Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reality Check

There are some times that I'm really glad that I have a voice memo function on my iPhone. When I remember to use it, especially when I'm about to get into a conversation with someone who sounds like they have a good point, it can yield some pretty useful content.

"Hey, Dr. Cheng, I think your Tai Cheng is perfect for some older folks & people coming back from injuries. It's really awesome for making people feel better!"

Oh, thank you so much for your kind words! Have you used it?

"No way, man. I'm an athlete. I can't get anything out of those slower workouts. My body needs to MOVE to burn off  feel alive!" [with a big grin and a puffed out chest]

Oh, cool. Have you tried kettlebells before too?

"Oh, yeah! I got some DVDs from the gym & tried them, but they hurt my knees and interfered with my plyos."

Interesting. May I see you do a couple of Swings, please, with this 12kg bell?

"Sure!" [proceeds to demonstrate a squat-centric Swing with a slightly ounded back]

How would you rate your form on this exercise?

"Oh, I studied the DVDs. I know the Swing. I'm sure you could find some little correction though." [with a snide tone]

What if I told you that your execution on these exercises is actually hurting you? What if I told you that it's not only hurting your ability to do certain exercises, but also tearing your body apart? Would that alarm you at all?

"Well, I feel fine."

Really? For as hard as you workout & train, you should be able to not only run a mile without pain, but also do 60 seconds of box jumps without pain, get up & down out of a chair in a relaxed fashion without pain, and then hit 5 non-consecutive pullups without kipping and without pain. Can you do any of that and still tell me that you feel "fine"?

"Ummmm...." [blank expression]

Dude, you're TWICE my size. You should be able to Swing a 32kg kettlebell with absolute impunity if you used proper form and experienced IMPROVEMENT in your plyos, NOT impairment. An "athlete" should be someone who can not only handle activities of daily life, but who can also go above and beyond with their body. If how you train is forcing you to "supplement" with pain medication and Advil figures prominently on your grocery list, then you need a reality check, my friend. Sorry to have to put it to you this way, but I'm not going to sugar coat the truth for you..... You're training just for social bragging rights, not for long-term functionality or performance.

"Well, what exercises can I add to my workouts to get better?"

It's not what you can ADD to your workouts that will save you at this point. Right now, you're going to get the fastest & most lasting results by setting your ego aside just long enough to save your own life. 

"Oh, like your boy Gray Cook says: Remove the negative. Right?"

Gray Cook is my mentor, but yes, right now, any exercise that you can't execute with proper form is a negative. There's nothing wrong with ANY exercise. The problem right now lies in how you execute those movement patterns. Your neuromuscular system needs a bit of re-training without any reinforcement of bad habits. Once you've accomplished that, I can almost guarantee that your physical output in your preferred training style will improve, but more importantly, you should be able to do your activities of daily life without having to waste energy bracing for pain. In other words, you'll get more out of your workout with less damage to your system.

"Right on! Sign me up! Is there a DVD or anything that has the stuff you're talking about in it?"

Absolutely. It's called Tai Cheng.