Written by Dave Thomas
I have essentially fully migrated all of my writing over to the Performance360 blog these days, however I still keep Life, Liberty and Athleticism around when I want to share thoughts and ideas that are a bit more personal.
AKA, when I don’t want to completely throw a giant shit stain on the P360 brand.
If you are unfamiliar with the Random Thoughts game, it basically started five years ago when I didn’t have many clients as a greenhorn personal trainer, and I just wanted to say a few things to cyberspace. It was received very well by my close friends, and has since grown into somewhat of a consistent thing I like to do.
A lot of people hate these. Some like them. As always, a few are training related and a few are not.
1. Fat-free half and half. I don’t understand this.
2. There are few things more infuriating than when you’re trying to open your plastic fork and it’s such a giant piece of shit the pressure against the plastic coating snaps one of the prongs off. Might as well throw my entire meal in the dumpster because I am certainly not eating my meal with a miniature plastic trident.
3. Did you know that spatula companies design their products to retain as much dried egg on them as possible?
4. So long as I keep hearing pop culture updates on the radio featuring Snookie, China will keep winning.
5. I’ll tell you one thing I am most certainly not about, and it’s that bass.
6. When it’s past sundown, and I’m riding around in Ron Swanson, and Paramore comes on the radio. I sing.
7. I had two younger female members ask me to clarify who Bill & Ted and AC Slater are. This is increasingly a world in which I no longer want to participate.
8. There’s an old story about Arnold, that when he would cruise around Venice Beach looking incredible, passersby would tell him, “I would never want to look like you. You are too big”. To which Arnold would reply, “Don’t worry, you never will”.
9. If I go to hell, I will be singing Iggy Izalea karoake with Flo from Progressive while getting non stop Candy Crush invitation notifications on my low battery phone.
10. Things everyone should do: change the station when Chris Brown comes on out of principle. Watch The League. Be excellent at using a kettlebell. Loaded carries.
11. 99.999999% of the phenomenon that is the female social media selfie goes a little something like this.
False. This is what coffee in the morning looks like.
12. I don’t think people should ever say, “Deuces”.
13. Invade Iraq or stay out of it?…Obamacare will work or it won’t…”Life is a Highway” or “Two Princes?” These are the great debates of our time.
14. We’ve been talking a lot about how great overhead squats are for your strength goals. In a recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the OH squat was found to activate the trunk musculature in about the same manner as a back squat (slightly more), and at a much lighter load. There is no movement that provides more from a corrective, stability, mobility, tension and strength all in one package than the overhead squat.
15. A Carne Asada burrito is as close to perfect in the realm of gains post-workout nutrition.
16. The angle in which the femur extends and inserts into the hip is different for everyone. For this reason, a movement like a squat may be performed very differently and to different range of motion standards, thus making blind, “ass to grass” requirements moronic. Many squatters will only be able to hit parallel and that is completely fine.
17. The LeBron James diet could not possibly be a worse diet for athletes.
18. It would be a mistake to think that our fat loss goals are facilitated by going as fast as we can in a workout. Your kitchen will burn more fat than any pace you set in your workouts. Slow down, eat right and don’t be afraid of that weight to the right of what you normally pick up.
19. When I die I wish to be reincarnated as a drummer.
20. I am somewhat of a pushup nazi. But, it’s for a good reason as I believe them to be one of the best movements still after all of these years, yet no one seems to want to take them seriously in programming. Here’s a few fun facts.
#1: In an electromyopgraphy (EMG) test that pitted the band-resisted pushup against the bench press to see which movement experienced the higher intensity of muscle contraction, the pushup and the bench press came out as even over the course of six reps.
#2: As cited by Charles Poliquin, a proper pushup will require you to move approximately 64% of your bodyweight (49% if it’s performed on your knees).
Now consider this. A deadlift at 200% body weight for a 175 pound male is 350 pounds. One might perform 25 reps of that in a given deadlift workout, resulting in 8,750 pounds moved during that time frame.
Take that same 175# male who performs 100 flawless pushups in a workout. At 64% of his body weight, that’s 11,200 pounds moved.
You move 22% more volume in the pushup workout than the heavy deadlift workout.
(Let the hate comments begin.) Now, this is not to say to start prioritizing pushups over deadlifts. Don’t be foolish. They are also completely different forms of strength training and we all know deadlifts are like Fergie and Jesus singing, and blah, blah, blah. Just wanted to get your attention to urge you to perhaps give a fraction of a shit about them. If you do, here’s how they are performed.
