Training While Traveling

I spent the last week cruising around the Caribbean living the good life, making stops in Cozumel, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and a private island off of Haiti. The weather was great, the food was even better, and being on vacation is always a good thing. I know, tough life.

Going into vacation I knew that I wanted to get into the gym a few times. Nothing serious, but just stay active as I know I generally feel better when I do something active. I didn’t know what I was going to be dealing with when it comes to the actual gym, but I knew I would have access to something. When I walked into the gym for the first time the things I was accustomed to were nowhere to be found.

No platforms. No barbells. No dumbbells over 60lbs.

Going into each lifting session I knew that I wanted to make it short and sweet. I was in the Caribbean to enjoy the weather and a vacation, not to spend a couple hours in the gym.

I opted for moderately heavy weights in a circuit style workout. I made sure each session I pushed something, pulled something, incorporated a squat/single leg squat variation, a hip hinge or single leg hip hinge, and some type of core exercise.

Here is what a typical workout would look like:

A1. Goblet Squat x8

A2. 1DB Bench Press x8 each

A3. 1DB SL RDL x8 each

A4. Chin Up x8

A5. Straight Leg Sit Up x12

After finishing a round, I would rest for a minute or two (nothing to specific) before starting another round. I would continue to go through this circuit for a prescribed amount of time, somewhere between 15-25 minutes depending on time, and then move on with my day.

Was this particularly taxing? No, not really. Did I really “push” myself to use weights that I would normally use? No, not really. But what I did do was move, I did something to stay active. Not all workouts need to leave your on the floor gasping for air or sore for 3 days after. Sometimes, just getting into the gym and doing something, whether on vacation or just having a sluggish/tough day, is what you need to stay healthy and continually make some progress.

Midweek Reading Material

Here are a handful of good strength and conditioning reads from the last week or so.

Circuits When Pressed for Time

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat vs. Back Squat by Michael Boyle

Can Exercise Inhibit Cancer? by Michael Boyle

My 5 Biggest Core Training Mistakes by Mike Robertson

7 Truths About Strength Training by Jim Wendler

The Importance of Hip Internal Rotation for Acceleration & Deceleration in Athletes by Trevor Rappa


Circuits When Pressed for Time

A lot of times when it comes to training I find myself not having a heck of a lot of time to get things accomplished, which I would assume is something that most people can probably relate to. In times like this, we have a couple options; call it a day and move on, or make the best of things and do something productive.

I’d recommend option two.

Enter what I like to call functional circuits. These circuits keep me moving at a decent pace and also allow me to get a decent amount of work done in a very short time frame. I get all aspects of a quality and well rounded training program, from activation through strength training and even some aerobic conditioning due to the continuous movement.

Here’s what a typical circuit day would look like;

Activation Circuit (2x each)
• Cook Hip Lift x10 seconds each
• Lateral Band Walks x10 each way
• Supine Band Hip Flexor x10 seconds each
• Tall Kneeling Band Pull Apart x15
• Floor Slides x10

Mobility Circuit (1x each)
• 1/2 Kneeling T-Spine Rotation x10 each
• Wall Ankle Mobs x10 each
• Shoulder CARS x5 each
• Split Squat x5 each
• Lateral Squat x5 each
• Rotational Squat x5 each
• Reaching SL RDL x8 each

Core Circuit (1x)
• Front Plank x30 seconds
• Side Plank x20 seconds each
• Body Saw x8
• Tall Kneeling Anti-Rotation Press x8 each

Bodyweight Strength Circuit A (3 sets of 5 each exercise)
• Push Up
• 1-Leg Squat (pistol)
• Chin Up
• Slide Board Leg Curl

Simple and effective. A full program, from top to bottom, that will take you all of 30 minutes. This allows you to get something done even when you are in a crunch for time. Doing something like this on a daily basis won’t get you looking like The Rock or put you on the cover of Men’s Health anytime soon, but sometimes our busy lives require us to get in and out of the weight room quickly. Punch the clock and move on.

Applying Qualities of Special Teachers to Strength and Conditioning

This past weekend I wasn’t feeling great so I decided to take it easy for the weekend. I also made use of my time by catching up on some reading and podcasts.

I grabbed You Haven’t Taught Until they Have Learned by Swen Nater and Ronald Gallimore, a quick and easy read that I was able to finish over the course of the weekend. The book is based on legendary basketball coach John Wooden and his teaching principles and practices.

In one section of the book the authors talk about qualities that all great teachers have in common. It didn’t take long for it to dawn on my that these very same qualities are extremely important in the world of strength and conditioning.

Here is how these qualities can apply to the world of strength and conditioning.

They Make Learning Engaging
No matter the material, even the most demanding or difficult material, can be made engaging through the hands of a teacher that makes learning enjoyable. Teachers that make learning engaging

As strength coaches, we need to make the training environment fun and enjoyable to go through. The weight room needs to be an environment that athletes want to come back to, not need to come back to. You can still challenge an athlete to get better, push them to get better, and work hard all while having fun.

They Have Passion of the Material
If a teacher has passion for the information that they are presenting it becomes contagious for the people they are teaching. They make the material exciting. They want to share their vast knowledge of the subject matter so others can learn and improve from what they have to offer.

As strength coaches we do a pretty good job of having passion for our material but don’t do a great job of developing passion in the athletes we lead. Spend time to explain to athletes why they are doing what they are doing. Explain how it is going to make them a better athlete. If athletes understand the how’s and they why’s they do what they are asked to do, they’ll buy in more and have more passion for what it is that they are doing.

Deep Knowledge of the Subject
Teachers that are special have a deep passion for the subject they teach on. No matter the field that they are in, they are always looking for ways to improve their knowledge. They go to seminars, conferences and read everything they can get their hands on. They visit other great teachers, watch them intensely and learn from them.

As strength coaches, it is our responsibility to continue learning on a daily basis. The field changes extremely fast. If we were to look at strength and conditioning programs 10 years ago we would probably be appalled by the exercises be prescribed. Things change in this field, and they change fast. Keep learning, daily.

They Recognize Even Small Progress
Great teachers are always pressing their students to get better and improve, challenging and stretching them on a daily basis. However, great teachers are masters of balancing the challenging with encouragement. Additionally, even when the student is struggling with the challenges that are throw at them, a great teacher never gives up on the student.

As strength coaches, we ask a lot of our athletes. Olympic lifts can be very technical and challenging. Even as you push athletes to get better, while they are struggling to get their form down and getting frustrated with their lack of progress, keep finding small things that they are doing correctly, and recognize it.

They Are Extremely Organized
Great teachers are extremely organized. They have clear objectives as to what they want to accomplish. They have clear objectives on when they want to accomplish it. Everything they do is calculated through trial and error. They set a plan and then let the plan work.

As strength coaches, we need to have a detailed plan of what we want to do with athletes and when we want to do it. We can’t leave anything for chance. When we leave things for chance, don’t have a plan of attack at all times, and don’t progress athletes properly, injuries occur.

They Treat Everyone with Respect
Great teachers treat everyone with the utmost respect at all times. Great teachers understand that in order to get respect they need to first give respect. They respect each individual, their unique learning needs, and tailor their teaching style to meet those needs.

As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Live it everyday.