A strong core is more than just a six pack. Everybody has abs, whether or not they are visible depends on whether or not you have an extra layer of lovin' covering them up or not. You can have a strong core without a low body fat percentage, I know a lot of folks that do. I prefer both to have the best of both worlds. A strong core, and a low body fat percentage, and not because of vanity, but because I feel that excess body fat slows me down and has no marginal benefit to my endeavors.
A strong core acts like natural body armor. For contact sports athletes, a strong core makes one resilient and stable. A weak, underdeveloped core leads to leakage and leaving one more susceptible to injury.
It is important to realize the purpose of your core, and to train it accordingly, and that is why I am putting together a compilation of the most worthwhile, or in the words of Bill and Ted; "Most Excellent" core exercises.
The primary purpose of your core is first to stabilize your spine, and secondly to mobilize it. Far too often, athletes are more concerned with training their core in the sense of spinal flexion/extension, that they neglect to strengthen their core as an unyielding stabilizer, which is imperative to an athletes success.
You must train your core in three fashions, all three of which I discuss in great detail in my upcoming Ebook. But the short version is you must train your core through static and dynamic stabilization, in a rotational fashion, and in a flexion/extension fashion.
Static and dynamic stabilization would include exercises such as planks, bridging, roll outs, etc. Rotation movements include exercises such as russian twists, windshield wipers, barbell torques, etc. And flexion/extension would be exercises such as sit ups, hanging leg raises, back hyperextensions, etc.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be providing some videos of my a couple favorite core exercises.
The first one is one of my all time favorites. The windshield wiper. A fantastic rotational core exercises. This requires some working up to and really tears up the internal/external obliques, transverse abdominus, spinal erectors, and of course rectus abdominus. Enjoy the pain, and stay tuned for more!
In the past year I’ve dealt with two injuries, one from training and one from competition. Competition related injuries are ones we have less control over; whenever an athlete works at an intense, competitive level there is an inherent risk. However, training related injuries are completely avoidable and unnecessary hindrances. From my experience injuries usually spawn from one of two things: ego, and ignoring your body’s feedback.
We’ll start with a look at ego; what is it, and how do we prevent it? For our purposes, we’ll define ego as “an excessively favorable opinion of one's own ability”. In training ego presents itself in the form of the “I can” attitude, which when overriding the “I shouldn’t” feeling becomes a problem. My first injury of the year was due to ego. I really wanted to press the 36kg kettlebell as soon as I got it. It was an awesome Christmas present and for the size and quality of the bell it was a great deal. With a steady diet of Get-ups and cleans, mixed in with various disadvantages presses with the 24kg, the 36kg was quickly conquered by my right arm. Unfortunately, my left was not so lucky. When dealing with a heavy kettlebell, there are different forces that come into play than when dealing with a heavy dumbbell, and my undoing was rushing too quickly when it came to forearm pressure. For cleans, presses, and get-ups the bell will rest against your forearm, for the most part this should not hurt in any way, but there is a bit of a tolerance that you have to develop to deal with bigger bells. I jumped from the 24kg to the 36kg due to a blowout sale that put the 36kg cheaper than the 32kg. As with everything else, time and smart training is the key, my left forearm wasn’t ready for the pressure of having a 36kg bell sit against it, and I rushed the gate too fast in pressing it. Eventually I injured my left forearm to a point where it took over 2 months of light, nonspecific to the press training to feel normal again; aka wasted training time to my goal of pressing heavier bells. The easiest way to avoid ego and the injuries/lost training time related to it, is to recognize that it is there. When your back begins to round in a heavy deadlift, or you feel pain related to a ballistic swing, don’t continue to push/pull the rep just because you ‘know’ you can do it or because you want to gain your own or others approval; recognize that your ego is in play and putting you in a dangerous position. Whenever deciding on whether or not to do a hard rep, ask yourself “Is it worth it?” Is deadlifting this single bad rep worth having back pain for the rest of the day? Is it bad to stop at 4 reps when your program calls for 5? Absolutely not, you must work within your limits to experience the fastest gains. Do not lock yourself into or beat yourself up about rep ranges and needing to complete the required 4-5 reps for a given exercise. Stop the set before any form of failure arises and you will be much better off. If you record your workouts, which I highly suggest, you’ll most likely notice an awesome trend. By stopping a set before failure, the duration of rest time and consistency between reps grows exponentially. Imagine, more reps in less time simply by stopping before failure and listening to your body. The secret to great training isn’t magic programs developed in Mother Russia and tested on Mutant Bears. The secret to great training is listening to your body and recognizing when to stop a given movement and when to avoid doing a movement at all. So learn from my mistake, let your body guide your workouts, not your hubris.
Random update on my training and Goals for 2011:
In 2010: Deadlift went from 298 to 397lbs. Max press went from 24kg to 40kg R, 36kg L. Max Pistol went from 16kg to 40kg L, 36kg R. Gained 20lbs while maintaining same BF%. Best Unofficial RKC Snatch test: 100reps in 3:32. Bottoms-Up Press went from 16kg to 32kg R, 28kg L. BW is now 170lb at 10% BF tested with an Omron Fat Loss Monitor. I look and feel better than I did at the beginning of 2010 and at the beginning of this month.
Goals for 2011: Unofficially Tame the Beast (Pullup, press, and pistol the 48kg bell). Raise DL to 450-500lbs, Drop down to at least 8% BF, Become more involved with Grip Strength and attend at least 2 competitions. Close the #3 CoC Gripper. Guerilla Snatch 150 reps in 2 minutes with 16kg bells. BUP the bell half my bodyweight. Experience no training injuries. Improve awesomeness (free running skills, maybe a beard).
