R11D40-43: Another Weekend Away Plus Back Stretches

This travelling is getting tedious and honestly I am losing my enthusiasm for hotel beds and pools. This weekend we were out in Peterborough where the best hotel room in the whole town was only $129. On Friday I rested and coached 3 hours but on Saturday before we left I managed to squeeze in a bench workout with barbell and dumbbell because my back was a little sore. It was destined to get worse as the days passed too. I benched up to 235lbs around 10 sets total with chasers of dumbbell presses and flies. Sunday after we returned I was going to do some Olympic lifting but again my back was a little tender and after I had finished my 5 sets of 5 deadlifts I decided to hop on the treadmill and ran a mile pretty much without stopping (although my pace was rather pedestrian). My ITB was tight and sore, and I have a feeling that stretching it is what is causing my back pain. I have to say here that I am a little confused at why this happens, I remember following the Supple Leopard in stretching my ITB and hips before my recent surgery and I remember having nothing but acute hip pain for months after moving into hip stretches. I was better for it relating to my back but my hips were in agony. Not only that, but after being laid up for a few days after surgery when I started walking again it was my hips that gave me the most pain. I have also noted that I don’t have any stretching instructions in this blog, at least not any that are easy to locate so I am going to try and put together a few of my favourite stretches, or maybe find where I have done it before and re-brand the page. Then Monday which was Family Day I once again opted to stay off my back and it was even more sore than before up into the mid right side feeling like a muscle pull more than anything. I did manage to get about 30 minutes of heavy bag work done with some direction from P90X3 MMX.

I am often asked about back pain, having had 2 back surgeries I am what you would consider to be experienced with it. The first thing I do is recommend stretching the ITB and hamstrings and hips in order to try and release whatever compression surrounds the area. How to do that? Do this:
This is one of the best for my back and hips. It does make loud cracking noises in my spine however and you should do it every day… you should do all of them every day really.

Very simple stretch to help loosen up the back and abdominals

Very good for tight hamstrings that can cause all kinds of back problems

More advanced for hips, this is actually quite hard if you are male

Another very good stretch for hips and sciatic problems. You should feel the stretch in the buttock and hip of the leg that is crossed over, in this case the left leg.

Very basic, can be done in conjunction with an arching motion every time you stand up

A little more difficult for some, and also hard to control but once you can do it, it is very effective.


Be careful with this if you have pinched nerves, but the leg in front takes the load off the spine somewhat.

Cat stretch, also can be alternated with seal stretch where from the starting position you drop your hips to the floor and keep your arms straight.

Swiss army knife stretch, very good for hips and back

Basic and similar to the front bend, but this is a standing version of the cat stretch / seal stretch.



How Do I Start?

I received a familiar request the other day, to help someone who is a little overwhelmed about starting to lose weight after the birth of her baby. Although maybe a little heavy handed, this was my response and it’s pretty universal.

The first thing that you have to do is make a decision. Not a decision that you can go back on but a final decision to change.
Second you need to set your larger goal. Your larger goal is nothing to do with losing weight or any of the challenges you have, your larger goal is to be honest, true and faithful to yourself. If you can commit to being honest with yourself and not accepting the old excuses then you are on your way.
Third, stop listening to yourself, you are only confusing the issue.
There is a voice inside your head that wants to derial you. You can either try to change the voice then change your life or you can simply stop paying attention to it until it starts to help you not hurt you. You are smart enough to know the right thing to do but that voice always finds a way around it.
What is better? Food you make at home from simple ingredients or fast food? You already know the answer. What is better, spending an hour watching a tv show or 30 minutes working out and 30 mintues making your food for tomorrow? Same hour, different results. What would you think of someone feeding a can of coke to a baby? Why would you treat your body with any less importance? Six months from now you will be 6 months older, but will you be different? That’s the big question. If you really want your life to change then you have to make some changes in your life. Here they are:
1. Find 30 minutes every day to exercise. Walking is not exercise. If you want to count walking it had better be up and down a flight of stairs.
2. Drink only water and if you have to, coffee.
3. Eat food with one ingredient. If it has more than one ingredient, you don’t need to go near it.
4. That means lean protein, fruits and veg, nuts and seeds (in moderation) and if you want to, a little dairy (yogourt is allowed with no sugar).

