Thursday, June 30, 2011

Speed Month

The World Championships is a short race and I’ve spent most of the last decade doing ultra events. I need to be faster, so July is going to target power and explosiveness, which equal speed. Hello postactivation potention.

Pure speed is one of the harder elements to improve because it takes more than simply getting into shape. You need to train both your musculature and your nervous system to respond differently to stimulus. Getting fit is a natural extension of exercising but getting fast takes targeted training, which is not always as much fun.

But I recently did a short mountain bike race, our state championships, to qualify for nationals and got my ass handed to me in spectacular fashion. I qualified but lost nearly a minute per mile to the winner. Ouch! Speed has always been an allies (I was a sprinter in high school) but the last decade of going long and slow has retrained my body so it no longer knows how to be fast. In order to be competitive in Spain some major reprogramming is in order.

summer transformation goal

I do actually find this training fun. The downside is less time playing with my friends. Now instead of going out for a ride, run, or climb being a focal point of my training it’s what I do on rest days. Training consists of drills, intervals, and PAP.

The latter is the key. If you follow TSD you know what this is, and why it comprises the third phase of P90X2. If not read this. And this. And if you’re very curious dig though all of these posts.

Essentially my schedule looks like the third training bock of P90X2, with some sports specific stuff added. This form of PAP—that the general public is about to get a taste of—is the epitome of applied science for athletes. And though I’ve already done some experiments with PAP complexing I’ve never been focused on improving my speed. Basically I’m headed back into the lab and it’ll be interesting to see how the experiments shake out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vitamin D, Sunscreen, and Healthy Skin

Since it’s finally looking like summer outside it seems like a good time to discuss the topic of sunlight and what you should be doing about it. Two popular subjects in the health world are vitamin D and sunscreen, neither of which is very well understood by the general public. After reading today’s post you can stop reading those headlines because the solutions are very simple.

Vitamin D.
Not really a vitamin, exactly, it’s actually a hormone and is produced by your body. Its effects are so important it’s not even worth mentioning all the pluses. Just know that if you lack vitamin D life is going to get unpleasant very quickly. The good news is that our bodies make it when our skin is exposed to sunlight. You don’t even need very much sun exposure, and your body stores it so it will hang around when the weather turns gray, even for months. Yet numerous studies show many people are drastically low in vitamin D. So what’s the deal?

We’re obviously not getting outside enough but that’s not the entire story because we might be. We’re just using too much sunscreen when we do. Vitamin D is present in very few foods. We can supplement it but we don’t want too much of it because our bodies store it, and too much can be stored (when it can become toxic). Natural exposure is both the safest and most effective way to get it.

It seems that almost everyone now knows that overexposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer and that sunscreen can help prevent it. Unfortunately health officials—and marketing divisions—find it’s easier to sell the public on black and white rather than bother with subtleties like, oh, the fact our bodies needs some sunlight for health and skin cancer, while a very real threat, takes a lot of sun exposure to get. So the powers that inform have been telling us to slather on sunscreen anytime we step out of the house and, apparently, we’ve chosen this one piece of advice (as opposed to “exercise more”, “eat fruits and veggies”, “drink plain water”, “watch less TV” etc) to take to heart, resulting in a widespread problem with vitamin D deficiency.

In fact, so disinterested have these powers been with subtleties that sunscreens have been blocking the wrong rays for years. We’re finally starting for hear about the difference in UVA and UVB rays. Until recently sunscreens only targeted the latter, which incidentally are also the rays we use to make vitamin D. Now it turns out the UVA rays we’ve been letting through can cause skin cancer too, so all our protective measures have not only been leaving us exposed to possible skin cancer but lowering our immune system at the same time. Oops.

Many of the sunscreen companies are now choosing to block UVA rays and inform you about this on their label, but they’re still not too forthcoming about the importance of getting some UVB because, well, it probably doesn’t seem like good business (even though a new study shows vitamin D helps stave off skin cancer). They also don’t tell you that unless you get an awful lot of sun exposure you’re not very likely at all to develop skin cancer or have any damaging effects from the sun at all. The fact is that we not only don’t need, but should not have, sunscreen covering our exposed skin areas all the time.

