Time to Prepare - The Importance of the Warm Up

By Coach Tori

Think of the warm-up as your body’s alarm clock. Maybe you’re coming straight from work at 5:30pm or maybe you are walking in the gym at 5:00am still trying to wake up. Either way, your body has a routine and when you come through the door, you are in “rest” mode. In science-y terms, your body is predominantly being controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). According to my freshman anatomy teacher, this is the “rest and digest” system. Your body can maintain this level of work for extended periods of time. Contrarily, there is also the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This neural system of control is easily identified as “fight or flight”. This is the system that responds to stress, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. When this system is in control for extended periods of time, your body begins to break down. However for short periods of time, like during a workout, “stressing” this system results in physiological benefits that ultimately lead to improved health, brain function, and all the health benefits that exercise can and will bring to you.

The warm up is how you separate the gym and your workout from the rest of the world. This is how your body gets ready to work. The reason for this is to trigger the SNS to prepare for fight or flight. Now, unless the world turns into the Hunger Games overnight, we’re talking about fighting through those tough workouts. Your warm-up is what wakes you up. It prepares you for the fight. Work, relationship stress, money, family issues, or whatever else could be bothering you melts away during the warm-up so you can focus on the task at hand.

There are typically two parts to any warm-up in the workouts at the LAB: the general warm-up and the specific warm-up. The general warm-up is what gets you moving, gets your heart rate up, and quite literally starts to warm your body. This is the building loop, five minute row, bike, ski, jump rope, or any other cardiovascular and repetitive movement. The specific warm-up is where you traditionally see your shoulder dislocates, good mornings, wall squats, lunges, kettlebell swings, and the list goes on. This is because the specific warm-up is tailored to each particular work out.

The specific warm-up “zooms in”, per se, on movements that your body needs primed and ready to go to successfully perform during the workout. For example, let’s say we have a benchmark workout. The workout calls for back squat 1RM, so you will probably see some combination of wall squats, air squats, or jump squats in the specific warm-up. Then, we typically prelude the 1RM or any high percentage lift with a “build to heavy”. This is key to waking up those neuromuscular pathways that are involved with that specific lift. If my squat 1RM was 180#, I would not immediately start with 180# and then work up from there. The goal is not to wake up those neuromuscular pathways with a bucket of ice water, it is to wake them up slowly. I would start with just the bar and focus specifically on form (form is key to anything you do in the gym). Then, I would begin to add weight and perform enough reps that I am triggering the SNS but not taxing the system so much that I can’t perform the lift at a high intensity. This is different for each person, but typically it should take about 10-12 reps to get there. After those 10-12 reps, I’m ready to go. I’m close to 180# and I’m taking a few minutes between each squat to properly recover and mentally prep for the next one. If I didn’t take the time to do that, I would not be physically or mentally prepared and most likely, wouldn’t see the results I desire (which in this case is a back squat PR).

That is a long winded example, but it rings true in every workout, benchmark or not. If you rush through the motions and are not mentally present during the warm-up, you will not live up to your potential during the workout. If you are short changing yourself during the workout, then you won’t receive all the benefits. Without the benefits, what’s the point? The warm-up is crucial. A good warm-up means a good workout. A bad warm-up means a bad workout. I cannot express the importance of the warm-up enough. Yet the warm-up is often the time used to catch up with friends, to walk in late, and to screw around. My intent is not to scold anyone for any of those actions. I’m usually always running late for something and I always talk to people while I warm-up or I’m making my preworkout or I’m writing an email to a professor or stressing about whatever is on my mind. What I’m trying to stress is the importance of doing the warm-up with a purpose. Don’t sacrifice your wall squats to talk to Betty Sue about her lunch plans. You come to the gym for a reason: you know that you deserve to give yourself that hour. That hour is for you. I don’t want you to undermine it for the social aspect that so many people love, including and especially me, about the LAB. The warm-up is your time to focus. It’s your time to zoom in on you. It’s your time to wake up. It’s your time to prepare for the fight.

