89 Random Thoughts

Dave Thomas Performance Random Thoughts
In this image released by Lionsgate, Johnny Depp appears in a scene from “Mortdecai.” (AP Photo/Lionsgate, David Appleby)
Dave Thomas San Diego Performance360

Written by Dave Thomas

For those who have been following me since 2011, you were around for the old days of this blog. Frankly, it’s the most fun I have ever had typing words and I loved the interaction it developed.

A few years after I started it, I took 100% of my writing over to the gym’s website for a variety of reasons, and while I believe the articles over there are great and serve their purpose, they lost what I felt like to be my most effective voice. I make better points when I can say bad words, when I can call a movement stupid and you the same for doing it, and as the kids used to say when I was a young Abercrombie and Fitch wearing doucher, “keep it real”.

I basically become a corporate stiff in the name of website SEO.

The reality is I don’t have enough time in the day to make typing words a priority I once did. I’ve tried and failed before to re-ignite this blog, and with many projects in the works for us at Performance360, it’s a 50/50 proposition I’m able to keep this up. But I like my odds and I’ve made a point to set aside time, as opposed to my usual strategy of vomiting something out in the random hour I have free. I will still be contributing to the gym website, but the majority of what I throw together will be here moving forward. Again.

On to the first Random Thoughts in two years. Same rules. Some fitness. Some nonsense.

1. My main metric for determining one’s success is how much money they spent on their kitchen trashcan.

2. I hope I don’t have any friends schedule business phone calls in coffee shops. That would change things.

3. I very much desire to wear an ascot.

4. Going to be honest, I’ve had two years to think it through, and thought Pitch Perfect 2 was terrible. Fat Amy had way too much of a role. She’s a side dish, not a main entree.

5. I would rather get into a knife fight with John Wick than perform a set of thrusters over ten reps.

6. When I see a brand new member across the gym properly unload their barbell without any coaching.

(c) Giphy.com

7. Diet Barq’s, Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Cherry Pepsi. In order. Final answer.

8. I am sexually attracted to Zac Effron.

9. I wrote a very digestible breakdown of anaerobic versus aerobic conditioning. It was born out of my googling it to send to someone and realizing a good article didn’t really exist. You should read it. But, since you probably won’t. Here is the takeaway:

Anaerobic System
Targeted performance. Shorter in duration, higher in intensity. Not sustainable past a few minutes of intense effort. Helps to improve our ability to go as hard as we can for as long we can. Necessity for all around fitness is debatable, but very needed training for athletes who have competitive goals.

Aerobic System
All-around fitness. Longer in duration, lower in intensity. Very sustainable past a few minutes of moderate effort. Less targeted than anaerobic training, helps to improve our all around fitness and longer term endurance. Typically a higher caloric expenditure and more positive health markers.

10. We can create fire by flicking our thumb, which at one point, was the greatest discovery ever on Earth. It makes me wonder what we think is incredible now that will be very “meh” in years to come.

11. Whenever we are in supine position on the floor performing core work (dead bugs, hollow position, reverse plank), it is imperative that we drive the low back into the ground. Otherwise, we lose the benefit on the anterior core and we begin to reinforce anterior pelvic tilt/Lower Crossed Syndrome, the exact condition we’re trying to prevent with those movements.

Lumbar Position in Hollow Body
Good / Bad

12. The most effective coaches understand that there is really no such thing as constant linear progression when it comes to movement selection, and that we’re at our most successful when we when we allow ourselves to access all forms of a movement progression. For example, we have 375# front squatters who only dumbbell press overhead. 

13. I’ve become a much bigger proponent of the Windmill for a lot of benefits, mainly it’s an effective way to train shoulder stability and the posterior chain without the load of weightlifting or powerlifting, and in the always challenging way to find targeted adductor work in the realm of functional fitness, it succeeds.

14. What are there more of? People online ready to correct your mobility recommendations, or known solar systems in the universe.

15. Among the many random things I’ve learned about successful gym ownership. The color of the dry erase marker matters for branding. Since we began posting our Shred classes in red marker as opposed to pink, male attendance has gone up.

16. The least coachable athletes are usually the ones in most need of it.

17. Coaches. In interviewing and coaching pregnant women over the years, the first trimester is the hardest for women. This surprised me since women are the lightest, here. It also seems like taking the training up to about 38 weeks is the unanimous strategy of our sample size. A good read for anyone who trains pregnant women.

