EYC Snippet – Podcast #32 Musings of a Pistol Squatting Man

An excerpt from the EYC Podcast episode #32 – Musings of a Pistol Squatting Man

Check out the full episode using the links below:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/eyc-podcast-32-musings-of-a-pistol-squatting-man/id962137635?i=1000384942794&mt=2

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoTBoImZXlo


The first key area I want to address is assisted pistol squat variations. What I mean by assisted variations is holding on to a fixed object that will allow us to mitigate some of the demand off of the working leg, or legs. For example, holding on to a parallel bar during a bodyweight squat, or a vertical bar to help during a pistol squat. Where I’ve found assisted squat variations particularly effective is fine tuning technique. Since assisted variations mitigate some of the difficulty, more focus can be placed onto slowing the movement down, and performing it with as clean a technique as possible. My epiphany came when attending a PCC event in 2014 and found that my pistol squats needed a lot of work. I’ve always taken squat training seriously, and am my own worst critic when it comes to the level I am at, so it hit me pretty hard. This is when I decided to basically reset my squat training and approach it in a way that was less about reps and rapid progress, and more about clean technique, and quality reps.

Another reason assisted variations are so effective is they allow for a finer a degree of tweaking because there are many ways of increasing or decreasing the amount to assistance you give yourself. For example, using both arms, one arm, one arm with full grip, one arm with only two fingers, a higher or lower apparatus, and so on. Assistance can even only be used at certain points in the range of motion. For example, pushing up from the bottom position is a common sticking point for those looking to conquer the pistol squat. This being the case, the assistance can come at this point, then be released, as in the press pistol. This is a much better alternative to shifting weight forward and using momentum to get back up. You may be asking, why would I mention that, I would never do it! Well if so, good on you, however it can be a tempting prospect for some, especially if the foundation wasn’t built in earlier squat variations. It is dangerous for the knee so I don’t recommend it.

What you want to ensure when using assisted variations is that you maintain proper technique throughout, and you aren’t assisting yourself so much that the leg isn’t doing the work it needs to do. If that’s the case, it may be a good idea to regress to earlier squat variations because you may be doing more harm than good. Requiring too much assistance from the method you are using can be jarring, and affect technique if you don’t have the requisite strength, potentially causing injury. Be honest with yourself and regress if necessary. The way I have always thought of it is I need to be 80% toward this movement, and I can use assisted variations to help with that remaining 20%. If I feel like I am less than that, I still have work to do. You should be able to maintain proper technique and control throughout. Three years later I can attest that assisted variations have improved my pistol squat tremendously, and at the PCC earlier this year, three years after the first, I was very impressed with my showing. I had to take a step back, which was a blow to my ego, however a change in approach was necessary, and well worth it.

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EYC Snippet – Jumping Rope Efficiently

An excerpt from episode #30 of the EYC Podcast – Jumping Rope Efficiently

Check out the full episode at the below links:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i1ZcVjDRdg&t=1078s

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/eyc-podcast-30-jumping-rope-with-efficiency/id962137635?i=1000379427065&mt=2

Power Jumping – Double Under to Crossover

Moving on to jump height. As a baseline, you shouldn’t allow for more than 1/2” to 3/4” clearance over the rope for maximum efficiency. The exception would be power jumping in which you are jumping several inches off of the ground in order to develop explosiveness and power. Even then, a fun challenge is trying to reduce the height of jumps typically associated with power like the double or triple under.  Power jumps require a greater degree of control at the jump, and landing phases, and therefore require more skill to execute with proper technique. They shouldn’t be attempted unless fundamental jumping skills have been developed. I won’t go any further on power jumps because that is a topic I will be getting into in another podcast. Keeping jump height to a maximum of 3/4” will not come easy, and areas such as technique, timing, strength, speed, and co-ordination need to work together to maintain consistent low jumps.

