Power Systems and Yancy Culp

IdeaFit 2018, Spartan Strong, and Much More!

I had the opportunity to go to San Diego this weekend, with my girlfriend Hilary, to a big health and fitness event called IdeaFit.  Minus the 7+ hour drive from Monterey to there on Friday night, it was an amazing experience.  Good thing I got my Theragun in the mail before we left!  Definitely enjoyed using that to loosen up those stiff hips and glutes from sitting in the car for that time period.

We only got to spend 1 day at the event, Saturday, but we definitely felt like it was more than enough.  Hilary was there with all of the other Les Mills fanatics taking 3+ workouts a day with their favorite instructors.  I didn’t realize how big Les Mills was till I went to this convention.  Sometimes as coaches we can get stuck in our own little world and methodologies and not realize how many other training platforms are out there that get the job done!  They definitely had the biggest showing of folks there.  Hilary got to watch them do BodyCombat on an aircraft carrier while I found parking at the convention center.

Les Mills

After she finished the BodyCombat class we met up and headed to the upstairs convention area so that I could get prepped for Spartan Strong and she could take BodyPump.  We parted ways and I entered room #25 with probably 50+ others who most likely had no clue what we were getting into.  I have a lot of experience training for Spartan Races and coaching athletes on how to prepare for these, but this was nothing like I had seen before on how to get ready for a race.

As we entered the room Spartan instructors Aimee Nicotera and Alex Isaly were there to greet us as they were setting up for class.  They told us to grab a 10 lb. Spartan pancake (sandbell) as we entered and mentioned that it was going to be the only piece of equipment we were going to be using for the workout.  Where were the buckets, heavy sandbags, walls, ropes, etc?  First thought that went through my mind was that this is going to be a beginning level workout and I better just suck it up buttercup and take it in stride.  What are they going to have us use this light ass sandbell outside of super light carries?

Spartan Strong

Oh man, was I so wrong.  I had no idea that it was going to be hell in a group fitness, music thumping, Spartan Arooing, fun community-based environment.  They did a great job getting us primed for the workout using many of the movements that we would be using throughout the class.  They offered many different variations for all skill levels, so anyone from the beginner to elite level athlete would get a great workout, and best of all, it didn’t slow down the class to go over all of these.  Very streamlined and effective.

Spartan Strong is based of 5 Phases:

  1. Readiness
  2. Stamina
  3. Accountability
  4. Tenacity
  5. Resilience

Each phase symbolizes attributes that a person needs to be Spartan Race ready.  I really loved the idea behind each of the phases and Aimee and Alex did a phenomenal job describing the complexities of each.  There was a warm up and cool down, and they didn’t rush through these which I was really happy with (I have strong opinions about proper warm up and cool down).  My body takes a while to prime and unglue for good mechanical movement.  And spending time stretching at the end is ideal for any class environment.

Another big plus was that we hit a variety of range of motion using most muscles groups in the class hour.  Spartan Strong’s team uses theory and application from various scientific training methodologies:

Spartan Strong Scientific Training Methodologies

Aimee went in further to explain how it related to being out there on the course and handling everyday life.  Our bodies need to respond and react to movement in any direction, which she is 100% right on the money.  We did different variations of lunges, jumps, sandbell pulls, crawls, sandbell holds and swings, partner work, etc. that took us through all these ranges of motion.

They also added different varieties of training through the class!  We changed intensities, speeds, directions, partner drills, time under load, varying rest periods, moving around the room and using the space, and burpees galore (wouldn’t be Spartan without burpees right?!) all while hollering Aroo and giving High Fives all around!

After class ended I was toast.  It was way harder than I expected and the format was all encompassing and engaging draining most of my energy systems.  Not to worry, Hilary was just off BodyPump and we were ready to explore and hit up all the supplement booths downstairs to get our energy levels back up…

After we hit up all the different varieties of nutritional products and supplements, we were back at it again.  This time exploring all the different varieties of gym equipment to styles of training.  I was blown away by how many fun and exciting products there were that I had never seen before (Trueform runner was dope and I didn’t feel my plantar fasciitis or heel spur while running on it).

I was also blown away by how many products were out there that just seemed silly and ridiculous.  For example, there was a bouncy ball product that you sat on and bounced your way into fitness…similar to the little kid ones you put in your backyard.  But…to each their own.  That product isn’t for me.

