Fitness

MOVEMENT IS MOTIVATION

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We all lose our motivation from time to time. To deny that means you are lying to yourself. We lose motivation for any number of reasons, including loss of interest, stagnation, injury, life stressors, poor lifestyle habits, the absence of achievable goals, etc.

Acknowledging the fact that your motivation is lacking is important. In order to find your groove again, first you need to get honest with yourself about what’s holding you back. What are your hurdles? What are the benefits you are withholding from yourself by stopping at the excuses?

For myself, I know for sure that if I didn’t workout on a regular basis that I would be a grumpy sack of shit 100 percent of the time and make everyone around me miserable. I would also be upset with myself for not taking the necessary steps to take care of my mental and physical well-being and my lack of follow-through would then compound on my already irritable self. There I’d go, down a negative spiral impacting other important areas of my life.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that possible outcome is enough to at least get me in my truck to start driving to the gym. And, as many of you can probably attest, getting your physical body to the physical gym is often a major obstacle.

I had this exact discussion with one of our members the other day. I told her that if she can just get here (TCS), it all gets better. She agreed.

If you are still stuck behind a wavering motivation, another valuable tool you could implement is a “pros & cons” list. Simply list all the positive things about a specific decision, as well as the negative. Most likely, your “pros” list will overflow with the many benefits that stem from working out. Your “cons” side of “I just don’t want to” won’t work, my friend.

Look, if you can find  a compelling reason (by being real with yourself) to get your ass in the driver’s seat of your car and drive to the gym, 80 percent of the work is done! Listen to some kickass music on the way and try to enjoy the commute. The next step is simply to walk onto the black mats. From there, gyms like TCS take the wheel and tell you what to do next. If you notice that you’re still in a shit mood, GET MOVING!

I don’t care what you do. Just start moving. Don’t waste time filling up your water bottle or doing some super complicated band stretches - JUST MOVE!

Why is this so important? With movement comes motivation.

Think about it. When you leave the gym, are you in a better state of mind than when you came in? I can almost guarantee that you said yes.

When you  start to work your body you increase blood flow, heart rate and respiratory rate. Your body releases endorphins and produces more dopamine and serotonin, which are some pretty potent hormones that stimulate positive actions and states in the body.

There is a lot of science behind this, but the science doesn’t really matter in this case. Results matter.

So when I say movement is motivation, you can see that by simply moving as soon as you step foot in the gym, you start a chain reaction of positivity that will ultimately result in a great workout.

Get moving.

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!


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. 


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

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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! 


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

SIT-DOWN: RACHEL LASSETER

Oh Rachel...where do I start. She loves wine, animals, steak, food as a whole, dirty memes, other people's babies, and power cleans. Hates sandbags :) 

Rachel is married to one of Travis's long time clients, Ryan. They were married not long after we opened TCS. After the honeymoon Ryan said "hey my wife might want to start working out so I am sending her up here to you." These are my favorite- I never know if the dude is telling his wife to come, kindly suggesting to start working out, or who knows. But once I met Rachel- I knew for sure Ryan was not telling this chick anything! HA! LIFT was definitely her decision.

Rachel was working out and seeing zero results. Dealing with a long time injury and frustrated she decided it was time to make a move. 

We started out with a month of personal training sessions to get her going and used to the way things work. She is naturally mobile and when I said "squat" she just went ass to grass...and that's when every coach is like YESSSS. She picked up things pretty easily...minus the name of equipment/movements which was pretty entertaining.  Every move we did was new to her. A lot of women would have been pretty intimidated and not come back, but Rachel just kept coming back for more and results came quickly. 

Rachel started off squatting the barbell. That 35lb bar kicked her little ass all over the gym. Today her max is 125 and really that looked a bit easy. She has gotten incredibly strong, and just keeps improving on everything. 

There has only been a couple of workouts where I thought she might punch me. Usually that somehow involves a sandbag. But she has a great internal voice that tells her to keep going and she always finishes. That is a quality that sets her apart from others. 

I love seeing her name on the roster because I know she will be walking up with big sunglasses and a smile soon...and everyone else is happy too because she is a team player in class, and such a great happy person!


SIT-DOWN: KYLE L

Kyle is relatively new to TCS, but has already made a huge impact at the gym with his positive attitude, sense of humor and hard work. Not to mention, he's got some of the best hair in the gym - and he knows it. Hahaha.

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I really can't say enough about Kyle's work ethic. From day one, Kyle has always brought his best effort, regardless of what his shift may have looked like or whether or not their new baby girl, Iona, slept like shit. This consistent effort has obviously resulted in some real progress(#gainZ) for Kyle. He's become stronger and more mentally and physically capable to do hard work. But honestly, the thing I'm most proud of Kyle for is his vastly improved ability to find proper positions while lifting. In the beginning, this was a huge hurdle. We had to essentially start from square one and rebuild his lifting technique, which is very difficult, but he never let ego get in the way and never stopped working at it, which has paid off BIG for him! 