18. Does anyone have Benedict Cumberbatch’s email? I need to send him my iTunes receipt so he can reimburse me for Dr. Strange.

19. I like incorporating both broad and box jumps because box jumps are more vertically explosive, but broad jumps require more horizontal deceleration. Box jumps have next to no deceleration component to them, since you never come down from the apex of the jump.

20. I believe the single most influential ingredient to running a successful gym is customer service, but not at all like you are thinking. To me, great customer service is simply and consistently delivering on all expectations you say you are going to provide. My definition of it has nothing to do with how well you run a “help desk” or respond to emails. Important, but too micro.

21. Is there a support group for Justin’s Maple Almond Butter? Asking for a friend.

22. The three biggest accomplishments in my life are graduating college, opening a gym, and tying a bow tie.

23. I really love the deadlift as a training tool, but way too many people are stubborn about which version they do. With multiple variations, it’s important that we understand the conventional deadlift just might not be for you. Spinal length, limb to torso ratio, many genetic factors that are NEVER changing. You may be better suited for another variation.

24. Dave Thomas, 81 kg teriyaki chicken eating champion. God that’s got a good ring to it.

25. Proper front rack has some daylight between your thumbs and shoulders, so that your shoulder is in external rotation. If your fingers are squished on top of your shoulders, then it means you are not in external shoulder rotation and will be in weak position when pressing overhead.

External Shoulder Rotation in Front Rak
Daylight between shoulders and thumbs.

26. Recently added to the English dictionary: First World Problem, Ginger (ha), NSFW, Listicle (perfect timing), Safe Space (ugh), Weak Sauce, and Yowza.

27. Accepting your body and also working towards bettering it are not mutually exclusive.

28. Among the many questions I receive on a monthly basis at the gym, a common one is, “Why don’t we deadlift in circuits more?” The answer is that it’s simple risk and reward. The deadlift is one of the most metabolically demanding movements as is, the added benefit from adding an intensity dose to it is not great enough to warrant the risk of performing it under fatigue. There are far better conditioning options. Don’t hate it, just don’t love it at the same frequency as other options.

29. If you’re a runner, give “Strength Training for Runners” a read. A focused effort on your strength training is likely the most important thing you can do for your sport. Many runners suffer from weak glutes and poor pelvic stability, both of which bleed efficiency and lead to poor stride economy. Both are easily correctable.

30. I tried cauliflower crust pizza the other day. If you enjoy this, you’re a fucking sociopath.

31. I continue to love medicine ball slams of different variety for all levels. Throwing is our most primal and complete source of power as it recruits muscles, tendons and ligaments for our ankles to our wrists. Throwing is an excellent way to train the phosphagen system and develop power in both beginner and advanced athletes alike, as well as a teaching tool for the body to transfer force through the core, and learn triple extension (ankle, knee, hip).

32. There’s one kind of landscaping service in PB apartment units and it’s the kind that’s not needed at the time of day you hate.

33. I am 100% all in on Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 basketball league. White Chocolate? Allen Iverson? 48 year old Mahmoud Abdul Rauf droppin’ buckets? Seriously. All in.

34. Any any given time I have three to six towels hanging around our apartment in various, non-towel hanging places.

35. If the first sip doesn’t incinerate the roof of my mouth then I consider it iced coffee, and no thank you.

36. I think naming new fonts would be an awesome job, and frankly, something I’d be amazing at. Here’s a few ideas I have: Carlton, Chemoyne, Starvida.

37. In the OPEX CCP cert, they require athletes to hold a back extension on the GHD for two minutes prior to deadlifting. Performing this test really exposes any shortcomings in your hamstrings and spinal extensors. Really liked this.

38. Amazing how many companies hire people to handle customer service who are not good at customer service.

39. Hey guys if you ever spill hot wax into a toilet bowl it turns out the only way to clean it is with a blow dryer.

40. Saw an older lady the other day on a scooter that had to have been one horsepower above Mattel, with a bumper sticker on it that read, “mayhem”. Respect.

41. There’s a time and a place for fruits and vegetables and that’s blended and chugged.

42. A common and easily correctable mistake I see on the erg is opening the hips up too early on the drive. When you do this, you bleed valuable power on the finish and decrease the efficiency of your S/M. This usually means you produce more strokes to compensate, thus fatigue yourself more than you need to.