As I develop new skills throughout my training, one of the markers of progress and efficiency that I use is the height of my jumps. For example, I have no problem maintaining low jumps when simply performing consecutive single jumps, however when practicing combos, it can become more challenging, and if I am able to perform them while reducing the overall jump height, than I know I am getting better. Low jumps also minimize energy expenditure, allow for quicker movements, and help maintain a clean technique. In contrast, jumping higher than is necessary can cause unintended changes in timing, less endurance, and less favourable conditions for balancing proper technique. A great example of this is if you are not able to maintain control throughout jumps and are landing in different spots. If you find that you are jumping higher than necessary, I would again recommend shadow jumping at the correct height, which will help you develop the fine mechanical movements necessary. It will give you an idea of how jumping at that height feels, and the rope can slowly be implemented into your jumps. If you feel the wheels slowly coming apart during your set, stop, reconfigure, take a breath, and begin again. Jumping with control is much harder than putting everything you have into a single jump. Whether through sports, or recreation, we are often encouraged to try and jump as high as possible, however in this case(once again with the exception of power jumping) we want to keep our jumps low, and consistent.

EYC Snippet – Podcast #24 Shadow Jumping

Check out the full episode of the podcast at the links below:

Website: http://elevateyourcraft.net/podcast/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/eyc-podcast-24-shadow-jumping/id962137635?i=1000368390636&mt=2

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0akcsV3oYm0

Three Stages of Shadow Jumping:

First Stage: The goal is to simulate jumping, but without the rope. During this, you want to ensure that you are maintaining proper technique, (which I’ve discussed in podcast episodes 14, and 22) meaning you want to ensure that you are still maintaining a simulated grip of the handles, jumping on the balls of the feet, and keeping an upright position throughout. The closer you can simulate proper technique, the better off you will be in the long run. This is also a really good way to train yourself to decrease the height in which you jump. Ideally you aren’t jumping more than an inch off of the ground. In the early stages, you may find that you are swinging from the arms instead of the wrists, your jump height is inconsistent, or much higher than it needs to be, and these are often due to training with a rope without having a good grasp on mechanics, and rhythm. Shadow jumping will help you get used to being light on your feet, and you’ll begin to improve in these areas. This is also a great way to introduce counting rhythm into your jumping. Depending on how skilled you are with rhythm, this may take some getting used to, however I found it very useful to introduce a four count into my jumping. For example, I would synchronize each jump with the beat 1-2-3-4, and adjust the speed as necessary. It will help develop your consistency and co-ordination so when you do introduce the rope, you’ll have a foundation to build on.

Second Stage: The second stage involves building off of what you’ve established in the first phase, but now with both handles of the rope in one hand. While the goal of the first phase is to develop your technique and feel for jumping, this stage is about marrying that up with the timing of the rope. The rope being only in one hand will still prevent catching, but will train you to follow the rhythm of it as if you were swinging normally. Similar to the first stage, you want to mimic proper technique as closely as possible, and you’ll also want to make sure to alternate hands throughout your training. Oddly enough, while I didn’t know to incorporate this early in my training, I use this phase a great deal now when warming up, or practicing direction changes, so the value of these phases does not diminish the better you get. You can implement them at all levels, and reap the benefits.

Third Stage: The third stage is where you put everything that you have developed in the first two phases together in order to swing the rope in an even arc over the body. In the beginning, you aren’t actually jumping over the rope. From the ready position, which involves having a handle in each hand, with the arms outstretched in front of you and the rope resting behind the knees, you are swinging the rope back with the arms kept close to the body, and using a quick turn of the wrists to bring the rope over the body. Let the rope hit the front of your feet, then step over it and repeat. It is useful to practice this in front of a mirror in order to ensure you are creating an even arc with the rope. The key is to begin slow, and once you get comfortable with the mechanics, begin to jump over the rope. This stage would have been valuable to my progress if I had applied it because there was a period that my right hand was slightly lower than my left while jumping, so it was creating an uneven arc which was causing a lot of catches. If I had used this stage of shadow jumping in front of the mirror, I would have noticed it much earlier. As your mechanics improve, you can begin counting the amount of consecutive jumps. So for example, you can start with one clean jump, then when you are comfortable with that, progress to two, then three and so on. Before you know it, you’ll be able to keep a consecutive rhythm going. It is sometimes useful to break progression down into small chunks. In this case, I would work toward 10 clean repetitions, then work for 25, 50, 75, and so on. The main thing to keep in mind is don’t sacrifice technique for repetitions.

