Training

Mike Robertson's Top 5 Moves for Athletic Strength

Mike Robertson's Top 5 Moves for Athletic Strength

Another great, very thorough article from Mike Robertson, with lots of linked resources on each of the movements.  The man never fails to put out quality content. :)

Anyone who trains with us at The BTG will probably see 5 things we do pretty often...LOL!

Here's the link to the article.

 

Mike Robertson on Glute Training

Mike Robertson on Glute Training

Just a quick post to share a great article by one of the guys I try to emulate in the training world, Mike Robertson, of iFast / Robertson Training Systems.  Mike is such a no-nonsense, "here's exactly why we do this" kind of guy, and one of the best coaches I've ever had the pleasure of working with.  I've often called Mike "one of the smartest bros I know" when it comes to training, and this is just another example of why.

Here's a link to the article.

We already use some of these movements in our training at The BTG (due in no small part to Mike's past influence), but will be incorporating some more of them in the future.

For those of you who don't train with us (WHY NOT?  Get in touch to get started ASAP!), the article is a good resource for adding a bit more depth to your glute training.  I'd highly recommend checking out the other articles on Mike's site if you want to improve your knowledge in any area of training.

--Coach JP

10K "Big Loop Plus" Road Run + a little more

10K "Big Loop Plus" Road Run + a little more

I hate road running.  I mean, I HATE road running.  Normally, I'd rather do just about anything rather than run on the road.  That "in the zone" "zoned out" feeling road runners seem to love?  I can't stand it.  My brain is like "WTF are we doing this for?"

But, this time of year, the trails are super slick with mud, and the risk just isn't worth the reward for me, so to the road I went...

Winter Is Coming... Is There An "Off-Season" For Fitness?

Winter Is Coming... Is There An "Off-Season" For Fitness?

We've all heard of the "off-season" for competitive athletes.  It's that time of year when they're not in competition, and are either backing off on training to recover for their next season, or amping up their training to be in better condition.  Either way, managing the off-season well is often crucial to the performance of an athlete from season to season, and in increasing career longevity.

But what about those of us who don't compete?

What if our "sport" is simply being better at our lives - being stronger, healthier and happier?  Is there an off-season for that?

What to Do When You Get Off Track

What to Do When You Get Off Track

So far on the blog, we've talked about setting goals, finding your motivation, and how preparation and small wins trump the mythical willpower when it comes to long-term success.  Hopefully you've used those lessons to get yourself started on your health and lifestyle journey - but what happens when you get off-track?  Are you one of those people who goes completely off the rails (like I used to be!), or just make a minor course correction and carry on?  Today's article gives you some tools for dealing with those inevitable times when things don't go according to plan.

Find Your Real, Deep Down "Why"

Find Your Real, Deep Down "Why"

What's My Motivation?

In our last post, we talked about how important it is to Begin With The End In Mind.  Having a clear, strong picture of where you're going on your nutrition/lifestyle journey can be a powerful motivator in itself, and for some people, that vision is all they need to see it through to the end.  They can see the potential reward of better health, improved sports performance, or just looking better naked, and that carrot is enough to keep them going.

Most people, however, need to dig a little deeper to find something more internal and emotional to drive them forward when times get tough.  This is kind of like that "emotional breakthrough moment" you see on those weight loss shows on TV, where the contestant breaks down and shouts at/cries with their trainer over something deep inside that has been holding them back.

While we don't necessarily need you to do that (but hey - if you need to, we're here to listen!), we do need you to take things to a more emotional level so that you have something really meaningful to you to help you push through the rough times.

Fat Loss Exercise - How Much / How Often To Train

Fat Loss Exercise - How Much / How Often To Train

There's a lot of information out there on fat loss exercise, with some folks advocating hours of "cardio" every day, and others promising results in "just minutes a day".  It's hard to sort out fact from fiction and marketing hype.

The truth is, it takes time and hard work to lose body fat the right, sustainable way.  Bear in mind as we talk about this that what you need to do to achieve fat loss, better body composition, and improved performance is not necessarily what you will need to do to maintain it.  In other words, don't freak out when we tell you how much work you'll need to do to get to your goal, because you will almost certainly not have to do that for the rest of your life.

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written (Part 2)

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written (Part 2)

Alright, folks - here's the continuation of the story that will make up the Introduction to the book.  I'm hoping to finish off this part of the book over the coming weekend, and will post it here as well.  After that, I'm not sure how much I'll post on the blog, and how much will only be going out to my Advance Reader List.

If you're interested in getting all of the content through the process, click the button in the main post to get on my Advance Reader List.  I promise, all you'll get from the list is access to the book content - no marketing BS.  I just need some eyes on the content, and feedback while the book is being developed!