My favorite booth of the IdeaFit floor was Power Systems.  They had great products that were ideal for most gym and outdoor settings, and best of all the most friendly and engaging crew at the event.  I went there to find OCR Legend Yancy Culp, and he introduced me to the team there.  Yancy even roped Hilary and I into a fun workout with their MostFit Core Hammer and 2-in-1 Flip and Plyo.  That hammer felt great in your hands and loved the fact that when you hit the ground or 2-in-1 there wasn’t much feedback in terms of vibration through your arms and body!

Needless to say we were done by the end of the day.  But before we could leave I had to pick up the Hypervolt by Hyperice so that I could do a comparison with the Theragun!

P.S.  Stay tuned for a review and comparison as I get to play and practice with each.  Until then Get Your Fitness On and Go Win!

Week 4: NorCal Spartan Training

Welcome to the NorCal Spartan blog!  Just wrapped up week 4 of my Spartan/OCR training. Training this past week has been great, though it’s been a little crazy in Northern California.  We have had some flooding evacuations and spillway issues in the Butte County area.  Even though this has all been going on, I still managed to stay focused and increase my mileage for the week for my running aerobic base phase.  I was stoked that my body allowed me to consistently run over 8+ miles on most of my runs this week.  Going to have to start carrying gels with me as the mileage slowly increases over the next few weeks.  The Hawaii Ultra Beast will be here before we know it!  Here is my training from this past week:

photo-feb-16-11-36-52-am

Monday 2/13:

  • 60+ Min Run at Bidwell 5 Mile
    • Ran 8.7 miles in 1:16:32 (8:47 avg. mile pace)
      • *goal was just to go out and run for 60 mins just working aerobic base, it was wet and muddy, so made sure to hit every puddle and mud area for training purposes for races*
  • Intermediate Class
    • Strength:
      • 5×3 Back Squat @ 225#
      • 5×3 Box Jump @ 40″+ (can’t remember the height of the last jump)
    • Secondary:
      • 3xMax Barbell Press @ 115#, averaged around 5 reps
      • 3×2 Swimmers
    • Conditioning (1 Round):
      • 23 Clean and Jerks @ 135#
      • 23 Bar Facing Burpees
        • *didn’t focus on time, just went at a controlled tempo*

photo-feb-13-5-29-54-pm

Tuesday 2/14:

  • Advanced Class
    • Oly:
      • 3×5 Light Barbell Hang Power Snatch + 5 OH Squats @ 45# (went light focusing on technique and movement)
    •  Strength/Secondary:
      • 4×5 Deadlift @ 315#
      • 4×30 sec Free Handstand Practice
      • 4×4 Hanging Hip Touches (4 L / 4 R)
    • Conditioning A (1 Round 1 minute stations + 30 sec rest):
      • Battle Rope
      • DB Thrusters @ 35#
      • Tuck Ups
    • Conditioning B (1 Round 1 minute stations + 30 sec rest):
      • Ball Slams
      • Body Rows
      • Jump Rope Single Unders
    • Conditioning C (1 Round 1 minute stations + 30 sec rest):
      • Battle Rope
      • DB Thrusters @ 35#
      • Tuck Ups

Wednesday 2/15:

  • 55+ Min Run at 1 Mile Park
    • Ran 6.8 Miles in 59:06 (8:35 avg. mile pace)
      • *goal was just to go out and run for 55 mins, just working aerobic base*

Thursday 2/16:

  • 60+ Min Run at 5 Mile Park
    • Ran 8.1 Miles in 1:15:00 (9:12 avg. mile pace)
      • *goal was just to go out and run for 60+ mins, just working aerobic base, ran through the muddy terrain*
  • OCR Specific Workout:
    • Strength/Core:
      • 3x150m Bucket Carry @ 80#
      • 3×1 min Straight Arm Plank
      • 3×30 sec Straight Arm Side Plank ( L / R)
      • 3×30 sec Reverse Plank
    • Conditioning (4 Rounds, 1 min of rest between rounds):
      • 3 Strict Ring Muscle Ups
      • 6 Burpees
      • 9 Strict Ring Pull Ups
      • 12 Box Jumps @ 24″
        • Rd 1 = 1:26, Rd 2 = 1:29, Rd 3 = 1:53, Rd 4 = 2:36 (definitely was done after this round)

Friday 2/17:

  • Took Friday Off.  Needed the recovery day.

photo-feb-18-2-45-12-pm

Saturday 2/18:

  • 90+ Min Run at 5 Mile Park
    • Ran 10.2 Miles in 1:34:04 (9:14 avg. mile pace)
      • *goal was just to go out and run for 90+ mins, just working aerobic base*

Sunday 2/19:

  • Took Sunday Off, legs needed a little recovery from the mileage from the week and to be ready to hit the next week hard.

