T Nation

What You Learned in 2010...


Xen started this off last year with this post, it was a good read.


So this is what I learned in 2010 I was kind of busy


you need to respect them,
spending the right amount of time or money or both
to get them diagnosed and healing is worth the effort

tendonitis is mostly cleared up in both biceps and elbows
Neck is well - as good as its likely to get.
while not good is allot better then where it was at.

I have a new chiropractor- seems I always have a new chiropractor,
who actually said that my perennially low bodyfat was holding up some healing
while never in single digit land- staying lean actually 'hurt' my recovery

More on body fat- with just a few pounds of additional body weight of fat
strength levels go up fast.
surprise surprise


I had an enforced de-load of 5 months
just body weight training very minimal conditioning

Moving , starting a family, and finally giving broken shit the time it needed.

spent great time with new baby who is already shrimping and little squats
and came back to training feeling fresh and feeling ready to learn

Other Random shit

531 was good but boring as fuck but might be the most sound method for average Joes.

Built like a Badass from DeFranco far more fun.

Inactivity breeds immobility

I really feel move it or loose it more then any year before
while inactivity helped some things heal- it really slowed down lots of stuff
and made me feel stiff and feeble

trap bar jump squats are my new favorite thing.

more direct calf work cleared up some problems in my ankle, knee hip.

getting shots in your elbow sucks ass

getting shots in your neck sucks stank ass

cat scans are shitty

found that my upper body responds better to rep in the 15 to 30 range

last found out I can function without judo/wrestling/BJJ
that I can find pleasure in what training is possible

I might never 'ramp down' being competitive or working hard,
but realized that I did well, that there its ok to have unanswered questions
about you're own personal athletics.


I'm a natural competitive sub grappler: I can keep a good pace even when I'm tired, I can compete through injuries, and power out of bad spots. But my technique sucks compared to the best blue belts in this part of the world.

I need spend less time rolling hard, and more time going slow and working on technique.

I need to work on spots that I'm weak at (ie the bottom game) so that if I absolutely cannot get a takedown, it isn't the end of the match.

My wrestling is a steaming pile of shit.

I learned that not tapping on time when you're in a tight kimura in competition is a nice way to tweak the shit out of your shoulder.

I need to eat more... done.

I learned that I start progressing in my lifts once I bite the bullet (rather my ego) and train with weights I can comfortably rep out for 6 or more. For once, I'm doing 5/3/1 as it was meant.

I learned that rolling 3 days a week, and lifting the other 4, is going to require me to back off the lifting every few sessions.

I learned that my grip is ridiculously weak, as is my whole upper body. I realized this when a Russian competitor (who ended up beating me), went into my guard, grabbed my right wrist, brought it behind my back, and broke my guard open... all while I was helpless to stop him. Time to get those lifts up.

I learned that Pendlay rows are awesome.

I learned that girls can cocktease you into blue ball central, and then claim you went too fast when you go in for the kill.... sigh.


I learned a lot about how drinking was affecting my body, how little I knew about my own diet, and how to properly do a lot of lifts (ie- bench, squat, deadlift, and press). It's amazing how much I thought I've known every year, and how that radically changes.

I learned I have a long way to go in jiu jitsu, and that I have to trust more in my stand-up.

I learned to work the body.

I learned to be more aggressive on the ground.

I learned that I want to compete.


I still suck.

  • Yoga is the shit.
    I know some people can't just jump right into it or have their own mobility programs but there's something about combining your breathing with your movement that's a lot more natural. I find that the whole "imagine yourself sinking into the earth" and all the hippy talk is really more about the mind-muscle connection than anything else. Just good visualization can go a long way. Which leads me to another.

  • Using strong visuals can improve a LOT of performance aspects.
    Before you lift, imagine the weight as light as fuck. See yourself lifting the fucking world. Smash the weight. Your opponent is weak, imagine him as nothing to you. Be invincible in your mind and it will have some carryover. maybe this is purely psychological but the shift in mental perspective has been a huge boon.

  • I prefer training like an animal.
    Getting out of the gym and just running at the park, climbing things, not recording reps/sets and shit. Just run, hit some pullups, some dips, mostly bodyweight shit (like an animal) throw around a sand bag. Just do things cause they're fun not cause they're on your program. Instead of going to do some weighted chins, I'll go do some bouldering or rock climb with friends. I am NOT saying build your whole training methodology around this but I feel as though I let training become a job and lost the fun in it for a while. Grab a rucksack/alice pack and just go hump some hills for a while. Get out in nature. Add your training to your LIFESTYLE and you'll find you need to do less in the weight room. I won't lie, running, swimming, rucking, have taken a toll on my lifts but my actual fight skills have improved and that's ALL i've changed. I'll take that trade. It's just a good way to start the morning. After you run in the rain and still got pullups on a wet bar you'll chuckle at the little shit that gets everyone else frustrated. I spend the next few hours feeling like I just smoked a blunt. Nice and relaxed.

