Friday, October 2, 2009

Inside Baseball

So a little bit about me I guess in in order

I'm Dan Borcherding. I graduated the university of Iowa in 2005 with a degree in Computer science and a Minor in Bio chemistry. I moved out to California shortly there after and discovered what had become a dormant love of physicality. I fell into a group of people that would run in the mountains weekly at distances I previously thought were impossible. After a few years of this I realized that this specialization was leading me down a very specific avenue of fitness. I still love ultra running, but don't want to give up 80% of my physical capabilities to eek out an extra 5-10% performance in that one modality. I began to explore other definitions of fitness. First on that list,because I was used to endurance training, was triathlon. It worked for a while, but in my opinion payed too much attention to one energy system to lead to lasting fitness. I am not saying I have the answer, but I think I have a better picture that what the fitness industry has become.

Today we are relegated too much to "safe" and "effective" means of training. We learn to work muscles in isolation through ranges of motion that we never encounter in real life. Too much emphasis is put on looking good. I am sure that you have heard the term bricks on sticks before. Sure all that muscle is pretty but really it is not useful to the person. Our primary goal is to ensure that our athletes have balanced level of strength. This is going to directly contribute to their quality of life and make sure they can remain active into old age.

A side benefit from the real world type of training that we do is that it happens to build complete fitness, and in some individuals that wish to take it there, elite fitness. I am sure some of you have heard about functional fitness before and probably as many of you have heard a training giving a stumbling definition of how we may someday need to deadlift a car off a trapped individual, or power clean some heavy object overhead. I am going to tell you right now that they are blowing smoke at you. The fact is that the movements that we do in the gym hardly replicate those done in real life, but the compound nature of the movement as well as the multiple muscles recruited to perform these. We are simply choosing exercises that uses the most muscle groups, to move large loads long distances. More on the primary movements we use to promote this balanced picture of strength.

I am going to make a quick digression in this instance to address a topic that is important to any college campus and one women ask me all the time. "Will I get bulky doing this kind of workout?" The short answer for this is no. The long answer for this is that hypertrophy, or muscle engorgement, is encouraged through high repetition, low load through a limited range of motion. If that does not sound familiar to you I encourage you to look at the sea of equipment in a traditional gym. You are moving relatively low loads a number of times through a very limited range of motion. Again this style of training is about balance. The strength in your arms is going to increase in direct relation that that of your legs maintain the proportions you've always had. The only difference here is that you will be stronger and leaner than you have been before.

An important issue to address now is that of intensity and how this program is different from most any program you have done before. To paraphrase the words of Ronnie Coleman traditional body building "is about stimulating, not annihilating." If you had not realized it already this program is going to be hard, sometime very hard, but there is very good reason for that. Intensity is where the good stuff is. Carefully metered out intensity is what is going to develop the most muscle recruitment and most violent neuro muscular response. Intensity is going to get you through those workouts where you need to turn off your brain and just do the thing that needs done.

There are multiple ways that we are going to encourage intensity. The first and foremost is competition against yourself. You need to be able to take a look a back at what you have done in the past and make an effort to put our a higher level of effort. Always having the idea of what you've done previously is a great motivator in putting the effort into the days training. Another piece of this method of training is that specific workouts rarely repeat. As much as this keeps athletes engaged and focused on the task at hand it makes it difficult for them to have an accurate picture of their progress. By recording performances athletes have a mark, appropriate for their skill level, to constantly shoot for and hopefully beat.

How do we measure performance. Load lifted, number of reps, but also time to completion. This method of training really seeks to make a sport out of fitness. By programming a number of repitions of a given weight time becomes the only variable. It becomes an absolute measure of work. Athletes are then able to use this measure to make a one to one comparison between themselves and the rest of the community. The good natured, yet highly competitive nature of fitness as a sport is another huge boost to intensity. It ensure that athletes consistently apply themselves to training and as I am sure you know consistently high quality work will gaurentee your athletes make progress.

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