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PTY Tarea #2

Coaches' Corner
PTY Tarea #2

By Evan Yoak

Welcome back everyone . Last week’s highlights include the greatest crying-out-in-shock-and-pain reaction reel of possibly all time – why I don’t have more video is beyond me – as well as the MVP of the Week for the person who interpreted “body weight lunges” to mean “lunges with an external load equivalent to your body weight.” Kudos to Lady for the inadvertent masochism, and for what must surely be a strong set of glutes.

Warning: this blog is a bit long, so if you desperately need the homework without the jib-jab, click here to jump down; be sure to watch the video as well. I recommend reading, however, as everything will make more sense that way. Also, apologies in advance for the terrible sound quality. Maybe I’ll refilm it in Spanish and actually, ya know, enunciate if there’s a public outcry that nobody understood anything.

It’s important to keep in mind last week’s lessons going forward because we’re going to shift gears a bit this week. If you’re coming late to the party, or didn’t read between the lines, the takeaways from last week were:

  1. Your daily postures are wreaking havoc on your body, resulting in massively tight muscles you didn’t even know were tight (e.g., calves)
  2. Body weight reverse lunges are not as easy as they sound
  3. Having friends makes for a better mashing experience

Let’s take a look at that last point. Having someone else stretch or roll you out has a huge advantage, in that you will never inflict as much pain on yourself as your good buddy will inflict on you. This is why I like partner stretches: it’s really easy when you’re by yourself to be lazy and pretend like you’re doing yourself some good because, hey, I’m stretching something, right?

Nope, wrong. Lazy stretching and massage are insidious because they make you think you’re making improvements, while in reality you’re just fooling yourself and not changing anything. It’s akin to putting toothpaste on a toothbrush, sticking the toothbrush in your mouth, playing Angry Birds for five minutes with your toothbrush hanging out of your mouth, and then removing the toothbrush without ever having done any actual brushing. And then wondering why you have seven cavities a month later. Likewise, if you constantly stretch and have been wondering why you still can’t overhead squat to full depth – and full depth of course means full depth, ass to ankles, not just below parallel – without having a train wreck happen with your shoulders or without your torso swaying forward like a drunk on a bender, read on.

There are two secret ingredients to fixing these stretching/rolling problems:

  1. Correct positions
  2. Time

That is, you must stretch in the correct positions, and you must do it for enough time. Sounds simple, right?

Weellll, sort of. Time’s easy: put a damn timer on and don’t quit til you make it through. It always amazes me when I tell people, “Two minutes each arm,” and then I see them walk off to the dressing rooms after thirty seconds. Like, most people’s sense of the passage of time is horrible. Not a big deal, this is why we have Science, and measuring: put a clock and stick to it. One minute, minimum, and I mean minimum: 2-3 accumulated minutes (doesn’t have to be consecutive) for whatever you are doing is usually best.

The first bit, correct positions, is a bit tougher. A lot tougher, actually – no one that I know of in the mainstream teaches how to adjust someone properly to make their stretches effective. Kelly Starrett does sometimes, but not often enough. The better yogis and yoginis probably do, but then you’d have to do yoga. Kidding! Yoga’s great. But you do have to find someone who knows what he or so is doing, and who knows how to make proper adjustments, which is only slightly less uncommon than finding a unicorn.

Fortunately, you have your own body to listen to, which only you can hear, and which can tell you a lot more than anyone else ever can about what’s going on inside it. Which translates to, if you don’t feel some sort of change happening, no change is happening. Brilliant, right? For example, when your homie was rolling that barbell up and down your calf, you could veritably feel the tissues adapting, reverting to their original positions whence they had been diverted so cruelly by the evil Desk. Hooray, change.

I used to hate when people asked me, “Where am I supposed to feel it?” It sounds like such a Globo Gym question. Which it is, taken in the context of isolation movements, which are indeed generally stupid. If you’re spending all your time figuring out how to do better concentration curls so you can “feel it” more in your biceps, you’ve got issues. And if you’re doing pullups, or better yet squats, and find yourself asking, “Where should I be feeling it? In my quads? In my glutes? In my abs? In my hamstrings? In my back?” then the answer is of course, “Yes.”

But notice I said “generally” stupid: isolation movements have their place, and yes, you should feel the isolated muscle working when you do them (cuz otherwise it’s not). I like isolation movements for waking up inactive muscles, fixing muscle imbalances, prehabbing the body’s transmissions like the shoulders and hips, etc.

I would also consider stretching to be an isolationist activity. I don’t think it’s usually a good idea to say, “Ok, now I’m going to stretch my triceps, and then my quads, and then my adductors,” since you need don’t just need to lengthen those muscles, but rather lengthen them in a position in which you are going to be moving. So, for example, it makes more sense to say that you’re going to stretch your front rack, rather than your triceps.

On the other hand, sometimes you do need to isolate a muscle and loosen it up. After all, what is rolling if not massaging specific muscles? You don’t have to know that you just stopped rolling your latissimus dorsi and started rolling your teres major to know that you need to specifically relax the muscles on the sides of your trunk in order to raise your arms overhead; you’re still in a sense “isolating” the lats and the teres. Semantics aside, the point is that you ought to feel some response in your body. It will often be pain, particularly if you’re tight (and I should point out here that too much pain is indeed too much: you shouldn’t walk away with bruises, for example. If it hurts too much, your body will treat the “massage” as an intrusion and shut down, having the opposite effect of restoring the muscles to a supple state and instead tightening up more. A good rule of thumb is that it should hurt about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10).

So that’s a good starting point. If everyone else is crying like little girls whilst doing couch stretch and you’re all like, “This is so easy!”, chances are you’re doing it wrong. Take responsibility and try to observe what part of the position your body is avoiding, or ask a coach to check you out to see what’s what. The human body is really good at avoiding inflicting pain on itself, so one must be extra vigilant to ensure the stretch is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

So now we’re going to take an example of a simple stretch that I constantly see people doing wrong, and we’re going to all do it right for the next week. Then you can call out all your friends when you see them screwing around pretending to stretch and politely fix their posture.


Tarea #2

  1. Lateral opener with band – 1 min. with hand up + 1 min. with hand down. 3x week. Try some pushups or overhead squats before and after to compare.
  2. 3 x 20 Glute Bridges (2220) + 20 Reverse Lunges – That’s 20 Glute Bridges and then right away (no rest) 20 Reverse Lunges. You can rest between sets, but no dilly dallying. Tempo for the Glute Bridges is 2 up, 2 pause at the top, 2 down, and no pause at the bottom. Tight, controlled – as I talked about above, with this type of movement you should be actively trying to squeeze your glutes throughout the movement. 2x/week
  3. No sitting on couches or chairs while watching TV, with minimum 5 minutes of squatting. You can lay, you can mobilize, you can sit Indian style or in lotus (with a neutral spine!), you can and should try all sorts of different positions, but you must squat for at least 5 minutes total. Should be a relaxed squat, the back can round here in the squat since it’s not under load. 7x/week (i.e., any time you watch TV or movies or whatever).

There you have it, round number two. If you’re doing a lot of jumping, running, or squatting, and the calf rolling helped, it’s recommended to hit it before those activities. Happy WODding!


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