POSITIONING FOR MORE POWER IN YOUR BENCH PRESS/PUSHUPS

I think we can all agree that the push-up and bench press are both some of the most commonly performed movements in the gym. And, if we're being honest, most people need to spend more time working on their "pushups" and less time worrying about how many plates they load on the bar - but maybe that's just me.

In either case, we all know (at a fundamental level) that you need to be able to properly position your body and activate the appropriate muscle groups to get the most our of each rep. Unfortunately, many people go into auto-pilot and do the same ole' shitty movement for every rep only ingraining poor patterns. Being conscious while performing seemingly simple movements is incredibly important and often neglected.

In an effort to assist y'all in your quest for better movement and bigger numbers, I spent a little bit of time in front of the camera explaining a very simple concept that I think will really help y'all out when performing any type of horizontal press. Check it out below and let me know if you find it valuable. 


COMING SOON: CrossFit Strongman Course

TCS will be hosting and leading the CROSSFIT STRONGMAN COURSE on Saturday, October 21st 2017.

Having the privilege to host and lead these courses is something that we are very thankful for. We absolutely love introducing coaches and athletes to the basics of Strongman and helping them get past any preconceived notions of what Strongman is and who it's for. We also really enjoy helping attendees discover how to appropriately implement this fun and highly effective training method into their programming back home. 

The course is non-stop and action-packed. We do some lecturing and demoing of each movement, but then we provide y'all with more than enough time to practice and get very comfortable with the implements and the movements. We break down each primary movement into fundamental progressions then smooth out the steps until everyone is moving with quality and confidence. It doesn't take long - and really, that's the beauty of Strongman:

Strongman movements are the truest form of "functional training". This stuff is already hardwired in each of us and because, deep down in our genetics, we know this stuff, the learning is actually just remembering.

Now, I may be biased, but these courses are an absolute blast! In fact, one of the most common reviews we get after holding a SM Course is that it was the most fun the attendee has had at a certification. That's what we strive for - a fun, action-packed day of moving heavy stuff(with good technique) with a group of cool, supportive people to bring it all together.

If that sounds like something you or someone you know would enjoy, SIGN UP. If you have questions about the course, contact us. 

We hope to see you there!

HOW TO BUILD A HEAVY BAG

It's been a while now, but we shared a video on how to build a sandbag for general purpose use. In that video, we briefly discussed the massive ROI building your own sandbag has when compared to spending big money on more traditional training equipment like barbells and bumper sets, which, of course, are great if you can swing the price tag and have space for it all.

For those of you that can't, or that train in the tight quarters of your garage, or who just want to include more odd object training into your program, we also discussed some of the sandbag exercises that are MUSTS. These lifts and exercises place a huge demand on you and provide a unique training stimulus that is difficult to replicate. 

Now, in an effort to provide y'all with more of the same (hopefully) valuable info, we wanted to show y'all our new heavy bags that we purchased from StrongFit, and how they can further diversify your training possibilities.

These bags are more durable and can handle much heavier weights - offering an alternative to atlas stones and/or kegs, both in shape and training stimulus, but won't destroy your floor when dropped. 

The video below is the "how-to" build your heavy bag. After you've made yours check back here for more vlogs on all the possibilities you have when it comes to training with the heavy bag! 


STRONGMAN = REAL LIFE

There's no disputing the fact that here at TCS, we fucking love strongman! I'm sure that is abundantly clear at this point, right? 

I've previously written about all the reasons we love this training method, but let's just cover all the bases by restating that strongman provides a massive ROI and is an absolute blast! So if we have this training style that's extremely effective and delivers big on the fun factor, why don't people jump all over it?

Intimidation. 

Strongman gets a bad rap as being "extreme" or "unsafe" because until recently, the only exposure the sport/training method got was from the TV show, World's Strongest Man. And, of course, if someone is sitting on their couch watching a 400lb man pull a fucking jet, they automatically discount it as "not for me". 

Nothing could be further from the truth. The real truth is that Strongman can be for everyone.

What you see on WSM is the very pinnacle of the sport and does not accurately represent what Strongman is on a basic level. Strongman, simply, is movement. Push, pull, drag, squat, carry, throw, etc. It's really that simple. And because Strongman is movement, it then places itself squarely on top of the list of "functional training methods".

Strongman is the shit that you do and encounter in your daily life. 

A sack of groceries in each hand is a farmers carry. Picking up a box of old books is nearly identical to picking up an atlas stone and moving it from A to B. Pushing your lawn mower up the steep hill in your back yard might as well be a heavy sled push.

