Why is everyone so fixated on failure?

The important thing to realize is that you will likely fail when you try something new. That is okay. What is not okay is when you fail to even try.

I hit a CrossFit box here in London this morning. A few things were ugly about that whole situation.

  1. I’m not very good at CrossFit
  2. It was balls early, 6:15am start time. For anyone in their usual environment that’s nasty, but for a touring musician, living out of a suitcase it’s heinous.
  3. While I enjoy exercise a lot, my eagerness can sometimes alienate others around me

As you can see, lots of room to fail.

And I did. By technical standards. Hell, my bench game is weak. No way around it.

Learn to Forget Things Quick

Todays Workout of The Day (W.O.D) saw us hit a ton of shoulders and chest, areas of opportunity to improve in my personal fitness game, so going in I knew I was going to be up against a lot. The last time I tried to PR my bench, 135 was about it for a few rounds of 5. So today, in trying to get my 5RM, I failed at 135. I’m okay with that. It’s a hole in my armour and I will spend some time working on my chest strength. Had I not tried I’d have never known.

Looking at Failure as Information

If we change our language from “pass/fail” to “gather info” regarding these kinds of situations, we allow ourselves the forgiveness to accept our attempt and problem “solve” rather than just problem “find”.

Par for the course lately. I’ve always gotten a thrill of being the underdog. Against all odds, somehow finding a way to drive the ship through all that pressure, adversity and overwhelming stress to pull it off. I’m playing my 4th show with Midnight Shine tomorrow in Hamilton. Coming off a less than perfect set in Webequie, I need to find the wherewithal to learn from the experiences I had in order to effectively course correct. In theory, each performance… each workout I hit bench… I’ll get a little bit better. That’s the key. 1%.

“Get Back Up. Get. Back. Up.”

Get knocked down 7, 8, 9 times? That’s fine. You just have to find a way to get back up 10. The innate ability to bounce back.

That’s just a characteristic I’ve always had. Grateful my childhood taught me that. My parents taught me the value of hard work and how important it is to outwork everyone else. Authentically.

If you are struggling. Ask for help. If you assume people know you’re struggling and you wait for them to bring it up, you’re doing a disservice to everyone. Check the ego at the door, ask for help.

Literally, I had the bar come down on my chest after 3 reps in my 4th set and Coach Jamie had to pull it off me. We then talked about locking the shoulder blades back and bracing the core and poof… whaddaya know –  I pulled of 5 on my last set.

I also need to know where I stand for performances. I want feedback so I can improve in areas that are opportunity to get better. Performance reviews are popular in organizations and the music business should be no different. So I’m looking for that.

Don’t Take Things Personally

With no squats on the WOD today, I had to rise up and work on the stuff I’m not so good at. It was great. It was authentic. Because I haven’t done rope climbs, I asked for a variation in order to work my way up to it one day. I was also asked to scale my push-up variations nearing the end as my body was just plain gassed and my technical form was starting to suffer. That’s great coaching. Nothing to take personally. My body was just toast at that point.

Be You

That ties it to my final point. One thing is for sure: I’m okay if I don’t fit in because I was who I am. I’m not okay with being on a path embossed with inauthentic motives. I wanna be me and when I’m not happy, it’s not worth it. Not the workout. Not the tourbus.

Just be you, bounce back and remember it’s a long game we’re playing. Have fun with it.

Ciao from the road!

xo

M

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So today marked the first real CrossFit workout I’ve had since I went in Maui about 4 years ago. One word: Community.

Curtis Laughren, an old friend of mine has established his box as so much more than a place to lift heavy things and put them back down again. He’s grown a family of individuals that come together, support and rally each other through the toughest physical demands they can put their bodies through every time they step on the floor. What’s more is that today was a holiday! The floor was packed. Every one to the athletes came up and introduced themselves to me. It was quite a humbling experience to see so many encouraging, forward thinking and mindful athletes together in one space. I was back in my element today. Part of the team. A feeling I haven’t had for nearly two years since speed skating came to an abrupt end in the fall of 2015.

I walked in and immediately felt like I was home. The sweat-culture of sport, intensity and collaborative competition hit me like a hurricane the minute I stepped inside. Greeted by Curtis, peering through the Concept2 rowers (AKA death machines…) standing on end in “park”, to see who the new guy was. Huge smile and big handshake waiting for me, it was at that point I knew that this was the next step in my athletic career.

We spent the first 15 minutes in RAMP (for those wondering, that’s smart trainer talk for warm up [Range Of Motion, Activation, Movement Prep…]) and then we got to some warm up movements on the bar. The workout today was modelling the CrossFit Games workouts that just took place this past weekend, so today “Amanda” and a strength Powerlifting style 5-3-1+ sets of deadlifts was on the docket.

What’s Amanda?

It’s a drop set 9-7-5 series focused around two big, sexy movements. The Olympic Snatch and the Muscle Up. Rawr…

I’m pretty good with the bar, so the snatch wasn’t a problem (insert endless jokes here….), but my shoulders have never been right since I separated the left one making saves in football (soccer) nearly 10 years ago. Actually, side note – that’s one of the biggest motivations for me trying this box out. My overall goal is to be able to complete 10 Muscle Ups before 2018. For today, Curtis and I scaled them down to strict pull-ups so my Amanda was really like a “Mandy”…. The beta version 1.8 and still pretty cool.

I had a nice and light 75lbs on the bar just to go through the snatch patterning and pounded out my modified Amanda in a quick 4:18. In hindsight I should have thrown 115lbs on the bar, but I feel good about my first day. It can still be intimidating to walk into a gym where you’re the new guy…even for an experienced, multiple-certified trainer like myself, guys… so I was pumped to just experience today.

