by Colin Aina
The infamous Sean St. Onge and I were recently chatting with a client about our charity event, Strength Fest.
She expressed her angst about not knowing if she could "do" the events and how she'd never practiced them. Sean wittily retorted, "everyday is practice." He implied that every workout you complete inside of our 4 walls improves your resiliency and also prepares you for obstacles and events that you wouldn't think you'd be prepared for. Life tends to hurl physical challenges our way and we need to be ready for them.
My friend Andrew McConaha, also a strength and conditioning specialist ironically named his facility Train for Life (www.trainforlifema.com), and he also holds the same beliefs about training as we do. I began to hold true to this belief within a year of starting my career. I began working with a few older female clients (over the age of 60), and noticed a correlation among them; they had a hard time getting up off the floor after an exercise. No, the exercise was not one that rendered them unconscious out on the floor, more like a core or push up variation. My first few instances I did what any decent human would and offered a hand to help them up. I eventually realized that I was not helping them with this universally accepted gesture of assistance. I was actually doing them a disservice and was enabling a bad habit. One of the most common injuries to plague the older population is a fall and most aren't strong enough to get themselves off the floor. SO...I stopped assisting them, saying, "one day you might fall at home, and I won't be there to help you up. Let's get you strong enough to do this on your own." I adjusted their training to facilitate getting off the floor and, in time, they were strong enough to do so.
I recently completed some moderate renovations to my kitchen that included replacing the tile floor. My house is over 100 years old and still has cast iron steam radiators. The small one in the kitchen had to be removed and is about 2 feet high and 3 feet wide. I was unaware of the actual mass, but I assumed it weighed about 150 pounds. Man, was I ever wrong! I awkwardly grabbed it in 2 different positions and it wouldn't budge. I thought about recruiting a friend to come help me with it, but being stubborn and pressed for time, I decided to continue. I gathered all the air I could, loaded my core, braced my back and posterior muscles and proceeded to lift. I waddled the radiator like a duck the whole 4 feet needed to get it out of the way. I estimate that it weighs about 280-300lbs. This might seem like a stupid thing to do, but gathering the millions upon millions of repetitions of squats and deadlifts I've done for the last 17 years, it was necessary at the time. I can't imagine someone without training experience doing that without getting hurt.
I recently completed a mountaineering trip to Bolivia and was able to summit the highest peak of our itinerary at 20,000ft. Obviously there was no way for me to replicate the atmospheric pressure difference and glacier travel of Bolivia here in Rhode Island prior to the trip. I relied on adding more volume to my existing routines and started cycling...a lot.
We've had many clients complete strength competitions without "practicing" the actual events as well as competed in road races without prior running training. Simply focusing on the type of total body training we offer will get you to that starting line and ready to compete. My college coach used to say, "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance." True, being 100% prepared for obstacles is best, but sometimes 90% is all you need to get the job done.