The simple solution
The media makes this subject appear complicated but the solution simply is not. We should get outside during the middle of the day on sunny days whenever we can. Not for long; a stroll through the park at lunch on a sunny day is likely plenty of exposure as long as you’re not completely covered up (the AMA recommends 15 minutes of exposure a “few times” per week). You don’t need to be in a bathing suit but wearing shorts and jogging around the park on occasion wouldn’t hurt. We just shouldn’t live like vampires, no matter how cool their lives seem on True Blood.

On the flip side no one needs to lie out at the beach. Fake tanning is still seems like the safest way to mimic an 80s sex symbol. Once you feel your skin get warm you’ve had more exposure than you need. For those of you that do spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure your sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays. And if you’re addicted to sunlight wear a hat. The skin on your face and neck, especially around your eyes, is very susceptible to the raisin effect.

Supplementing vitamin D has been shown to be effective but, unless you never get outside, a base amount is sufficient. Whatever is in your multivitamin is likely fine (The RDAs 400IU is “100%” but not really 100% so don’t worry about it--subject for another day). Also, make sure to try and eat plenty of non-cooked omega 3 and 6s in your diet. These fatty acids protect your skin from sun damage and keep it looking young.

Trying to get too involved in the numbers of this subject will just confuse you. “Nobody really knows how much sunlight you need for optimal vitamin D synthesis versus too much sunlight,” say Jean Tang, dermatologist and lead author of a government study that followed 36,000 women ages 50 to 79 for an average of seven years. And if someone like Tang doesn’t know the math, there’s no reason for you bother with it either.

Further reading and opinions:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Tour Divide Fundraiser

This week’s psyche has a fundraising aspect. Buy a copy of the just-released book on the Tour Divide (“the world’s toughest bike race”) and you’ll help support the daughter of a racer who died during the 2010 challenge. The TD is a fully self-supported 2,700 mile dirt adventure along the Continental Divide from Banff, Alberta to the Mexican border. The Cordillera will no doubt become a requirement for any true adventurer’s bookcase. From the bikepacking web site:

For those of you who have missed it the Cordillera is an anthology of the best Divide Racing art, literature and poetry out there. It is a book about ultra-racing along the Divide and I'm sure that everyone who visits will find it fascinating.

The Cordillera Volume 2 is a professionally bound soft-cover book with work by Jon Billman (Outside Magazine), Paul Howard (Two Wheels on my Wagon / Eat, Sleep, Ride), Dan Koeppell (New York Times), Eddie Clark (Mountain Flyer) and many others. We also have pictures from Aaron Teasdale and original artwork by Trevor Browne in this year's book.

We have a great story and interview of Kurt Refsnider this year which details the incredible discovery he made on Baffin Island of the bikes and gear left by Divide bicycling pioneers Mike and Dan Moe. It's a story that you'll never forget and there's more information about it in the Cordillera than anywhere else.

The Cordillera is a non-profit effort. All proceeds benefit worthy bikepacking causes and last year we raised over $1,000 for the Adventure Cycling Association. This year all proceeds go directly to the college savings plan for Linnaea Blumenthal. Linnaea is the four year old daughter of Dave Blumenthal who died after a crash in the 2010 Tour Divide race. Purchasing a copy of the Cordillera is a great and tangible way for the bike-packing community to show support for a fallen racer's daughter.
The Cordillera will be available on next month but if you purchase it directly from the printer you'll get it in a few days and twice as much money will be donated to Linnaea's college fund. Here's the link:

To follow this year’s tour check out the Tour Tracker here.
Here’s a link to the main Tour Divide Page. Here are some photos of the course.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Development Of P90X2

It’s official; P90X mc2 is P90X2 since its unveiling at Beachbody’s annual Summit meeting last weekend. I know many coaches have been aware of this for ages but that’s one of your perks. Officially mum has been the word. This means that, among other things, I can wear the X2 hoodie that’s been buried in my closet for months out in public.

Tony, Jon, Carl and me in Tony's apartment; brainstorming about a sequel to Power 90 tentatively called P90X.

For those of you just joining us, today I’ll provide a recap of P90X2’s development. Beachbody’s old guard undoubtedly remembers Ned Farr’s serial about the making of P90X. For X2 we didn’t go to such production lengths. Instead, you got Tony’s One on One workouts (with Mason’s b roll segments—you all watched those, right?) and my blog. Here are a few of the more important posts, in chronological order. I changed the titles to reflect X2 but leaving all the X Next/mc2 et al references in for posterity.

Post-activation Potentiation

Going, Going, Gone!