21. I am positive I could be a rapper today. All you do is pick 3 – 6 words, preferably sexual, say them over and over again and put them behind obnoxious bass and not much else. If you have a female rapper to come on for a verse or two and just talk about being a slut, then you have a platinum record.
22. Perfect form is something people who don’t train people like use as ammo towards people who actually train people.
23. My mom told me that as a three year old child, I would get such bad panic attacks I would have to excuse myself into the corner and go through prescribed breathing techniques.
24. A good front rack position is perhaps the most difficult position in weightlifting to develop. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your inability to execute it has a single thing to do with your wrists. It’s some combination of tightness your triceps, shoulder and/or t-spine musculature. Your wrist is just the most visible part that can’t get into position because of that tightness. Here’s how to fix it.
25. I prefer to reheat my food to a scalding level and then let it cool down as opposed to just reheating it to the right level the first time.
26. Things that I am certain have never been actually used: The Shake Weight. The boba topping at frozen yogurt bars.
27. A huge mistake on deadlifts is to only focus on the concentric portion of the movement (lifting). Much of our strength is developed through the eccentric (lowering) phase of movement, so by simply letting the weight crash back to the floor at the top of the rep, you cheat yourself of gains. Controlled, touch and go reps where the weight does not slam or bounce are the way to get the best of both phases.
28. It’s a shame that burpees have been turned into a dime store hooker by the fitness industry. Once upon a time, when done right, this was a great movement that taught both acceleration and deceleration. Back when you did them in clusters of low rep, applied beneficial things like “power” and “burst”, and didn’t do them for time, by the hundreds or have the piece of paper under the shoe range of motion requirement. Dunk that shit.
29. I don’t agree with absolutely everything Mark Rippetoe preaches, but this, I like: “Stronger humans are harder to kill, and more useful.”
30. Chris Pratt is my current favorite famous person. Married to Ana Faris. Their son is named Jack (not Nectarine or Cumin or something). Played sports in high school. Humble. Hilarious. Was rags to riches. Plays my second favorite TV character. His incredible Ice Bucket Challenge video.
31. One fundamental tenet of most strength programs that I see all the time in which I unequivocally disagree, is the notion of doing strength work before you condition yourself to a level where your body will even accept a heavy barbell. That any average Joe can just hop into a barbell strengthening program. Path of movement is EV-REE-THEENG when it comes to developing and progressing with your strength, and if your movement patterns suck, your strength and movement under heavy loads will suck. Movement patterns are only, repeat ONLY developed under light load, repeated many times and a good conditioning program can absolutely do just that.
32. Outer space blows my mind. It just keeps going. Forever.
33. I one day dream of having an electronic dispensing peanut butter sauce machine in my home.
34. Not sure how evolution decided we need both mice and rats.
35. When someone who read a short story on grass fed meat decides to proclaim themselves a nutrition expert. When someone asks us to buy more fans when we live in coastal San Diego, California. When people still make Wendy’s jokes. When Aaron Rogers audibles into shotgun on the 1. When someone delays their start at a green light because they were Instagramming and I miss the light by one car. When I have all of the ingredients in my shake and realize I’m out of almond milk. When someone runs in place waiting for a rower.
36. Here’s the funny thing about nutrition advice. At the end of the day, no one has a fucking clue. It is all conjecture, so find something that works for you and most importantly, find balance.
37. The single key to either repping or missing a clean PR is likely going to be whether or not you violently drive your elbows up on the catch.
38. Recently tried and looked at the ingredients in a single can of Kill Cliff that everyone seems to sweat. If this stuff isn’t the pure definition of snake oil then I don’t know what is. #Paleo
39. Squatting and hinging are two movement patterns we must differentiate, especially for beginners. On a swing, deadlift, bent row, and clean or snatch descent from the hang position, we are hinging our hips. Drawing our hips back on a horizontal path of movement. On squats, our hips move vertically. If you are squatting your deadlift, swing or descent, you are doing it very wrong.
40. “Pristine abnormal conditions always favor the weary” – Pritz
41. The sumo deadlift is a stance that for more people should utilize when pulling. It’s great for those with poor ankle mobility, not yet fully developed kinetic awareness (i.e. don’t yet know the difference between hinging and squatting), and those who cannot seem to avoid soreness in the low back from the traditional set up. You’ll target more muscles (hello, adductors) and create less sheer force on the spine. Downsides include possible hip irritation over time and a bit less hypertrophy since the range of motion is shorter. All in all, it’s a great option to have in your arsenal.
