Anthony Mychal Hybrid Blueprint

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Smart one you are.

 

A few weeks ago, I talked about myself. A lot. In an a podcast “interview” — A Fitness Life.

It’s about life more than training and methods and whatever…how I ended up where I am today valuing what I value. What my body represented to me. How I fell into this rabbit hole.

Probably some honest bits and pieces that some wouldn’t admit.

I left the conversation feeling good. I don’t re-listen to the interviews (or whatever you want to call it) I do, but if you want to know about the crumbs in the corner of my life, you probably want to listen.

You can check it out here.

I think there’s some good stuff in the talk — on mastery and such — stuff that’s probably going to do you better than the news or radio. Listen to it when you train, when you commute, when you walk.

And if you’re a podcast junkie, here are some more you can listen to:

May the gains be with you.

 

Decided to do cardio

I made a dumb decision last week.

I decided to do some cardio.

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask. “People do cardio all the time.”

True. But I guess I’m not “people.” I haven’t done cardio in six years. Might be another six years before I do it again because I had an epiphany when I tried to do cardio last week.

This epiphany is what I’m going to share with you now. It’ll send some shivers through your system. Maybe not as fierce as it did me, but I have hope.

First, to preserve my own morals: a small piece of me decays inside when I use the word “cardio.” It’s a stupid word. You can read why here. And here. Even though it’s a stupid word, I’m going to keep using it because I feel like a doucher if I don’t. Kind of like someone at an uppity restaurant looking down on “peasants.”

Second, onto why I hopped on the treadmill for the first time in six years: I did it to get suprajacked.

I hover around 10% body fat year round. Some days you’ll see my abs. Some days you won’t because I like cookies. (And sometimes I drink too many stouts.)

I’m lean, but I’m not model lean. I don’t really want to be model lean either because I’d probably have an even unhealthier obsession with how visible my abs are on a day to day basis. It’s much easier for me to eat a jar of peanut butter and then act like being model lean is somehow beneath me as a physical virtue.

It’s been a while since I’ve been model lean, but I wanted to give it a go. I normally say that 10% body fat is the place to be, and that anything leaner isn’t going to be friendly to muscular pursuits. See talks on the solid base here and here.

But I wanted to try to prove myself wrong.

So in comes the cardio: incline treadmill walks.

Remember me talking about how long it’s been since I’ve done cardio? Well, tack on a few years and you’ll reach the last time I’ve walked on the treadmill.

But…idea!

Weighted incline treadmill walks. With added weight I could walk a bit slower and simultaneously read books.

Books are good. Reading is good. I was sold.

Few days later, there I was. Trudging along the treadmill. About 10 minutes in, my foot was sending me a message. In about five more minutes, you’re going to regret this. Ha! I can’t wait. It’s going to be hilarious. You’re going to be bested by the treadmill! Ha! You’re pathetic!

And for those that don’t know: I have a neuroma in my foot that said hello sometime after “the incident.” (“The incident” is on YouTube, by the way.)

I’ve been battling this neuroma for a long time. It’s beaten me down, largely because I’ve failed to listen to my body on repeated occasions. This past six months, for the first time, I’ve been sailing into the headwind. Holding onto hope.

Despite things looking up, it still only takes one little misstep for the snowball of pain. Just a hint of swelling leads to more missteps. More missteps, more swelling.

This time? I listened to my neuroma. I fought back. Look here you twerp. You think you’re going to get me. You’ve gotten me in the past, but not this time. I’m the master now. Get that? I’m going to own you. 

So I stepped off the treadmill and then said to myself, “Hmmmm…what can I do instead?”

What can I do for 30-40 minutes, 4-6 days per week…in the name of seeing my abdominal veins all the clearer?

And this was epiphany time.

My name is Anthony. I’m battling a neuroma. Battling. BATTLING. For the past three years, I’ve not had one step upon wherein I didn’t consciously think about my my foot position and prepare for pain. As if nail were hammered between my toes. Every. Single. Step.

Showering.

Playing beer pong.

Shopping for groceries.

