advice

Overhead Squatting Pancakes

So one thing that you end up doing a lot as a coach is giving cues. For anyone who does not know that simply means telling you something to help improve form like turn x limb out or straighten y. One thing that is, of course, true is that everyone responds to audio input differently but that’s a story for another day.

 

So now to explain that odd picture that is in this post. Now when we are talking about the pancakes we are not talking about the delicious food we are talking about the forward fold position as shown below.

GMB Head honcho Ryan Pancaking like a boss.

GMB Head honcho Ryan Pancaking like a boss.

When we initially start working on our pancake there is a tendency to simply try to bring your head as close to the floor as possible and round over as much as possible. This, however, will not do much to improve your pancake. This position is one where you need to rotate your hips rather than just bend forward.

 

So why the Overhead squat? Well, when you are in this pancake position you essentially want to recreate the feeling and alignment of an overhead squat. If you look at the overhead squat you will notice you push the hips back the stomach is pushed forward towards the floor and the arms reach up and overhead not forward.

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So for any of our weightlifters or Crossfitters try out this cue and see if it helps you understand this position a bit better. You will also see many Olympic weightlifters who excel at this position like those in the video below. If you need help in developing your pancake or getting started on it feel free to drop me an email.

What can religion teach us about food?

So I had the idea to write this blog after a recent discussion with the other half of Freemen Fitness. This reads as an odd title but stay with me. The idea came from a debate with someone online about diet. Now I try to avoid these debates as often they do little more than wind me up and people are often not willing to listen. However when someone preaches a diet that could have a negative impact on people’s health then I feel it needs to be addressed

 

Now I won’t name any particular diet or religion instead I will just refer to both terms. The point I want to make is that we can learn a lot about how we view diets by how we view religion. I am not talking about the diets that certain religions advise. Instead, it is that for many people their diet is a belief system. The beliefs being if I eat X and Y I will feel better and for some, I will be morally better than the others who don’t do as I do. Yet we know from looking at religion throughout history that if we say there is only one true way that inevitably it will cause conflict. We also know that if we address these people on their beliefs they are likely to double down and become even more resolute in their opinion.

 

However unlike religion when we swap from an unhealthy diet to a healthier one we will notice changes both in how we feel and how we look. Heck even if we stick to the same unhealthy diet but with fewer calories, we will notice a change. This makes diet an incredibly powerful tool for change and belief for people. We all have friends who constantly preach about their personal diet. How many times have you heard a friend say “oh I started this diet and now I feel amazing you should too” yet does that make you jump on the bandwagon?

 

This brings us to the world of false prophets and trust me the dietary world is full of them just like religion. They are both unregulated worlds with the ability to make huge amounts of money. Models who spout made up diets to look just like them or some quick fix diet that will allow you to lose 50 pounds in two weeks. The problem is for many we want to believe. We hold on to hope for a magic diet that will allow us to do as we please and get into the best shape of our life. Deep down we know this can’t exist yet we hold on to that hope.

 

The problem is that unlike religion and the open-ended questions it creates when it comes to diet we have science to help guide us. But these false prophets have infiltrated this world and muddied the waters just like many hot topics in the world and the influence that big food and those preaching certain diets have created a quagmire for the average person. Meaning that to get the simple answers is no longer simple and many people within the academic and medical world are as uneducated as most.

 

Yet just like most regions diet has common themes and most of what we inherently know are true. Eat whole foods, don’t eat too much, eat plants, eat vegetables, eat food that has not been processed and eat proteins that are sourced reliably. The thing with dietary science it is an evolving field and it helps to find someone who can show you these underlying themes. But at the end of the day, you need to find what works for you as there is no “one true way”. We need to accept that other things work for other people and we should accept that they are different. If they ask for help then do what you can to guide them.

 

I will paraphrase what someone once said to me “diet and religion are like genitals everyone has some, some are better than others and eventually you will find some you like but don’t go forcing them on those who have not asked.”

 

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New Year, New You?

I often say that New Year’s Eve is one of my least favourite holidays and it’s for the same reason that I dislike New Year resolutions so much. People always say on New Year’s Eve “something will be going on, it will be great”. Of course, this leads to nobody planning anything and the usual holiday events of trying to get into crowded venues for overpriced entertainment.

The point I am getting at here is the big loud gestures but no actual planning. If resolutions work for you then fair play, get out and do them. But for most people, it does not work or it does in the short term and often it is due to these reasons. Someone says “I want to lose weight”. Well, how much? How will you do it? Why do you have excess weight to begin? By when? Or even why do you want to lose weight?

What you should do is ask yourself the right questions and decide I want to lose x amount of weight by x time and figure out what it will take for me to get there.

For myself, this seems obvious but I know for many people with their own training this is not and they lack the time to research this stuff as well as they need. That’s why trainers exist and any of them who don’t plan well in advance for their clients’ needs to be questioned. On that same point, anyone advertising detoxes or similar fads in the New Year should be steered clear of but that's a post in itself,

I recently was discussing a client’s training program with them and showed them the potential course of their training over the next two years. Now that might sound excessive and it’s not set in stone it is a guide. This client’s goals were mainly strength based which takes a lot of time and builds slowly over the course of months and years. I like to use the analogy of carrying a weight up a mountain. If you didn’t plan the route in advance you’re setting yourself up for some trouble.

The exact same thing can be said about resolutions if you are not setting up some form of a plan as to how you might actually achieve them then you’re likely wasting your own time. My goals in January for my training and life are exactly the same as they were in December. In short, failure to plan is planning for failure. If you want to improve yourself then go get it done but figure out how and then get out and do it. If you need help doing that then seek it out either in person or online.

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