Get it? You already do Strongman, you just didn't know it. 

Here at TCS, our contention is that if your life is going to demand these things from you, why not get really good at this stuff and have some fun along the way? You'll be amazed at the correlations you'll draw between the lifts and tasks programmed for you in class and the shit real life throws at you. To say that you'll become a more effective and efficient human being is an understatement. 

So, besides being informative(I hope), I guess this is all just a big long invitation for you to come experience Strongman at Travis County Strength. We have a passion for this stuff and love sharing it with people. Your next opportunity to join our Strongman Saturday is 3/25/2017 at 10am. You can reserve your spot today on the Class Calendar.

And, if not, I at least hope that you'll see those correlations we spoke of earlier. 

Hope to see you there!

NOW YOU HAVE A SANDBAG. HERE'S WHAT TO DO WITH IT!

Out of the endless sandbag exercise possibilities, there are three exercises that are crucial for developing your grip strength, mid-line stability as well as providing you with a massive ROI. The sandbag clean, Zercher squat and get-up are those BIG 3.

Once you've read through each of the brief descriptions of these sandbag exercises, check out the video at the bottom to really drive each movement home. We recommend you start putting in to your programming as soon as possible. And, as always, have fun with these exercises! Feel free show us how you performed your sandbag exercises or drop us a line with any questions you may have.


THE BIG 3


1. SB Clean
This exercise teaches the lifter to generate power. It starts just like a Deadlift. Back flat, midline tight, and arms locked out. By quickly extending your hips and driving your feet through the ground, pop the sandbag up and drop into a receiving position to catch the bag.

2. Zercher Squat
This exercise is great for midline control, building leg strength and requires that you maintain proper posture while squatting, which will keep you safe and efficient. Support the sandbag with your arms forming a "basket" in front of you with palms facing up. The sandbag should be placed in the crooks of your elbows as you engage your lats in order to keep the bag close to your body as you perform your reps.

3. Get Up
This exercise can be performed any number of ways, but we encourage that as you start out, that you take it slow, hit each progression with intention and find good positions throughout the entire range of motion. When done in this fashion, the sandbag get-up recruits nearly all major muscle groups with the completion of just one rep. To say that there's a big return on investment with this movement would be an understatement.


HOW TO BUILD A SANDBAG

If you are someone that trains out of your garage, you probably have a limited area for a ton of more traditional equipment. Not to mention, the cost of buying all of that stuff is enough to deter even the most hardcore worker-outers. But don't stress. The answer is very simple and very inexpensive: build a sandbag.

Sandbags have become more mainstream recently due to the growing popularity of strongman, but there are many of you out there that are still missing the boat. Implementing sandbags into your training program has a multitude of advantages, but two big ones are:

1. They are inexpensive and easy to make. Major ROI.

2. They more accurately represent the types of object manipulation we face day-to-day. Let's just simplify this by saying that sandbags provide a more real-life experience than a barbell. Evenly distributed weight on a convenient barbell doesn't really happen in nature....just a thought.

Now, contrary to the name, you don't want to literally fill a bag full of sand and go crush a workout. Trust me, that's a bad idea. You'll find that to be a major pain in the ass to use and clean up after. Just picture coming out of the ocean and rolling around on the beach - that pretty accurately depicts the outcome. 

Instead, watch the video below. Chapa and I walk you through the process of building a solid general purpose sandbag. The video is a long one at 6 minutes, but I think that if you are serious about your training and creating a well-rounded program, it will totally be worth it to you to watch. Then, after you build your bag, we will be sharing another blog covering the 3 sandbag exercises you NEED to be doing to get strong. These exercises provide major bang for your buck - especially when performed with the sandbag, so you'll want to stay tuned for that one. 

Until then, get that bag built!


3 COMMON FAULTS TO AVOID WHEN DOING RDLs

The Romanian Deadlift, commonly known as the RDL, is one exercise you definitely need to incorporate into your training if you're looking to increase posterior chain strength. But like all movements, doing it properly will provide the most bang for your buck and keep you healthy for the long-game.

The  most common faults that occur while performing RDLs are:

  1. Rounding the low back
    This usually occurs because the athlete does not have control of their mid-line position or the athlete is attempting to go lower than there hamstring mobility will allow.
  2. Bar drifts away from body
    This fault can be seen when the athlete is not properly engaging their lats to pull the bar back against the legs in an active position.
  3. Too much knee flexion
    Again, this often occurs when the athlete attempts to go further than their mobility allows. But it can also be related to a poor understanding of pushing the hips back to stretch the hamstrings. 