I Hate It! But I Love It!

Feelin’ Springy

The Science Behind P90X2

Previewing P90X2

Buying Into The System

P90X2 Core: The Opening Engagement

Plyocide: Up Close and Personal

P90X: Muscle Confusion Two

P90X2 Rehearsals

The Stuff Of P90X2

It's a Wrap!

If you want to read the entire series click here and scroll down.

7AM, Day 3, 2011 Summit: 2,000 people get ready to workout with the Beachbody trainers in front of the Staples Center, minus some whom were skipping it because they’d done Tony’s PAP workout the day prior. “My legs are destroyed,” was a sentiment heard regularly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Solo Across The Atlantic

Very busy week for me, with Beachbody’s annual Summit happening, but I wanted to get a psyche post up regardless. Seems like a good week for an adventure that’s the antithesis of social festivities here in LA; a solo row boat crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. I happened upon this blog while following my friend Russ, who’s doing the Tour Divide this year. I’ll have more on that “race” later but, today, check out an experience of being alone with a boat, some oars, and whatever marine creatures decide to make friends with you for a few months. Here are a few highlights from Paul Attalla’s “life changing” journey.

December 4 2007
And the race begins. The Spirit of Fernie is complete. Thank you so much to Andy the German boatbuilder and his countless hours completing the finishing touches, Brett, Sean and Mike for all of the final errands and fixing up touches, and to the Richard and Bette for a wonderful post meal ´Pallea¨, champagne, salad and cake and Nic and the girls for decorating my cabin so beautifully with finger paint and glitter glue. Puppy and I will be very cozy. We had a lovely sticker posting party to place all of my guestbook entries onto the boat. The hardest thing I´ve ever done. An extremely emotional morning but thanks to Joy´s fantastic 2 year old inquisitiveness she brought tears of laughter to the morning with her comments. Daddy where you pee pee?

December 8 2007
Paul phoned home on his satellite phone. He has had a tough week at sea. He has been very nauseated but this is improving. The waves and wind have made living difficult. It's been too rough to light the stove and water making is difficult also. We could hear the waves splashing over the boat. Paul said "this is not about a race this is about survival"but followed this up with "how many are behind me". Dolphins are following along and a sea turtle has taken a liking to his cleaning brush.

December 13 2007
I can't explain how hard it is to try and repair the leak. I have to shift my gear constantly to get into tiny compartments. Today I heard what sounded like plastic bags popping while on the phone with Nic. At first I thought it was dolphins but I had to go and check to make sure it wasn't something on the boat. To my surprise what I found was ...

December 14 2007
I look at my "seame" light and it is blinking fast which means something is very near. I turn around and see this ship bearing down on me fast. I freak out and spring into action. The ship is going to hit me 1 - 2 minutes - it is coming directly at me. I leap into my cabin grab the radio and attempt to make contact while getting a flare ready with the other hand. I drop the radio thinking that they would not be able to avoid me even if they tried put my life jacket around my neck , free my life raft and grab bag and shot the flare AT the ship.

December 20 2007
I've had a terrible 24 hour period with very rare west west north west winds- watching hard earned miles slip by. The chances of getting wind in that direction at 20-knots for this month of the year is very rare. I had to use my para-anchor which is the equivalent of an underwater parachute 6 feet by 6 feet. It is attached to 50 metres of line with a separate 80 metre floating TRIP LINE. ROPE CITY. If you screw-up the deployment of the para-anchor bad things can happen. It is a scary and very powerful piece of gear. I hope I do not have use too many more times.

I miss my family very much and the bad weather luck for some reason has highlighted loneliness. I gave my self a classic Paul Attalla pep talk this am " Come on you have this rare opportunity in front of you, it will not always go your way, you have to flow with the circumstances, it is easy to be calm and cool and happy when things are going well but it how we take on the bad times that define our grit and strength, you can not change the weather, worry about things that you can change like your attitude; Missing the family is a fact of the race. It is only threeish months from many years of togetherness".

December 21 2007
Today I saw my first pod of pilot whales. I had no idea some of them could be so huge, up to 20 ft. Yesterday I was in 6-8 metre swell, talk about adventure. I felt under the weather yesterday after eating some curry chicken but it seems to have passed. I look forward to opening my daily supplies. I get really excited if there are wine gums, sweet and sour chicken and chicken noodle soup. I am rowing as hard as I can. I figure if I keep this pace I will have only 40-50 more days at sea.

