Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Long slow cardio in combat conditioning - is it really necessary for better endurance?

By Sabina Skala

A couple of weeks ago I had a great pleasure to be interviewed by Carl Lanore for Super Human Radio http://superhumanradio.com/shr-1005-arthur-jones-metabolic-conditioning-plus-building-the-heart-for-greater-output.html)  You can get this podcast on I-Tunes, as well as other great interviews with Carl's guests - good news is - the podcasts are FREE! Super Human Radio is a great source of information for everyone looking to achieve physical and mental excellence. Carl is an extremely knowledgeable host and I always learn something new listening to him and his guests.

One of the topics of our discussion was how the heart adapts to given stimulus and what training forces the most beneficial changes in the cardiac muscle.
As you are aware there has been a big hype around interval training, short, intense sessions that were supposed to improve your cardio much better then long slow, so called road work type of training. Not only they promise you that your heart will get better and stronger, also that you can have it at a fraction of time you would need to spend doing your 45- 90 min runs, etc. Why train for 1 hour if you can have it all in 20 mins or less?

Unfortunately, those who advocate this type of training, have probably done none or not much research. Yes - short intense training causes changes in the cardiac muscle. It caues thickening of the cardiac walls, which results in the heart being stronger able to pump more blood with a single beat. This increases the cardiac output and stroke volume, also lowers the resting heart rate. Your heart becomes more efficient and pumps more blood into the muscles with a single beat.
The problem with this approach is, that if you focus on improving your cardiovascular efficiency using this type of training only - the thickening of the heart walls may decrease the left ventricle cavity, which means that your heart will not be able to fill with as much blood as it could.

Long slow cardio always had a place in old school training. If you look at any movies about boxers, mma fighters, etc - at some point in the movie the guys always go for a run. There is a reason for that. Most of you are familiar with the term - athletes heart. It is usually used in relation to long distance endurance ahtletes. Endurance athletes have bigger heart than average person. It is because during long slow cardiovascular activities (run, cycle etc) the heart has got a lot of time to pump more blood through the ventricles. If you think about a big baloon constantly filled with water, eventually the walls of the baloon will streatch. The same happens to the heart - with a large amount of blood filling the heart constantly and being  pumped out, the left ventricle eventually enlarges. This adaptation makes the heart more efficient as it can pump more blood with a single beat which results in greater cardiac output, stroke volume and lower RHR.
Long slow cardio also helps to improve vascularity and builds little capilaries around the muscles, which then serve as a pathway for delivering all the nutrients and removal of waste products. The better muscle vascularity the quicker they can repair and recover.

                                        Athletes heart - with enlarged left ventricular cavity

If you focus solely on short intense intervals your heart will not have enough time to fully fill with blood, therefore the walls will never have a chance to streatch. Long slow cardio (for combat sports  45-60 mins of cardio activity HR between 130bpm - 150bpm) is also superior to short intense training in terms of building vascular network.

Summarising - both short intense intervals and long slow cardio should be included in a training program of most combat athletes. The frequency and propotions depend on athletes experience, recovery, frequency and phase of training and of course the type of sport they involved in. The frequency of long and slow cardio should be greater for beginners. For advanced athletes (depending on the combat discipline) 2-3 sessions per week of 45 - 60 mins are enough.

Please bear in mind that long slow cardio does not necessary mean run, it can be a light sparring session, technical drills, etc as long as your heart rate stays between 130 - 150 bpm for the duration of the session. If you wish more detailed information - refer to the Super Human Radio (as per the link above).

Coming back to the Super Human interview - before our talk, Carl has emailed me about some research he came across. The research elucidates the feedback loop that protects the heart that starts to send signals to the brain, which cause people to " back off". It causes pulmonary changes that "exhaust" the person even though they may have been able to push harder. I tried to find that research online, with not much success yet. However I remembered I came across something similar in one of the books I read. It is Joel Jamieson Ultimate MMA Conditioning. He mentions briefly about so called Central Governor system. The theory of the CG system explains that the brain regulates the cardiac output by regulating the mass of skeletal muscles that can be activated during maximal exercise. In other words it is the heart first that is at the risk of damage not the skeletal muscles therefore the CG limits the neural recruitment of the muscle fibers to protect the heart.
This is a very interesting theory, which I have been investigating further (this will most likely be my next blog post). Here are some of the articles I came accross. Check them out - they express different opinions: - some support, some are against the existence of CGS.

Article 1 HERE
Aticle 2 HERE

Article 3 HERE 

Have a good read


Friday, 20 July 2012

Wild Physique Unleashed: Brooks Kubik Dino Mind Part 2

By Coach Cj Swaby

Brooks Kubik & Dino Dumbell Training

Less than two weeks to go now. This week, training consisted of deadliest, power cleans, sprints, log lifts, and getting set for some car/ truck harness pulls at the weekend.

