affect performance. Want to feel like crap? Try waking up for a 5am class on 4-6 hours of sleep. Now add high intensity exercise. Doesn't feel good does it? Performance sucked? Bar just wouldn't budge? Hard to breathe? Yeah, must have been one of those days right? Everyone has them. Yeah, it definitely wasn't the 7 episodes of LOST you watched right before bed or the extra hours you stayed up perusing your social medias. Let's be real, the dumb stuff you're doing before bed IS affecting your sleep, plain and simple. The bedroom is made for rest and reproduction, that is all. No TV's, no computers, no blinking lights or LED's, nothing but complete darkness. Here are a few "low hanging fruit" recommendations on how you can improve your sleep immediately.

1) No TV, lap-tops, cell-phones, Ipods, Ipads, Kindles, or any bright lit screens 60-120 minutes before bed 

It's called a technology detox but there should be a 60-120 minute grace period where none of the above should be in front of your face prior to getting into bed. The blue and green lights from these devices can affect our eyes and hormonal responses that are crucial in preparing us for a restful state.

1A) Remove any of the above from your bedroom

This also applies to any blinking lights or LED's from a smoke detector, cable box, WiFi box, alarm clock, or even your cell phone. Everything affects something and the smallest of any protruding light can disrupt your slumber or prevent it from happening. Remember "the bedroom is made for rest and reproduction, that is all".

2). Black out curtains on windows

This applies to the same concept of artificial light but you want zero light exposure when your body is resting. That means the occasional motion censored lamp outside your window or the street light peering in from a crevice of your blinds can have an affect on your slumber. Get some super dark curtains and put those bad boys up, shit even foil and masking tape will work. Imagine a very dark cave and you are the bear. Replicate

3). Supplementation 

Just one of Magnesium's many benefits is right before bed. Magnesium has been known to enhance the recovery process by relaxing and calming the muscles, preparing the body for a more restful state of sleep. Pure Pharma makes a top-notch product that I've taken forever and lucky for you we carry their products here at Behemoth. Another good brand is "Calm" that you can get on Amazon or at your local Sprouts or HEB. 

4). Loud, obnoxious alarm clocks

No one enjoys waking from a deep sleep to the sound of an Iphone's loud ass radioactive ringtone. To be honest, its not enjoyable and at times can be quite infuriating. Loud and annoying alarm clocks mess up our circadian rhythms and rudely wake us from a deep REM sleep. Try an alarm clock that is a bit more soothing and progressive or in a perfect world, no alarm clock at all! I know the Iphone has plenty of applications like that now-a-days, I actually use one called Sleep Time, it's 99 cents and although it's not perfect, it's much better than waking up to noises that make me want to break things.

Also, we are made to naturally awaken with the rising of the sun, not necessarily with lamps and ceiling lights that, upon waking, put us into a really shitty mood. There is a product that Aryan owns that's a 30 minute brightening light simulating a natural sunrise. Once reaching 30 minutes the most beautiful sound of chirping birds begins softly and builds allowing you to wake up without wanting to reach for a weapon. I think it runs around 100$, maybe a bit expensive, but how important is your sleep to you? There are a variety of products out there but the natural progression of light is a pretty cool concept that may be able to help with waking more peacefully.

All in all, fixing your sleep will help improve EVERYTHING and it is one that is in our absolute control to fix. Be honest with yourself and  Stop working on your laptop a few hours before bed, no late night texting, twittering or instagraming and just turn the damn TV off. It's that simple. Our sleep is of upmost importance to our overall health and well-being. If we want to improve EVERYTHING in our lives, then we MUST sleep more. It may take some time of tossing and turning at 9pm in your bed, but you have to be consistent and you have to start somewhere. Just think how difficult it is to break any long term habit. Its tough because it doesn't happen over night, it takes time. Stay committed to improving your sleep if you know it's something that can be better. If you want to look better, feel better, perform better and put yourself at least risk of injury and illness, rest more. Its that simple. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Another stupid post on squatting

Advice on squatting:

-Squat frequently in some variation or another. It doesn't necessarily need to be heavy all the time. But squatting heavy and squatting frequently should be done on a consistent basis in some way or fashion.

-Squat as deep as physically possible. This includes unloaded and loaded settings. If you can squat perfectly ass to grass without a load, then why wouldn't you with a load? Do you catch heavy cleans and snatches above parallel? Then don't train yourself to squat to that depth. If your reason to quarter squats is that you are "scared" that you won't be able to get out of the bottom, take some weight off and re-train your squat. Start light and build to where you are ONLY able to sit down in the bottom position for 5 seconds before standing on each rep. That'll unscare you.