Looking to learn more about Obstacle Course Racing and hate reading to gain information (if you made it this far, chances are you like to read…)? Check out The Obstacle Order Podcast!  They have 104 episodes of great content on OCR and Spartan Racing.

Live in the Northern California Area and need a place to train OCR and Spartan?  NorCal Strength and Conditioning has two locations, Chico and Marysville.  Email me at matt@norcalsc.com for more details and information!

For more things Spartan, OCR, etc. make sure to “Like” Us on Facebook and “Subscribe” to the blog so you don’t miss anything (on the right side bar menu)!

Stay tuned next week for Week 5 of Programming here at NorCalSpartan.com!  Till then, make sure to Get Your Fitness On!

Week 2: NorCalSpartanTraining

This past week of training started off really well.  Wrapped up a few maxes from my Bulking Season (Offseason training) and was able to get in a few long runs in for my aerobic base phase work.  I have only been able to get in about 8-10 weeks of solid weight training in since the Off Season for OCR is short.  But, I was really happy with the #gainz that were earned. I hit 245# on Bench Press, barely missing 255# (haven’t done consistent bench in a few years, old PR was around 300#, but that was in my early to mid-twenties…)!  I was almost back to my full strength with deadlifting.  I hit 425# Deadlift (first time being consistent with deadlifts since Spring of 2016, old PR is 445#).

My work schedule got shifted a little bit this past week as I moved my coaching schedule in Marysville from Thursday to Tuesday.  Thursday has been my off day due to traveling out of town, but now it will be shifting to Tuesday.  As I came in to Friday I came down with a nasty cold, so I was unable to train Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…ugghhh!  But, here is what I was able to hit last week:

Monday 1/30:

  • Intermediate Class
    • Strength:
      • Max Bench Press- worked up to 245# and missed 255#
    • Secondary:
    • Conditioning (3 Rounds):
      • 400m Run
      • 30 Wall Balls (20#)
      • 10 V-Ups
        • *I didn’t focus on time for this workout, just moved at a quick tempo that I could maintain*

Tuesday 1/31:

  • Off Day (switched from Thursday due to work in Marysville), Still worked Mobility and CARs

shoulder-mobility

Wednesday 2/1:

  • 50+ Min Run at Bidwell 5 Mile
    • Ran 6.2 miles in 55:16 (8:53 avg. mile pace)
      • *goal was just to go out and run for 50 mins, just working aerobic base, terrain had mix of small hills and some muddy areas*
  • Intermediate Class:

bucket-carry

Thursday 2/2:

  • 55+ Min Run at Bidwell 5 Mile
    • Ran 5.8 Miles in 59:28
      • *goal was just to go out and run for 55 mins, just working aerobic base, terrain had mix of small hills and major muddy areas, it would go from light rain to heavy rain*
  • OCR Specific Workout:
    • Strength:
      • 3x150m Bucket Carry @ 75# *goal was not to put the bucket down on each carry*
      • 3xPlank Series-
    • Conditioning  (5 Rounds with 30 sec rest between rounds):
      • 10 Burpees
      • 5 Pull Ups
      • 30 Sec Static Hang in Hollow
        • each round was timed based off how long it took to do the burpees, pull ups, + static hang time
        • Rd 1 = 1:00, Rd 2 = 1:01, Rd 3 = :59, Rd 4 = :59, Rd 5 = :58
          • Barely hung on for the last static hang, was a tough workout

Looking to learn more about Obstacle Course Racing and hate reading to gain information (if you made it this far, chances are you like to read…)? Check out The Obstacle Order Podcast!  They have 102 episodes of great content on OCR and Spartan Racing.

Live in the Northern California Area and need a place to train OCR and Spartan?  NorCal Strength and Conditioning has two locations, Chico and Marysville.  Email me at matt@norcalsc.com for more details and information!