What will you do in 2011?
Warm up: 5 minutes of Turkish Get Ups and joint mobility
5 minutes of swings and planks - 30 seconds each - no rest
Bent Press - reverse ladder - 5,4,3,2,1 (L+R)
Complex 1 - 5 reps of each exercises - perform all movements on one side first before switching - one arm swing, high pull, snatch, long cycle clean and jerk, reverse lunge
Complex 2 - 5 reps of each exercises - perform all movements on one side first before switching - one arm swing, high pull, snatch, viking push press, windmill
Complex 3 - same rules as the first two complexes - one arm swing, high pull, snatch,long cycle clean and jerk, front squat
Heavy Swing Ladder - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12,14,16,18,20,25,30
Whatever your religious background, relax and enjoy the holiday season. This is a time to rest and rejuvenate
Strength is a creature of shapelessness, presenting itself in many elusive forms and fashions. I see strength everyday, but I witness a far more weakness.
And weakness is as equally amorphous as strength, yet far more common.
Contrary to popular belief, weakness is NOT fear
A fearful man can still be courageous
Contrary to popular belief, weakness is NOT anxiety
An anxious man can still be brave
Weakness ,however, is a white flag
Strength is conquering
Wnd while weakness is arrogance
Strength is confidence
Weakness is to greed
As strength is to charity
The weak lie still and are complacent
The strong are constantly in pursuit of something more
Weakness is distortion and deceit
Strength is clarity
Weaklings are aggressive
Those that walk strong are assertive
Weakness is boastful
Strength is subtle
Weakness is submitting
Strength is defiant to the end
The weak are infirm and unhealthy
The strong are able-bodied
Weakness is immorality
but above all else:
Strength is authentic, and strength is a principle
As promised, here is the first installment, of what I expect to be a very long series. There will not be a video log of every workout, such a task would be too time consuming, but I will post written logs as often as possible, for those who wish to follow along.
Our current goal is to maximize our all around strength or general physical preparedness, while also focusing on our sports specific(martial arts) enhancement as well. Master Somnath Sikdar RKC is a 5th degree Tae Kwon Do black belt, and the owner/head instructor of Dragongym in Exton, PA.
In order to train both sports specific and GPP(general physical preparedness) our program must take into careful consideration the variables such as volume, intensity, and density
Volume refers to total amount of work performed. You can think of this as total number of sets and reps performed, or total amount of weight lifted, I prefer the latter.
Intensity refers to how hard you are working. In terms of weight, we base intensity on our one rep max. So a 60% intensity, implies that we will use a weight that is 60% of our one rep max.
Density refers to how much work you cram into a period of time.
Tons of volume, and high intensity on a daily basis will not only fry your CNS(central nervous system), but will surely hinder your sports specific training as well. Our program is tactically periodized, so that the volume and intensity are constantly fluctuating, sometimes inversely and sometimes not. Both high intensity and high volume days do appear, but it would be unwise for any athlete to train at such high volume and/or high intensity all of the time. Train hard, but also train smart.
This was our workout from Monday - 12/20/2010
This was a medium volume, medium intensity day.
The highest intensity for this workout was with the vertical press(double clean and press)m which was about 60% or 2x24kg kettlebells for me. All other movements were performed with weight around 40% of our 1 rep max
I will post our sports specific training separately for those who are interested
Self actualization, in the field of psychology, is a the motive to realize one's full potential.
I, along with a fellow RKC( You'll just have to wait to see who it is!), are going to start documenting, chronologically, our quest of self-actualization in the realm of general physical preparedness and sports specific performance.
Within the following weeks, I will begin to pump out footage and written logs of our strength and conditioning routine, our martial arts training, and my own personal food logs. I invite you all to follow us on our journey of self-actualization.
On top of that, I have been busy as all hell with writing my new ebook. The amount of content is going to be incredibly extensive and comprehensive, with absolutely no fluff or fillers.
and Power to You!
Warm Up: 5 minutes of Turkish get ups and joint mobility
Intensity: 60 - 70% of 1rep max
Deadlift - 5 x 5
Double Clean and Press - 5 x 5
Bench Press - 5 x 5
Front Squats - 5 x 5
Weighted Pull Ups - 5 x 5
V02 Max Protocol: 30 minutes
Warm Up: 5 minutes of get ups and joint mobility
Circuit 1: I put this circuit together with two things in mind: productivity and misery. Productive in the sense that this circuit includes almost all of the basic/fundamental kettlebell techniques, and allows plenty of practice time for each technique( 1 minute). As grueling as this circuit it, I must be adamant when saying you must focus on quality and technique over quantity at all times. If shitty practice is your input, then shitty technique will be your output. Focus on the task at hand, and make each rep as perfect as you can.
The misery of this circuit need not be explained, but allow me to justify my madness. If you total it all up, you are working for over 20 minutes without rest. Impossible? No! The movements are constantly varying, so while you will surely undergo a large amount of systemic fatigue, no muscle group should reach absolute failure at any point (if this happens then you are either very de-conditioned or are using too heavy of a kettlebell). I opted for a 20kg bell for this.
Perform each exercise for one minute, on both your left and right sides. No rest. None.
Around the body pass
One arm swing
Long cycle clean and jerk
Single leg deadlifts
Long cycle clean and strict press
Two arm swing - 1 minute
Repeat this circuit twice, rest 3 - 5 minutes between sets
Total time to complete circuit once: 25 minutes