The enduraLAB Boot Camp: A Coach's Perspective

By Coach Staci

Boot camp: a short but rigorous course of training at enduraLAB.

Each week, your mind will question: who will make it though the first workout, whether they'll show up to the second, and who will make it all 6 weeks. My name is Staci Hankins, and I am one of your boot camp coaches here at enduraLAB. In my time working with our clients, I have been witness to greatness in the ability, skill and drive of our clients. Our clients' commitment is inspiring because they know it will not be easy. Waking up and being at the gym biweekly at 5:30am, early Saturday mornings, and being sore from head to toe and coming back again.  But what it will be is-worth it, and every single minute you are here moves you a little closer to better health and fitness! 

Boot camp isn't supposed to be easy. Boot camp is built to push you out of your comfort zone and help you make a lifestyle change. It is with much pride that I can say our boot camp clients are doing just that. Our clients push through the discomfort and never quit. I will not let you quit! I am here to help you reach the same drive I reach when I participate in the workouts; the drive for change!

Our clients willingness to put trust in our knowledge and ability is incredible! Our clients lose all skepticism and trust that if they give me all their effort from Day 1, it will without-a-doubt, be worth it! It all starts with realizing it can't be done in just a day; it will take changing the smallest of (bad) habits week by week to work towards that overall change. That change is what we all can't wait to see and we can do it together here at the enduraLAB Boot Camp!

Recipe: Beef, Bacon and Plantain Casserole

By Coach Isis

I come from a Puerto Rican family and the food I ate from my grandmother's kitchen was  crazy delicious. That’s the thing with cleaning up your eating… you think you have to sacrifice all the flavor, but that is far from the truth. The power of simple spices and fresh ingredients can liven up any protein or vegetable.

If you are looking for recipe ideas, I highly suggest you follow Paleo OMG. Juli Bauer finds ways to make your favorite foods way healthier. I’ve made this Puerto Rican inspired recipe that I found on her blog and it was approved by Coach Lee and Coach Jack. :) I will warn that it is a little labor intensive but it makes a big casserole and it’s SO WORTH IT!

Photo Cred: paleomg.com

Photo Cred: paleomg.com

Recipe (Serves 3-4):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 3 yellow plantains (you want them to be slightly brown, but not green)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat, cook bacon until slightly crispy. Set aside.
  3. Drain excess bacon fat, leaving behind about 1-2 tablespoons.
  4. Cut off the ends of the plantains and remove the peel. Thinly slice the plantain lengthwise into 3 slices. Repeat with other 2 plantains.
  5. Add plantain slices to bacon fat pan and cook about both sides for about 2-3 minutes until they are slightly browned. Set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add minced garlic clove, ground beef, onion and salt and pepper. Cook until meat has broken down and completely cooked through.
  7. Now for the stacking of the casserole, you can do this any way you'd like.
  8. Place 3 plantain slices on the bottom, then 2 slices of bacon on top, then a couple spoonfuls of the ground beef mixture. Repeat two more times on top of the ground beef mixture.
  9. Put in oven and cook for 12-15 minutes. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  10. Scoop out and serve.

Bulletproof Your Shoulder - Kettlebell Press 101

By Coach Matt

Over the past year and half I’ve spent some time with my kettlebell, and without a doubt have seen some changes, both to my strength and my physique. I’ve learned many different skills, but always return to one that, just put simply, keeps me happy.

Coach Matt Comparison Photo

To me, pure happiness can be expressed through a well executed kettlebell press. The kettlebell press is an exercise all it’s own, requiring total tension through the body and more muscle engagement through the entire shoulder than I’ve seen. Over the past year, I’ve been able to take my press from 44 pounds to 106 pounds. That’s an increase of 240%! Something that just doesn’t make any sense, and I’ve been fortunate to see the carryover into my barbell movements, especially my standing military press.

