Increasing Your Overall Strength
In 2016 I started listening to The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. If you aren’t familiar with the work of Tim Ferriss, I highly recommend the show and his books. He had a guest on his show that completely changed the way I think about strength training. His name is Pavel Tsatsouline, and he is the founder and Chairman of StrongFirst Inc. StrongFirst prides itself in being a worldwide school of strength, and for good reason.
His website describes Pavel as;
“A former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, Pavel became a Subject Matter Expert to the elite of US military and law enforcement, including the Marine Corps, the Secret Service, and the Navy SEALs. His training system has been implemented by special operations units in two countries closely allied with the US."
If his professional resume isn't impressive enough for you, (which how could it not be?), then there's a chance you may be familiar with a now popular training tool known as the kettlebell. Pavel brought the kettlebell to America! Personally, I have limited experience with kettlebell training, but I plan to change that. I have tried at least a few of the kettlebell moves like the squat, get up, swing, and snatch. I find the design of the kettlebell to make control over the weight a little more challenging, given the weight distribution, especially in moves like the snatch and get up. For me, this seems to force me to focus even more on my form, which is one of the most important parts of any training technique. So how do I plan on improving my kettlebell knowledge?
You guessed it, StrongFirst. They offer several courses throughout the year in kettlebell, barbell, and bodyweight training, all over the world! You can take one of their training courses just to work on your form and strength training, or you can you use it as a stepping stone in obtaining one of the certifications they offer. Heather and I plan on taking the bodyweight course at some point, to start with, and move our way up through the different courses. When the time comes we may even get a certification or two.
Don't let Pavel's experience or titles intimidate you into thinking this is going to be "too technical", or "I don't need Navy SEAL training", because, "Pavel founded StrongFirst, the “school of strength”, to bring “low tech/high concept” methods of achieving high performance and resilience to men and women from all walks of life, not just elite warriors and athletes.” This is what makes his concepts and techniques so game changing. He brings simple concepts anyone can utilize that have a maximum benefit in strength training. I’m not at an expert, and you won't fine me claiming to be, so I'm not going to go into a lengthy discussion of Pavel's training techniques, or methodology, but I do want to touch base on just a few key points I’ve learned that have made a significant impact on my overall strength.
1. 5 Rep Rule
According to Pavel, 5 reps is the exact number for optimal strength gains. He says anything past 5 reps is no longer strength training. You can do 5 sets of 5 reps, or you can even do less, as long as you don’t exceed 5. I often don’t have time for 5x5 sets so I usually do 3x3 just to save me time, and I’ve found it has worked very real well in increasing my overall power and strength.
2. “Grease The Groove”
Grease the groove is a technique I had actually used in the past to achieve excellent results, but I never really knew it was a technique, let alone had a science behind it’s usefulness. So what does it mean to grease the groove? This is a technique where you pick a specific exercise like the pull up, push up, or squat for examples, and you perform this exercise on and off throughout the course of an entire day, but only doing approximately half the number of reps than you’re able to. Then resting at least 15 minutes or more before performing another set. Let’s say you pick push ups so in the morning you half your ability in reps, then at least 15 minutes, or maybe in a couple hours you do it again, and then you wait, and you do it again.
3. Abs and Grip Above it All
I have found this has made a dramatic difference in every part of my strength training. By simply training my abs and my grip using the 5 rep rule, along with greasing the groove, I’ve seen big changes in my strength. I recommend farmer’s carries to work the core and the grip simultaneously. I also recommend all types of loaded carries. These are seriously one of my favorite moves as there are endless variations to challenge yourself, and it's as easy as picking up something heavy and walk.
As you can see, Pavel Tsatsouline is the real deal. But why is this training so game changing if you aren't training to be in the Marine Corps, Secret Service, or Navy SEALs?
What I've found a lot of people seem to not think, or maybe even not care about, is how their physical activity now, is going to shape their physical ability later in life. If you can develop strength and continue throughout your lifetime, you are more likely to be living a more satisfied and fulling life in old age. This is because consistently practicing activities of strength and mental fitness will provide you with more physical and mental ability, resulting in more independence and freedom.
"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it." - Plato
I worked in a nursing home as my first official job. I was a dishwasher and a dietary aide which means I bussed tables or served food. This is also the same nursing home where my mother worked as a nurse, for what had been my entire life at the time, so I've seen many examples how a lack of proper nutrition, physical activity, or mental stimulation can result in the break down of physical and mental ability. Now I'm much older. We live in Avon, CO, and have the privilege of witnessing some of the most active elderly people we've ever met! Do you have any idea how out of shape I feel when I've met a guy who's almost 90 years old, skis almost every single day of the entire ski season, and then to top it off, he spends his summer mornings riding his road bike 5 miles up a mountain increasing 2000ft in elevation along the way?! He is one of many people we've met in Colorado that have lived an active and healthy lifestyle for a good part, if not their entire life. They continue to do so, because your physical and mental state are both connected, and stimulation of one ultimately stimulates the other, helping to preserve and keep skills sharp.
In order to keep those skills sharp, I suggest you check out the StrongFirst website and encourage you to challenge yourself through one of his courses or certifications. Check out the interview with Pavel on The Tim Ferriss Show here. Now that you have one of the world's best resources in strength training, check out these resources for stimulating your mind, and keep your brain functioning at it's highest level!
If you remember, we mentioned we are interested in taking the StrongFirst courses and possibly even getting certified. This isn't on our 2017 Event List, but the StrongFirst courses are one of several options we're looking at for projects in 2018. That's right, this year starts with the 420 Games, and we will continue to find new challenges for ourselves, always pushing into a new level of physical and mental fitness. This is our Dedication to Elevation as we strive to elevate our mind, body, and self, every day, for the rest of our lives. You're going to hear me say this a lot in this first year, but this is only the beginning of MJFITNUT, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow along on social media as we travel, meet new people, have new experiences, and grow, by constantly challenging ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zone! Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, stay lit and stay fit!
"If you're not growing, you're dying." - Tony Robins