The chance for pain. Always. There.

And here I am. About to spend 30-40 minutes of my life 4-6 times days week for the next few weeks (months?) walking on the treadmill…because, well, abdominal veins. 

But maybe…just maybe …I should spend those 30-40 minutes 4-6 days per week doing everything in my power to stop my neuroma from hemorrhaging? To stop it from existing?

Maybe I should go to a park with my sketchpad and Micron markers for those 30-40 minutes 4-6 days a week and finally do what made me feel alive in my past life.

Maybe…

But before you maybe your life away, let me clarify some things.

If you’re downing the idea of deeper abdominal grooves and sickly pelvic veins, you missed the point. The point isn’t to trounce any end. There may be a time in my life when grooves and veins represent a tremendous accomplishment and stand for more than I can fathom now, and will deliver +15 SELF ESTEEM and +10 DEDICATION and +7 WORK ETHIC.

And that’s the point.

You’re chasing a final boss.

It’s easy to pull any old boss out of a random hat.

But it’s hard to ask yourself, “What’s beating this guy going to mean to me right now? Is there something else — some other boss demon — I’m better off chasing?”

Because it’s always work to get to the final boss. And it’s work that can potentially be put elsewhere.

Beating any old boss is nice, but it might not level you up the way the right boss will. And we (I) often dance around the right boss because  finding it forces you look into your stinky bits — your insecurities, your fears, your existential stones — and face truths you’re more comfortable ignoring.

Maybe I’m afraid to tackle the neuroma because I’m afraid I’m stuck with it…and I’d rather live telling myself there’s still hope.

Maybe I’m afraid to admit I want to build muscle…and I’d rather live telling myself looks don’t matter to me. Or that “performance” is more important. 

Maybe…

Maybe you should think about it.

With brutal honesty.

Are you fighting the right boss?

Nassim Taleb on small fires

Small forest fires periodically cleanse the system of the most flammable material, so this does not have the opportunity to accumulate. Systematically preventing forest fires from taking place “to be safe” makes the big one much worse.

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb via Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder

 

Been thinking a lot about this gem buried in Antifragile. (Wrote about antifragility before. Read here.) I like this metaphor because both outcomes suck. You’re not choosing between overtly Good (no fire) and overtly Bad (fire). You’re choosing between less sucky (small fire) and more sucky (big fire).

Gets you into the habit of embracing small Bad things knowing there are always big Bad things out there. Typical stoic thinking, which Taleb is beyond familiar with.

Rejiggering your mental configuration to embrace Bad is the first layer. Actually subjecting yourself to the small fires is the second layer.

Those drug commercials pop into mind. Taking our pills keeps you pain free all day! 

But should anyone that’s been numbing their body day after day really be surprised when they need back surgery? Knee surgery? Hip surgery?

We live in an age that makes it real easy to ignore the small fires. Do you wear a brace of some sort every day to compensate for weakness? Overdose on caffeine to compensate for no sleep?

I like to think our body has small fires in hopes of preventing big fires. So the question, for me, becomes: how often am I {upset} or {ignoring} small fires when I should actually be {thankful} for and {listening} to small fires?

How much of what I perceive as Bad is actually Good? Like, amazingly Good? And how much am I missing out on because of my inability to see small Bad as amazingly Good?

Most importantly: am I on the verge of an inferno?

Are you?

 

+++++

Image credit: sun

 

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: soon…

Recommended prerequisites: 360 crescent

Description: A jump, spin, outside stretch kick!

The 540 crescent is a natural progression atop the outside crescent kick category of tricks. It differs from the 360 crescent in that it uses a “cheat” takeoff (single footed) rather than a pop takeoff (two footed). And because of this, it shares a lot of similarities with the 540 kick.

Slide by slide breakdown

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

As usual, harness your inner strength to one side of your body to corral momentum. Be relaxed.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Shift the momentum to the direction of flight.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

See how my left leg opened up a bit? Yeah, do that. Turn that foot to wind your lower body up. Step over and across your body with the other foot. Arms are wide because wide arms make for better spins, as long as you coil them at the right time.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

It looks very 540 here, but my 540 crescents are very different feeling because I treat them as a more technical move. This is one of those technical bits: see how my spine is close to being straight up and down? I’m trying hard to keep myself centered because my rotation has to be centered.