December 22 2007
I awoke this morning to the sounds of dolphins playing, squealing and shooting water out of their blowholes. Joy would love it!

January 3 2008
I am making some good distance today, but a storm and I mean a storm has set in. It is so rough I tipped sideways and it took about 5 seconds to self-right. I am happy I have the boat that I do. It is so rough I had to put out my drogue. It was very scary attaching the lines out of my hatch. I had to go over it in my head 5-6 times of how I would so quickly open my hatch, leash up, get on the deck, set it up and then get back inside my cabin again, so not to be bombarded by a wave. It happened anyways, huge soaker but I was alright and made it back in. A stormy night and some seasickness is inevitable. The blood is rushing now and adrenalin firing for sure!

January 5 2008
This will be the second time I was attempting to go underneath and have a look at the growth underneath, and the hole (it's getting worse again). I am not kidding when I say I had my mask and snorkel on and was nearing the edge to jump in, and suddenly I saw a flock of seagulls. So, I stopped to admire them ( don't see them often all the way out here) and they flew right down to the water just above a sharks dorsal fin. The shark then swam up to the boat and under my paddle then disappeared. I am not sure how big it was as it all happened fast. I was taken back at how big the tail was and by the girth.

January 21 2008
A rough day today as I woke up and cut my heel on a hose clamp (bad spot to have it) and was bitten by a school of fish under my boat. I guess it serves me right for throwing my leftover meal overboard, but it hurt and I have two puncture marks to show. I paddled hard sideways all day and was soaked by big waves as I struggled NOT to go to Brazil (no offense Thays - Terry my locum's wife), I'm sure it is beautiful. As a result my bottom is extremely sore from the gritty salt chafing.

January 28, 2008
Complete magic today as a pod of 50+ dolphins splashed and played all around me. They would jump 3-4 at a time in unison. Some had black spots on them. It was so beautiful. I have not seen them for over a month and this many at once was awesome!

February 7 2008
The last two days have been the most memorable of the journey so far.
Yesterday it was a whale, and today it was large swell in the morning. As
the sun was rising so was the wind and the swell with both moving West. The Spirit of Fernie was moving the fastest she has been. The swell was breaking but in such a way that the waves more or less crumbled from the top and flattened the sea...

February 9 2008
Today was a jackpot day! I owe it to BP (Brett Price) . After surviving 71 days without coffee, I found the only small packet on the boat of - liquid gold - COFFEE! I will treat myself tommorrow morning. I don't even know if I'll be able to sleep tonight I am so excited.

February 11 2008

Another night full of excitement as I was almost hit straight on by a Russian freighter. Once again I let the ship know that I was a VERY SMALL OCEAN ROW BOAT: only to hear their groggy replies " clear the way". Eventually they sensed my panic and WOKE UP!

The whale is still with me. It is quite shy but meanders back and forth between half a kilometre and 200 metres bobbing up and down behind the boat. Coincidentally or not, I have sad news that I have not seen Moby in about four days. My little buddy Chirp still visits 4-5 times a day and he/she always puts a smile on my face.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trust Your Training Program

Periodizational training can be a hard sell because each time you change training blocks you take a small step backwards. But these steps “back” are there for a reason and, eventually, you lose less strength during each transition leading to larger cumulative gains near the end of your program. If you alter your program so that you never regress you hamper to ability to ultimately improve. This requires trust.

Every 90-day (or longer) Beachbody program comes with a periodizational strategy designed to do this. As you’ll see if you click here, mutiny is a rational consideration when you aren’t moving towards your goals. But you should trust these schedules because they work, which I know because I’ve spent the last 30 or so years of my life trying to perfect them.

And while I know how to set up periodizational schedules for a broad demographic my own personal plans are more of a crap shoot because I’m always tweaking, or experimenting, with something theoretical. Each time I set up a new scenario I’m never 100% certain it’s a good idea.

Yesterday my training took me back into the gym (well, garage) for the first time in six weeks, where I was somewhat surprised, and quite happy, to find I’d lost little, if any, strength doing Asylum Strength. I say surprised because six weeks is about the outside of time you can hang onto strength gains. It’s not like I’ve been doing nothing, far from it, but outdoor sports don’t usually allow you to keep strength gains made in the gym. This is a sign that my training plans are going according to plan.

