Spring is the season to shed winter weight; here are some tips for how to fight fat like an animal!
Here are some tips for shedding winter-weight like an animal.
By Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology
Head Coach, HardCore Training Center
Probably not a good idea to tell our neighboring wildlife that the average adult human typically gains weight in the winter. Although this is totally “normal”, what we don’t want to become normal is for those excess fat pounds to take up residence on our bodies until next winter. And the winter after that, and then by the time we're octogenarians, we’ve got 60 years of “normal” winter-weight stuck to our bodies like Moab-mud on a mountain bike tire! Perhaps we can learn something from our furry friends who lose weight every winter.
As you’re probably well aware, cougars frequently abandon their high-mountain hideouts during the frigid deep-snow months and seek a warmer “bed” and “easier” calories in the valleys below. i.e. our neighborhoods! Talk about a tough way to make a living and provide for their babies, these uber athletic felines are in a constant struggle to eat enough protein to stay warm, and literally have to fight for every meal. Elk on the other hand spend most of their wakeful hours grazing, in an effort to limit their weight loss to 20% of body mass during the sub-freezing months. And bears seem to have it all figured out: they simply take a nap for 5 months, cut their metabolic rate in half, breath once every 45 seconds, reduce their heart rate to 15 beats/min, and yet they still lose up to 30% of their pre-winter weight!
So should we try to be more like our animal brethren to lose weight before the hot skin-exposed months of summer? Yes; and no. Here are some tips for shedding winter-weight like an animal.
Be like the cougar and “fight” for every meal. There are few things in life more satisfying than the feeling of consuming a delicious meal after experiencing the uniquely primal hunger concomitant to a long hard workout or physical labor. Try to earn your meals by engaging in vigorous physical activity every day. For cardio, emphasize total-body activities like xc skiing and hiking/running with poles which teach the vast majority of the bodies musculature to rely on fat for energy. And the same holds true for indoor training: avoid isolating muscle groups, and focus on multidimensional total-body movements that raise your metabolic rate and build transferable strength and power.
Keep in mind that not all “gym-work” is the same. What works best for bodybuilders and powerlifters is not necessarily optimal for incinerating fat, and improving performance in everyday life and sports. I’m a big believer in low-risk dynamic exercises that maximize the “liquidity”—fitness on tap 24/7/365—and transferability of the adaptations conferred by an intelligent training regime. Adding two to three hours per week of indoor HardCore physical training is far more valuable—for weight loss and overall health—than adding the same amount of outdoor cardio. So make time and “fight” for fitness and fat-loss every day!
Cougars don’t eat “greens” which works for them, but not so well for us. Although they inadvertently consume and “plant" lots of seeds— by feasting on animals that eat seeds—their reliance on protein for energy restricts them to a diet that’s primarily red meat, earning them their badass reputation as hypercarnivores. While I’m not averse to indulging in an occasional elk burger, the bulk of my diet is vegetables, fruits, and protein in the form of non-farmed fish, organic eggs and chicken breasts. This works for me and I’ve been able to stay within 5 pounds of my high-school “fighting weight”—155 lbs-- for the past 4 decades. But everyone has different dietary preferences and ultimately you have to find what works for you to stay fueled, but not full of calorically-dense foods. Greens are good!
Bears den-up and go into a REM rich deep-doze for nearly half the year. Other than an occasional pawful of snow, the physiologically anomalous bruins consume virtually no water or food-- and don’t need a “john"—all winter long. Although humans are not hard-wired to hibernate, we do require SLEEP every night. And remember, you don’t sleep when you’re dead…You’re dead when you’re dead! Quality sleep is what makes us feel most alive the next day…And feeling most alive, productive, and happy/loving is a beautiful thing, and why we’re here. We make appointments for what’s important: workouts, haircuts, car maintenance. Why not make an 8 hour appointment with your pillow so you can maximize recovery from the days efforts, and minimize the "I’m starving all day” hunger-hormones (ghrelin and leptin) associated with sleep-deprivation?
Depriving yourself of food and water for multiple months—with no “relief"-- is not only a very bad idea, but it will kill you. Try to drink copious quantities of fluid—coffee, water, green tea, not necessarily in that order-- every day to keep your 37 trillion cells hydrated and happy. Although intermittent fasting can be an effective solution for shedding excess fat, just make sure you’re not depriving your body of the nutrients and fuel it needs to perform at a high level. It’s better to be strong, feisty, and a little fat; than weak, sluggish and skinny.
Elk are herbivores capable of consuming diverse diets of grasses, forbs--any broad-leaved herbaceous plant that is not a grass-- and shrubs (they love tips of branches which comprise the current year’s growth and offer the most nutrients). Aside from the psychological ramifications of being hangry/hungry-angry all the time, most humans wouldn’t last very long on the “elk-diet.” But that doesn’t mean eating lots of high fiber nutrient rich vegetation is bad for you. On the contrary, greens—and all colored fruits and veggies-- should be an integral part of every meal. Eat your veggies :)
Grazing all day works for elk because they need to consume a LOT of food to get the calories they need to survive. Unfortunately eating all day—I’m sure we’ve all been there/done that--and trying to lose weight, doesn’t work so well for humans. I think most of us feel and function best when we eat light, low calorie, nutrient-dense meals spread throughout the day. Although there's nothing inherently wrong with skipping meals—especially breakfast— and staying in a fasted/fat-burning state longer, try to avoid “starving yourself” into an overindulgent feeding frenzy. Before workouts, I recommend not eating for at least several hours to encourage your body to burn fat preferentially.
As with everything, you have to find what works for you and stick to it. If you want your body to change, you have to make changes in your diet and exercise regime, and be consistent.
We are, and become, what we repeatedly do…Feel free to reach out if you need help maximizing the effectiveness of your training regime, or fighting fat like an animal :) Have a great spring!
HardCore Training Center
200 First Ave N | Ketchum
208.720.1829 | hardcoretrainingcenter.com
Unless you "open-carry" as a Stripper, MMA fighter, or summertime Nordic Skier, being in concealed possession of what many regard as the holy grail of fitness—the 6 pack-- is highly overrated. Not all that glitters is gold when it comes to the human body. What is golden—at least in this lifetime--is overall FITNESS and ATHLETICISM. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ogled super ripped looking athletes at the starting line of a race thinking they were the ones to beat, only to discover they were nowhere to be found after the first few minutes in the Pain Cave. Being lean will only get you so far. No matter what your current weight is, stay focussed on the never-ending process of getting fit and eating healthy, and your body will organically find its sustainable set point for fat mass.
If you’re currently not ripped or well north of your ideal weight—we’ve all been there or are there now— there’s lots of reason why and plenty of company: more than 2/3 of adults are obese or overweight, which means roughly 1/3 of their body mass is fat. Even guys at “normal” weight—meaning they have a body-mass index lower than 25—are at 23% body fat (women add 7% for your gender-specific fat) which leaves their abdominal muscles bunkered down below a sizable layer of subcutaneous adiposity. Your typical lean/fit looking guy at the gym is sporting 12-16% body fat, and although he can’t do laundry on his abdominal wall, he has the consolation of knowing he’s in the top 5% of all American men!
To go from "normal-fit" looking to a reptilian-like midriff--with low-single-digit body fat--most humans still need to lose 15 to 30 pounds; not all of which will be fat. And losing precious muscle, especially for older adults, is never a good idea! A recent study published in the Clinical Interventions in Aging journal revealed: “Sarcopenia (muscle loss) has been linked to global cognitive impairment and dysfunction in specific cognitive skills including memory and executive functions.” Dr Doug Brown, from the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'This study suggests people struggling with muscle loss due to aging are more likely to experience some impairment to their brain and thinking abilities. Use it wisely or lose it quickly; muscle mass matters!!!
Bottom line: trying to “get ripped”—especially when you’re pushing 5+ decades—is a LOT of physical work, a LOT of time spent counting calories and being hungry,
and a LOT of luck having a genetically gifted metabolic set-point that makes it possible to bring a knife to the gun-fight with your body’s 24/7/365 Navy Seal Response Team dedicated to defending fatty tissue. If that’s your circus, then by all means bring out the monkey’s because there’s nothing WRONG with being ripped! Just make sure you still have ample energy leftover to take care of what’s under the hood: aggrandizing bone-density, muscle-mass, cardiovascular fitness, balance, and coordination are paramount to staying as young as possible, for as long as possible. In fact, the results of a recent study demonstrated that overall fitness may be just as important as fat-mass when it comes to living a long and productive life:
“Overweight or obese individuals who are fit tend to have morbidity rates that are at least as low, and in some cases lower, than normal weight individuals who are unfit.”