Racking the Kettlebell:

The kettlebell press is unlike any. To start, you must get comfortable holding a bell in the rack position. Using both hands, you may place the bell into the rack. When there, the bell rests primarily against the forearm, resting parallel to the callouses in the hand. The hand is about clavicle height, and the arm is against your ribcage, instead of flaring out.

From here, you press the bell. While this seems simple, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before the bell even moves.

Tension:

Your body should be in a virtual plank the entirety of the press. This means many different things, and we’ll start at the bottom and work our way up. You should imagine that you are pulling your knee caps up into your hips, squeezing hard in the quads. Tense your glutes to the point that you could crack a walnut between the cheeks. Brace the abs as though ready to take a punch and protect yourself. The lats must stay tight and keeping the shoulders down. Your shoulders are ear poison, and should stay away from, packed into the joint. The hand that has the bell is white knuckle gripping the bell with all it can. The opposite hand is tensed, more than likely into a fist, aiding in the tension.

Breath:

Before you press, you’ll need some air inside. When you clean the bell, with one hand or two, sniff some air during the hike. Keep the air inside before a press. As you initiate the press, you’ll want to exhale slightly through your sticking point. When the press stalls a little, that is the time to use the breath! Press the tongue against the roof of the mouth to hiss, like sticking your thumb over the nozzle of a hose, increasing the pressure you have inside. As you pull the bell down to the body, you inhale in, ready for the next press.

Now the body is solid and ready to stand as our foundation for the press. The press is one that is a slow grind, not something explosive. That tightly cramped lat becomes our shelf, where we press from. Drive the weight overhead, controlling the bell slightly. Don’t let the bell roll to the inside, as this disconnects our shoulder, losing our strength, and becoming dangerous to the shoulder joint itself. The weight ends up almost behind us, slightly to the side still at the top, shoulder still packed, and body still tight. To bring the bell back down, we actively pull it down. The closest movement related to this is a one arm pull up. Do not allow the bell to control you and do what it wants, you keep control through the entirety of the movement.


Learn even more about the KETTLEBELL press with Coach Matt through the PressALot group coming april 2nd as you explore that meaning of happiness, getting some heavy shit overhead!

I Love Race Day

By Coach Lee

I love race day. The nervous energy. Athletes readying themselves to push their limits. But selfishly I love watching our enduraLAB athletes reach new heights.

As a coach, race day can be as nerve-racking as actually running a race. So many variables go into a successful race and you have to ensure you have prepared your athlete for all of them. While there is nothing sweeter than sharing success, you also have to prepare to pick the athlete up if there is failure.

Most do not know that I originally started enduraLAB to be an online resource for athletes. I had a panel of local experts lined up to write about anatomy, nutrition, strength, recovery, mental health, women's health and all things endurance. It had one underlying motive, to help. Help uncover training dogmas, shed new light on how to eat, show better ways to train and create a health-conscious community. I had no intention in starting a gym, until I started a simple little run group. It was then I realized how impactful the face-to-face setting was to create real change. Being able to take the ideas and shape them to fit each individual person. There was no going back and enduraLAB's future was changed...for the better.

This year's Cowtown Marathon was completely different for me. I was not running any of the races, we had no enduraLAB booth at the expo, I was just there to support our runners...and we had more than ever. As each of our current and past runners passed by, the one thing I noticed was how happy they were. Almost as if they knew something everyone else didn't. Every one of them, even with the mile 9 hill in their face, were smiling. They were strong. They were conditioned. They were prepared. enduraLAB had created positive change.

Watching them succeed, hearing their stories, seeing their happiness...it validates what we've been building at enduraLAB. I could sit here and be content, with our runners having a very successful day. The problem is I can't. I know that we can make improvements and that our runners are already planning their next race . We will celebrate today's victories but I want to make sure we're prepared to create tomorrow's. enduraLAB has arrived, and we're here to help!