I’m also not digging for height that much. To me, in this move, the spin trumps the jump height. I’m more focused on prepping for a good spin, and you don’t need that much height for a good spin.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Things went down and around and are now preparing to go up. Take a look at my right foot. It’s “cheating” right now. The video clears this up further, but the direction you plant your foot matters a lot in this move. You typically need to rotate it more than you think you do during the set up.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

If me facing the camera is 0 degrees, you can see my take off foot is planted at around 90 degrees. That’s the magic. If you’re taking off and your foot is beyond 90, then fix it.

Otherwise, this is where we take flight. In any move, you get your height before you wrap for spin. Arms are wide, going straight up in the air. Lead knee is following. Up, up, and away!

Also: look at my head. You need to kick a target in this move. Look at your target initially as you get your height. It will ground you and keep your rotation tighter.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After everything goes up and you stare down your target for a hot second, it’s time to bring everything in. Wrap like a mummy. Or a burrito. Or a roll of toilet paper. Or whatever. Bring your arms into your body.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After you wrap, think about your target again. Bring your head around to look at your target. Where your head goes, the body follows. Want to get around? Then get your eyeballs around.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Once you see your target, eject the kick. This kick will be a mirror of what your outside stretch kick looks like, so if you don’t like your kick you need to go back to basic and practice.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Throw the kick at the target. Take someone’s head off.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After the kick, I have a habit of bending my leg in preparation for the landing. It’s also something I do during my regular outside stretch kicks. Again, don’t be an idiot like me: get your basics solid and they’ll melt into your tricks in the same solid fashion.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Land.

Recap cues:

  • Prep the spin more so than the jump on the takeoff.
  • Cheat the takeoff. Point your plant leg the right direction.
  • Get your height by throwing everything in the air.
  • Look for a target and kick the target.

Troubleshooting:

Bad kick? Maybe you just need to practice. If you haven’t put in some hours training basic kicks, start there.

Bad spin? Try to keep your torso upright during takeoff. Don’t bend at the waist as much. Try to keep your spine straight. Also: keep your arms wide at the start of the trick, and then wrap when the time is right.

No height? Make sure you’re throwing everything up. There should be a point in the move where your hands are above your head.

Your next conquest:

  • Cheat 900

See the rest of the tutorials:

 

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: soon…

Recommended prerequisites: cartwheel, hand releasing cartwheel, orthodox cartwheel, southpaw cartwheel

Description: The aerial is a cartwheel without hands. Before “diving” into this move (pun severely intended), you need to have a solid cartwheel foundation and a decent enough flexibility foundation. Both sort of go hand in hand.

All in all, the aerial is one of the easier “flipping” tricks to get into because it’s progressive and you have your hands as landing gear to safeguard you from discomfort. As a bonus, it’s one of the more versatile tricks that leads into a rabbit hole is nifty aerial based tricks.

Aside: I command you to visit Acrobolix because Jujimufu is an irreplaceable hub of aerial information. He is king, and thou shall kneel. He’s helped me out a lot. Beyond a lot. I owe a lot to him for his help, so don’t be surprised if you see “stolen” tips below.


Slide by slide breakdown

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Start in a relaxed position. My hands are out by my side because the hands (specifically the shoulders) are such an important part of the trick that I queue their purpose into my head before anything else.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After a few steps, I bring my leading knee towards my chest and take a hope. My hands are wide and they are wide for a reason. Keep your hands up!

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

This slide is where my trailing foot plants into the ground after the initial hop. I paused it here for two reasons. First, look at my eyeballs. They should be looking where you want to go. More on the details here in a bit. Second, take note of my body position. Next slide is your guide.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Even though my trailing leg plants, my body still moves forward. (This was the point of the lead in from the second point in the previous slide.) My leading leg planted a on line with my body momentum, not behind it. You can’t get behind yourself, else you won’t get enough push. See how vertical my shin is? This is because my momentum is going to keep going forward. 