For more things Spartan, OCR, etc. make sure to “Like” Us on Facebook and “Subscribe” to the blog so you don’t miss anything (on the right side bar menu)!

Stay tuned next week for Week 3 of Programming here at NorCalSpartan.com!  Till then, make sure to Get Your Fitness On!

 

 

Spartan Race Schedule 2017

This year I decided to finally cough up the dough and buy the Spartan Elite Season Pass…It wasn’t a tough decision this year once I factored in how much I am racing this year compared to previous years.  Racing Elites (toughest Spartan division) depending on the distance of races costs between $150 – $250 per race!  So, it’s easy to see the cost savings at this point if you race more than 6+ times on the Elite Season Pass.

Spartan Season Pass

If you are a person that wants to save money (I am always looking for a bargain, too bad they don’t let you haggle…), you can’t go wrong with the season passes (They run from January – December, a calendar year).  I feel like the Trifecta pass is great place to start to give you a broad spectrum of what Spartan Race has to offer (you get access to each of their basic race offerings:  Sprint, Super, and Beast race).  And if you live in the California area, they have a lot of races coming up that are close by.

Here is my 2017 Spartan Season Line Up (I may add more races depending on how my body is feeling during the season and my budget is doing, traveling isn’t cheap for this sport!):

  1. March 18th Spartan Super Las Vegas (8-10 miles + 24-29 Obstacles)- Competitive Division (Elite was sold out, if a spot opens going to switch)
  2. March 19th Spartan Sprint Las Vegas (3-5 miles + 20-23 Obstacles)- Open Division (getting some extra practice in and running with a few friends for fun)
  3. April 1st Spartan Super San Jose (8-10 miles + 24-29 Obstacles)- Elite Division
  4. * May 6th Spartan Beast Montana* (12-14 miles + 30-35 Obstacles)- Elite Division (this is a big maybe, depending on funds available to travel super interested in going to this one, not registered)
  5. June 3rd Spartan Super Monterey (8-10 miles + 24-29 Obstacles)- Elite Division
  6. August 5th Spartan Ultra Beast Hawaii (26+ miles + 50+ Obstacles)- Elite Division (this is my milestone goal this year, never ran over 16.5 miles before ever!)
  7. September 30th Spartan Beast Tahoe  (14+ miles + 35+ Obstacles, this is the Spartan Race World Championships, typically longer and harder than other Beasts)
  8. *October 28th Spartan Beast SoCal* (12-14 miles + 30-35 Obstacles)- Elite Division (maybe, depending on funds available to travel and how well I’ve recovered from Tahoe Spartan World Championships, not registered)
  9. November 11th Spartan Super Sacramento (8-10 miles + 24-29 Obstacles)- Elite Division
  10. November 18th Spartan Sprint AT&T Park San Francisco (3-5 miles + 20-23 Obstacles)- Elite Division
  11. November 18th Spartan Sprint AT&T Park San Francisco (3-5 miles + 20-23 Obstacles)- Open Division (not registered but want to put a large NorCalSC team together for this one)

*This schedule may change or update as the season progresses.  There are a few other Spartan Races and other OCR Brand Names that I would love to check out (Tough Mudder has a few that I am very interested in checking out and possibly looking into OCR World Championships in Blue Mountain Canada).

Looking to learn more about Obstacle Course Racing and hate reading to gain information? Check out The Obstacle Order Podcast!  They have 102 episodes of great content on OCR and Spartan Racing.

Live in the Northern California Area and need a place to train OCR and Spartan?  NorCal Strength and Conditioning has two locations, Chico and Marysville.  Email me at matt@norcalsc.com for more details and information!

For more things Spartan, OCR, etc. make sure to “Like” Us on Facebook and “Subscribe” to the blog so you don’t miss anything (on the right side bar menu)!

Stay tuned this weekend for my first week of programming and training here at NorCalSpartan.com!  Till then, make sure to Get Your Fitness On!

 

NorCalSpartan 2017 and What to Expect Pt. 1!