-Have one squat stance, for everything. Front squats, back squats, overhead squats, goblet squats, air squats, squat cleans, squat snatches, squatting to eat, squatting to dump (shout out to squatty potty), squatting to pick up a heavy stone/object/child. The width of your feet and angle of your toes should be equivalent on all these lifts whether light or heavy. Why? Because you should never compromise range of motion and Because Greg Everett says so

-Increase your squat so that you can increase your clean, your snatch and your overall strength. Its magical how that happens.

Ways to improve your squat:

-If you are unable to squat deep, find out why and address your issues. Ankles, hips, quads, everything tight? Smash the tissue, mobilize and stretch those bad boys out consistently. 30 years of terrible posture/positions and lack of/non-exsistent stretching and mobilization won't be un-done with one or two 10 minute mobility sessions every other week. It takes consistent exposure to the stretching and mobilizing of your tissues to really make a change AND it takes pressure. Heavy med balls on the chest, barbells, thick PVC pipes, super friends, all these are excellent tools to really get ourselves into better positions. Don't think your body weight is enough, because its not. If a foam roller gives you pain, you should be embarrassed. If you don't have time, make time. If you can't make time, its not that important to you so stop complaining to your coach.

-Sit in the bottom of the squat more. If you suck at something, put yourself into that position more often to improve that position. This can be accumulating time throughout the day in the bottom of your squat. Start with 10 minutes a day then move onto 20 and 30, its amazing how much your squat will improve the more time you spend down there.

-Adding tempos to your loaded squats helps build the type of body awareness needed to know where your bottom position is. If you need someone to tell you whether you're squatting deep enough or not, most likely you aren't, luckily for you this drill will help. Like stated above, sit in the bottom for 3-10 seconds to really learn how to sit comfortably in YOUR deepest possible position. If you can't find comfort down there, its a mobility problem, address it and fix it. Use this drill until you no longer have to ask someone whether your at depth or not, find comfort and confidence in your rock solid bottom position.


Squat deep and heavy more often. Get strong.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Limiting your potential

Do you want to know the secret to unlimited potential? It's very simple, stop comparing. I believe that there is very little satisfaction in our own achievements because we are constantly focussed on what the other guy/girl has done. Nothing is ever good enough because we always have our eyes set on other peoples achievements. This is limiting our growth as an athlete and as a human being.

"My 150lb clean isn't that good because Megan did that for 2 reps and she's a girl!" 
"10:40 on today's workout...but I used 95 (most people were using 185)"
"My son Jake sucks at baseball because he didn't make the all-star team like his friend Danny" 
"I made $100,000 this year, but Jenny made $110,000"

Sound familiar? Regardless of how you look at it, I think we can all relate with those statements above whether they're accurate to our profession or something we have thought/said once before. We'll never be satisfied with our own unless we let go of comparing our actions and achievements with that of other people. Focus on yourself and stop caring about what the person next to you is doing. A friend and role model of mine (shout out to Heidi) has once compared this to growing a garden. If you are constantly focussed on other peoples garden's and not your own, what happens to yours? It withers and dies. Now translate this to your goals, personal achievements, children, job, relationship, etc. Keep focussing on other people's and carelessly watch yours go to shit. This is easily avoidable as long as we can focus on ourselves and learn to celebrate our own personal gains and achievements without peeking over the fence to see who's doing what. Be happy with everything you do, whether it be big or small, because it's good enough. Trust it, believe it, and watch yourself make strides like never before.

Final thoughts. The Open is around the corner. Remember how YOU did last year and try to improve off of that. Don't let Rich Froning dictate your efforts. His, along with the other top scores are irrelevant to yours. Understand this and you will feel better about your efforts at the end of the 5 weeks.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Training alone

If you want to be good in this sport, you must learn to train alone and learn to enjoy the hell out of it. The best in this sport do so AND prefer it. Those that can't train alone and say they perform better in a group setting or with music playing or with people around are simply weak minded. It's the equivalent to only training everything you're good at, every movement that makes you feel elite, then when you're asked to do shit you suck at, you do just that...suck. Of course we'd love to do things we excel at, but most of the time we have to do the shit we don't want to do when we don't want to do it. Why? Because it makes us better. Yeah it's not as fun, it's tough and its really fucking boring but if you can learn to quiet your mind and push yourself past limits when no ones watching, imagine what you can do when this isn't the case. If you can break that little voice in your head, then breaking your oponents will be cake. It hurts to go hard when no one is there to push you, so by training alone you learn to do it yourself. Your PR's don't get celebrated, they just become routine and no one cares about if you are or if you aren't, except for you, so that's why you do it and do it with intent. Training alone builds character but most importantly, it builds mental fortitude. Plain and simple.

So, next time you put off a training session because you can't bro out or because your pandora station lost its connection, re-assess how important your training goals are to you. If you want it bad enough, nothing should be that hard, especially training by your lonesome.