I began this schedule back in January. Back then transitions weren’t so smooth. In the deep off season you should focus on areas of weakness. This means your strengths will suffer, which is fine, since you know (or should know) that you can get them back. But it’s still hard to wrap you head around the fact that you might be training harder than ever before only to be getting worse at your main objectives then you would be if you didn’t train at all.

Closer to your objectives these peaks and valleys merge. You don’t take big steps back during transitions and each step of your training leads to a little peak. Eventually, if you get it right, it all cumulates with a major peak in fitness.

The lesson of the day is to trust your program and let it work. We get tons of mail (literally if it weren’t electronic) from people wanting to alter their program, or quit, as soon as they get weaker, gain weight, feel tired, or hungry, or anything that’s not what they consider to be the direction they want to be going. But you’ve got to trust us; those steps back are going to lead to improvements that you never would have believed to be possible.

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Interview With Steve Edwards

This week’s Friday psyche is coming full circle; or so says the title of Mike Williams’ article on me in DPM Magazine. For anyone interested in how I came to find such a great gig in life here is my history. It begins on page 28. Next up will be a story on how I started referring to myself in the third person.

DPM is a one of the cool new climbing mags on the scene. In fact, the Friday psyche has come full circle as it started with DPM. Though you can find it in print it’s very electronic (wave of the future, Dude). Reading takes some getting used to but, once you do, it’s pretty to find much fault in the format. I suppose the biggest negative is that you can’t take it in the loo.

Anyway, I’ve already began to write a series for them on training for climbing. The first article is here (beginning on page 30).

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Train With Steve Edwards In The South Of France

Want to train with me in an idyllic setting? My friends Bruce and Alisa, avid outdoor athletes and professional guides who hold summer retreats near their home in France, have asked me to lead a week of adventure and fitness, focused on training for outdoor sports. More than just getting a lot of exercise, I’ll be conducting daily seminars based on the interests of the group, we’ll be experiencing the local culture, the food will be gourmet (since eating is like their religion) and simply having a lot of fun (since fun is like my religion). If you’ve ever wondered what doing one of my crazy adventures might be like, here’s your chance to find out; all in a region of the world that’s not so unlike Camelot. Click the links below to learn more and hope to see you in France!

From Raison d'Art:

September 10-17th, 2011

Want to take your fitness to the next level? Raison d'Art is excited to announce a week of cycling, climbing, trail running, hiking and training in beautiful southern France with renowned outdoor athlete and fitness trainer Steve Edwards!

During this action-filled week you’ll not only get in fantastic shape, you’ll also learn the keys to fitness and nutrition to keep your body aging gracefully from Beachbody’s head of fitness and nutrition development, the company behind P90X, Insanity, Turbo Fire, and many other life-changing exercise programs.

Though Steve designs home fitness programs his passion is outdoor sports. He’s an expert rock climber and guide, bike racer, adventure racer, ultra marathoner and currently training for the Duathlon World Championships. His own personal mega-endurance events and birthday challenges, are a thing of legend. During your stay you’ll not only learn how to eat and stay in shape, but how you can fit an adventure sports lifestyle into your hectic life. Arm yourself with the tools and knowledge to live your life to its fullest!

Click here for a slide show showing some of the area from a trip we took during the spring.

The Retreat
To see a bit more about what you’ll be getting into, check out the Raison d'Art web site here. Make sure and check out the entire site, especially the gallery.

Your Hosts
Here is a great story about your Alisa and Bruce. If this resonates with you as it does me, I guarantee you’re going to have a fantastic time.

The Region
This area of France is one of my favorite places on the planet. It’s probably a lot like the Province region was before it became trendy. Check out the town where Bruce and Alisa live by clicking here. And as great as it is, my favorite thing about this area is not the beauty or the history, but the local vibe. Nothing about the place gives the impression that you’re in a tourist region and, in fact, you really aren’t (at least not yet).

The Cost
When I heard how inexpensively we could pull this off I said that it was a great deal even without the retreat! Again, this isn’t Paris or the Côte d'azur where prices have been inflated to accommodate the world’s hoi polloi. It’s provincial France, where life is lived as it should be: slow, relaxed, friendly, local, and priced to keep it that way.

Click here to join us!