Rowing Drive Mistakes
Bad / Good

43. Being a gentlemen, I help people who can’t put their bag in the overhead compartment every single time and I enjoy doing it. But guys and gals, let’s get to the point where we can do that ourselves, k? No shortage of barbells in the world these days.

44. The quadriceps are responsible for the knee to extend rapidly. Stronger quads, lead to bigger jumps and faster sprints. And vice versa.

45. Doughnut hack in a pinch. Toasted Van’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Waffles. Butter. Raspberry preserves.

46. The elevator summary on glutes. Hugely influential. The maximus, medius, and minimus act as both stabilizers of the pelvis (which affect spinal stability) and prime movers. Often, the medius and minimus are underdeveloped. Perform lateral movements to balance out function of all three parts of the glutes. Some common signs of weak glutes are knees that invert when performing squats, and low back pain. Chronic sitting all day can lead to Gluteal Amnesia. Back squats are not enough. You need to isolate, especially when it comes to the medius. Most effectively done with lateral movement.

47. I kinda think that if you are a fit pro who continues to have a public grip against Orange Theory, Planet Fitness, and the like, then you need to do better at communicating YOUR message. If constantly losing folks to these places is a pain point, that’s a problem on your end. Not theirs.

48. Lactate Threshold is the point during exercise of increasing intensity where lactate clearance is no longer able to keep up with lactate production. Hydrogen accumulates in the blood, muscular fatigue ensues, and you feel like offing yourself. This is basically the anaerobic effect of training HAM in the 3 – 8 minute range. Threshold can be greatly improved through training, but top end anaerobic capacity is largely genetic.

49. Diamond Dallas Page has a yoga teaching service. And it’s actually the one responsible for that amazing transformation we’ve all seen and love.

50. If you don’t have 300 members at your gym, don’t offer tricks, gimmicks and specialties. Build your engine (core competency), then add the fancy ass rims (specialty classes, nutritional services, etc). The biggest and hardest mistakes to unwind we’ve made were adding dumb stuff that didn’t need to be added.

51. A lot of people bitch about running in workouts. But here’s the deal. In order to extend the work set to a density we’re going for, active recovery needs to be an involved component. It helps buffer hydrogen from the bloodstream, which would otherwise cause failure and defeat of the purpose of the 15′ circuit, which is to sustain. It is simply not possible to have a productive aerobic circuit without active recovery. If you remove active recovery, everything is basically short-term anaerobic, and that shit ain’t cool. 

52. Current favorite movement to program: Good ole’ heavy DB rows with a hand on the bench. Excellent muscle builder, lateral core stabilizer, and postural corrector.

53. I get enormous satisfaction from pressing down the toaster lever.

54. I’m ready to openly admit that American cheese is my favorite cheese.

55. I feel like I just owned someone so hard when I unfollow them. Then I realize I am 35, and not a man.

56. Things I Said in 2011 and If They Are Still True: “Olives, terrorists, and cockroaches.  Truly the only three things in this world I hate to my core.”

You bet.

57. While neuromuscular efficiency is the main contributor to strength gains in the beginner to high-end intermediate group, another factor at play is biomechanical efficiency, which is how your joints and muscles interact together to create movement. Think of improved biomechanical efficiency as an ankle that had very poor mobility on day one. Due to this immobility, the athlete can perform very subpar, weak back squats. Over time of moving properly, the athlete’s ankle begins to dorsiflex properly and they become able to back squat effectively as a result. In this case because of biomechanics, not the nervous system.

58. I still don’t fully understand Interstellar.

59. Two of my favorite glute medius activation drills. Simple and effective.

60. If I had to pick one supplement most people should take that likely don’t, it’s turmeric.

61. Alicia Keys, “No One” > Beyonce, “Halo”. By a nose.

62. Tempo work is excellent, yet very taxing. The time under tension for a back squat set of three reps at 3131 pace 24 seconds. That’s a lot of time to be under load or controlling your body weight in a dynamic movement, so less tends to be more with tempo work. I recommend no more than three or four reps. Five should be reserved for days you want to particularly self-hate.

63. You would think, like, the ONE aspect of quality control at the protein powder factory is to make sure it doesn’t leave the assembly line without a scooper in it. Jesus H. Christ.