  • Swimming motherfucker.
    It's weird feeling sore but having no joint pain. Hell didn't even realize i had joint pain after lifting. nothing severe I just 'know' i beat myself up a bit. Swimming is a whole other experience. It's also one of the few forms of cardio that really uses your upper body a lot as opposed to mostly your lower (as with running for instance). I can swim a couple miles now and I feel like I can grapple forever.

  • 531 is sick.
    If you understand the methodology you can make some really great adjustments on the fly. the only thing that matters is hitting your big lifts and if you have gas in the tank then whatever assistance work gets the job done (makes your lifts go up) you can pretty much do. Love that shit.

This is a great spreadsheet: http://brian.potomaccrossfit.com/?tag=wendler

All of that said. it's much slower progress. I get stronger faster with just a conjugate training schedule but unfortunately it also kills my recovery more than I would have ever admitted before.

  • Direct calf work and stretching my calves has saved my knees. more important than you'd think.

  • Running is about technique, loose the thick soled tennis shoes

  • Aerobic work is important for LIFE.
    If you're a fighter, ignore the studies. 3-4 miles isn't going to kill your strength gains a whole lot (lose your ego), and you won't just shrivel up and disappear if you keep eating. as a matter of fact it will stimulate your appetite. Hell I gained size cause I start scarfing more food down in the day cause I ran in the a.m. And most importantly your prehistoric forefathers would call you a pussy because you can't even track something for a couple steady miles without getting winded. My car broke down recently and I was a few miles from my house... I could have walked to the gas station. I could have waited like a pussy outside holding some jumper cables HOPING some kind soul would be GRACIOUS enough to give me jump. No. I'm a goddamn man lol. I emptied my back pack, ran home, grabbed our little jump generator, ran back, jumped my car myself, drove home. In the same amount of time I'd watch 2 1/2 men I took care of some business that most people could consider themselves stranded and wouldn't know wtf to do w/o AAA. (sorry for ranting this happened yesterday)


-I really don't need grains
I decided to experiment with removing grains from my diet. I imagined that my workouts would suffer, but my conditioning and cardio has actually improved on about 100 grams of carbs per day from fruit, veggies, and nuts.

-Beta-7 is shockingly effective
I've been taking Beta-7 for about 2 months now, and my cardio has improved noticeably. I had to take a week off 2 weeks ago; when I returned, my cardio was nearly as good as it was when I'm in competition shape.

-Barefoot exercise works
I've always had ankle and knee problems, but this summer I went on about 2 short barefoot runs per week. After a couple weeks, my perpetual shin splints disappeared, I was lighter on my feet, and I felt more stable on my normally-weak ankles. Now I only run or lift in Vibram Five Fingers.


I learned you can't do it all, all the time, and you have to prioritize, or you get sub-optimal results from everything.

I learned if an injury is bad enough to take make simply lying there breathing uncomfortable, it's worth it (it's essential) to take enough time off to let it really heal.


another thing... which I picked up from KMC last year.

If I do just 1-2 sets of overhead squats, nothing heavy, but a nice lil warmup set and heavier set... it gives me a good gauge of how I'm feeling that day. This happened months ago but: I had tweaked my knee maybe a week before but I'm pretty good at ignoring that kind of shit... until I did some overhead squats with just the bar and I know if I had started in on dead-lifts it would have been something I could have ignored but I would have hurt myself and I'm glad I took the time to rehab.


I tried vibrams, got the gist of them (i dig them, just too expensive) then tried some Terra Planna Evo II's (need to send them back actually... but I like these FAR more than vibrams) truth be told my chucks have a thinner sole and I feel the ground better in those. Only reason I wouldn't run in chucks is during the rain season (not water proof) I run in Danner Acadia Elite's during the rain (i run trails so it's far too muddy to use any minimalist shoes for me).


keep your fucking hands up

fighting in a street fight is a lot different than a fight in the cage

don't fucking flinch

at 223 I'm still fat

kicks fuckin hurt my shins when i check them or i kick

my cardio sucks


Hey Xen, great fucking post.

What I learned... I been thinking about this for a couple days. I changed a lot of shit in my life this year. Exactly one year ago I was the same weight (about 176) with a stomach that was three inches larger, smoking, and drinking all the time. I was in decent shape as far as strength, but "cardio," when you smoke, is a laugh, and I could barely go a minute on the heavy bag with coughing my balls off.