So if you’ve never had a six pack, or haven’t been at your “goal-weight” in a long time, you might consider shifting your focus from what you can see--and/or numbers on a scale—to finding a sustainable total-body fitness practice that you enjoy. Trying to make yourself lean is like trying to make yourself happy. Too much emphasis on the outcome and your'e probably going to wind up un-lean, unfit, and underwhelmed with satisfaction. So rather than stressing yourself out about getting ripped and losing weight, redirect your energy toward the PROCESS of becoming FIT for your LIFE and your favorite activities.
Ideally, 2-3x/week you should escort your most valuable physical possession—your BODY-- to a "fitness party"
where all the right things happen (high muscle-tension resistance training, high-intensity intervals, balance, mobility & 3-dimensional coordination) while you fraternize and “build community” with your peers. Consistent fitness partygoers are handsomely rewarded with younger and leaner bodies that feel and function better. Although research increasingly suggests that excess weight alone may not necessarily lead to disease or early death, you’re still more likely to develop other metabolic risk factors that contribute to chronic disease if you’re overweight.
So do the best you can with consuming a healthy diet, and feel free to reach out if you need help finding a Fitness Party and like-minded Tribe to optimize your body for your Life and activities. Have a great August :)
Don’t forget your poles!
How to add more fun and fitness to your hike/run.
By Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology
Head Coach, HardCore Training Center
Nothing but love for the hundreds of miles, and thousands of vertical feet of pristine single-track trails right here in our backyard... But if you’re looking to spice up your relationship with Idaho dirt, try adding some upper-body action to your favorite hiking and running jaunts. Aside from the obvious fun factor once you get the hang of it, using poles on a hike/run can easily rack up thousands of multi-dimensional crunches, while maintaining a burn rate of 10-20 kcals/minute: all good if you’re looking to trim and tone the core! And instead of being limited by a hornets nest of pain in your lower extremities, your red-line with poles is dictated more by the size of your engine/cardiovascular system. How do you get a Buggati sized engine squeezed into a Lamborghini body like an elite Nordic Skier? The short answer is spend more time aerobically conditioning all of your muscles; not just your legs! Bottom line:
hiking/running with poles will give your body the love it needs to take your fitness level to new places.
When I first put boots (Sorel’s, still have ‘em!) on the frozen ground in Ketchum 30 years ago the locals had a saying: “You move here for the winter's, but stay for the summer’s.” This fell on completely deaf ears because at the time I was so head-over-heels in love with Nordic skiing, I could care less about anything that didn’t involve all four limbs working in unison to propel my skinny skis across slippery corduroy. But sure enough, summer came and I found myself super stoked on mountain biking, hiking and running, BUT, seriously missing the systemic endorphin rush of the quadrupedal Pain Cave. I tried roller-skiing, but much to my chagrin small rubber wheels and rock laden asphalt proved to be sketchy substitutes for skis and snow.
Thankfully necessity is the mother of invention, so I turned my pathetic pining for a 4-limb-drive summer sport into a passion for doing almost everything outdoors with carbon-fiber sticks. Anything with dirt on it was fair game for my new found obsession with hiking and running with poles. Whether I was V1 groveling up the stout 40% grade of Baldy’s Exhibition run, or 5-count double-pole running along any of the myriad single-track trails that ribbon 5B real estate, there were feelings: Lots of them. And the feelings were mutual. I loved hiking/running with poles; and hiking/running with poles loved me!
Being in love was easy. But being the first to go-quadruped or go-home drew some curious ogles from the die-hard legs-only camp. I strongly suspect that Friedrich Nietzsche was referring to me when he wrote: "And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Not that I cared if anyone else wanted to “dance”, but using poles to win my first (Baldy Hill Climb, 36:30, circa ’92) of 16 Baldy hike/run races, definitely cranked up the volume on the music of four-limbed locomotion. Nowadays, hiking with poles is more the rule than the exception; which is ALL GOOD!!!
So here are my recommendations for garnering more joy and fitness rewards from your coveted hike/run time.
From the moment you strap poles to your hands they become an integral part of your anatomy. And with all due respect for your priceless body, I recommend getting the lightest carbon-fiber Nordic ski poles you can afford. You don’t want to feel like you’re “carrying” poles. Instead, your hands should fit comfortably in the grips—with no need to hold on—and the poles should feel like they weigh nothing. I use Swix Triac poles with interchangeable baskets. Duct-taping 6” above the basket protects the shaft from minor dings, but you still need to be careful. Although I’ve used skate-ski length poles successfully in many uphill races, I now prefer shorter poles (several inches under chin) and the higher tempo they afford.
Using poles alternately as you hike uphill—not unlike diagonal-stride Nordic skiing—is one of the best low-impact, light muscle-tension aerobic workouts you can do. This technique is perfect for happily ascending a 5-20% grade like the sweet trail to Pioneer Cabin. Try to avoid letting your hands get too far in front of your body on the upswing.
Don’t confuse this easy “jog" with its more aggressive cousin “bounding.” Unless you’re super fit and young, I don’t think the rewards of bounding are worth the risk of twanging a tendon or skewering soft tissue. So I prefer a very light, low-impact jog coupled with alternate-poling, which works perfectly on wide-trails/dirt roads with a steady 4-10% grade.
Planting both poles at the same time and pulling yourself ahead of them is ideally suited for steep terrain. On moderately steep pitches (20-30%) I like to plant my poles every 3rd or 5th step. The pole plant should occur at the same time as the forward foot hits the ground. Avoid having your baskets drift ahead of your hands. i.e. keep your poles angled backwards at all times. For super steep pitches (35-45%) try double-poling every time your right—or left—foot hits the ground. Think of this as the dry-land version of V1 skate-ski technique. For high-intensity fartlek intervals try jumping onto the poling side leg!
Planting both poles at the same time (or slightly syncopated) while running is extremely challenging, but highly rewarding. Depending on the grade, I will plant my poles every 3rd, 5th, or 7th stride. One of my favorite “Happy Hour” workouts is double-pole running up the River Run service road to the top of Baldy. Try not to stop! When you get tired, simply run in place and fall gently forward on your poles until your body reboots. My other favorite sub-60 minute jog to the top is on the 12% average grade Bald Mountain Trail; or as my wife likes to call it, the Baldy Treadmill :)
So there you have it! Don’t forget your poles, and keep in mind that learning anything new necessitates patience, persistence, and a clear understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. To avoid practicing inefficient or faulty motor patterns which can lead to overuse injuries, it’s always a good idea—particularly when it comes to learning high-repetition activities--to get a second set of seasoned eyes on your technique early on. Have a great summer, and feel free to reach out if you need help making your priceless body better, stronger, and happier.
Jack Bariteau — 68 years old
In spring 2016, while walking along the Big Wood, the path gave way and I found myself tumbling head over heels into the muddy debris of the swollen and speedy river. Physical conditioning with Mr. Nurge these last few years helped me survive being violently swept to the opposite shore, nearly 1,000 feet from where I went into the river. I was a little battered and bruised, but that successful swim across the Big Wood can be attributed to having attained a high level of physical strength—after several years of ill health—from a workout I do twice a week with one of the best and most dedicated fitness trainers anywhere. Being physically and mentally strong and prepared, even now at the young age of 68, is far better than the alternative. The HardCore workouts with like- minded individuals are a necessity. You will not ever regret the longevity and sense of physical well-being they provide.
5 Things you can do now to improve the liquidity and transferability of your fitness portfolio
By Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology, Head Coach, HardCore Training Center, Regenerative Exercise for Ageless Living
You won!!! Can you imagine acing the Powerball and receiving a payout of $86,400 per day? That’s a cool 31.5 million per year which is a life-changing amount of cash. Celebrations and job resignation aside, what’s the most important thing any reasonable person with a modicum of intelligence should do?? You got it; hire the most experienced, trustworthy, top-shelf financial planner on the planet. What a shame it would be to get so lucky, have so much, and then squander it because it wasn’t managed properly.
Here comes the fun part…What’s more valuable than money? Love. Happiness. LIFE!!! And you can’t live, love, and be happy without a BODY. From the moment you were born, you were gifted an unthinkably complex piece of physiological machinery that provides you with—here it comes: 86,400 seconds of life per day. By the time you’re 60 your net-life-worth is close to 2 billion seconds. What a shame it would be to get so lucky, have so much, and then squander it because it wasn’t managed properly.
There is nothing more valuable than the health and well-being of your body. Because without it, there is NOTHING.