It’s the end of January of 2017, and it’s time to dust off the NorCalSpartan blog and prepare for this upcoming racing season!  In the past year I was testing this platform out to spread the word about one of the world’s quickest growing sports, Obstacle Course Racing (OCR).  I didn’t know how I could contribute to the sport of OCR (let alone know I could contribute at all…), so I decided to test some ideas out (experiment on myself and others that were willing…) and post about various things I have learned throughout my short career as an amateur OCR and Spartan Race athlete.

z-wall-spartan-raceIn 2016 I posted sample workouts, mobility exercises, and tried to generate discussion and application on How to train for Spartan and OCR races (just scroll through the past posts to see some great free content on each of those things).  My initial intent was not to focus on me but to help the beginning and intermediate folks who were trying to get better at the sport.  I saw there was a huge need for it when I initially went out to seek the best ways to train and learn about OCR for myself and saw there wasn’t very many resources for training for those levels (I knew I was not ready at least running volume wise for the advanced content that was currently out there).  I quickly realized that it was going to be a huge time commitment to come up with great content that would/could have an impact for these level of athletes (at the time of starting the blog I already had many commitments that I was/still am passionate about so this blog went on the back burner till I figured out how I would like to use it).

So, I am going to switch gears with the blog and use it as a tool for tracking my progress this year with training, racing, experimenting, learning from the experts, and my thoughts on anything OCR related.  I am also using this blog to hold myself accountable for going after my milestone goal this year, completing the Spartan Ultra Beast in Hawaii (my previous goal from last year was breaking 4 hours in the Spartan Beast at the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe, which I did complete).  My hope that is through this process of tracking, experimenting, racing, and coaching that I will be able to inspire and help others with their own OCR journey (if not, then I will still have a great accountability tool and history of how I did in 2017…).

at-squaw-valley-for-spartan-race-world-championships If you are still reading right now, you care enough about the sport or maybe a little bit about me that it may be worth your while to “Subscribe” to the blog so you can follow along with me on this epic journey to awesomeness!  Here is a little background story on me and how I got involved in OCR (maybe it will give you another reason why you should choose to follow me on this journey):

In 2013-2014 I had already heard about Tough Mudder and vaguely heard the name Spartan Race thrown around a time or two (we had a few clients at the gym I coach that kept raving about them and talking about the freezing cold water, electrocution, mud pits, over 10 mile runs, etc. they all had to offer).  I had already experienced a few local 5k Mud Runs in that time frame and did have a blast doing them (they didn’t have the shock factors I listed above or cost very much to participate…).  But, it was never enough to pull or hook me in to try out the name brands of OCR.  It just seemed so ridiculous to spend an absurd amount of money ($100-$200+ per event) to run a distance race that required you to get filthy, maybe freeze your ass off, possibly get shocked and/or complete a bunch of other miserable tasks along the way that would be painful at best.

Little did I know that this was all about to change…I finally got some inspiration to try out my first Spartan Race in 2015 after hearing a podcast by The Obstacle Order that randomly popped into my newsfeed on Facebook by one of my friends, Elijah Markstrom. Elijah was one of the hosts on the podcast who I previously ran and coached Track and Field with at California State University Chico from 2005-2008.  I was very intrigued on what they (Elijah and his Co-Host Philip Levi) had to say about the sport of OCR,and given that I trusted what he (Elijah) had to say in the past, I decided to reach out to him about how we could get a training program started at the gym I coached at, NorCal Strength and Conditioning. At the time we had several folks asking about training in the gym to prep for races and/or wanting to try some of the races out.  Elijah was excited to help us out at NorCal and even had me on the podcast as a guest to talk about exactly that.  You can listen to it here: How to build an OCR program at a Strength and Conditioning facility.

the-obstacle-order-podcast-team

After completing the episode with The Obstacle Order and doing research on the current training philosophies and methodologies out there (I was surprised there wasn’t much out there in 2015 for content, but it is definitely changing and growing rapidly as we head into 2017) at the time and I felt that I had enough information and a general idea of how to prepare our very own athletes at NorCalSC (most of them being at the beginning and intermediate levels) to do their first Spartan Race.  We went to the Spartan Race website and looked over the race schedule.  We picked the AT&T Park Stadium Sprint Race in San Francisco as our first one (thank god we did, the ones that followed were a much different experience and was not a good representation of what Spartan and OCR was all about…more on that in the future…).  Stay tuned for a follow up post in the next week or so starting right off where we left here.  Later on this week I will be posting last week’s training regime for me (1st week of OCR specific training and Base building for running) and how you can tailor a lot of it for your very own training purposes!  Till then check out some of last year’s posts and, Get Your Fitness On!

2015-att-spartan-stadium-sprint