Understand that when it comes to fat loss everyone wants a magic pill or fix. That’s why the diet pill industry is doing so well. Well, here it is. Your body creates a substance that forces your body to store calories as body fat. How would you like to turn that process off? It’s not magic, it’s insulin. Eat less sugar and grains and your weight will come off.

Lead by example for your child. What you do will mould who she becomes. Kids learn directly from their parents in EVERY aspect. Be a good role model for yourself, for her and for the people around you who will eventually come to you and ask how you did it.

But do it now. You didn’t start six months ago, if you had, you wouldn’t be reading this.

Due to Halloween, Wednesday’s bootcamp didn’t happen. Instead I opted to do a little Olympic lifting and for the first time since my back went out I did the whole thing with my usual 135lbs. It was the pretty standard 80 reps but with 20 KB swings added in after every round. That kind of threw my week off a little and this was probably one of the times I should have dragged out the P90X2 DVDs and done a pre-programmed workout. Thursday I decided that 100 pullups and 200 pushups would be good since I felt like it had been a while since I had done pullups and I can feel my competence fading. So I did 20 pushups with 10 pullups for 10 rounds after a short warmup with the 55lb KB. Friday I coached and since I had only one athlete who required some extensive stretching I joined in and ha d a good 40 minutes of lower body stretching which felt amazing. Saturday I was a little adventurous and did my Cleans, Clean and Press and Squats with 135lbs for sets of 10×3. Then I decided I would increase my deadlift to get me closer to my goal which is bodyweight. I know, it’s not exactly spectacular but with my history it’s as far as I am willing to go at the moment. That said I managed sets of 5 x 2 with 135, 155, 165, 185 and 205. I was pretty happy with the results and the following 2 days did not produce much in the way of soreness or compromised mobility. That said, I knew that there was only one thing I should do to end the week and promote my recovery and mobility ready for bootcamp Monday so I busted out the Fountain of Youth Yoga with Tony and worked out all my kinks and crunchy bits. It was a good week all in all, maybe not the toughest I have ever had but doing Yoga really made my week.

Ya, shocking.

10.15 – Monday WOD at Gym

Mondays are going to be tricky. I wanted to do some strength training with the girls but their reluctance and their notion that they will turn into men if they use olympic bars is something I have to tackle. Last night was the first night I introduced the new stretching and flexibility portion of the evening. For the record, it goes like this:

5 laps running / skipping / heels up / knees up / 5 corner sprints
5 minutes foam rolling (We have found foam rolling to be a great help in preventing overall soreness and fixing large muscle knots)
5 laps running during which: 10 burpees / 10 pushups / 10 squats / 10 chinups


15 wall sliders
15 floor sliders (on floor beam)
10x Slot machine pull each arm (stand with shoulder and elbow against wall, palm away from wall. Face along the wall, use away arm to pull wall arm down)
10 min ball work (lacrosse ball to loosen upper back)
5 weighted pullovers
5 skin cat hold 15s
5 bridge / elevated bridge 15s
5 wall walk to bridge

Splits cycle:
Kneeling quad stretch x5 hold 10 (go to elbows down if possible)
Right, left, middle 10s each
Right, left, middle 30s each
Right, left, middle 60s each

Scorpion back stretch (assisted)
Back manipulation / inversion table / individual back stretch

Now I am not saying that I am the greatest source of information on flexibility but from what I have read recently, without getting into the kid of heavy manipulations required for mobilityWOD type stretching I think this will serve our purpose well for now. I am sure we will find some shortfalls, and of course there are other mobility items we do for each event as we warm up since I have, or am in the process of, revamping all of our warmups for each event.

Once it was time for our conditioning, we attempted a little thruster work, but the kids have a hard time keeping the bar balanced and close to the body, it’s pretty amazing actually to see just how many different ways there are to do something wrong when you come from a place of zero knowledge and zero preconception. Then it was time for a little metcon work so we chose Half Barbara for 5 rounds for time. I don’t have the exact numbers but it was all over in a matter of under 10 minutes.