Sandra Caulkins — 54 years old
It was exactly one year ago that I decided to invest in my well-being, as I was feeling the effects of aging and the procrastination had
to end. I needed something to motivate me
and I didn’t want it to be an injury. From
the moment I set foot inside the HardCore Training Center, Bill and Naty’s positive energy and enthusiasm to share their knowledge and expertise with me has enhanced my life immensely. I’ve learned that being physically stronger improves my life and I actually enjoy the challenges they put in front of me. HardCore has given me the strength and con dence to push myself harder in my other activities.
The fact that you're reading this indicates that you currently have EVERYTHING. You’re alive, and have an infinitely valuable chunk of physical assets that need to be properly managed. As a fitness portfolio manager for the past 35 years, I would strongly advise you to make some long-term investments in your skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular systems. Going forward in life—especially the second half—you will need sturdy bones, dense muscles, and a well vascularized heart with an exercise-induced hypertrophied left ventricle. Failure to invest in the integrity of these systems now, increases the likelihood of catastrophic consequences--hip fractures, sarcopenia, and heart attacks/strokes—down the road.
So let’s assume you’re on a training program that properly loads and optimizes your bones, muscles, and heart for the long haul…Good-on-ya mate! But we’re living in the here-and-now, so you’ll want the vast majority of your fitness portfolio in short term investments that are liquid and transferable . Unless you’re bedridden, it’s not a matter of if you’ll ever need your fitness in an “emergency", it’s when…Whether it’s saving yourself from slipping on ice, falling off your Mtb, catching a ski edge, or quickly getting out of the way of a fast moving object, you'll want your ATM fitness machine flush with cash and good-to-go24/7/365. Aside from the reduced likelihood of getting injured, attending to the liquidity of your fitness portfolio will enable you to be more productive—and have more fun—every day, and more quickly recover from physical maladies and illnesses.
Not only is it paramount to be able to access your fitness quickly and easily--“Cash is King”-- it is equally imperative that your training-earned physiological assets mirror the complex demands of your life and activities.Whereas exercise is simply any activity requiring physical effort, TRAINING—at least HardCore style—involves specific movements, performed at specific speeds and tension levels, for designated durations, all of which are designed to maximize physiological improvements that are readily transferable to the lifestyle and activities of the ATHLETE. No need to fear the A-word. You want the A-word. If you are training for something physical-- irregardless of competency--you are, by definition, an ATHLETE. Because athletes are goal-oriented and practice purposeful physical activity, they tend to have lower rates of recidivism, longer health-spans, and a higher quality of life compared to their “exerciser” counterparts.
Bill Griffin — 52 years old
I feel reinvented by the program and it has expanded my physical capabilities exponentially. I’m amazed at the number of times climbing or mountain biking that I should have been hurt or laid up in the hospital and, instead, I walked away unscathed. The things we do in the hour
class have a direct correlation to many everyday actions unlike any sport or physical activity I have played. Whether it’s balance, coordination, stamina, agility, or overall athleticism, I have never experienced anything so perfectly designed and effective.
HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO MAXIMIZE THE LIQUIDITY AND TRANSFERABILITY OF YOUR FITNESS PORTFOLIO:
BE A GOALIE
Fall in love with your goals and the results will follow...If you’re going to take the time to exercise, and EVERYONE should, you may as well have some goals in mind so you can TRAIN your body to get better at meeting the incessant demands of YOUR LIFE and SPORTS. One of the most important concepts in exercise physiology is the SAID principle. An acronym for SPECIFIC ADAPTATIONS to IMPOSED DEMANDS. It simply means that when the human body is subjected to physical stress, it starts to make adaptions/improvements which enable it to get better at withstanding that specific form of “stress." So knowing why you are training, is just as meaningful as the training itself. Because if the training isn’t targeted, or done correctly, it isn’t going to be of much value to the end user/YOU :)
MOVE TO IMPROVE
Sue Engelmann — 58 years old
I honestly don’t know how I would get through my day without the energy and strength I get from HardCore Training. My workouts allow me to stay focused longer at work, and feel stronger when I’m out hiking and skiing. The two or three HardCore workouts per week are extremely effective, fun, and targeted to work every muscle group as well as keeping my bone density levels off the charts. Signing up means I show up, which is the bigger issue for me. When I feel strong and t, I am ready for whatever the day throws my way!
As you get older what you don’t move, won’t move. And unfortunately, we’ve observed that most people—left to their own devices-- don’t move much in their training... They sit and pull something; lay down and push something; stand and squat something; lie down and hold a “plank.” So if you just want to sit, stand, or lie down the rest of your life then your training is spot-on. But how can you expect your body to MOVE well—as in sports and activities-- if the majority of your training is spent NOT moving? How can you expect your body to be balanced, coordinated, and capable of producing force in all 3 planes of motion when you only train in one or two? Make sure your training program challenges your ability to move and exert force the way it was designed: up/down/forward/back, side-to-side, rotationally, unilaterally, and contralaterally. Planks, poses, pull-ups and push-ups do little to help you dance down the mountain on your alpine skis, float effortlessly uphill on your nordic boards, or snowshoe on slippery snow crystals. So if you want to have more fun this winter, try consistently performing multi-dimensional movements that mimic the way your body is required to move in your sports and activities.
WATCH YOUR SPEED
Training at the right speeds is critical to maximizing the utility of your fitness gains. Train all fast/low-tension and your body won’t have any impetus to make your muscles denser and stronger. Train all slow/ high-tension and your body won’t learn how to produce high velocity movements that are necessary to perform your favorite sports. Train at medium speed/ moderate tension levels, and your body won’t have a compelling reason to get faster or stronger. Train all no-speed/isometric holds/static poses and your body becomes adept at rigor-mortis-like zero-movement contractions which is what happens when you’re dead. So what speed is best for training? The short answer is a variety of speeds, wherein the “mix" depends on what you're training for. But one things for sure; be particularly mindful at the fast-speed and slow-speed ends of the spectrum because both are burdened by a high risk of injury.
Mike Feltman — 68 years old
In addition to losing over 40 pounds, HardCore Training has impacted virtually every aspect of my daily life. I feel younger, stronger, and can now outpace my teenage daughters hiking and biking. Bill Nurge is an intelligent pro who meets you where you are at, and thankfully not where he is. Whether I'm putting in a long day at work, playing outside, or carting my daughters' stuff around, I use my fitness and strength every day and won’t stop training until I’m down under.
Selecting the appropriate training load/resistance/weight/tension which accurately reflects the load-challenges of your sport(s) is super important--but tricky. Train too “light”, and the stimulus may be insufficient for eliciting ameliorative adaptations. Train too heavy, and you may end up getting injured, bulky, and/or slow. While there’s not one perfect “load” for everyone and every sport, having the wisdom to know when to load, what to load, and how much to load, goes a long way toward transferring the gains made in your training, to gains made in your sports and life.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
We all have the same inheritance. We all have these amazing bodies that house our hearts, souls, and minds. We all need to invest time and energy into the liquidity and transferability of our fitness portfolios so we can utilize our 86,400 seconds of life per day to live, love, and share our happiness. We are all on the same team!!! Here’s a quote from Steve Jobs that may resonate: "Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands. What is the most expensive bed in the world? Sick bed …You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you. Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost — Life.”
Have a great Fall/WinterStart and as always, feel free to reach out if you need help managing your fitness portfolio :)
HardCore Training Center
200 First Ave N | Ketchum
208.720.1829 | hardcoretrainingcenter.com
When Normal isn’t Enough...
How to Bridge the Gap between Pain & Optimal Performance
By Bill Nurge
M.A. Exercise Physiology
HardCore Training Center for Regenerative Exercise & Ageless Living
“The world doesn’t need another average business. The world doesn’t need another average you. The world needs your best YOU. And when you lead with your strengths, you can share your BEST with the world."
Accidents and aging happen. Humans get hurt. We fall down, get up wrong, twist this, over-torque that, and sometimes body parts simply wear-out. Thankfully, when our structures get sidelined for whatever reason we can count on MD’s and PT’s to fix and rehab our compromised body parts, and expeditiously return us to “normal” function. That’s the easy part. The hard part is safely and effectively traversing the bridge that takes you from normal/sedentary life function, to optimal performance in your favorite sports and activities. Continuing to build on--adding complexity, load, force vectors-- the foundation of mobility, strength, and balance that you worked so hard for in PT is imperative to keeping your entire body sturdy, balanced, coordinated and fit for life. Bypass the bridge to peak performance, and you will likely find yourself right back where you started; with the same injury and/or some new ones.
