Some Housekeeping (Conditioning Q&A)

Today I want to tackle a bit of newsletter housekeeping. A series of recent newsletters on conditioning have generated a lot of feedback, and more than a few questions.

First, I want to sincerely thank everyone who wrote in, even if I wasn’t able to respond to every email personally (there were too many). Please rest assured that I did read and appreciate every single comment.

Secondly, let me take a stab at answering a cross-section of the questions posed by you, the readership:

Q: I just started up with your newsletter and really enjoy it. One thing you did not mention in Mat Time vs. Conditioning Time article is periodization. Amateurs can train as if they are pre-season, in-season, and post-season. This is a reasonable way to train to make sure time is given not to overtrain and to combat “stale” training.

A: I completely agree that periodization can be used to prevent overtraining – leaving it out of that article was an oversight on my part. Periodization systematically varies the quantity and intensity of your training over the course of weeks and months, and prevents the burnout that comes from training at full intensity all year long.

I have previously discussed periodization in an article on peaking and tapering for competition, and it’s still a good read for anyone interested in the topic.

Q: How strict is the form on your pull ups. Do you do a dead hang before pulling up, or are your arms a little bent.

A: It depends. I usually start out a set pretty strict (unless I’m doing kipping-style pull ups), but then as I start getting tired I sometimes start cheating a little in order to crank out a few more reps. Cheating might include a (small) kick with the legs, or only going to 95% arm extension instead of straightening them the whole way.

Q: In a previous article where you wrote about recovery from workouts you mentioned proportions of carbs and protein for pre and post workouts. May I ask what brand you use for getting these?

A: Any bodybuilding or health food store has lots and lots of pre and post-workout recovery mixes. I don’t use any of them, for three reasons. First, they are expensive. Second, most of them contain whey or soy protein, both of which I try to avoid (allergic to whey, leery of soy). Third, for marketing reasons many of them contain exotic chemical mixtures, the long term effects of which have not been sufficiently studied and the risks of which are not understood.

I usually brew up my own mixture, using gatorade or powerade crystals (carbohydrates and electrolytes), maltodextrin powder (a carbohydrate) and lots of water. Sometimes I add hemp protein to the mix, but usually I just eat a little bit of protein-containing ‘real food’ together with the drink.

Finally, sometimes I just go berserk with my juicer and enjoy a carrot-watermelon-parsley-cukecumber juice, or whatever other veggie and fruit concoction strikes my fancy at the time. It may not be the exact scientific ideal every single time, but it still helps my body recover and it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing at all.

Q: Would you explain in a little more detail the back hypers and the hanging knee raises?

A: Someday I might write an ebook on this topic with detailed pictures and instructions, but until then you’ll have to make do with these:

Back Hyperextensions: you can see this exercise in these pictures here, in this little video loop here, as well as in the bonus section of my Dynamic Kneebars DVD. Back extensions are a great injury prevention exercise, as well as a very functional grappling exercise (which is why this exercise was included as part of the bonus in the video in the first place).

Hanging Knee Raises: I wrote about this exercise in a previous tip on the half guard, of all things. Note that you DON’T necessarily need expensive ab slings to do this exercise: you can try it out first by fastening two weighlifting belts around a pullup bar.

Q: Do you do workouts like you described every day or take days off?

A: I definitely, absolutely take days off!! In fact, in an average week I only do about 3 conditioning sessions, but every week is different.

One of my training challenges is that my firefighting schedule is on an 8 day rotation, whereas the rest of the world, including dojo schedules and training partners, function on a 7 day rotation. On a week when I get more mat time in I do less conditioning, and when I can’t do any rolling I do more conditioning.

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