64. I recently heard that the light bulb, by nature, exists to last forever, but it is engineered not to so we have to buy more of them. This conspiracy > 911 truther conspiracy.

65. “Foggernugget should be an island, somewhere.” -Pritz

66. Just about any upper body movement can be performed in a half kneeling stance to add a stability component.

67. I tried Halo Top with the sole purpose of making fun of it, and I will be damned if Peanut Butter Cup flavor isn’t totally legit.

68. The wipes they give you at wing and rib joints need to be at least two to three times bigger.

69. I love Lululemon. There.

70. Here’s a podcast we did on the benefits of training both the posterior chain and the anterior chain. The posterior chain gets the most love (as it should), but the anterior chain has major benefits, as well.

71. I had the pleasure of meeting USA Paralympian Alpine Skier, Tyler Walker, at our recent fundraiser for ASRA. To say this guy is an inspiration is a major understatement.

Tyler Walker

72. As a coach, don’t let prescriptions take over your descriptions. Just telling someone to slam a 20# med ball is a prescription. But telling them to do so with elbows extended up overhead, and with power intent to break the med ball open is a description. Prescriptions are a great start but should be chased with adequate description.

73. I got a handwritten note in cursive the other day. Nearly had to take it to the US Embassy to get it translated.

74. We have interviewed a fair amount of fitness industry professionals the last year. They have all delivered excellent content in some manner. Some I enjoyed talking to a lot more than others. The interview we did with Pete Dupuis of Cressey Sports Performance is my favorite, to date. Enjoyable and informative.

75. If you are lean looking to get leaner, chances are favorable that to you need to eat more.

76. If you overhead press with bad shoulder mobility, you are likely looking at a lower back issue before long. When a joint cannot perform the requested range of motion, the next closest joint will often overcompensate to accommodate it. In the case of overhead pressing, it’s the rib cage flaring upward and the low back hyper-extending which leads to excessive spinal compression. Use dumbbells, improve the mobility before adding strength to dysfunction.

77. I miss Umbros.

78. I’d estimate the percentage of paper mail I get that doesn’t physically piss me off to be around 4 – 6.5%.

79. I never when to say hello and initiate the, “Okay we recognize each other and we’re talking” when I am walking down the sidewalk and see someone I know oncoming from afar.

80. This is a good visual on how you perform a burpee. Off the floor, the hips and the chest rise together. The “reverse flop”, when athletes lead with the torso and leave the hips glued to the floor puts us into a position of too much lumbar extension that we don’t want.

81. A good rule of thumb is if there is a discrepancy that is greater than 10% between dominant and non-dominant side, then it is great enough variance to warrant correction through training.

82. Here’s a really great piece by Andrew Millet on core stability vs. core strength.

83. Fellas. No one wants to see your dickhead. What you think are compression pants are actually tights not designed to be worked out in, nor to prevent the perfect mold of your penis when worn. Either wear the right version of compression or g’head and toss on some shorts.

84. When a women at the gym bangs out strict pull-ups who you had no idea could.

giphy (2)
(c) Giphy.com

85. Think of Motor Learning as the first step that allows you to do a movement properly, and Neuromuscular Efficiency as the next step that allows you to do it with strength and proficiency.

86. I really don’t get how math was invented and just, like, works.

87. At the top of a kettlebell swing, you shouldn’t be leaning back since we we don’t want to compress the lumbar discs in hyperextension. A great cue that John Wolf gave me is to stand tall at the apex of the swing, when many athletes typically want to falsely lean back. Instead, pull the crown of your head towards the top of the ceiling at lockout.

88. Two cool videos to close us out. Here’s a group of 80 year old women who play competitive basketball.

89. Here is this year’s winner of the Pat Tillman award. “Del Toro was injured in Afghanistan in 2005 when his Humvee rolled over a bomb. He lost most of his fingers, was burned over the majority of his body and was in a coma for three months. When he came out of the coma, he was told he’d likely never walk or breathe on his own again.”

Dave Thomas Performance Random Thoughts
(c) ESPN.com Air Force Sgt. Israel Del Toro competing in the shot put at the 2016 Invictus Games.

The end.

If you guys read, I’ll keep writing. Here’s hoping this come back goes better than Ja Rule’s.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think, and if you liked it, please hit the SHARE button below. 

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