I’ve been a human powered-movement addict my entire life. My Mom would boast that my congenital inability to sit still precipitated biped ambulation at 8 months, running at 10, and unicycling soon thereafter. Like most lifelong multi-sport athletes, I’ve had my share of minor tweaks and soft-tissue traumas over the past six decades but—thanks to an erudite passion for anatomy, biomechanics & kinesiology--have always managed to work through them without professional help. That is until my need for speed spawned a mid-life crisis and extemporaneously acquired 150 horses worth of overpowered motorcycle.
Needless to say, the last chapter of my forty-somethings didn’t end well. A shattered clavicle, avulsed ligaments, and herniated cervical discs left me in a world of unfamiliar pain and dysfunction. I needed big-time HELP!!! So I did my due diligence and hand picked a team of educated and experienced professionals to get me out of pain and back to “normal” performance. Yes surgery sucks, and PT can be painful and boring, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary, and most of the time it works! Do what you’re told, follow the protocol, and you will get better—to a point. But better isn’t enough if you want to lead an active life in the mountains. So once you’re out of pain, and your damaged goods are mostly normalized, then what?
This is where the vast majority of us drop the ball. We’ve had the surgery, graduated PT, and now we’re good-to-go for whatever, whenever, wherever, forever??? Unfortunately NOT!!!
So here’s the deal: when you get injured—and we all do eventually—seek out the very best (educated, experienced, and trustworthy) professionals to get you out of the acute phase of injury and back into normal life. Avoid the temptation to shop around for the least expensive surgeon, or group surgeries offered at a discount. The same holds true when you need a physical therapist. You don’t want an uneducated and inexperienced “fitness guru" offering group physical therapy classes so you can save money on your rehab. You should want—and deserve— personalized care from the best and most reputable pro’s, so you can get your most valuable asset back to normal function, as quickly as possible.
The same should hold true for your post-PT work. Just because you’re out of pain and recovered your baseline range of motion, strength, and function doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Yes you’re done exclusively “rehabbing” the injury; but unless you continue to overload and train your entire system for the specific demands of your life and sports, your body will flounder and likely spiral into an endless cycle of injuries and rehabs. This is due largely to the fact that the human body—especially older/30+—is in a constant state of decay and degradation. You’re either going up (training & growing stronger), or down (de-training and getting weaker). There is no third direction!
Here’s how to bridge the gap between normal and optimal performance—
1. Go Pro—
For the same reasons you didn’t feel like you had the requisite skill or experience to surgically repair and rehab yourself, do your body a huge favor and find an educated, experienced, & trustworthy Fitness Professional to help bridge the gap between normal function and optimal performance. Properly preparing your body for the multidimensional force vectors and loads encountered in mountain sports is tricky business; which is why elite athletes have full-time strength & conditioning coaches. Do the rest of us non-elite athletes deserve less? The answer is a resounding NO! Simply because you didn’t make the U.S. Olympic Team doesn’t mean you can’t have--or shouldn’t, or don’t deserve-- the same level of personalized medical attention, coaching, and training. Having worked with a multitude of Winter Olympians over the past 30 years I can tell you that they are mostly “normal” people with abnormal genetics and priorities. Sorry, you can’t change your genes, but you can change your priorities. Eat right, sleep lots, get a Coach, train smart, and you might just find yourself feeling and performing like an Olympic athlete…Who cares if you’re a little slower :)
2. Maximize Rewards—
After green-lighting out of PT, your Fitness Pro/Coach should continue to incorporate corrective exercises and mobility work into your total-body training program. Over time, the corrective exercises can be phased out and replaced with more dynamic multi-joint and multi-planar exercises. The goal is always to get the greatest yield of performance-specific results, from the least amount of low-risk work. You don’t need to get sunburned when you’re trying to get tan. You don’t need to train like a 20 year old powerlifter when you’re a 60 year old skier/cyclist/hiker/runner. What you need to do, is consistently perform the proper volume and load, of the safest and most effective exercises, targeted specifically to improve your life, your sports performance, and your health-span. Depending on the severity of your compromised body part(s), traversing the performance bridge from normal to optimal may be no less complicated than taking up my favorite sport; nordic skiing. Totally doable, but you can save yourself a lot of falls and frustration by taking lessons from a seasoned pro. Bottom line: your performance trajectory will be greatly facilitated by having a top-tier Pro who can get you doing the right movements, with the right loads, in the right sequences, which put you on the right track to getting your body optimized without getting hurt again.
3. Apply Pressure—
Like most physical entities, the human body responds to pressure. Whether you want to move your teeth, make your muscles stronger, densify your bones, stop bleeding or get better at anything, you need to apply consistent pressure. When it comes to optimizing your body and all of its key systems—neuro-muscular, skeletal, cardiovascular, endocrine—strive for at least two high-pressure training sessions per week. Of course there will be missed sessions for a variety of reasons, but to keep your body optimized and moving forward try to calendar at least two HardCore Training sessions every week.
Allocating the time, energy, and monetary resources necessary to traverse the bridge between normal function and optimal performance does not guarantee you will never get injured again, and always perform optimally. What is guaranteed—aside from having fun, feeling better, & performing better--is that you will never achieve optimal performance, always underperform, and be more injury prone in your sports and life if you don’t consistently do the right training.
Life’s too short to settle for normal! Have a great Spring and feel free to reach out if you need help building a bridge to the fittest, strongest, and best version of YOU :)
HardCore Training Center
200 First Ave. North, Ketchum
SKATE-SKI MAKEOVER IN SIX EASY STEPS
HOW TO HAVE MORE FUN WITH LESS EFFORT!
Thirty years ago I was lucky enough to stumble upon my soul-place (Sun Valley), soul-vocation ( fitness training/ coaching), and soul-sport (skate-skiing). It took me another quarter century to find my soul-mate but that’s another story. Discovering what, where, and who makes your soul come alive and thrive is one of life’s greatest and most rewarding challenges. Once discovered, the real work of keeping your passions alive and well begins—and that’s good work if you can get it!
Within moments of taking my first V2 skate strokes I knew I had found it: the one sport that made every cell of my being come alive and shout, “I am in so in love with life!” Of course, I had zero technique. But, back in the 80’s when I started, no one really knew what “perfect” technique was because the sport was in its infancy. So with my wide—I’m not gonna fall!—stance, outstretched arms, and upright torso, I skated along just “ fine,” won a bunch of races, narrowly missed a spot on the ’92 Olympic Biathlon Team, and never really worked on my relationship with skis and poles until two years ago.
I honestly didn’t think there was a problem until I saw a video of myself skiing/hemorrhaging power in the 2016 Billy Goat Loppet race. Suffice it to say, it one of those “We need to talk” moments. Although I finished just a few seconds off the winning time, what my brain experienced as “poetry in motion” and what my eyes desperately wanted to un-see in the video were two completely different things. My old-school technique was grossly inefficient, outlandishly expensive (metabolically and muscularly), and aesthetically displeasing.
It was decision time. I could take the easy road—keep skiing and racing just like I had for 28 years—or I could do some serious technique roadwork and try to improve the relationship between my body, skis, and poles. For me the choice was easy and the “work” can be summed up by the axiom “time flies when you’re having fun.”
Aside from my brain being stoked to learn new skills, perhaps the most meaningful rewards have been physical.
My nearly 56-year-old body is much happier with my new technique. My feet fatigue less quickly because they’re underneath me more; my knees are less cranky because they’re not subjected to constant torque; my hips and lower back don’t get tired and tight because I’m not working them overtime without a break; and my shoulder and neck muscles don’t cop an attitude—and threaten to shut down my ski fun—because I’m overusing them and underusing the larger muscles that should be doing the job.
I started by obsessively (only my wife truly understands what this means) studying videos of the best skate skiers in the world. Before long, it became clear that the most successful skiers consistently do six fundamental things better than the rest of us. And by better, I mean that they put their body in a more bio-mechanically advantageous position to apply force to the skis and poles. The result is that top-tier skate skiers can spend half an hour, at average speed of 18 mph, and make it look effortless.
It’s important to point out that a big part of technique and having more fun on skate-skis is fitness. Bottom line: the more nordic-speciffic fitness you possess, the more “effortless” fun you’re going to have on your skis.
This article is an invitation to take your love for skate skiing to a new level. Although I've logged roughy 500 hours of new-school technique work, I’m far from perfect. But I have more “perfect" strokes every time I ski, and more moments where my body, skis, and poles are in perfect harmony with the snow and surrounding nature. And for me, that’s worth every second of “work.”