 Amongst all this  I managed to digest the second part of the interview with the legend, Brooks Kubik on cultivating Peak Mental State.  Check it out.

BK:.... I was very confidant that I would catch up to them on my second attempt, and that I would win the championship on my third attempt. (That’s the success habit and how it works for you.)

I sat there in-between my attempts, ignoring the others in the warm-up room and concentrating on each of my attempts. I visualized the winning lift over and over.

In the end, it happened just as I visualized it. The guys ahead of me missed their second and third attempts, and I made mine. I ended up winning by a good margin, setting a new National meet record, and hitting a new PR – and it felt light!

That was perhaps the best memory from my lifting days. It was one of those moments when everything clicked for me. My mind and body were in perfect synch.

 Cj: Your landmark book Dinosaur Training, had dedicated chapters to mental performance and cultivating the correct habits for a Dino (and if you haven't read this book and you’re serious about practical, no-BS strength training, you need to). Which other books would you recommend to help enhance peak mental performance for training?

BK:  From other writers, I like Peak Performance by Charles Garfield and Tommy Kono’s books, Weightlifting, Olympic Style and Championship Weightlifting. The latter is particularly good. Tommy Kono is a two-time Olympic gold medal winner and six-time World champion, and he’s written a book that deals with the mental aspects of weightlifting in great detail. How could you not want to read that book?

The Four-Minute Mile by Sir Roger Bannister is another good book about the mental side of sport. 

Really, what you need to do is study the lives of great athletes. You’ll find that the mental side of things is the common thread.

Bradley J. Steiner’s books and articles are great – but they’re hard to come by.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is a must read. So is anything and everything by O.S. Marden. I like one of his old books so much – it’s called An Iron Will, which is a great title – that I recorded it on CD.

Turning to my own books, I’ve covered the mental side of things in Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength and Development, and in Strength, Muscle and Power. 

Dinosaur Bodyweight Training has some extremely valuable information about how to develop your powers of concentration and how to fully integrate your mind and your body. The information works for anyone, and for any type of training. It’s not limited to bodyweight training.  

I’ve also branched out and gone beyond the “how to do it” books. In 2011 I wrote and published a huger (almost 500 page) biography of John Davis. John Davis was a poor African-American kid from Brooklyn. Never knew his father. Raised by his mother. Not much hope of ever amounting to anything at all. But he became the youngest World weightlifting champion in lifting history (after only two years of training!) – and went on to win a total of Six World championships and Two Olympic gold medals. He was undefeated in international competition from 1938 through 1953, and in his prime, he was the greatest weightlifter in the entire world.

I wrote a biography about John Davis – telling the story in dramatic narrative form, using a series of flashbacks over the final ten days of the champion’s life – because I wanted to give readers an in-depth perspective on the mind of a champion.

John Davis was so mentally strong that he would lie down on a cot backstage at the World or Olympic championships, and fall asleep. When it was his turn to lift, the coach would wake him up – and he’d stand up, yawn, and then TRANSFORM into an unbeatable lifting machine.

And then he’d go back to sleep until it was time to lift again.

The man was simply amazing – and EVERYONE who lifts weights should know his story. The more you know about the champions, the more likely the odds that you, too, will be a champion one day.

I’ve also written six novels. Five of them are part of a series covering weightlifting and bodybuilding in the United States from the late 1930’s onward. They’re historical novels, meaning that they take real people and real events and work in fictional characters to keep the story going.

I wrote the novels in part because it gives the reader a chance to see how men like John Grimek, Steve Stanko, John Davis, Tony Terlazzo and other old-time champions handled themselves in day to day living. They were all highly successful lifters, of course – but they were also highly successful in other aspects of their lives. They took that success habit I talk about and applied it every minute of the day.

I have the older characters, real and fictional, serve as mentors for the younger guys in the book – which, by the way, is the way it was. And the way it should be. So you see the young guys encountering seemingly insurmountable problems, and the older guys show them how to work through them – and then, later, you see the younger guys smashing through even more difficult obstacles on their own. The novel is the perfect platform to get this across.

I wrotre another novel that deals with mental and physical strength, but not in the setting of the Iron Game. It’s called Horatius, and it tells the story of the Roman warrior who, with two other soldiers, held a narrow bridge across the Tiber River against an army of 100,000 – and saved the city of Rome. It’s a true story, and a great example of the power of the human spirit.

You’ll note that I write about heroes and heroism – about champions and about championship performance. There’s a reason for that. To be the best you can possibly be, you need to flood your mind with positive images and positive thoughts. The right kind of reading is a great way to do that.

CS: Brooks, for you what are the key steps of developing an "Iron Mind"

BK: There are seven.