With some good planning diet wise and a shitty breakup with an ex, I lost about 15 lbs. and weighed in at 165 by last Apri. I had lost the fat, but didn't want to stay at that weight. So I began eating more and joined a fighter's gym that had weights as well as a 250 lb. heavy bag, a speed bag, a prowler, tires, and all sorts of other shit. I finally quit smoking after a decade on June 1, which was my D-Day.

Now, a year later, I'm also finally training consistently at a boxing gym as well. I can go for three minutes rounds with pros holding the pads, and I just started running for the first time since high school football. I run just around a 9:45 mile. Absolutely pathetic, but it's better than I did last year or any year before it. And I will get better at it.

So what I've learned-

  • Smoking cigarettes was the worst thing that I've ever done to myself.

  • I could alternate between West Side for Skinny Bastards III and 5/3/1 for the rest of my life and make progress. They are simply the two best programs, hands down, for someone who is doing other athletic pursuits.

  • Boxing is more important to me than lifting. This is momentus for someone like me who has been lifting since he was 13.

  • Boxing will do any number of things to turn your life around. It will make you ten times more confident in yourself and your abilities, and will give you the ability to protect yourself, in my opinion, better than anything else. However, what it ALSO will do, is make you less scared, and more prone, to violence. This is dangerous. Be wary of that mental affect... I have seen it in the pros that I know- they fear nothing, no man. I have caught that a little. That's good and bad.

  • Running longer than 50 yards at a time will not make your muscles deflate like so many old balloons. In fact, it cuts you up, keeps your weight in check, and makes you feel better about living.

  • I need, need, need, to begin to control my drinking better.

  • One of the people I admire most in life is Juan Manuel Marquez. When he gets hit on the chin, his first instinct is not to cover up, but to throw everything he's got right back to try to get the other guy off him. That's a life lesson. You take a shot on the chin- pussies cover up. Warriors hit back. Marquez is a warrior. I want to be like that.

  • All the strength in the world is useless if you tire.

  • No fighter should ever, ever be called a bum. Ever. Maybe a nobody, maybe a mediocre fighter... but never a bum.

  • When you're soaked in sweat, about to vomit, and nearly passing out after your last round in the workout.... that's when you should do just one more. It's easy to say, and I don't always do it, but when I can push myself those last three minutes, that's when i win.

  • Don't high rep in the weightlifting gym or you'll be sorry in sparring :S
  • Smoking and drinking too much has fucked up my progress
  • I have to be consistent
  • I need to get my ass beat up more times on sparring to get better
  • Practice your punches not the bench press
  • Squatting helps
  • Cardio cardio cardio cardio cardio....


Just a few things:

  1. I'm a better fighter at 185 than I am at 205.

  2. People will call me a bitch for complaining about my cut. Some of them may even have cut weight before.

  3. 5/3/1 is boring. Boring is good when it works.

  4. Swimming FTW (ok, I knew this, but agreeing with above).


Good list. I'm might even end up at 170... A year ago when I was walking around @ 235 I'd never thought it possible.


i'll just pick one.

to quote one of my coaches (concerning stamina/conditioning)

'train like you're in the trenches. the trenches of a tough fight. the place where you're at your limit, your punches are weak and you cant evade. its easy to get in the ring and look good when you're fresh, anyone can do that. but when you train put out ten times more energy than you would in a fight. push till you're empty with nothing left, but still keep your technique, keep your face straight,and your breathing steady and keep going through the pain. So when you're in that situation in a fight and you're both gassed, thats when you grab him and drag him into the trenches with you. you've already been there, day in, day out. he wont survive in there with you'

he told me this because i started going throguh the motions, i would do my 3mile roadwork and 20minutes conditioning with everyone else, work on technique for the rest of the session, hit the weight room at some point and just cycle that. sometimes i would just come in, jump rope then spar for the rest of the session. while its important to iron your technique out, amazing conditioning is a huge advantage, even over a better fighter. i've seen average guys go rounds with talented fighters, then just shift gears to a pace where the talented guy cant rely on his skill to save him and gets smothered, panics and gives in


starts a slow clap

good post FF


I learned that I'm way too slow.
I learned that I need to do more cardio.


Learn the difference (if you don't already) between aerobic and anaerobic activity.

I've noticed people in boxing/MMA tend to talk about "cardio" and not make that distinction, but distance running (for example) will do nothing for your anaerobic capacity, and Boxing, MT, grappling, exe., are all highly anaerobic. Usually when I hear someone talk about working on their cardio, they then go one to describe some sort of aerobic conditioning.


Those were two unrelated comments. I'm doing explosive pushups for speed, but I still need more cardio. I'm one bad runner.


I wasn't thinking they were, I was just talking about cardio, not speed.