LOG CLEAN MECHANICS: TO HINGE OR SQUAT?

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The Strongman Log seems to be one of the most underutilized pieces of SM equipment out there. I think that there are several reasons for this but mainly, it's un-weildly and intimidating to those that are uninitiated. Often, the athlete that is using the log for the first time will associate it to the barbell or even the KB Swing and end up frustrated when, time after time, the athlete misses reps. The truth is, the log is much more similar to the stone than the bar and should be approached in the same manner.

For those that don't really have much experience with either, let's break it down to some of the fundamental components: the hip hinge and the squat. 

In the video below, you'll learn (and see) the difference between what a log clean looks like when performed with a hip hinge and when it's performed with more of a squat-like action. You'll also hear some other basic cues along the way that will definitely make the learning process much more successful and fun - so pay attention to the details in the set up and demos.   


GOT BIG STONES? HERE'S HOW TO MOVE'M

I think it's fair to say that Strongman is becoming more and more popular thanks to increased exposure at events like The Arnold Classic, The CrossFit Games and hell, even NetFlix docs and TV commercials!



But like with most things that gain popularity in a relatively short period of time, there will be those out there that jump on the bandwagon because some IG influencer picked up an atlas stone and made it look cool. This is fine and all, and we do want the strongman movement to grow and flourish, but it's important to note that Strongman has literally been around since the dawn of time.

IT IS THE WAY WE ARE PROGRAMMED TO MOVE AND INTERACT WITH OUR ENVIRONMENT.

If something heavy was in our way, we moved it the best possible way we could while limiting the possibility of injury. This is called self-preservation, BTW, and it's one of the many beautiful inherent characteristics of strongman movements. But I digress.

Look, the point is that just because it's becoming cool to do strongman doesn't mean that you should simply jump right in to it. It's true, learning this stuff, or rather, remembering it doesn't take much time at all. Becoming competent at properly loading an atlas stone is literally a matter of seconds. But, as is the case with all things - there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. And in the case of strongman, it really boils down to "right" being efficient and safe, and "wrong" being inefficient and high-risk.

At TCS we do implement strongman....A LOT! It's kind of our bread and butter and what sets us apart from the vast majority of gyms. And in our time utilizing strongman movements we've seen millions of reps performed and know what the most common faults are in each movement. In the video I have posted below, I'll share a couple common mistakes that you'll probably make or see someone make and how to easily address and correct those faults. Check it out. I hope it helps y'all move those big stones!  


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!

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!


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

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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! 


THE BIG 3: THREE FACTORS THAT MAKE STRONGMAN F*CKING AWESOME

I was thinking about what makes TCS different from other spots around town. One answer, and probably the most obvious, is that we implement strongman movements more than any other joint in town....at least that I'm aware of.

Why is this the case?

My best guess is that coaches are afraid of screwing it up. Afraid of failure. Strongman can be extremely intimidating to athletes and coaches that aren't up-to-speed on the techniques and how they can apply it to their current training protocols. These are legitimate concerns, but they can be easily settled with some proper education. Once you've learned the movements, their specific techniques and how to appropriately program, it's an instant realization that you've been missing out this whole time(FOMO much?).

 A meathead's attempt at some "Beautiful Mind" shit. Hahahaha!

A meathead's attempt at some "Beautiful Mind" shit. Hahahaha!


The BIG 3
Three Factors That Make Strongman F*cking Awesome:


1. Something that many people don't realize is that strongman movements are actually the closest thing to real-life, functional exercises out there. Think about it. Waaaaaaaaay back when, there weren't strength coaches roaming the wild teaching early humans how to pick up logs or stones. That shit was just part of our DNA. They knew how to get the job done in a way that minimized risk of injury while using the least amount of energy possible. (Did you pick up on that? Safety and efficiency.) This is still the case today!

We don't learn strongman techniques - we remember them.

2. As coaches, we must always provide the best service to our clients. That's how we build a successful business and maintain a solid reputation. In general, our athletes rarely need an over-complicated routine with super technical lifts that find the coach and athlete getting frustrated by failure and a lack of action.

Remember: People want to fucking move! If all you do is talk, your clientele will find someone else to make them sweat. It's really that simple.

The balancing act comes into play when you, as the coach, know your athlete needs to build certain positive characteristics that produce results. It's my contention that strongman movements and methods are some of the absolute best when it comes to getting a massive ROI (Return On Investment).

Basically, it boils down to how soon can you get a newb moving with quality and then add the appropriate dose of intensity? That's what will cause positive adaptation - movement and (appropriate) intensity. With strongman, the learning curve is nearly non-existent when compared to other modalities of training. It's simple, not easy. New athletes are able to get up and rolling sooner, which gets them the results they're looking for sooner!
ps. This doesn't make the others bad, wrong or any less important, but it should be a wake-up call as to how you get your people integrated. 

3. This shit is FUN! This is probably the most over-looked factor when training the general population. People want to have fun with their training. They also want to do shit that looks cool. And I challenge you to find anything more badass than picking up giant stones or flipping massive tires.

Look, it doesn't really matter if you're the world's best (technique/programming) coach, with all the coolest shit...If you are a Fun-Nazi, people will drop you like a bad habit and go where the fun is. Simple as that. You've got to make it fun!