And btw, sorry about the Bob Dole-esque third person reference in the title. It's apparently better for the interweb.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Maintaining, Transitioning, and Play

I was just answering a question on the Message Boards about maintaining results that leads right into what I’ve been doing since my last training cycle ended: playing, tactically, which can be just as important as the program itself.

Without breaks any training program will get stale. Your results will plateau, your enthusiasm will wane, and you’ll increase the risk of overuse injuries. For most of us life itself creates plenty of opportunity for breaks, but they should be scheduled regardless. And if you plan these breaks well they can lead to improvement that’s almost as rapid during your program, especially if you’re training for sports.

Here’s a very simple overview of why, without going insanely nerdy on you:

Training almost always targets certain energy systems in your body. Beachbody programs generally target those that will lead to rapid body composition change because that’s what most of us are after. But whenever you actively target one area of fitness others are being left out. If you know what your training program isn’t covering then it can be easily to fill this in later. If you don’t it’s harder, however, it’s not all that tricky to figure out what your training has been lacking because, basically, it’s stuff that’s the opposite of what you’ve been doing.

For example let’s use P90X because it’s the most inclusive program we offer (meaning that it concurrently targets the broadest range of energy systems). Because every workout has you training at your maximum for about an hour, simple math lets us guess, correctly in this case, that we probably aren’t targeting things that are much shorter or much longer; which are the energy systems concerning muscle cell motor unit recruitment (or power) and aerobic efficiency (aerobic endurance). While these areas aren’t too important for body composition change they can be extremely important for athletes. If you’re an athlete who values one or both of these areas they are best trained during your breaks from the program.

Furthermore, specific sports always require some amount of more simple body adaptations, such as getting used to the elements your sport is played in. These play periods should focus on lots of time doing your activity. For example, in almost any sport skin is vital and can only be prepared specifically by doing the said sport.

Finally, sports all require specific neuro-muscular patterns (often called engrams) that, while somewhat retained, need to be refined if you plan on continual improvement. Again, these are gained by doing the actual sport. Also, if you’re training is sound you’ve gained fitness (strength, endurance, mobility) which must be taught how to perform. Play time, through specific adaptations of your training gains, will help you get stronger while you aren’t doing any actual training.

If you look at the calendar of my month “off” (top), you’ll see that I’m spending as much time, or even more, doing exercise as I was when I was training (below). The only difference is that there are no real workouts. But there’s a plan, which is, well, no real plan because taking a mental break is vital to build-up enthusiasm for structured training. But within my “no plan” I’m still playing in areas that weren’t targeted during my last round of training, while also building up skin, making environmental adaptions, and refining my engrams. The goal of which is to have me mentally and physically ready to progress further during my next round of training.

key: boulder, climb, coop = some form of climbing; 4 x 10 means 4 5.10 routes, etc; mtb = mountain bike; RUKE = run/hike, which is an aeorbic-level hike (ultra pace); FWU = a variation of the X2 functional warm-up, which i don't usually record; NIS = neuro-integrated stretching; brick = run and bike workout; trainer = rode my bike on a trainer indoors; RACE = duathlon nationals

Sunday, June 05, 2011

More Ondra

Adam Ondra Onsighting Bat Route 8c from TV on Vimeo.

This is so absurd I’m making this double psyche week. In this video Adam Ondra, the star of this week’s psyche post, on sights an 8c (14b) route in England, placing draws as he goes and struggling about as much as I do on 5.11. To put this in perspective no American had climbed 8c until 1995. Here’s what British ace Steve McClure has to say about him in a great article on UK Climbing:

Steve: "Adam is a grade ahead of the top of the tree, and two grades ahead of the general hero! So he's a grade up on Sharma/Paxti/Ramon etc and two up on all the other stars. He is in a league of his own on rock."

Jack: Anything else to say?

Steve: "Adam really impresses me in many ways. I can relate to him, he's a climber, a rock climber. Relative to the indoor guys he's weak, but on rock he has all the strengths. People forget climbing strengths are not just about 'strength'. You need power, power endurance, then flexibility, finger strength, tenacity, technical ability, footwork, ambition and more. He has all of these.

Also his attitude is great, he's just a climber like us all, psyched for his mates on 8as, and keeping his efforts in perspective. I heard recently a top hero begrudgingly saying Adam was good, 'but he's weak, he's no good indoors really, he has faults'. Adam would never come out with this, he's just doing his stuff!

Friday, June 03, 2011

World’s Hardest Climb?