An overarching concept that you'll find to be helpful is to only go as far down as your body will allow while maintaining proper positioning and activity. Everyone's range of motion and body mechanics are different, so don't get caught up forcing ranges of motion that aren't there yet. This will only lead to injury. Give it time and some solid effort to move as perfectly as possible and the benefits will soon follow.  not there to keep from possible injury.

Be sure to check out the video below. Joey Chapa, TCS's newest intern, breaks down the RDL and the concepts we've talked about above with some of the very best demonstrations ever performed by some dude with a great beard. HA!
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO YOUR MID-LINE.

As a coach, one of the most valuable things we can teach our athletes is how to control their mid-line. All too often, athletes and general fitness enthusiasts are exposed to physically demanding movements and positions without first establishing proper control over the musculature that is responsible for keeping their pelvis, low back and rib cage in safe, solid and efficient positions. Obviously we want this safety and efficiency present when moving our body through space, as well as when we move external objects through various ranges. As you can imagine, not having this control is a recipe for poor, potentially harmful, movement patterns to develop, which will eventually lead to injury. It's just a matter of time.

The good news is that we have ways to turn this trend around and build beneficial movement patterns and habits. It's not too late.

The video below is designed to help you introduce the Dead Bug Extension in a way that will be extremely valuable to both your newbs and seasoned athletes. This is one of those things that will only make you better - as long as you and your athletes pay attention to the details and move with intention. 

Check it out.


WOMEN'S WEIGHTLIFTING CREW

Starting in February (2/3/17) TCS will host the Women's Weightlifting Crew on the first Friday of every month. This is open to any female in the area who loves to pick shit up and put it down. Strongman, powerlifting, olympic lifting, "gymnastical" shit....everything is up for discussion. Myself and Coach Mary D from the Strictly Strength side of the gym will be leading these workouts. 

If you are familiar with TCS, Travis hosts "Lumberjacked" for the dudes once a month. This is the same - but better for obvious reasons.

WWC is open to any fitness level. You could be starting out day 1 - or be competing in the Olympics. We don't care, and neither should you. This is about getting together with other strong women and doing what we love: Lifting heavy shit in any way possible. 

Sign ups are HERE. Look on the class calendar each month for the announced Friday night for the WWC. 

INTENTION & THE SWING

The Russian Kettlebell Swing is a seemingly simple movement - much like an air squat or pushup. But, these movements are key to the foundation of any person's ability to perform quality work in the gym and out.

The trouble begins when people think that because it's a basic movement that they can afford to simply go through the motions rather than making each and every rep as effective as possible. I know I'm guilty of this at times, but it's important that, as coaches, we convey a message of intention to our athletes. On the other side of that coin, the responsibility to carry that task out on a consistent basis - each and every rep - lies in the hands of the athlete.

So this video is for everyone. Coaches and athletes, take a few moments to watch the video and then apply these concepts and movement patterns into your reps. You'll find that intention tends to change everything


WEEKEND NUTRITION SURVIVAL GUIDE

By: Jen Shaw

The weekend...A.K.A. killer of all diets, is more often than not where people break. What is it about "the weekend" that makes people jump off shit pier and ruin everything? Even if you are absolutely perfect Monday through Friday you will completely blow your goals if you food orgy pizza and beer for two days, or even one full day. 

So, in an effort to help you battle the weekend slip-ups, I want to share the rules that I abide by. They might seem dumb or maybe even minuscule....but you they're the keys to coming out of the weekend on top and in control.

RULES OF THE WEEKEND

1. There are no "cheat days" so stop. 

First, stop using the word "cheat." It's super negative and means you are doing something wrong which you are not, you are living. However, going on a sugar bender all day will absolutely ruin you. Yes, you can recover from it and move on for sure. However if you are involved in anything like "GET RIPPED" that only lasts six weeks you are really stunting your progress. 

2. NEVER ever treat yourself on Sunday night.

Sunday night is usually the night before you are back at the gym and lifting heavy. Treating yourself on Sunday night will sabotage your workout and possibly how you feel when you wake up Monday morning. Only good things Sunday night. 

3. If you MUST have a bad meal, do it at lunch - not dinner. 

It's much harder to recover from a treat if you have it at dinner. Eating bad and then going to sleep leaves you feeling like crap in the morning. So after your treat at lunch drink water, nap, eat a good dinner and have all the good things before you sleep. 