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written!

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written!

So, I've decided to write a book.  It's going to be partly a journal chronicling the training, nutrition and progress of myself and the BTG Spartan Team as we prepare for the 2017 season, partly a training and nutrition guide to preparing for your first Spartan Beast (in particular, a mountainous grinder like Sun Peaks, Montana or Lake Tahoe) or just to become a great all-rounder fitness-wise, and hopefully a little bit of an inspirational and entertaining tale along the way.

Here's the first part of the Introduction (or maybe chapter 1?) that I just finished writing, covering a bit of back-story, including our semi-disastrous 2016 preseason, breaking my ankle one week before our first Spartan Race of 2016, and the beginning of my comeback from that disaster at the end of May to completing four Spartan Races in 49 days from early September to yesterday (October 22), including a Trifecta (Sprint, Super and Beast in the same year) plus a second Beast.  It's 2166 words so far, and I've only gotten to where I got the OK from the doctor to start walking unassisted!

The continuation of the introduction (or maybe chapter 2?), which I'll also publish here on the blog, will complete the journey through to the end of our racing season, and bring things up to the current date.

If you're interested in reading the whole book online, as it is created, sign up to my advance reader list by clicking THIS LINK.  I'll also provide a link at the end of this preview chapter, for once I've hooked you with my riveting content - LOL!  Seriously, though, I'd really appreciate having a few more sets of eyes on this as I create it to help catch any typos and to give me quick feedback on whether it's interesting/useful enough reading or not!

Auguston Stairs - What Are My Limits?

Auguston Stairs - What Are My Limits?

I was solo this morning at the Auguston Stairs, so without anyone else's pace or time constraints to think about, I decided to push my limits a bit.  I set out with a pace intended to see me through 15 sets of stairs, with the aim of seeing what would quit first - my legs, my lungs, or my head.

The answer?  None of the above.

Auguston Stairs - 2016.05.07

Auguston Stairs  - 2016.05.07

So, week 7 of stair training at the Auguston Stairs, and I've achieved 10 trips in under 1 hour.  Today's planned work took just over 56 minutes to complete 10.

A big thank you to some of our rock star women at The BTG for joining me today, since the boys bailed out!  Christine, Megan and Tanya all worked hard on their first time at the stairs, with Christine and Megan completing 6 trips, and Tanya completing 4.  Beware, ladies - your legs are going to be SORE for a couple of days!  My wife, Raina, meanwhile, herded all the kids (5 girls!) around the trail and back through Auguston to meet us at the end of our work.  A real team effort for an early Saturday morning!

Spartan Trifecta Training - Auguston Stairs (Video and Tips)

Spartan Trifecta Training - Auguston Stairs (Video and Tips)

I decided to shoot some video of the stairs yesterday - one trip down and back up, in real time, so you all can see what they're like.  You can see the video on our YouTube channel here.

The stairs are very physically demanding, don't get me wrong, but they are also a bit of a mind game, and the mind game may be even more important than the physical training.  Your brain may tell you to quit (a lot!), especially once you start doing more sets.  For me, the first four trips or so are mostly physical demands, the next few are more mental, and the last couple are really both.

I almost always want to quit around number 6 it seems, but I haven't yet!  This past weekend was the hardest to push through that, because I was doing the stairs solo.  I could easily also have stopped after 8, because my family was at the top of the stairs waiting for me, but I was committed to doing 9 trips, and I wasn't going to fail myself by quitting early.

Being able to push through that mental barrier of "this is really hard, I don't know if I can finish" and discovering that you will rise to the challenge if you keep pushing is a really important lesson, not just for Spartan training, but for life!

Stair Training for Spartan Beast Sun Peaks

Stair Training for Spartan Beast Sun Peaks

In a deviation from the training plan, we're getting a bit of a head start on our incline / elevation training thanks to BTG client Kyle H, and his find of these stairs just a few minutes' drive from The BTG Garage.

Our first visit to the stairs absolutely DESTROYED my calves for four days, though that could have been the combination of the stairs at 8:30 AM, sparring at 10:00 AM, then an 8 km run / 4 km walk at noon the same day.  Actually, about 5 km into the run, I started to get seizures in my quads very similar to those I experienced on the Beast last year, but oddly enough my quads felt fine in the days after, where I didn't feel anything in my calves at all during any of the activity, but they were incredibly stiff and sore in the days following.  Go figure...

Spartan Trifecta Training - Strength Training Objectives

Spartan Trifecta Training - Strength Training Objectives

If you're planning on a Spartan Race of any distance, know that you will encounter some strength challenges along the way!  The key strength elements for us at The Beast last year were, in order of importance:  odd object lifts & carries, climbing up and over walls and nets, climbing/pulling/dragging stuff with ropes, and hanging from or supporting on bars.