BD athlete Adam Ondra making the first ascent of Chaxi Raxi (9b) at Oliana, Spain from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

There’s a new sheriff in town. And his name is Adam Ondra.

This kid, who just turned 18, has turned the climbing world on its head this year. Today’s Friday Psyche is Ondra on Chaxi Raxi, a long standing Chris Sharma project and one of the hardest routes in the world. If it’s not the hardest than that title goes to one of the other 9bs he’s established this year, which we know because he’s climbed pretty much all of the other hard sport climbs on the planet.

Ondra is doing what most people thought was impossible in today’s climbing world, where the sport has been divided up into specialized arenas: climbing the hardest rock routes in every style. He’s been traveling around the world to grab the second ascent of pretty much anything on the “world’s hardest” radar (he’s yet to come to America but when he does Jumbo Love will likely have a grade confirmation)—even multi-pitch climbs in remote locations, as well as onsighting routes on a completely different plane. He recently nabbed the second of the almost-mythical line Chilam Bilam. Its first ascent had always been debated and some of the world’s strongest climbers, such as Sharma and Dani Andrada, had failed on it. It took Ondra four tries and then, while in the neighborhood, he established an even harder route on the same cliff.

He calls himself ‘weak’, which simply means power is not his forte. But this hasn’t stopped him from doing the hardest boulder problems or winning world cups, even though he mainly focuses on long hard ‘endurance’-style climbs. He is simply on another level from every other climber right now. The scary thing is that he seems to be getting much better each year and probably has another decade to physically improve.

physiology lesson: the quick hand shakes ondra does between movements near the top of the climb are to help recharge CP (creatine phosphate) stores, which fires ATP (to keep you attached to the rock). CP stores run out quickly, 3-8 seconds, but also can recharge very quickly. subtle and effective.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

“I just want to look good on the beach”

Your training program should have a definitive target you want to achieve with it. Prior to working for Beachbody my world was mainly filled with people who wanted to be better at sports. Then it transitioned to overweight folks who wanted to drop weight for a myriad of class-reunion-type motivators. Since 90X hit a few years back it’s been coming full circle, but not totally. The Beachbody community is filled with athletes but most, it seems, are still more motivated by aesthetics than performance. The most obvious anecdote I have to cite is a college baseball player I was working with. As I tweaked his training towards pure performance he finally came clean and said, “I do P90X because I just want to look good on the beach. I only want to make sure it doesn’t hurt my sport so that I don’t lose my scholarship.” Target defined.

As a lead in to seeing how I create my programs you should know that I don’t care how I look on the beach. My personal programs are created for performance. I often experiment with other styles of training, for work mainly, but I’m always looking at everything in relation to how it will improve biomechanics. Aesthetics is simply a by-product of performance.

On that note here’s another anecdote. I write up scientific evaluations on all of our workout programs. We need these in foreign television markets who aren’t as liberal as the United States when it comes to what you can advertise on TV. Marketing slogans, such as muscle confusion, won’t fly unless they can be scientifically defined and, of course, all of our programs are based on training principles so this is easy—they just don’t always make sexy copy. So, anyway, the scientific advisor board (or whatever it’s called) in the UK, upon reading my definition of how P90X was a targeted performance and that body composition changes came as a natural extension, came back and asked us why we didn’t advertise it that way because they thought it sounded impressive. Apparently, looking good on the beach doesn’t have the same clout on the sceptered isle as it does here. Luckily (by design) P90X can be used for both.

The point of today’s post is a warning that the training program you’re going to read about over the next few months is leaving the beach aspect out. It’s how to use Beachbody’s program for increased performance for my sports (cycling, running, climbing). Only.

the tour is no gun show and these guys will drop you.

“Twelve inch arms don’t drop nobody,” is something that my bodybuilder friends used to like to say. The fact is, however, that in strength to weight ration sports small arms are exactly how you drop people. With the plan I’m laying out I’ll get fitter, and look ok to some, but I won’t be targeting my six pack or the gun show. So if you’ve got a reunion coming up and were planning on wearing a tank top you’ll probably want to amend this program, which can be as simple as my final anecdote of the day.

We’re shooting an X2 vid and, in this program, we do most movements out of unstable or athletic position to induce more muscles to fire. During one set of a biceps movement Tony drops into a stable platform and picks up more weight. “Sometimes,” he says. “Maybe all you care about are your guns.”