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Remember I mentioned the eyes? The eyes look to where you want to go. Ideally, you want your torso to be horizontal to the ground. That’s the absolute best way to maximize height. You don’t want to have an excessive downward angle, else you’ll aerial your face into the ground. Alright, alright…you probably wouldn’t land on your head, but you wouldn’t get much height. My torso has a slight toward pitch, which is fine. It’s close enough to horizontal to get me some height.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Now, onto some of the specifics. The lifting leg goes back. Hard. Act like you’re lifting it not only high in the air, but behind your body. See (1) below for this. My left arm is doing a lot of work too. I’m thinking about bringing my left elbow in across my body. See (2) below. My right arm is opening up and sort of slinking over my body. See (3).

Aerial Anthony Mychal

Silently underneath all of this, there’s one last important mention: keep your upper body in front of the lead leg. Go back and look at the previous slide. My upper body isn’t being launched behind my leg, but rather in front of it. Your upper body leads you into the move, so keep it in front of yourself.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

When all of those arm actions combine, my torso turns over to face the direction of travel. That’s when you know you’re doing a good aerial. Your torso rips your body through.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

The previous point is better explained here. Look at my arms. They’re “closing,” in a sense, and my leg is going to plop right between them. Sometimes tricksters do “trickster” aerials, which usually have the torso open the entire move. If you want to move into advanced aerial tricks, you need to learn how to take the aerial over the top (do a gymnast aerial) rather than side-to-side.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

A good sign of taking the aerial over the top: your first landing leg cuts the space in between your arms in half. It’s not uncommon to do aerials where the arms get mangled and the right arm (well, my right arm) gets caught in front of the landing leg. If this is happening, you need to go back to (1), (2), and (3).

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Eject the landing gear.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Blur face.

Recap cues:

  • Keep your torso in front of your legs!
  • Lift the leg high, hard, and behind.
  • Bring the left arm across your body — try to keep it in front of your lead knee.
  • Slink the right arm over the top — internally rotate the shoulder and let everyone smell your armpit.

Troubleshooting:

Putting your hands down? It’s a natural defense mechanism. Suffice to say, you have to crash. Seriously. Just chuck it. Commit to not putting your hands down. Have someone punch you if you violate this code. And then once you realize that crashing isn’t so bad, you’ll be less prone to bail out.

Bent legs? Yeah, I have this problem to. Part of it is technique. If your technique is shady, it’s harder to get straight legs. Part of it is flexibility. Being able to do the splits is a good indicator of having enough flexibility. Part of it is conscious awareness. If all else fails, you need to queue yourself into keeping them straight. Usually, in order to do this, you have to be able to do the trick rather automatically, so don’t forget the order: learn the trick first, even if it’s ugly, and then polish it up.

Crashing into the ground? Try reaching more forward with your torso, rather than down. It should feel uncomfortable with how forward you’re going.

Your next conquest:

  • Axe2Aerial

See the rest of the tutorials:

Injuries Phoenix Down

Three mosquitoes are hanging out on a wooden fence. Little do they know, they’ll be dead in five minutes.

Twenty feet to the left there are five humans sitting around a camp fire. The smell of blood makes them hungry, so they take flight for dinner.

Ten feet into the journey, Dan notices something. He whispers to himself.

“Oh no.”

He sees a candy cane like structure dangling a glowing blue bug zapper.

Dan the mosquito knows all about bug zappers. When he was younger his dad lectured him about their danger every day.

“You’re going to want to go near them,” he would say, “but you can’t. You have to resist.”

And every night Dan’s dad taught him how to restrain himself.

These memories take form in Dan’s mind as he see’s his best friends flight path bias towards the bug zapper.

Fran wasn’t as lucky as Dan. His dad didn’t teach him about bug zappers.

“Ohhhh…what a pretty blue color,” Fran said…right before the smoke from his burning carcass shadowed into black night sky.

Stan wasn’t far behind. His dad didn’t teach him about bug zappers either.