This type of mentality is exactly why Kyle makes TCS a better place. He's here to get better, even if it means slowing down, swallowing his pride, and putting in the time and effort to do it the right way - even it may not be the easy way.


 

 

SIT-DOWN: ALLISON

Allison has been with me for years. Hundreds of workouts, happy hours, events, job changes, everything.  Like many of the LIFT girls we see each other more times a week than friends or sometimes family. I notice hair changes, body changes, personality changes, stress, sadness and happiness. Allison and I have seen all of these with each other over the years. 

Recently she came to me after some major life changes wanting to start a new nutrition plan. I always suggest Renaissance Periodization first. If you are willing to count, measure and surrender to the process, RP is for you. After a short chat she was on board and ready to go!

Months later many people in the gym have noticed the changes. She is squatting more, pressing more, and overall a better athlete. Yes, a lot of this is contributed to making the nutrition change. The rest is your attitude, ambition, drive, and determination in the gym. It's all about the implementation. She took all the information and decided it was time to make a change. 

In the past Allison was okay being the smallest and lifting the lightest weights. That's how it went. Then she wanted more, and as a coach I was so excited to see her take this step. She shows up four to five times a week ready to rock. No complaining, just doing. 

Other people in the gym have noticed how strong she has gotten....because she is catching up with them! I could not be more proud of this chick. She decided she wanted to make progress. Goals, plan, workout, nutrition....SUCCESS. How can that be better planned out?


SIT-DOWN: CLINT HARBOUR

A couple words come to mind when I think of Clint:

-JEEP
-Bandana
-Hip-Hop

Now, if you don't know Clint, this probably doesn't make much sense, but what it provides is a glimpse into how eclectic this guy is. Clint rolls up to the gym in his sweet lil red JEEP about 15 minutes before class. As he strides through the gym, he's rocking a bandana or headband with his earbuds in listening to some type of podcast. He sets down his old-school gym bag and begins his mobility exercises. And you better believe that if there's some old-school hip-hop on, he's reciting every single word right along with the artist. He's got them all memorized, word for word!

Clint is a lawyer for the state of Texas, which tends to keep him busy with either case prep or travel, but when he's in town he always makes the time for the gym. The guy works extremely hard while he's there and does the right things outside of the gym as well. All told, Clint has lost 36lbs while with us and impresses/inspires others to get their nutrition on point through ACTION. 

There are a lot of people that talk. Clint walks the walk.

With an already jam-packed schedule, he finds time to coach TWO basketball teams; the 5th-6th grade boys at St. Andrews, and a High School select team with the Austin Dawgs club. What's really cool is that he's been able to use some of the things we do at TCS to help condition his teams and improve their fitness. What I respect most about Clint is that he does it first. Again, he walks the walk and provides his players with a great role model.

Just one more reason that TCS is the special place it is. With people like Clint, how could it not be something special? 


A Sit-Down with Jen Jones

You've probably noticed that there isn't a lot of flare or fancy shit going on around here. We like to keep shit simple and get down to the brass tacks. So in keeping with that, we are starting a new interview series that we're calling Sit-Downs.

In each Sit-Down we ask our athletes, who, by the way, don't know that we are scouting them for this project, why they train here at TCS and what it has provided to them. 

So, without further delay, here's our Sit-Down with TCS athlete and all around badass, Jen Jones.


GUNFIGHTER3 - 2016

 

Every year I have the unique pleasure of working with a group of former Recon Marines that go by the platoon callsign GUNFIGHTER3. This most recent event, held in late April, marks the 4th annual reunion for GF3. The gathering is a chance for these guys to get together, catch up, shoot the shit, and remember those that have passed. And, in that sense, I can't really think of a better day to post this blog, which is why I've been waiting since early April to do so. 

I can honestly say that being a (small) part of this group is a highlight of my year and has been each and every time. Besides that, my involvement is really a small piece of the puzzle - I'm just lucky to be involved.

These are great guys that have given a lot for the other brothers of GF3 and continue to do so. I will say that when these men get together, it's obvious that the bond they have will never fade.  

It's truly an honor to serve those that have served. Thanks, GF3.


WHAT'S YOUR WHY? - Wendy

In our latest edition of "WHAT'S YOUR WHY?", we sit down with TCS athlete, Wendy Vaughan. Tattoos, stylin' chucks and moving heavy weight are just a snapshot of a much larger picture in regards to Wendy's reason for working hard in the gym and out.