Many of my long-time Spark buds will know about my love-hate relationship with Stasi Guy, the sadistic trainer I worked out with for over 3 years when we lived in Florida (see one of my many previous blogs on the him at; bit.ly/1ka5u1V
Stasi guy knew his stuff. He pushed me hard, helped me make incredible improvements, and to this day, I credit him with giving me the strength and confidence to lift heavy weights correctly and for teaching me the tools I needed to help design my own strength training program that helped me lift 955 lbs in my last Powerlifting meet (see blog bit.ly/1hpsk5A
We parted ways last summer when I moved the family up to DC. I still lift heavy weights 3x/week and have now incorporated Kettlebells into my daily routine ( bit.ly/1kJ7CT7
). Lifting heavy weights help me get stronger (what a great SparkPeople name, huh!) and kettlebells are a great overall conditioning tool. But something has been missing.
..range of motion.
Now I've never been a flexible fellow. Even though I know should stretch more, I hate doing it.
Well a few weeks ago, adversity met opportunity.
On Sundays, I go to a gym a few miles down the road from our house. It's pretty decent and they've got good equipment; 2 squat racks, 3 Concept2 Rowers, and a HUGE Kettlebell collection....all the way up to 100 lbs!
They've also got a bunch of trainers hanging out near the aerobic equipment.
For the last 8 months, I've watched them train their clients. Most of them have their people do all sorts of weirdo exercises and I'd just sigh under my breath as I remembered how hardcore Stasi Guy approached my training....he was pretty much like Burgess Meredith training Rocky Balboa
So a few weeks ago I approached one of the trainers who seemed to look like he knew what he was doing and asked him if he knew anything about kettlebells. He said yes, watched my technique on some Turkish Get-ups and Swings, then gave me a few pointers for free. I asked him about his rates and said I was interested in cleaning up my form with the Kettlebells and we agreed on an introductory couple of lessons.
I got a little busy and wasn't able to start with him right away, and in the meantime had taken an 8-hour Kettlebell clinic with some serious Russian style dudes and have felt real good about my kettlebell training since then, but I figured I'd train with this new guy for a few weeks anyway.
Well, before we start training, he gives me a head to toe fitness assessment. He took a 3-point body fat measure with calipers (18%, thank-you very much!), strength assessment (I crushed it!), aerobic capacity (Top 10% percentile), and.....flexibility.....
....I bottomed out! I'm probably in the top 10 percent of least flexible people in the world.
So then he launches into his spiel about the importance of flexibility and stability and how it's the core of any good fitness plan, blah-blah-blah.....I had to struggle to keep from rolling my eyes and felt exactly like my teenagers must have when I lectured them for the umpteenth-time about the importance of punctuality, cleanliness, not drinking and driving etc, etc. etc.
Once the droning stopped, I realized that he was telling me we had to start off with range of motion and functional movement training before we could start on anything else.
Wait a minute, who's hiring who here?!?! I thought I was in charge! I want to clean and snatch kettlbells, not sit on my ass all day bending and twisting into all sorts of uncomfortable positions. At least that's what I was thinking....in reality, I just nodded and said, "OK sure, let's do it!"
Somehow my deep unconscious has always helped me make good decisions even when my inner monologue wants to do nothing more than yell and scream when I don't get my way.
So on our first session, trainer guy (I don't have a nickname for him yet....granola-eater comes to mind, as does hipster-doofus, but that's just because....well just because he's both of those things), introduces me to Mr Lacrosse Ball and Mr Foam Roller
The goal for Mr Lacrosse Ball is to hit trigger points....those tight little knots of muscle wedged deep into your shoulders, back, hamstrings, quads, calves, etc. You roll the ball on to one of those tight knots....then push and pulse against it while trying to relax and breathe. The goal for Mr Foam Roller is for Myofascial release...separating those groups of muscles that are bundled together with that muscular sausage casing known as fascia. Same deal, except you start at the top of a joint and slowly roll down to the next joint (imagine starting at the top of your thigh and rolling down to the knee)
Well it seems like every point of my body that touches either of these evil little devices is chock full of painfully tight muscle. I'm balancing on my arms and legs, calibrating the pressure I put on that lacrosse ball, knowing that the slightest little slip and it'll slam into a tight spot and I'll start crying like a baby.
After an hour of this, I'm sweating like a race horse. Granola-eater then gives me some homework, telling me to do this every other day until our next session. I'm already hating him....he's making Stasi Guy come off like the Pope.
But today we finished up our third session. I went out to Dick's Sporting Goods and bought myself a few Lacrosse Balls and have been using them religiously every night, alternating between upper and lower body every other day.
I do this before going to bed for 30-45 minutes and have got to tell you....I have been sleeping the sleep of the dead every single night! I really had no idea how chronically tight and sore I was till I started doing this. After 3 weeks, I am just now starting to see how my range of motion is improving and how less sore I feel during the day. I've got a long way to go, but I'm pretty well sold so far.
Somehow, I've always hated stretching, mostly because I suck at it. The trigger point & foam rolling thing is more like a massage than stretching. Yeah, it can be painful, but I've found that I can adjust the pain by adjusting the pressure. And unlike going for a massage, I can hit the EXACT spore spot with Mr Lacrosse Ball, and let me tell you, that is how I now spell relief!
More to follow in the coming weeks. Ive got 5 more sessions paid up for with granola-eater, so we'll see how far this goes.
Have a great night Spark friends!