1. Learn to concentrate.

2. Learn to visualize.

3. Develop the success habit.

4. Cultivate a positive attitude. Be optimistic. Believe in yourself.

5. Study the topic of mind-power.

6. Study the lives of those who have achieved greatness. Look for the common threads. When you find them, apply them to your own life.

7. Finally, never give up. Don’t even think about it.

CS: Is there anything that I've missed out that you would like to say on the mind and body connection?

BK: Those were great questions and we’ve covered a lot of ground. The only thing to add is this – working to develop the mental side of things is the single best thing you can do to become a champion. The single best thing. The most important.

In other words, you need to do it.

CS: Thank you for your time Brooks. It was a pleasure to coach along side you at our London workshop, as you and your book inspired me all those years back to start lifting heavy. Do you have any up coming workshops or courses that people may be interested in?

BK: I don’t have anything scheduled at the moment because I’ve been busy working on a new book. But folks should check the Dinosaur Training Blog at http://www.dinosaurtraining.blogspot.com/ and also go to my website at www.brookskubik.com and sign up for my daily emails. That will give them plenty of regular tips and updates, and let them know about upcoming workshops and seminars. (I’m also on Facebook, and that’s another way to stay up to date.)

But here’s a thought. Last week I did an audio seminar with Carl Lanore of SuperHuman Radio where I covered the mental aspects of strength training in detail for 60 minutes. It turned out to be a terrific program – one of those peak performance things where everything flowed and it all tied together perfectly (which is hard to do in a live program).

The good news is, Carl recorded it – and he’s going to be offering it on CD. So if you missed the live show, you can catch it on CD.

I don’t think Carl has a sales page up yet, but go to www.superhumanradio.com and look for it – or shoot an email to me or to Carl Lanore and ask about the CD for “Dinosaur Mindpower: Seven Keys to Concentration.” 

I also did a four-week audio seminar on Dinosaur training. We were supposed to go for an hour each time, but always ran over, so it ended up being more like seven hours of material. The last session covered the mental side of things in detail. It’s a great resource, and if you missed the live program, you can find it right here:

CS: Awesome! Look forward to Coaching alongside with you soon.

BK: Thanks, Cj, and I look forward to it as well. It was great working with you, Mike Mahler and Sabina Skala – and the participants at the seminar were a great group of serious, hard-core coaches, trainers and athletes. It was an honor to be a part of it, and I’m looking forward to more seminars in the Future.

**If you missed part 1 of Wild Physique Unleashed: Dino Mind do check it out. Simply click HERE.***

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Crossfit Kettlebell Workshop

By Coach Cj Swaby

Pleased to announce that we will be running the Kettlebell Classic Level 1 and Kettlebell Odd Lifts Level 3 at Crossfit Bold London in August and September.  Get a better understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it when it comes to Kettlebell training. If you want to radically improve your technique and learn some corrective drills to iron out any creases in your form then these workshops are a must for you.

You will also receive an ebook  manual, video tutorials, plus the option to attend the same workshop again for free. Why? Because we want to make sure that your ability to execute the exercises is second to none and that you are completely satisfied.

You can check out the dates in the link below to book now.


See you there.

Yours in strength


Wild Physique Unleashed: Brooks Kubik Dino Mind

By Coach Cj Swaby

Two weeks out. July 29th at East Grinstead I step into the arena and compete at Bigger, Faster, Stronger Competition hosted by Andy "Iron Mac" McKenzie and The Training Lab.

A head of the competition I was privileged  to be part of a team running a secret training camp for Bath RUFC. ( Mark Benett of PDS Coach was responsible for organising). Preparation has gone well so far. For me preparation also includes both my recovery and regeneration,  plus my peak state mental  ( aka PMS - don't laugh!) performance strategy.

 There are certain techniques that I use which have served me well. I perform them each time I lift. Every time. Consistent perfect practice is essential. Watch the video of the camp below and you will see what I mean.

I decided to get the insight from a friend and a legend of the iron game, Brooks Kubik. He was happy to share his thoughts. Below is the first part of the interview (as it ended up being quite epic). Wise words and practical steps from a legend. Pay attention.

CS: Hi Brooks, it was great to have you over in London for the Dinosaur Training and Beyond Workshop. Not only did you cover a unique take on heavy dumbbell training, but you also explored the mental side of the Iron Game.  In your opinion what are the key attributes a Dino should be developing to optimize the mental side of their training and  performance?

BK: There are several, but the ability concentrate – to train or compete with total focus -- is critical. Most people have lost the ability to concentrate because the modern world has too many distractions. When you’re constantly multi-tasking, you are literally teaching yourself – or training yourself -- to be unfocused. So I always begin by teaching someone how to concentrate. How to focus. How to do one thing at a time. How to stop the noise.

