If At First You Don't Succeed, Do Something Else

The other day I was working with Chris on snatches. I was hoping to have him set another PR, but wasn't too sure. He hadn't maxed since the last time we worked together and he had already done a workout in the morning. So I had him do a few drills with the barbell, a few doubles with lighter weight and then started working with singles.

His first few lifts: 110 / 132 / 154 / 164 / 174

Chris was steadily climbing and each attempt looked solid. I opted to load the bar to 184 (his previous PR), expecting him to hit it without issue.

His next lifts: 184-F3 / 174-F /154-F / 110-F2 /110

After missing 184 three separate times, I decided to drop the weight down and hopefully work back up. Unfortunately, Chris kept missing everything - for God's sake, he missed 110 twice! This was all a byproduct of mentally breaking down. He missed 184 a few times because of some technique errors - not finishing his extension, slow getting under the bar, etc. But then, frustration and over-thinking caused him to miss what should have been routine lifts. Ultimately, Chris's primary technical flaw was not fully committing to getting under the bar, so I moved him to some snatch balances. After slowly building up weight, he did the following:


See, I knew anymore snatch attempts would have done more harm than good. So rather than have Chris get more upset and more mentally shaken, I opted to completely switch exercises and have him address the problem at hand. The result left him with a new snatch balance PR. Sure, he was still pissed about failing all those snatches, but he now knows he can receive 200lbs overhead.

The point I'm trying to make is that if something's not working, adjust your strategy accordingly. There's no use in beating yourself up with failed attempts - it's both physically taxing and mentally frustrating. Adapt to thrive.


What's In A Name?

As I'm sure some of you might be wondering what the title of this blog means, I decided to shed a little light on the topic. I realize some of you probably don't care, but oh well, you can call this post "filler" then. The expression "Becoming The Bull" is actually a song by Atreyu. While most of you will immediately dismiss it as angry white guy music, the lyrics are quite poignant and very relatable to training...

Grab the bull by the horns the old adage goes
Nobody tells you where to go from here
It seems like fate's pulling you
Decisions have to be made
The best path is the hardest earned

Back and forth the struggle consumes us all
Trying to keep a level head
In the most unsettling of times
Today I'll become the bull..

There is so much at stake
I stumble I'll lose my place
Pride and arrogance surrounded by sin
Destiny takes its hold
Fight it or let it go
But I choose how the day will end

Back and forth the struggle consumes us all
Trying to keep a level head
In the most unsettling of times
Today I'll become the bull...

This walk can get lonely
I lose myself inside myself
No one can touch you when you're outside staring in
Remove myself from this rat race

Back and forth the struggle consumes us all
Trying to keep a level head
In the most unsettling of times
Today I'll become the bull...

"Yeah, that's me, taking the bull by the horns. It's how I handle my business.
It's a metaphor. But that actually happened, though."


Why Focus On Getting Stronger?

Because Jesus says so...


Mobility Abounds!

It's no secret that I'm a fiend for mobility. Why? Because yours sucks. Don't worry, most everyone's does. Even mine. And I'm awesome. Fitness, or better yet, the general improvement of overall health revolves around more than just the "workout of the day." Exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc - these are all just pieces to the puzzle. Mobility is just another piece, yet one of the most often overlooked.

The human body is amazingly capable of adaptation - varying temperatures, changing foods, elevated stress, and unique movement patterns as well. Depending on where your inefficiencies lay, your body will do whatever it has to in order to help you do whatever crazy nonsense you're doing. Not using your glutes during deadlifts? Your body will call on your lower back and hamstrings to bear more of the load. We can only get away with this for so long until our progress stalls, or worse, we get injured. Improving mobility can have almost immediate implications on strength, speed, power, and movement efficiency.

After class one day, Cram asked if I could help her stretch her hamstrings. Since I'm such a gentleman, I obliged. Nick took some pictures as we did a little test/retest.


I took her through a pretty basic PNF stretch sequence. PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation - see it in action here.


That's a pretty significant change for less than two minutes of stretching. This isn't permanent, though, so Cram will have to continue working towards improving her hamstrings.

It should be said that PNF is not a comfortable experience. But to be honest, if something is easy, then it probably doesn't work. "Look, facilitating the muscles...it's like a dogfight. You need to be ready to bite down on a bullet. You need to fight tooth and nail for this. And you need to go after it seriously. It's not pleasant and mobilizing should never be pleasant." -Kelly Starrett

If you find yourself stalling, plateauing, or just feel like you're not getting the most out of your body's potential, it's not always a strength or "lung" issue. A lot of times you're limited by your own crap-ass range-of-motion. So make an effort to resolve this issue. Sign up for one of Lauren Polivka's Functional Movement Screens, foam roll before class, stretch after class, go to one of Michael Hall's yoga classes, peruse K-Starr's awesome mobility blog, or just ask me what you suck at. I'm sure I'll have an answer.

All kidding aside, this stuff is important. Because...

Mobility is serious business.