Half Barbara:

5 rounds for time:
10 Chinups
15 Pushups
20 Situps
25 Squats

R9D46 – Chelsea Teaches Me A Lesson

Friday night at gym after coaching I thought I would do Chelsea with the kids. It wasn’t even a full Chelsea or Cindy, it was 15 rounds in 15 minutes of 5 pullups 10 pushups and 15 squats. I had done a similar thing with the younger competitive kids the night before and I had enjoyed watching that so I thought it would be fun for us all to do it together on Friday. Unfortunately I took my 2.5 hours of coaching as adequate warmup and jumped straight into the workout without warming up properly first. Now I am a pretty fit guy but I guess it may be my age or maybe just the fact that standing around doesn’t count as a warmup but once the 15 minutes was over I realized I had made a critical error. My legs were shaking and weak, a sure sign that I had done something I was going to regret. The next day, Saturday was painful, but Sunday was torture. Thank goodness there was the Carling Cup Final to watch (GO  LIVERPOOL!! YNWA!!) and Tottenham getting thrashed by Arsenal because I was in no shape to be on my feet. Now there are plenty of studies to show that the cooldown period after exercise is basically a myth but I am a staunch supporter of the warmup before you start. The warmup is so critical because it gives your body time to ease into the exercise, giving your muscles and your circulatory system time to ramp up into the work. It enables you to warm up the muscle in order for you to stretch effectively before you start and even a light stretch is pretty much mandatory before a workout. Some people (myself included) used to think stretching was a ridiculous waste of time but in hindsight I can tell you that unless you want to end up with muscles that are shortened and inflexible, even the most basic of stretch before you start is super important. I am not talking about a static stretching regime here, I am talking about dynamic stretching of the muscles you are about to use. Experts have found that you can actually increase your risk of injury if you statically stretch before or during your workout and also that ballistic stretching is almost always a bad idea. If you are a fan of the P90X system you will find that P90X2 is almost completely dynamic stretching and foam rolling, a suitable replacement for static stretches.

In my case on Friday, it wasn’t the stretching that was the problem it was the warmup. My body wasn’t ready to work even after several hours on my feet. Just like being on the treadmill my body had gone into autopilot mode and wasn’t really using any effort to move me around. Let me tell you, I won’t do that again. Just 5 minutes on the spin bike would have been enough to save me from three days of hell.



Day 86 – Yoga didn’t finish my floor yet

Yoga – October 8 2009

Rugby… Great for your legs, hard on the head.

Rugby... Great for your legs, hard on the head.

This is the second last time I will do Yoga. Due to my creative interpretation of the order in which I have been doing the program the last few weeks I have 2 yoga, 1 core syn and 1 stretch x left to do until the end. I hate to admit that I have lost all the momentum I had before coaching happened and my physique really shows it. It’s just that coaching 4 hours a night after a full day of work even if it is only twice a week is enough to knock you out for a while. Until your body adjusts, things are tough! However, I am not doing so little that I am losing touch with my progress or gains. My yoga session today proved that I still have 2 things: 1. that pain in my right hamstring that I believe is a strain. 2. The flexibility that I have worked so hard to gain over the past 90 days. However, there are still components of the yoga session which I haver resigned myself that I may never achieve. Due to the overwhelming volume of my thighs (thanks to 18 years of rugby for that) I may never be able to go directly from plank to runners pose. My leg just won’t fit under my body and until I make it down to the 200lb mark I don’t think it ever will. I am also disappointed in some areas of my flexibility that seem to be extremely resistant to change most notably my lower back since even though my toe reach is better, my cobbler pose has gone nowhere!

So I am looking at the last 4 days, Stretch, CoreSyn, Yoga and Stretch. After reading a review of CardioX recently I think maybe I will substitute that for my StretchX today given that I have taken enough days off already. This rest week has become a rest fortnight and that is weighing heavily on my mind. I also need a little more time to perfect the GYM90X workout that I have been working on!