4. NEVER EVER drink after you eat your last meal of the day. 

I cannot stress this enough. Have you ever woken up anywhere between 2-4am sweating and your heart racing and beating out of your chest? That's drinking, and sugar. I suggest you have your cocktails before dinner, then eat, then water. Wine after meals, the worst. All of that sugar just sitting there waiting to crush your sleep at 2am. 

Try it and let me know how it works! 

3 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR TIME ON THE AIRBIKE A LITTLE LESS SHITTY

We all know that any time spent on an airbike(airdyne, assault bike, xebex, airfit, etc.) is probably going to be miserable and end horribly - It's the nature of the beast, but that's why we do it. There's not much out there that can create that type of suck. That being said, there's no reason to make it worse than it has to be!

In the video below, I share a couple quick tips on how to properly set up your bike so that your time in the saddle is a little less shitty. 


LUMBERJACKED 2017

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LUMBERJACKED is a 4 week nutrition program for men designed to be a straightforward way to kick-start some big results through simple guided nutrition and additional workouts.

The New Year is when everyone gets super jazzed about all the changes they're going to make this year that screwed up their lives last year, but as most of us know, that usually doesn't yield the results we were hoping for. Why?

Excuses.
Poor Planning.
Lack of Accountability.

The beauty of the LUMBERJACKED program is that those obstacles are recognized and addressed in ways that make the process of change as simple as possible. That does NOT mean it's easy. It will require dedication, integrity and a willingness to work for what you want. IF you can get your mind wrapped around that, you can surely make some serious change occur!


THE BREAKDOWN

Program Duration: 4 weeks
Start Date: 1/6/2017 @ 6pm
Finale Date: 2/3/2017 @ 6pm (Food to follow)

Program Details:

  • "Before/After" pictures and measurements
  • Food list of approved foods
  • Individualized guidelines
  • Weekly nutrition accountability
  • 4 FREE Friday night workouts with other LJ participants

REGISTER NOW

GET RIPPED 2017

It's that time again! Get Ripped is kicking off on New Year's Day at noon. At the kickoff all terms will be discussed, and all the questions will be answered. 

This year we will take six weeks to dial in and focus on sleeping, eating, and working out. These all seem so simple, but are extremely difficult to tackle alone. We all know how hard it is to break bad habits and replace with good ones.  You will have access to a group food log, weekend conditioning, and support from me and an amazing group of women who are in it with you. 

GR provides accountability, support, and education to reach goals in and outside of the gym. This program is open to anyone here in Austin, or not! You can easily do this program online.


IMPORTANT DATES:

Registration closes December 31st, midnight.
Kick off- January 1 at NOON. 
First official day- January 2nd
Last official day- February 12th

SIGN UP


A JUMP IS A JUMP, RIGHT?

You see it all the time: a viral video of some absurdly "springy" human that takes off from the floor and somehow floats to the tip top of a stack of bumper plates precariously placed on a tall box. Kinda like this ridiculousness...

There's no doubt that this is an incredible feat. This daring effort surely captures or attention and admiration, but there should also be respect given to lower jumping efforts that accomplish large displacement.

Let me explain...

With massive box jumps like the one above, the effort is comprised of two Important parts:
1. Power production and explosiveness.
2. Mobility

As you can see from the video, there's a tremendous amount of explosive power production as he jumps, but equally impressive is the "catch" position. Pause the video at the moment that he makes initial contact with the top plate. What do you see?. I see one helluva deep squat! This position would not be possible without some serious mobility.

So again, nothing should be taken away from these types of efforts. All I'm saying is that it shouldn't always be about max height. And here's why...


dis·place·ment

disˈplāsmənt/
noun
1. the moving of something from its place or position.


I know it's not nearly as impressive, but watch my video below. I want you to compare the first two box jumps to the second two. What do you notice? HINT: Keep in mind that this entire blog is concerning the concept of displacement. You may also want to establish a focal point, I suggest my hips....they don't lie.

I hope that my hint made this fairly obvious, but if you missed it, the first two jumps had far less overall displacement than the last two jumps. Again, if you were watching my hips you would've seen that the last two efforts showed a much great elevation than my first two attempts. Therefore, it's safe to say that I created more power during those final jumps.

The end result is the same - you end up on top of the box. But now it should be clear that there are two different ways to train the same movement that elicit different responses. I don't think that one is better than the other.  You can perform jumps in a manner that delivers a cardio response, or jump (for displacement) to improve power and explosiveness. Either way, I think that consciously training both styles is important and should implemented in to your training routine.

FUUUCK!

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We've all had those workouts and/or movements that ended up being much harder than we anticipated. In fact, I just experienced a devastating workout that only involved a heavy bag of sand, some squats with said bag and some gut carries. OUCH!