Read the full article for more details on what we faced at The Beast, some ideas of the workouts we're doing at The BTG, and some bodyweight strength work that you can do on your own to prepare.

Equipment DIY - Build Your Own Sandbag

Equipment DIY - Build Your Own Sandbag

We've played around with a few different methods for building your own sandbags at The BTG, and finally settled on this method as our most reliable and durable setup that doesn't leak dust or sand.  If you use a duffel bag, you can build this for about $40 or so.  If you want a slightly more versatile bag with handles along either side (for cleans and other movements), you can order a  sandbag shell from Mountain Tactical Institute, but it will more than double the cost.

Spartan Trifecta Training - Time To Ramp Things Up!

Spartan Trifecta Training - Time To Ramp Things Up!

As we head into the second week of Spartan Trifecta Training, it's now time to start ramping things up in terms of frequency of training, with two or three "workouts" per day.  Bear in mind, we're still only talking about a total of 45-90 minutes of work daily, but ideally this is going to be split into 2 sessions daily.

If you're going to split your training, you can do any of the sessions whenever works best for you, as long as you follow two guidelines.  First, if you combine your steady-state heart rate training with another session, the steady-sate work should be done LAST.  Second, if you're combining strength with another session, do strength FIRST.

If you want to or have to get it all done in one shot during the day, start with strength, followed by intervals, followed by steady-state heart rate training.

I'll be posting some more detailed information on WHAT to do in these sessions if you're not training with us during the week this week.

Spartan Trifecta Training - Heart Rate Training Explained

Spartan Trifecta Training - Heart Rate Training Explained

Our Spartan Trifecta Training plan, and indeed, our overall training philosophy at The BTG aims to build the most well-rounded, resilient kind of fitness, which encompasses a balance of all of the following:

  • Movement Quality - being able to move your body through space and your environment with fluidity, balance, and efficiency.
  • Relative Strength - strength vs. bodyweight, rather than max outright strength at the expense of other attributes.  As Mark Twight of Gym Jones put it "you have to carry the engine".
  • Burst Output (Interval Conditioning or Anaerobic Capacity) - being able to perform at a very high output for a brief time, recover, and perform again quickly with little to no loss of power / performance.
  • Endurance (Steady State Conditioning or Aerobic Capacity) - being able to perform at a more moderate output for a longer period of time continuously.

Over the years, I've seen people who can move really well, but are very weak and their movement breaks down as soon as you give them any load.  Others who can run half marathons without breaking a sweat, but are gasping for air as soon as you get them working HARD for 30 seconds.  People who are super strong, but are carrying so much extra body weight around or are so inflexible that they can't do much else.

What we're aiming for here is BALANCE.  I'll be the first to admit that I am not currently well-balanced, having spent most of my training time over the last decade focused on being strong and explosive, and on higher-intensity interval training.  I can move pretty well, but my endurance is terrible.  I have a heart like a hamster's at this point - LOL.  I know that a couple of our other BTG Spartan Team members are pretty much in the same boat, which brings us to the Heart Rate training part of our plan.

Spartan Trifecta Training - Day 1

Spartan Trifecta Training - Day 1

Trail Run (20 Minutes, Easy to Moderate)

Find a trail (not a road), and go for an easy to moderate run for 20 minutes.  Terrain should be easy - a flat or rolling trail, not a steep hike.  You should be able to breathe and talk comfortably throughout.  Focus on nice, soft footfalls - I try to think of making my steps as quiet as possible.

Go EASY today, even if you want to push.  This is the beginning of a LONG haul of training, and we need to build a solid foundation to have our strongest, best results long-term.

Spartan Race Trifecta Training Plan

Spartan Race Trifecta Training Plan

With only 13 weeks until the Spartan Vancouver Sprint, it's time to really buckle down and amp-up our training!  We're also 28 weeks out from the big finale - the Spartan Sun Peaks Beast!

Click this link if you want to see the overall, 28-week plan all laid out.

I'm going to be posting the actual workouts as we progress through them, so if you want to follow along (whether you're going to race with us or not), feel free!

Any questions or comments, please Contact Coach JP via our website!

Update - My Fitness Journey (Coach JP)

Update - My Fitness Journey (Coach JP)

Quick update, since I haven't done one in a few weeks!

In short - I haven't weighed myself, but I fit in my "angry pants" that started this whole thing off last fall.  They're snug, but I didn't have to squeeze myself into them. :)

I'm planning to amp up my training efforts over the next short while, as I have some pretty aggressive targets I need to hit now that I have some other events booked (Spartan Races and my MovNat Level 2 Certification).