“Ohhhh…what a a wonderful bright light,” Stan said…right before he plopped atop Fran’s dead body.

Dan is sad, but has nothing left to do but feast. There are five humans at his disposal, so he continues on.

He’s five feet from the bug zapper. Holding strong. Dan’s father taught him well.

He’s stopped in front of the bug zapper. Admiring his willpower. Looking down at his dead friends. And that’s when a gust of wind randomly launches Dan into the bug zapper.

Dan, Fran, and Stan. Five minutes ago they were best friends.

Now they’re dead.

The next day Jorge, another mosquito, notices the bodies below the bug zapper during a morning flight. He uses his deductive reasoning and concludes on the cause of death with confidence.

Here’s where we shift from mosquitoes to injuries. (About time, right?) Jorge can tell you about the cause of death…but not the reason for death.

Although being zapped with the cause of death, it wasn’t the reason for death. Dan died because of the wind; it was a fluke accident. Stan was attracted to the brightness. Fran was attracted to blue.

Injuries are manifestations of  problems, they aren’t the problems themselves.

I have knee pain is as descriptive as Fran died from the bug zapper. It tells you about the end, but it doesn’t tell you why the end happened.

When you’re dealing with an injury, ask yourself:

Are you fixing the pain? Or are you fixing the problem that’s causing the pain?

If Jorge used phoenix downs on his mosquito buddies and wanted to make sure Dan, Fran, and Stan didn’t meet the same fate, he’d need to use a unique strategy for each person.

  • Dan’s death was random.
  • Fran’s death was from enjoying the color blue.
  • Stan’s death was from enjoying bright lights.

If you really wanted to “fix” these mosquito amigos, you’d need to fix the reason why they died in the first place. Using a phoenix down is nice and all because, hey, you’re alive and free of pain. But you’re at risk of flying right back into the bug zapper.

Assuming the injury isn’t random (because sometimes injuries are random), look for the reason. Deal with the pain, yeah, but don’t stop there. Dig. Dig. Dig.

As the saying goes: where there is smoke, there’s fire. Putting out the fire is lovely. But the more attention you give to the fire itself, the less you give to the arsonist sprinting out of the back door and into the woods.

And as long as the arsonist is alive, your house is in danger.

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: here

Recommended prerequisites: lots of inside (crescent, roundhouse) kicking

Description: The tornado kick is a spinning jump inside kick. Because of this, I recommend building up a decent amount of flexibility and strength by drilling your basic kicks. What we’re doing is adding complexity, speed, and anger atop that foundation.

The two dominant inside kicks are the inside crescent kick and the roundhouse kick. Most traditional martial artists prefer the roundhouse because it’s more fight friendly. Alas, I’m a trickster, not a fighter. It doesn’t matter what kick gets thrown as long as you can control it and it looks pretty. Over the years, I’ve grown into the crescent style kick, but it’s good to experiment with both.

Slide by slide breakdown

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

All about the momentum, baby. Everything is to the left because everything’s going to go to the right…only to come back to the left.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Here we are, cocked and loaded.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

My momentum is shifting back to my other leg, but check it out: I’m placing my leg beyond the mid-line of my body just a little bit. And because of this, my body has to play catch up.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Because my leg was planted beyond the mid-line, my body has to play catch up, and you can use this to your advantage. Things are now in motion, preparing for the spin takeoff, but check out my head. I’m looking straight ahead. You want to pick out a target in front of you to kick at and single it out.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Look at your target for as long as possible, but when your body is forcing you to turn, turn. Keep the hands high during all of this. My right arm is “lagging” behind because it’s going to rip down and through. Like a rubber band, you have to stretch it if you want it to recoil with some anger.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

During the turn, high hands dig down to prepare you for the vertical part of the trick. The important part of this slide though? My foot. Check it out. My body has almost rotated 180 degrees, yet my foot still hasn’t planted.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Ah, look at the leg now! It’s planted and even rotated a little bit ahead of the rest of my body. This is what block is all about. It’s why we go a little horizontal on the takeoff, too. Whatever “piece” is leading your body, it should always be one step ahead.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Planting the leg the way we did now gives us some good momentum to work with. After the arms dig through, you want to throw everything up and look for your target. That’s all you need to think about for now.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