42. I think human nutrition thought was immediately biffed up the moment the calorie was invented.
43. Hang power snatch. Squat clean. There is just lifting the bar and doing what you need to in order to get under it.
44. Unless your name is Eddie Vedder, you are not allowed to talk in between songs during your set. Stay by your microphone like a good boy, and play music.
45. For a really long time, I thought the Wiki leaks scandal had to do with Wikipedia.
46. The best exercise for your abs is not eating like shit.
47. Pauses on anything are usually very beneficial in that they produce increased time under tension, and force you to apply violent speed if the pause is in an Olympic lift.
48. One of my favorite variations of this are cleans and snatches from the 3rd pull. Start from the hang position but do not take the barbell into a descent. Simply extend and explode underneath. It teaches speed under the bar like no other movement.
49. Planks are just controlled tension. Make them such by pressing your feet against one another, and tension will be created up the entire chain.
50. Everything in training is symbiotic. Sprinting helps you burn fat, get stronger and improve your endurance. Jumping translates to power in your lifts. Lighter weight training helps your path of movement and speed which translates into strength. And so on and so forth. However, the one component that helps absolutely every fitness, body or performance goal, is strength. No one ever messed up by building and strengthening muscle tissue. And strength work is like whiskey. Just a little shot of it can have a surprising effect.
51. Sometimes I like to pretend my shower is the scene of a music video and really explore the studio space.
52. No single methodology of training is inherently superior. You can’t deadlift a kettlebell heavy enough to match the absolute real strength of a barbell. You can’t swing a barbell in the same hip explosive manner you can accomplish with a kettlebell. You won’t work any type of explosion with dumbbells, but do get much more stability. You can’t work any type of ballistic movement like you can with just your body weight. Everything is synergistic so it’s advisable you do it all.
53. For the life of me, I cannot make sense of how aircraft carriers float.
54. Julianne Russell on Glute Activation.
55. I wish I had a bigger appreciation for musical instruments in high school. Kids in marching band reading this, keep doing it. Knowing how to play an instrument rocks.
56. The weighted duck walk is one of my favorite ankle mobilizers because it not only takes the ankle through a full range of motion but teaches kinetic awareness, how to actually feel the need to keep the heel grounded. Here’s a video of P360 member Ben Hinton seeing immediate same day improvement, previously unable to keep his heel on the ground for even a few inches of descent on his first set.
57. Strict presses in a full split jerk position are a great way to build jerk specific strength that regular presses cannot do.
58. The reason you don’t attempt a PR every time you lift goes way behind just bad physiology. It’s bad psychology. When you attempt them all the time, most are going to be misses. When you constantly miss you create a habit of failure you may or may not even be realizing. Respect the process of cycling and training and you’ll hit far more PRs and feel far more rewarded.
59. Gyms in airports. Someone is going to do this one day and become a millionaire, and I am going to pout when it’s not me.
60. Any weight that is moved overhead must go through the lats, and any weight that is held in that position relies almost entirely on the lat muscle group supporting shoulder stability. There is no application or support for power and stability in the shoulders without strong lats. Watch anyone performing overhead squats and you’ll see the upper part of the lats literally twitching, the fibers firing non stop from the demands of the supported overhead position. Strong lats lead to healthy shoulders.
61. Until you develop speed on your Olympic technique, you have nothing. Start with the barbell and take yourself only up to 50% of capacity your first month. Strength is easy. Fast, explosive technique is not and cannot be learned when diving straight into near maximal load.
62. The majority of your kettlebell swing reps should be fast and explosive, like an arrow from a crossbow on each rep. When you go too heavy, you end up turning more into a child on a swingset, just steadily back and forth and that’s not going to do much aside from potentially strengthen your grip. Bell down and be violent.
63. Caitlin Friedhoff on 3 Olympic Lifting Corrections.
64. Sometimes when I am running I pretend shadows on the sidewalk are hot lava that I can’t touch.
65. I cannot watch those Matthew McConaughey Lincoln commercials and not see Wooderson.
66. If they made smelly writing pens like the old magic markers I would use them.
67. California Dave is so soft. When I recently saw Against Me! and the Gaslight Anthem, I pre-gamed it with sushi, a lovely Yellowtail carpaccio and sake. I wish to God I was kidding. When I saw the same show in my mid 20s, it was Evan Williams on a guy’s porch I barely knew, a few Camel Lights and healthy distaste for myself.
68. In case you skimmed over it, I just want to once again reinforce the importance of developing proper movement patterns at lighter weight. If you remember anything from this drivel, make it this.