Here are six head-to-toe tips and 12 HardCore Training exercises designed to teach your body what it feels like to be in the optimal position to apply more power to your skate skis and poles.
Keep in mind that the photos are meant to serve as a visual reference, and not intended to represent absolute “perfection.” Because every body is different, and every stroke is slightly different, everyone’s “perfect” technique is unique.
For V2 & V2 alternate the goal is to bring your body up high and forward, with your elbows ahead of your body (elbow joint angle sub 90 degrees) and angled away from the trunk 30-80 degrees. Stand in place and swing your hands so they end up 6-12 inches in front of your shoulders. Instead of keeping your elbows down, let them swing out to the side away from your body. At the top of the movement—elbows 45 degrees off shoulder & hands in front of shoulders—your elbow angle should be 90 degrees or less to transfer maximal power to the poles. Because skate-skiing is a single-leg sport, I recommend doing a LOT of single leg exercises to develop nordic-specific stability, balance, and power. Single-leg step ups on the slack line coupled with battle-rope lifts are great for practicing the V2 “upstroke.” If you bring your hands and elbows up to the proper start position, you’re more likely to execute the most powerful downstroke. The double-pole slide board exercise is designed to “force” your elbows and hands into the optimal power position for the downstroke. You can try this movement with “old school”/elbows down/straight arm technique but I guarantee you won’t move!
For V2 & V2 alternate the goal is to have your hands “inside" of your elbows for the entire stroke. Stand in place and swing your arms allowing your elbows to come up and out and you will notice that your hands naturally end up in front of you; between your elbows and shoulders. If your hands get too narrow, or too wide, you will squander power transfer to the poles. Single leg step-ups coupled with the poling upstroke on the inverted SkiErg teach the hands and elbows to go up and down through the same “line.” Keep your tempo high-- 60-70 strokes/min—so it’s impossible to employ old-school straight arms with wide hands. Pulling on a heavy band attached to a “zipline” while hopping forward on a slider is one of my favorite ways to force the hands and elbows into the optimal power position.
Maintaining a forward body angle as you pole and apply pressure to the skis is more effective than a vertical body position. In this image I’ve already been to the highpoint of the stroke and am starting to drop the hips and elbows. I like to think of it as trying to keep my shoulders ahead of my hips, and my hips ahead of my feet. On snow, try standing with your skis parallel and poles planted properly, and simply “fall" forward. Suddenly, without using any effort, you’re moving! That’s the “magic” of optimizing body position :) Simulating double-poling on the zip-line, and med-ball slam broad jumps, are great ways to get comfortable “falling” forward while exerting force backwards through the poles and skis.
For V2 and V2 alternate, the goal is to start high and finish low (how low depends on how fast you want to go!). To maximize power transfer to the poles it is imperative to simultaneously drop the hips, compress the abdomen, and drive the elbows down. If you don’t drop your hips your legs can’t work effectively. If you don’t hinge at the hips and compress the abdomen, you’re not optimizing your body’s ability to apply power to the poles at the optimal force vectors. Single-leg high-tension SkiErg double-poling, and Heavy Band “double-pole” pulldowns are great ways to program the neuromuscular system to link the elbow drive to the hip-drop, hip-hinge, and abdominal compression.
To maximize leg power--and minimize excess muscle-tension--try to bring the non-gliding ski underneath your body and keep it there until you are halfway (forearms parallel to ground) through your pole stroke. While you are skating, try touching one boot to the other before you transfer your weight to the non-weight bearing ski. One of our favorite drills for teaching the feet to come under the body is side-skipping coupled with med-ball slams. In this movement one foot is forced to swing underneath your center-of-mass before you initiate the next single-leg squat jump/lateral skip. I also like loaded lateral jumps for teaching a “stacked” position over the power leg. This is a tough “fix” but totally worth it!
This applies to all of the skating strokes, but particularly V1 because you’re traveling up a steeper gradient. In the V1 image notice the right knee over the toes, right forearm along shaft of pole, and the pole angles match the same-side shin angles. Next time you’re on the snow, stand on your skis with your feet angled out slightly and simply drop your knees while putting pressure on the balls of your feet. If your skis don’t start moving forward immediately you’ve got some serious glide-wax issues! Ankle-flexion/knee drive is another “trick” to maximize the glide of the ski you are transferring your weight onto. Practice transferring weight onto the ball of your foot—not your heel—and try to keep your knee over your toes. Inverted SkiErg step ups force the ankle joint into dorsiflexion and teach the body to rise up with pressure on the ball of the foot. Single-leg TRX squat thrusts are super effective for teaching the lower body to produce power from the knee-over-toes position.
It is my hope that these technique tips will take your skate-skiing to a higher level that’s more fun and soulful. Feel free to reach out if you need help implementing the HardCore Training exercises that will fast-track your body from Zero-technique to Hero-technique. There’s nothing you possess that’s more valuable than your fitness and recreational activities. Have a great January :)
GETTING BETTER—AND HAVING FUN—WITHOUT GETTING HURT
HOW TO RECONCILE THE RISKS AND REWARDS FROM EXERCISE AND ACTIVITIES
By Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology, Head Coach, HardCore Training Center
At some point, a lot of older adults painfully stumble into the epiphany that their actual physical address is not going to change. For better or for worse, ’til death do you part, you are married to this abundantly complex physical structure that houses your soul. Why not make the best of your rst and foremost long-term relationship, and empower your body and mind to live a long and happy life together!
Unfortunately, most humans treat their vehicles better than their bodies. Can you imagine not maintaining your car to the point where it's chronically breaking down and in the shop getting repaired? And yet this has somehow become the normal for how many people treat their bodies. Let it break and become painful, then bring it to the doc to “fix." This is why it should come as no surprise that chronic pain affects 100 million adult Americans and is the leading reason people go to doctors—more than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined.
Championing the charge of disability worldwide is low back pain, which adversely affects most people throughout their lives. If this wasn’t bad enough—for those of you in pain, I’m preaching to the choir—the more the body "practices” being in pain, the stronger the connections between pain nerves become, and the “better” the body gets at maintaining the debilitating pain-state. Researchers from Northwestern University have shown that chronic pain can literally shrink the brain and reduce the volume of gray matter, which is essential for muscle control, memory, emotions, speech, and decision-making. This results in as much as 20 years of “extra” aging.
Despite the prevalence of chronic pain, many people don’t realize that exercise is as close as there is to a magic bullet for killing pain. Numerous studies have demonstrated that older adults who exercise are much less likely to experience chronic pain; and the top- rated measure to help relieve back pain is...you guessed it, exercise!
So it's no secret that exercise can significantly improve practically every aspect of your body, brain, and life, including chronic pain. But like most things, what can help you, can also hurt you. And just like what happens in Las Vegas, what happens in and to your body, stays in your body. Knowing that your body will forgive, but not forget, every injury and insult, past and present, makes it much more important to reconcile the bene ts and risks of your physical training regime.
As a fitness professional and multi-sport athlete for the past 35 years, I’ve been forced to accurately assess— making mistakes means people get hurt—the risk/ reward ratio for exercises and activities, and mindfully convert this metric into a targeted training program that maximizes gains and minimizes “losses.” It pains me to see people taking unnecessary risks in their training and sports/activities for diminutive short-term rewards.
HERE ARE A HANDFUL DOS AND DON’TS FOR HOW TO GET BETTER—AND HAVE FUN—WITHOUT GETTING HURT:
DO exercises two to three times a week that specifically improve the function and capabilities of your muscular, skeletal, nervous, cardiorespiratory, and endocrine systems. Your body is not just your face, hair, and a six-pack.
DON’T exercise without taking into account the risks and rewards from every precious minute of your workout. Are you performing the right exercises, in the right sequence, at the right intensity, that will make your body better for your life and activities? Or, are you mindlessly aping the latest trendy exercises, which simply leave you tired, sore, and tweaked?
DO the physical activities that you enjoy, but not at the expense of your body. Older bodies do not take kindly to sprains, tears, and falls. Find ways to have fun without damaging and earthquaking your “house."
DON’T walk/run on pavement; dirt is nicer and more interesting for your body. Don’t hike without your poles; nordic hiking confers many more benefits. Don’t bike on trails that scare you; trust your self-preservation instincts.
DO specific exercises two to three times a week designed to improve your balance, coordination, agility, multi-dimensional power, and “linking.” It doesn’t matter how big and strong your muscles are if you don’t know how to use them effectively to produce multi- dimensional and unilateral power.