I wasn’t lying to you. Throw the hands and leg up, look for the target.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Once you have the target in sight, prepare the kick. The type of kick you throw will determine your body position. Since I throw a crescent kick, my torso is more square to my target. If I was throwing a roundhouse, my hips would be turned over more.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

At this point, it’s all about the kick. If you threw the non-kicking leg up high, it will take care of itself. Mine straightens out naturally. No thought goes into it.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Kill. In order to kill, you have to be looking at what you’re killing, so look at your victim.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

After you kill your victim? Keep looking. See how my eyes are still facing my target? Your legs will carry your momentum through.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

You’re on the right track if you start to land on both legs simultaneously. That’s when you know you’ll have a good chance to take this trick to more advanced levels.

Recap cues:

  • Takeoff is huge, get horizontal momentum going to your advantage.
  • Eye up target.
  • Swing arms down and back straight up. 
  • Lift lead knee high.
  • Eye up target a second time.
  • Kick target.

Troubleshooting:

Bad kick? Maybe you just need to practice. If you haven’t put in some hours training basic kicks, start there.

Low kick? How’s your flexibility?

Your next conquest:

See the rest of the tutorials:

Mr Yuk Eat Something You Hate

Junk food is delicious. Apple pie a la mode. Brownies. Cookies. All taste bud orgasms. (I love sweet things, if you couldn’t tell.) I’ve tried to hide these feelings. Tried to be like people that I look up to that have found a way to never sweat mortal guilty pleasures. But the inner skinny-fat kid sticks around.

So I’ll be the first to admit: junk food tastes better than the food I eat 90% of the time. But I don’t dread the 90% of my meals. I eat raw cabbage. Raw carrots. I don’t need a pound of brown sugar on my sweet potato.

Muggles often say I have no taste buds.They might be right. My response after eating raw ginger: not bad. It’s on video at 5:50 in this Chicago Gathering Sampler.

But my lust for peanut butter says otherwise.

But there was a time when I absolutely hated raw cabbage, raw carrots, and a lot of the things I eat now. Just like muscles are trained, tastes buds are trained. Unless a grandpa guru showed you the light when you were a kid, chances are your tastes aren’t used to “health” food.

Your first reversal step: find something you hate that’s also good for you. Your second step: eat it every day.

There was a time when I hated raw carrots. I vowed to put a raw carrot on my plate every day. I doused it with red pepper flakes to make it somewhat palatable. But I showed up. Every day. What used to be a potential puke fest is now a pleasure. I don’t dread raw carrots, and I actually enjoy them. My taste buds probe for their inherent sweetness now instead of gouging for my gag reflex.

So find one food. That’s all. One at a time. Get it down any way you can. It’s going to suck at first, but extract more flavor every day. Is it sweeter? Maybe saltier? More bitter? What about the texture. Appreciate some aspect of the food, even if it’s the fact that you have food to eat in the first place.

Something is making you not like the food. Find out what it is and then blow through the plateau or overshadow it. Just as you use progressive overload and level up your lifts, you need to progressively overload your taste buds. Build taste. And do it by running head first into your weaknesses.

 

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: here

Recommended prerequisites: outside kicking (crescent kicks, hook kicks)

Description: The 360 crescent kick is a jump outside crescent kick. It also is sometimes called a 360 hook or a 360 wheel, which is just getting more specific on the type of kick thrown. For my money, you should go with the crescent kick.

The 360 crescent kick is one of the prettier tricks, in my eyes. Nothing beats a powerful jump followed by a graceful yet violent crescent that follows. And as with any kick trick, you better have some basic kick training under your belt for not only injury protection, but also cleanliness. If your basics are sloppy, your tricks will be sloppy.

[click to continue…]

Ask Ant Afraid of Squats and Deadlifts and Barbell Training Injuries

The question:

I need to be doing deadlifts/squats for my legs. I’m a bit scared of squats because I’m so tall and thin and have hurt my back doing them wrong in the past.