After each set, I let out a long, painful, exaggerated F-bomb. This is what we call "immediate positive feedback". This type of reaction let's you know you're in that work zone and not just pretending - which is important to distinguish.

The reason I bring this up is that recently, my long-time mentor and friend Dennis Marshall(Owner and Head Coach of CF Garden City), beautifully described a very simple idea that I wanted to share.


"It seems like there is a rapidly growing pool of "Accessory" movements in the CrossFit world that athletes are adding to their training program. While this is a great, and perhaps long overdue, development, the proliferation of these exercises through social media is potentially leading to as much, if not more, confusion as it is education. "Well, this guy/girl is doing it, so I guess I should as well?" There is only so much time and energy we can all dedicate to training and the majority of this must be directed towards our top priorities and biggest "bang for your buck" movements, workouts, etc. To pick and choose "this" and "that" movement "just because" can distract us from putting in the real work that will yield the greatest result. 

One of my favorite litmus tests for whether a movement is worth incorporating on a regular basis and dedicating significant time and energy towards is the response it elicits immediately upon completion. I'm generally looking for something along the lines of "Wow, that's harder than I thought" or simply any expletive (as demonstrated in the video). The more dramatic the response the more valuable the movement and the more frequently it should show up. Once the response is less dramatic it's time to move onto the next one." - Dennis Marshall


I am no where near the wordsmith that Dmarsh is, so I tend to boil things down to their most simplistic elements. To me, all of this means:

Simple. Not easy.

And that, my friends, is something I will always believe in.

CLOSING THE GAP: DOMINANT vs. NON-DOMINANT GRIP STRENGTH

grip4.jpg

Did you know that as grip strength improves, so does overall strength? The two have a strong correlation, and if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. You can't pick up what you can't grab. That's the way it is and has always been. It's a self-preservation tool that lives deep in our DNA from when we first figured out how to use these limbs of ours. 

It would then be logical for anyone looking to improve their strength to put some serious effort towards building hand strength. More specifically, it would also be beneficial to minimize the difference between the dominant and non-dominant hand. The more balanced we are, the stronger we are. 

In the video below, I share just a couple ways that you can work on creating balance between your dominant and non-dominant hand. As you'll see, these tips are by no means ground-breaking, revolutionary ideas, but rather simple, everyday things you can do to develop that balance between right and left. 

It'll be kind of crazy to realize how much you subconsciously rely on your dominant hand. To break this habit will require awareness, so whenever possible, tap in and challenge yourself to use that other hand. You'll be amazed with the results!


ATLAS STONES: SMOOTH IS FAST


As strongman training methods become more and more popular (YAY!), newbs are being exposed to implements and movements that they've never done before - which is AWESOME! However, just like any new skill, you must understand the concepts and techniques, then apply quality practice - especially when first introduced.

In an effort to help some of you strongman newbs dial in your atlas stone technique, this video is all about performing the stone shoulder smoothly rather than rushing through it with reckless abandon.

In general, it is my opinion that performing any movement with fluidity will increase your overall speed. This is especially true with the atlas stone. Just remember: Smooth is Fast! 


NEED A KICKSTART? START WITH THE BASICS.

Summer is over, kids are back in school, you are at work. But I'm guessing that you probably had some summer cocktails during your vacation(s), which means you probably took some time off from the gym. Is anyone out there feeling a little more puffy and out of shape after this fun summer? You are not alone. Time to get back to basics and clean it up!

Starting on September 18th I (Jen) will lead a three week nutrition program to get everyone back to the basics of eating clean. This program is designed for the nutrition novice, the guru and everyone between. You can be a current TCS client, or just a member of the Austin community ready to make a change with your eating habits. Everyone needs a kickstart sometimes, right? 

this program INCLUDES :

  • TCS SPEED class on Sept.  24th and Oct.8th @ 730am
  • TCS Conditioning Class on Oct. 1 @ 9am
  • Detailed food list to make it easy
  • Measurements
  • Monitored food log
  • One on one time if needed
  • Accountability! 

Benefits:

  • Better mood
  • Better sleep
  • Clothes fit better
  • More energy
  • Clearer skin
  • Actually being hydrated
  • With all of these things your workouts become better as well. You are able to put more effort into it, use more weight, move your ass faster.

Important Dates:

  • Kick off meeting Sunday September 18th at 11am. 
  • Official Start - Monday morning the 19th.
  • Official Finale - Monday October 10th (after final measurements).

SIGN UP HERE