Then came the deads…

I crushed a 265lb deadlift today, which I just calculated to be about 113% of my previous best. So I set a PR on my deads today. Which is cool. But don’t tell my cardiologist yet. She’ll get worried again. I didn’t hold my breathe, Doc. Don’t worry. No Valsalva over here.

The point to my story is that the biggest determining factor of anything you do is your social support system. If you’re around a bunch of people that are in support of your actions, you’ll be much more likely to achieve. If you’re not, you won’t. Plain and simple. They say we are a product of the five people we hang out around the most. As a kid playing hockey I always wanted to play on the top line, I always wanted to be better. I wanted to be around the guys that were better than me. Nothing much has changed.

August 7, 2017 marks the actualization of bettering myself in the areas of my wellbeing that I’ve neglected for whatever reason… injury, laziness, lack of knowledge or special care. I’ve removed those excuses from the equation, and CrossFit Above All is the support system, the community, the family I have been lacking to drive me to progression in my personal and athletic growth. I am beyond stoked to see what happens. Thank you Curtis et al.

Do something awesome today. Until next time, stay sweet.

Peace.

-M

PS. If you’re in the Calgary area, check out www.crossfitaboveall.com

Curtis hosts multiple free classes each week for you to try out and see what it’s like to be a part of a common goal of personal growth and strength, both in the gym and out.

 

Ever wonder why your knee seems to flare up whenever you start running? Or maybe it’s your shoulder that starts to go only after a couple repetitions of chest flys? Well, I’m here today to put some food for thought on your plate on the ideals surrounding two popular exercise principles, load sharing and isolation.

To begin, we need a rough idea of what defines both of these principles.

Load sharing vs. Isolation: Defined
Load Sharing

The easiest way for me to describe this form of movement is from a functional standpoint. In a compounded movement (when two or more muscle groups work together to perform a movement i.e. back step lunge) the load or weight of the exercise is spread across multiple joints or levers. This helps to “share” the load and ultimately I have experienced more efficient use of movement in general application when coaching this style of movement. This, as one would imagine is incredibly beneficial for folks that are looking to become more functional and efficient at completing daily tasks. 90% of the people I have the privilege of working with are in this category. Makes sense? Your body can use more of itself to help decrease the strain on any single muscle group or joint and thus increase the likelihood of completing that exercise, pain free and efficiently. Bingo. Load sharing.

Isolation

The antagonist exercise to load sharing, in that it is actually the exact opposite. In isolation, we want to completely isolate one single target muscle group. Why? Well, theory tells us that promoting a targeted focus on a single group of muscles (i.e. pectoral major muscle in chest flys) concentrates that work load in that specific region. In doing so, what I have seen is a stronger recruitment or breakdown of muscle fibres, thus leading to quicker muscle development. Of course there’s exceptions to the rule, but this is a general consensus and the reason why isolation exercise is so popular amongst the bodybuilding world of fitness.

Over the years I have seen a few great differences between the two countering styles from a practical standpoint. While neither style is right or wrong in theory and practicality, I’ve seen that there’s a right and wrong time to use either and that’s simply based around each individual and what they’re looking for out of exercise. This is why I caution you to do your research when you’re getting back into an exercise regime.

Here’s the thing with isolation. I would argue it is more of an advanced or specialization style of training, even though it doesn’t in theory utilize more engagement. When you isolate an exercise, let’s use the back step lunge for example, you tend to cause all of the load of that exercise on one joint, in this case, the knee joint. Why? Well, generally trainers that coach a compound movement in the isolation style will coach you to force your trunk straight up from the hip, causing all of the force to be exerted through the quadricep in the front leg of the lunge. Over time, what I’ve seen in both myself and in clients is that this exercise promotes more direct strain on that knee joint because of that high load always forcing itself on that specific joint. It has no where else to go, so we tend to see over use injury as a result. things like IT band syndrome and quad tendon inflammation or (the highly over diagnosed) patellofemoral syndrome.

In my opinion, load sharing is a much safer, functional and therefore more enjoyable form of exercise when it comes to fitness, which as I said earlier – 90% of the people are looking for in regards to lifestyle goals. Take that same back step lunge, and now instead up keeping your trunk completely upright, hinge slightly, only about 15 degree forward while still maintaining a flat back (or “neutral spine”). This simple action puts your hips in just enough flexion to take a share of the load from the knee joint and help you to get up more efficiently with all of your body.  This action alone can help prevent overuse injuries of the knee, as you’re not relying on just the one joint to take that whole load all of the time. Overuse injuries are something I see very common with folks coming to me for assistance in getting their lifestyle back on track and let’s face it, if exercise causes pain, you’re likely not going to stick with it.

Conclusion

That being said, I would suggest really doing your research when you’re pulling exercise programs off of the bodybuilding.com’s or womenshealth.com’s of the internet. Because, oftentimes those writers gear the free exercise programming to the aesthetically pleasing goals of what everyone wants – “get a 6 pack in 6 weeks” or “9 ways to bigger biceps”. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to any fitness goals and if you try to cut corners and skip the crucial foundational stage of exercise – your tagline will read something like “6 weeks and $600 for a lot of lower back pain and a physiotherapy bill” or “9 reasons I strained my rotator cuff and now have tennis elbow”.

It’s simple folks, you can’t shortcut. I truly believe that professional assistance is crucial in order to start a lifestyle overhaul and continue to make ground on your goals, be it physically, personally or otherwise.

Hopefully my explanation about the difference between a load sharing exercise and isolation theory allows you at least think about your ego and how much more important it is than effective exercise and injury prevention. There’s a time and place for both styles and I hope this article helps you to decipher where you’re at in regards to using both.

Thanks for reading!

You don’t have to be a rock star to start, but you have to start in order to become a rock star. 

Mike

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