DON’T train like a bodybuilder, yogi, or powerlifter and expect to see big improvements in your outdoor sports and activities. If you enjoy this type of training, by all means, have at it; but if your goal is to get better outdoors, there are far superior methodologies to maximize sports/activities performance.
DO your body a favor and keep it well-hydrated and fueled with high-quality organic nutrients. A hydrated body is a happy body that is less susceptible to injuries and overheating. Don’t expect to feel and function at a high level if your diet is full of low-level junk food and alcohol. What you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat. Eat for performance, not “fun."
DO reach out if you need help designing and implementing a training program that maximizes the rewards for your unique body-mind power couple. Have a great August!
HardCore Training Center 200 First Ave N | Ketchum 208.720.1829 hardcoretrainingcenter.com
TRAIN LIKE A PRO FOR SUMMER EVENTS
By Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology, Head Coach, HardCore Training Center
Bill and Naty Nurge are passionate about three things: each other, helping others improve their lives through fitness, and training. They’ve learned—through nearly 70 years of combined racing—that challenges create opportunities for growth, and more space for happiness. Their Fab-5 summer event results—3x 1st place Baldy Buddy Hike; 3x podium- finisher’s of the Hyndman Sufferfest (Bill holds Master’s course record); 1st place 2016 Mountain Warrior Decathlon; 4x finishers of Rebecca’s Private Idaho (Bill holds the course record for the 56 miler); and 1st place Baldy Double (3x) and Baldy Hill Climb (4x)—are testament to their commitment to training intelligently, and for the FUN of it.
The Fab-Five local fitness events are fast approaching and it’s time to mark your calendars and make a plan. Dreams and “bucket lists” are great, but only meaningful when they're converted into goals. A goal is simply a plan with a definitive deadline, like a race/ fitness event!
We—my wife and I—like to think of these events as Fitness Parties; an opportunity to bond and “play” with like- minded TribeMates. Whether you choose to party as a timed racer or untimed participant is incidental. We’re all on the same Team, and we’re all at the event for the same reasons: to challenge our bodies and minds to whatever extent constitutes “FUN” on that day. Herein lies the proverbial rub: what’s fun for us—going hard and fast— may be unrevoked anathema to someone whose definition of a fun event is a happy-paced conversational workout with a friend. Guess what? It doesn’t matter!!!
When you realize that FUN is like beauty—it’s all in the eye and mind of the beholder—it becomes abundantly clear that there is no right or wrong, or more or less. What is right, and what will help you get more fit, is to pick an event—they’re all FUN—put it on your calendar, and TRAIN for it.
OMG the T-word! Training is nothing more than exercising with a goal in mind, which in this case is preparing your body to have maximal FUN at your event.
We get asked all the time what we do for training and the answer is straightforward: we consistently challenge our bodies with a lot of different activities/movements, at a
lot of different speeds, different durations, and different muscle-tension levels. What’s never different is the fun factor: try to enjoy all of your training, otherwise don't do it! In our case, the cornerstone of our fitness/racing program is what we practice indoors. HardCore Training is what keeps our bodies robust, durable, and good-to-go for everything we do. There is absolutely no way we could have as much injury-free fun in our outdoor activities and events without the strength, power, agility, balance, coordination, and core stability work that is the hallmark of our style of training.
Here is an example of a typical training week for us.
Because every body is different, and responds differently to the same stimulus, the best way for YOU to train may be very different from what works for us.
Let us know if you need help designing a training program that takes into consideration your goals, your injuries, your background, your schedule, your age, your weight, and your LIFE.
GET YOUR SPRING- TRAINING ON TARGET
WITH THESE 5 SUMMER FITNESS-EVENTS
by Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology, Head Coach HardCore Training Center
As much as my wife Naty and I love everything about Nordic Skiing, by the time Spring rolls around we're always ready to shift athletic gears, set some new goals, and start training for our summer sports: hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. We’ve found that targeting the summer tness events we are going to participate in helps us stay on track with the types of training that will benefit us most. Setting goals now is the best way to kickstart your Spring Training program and guarantee copious quantities of summer fun and challenges.
Back in the early nineties when I moved to Ketchum, I tried for the first time a series of summer biathlon (running & rifle marksmanship) races. The exhilaration of doing something different—from biking and swimming--coupled with winning a new mountain-bike and 10,000 rounds of ammo—had me totally hooked. Soon thereafter, I took my beginner biathlon rifle and running shoes to the Summer- Biathlon Nationals and unwittingly pocketed $3,000 for 2nd place. Winter Biathlon was not so kind. My two-year old neophyte nordic skiing & rifle marksmanship was good enough for a top- 5 at the ’91 NorAm Championships, but my ultimate goal of competing in the ’92 Winter Olympics never came to fruition.
Although I narrowly missed a berth on the Olympic Team, I learned many invaluable lessons in the process of “failing"
that serve me well a quarter of a century later. I learned that it’s better to have big goals and fail, than have no goals and never know what it’s like to suffer, sacrifice and sweat for something that’s important. I learned that success and failure are two sides of the same coin and it really doesn’t matter which side lands up. The important thing is to earn the coin; one workout, one challenge, one day at a time. Because at the end of the day/year/life, the accolades acquired by achieving your goals are never as important as the person you become in the process of struggling and striving toward your goals.
So let’s say—hypothetically— I’m nordic skiing with a buddy interested in biathlon and I hand him my specialized .22cal rifle and tell him to simply “shoot!” His response most certainly would be “at what?” If there is no target, there is no fun, no challenge, no purpose, no sport. Now if I were to take him to a biathlon shooting range, where there is a specific target to hit, then everything changes.
Now there is something to aim at, something to test his skills, something to measure progress, and something that gives all of his effort – purpose. All by adding a simple target.
That’s what a goal does to a person’s life –it changes everything! If you want to live a fit, healthy and happy life, tie it to a goal; not just your image in the mirror or what the scale reads. You were given one body and one brain for this lifetime and told countless times to “take care of yourself ”, “be happy”, and “live life to the fullest.” But how? Goals are the “targets" that motivate you to focus, aim, and pull the trigger on a process that makes your life bigger, bolder and better.
Sports psychologists like to subdivide goals into three different categories: outcome, process, and performance-based goals.
Outcome-goals are the challenging but fun “targets” that get you motivated to go through the life-enriching process
of making your body/mind strong, skilled and durable enough to meet the performance demands of your event.
Naty and I have compiled our 5 favorite summertime fitness events for you to consider as “targets” for your Spring Training.
In addition to being fundraisers, each of these unique events is a fun opportunity to step out of your comfort zone--either as a timed competitor or un-timed participant—and challenge your fitness. The simple act of participating is winning. And all winners are handsomely rewarded with higher levels of fitness, self- esteem, and hopefully some sweet rafle prizes and Perry’s chocolate chip cookies :)
While we would love to see everyone celebrating their health and fitness at all of the local events we understand that sometimes Life and other priorities get in the way. That’s ok, because a goal is not always meant to be reached; it often simply serves as something to aim at. The process of training for your event(s) is where the real magic happens. Whether you choose to participate in one or all of these events, as a timed competitor or untimed-participant, it's all good because ultimately the outcome doesn’t really matter. What truly matters is the process; all of the practice and quality-time spent training with your friends that pushes you in the direction of your goals and makes you better, stronger and happier.
Whereas an outcome-goal such as the Mountain Warrior Decathlon may be months away, process-goals are geared toward the day-to-day/week-to-week training you should be doing to prepare your body for the physiological demands of your event.
One of our most important process goals is maintaining three weekly indoor HardCore Training (core-stability, total-body strength, power, balance, coordination, and agility work) sessions. Although we’d much rather be outside for all of our training, we’ve found that the indoor work has a huge impact on our performance outdoors. Moving quickly, multi-dimensionally, and efficiently over many miles of variable terrain necessitates a high power-to-weight-ratio coupled with an abundance of core-stability and strength.
We rely heavily on body-weight and TRX based unilateral exercises because we need to practice natural movements utilizing the most important weight we all own; our bodies.
Most people/athletes looking to improve their bike, hike and running fitness will benefit more from adding indoor HardCore Training, than simply adding more outdoor cardio hours.
In our outdoor weekly training we strive for one long—2.5 to 4 hours—low- intensity workout, one interval workout— 5x5 minutes at threshold, one 30-60 minute tempo/sub-threshold workout, and one workout incorporating 5-20 second supra-threshold sprints. Performance- goals such as a time-trial or repeat interval workout, serve to measure progress and direct training efforts toward improving weaknesses or technique.