 I mean, doesn't Smitty look like he's having a BLAST with this well-designed workout incorporating the SM log? FUN!

I mean, doesn't Smitty look like he's having a BLAST with this well-designed workout incorporating the SM log? FUN!

All of this probably sounds amazing by now, right? You're probably just wondering when I'm going to shut up and tell you how to properly education yourself in the ways of Strongman so that you can get started. Well, here it is:

10/9/2016 CrossFit Strongman Trainer Course -- Austin, TX @ Travis County Strength

You'll learn all of this stuff and more during this course. The cool thing is that you will learn by DOING! This is not a sit-in-your-chair-and-listen type seminar. We will discuss the movements, the proper cues, the common faults and then you will practice...and practice....and practice. And when you're tired from all the practice, that's when we perform the movement with a dose of intensity.  

This seminar is honestly one of the highlights of my coaching experience. I'd have to say that my absolute favorite segment of the course is the programming lecture. We discuss several ways you can institute Strongman into the programming at your gym and how to do so appropriately.

I love everything about this course and I would love to share it with y'all! Hope to see you there! 

BUILD IT, AND THEY WILL COME.

Gainz. Build it, and they (the gainz) will come. 

I know. This was a stretch, but it's true. If you want an inexpensive, easy to make, highly effective training tool - all you need is a keg.

Kegs can be acquired in a number of ways. Often times, all you need to do is ask that friend of yours that works at the bar for any leftovers that could be purchased for the deposit amount. Another easy way to snag one is from Craigslist, which by the way, is a great place to pick up any equipment on the cheap.

In the video that I'm about to share with you, I go into the details on how to select the correct type of keg, depressurize the keg so that the spike can be safely removed, fill and cap the keg.

Once you've built your keg, you'll have an amazingly effective training implement that can be used in numerous ways to build strength, power and speed! And just in case you're not sure how to use that keg, we will go in to some specific keg movements in future posts, so be on the lookout for those!

For now, watch this video and then go hunting for your keg(s)!


HEAVY METAL Saturdays

Given the success of the last TCS competition - Heavy Metal - Coach Nick Mounce has decided to give his Strongman-specific program a new look that I think many of you out there will really like.

Essentially, these new HEAVY METAL Saturdays will have an education/skill practice portion that will then be applied to a true Strongman workout(s). To put it simply.....you will learn - then apply. Needless to say, the variations are limitless so you'll have to be ready for anything.

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Movements Include:

  • Tire Flips
  • Truck Pulls
  • Heavy Drags & Pushes
  • Farmers Carry
  • Keg Cleans
  • Strongman Log
  • Stone Shouldering/Loading
  • Yoke Walks & Carries
  • Car Deadlifts
  • Odd Object Carries
  • Sandbag Fun
  • Grip Strength Work
  • And More!

HEAVY METAL Saturdays --- The Details: 

  • Class runs from 10-11am two Saturdays each month
  • Class is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
  • Capped @ 8 Athletes
  • Class Fee = $40 

Your first chance to get in on HEAVY METAL is this Saturday!

SIGNUP HERE!

TCS Strongman Seminars Explained Through A Mathematic Equation

By: Nick Mounce (not a mathematician)

It has been awhile since my last contribution to the tcs blog. This post has been swimming around my head for six weeks or so. That normally means one of two things. Either I’ve finally figured out what I’m trying to say or it means I’ve spent way too much time with the circus in my head and this is going to a damn disaster. Fun thing is we get to find out together. Let’s go.

We have been holding Strongman seminars at TCS twice a month for about a year now. Some months more, some less, but that is about the average. Every one of them plays out the exact same way at their base. That is why and how I came up with this equation. There is no magic to this (it would be a lot cooler if there was). I’m going to write this out and then break it down the best I can. So let’s get to it.


 P+C = K
K Δ SA
SA = $$$


What does any of this mean and how does it relate to strongman lifts? Let’s define what each letter and symbol represent then how they relate to each other and the strongman lifts.

  • P = practice
    • We spend about ½ an hour on each implement during the class. Cleaning up any flaws in positioning, technique, or approach to the lift / movement.
  • C = coaching
    • Pretty self-explanatory. Although I should mention that we keep the seminars capped to 6. So you get individual attention.
  • K = confidence
    • I know it starts with a C.
  • Δ = (delta) change / change in
  • SA = speed and aggression
    • This is the speed and aggressiveness that you use on the lifts / movements.
  •  $$$ = the new piece of heavy shit you just moved.
    • (Just imagine something way more badass there.)

There it is in all of its glory. Some practice plus coaching will give you more confidence in the strongman lifts. With this newfound confidence you will see a change in the speed and aggression on these lifts (drum roll). With more speed and aggression you will move more weight… a lot more weight.  

So if you are stuck on a certain stone, keg, log, yoke, sandbag weight and feel like you could do more or want to just get your hands on this awesome equipment a little more I know a place.

This month we are hosting two seminars. The dates, times and what is being covered at each is listed just below.

1) Jan. 10th @ 10-1130am

  • Kegs (loading, shouldering, pressing)

  • Stones (loading, shouldering)

  • Tire Flips

2) Jan 24th @ 10-1130am

  • Log (clean, press, viper press)

  • Yoke Walk

  • Pinch Grip & Farmers Carry

  • *Car Deadlift (our version of the movement)*

    • If time allows