CS: When I'm training or in competition I use a combination of breathing, visualization and NLP anchoring techniques. What specific techniques do you use?

BK: I use different types of breathing and breath control – concentration and focus – visualization – power talking and auto suggestion – anchoring techniques -- and energy channeling techniques. I’m always trying to link my mind and my body more and more closely. Anything that helps is another arrow in your quiver.

CS: In the western world, there seems to be a dichotomy between mind and body. As if they are separate. Where it could be argued that the mind is simply a manifestation of the brain, which is an integral part of the whole body. What is your view on this? And how important is the mind and body integration for Dino training, and high performing athletes?

BK: Western science (and Western philosophy) has been getting this wrong for several thousand years. When Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” he elevated the mind to a position of supremacy over the body – and separated (or unlinked) them. In fact, the body, mind and spirit are all one – they’re inseparable – and they work together.

Ideally, when you train your body you train your mind (and your brain and your nervous system) at the same time. When you train your mind (for example, when you practice meditation, concentration and visualization drills), you train your brain and your nervous system – and your body, as well.

Recent research studies have shown that daily meditation increases the number and size of your nerve fibers in certain areas of the brain. Think about it. That’s huge. The mere act of practicing focused and attentive thinking causes physical changes in the brain. Objectively measurable physical changes – caused by thinking!

Carry it one step further. Instead of meditation, practice focused concentration when you train. Imagine the physical changes that would result (and do result) from that!

There is NOTHING on earth – no drug, no steroid, no supplement – that can do what your mind can do. Training your mind is one of the most important keys to success in any endeavor.

CS: How did you personally become interested in the mental aspect of training? And who was your biggest influence?

BK: I grew up reading books and articles by a man named Bradley J. Steiner. He was a physical culture teacher and a martial arts instructor. He wrote for Peary Rader’s old IronMan magazine, for Strength and Health and for Muscular Development. There was a time when he was probably the most widely read and most popular physical culture author on the planet. He was certainly my favorite writer.

Anyhow, Steiner was adamant that the mental aspects of strength training and muscle building were far more important than the physical side of things. I assume that came from his martial arts background.

Anyhow, Steiner got me interested in the mental side of physical culture. Later, I went to college and studied philosophy, and read as much as I could about the mind-body connection.

CS: How has you approach to mental mastery in the Iron game carried over to other aspects of your life?

BK: It’s all the same. You can’t separate the mental self that goes to the gym from the mental self that lives in the every-day world. To succeed in the gym, you need to consciously cultivate a success-oriented mentality. You can’t do that three days a week for an hour a day at the gym. It needs to become part of your life. You need to do it 24/7.

When you do, you can accomplish amazing things – or rather, you can accomplish things that other people might think are amazing but which to you are simply the reflection of that super-charged success mentality.

It makes the physical training so much more important. You go the gym, you train, and you grow stronger. As you grow stronger, you grow more confident. You develop what I call the success habit. And that makes you stronger and more capable in all other aspects of your life: school, work, career, romantic relationships, marriage, raising children, helping other people, etc. The work you do in the gym becomes endlessly rewarding.  If people understood this, everyone would train!

CS: I know you've set a few national records among other great achievements in your life. What is the most memorable moment for you when you had to embody all the mental performance you had practiced, and go deep within yourself to pull it out of the bag to triumph over a daunting challenge?

BK: I won five National championships in the bench press, and set a dozen National, American and even World age-group records in drug-free powerlifting contests. These were all memorable moments for me. The most memorable of them were winning my first National bench press championship (which I recount in Dinosaur Training) – setting my first American record in the bench press – setting my first World record in the bench press – and winning my fifth National championship in the bench press. These were all peak performance moments for me.

My final National championship was a battle. The weights felt heavy in the warm-up room, so I lowered my opening attempt. That meant that half a dozen other guys opened with higher weights. So I was far behind after the first lift.

I knew that most guys go into competition over-trained, and then they start to high. Some of them don’t make their opener. At least 50% of them miss their second attempt, and almost everyone misses his third attempt. 

I had been training intelligently, and I was in good condition for heavy lifting. I wasn’t over-trained, and I wasn’t stale. And because I had started light, I was very confident of going three for three. So even though I started out behind the others..

[End Part 1]

Now I know what you are thinking, and you will just have to wait until later this week for part 2. Its well worth the wait. Brooks did a audio course on Super Human Radio about unleashing your inner mind and untapped potential. He called it the 7 Keys to concentration. If you want to find out more, you click on link below. 


With two weeks to go, I know the preparation will pay off and I hope that we will be able make a difference to the kids at the African Village School and hit our target so that they can get get food for the children.  If you haven't donated yet and would like to click HERE now.

Yours in strength

Coach Cj Swaby