As lifelong athletes and fitness professionals with a penchant for helping people get better we’ve learned a lot over the years. We've learned that people are at their best when they’re fit and overcoming mental and physical challenges on a regular basis. We’ve also come to recognize that most people are not inherently lazy, they simply have weak goals that do not inspire them. And sadly, we understand that most people are their own worst enemies when it comes to consistently training and consequently benefit greatly from outcome, process and performance- goals to stay on track.
Perhaps most importantly, we've learned that we can help people get more out of life if they are receptive to evolving their way of thinking about training and fitness-events.
Feel free to reach out and contact us if you have any questions about the events. Or you’re interested in going through the process of getting into the best shape of your life. You’re never too old, or too out of shape, to dream some new dreams and set some goals that inspire you. Happy Spring-Training!
HardCore Training Center 200 First Ave N | Ketchum 208.720.1829 hardcoretrainingcenter.com
8 POINT WEEKLY CHECK-LIST
TO GET MORE OUT OF LIFE
by Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology, Head Coach, HardCore Training Center
1. Get Strong:
Whether it's charging through fresh powder or chasing your kids around, you need a requisite amount of total-body strength to get ‘er done. Twice-weekly FUNc- tional strength-training sessions will make your body better at meeting the multi-dimensional demands of your life and sports. Just like all of the important things you calendar— hair, nails, dinner, dentist, doctor, automotive—you need to schedule time for your body. Make time to get strong and durable, or make time to manage being weak and injured; the choice is always yours.
2. Get Zzz’s:
Getting enough sleep is called smart. Not getting enough sleep is called torture. There’s nothing noble about struggling through the day in a sleep-deprived haze of apoplectic exhaustion. And contrary to popular belief, nobody catches up on sleep when they’re dead; you’re dead when your dead. Getting enough sleep every night—or at least most— is the best medicine for everything and anything. Quality of life has little to do with how much you have, and everything to do with how you feel most of the time. Sacrificing sleep for “getting more done” in a day usually means depriving yourself of quality, alert, happy, life-time. Quality vs quantity; the choice is always yours.
3. Get H.I.T.:
Bi-weekly doses of High Intensity Training does wonders for your stamina and happy hormones. You don’t have to go-hard or go- home every workout but you need to go hard enough to get all of the benefits which include increased levels of testosterone, growth hormone and endorphins; all of which facilitate making your body better and your brain happier. Make time to H.I.T. it hard twice a week and you will find your high-end cardio skyrocketing and body-fat % plummeting.
4. Get V.T.:
Vestibular Training—balance & coordination work—is only important if you get out of bed. Most tweaks, tears and pains are the result of not having the kinesthetic where-withal to keep you upright and outof trouble. Having strength & power without balance and coordination is like having a Lamborghini without a steering wheel. Life is infinitely more fun when your central nervous system is intelligent, responsive, and trained to accommodate the complex demands of your sports and activities. Train your vestibular system every workout and you will find yourself having more recreational fun with fewer injuries.
5. Get Challenged:
Your body and brain are at their best when they’re motivated and slightly stressed about an upcoming challenge. Whether its a weekend race or epic week of hili-skiing, get some events on your calendar that get you motivated and out the door to properly prepare your body and mind. There’s a reason why elite athletes are always super-fit, laser-beam focussed, and terminally happy; they’re always going the extra mile to perfectly prepare their bodies and minds for the next challenge. Make time to mark your weekly calendar with events and activities that bring out your best.
6. Get Play Dates:
You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than ten weeks of texting and phone conversations... Scheduling workouts and activities with your friends is all good; more accountability, more work, more fun, more benefits. There is no change without struggle; but it’s a whole lot more fun to struggle with your friends than suffer silently by yourself.
7. Get Engaged:
Just like your brain, your body needs to be engaged in activities that are demanding—proprioceptively and physiologically—and fun. Interactive training that requires your full attention and motor skills always trumps rote movements that don’t fully engage the mind-body connection. Like it or not your body and brain are in a "til death do they part” intimate relationship. Always best to take good care of this power- couple because they’re all you’ve got in this lifetime.
8. Get Happy:
Happy Body, Happy Brain. Life is more fun when you’re lean, fit, and firing on all cylinders. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that fitness training needs to be a monotonous chore. A training regime—regardless of how effective and inexpensive it is—doesn’t do a darn bit of good if it isn’t fun and sustainable. Working hard at something you enjoy is called passion. Working hard at something that is boring or monotonous is called stress. Your body and brain know the difference so find a trainer and workout program that is fun, safe, and fully prepares you for the unique and complex demands of your life and favorite sports/activities.
Have a great mid-winter and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help infusing more happiness and quality-time into your life.
HardCore Training Center 200 First Ave N - Ketchum - 208.720.1829 hardcoretrainingcenter. com
GET SKI PREPPED
11 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO GET READY FOR SKI SEASON.
BY BILL NURGE,
M.A. EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY
HARDCORE TRAINING CENTER
No this isn’t a 911 Emergency. But it certainly could be if your body is ill prepared for the rigors of high speed sliding on slippery snow crystals. Alpine & Nordic skiing are two of the most physically demanding sports on the planet which is why you would be hard pressed to find a top-tier skier without a seasoned coach and year-round training program. It’s no secret the best winter of skiing forever follows the best preseason training. Practice getting stronger or manage getting weaker; it's always a choice.
Regardless of your age, ability, or aspirations for on-snow-speed there is nothing better than attaching skis, boots and poles to a body that is physically prepared to do battle with gravity.
We humans have to understand that the omni-present gravity police are simply enforcing—with no malice or forethought—the Laws of Physics; slamming high-speed poorly prepared humans into the ground and trees is part and parcel for the job. So be prepared!!! To maximize the Winter Fun-Factor, and minimize run-ins with gravity, find a strength & conditioning coach/trainer who lives, eats and breathes biomechanics, kinesiology, and physiology; and whose lifelong vocation is making people better, stronger and more durable for their favorite sports. Designing and implementing safe and effective workouts that make your body better—not just tired and injured—and more capable of meeting the incessant physiological and multi-dimensional demands of your winter sports is not something most people are inherently educated, experienced, and trained to do. Find a great trainer and start working together now, to plant the seeds of strength, stamina, core-stability, agility, and balance, so you can reap the fruit of awesome injury-free skiing all winter long.
Think of the perfect workout—a mindful mix of high-intensity intervals, resistance-training and multi-dimensional agility, balance and coordination challenges—as the battery charger for your body. Consistently activating and recharging all key systems (muscular, nervous, skeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular, vestibular) is the only way to keep your body functionally robust and optimized for your athletic pursuits. In addition to the concomitant “weak-battery” symptoms--loss of power, diminution of muscle-tone and core-stability, myriad aches, pains, tweaks and imbalances—failure to reboot your systems on a regular basis will ultimately result in the untimely demise of your organism as a whole.
We know that you would love to spend two more hours skiing every week but we also know that the quality and sustainability of your ski performance will be so much higher when you make time to recharge and reboot all of the systems on your body’s hard-drive.
Two high-quality totalbodyworkouts per week will keep you firing on all cylinders andgood-to-go for a winter full of injury-free turns and tracks.
A stone arch gains its stability from the placement of the final and most important stone: the keystone. Aside from being the key-stone that holds all of the others in place, the word keystone is also used figuratively to mean the most important part of anything Keystone habits are more important than others because they trigger a process that changes your life. Consistent bouts of high-intensity total-body training catalyze a series of chain reactions which influence how you eat, sleep, feel, play, and live; a process that, over time, transforms everything. People who are in the habit of scheduling and attending training sessions every week tend to sleep better, eat better, feel better, perform better and lead more productive lives than those who are "too busy” for training. When you consider that most of our decision-making processes are habit-driven it is abundantly clear that our habits can make or break us. Being in the habit of not—or not properly—training your body for your life and sports will ultimately break you down. Whereas committing to the keystone habit of consistently training all of the systems of your body will make you better and stronger.
Being able to quickly and deftly move your body in different directions is super important for skiers. Make time for multidirectional agility training and you will find yourself having more fun with less effort when you play hard in the snow.
A high power to weight ratio is paramount to success in skiing. Its great to be strong but what skiers need most is strength/ speed.
Being able to accelerate and decelerate your body quickly and precisely is what separates the good from the great.
Practice movements that mimic the demands of your sport and perform them at varying rates of speed. Skiing is infinitely more fun when you’re lean and powerful.
Its no big surprise that abundantly powerful arms and legs (coupled with freakish indefatigability) are requisite for high-level nordic ski performance. But as everyone knows a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the absence of a strong and stable core a sizable chunk of the extremity power will be squandered and performance will flounder. Leaking power from a soft-in-the-middle core is anathema for all winter athletes. Train your weaknesses to be strengths and you will be surprised how much your performance will improve.