69. They are making an Angry Birds movie.
70. It’s important that one’s training evolves over time with new information and testing. However, three things that I will continue to not implement in the training of our gym will likely always be:
- High-rep Olympic lifting
- Kipping pull-ups
Achilles explodingRebound box jumps
71. P360 members like to poke fun at me when I am at the front desk because of how ridiculous I look while typing. However, that is very intentional as one of the worst things you can do all is day is not just sit down, but type. Leads to hunched shoulders, a kyphotic spine and blood sucking weakness. Type like you plank. I’m serious. And even better if you can stand at your desk.
72. I’m physically incapable of opening a drink and not leaving the bottle cap on the counter.
73. Raechel Campbell on the best strength movements.
74. Specificity Principle, “greasing the groove”, however you want to summarize it, it is important that if you want, you must do. Want to get get good at squatting? Then get good at squatting. Want to be faster? Then train faster. Want to be stronger? Then train stronger.
75. Yelp is where nerds go to get their revenge.
76. To get better at rowing efficiency, focus on your stroke rate (or strokes per minute (s/m) in the corner of the screen). If your s/m is bouncing all over the place you are bleeding efficiency on your distance. Keep it steady on a fixed number in the low to mid 20s, and focus on power in your strokes. More with less.
77. If I am on a dessert island and get one exercise for the rest of my life, it’s the goblet squat.
78. I am not married to the concept that you must bounce the bar off your lower body when cleaning, and I actually prefer our athletes do not when snatching. Sure, it can work just fine for some and conceptually, it makes sense. However, it can go very awry when that bounce leads to a drive of the bar away from the body. In this case, the lifter will always jump to receive it and the arching path will be highly inefficient. Bounce away, just make sure the bar does not slow and maintains its vertical path.
79. Almost couldn’t pass my First Aid/CPR course because I was so resistant to taking another person’s pulse. The process bugs me the hell out. You’re just standing there, feeling another human’s blood beating. Yuck.
80. Try driving your knees way the hell out on overhead squats for better stability.
81. An easy way to get stronger? Improve your grip strength. Remove the mixed grip and take your deadlift work overhand for a while. Wrap your thumb under the bar on pull-ups.
82. I’ve never been a big fan of “look at me” warm-ups. What I like to call, “look how smart I am for this advanced warm up we are all doing”. I fall in line with the Russians on warming up. In that I pretend it’s vodka and drink it. I mean, I think it’s overrated. The thought is that training energy is precious, and to not waste it on what you don’t need. A quick dynamic warm-up with some fast, light weight movements is plenty. Your body warms up faster than you think. I can still hear our college strength coach Jim Roney yelling, “a cheetah doesn’t stretch before it goes to kill, boys!”
83. The human body works in synergy, thus soreness or injury in an area was likely do to mounting tightness in another. I don’t claim to be an expert of the human body, but I do know if your knee is sore it’s likely muscles around it that’s causing it. Same goes for the shoulder and back musculature. If you are sore or tight, get it looked at. Ask questions.
84. When you deadlift in running shoes, the terrorists win.
85. “I’m not really sure” should never be a response to, “What are your goals?” Always have a plan of aggressive attack. It’s the difference between training and working out.
86. In another recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, Rosa et al concluded that cardio before strength work increased testosterone levels of their subjects. They conclude, “an endurance-strength training order should be prescribed if the main focus of the training intervention is to induce an acute post-exercise anabolic environment”. I have long been a proponent of ordering your strength work in whatever manner makes the most sense for the day, so I like this.
87. This from exercise physiologist Tom Kelso, further supporting that high intensity strength training gives noogies and swirlies to all the other kids.
(Not a good look for Zumba and slow, distance running.)
88. Recently read a nice piece by Chet Morjaria about this four non-debatable laws of training and I absolutely loved it. In a nutshell, they are.
- Movement is important.
- Strength is important.
- Conditioning is important.
- Technique is important.
So simple. Weird that I like it.
89. Self improvement is the ultimate endeavor, which is what’s at the very root of physical training. Just as reading, traveling and learning are important, so too are heavy deadlifts.
90. Here’s a list of people with whom I’d love to share a beer: Mike Rowe, Wade Boggs, John Riggins, James Hetfield, Peter Griffin, Anderson Cooper, Rick Rubin, Viggo Mortensen (the real life most interesting man alive).
91. There is training. And there is attending. Training is arriving to the gym with purpose and a plan. It’s looking ahead of time at the workout and thinking about what you’ll be doing. Attending is having no idea what the workout is until you show up. It’s aimless, lifeless and plan-less. One is marching towards a destination and the other is wandering like a lost puppy. Which are you doing?
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