I’ll never forget the most frustrating moment in recent memory…The day I borrowed that wretched bike.
I could feel it coming on strong; the all-too-familiar tidal wave of nerves, anxiety and adrenaline that I’ve been so accustomed to over the years but it always seems as if it’s the first. I’m 4500 feet above sea level overlooking the Flathead Valley and in the distance I can see the rocky peaks of the Jewel Basin I ran up the week prior. Tonight is my debut in downhill mountain bike racing on Big Mountain!
I begin my pre-race inspection.
Air pressure, check.
Chain tension, check.
All is good, ready for battle.
As I take my place at the starting line, I’m welcomed by familiar faces and a casual atmosphere that leads me into conversation as the gun fires. It’s a frenzy for the hole shot and as I approach the first banked turn, an abrupt loss in chain tension halts forward progress.
Only a hundred yards into my career debut and my chain snaps leaving me to settle in the dust of disappointment and disqualification.
As my walk of shame began, I made it back to the starting line in search of the nearest pillow to scream into; Rookie mistake. As irritating as it was, I learned a valuable lesson.
We Are Only As Strong As Our Weakest Link(s)
Why Do We Continually Raise The Bar On Physical Capacity But Not On Movement?
There is a constant ebb & flow of fitness trends that live by mantra’s such as: “as many reps as possible” or my all-time favorite, “no pain, no gain”. As much as I admire and respect hard work, I can’t help but notice the dramatic increase of weightlifting injuries.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine reported “from 1990-2007, nearly a million Americans found themselves in emergency rooms from training accidents while injuries increased more than 48% during that same time period”. The numbers are real; so are the injuries. I’ve spent my entire life in the gym and probably logged more hours inside of one than not.
Needless to say, I’ve seen a few things over the years.
I remember the classic “5 sets of 5 reps” routine (which I spoke out against in high school and inevitably led me to failing P.E. my senior year). I remember the birth of Functional Training (originated from rehabilitation) and even the death of Chuck Norris’ Total Gym. Fast forward to 2016 and you’ve got every kid wanting to be an American Ninja Warrior and CrossFit box gyms on every corner.
Flashy fitness franchises are a great tool for people looking to make lifestyle changes but be aware; there is typically little regard for your physical capacity. While there may be some formal training, you can bet that you’ll be tempted to perform exercises that are clearly above your pay grade. Next thing you know, there’s a dumbbell-sized crater on your face. It’s a humbling reminder to start building your dream house from the foundation up; not the other way around.
I’m going to share the blueprints of building yourself into a structural masterpiece that will prime your body for rapid strength and size gains while drastically reducing your risk of injury.
7 Essential Building Materials
Deep knee movements target major muscle groups in the lower body; think quads and hamstrings.
Examples: Squats & Lunges.
Don’t confuse this with core strength. The stabilizers are deeper, underlying muscle groups like the transverse abdominus, pelvic floor and multifidus; all of which act as a corset keeping your torso upright and stable.
Examples: Planks, Birddogs, Bear Crawls, Hanging Leg Raises.
For great-looking hindquarters, these target movement from the hip and should be the bread-n-butter of your exercise program.
Examples: Deadlifts, Kettle Bell Swings
Any type of overhead lifting will get you in trouble if there’s a lack strength and/or stability. The rotator cuff is most always overlooked so be sure to add in some wrist rotation to your presses.
Examples: Shoulder Presses, Handstands
One of the more challenging movement patterns, these exercises help to develop upper and mid back strength while improving posture over time.
Examples: Standing Rows, Reverse Pull-Ups
Chest, Triceps and Core, oh my!
Examples: Hindu Push-Ups, Dumbbell Fly’s, Bench Press
This is the most avoided of all movements by women but one you can’t afford to skip out on. Every time you turn to shake hands or slap your kid’s, the movement starts from your core. Don’t forget to add these into your program; I mean it!
Examples: Pull-Ups, Lat Pull Down
Seem like a lot of info? I agree.
Whenever I’m building a training program for a client, I work through this same blueprint to make sure I’ve poured a solid foundation before the roof goes on. It’s also important that when assembling your own program, be sure to keep the exercises in the order listed above. There’s a science as to how a program should be assembled and I’ve taken all the guesswork out by explaining movement patterns and providing examples for each.
If you need more guidance as to how an exercise should be performed, please visit my Youtube channel, “Dan Holguin Fitness” for dozens of instructional videos. Be sure to “Subscribe” to the channel as well to stay informed of all the upcoming videos that have yet to launch.