All of the power and core-stability in the world is useless if your ability to balance your body while moving is compromised. Total body dynamic proprioception is integral to success in mountain sports. Train it, have fun with it and enjoy the uptick in your athletic performance.
GET HIGH-END STAMINA
Being lean, powerful, agile and perfectly balanced but lacking stamina is like owning a Ferrari with a VW bug engine… Not much fun. Everyone knows nordic skiers need HUGE cardiovascular engines to support their hard-working hungry muscle cells but what about alpine skiers? Although you might not find yourself skiing aggressively for more than a few minutes at a time your gravity-resisting muscles still have a high demand for oxygen, fuel and waste clearance. The more stamina you have the longer you can ski with control and power; more control and power means fewer falls and injuries. Make time to consistently train your engine and try to incorporate high intensity intervals a couple times per week.
Whether you’re charging through fresh POW in the Bowls or skate-skiing pristine corduroy at Galena its all pure joy for your brain, body and beast-mode. If you’re lucky enough to be addicted to the beauty of a sport you need to double-down and find a training program that is equally compelling and rewarding. In addition to being fun, interactive and challenging your dry-land training program should provide the specific salutary adaptations that support your sport. When you fall in love with the process of training and getting more fit you will strengthen the relationship you have with your sport and elevate your performance.
Positive addictions like sports and training can enable us to live with more confidence, happiness, and better overall health. If you want a successful long-term relationship with your sport it is vitally important to find a training program that you get addicted to for all the right reasons.
Success in winter sports—which could be defined simply as injury-free big-fun—is multifactorial. Think of athleticism and sports performance as a wheel. The hub is your motivation and drive; important but superfluous in the absence of spokes and a rim. The spokes are the individual physiological attributes necessary for high-level performance in that particular sport; strength, stamina, power, agility, balance, coordination, core-stability, etc. The more sturdy spokes you have supporting your double-helix fortified genetic rim, the more likely you are to consistently roll in the direction of optimal performance. There's nothing we love more than finding new ways to strengthen the spokes of sports performance and see athletes "roll" faster with less effort in the direction of their dreams.
Why bother sharing all of these training tips and insights with you? Because you can't pour what you don't have from an empty cup… Make time to fill your athletic cup with fitness that makes your sports more enjoyable and sustainable. We want you to have the best Winter ever. We want you to feel powerful and most-alive when you slide effortlessly on the most exquisite snow crystals in the World. We want you be be strong and injury-free year-round so you can maximize the quality of your precious time here on Earth. We want you to be the best version of you. Have a great winter and let us know if we can help.
GET A TEAM
If you enjoy playing hard in the snow with your peers you need to train hard off-snow with your peers. Training by yourself--doing the same program over and- over ad nauseum--and expecting a different result will make your body insanely bored and tired.
Every athlete knows that one of the primary ways to get better is to surround yourself with other athletes who push your "best" to new levels.
Not only will the positive pressure from your peers push you to new fitness levels there’s an additional bonus; overcoming physical challenges with your friends creates invisible elastic bonds that cannot be replicated. You can learn more about a person in an hour of training than a lifetime of texting.
DO’S AND DONT’S
by Bill Nurge, M.A. Exercise Physiology, Head Coach HardCore Training Center
Spring is nature’s way of pushing re-fresh and making everything new, colorful, and more alive. This is the perfect time of year to re-evalutate your connection with nature and your body—a time to fine-tune your physical training program to optimize your sports performance, boost your energy level, and make you feel most alive. Over the course of the past 32 years I’ve had the unique opportunity to train, coach, and inspire athletes, of all ages and abilities, to the tune of 50,000+ hours. I’ve learned a LOT about what works--and what doesn’t--for helping people find their eternal Spring: the sweet pain-free physical-state where your energy is limitless and favorite activities are pure-joy.
Whatever floats your warm-weather sports boat--kayaking, hiking, cycling, water-skiing, tennis, or golf—there are some definite do’s and dont’s for aggrandizing performance and steering clear of tweaks, tears
and metabolic melancholy; the dreaded over-trained stale-sour-state that can ruin an otherwise perfect season.
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SPRING-TRAINING:
Don’t go it alone: For most people—unless your are working with a well-educated and highly experienced fitness trainer or going to a class/training-session designed to specifically meet your fitness goals--going to the gym to “work out" alone, is at best a waste of time and at worst an injury producing debacle. There’s a reason why you don’t see a lot of do-it-yourself walk-in hair salons, dental offices, physical therapy and minor surgical centers; certain complex things—and trust me your body is a lot more complicated than your hair-- are best left to the professionals.
Trying to improve human performance, health, and fitness by designing and implementing the perfect volume, intensity and combination of strength, stamina, mobility, core-conditioning, balance, and coordination to safely and effectively overload your body--to the point where you anabolically stimulate your hormonal system to elicit ameliorative adaptations in your neuromuscular, cardiovascular, skeletal and vestibular systems-- on any given day is not intuitive, and fraught with risk. Which is why the vast majority of people who go to the gym to train themselves fall into one of two categories: Train too easy and too much the same and never improve; Or train too hard and too complex and constantly get injured. For the same reasons you hire professionals to handle your hair, money, car, house and medical, you want a fitness-professional on your team that you can trust with your most valuable possessions—your body, your fitness, your health, your happiness.
Marry your cardio: Unless you betroth aerobic exercise with an intelligent strength, mobility and core-conditioning program your body will more than likely get weak, imbalanced, and injured. There’s nothing my wife and I love more than getting out in nature and hiking, cycling, running and kayaking all afternoon.
As much as we would like to simply practice our sports day-in and day-out we know that this will not end well; in the absence of 2-3x/week multi-dimensional strength, mobility and core-conditioning training, our bodies quickly start to flounder. Aerobic conditioning does wonders for the cardiovascular system but falls abundantly short when it comes to taking care of the other important systems and needs of the body. Consistent bouts of high-intensity strength-training will reduce injuries, stabilize your core, improve athleticism and make your muscles more capable—24/7/365- of providing happy-power for your favorite sports. For the same reasons you don’t drive your car without taking care of it—oil changes and scheduled maintenance-- don’t drive your body without doing the obligatory fitness work that enables it to function and perform at its best.
Don’t bore your core: A strong and stable core is absolutely essential for most sports and daily life but not in the way most people think. For starters, the core is rarely used as a power generator so doing dynamic exercises such as sit-ups and back extensions are misguided and potentially dangerous. The torso muscles are more likely to be used as anti-motion controllers—stabilizers—enabling the upper and lower extremities to more effectively produce force. A weak--sloppy and floppy--core causes insidious power-leaks which compromise performance and precipitate lower-back pain. Unless you’re training for a sit-up or plank-hold contest there’s little value in isolating and overloading the core independent of the rest of the body. Core-training should be part of a comprehensive program that builds strength and stability while the upper and lower extremities are dynamically engaged in asymmetrical force production. Schooling the core on how to effectively stabilize--while your arms and legs mobilize--is a one-way ticket to better performance and a happier lumbar spine.
Pick your battles: Closely aligning your fitness regime with the popular tenet “What does not kill you only makes you stronger” will more than likely—if you don’t get injured first-- decimate your fitness, plummet your energy level, destroy your muscularity/leanness, and wreak havoc on your libido. There is absolutely a time and a place for high-intensity training: but too much, too hard, too often will flatline your power output and nullify your passion for anything other than the couch. Finding the right volume of light, medium and high-intensity workouts is not intuitive. In the absence of high-level coaching most well-intentioned athletes will forego easy aerobic-training—huge mistake—in favor of medium-hard workouts and then find themselves too tired to do high-quality interval training; the end result being physiological ennui and lackluster performance. In the same way you don’t need to get sunburned to get a tan, you don’t need to go-hard or go-home every workout to get leaner, stronger and more fit.
Don’t break your fast: Our bodies were designed to go many hours, even days, without food. Fasting before you perform a workout—unless you have medical reasons not to—will teach your body to preferentially burn fat for energy; instead of muscle-sugar/glycogen. This is all good if you are looking to improve endurance performance and mitigate superfluous adiposity. By all means stay hydrated and fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to function. But periodically try performing your morning workout without breaking the overnight-fast and you might find—as we do—that you feel, function and adapt better without consuming any calories (black coffee is fine) for 12-16 hours. And unless you’re starving, try to get in the habit of not eating three hours or more before any workout.