The answer:

I want to be a chef. A great chef known for the next ten generations.

But I’m afraid of the knife.

It hurts when you cut yourself, doesn’t it? And what if you cut your finger off? What if it falls off the  cutting board and lodges into your foot?

A lot of things are dangerous. But a lot of dangerous things can be done safer. I’d expect a novice to cut a finger off before a chef, even though the chef moves with more complexity and in a higher risk way.

But there’s always risk. Always.

Because the reality (and the part you probably don’t want to hear): if you want to have a low body fat, be jacked, do flips, and all in a self taught way: you don’t want to be Mom cooking holiday dinner. You want to be a world class chef.

And you’ll never become a good chef, let alone a world class chef, if you can’t get over your fear of the knife.

Here are some things to think about to get you started.

Start basic. Dull knives aren’t as dangerous as sharp knives. Bodyweight squats aren’t as dangerous as weighted squats. Challenge yourself to do 100 unweighted squats every day for the next 30 days. You’ll feel safer doing barbell squats then. If not, then do goblet squats. Do those for 30 days. Do the empty bar for 30 days. I’m sure after that you’ll find that adding a measly five pounds to each side won’t be scary.

Build the confidence, don’t expect it to fall from the tree. 

Learn from those with experience in your situation. A sushi chef needs different lessons than a butcher cleaving spare ribs apart. If you aren’t going to be a geared powerlifter, don’t talk to geared powerlifters. If you aren’t lifting in a monolift, don’t talk to those that lift in the monolift. 

I’ve always lifted alone in my garage. For a long time I had no power rack. Just squat stands. No spotter. To this day, I rarely ever train to failure (even though I’ve upgraded my equipment) because I couldn’t risk it long ago.

Learn from the elder elephant. A fifty year old man that’s been squatting for 30 years knows more about injuries than a 20 year old kid that’s been squatting for three months. 

Shoot videos of yourself. If you’re going alone (with no elder elephant), you’re going with a higher risk. Upload them to YouTube. Spam forums with the videos. Get someone to look at them.

Grow. You messed yourself up before. Good. That doesn’t mean you need to quit. You just need to do things better. You have feedback to work with: what you were doing before was bad, don’t do it anymore. That’s valuable information.

Don’t fear cuts; expect cuts. Small cuts are necessary because they continually remind you of what’s at stake. If you aren’t careful, further danger awaits. 

I know this isn’t the kind of stuff you want to hear. I struggled with this a long time ago. Injuries suck. They’re scary. But you should just accept the fate now: you’re going to get nicked up here and there. 

And you know what? You’re going to be alright. See? You’ve already injured your back. Back injuries are one of the worst injuries you can have. You’re alive. You’re breathing. Weight room injuries are peas and carrots compared to most team sport injuries. 

Tweaking a muscle doesn’t compare to shredding your ACL, MCL, and meniscus in six slivers.

The silver lining behind all of this is that proper strength training often teaches you mechanics that transfer into other activities. Given the situation, you might survive a few freak accidents down the line.

But that’s the thing: you have to learn. If you don’t have a coach, you need to dig. Not just from one resource. From many. Then you need to tinker. Tinker. Tinker. Tinker. Trial and small error, as Nassim Taleb says.

To this day, I tweak my squat and deadlift form even though I think I have them right. I try things that haven’t worked in the past just to see if I was doing them wrong the first time around.

Most self taught read Starting Strength. I did. It’s a good book. Buy it.

But don’t think of it as the end. Don’t let your eye sockets shrivel when you come across a different idea.

Go buy Becoming a Supple Leopard. Or research Wannagetfast, Chris Korfist, Alex Vasquez, and Evolutionary Athletics. The ideas there are different enough that you’ll question right and wrong.

This is a good thing because it’s going to help you find your sweet spot.

Fear leads you down a bad road. You avoid the movement, you lose the movement. Everything becomes old clothes; you become more fragile than ever before.

 

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