--From the archives, in the old email format--
The StrongFast Planet Newsletter (StrongFast Fitness)
The official newsletter of StrongFast Fitness
and Earthlings everywhere.
July 31, 2012
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In this issue...

  • What's New at StrongFast?
  • Feature Article: Kids Can Lift
  • Fitness Found Online
  • Recipe: Protein Yogurt

What's New at StrongFast?

The Saturday morning "44" Special classes wrapped up this past Saturday. I won't be so brazen as to say a good time was had by all, but we did the Hokey Pokey for a pre-warmup. Kind of speaks for itself.

Sensei Hutch will be running a few sessions while I'm on R 'n' R out West. I'll still be on blitzometer, though, making sure members enter their workouts.

If you have any thoughts or comments about the newsletter, head on over to our Facebook page, find the post for this edition, and have at it! (You'll have to "like" us, of course.)

Major changes coming to the StrongFast schedule and pricing. Still putting on the finishing touches, but there will be lots of options and flexibility.
"I'm keeping in shape, you know, gotta look good for the ladies. And certain guys. Hey, I can't control who's looking. I just gotta bring the heat."

-Ted Alexandro

Feature Article

Kids Can Lift

This normally just would have been a link with a blurb in the "Fitness Found" section, but the visuals had me doing some head shakes. So here goes.

A recent post in the "Well" blog at the NY Times, Strength Training as a Family Affair, talks about using resistance training--bodyweight exercises and light dumbbells--to do strength training with kids as young as eight years old. That part is great! Too many parents are concerned about letting their kids lift weights or do other strength training. While powerlifting with heavy weights or bodybuilding for aesthetic results are indeed inappropriate, handling lighter weights is not only acceptable, it’s perfectly natural.

child squats As one commenter notes, "My [3-year old] squats upwards of 100+ times per day." While loading those squats with heavy weights would be bad, adding some additional resistance and limiting the number of reps is fine. The article cites recent studies backing this up. But this should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen kids wrestling and one of them standing up with the other on his back. That would be akin to squatting with a heavy load, yet few parents would object.

So strength training is just a natural part of growing up. At least it should be. But too many kids today are not active enough to get this natural development, and many are participating in sports without a solid physical foundation, resulting in injuries. A planned strength training regimen (made to be fun, of course) is a great idea for most kids today, especially those participating in sports.

Some commenters quibbled with the seemingly arbitrary eight-year-old limit, noting the aforementioned natural strength training that takes place practically from birth. That’s true enough, although it is more difficult to get younger kids to actually do something structured (which makes them poor subjects for these kinds of scientific studies).

But the content of the article is sound and I don’t imagine many people would refute its findings or recommendations. (I hope not, anyway.) The visuals, on the other hand, are another story.

The image at the top of the post shows Dr. Jordan D. Metzl, a sports medicine doctor, marathoner, and triathlete, leading a group of more than 20 kids doing bodyweight squats. So what’s the problem? While Dr. Metzl’s form is excellent, most of the kids in the picture have form issues ranging from inefficient to dangerous. This is not a big immediate problem, but it’s helping create a movement pattern that can carry forward into adulthood leading to back, knee, and hip problems for the rest of their lives.

child pulls rope Now maybe he subsequently corrected all of them, offering personal assistance and modifications to help them progress. But that’s really hard to do with a group that big. The same applies to adult large-group training: it needs to be designed and run to either minimize potential form issues, typically by sticking with simple movement patterns (see Zumba) or ... well, I don’t really know which is why I don’t train large groups. Anyway, seeing kids squatting in a forward position or with their knees collapsing inward bugs me. Help them maintain the natural squatting form they had as toddlers (although they’ll have to deal with reduced hip mobility as the skeleton firms up--same idea, though) so trainers (like me!) don’t have to try to fix them later. (Or worse, they never get it fixed and live with the consequences their whole lives.)

Then at the end of the post is a short video showing Dr. Metzl describing a series of exercises for them using dumbbells. While some of the terminology bugs me (e.g., the title calls it a "superset" but it’s really a "dumbbell complex"), no one really cares about that. But other things do matter.

The first exercise is a push press, and I have no problem with that one. Well, maybe with the standing on one foot part, but I won’t make a big deal about it.

dumbbell curl But the second exercise is bicep curls which he sort of apologizes for by saying they "are probably helpful. I’m not positive these are the most important exercise but everybody wants some bigger biceps..." First, let me help out by saying I’m positive they are not the most important exercise. As a single-joint isolation exercise, they’re not particularly useful except for bodybuilding. He notes this himself with the "bigger biceps" comment, but this comes after stating earlier in the video that young kids can’t really grow muscles ("hypertrophy"). But even for adults, unless you’re a bodybuilder or trying to spend extra time working out, skip the curls in favor of compound exercises like chin-ups (if you can’t do any, work on that) or cleans (hang power cleans are fine).

The third exercise is deadlift high pulls. On the picky side, it’s not a deadlift. But more importantly, the high pull drives the shoulders into impingement, which sounds bad because it is bad. And it’s an unnecessarily complex movement to be teaching kids. And it’s bad. Did I mention that?

I don’t want to pick on the doctor. He seems like a nice guy and certainly has good intentions. He could probably train them well in running, cycling or swimming, but weight training is another story.

But I don't want to be a Gloomy Gary. The core message that strength training is good for kids is a valuable one. So, yay! Let's just do it right.

Be seeing you.


Fitness Found Online

I thought we were done with foot-related links after last week, at least for a while. But no. Last week was high heels, and this week it's flip-flops. But this also reminded me of a K-Star post at MobilityWOD with a different take on why flip-flops are bad. Maybe next week it will be UGGs.
The folks over at Whole 9 have an interesting post on The Language of Food. "Your food choices are not a statement about your self-worth, your value, or your significance in this world. Believe this, and everything changes." And that applies to fitness choices in general, not just food.

Recipe: Protein Yogurt

From Greg Robins via Eric Cressey come some tips for using protein powder, other than mixing it with milk or water. One idea is to mix it with (not hot) coffee. I guess instead of creamer. (Can you tell I'm not a coffee drinker?) Another is to use it in oatmeal. But the one below was the most intriguing. Being a rebel, I used vanilla powder and added blueberries, mostly to make it look pretty (which didn't really work out, as you can see).

yogurt Greek yogurt is delicious on its own, but sometimes it needs some variety. I would much rather get some flavor from a scoop of protein than the sugar filled "fruit" you find at the bottom of most other varieties. One of my favorite concoctions looks like this: 1 cup of plain greek yogurt, 1 scoop of chocolate whey, 4tbsp of oat bran, 4tbsp of shredded coconut flakes. Mix it all together, place it in the fridge over night, and you’ve got a delicious breakfast or snack for the next day.
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