EYC Snippet – Podcast #27 Rope Types

Check out the full podcast in the Podcast section, or at the links below:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/eyc-podcast-27-the-right-jump-rope-for-your-goals/id962137635?i=1000375312534&mt=2

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MP0Q3LWdtE

…So, getting into the different types of ropes. I’ll start off with the heaviest, then get lighter and lighter, and at the end offer a it of insight into ropes for advanced training.

Heavy or Weighted Handle Ropes – these ropes can be made of rubber, or heavy plastic. This effect can also be mimicked by using conventional material for the rope, but adding weight into the handles. These ropes add an upper body conditioning effect to jumping. They are not meant for speed, and 2 RPS is likely the max that will be achieved. If the handles are weighted and use a standard PVC rope, greater speeds can be achieved, however more and more stress is placed on the wrists, forearms, and shoulders, so caution is recommended. Similarly, I wouldn’t recommend a heavy rope for beginners because of this undue stress at a time when developing technique should be the main concern. A standard resistance training regiment would serve better in this purpose. I also wouldn’t recommend this rope if you are looking to improve quickness, or agility. It is best used by those that have a good grasp on technique, and simply want to add greater upper body resistance to their jumps.

Leather Rope – The leather rope has been a staple in the boxing world for a long time. While they do rotate more efficiently than heavy ropes, greater effort is still required as compared to a PVC rope for example. That being the case, greater speed can be achieved using a leather rope, however still does not match the likes of proper speed ropes. A leather rope will wear, and fray over time, so it will likely need to be replaced more frequently as compared to other ropes. It is recommended that they be used indoors. They also tend not to be adjustable, so it is important to buy a rope that is most suitable for your height. Overall, this rope is effective for conditioning purposes, and if moderate speed is the goal.

Beaded Rope – The beaded rope is one that you likely saw during the elementary school days, or kids using them in a local park. These ropes are constructed often with cheaper materials, although better ropes with beads can be used for performance purposes. This allows the crowd to see a bit better as it rotates. In its construction, there are plastic segments placed around the rope usually in alternating colours. This adds the durability necessary to withstand jumping outdoors, on rough surfaces like cement. Because of this added weight, beaded ropes are not build for high speed, or improving hand or foot quickness, although it can make rotations slightly easier. This can be useful for beginner jumpers. This rope is best used by beginners looking to learn the basic technique, although it must be noted that the plastic segments will degrade over time, especially if used outdoors, so it is important to replace the rope to prevent beads from rocketing off of the rope during jumps.

PVC Licorice Rope – This rope is very commonly seen in schools, or gyms, and uses plastic handles, with a PVC rope mounted inside. They come in various colours, and are more often than not non-adjustable. There really isn’t a standard for how thick the rope is, so some can come thicker than others, which will create more drag on rotation. These ropes are versatile, and can be used by beginners and intermediate level practitioners. Speed, and quickness can be developed, although not at the level of PVC speed ropes built for that purpose. Furthermore, the fact that the rope is mounted inside the handle will create friction, impeding maximum speed of the rope, it will make omnidirectional swinging more difficult thereby greater potential for tangles, and create further wear. The durability of these ropes is strong and can be used indoors, as well as outdoors, however rougher surfaces will cause greater wear. Overall, I would say this PVC rope is a great choice for beginners. They are light, durable, versatile, and can reach greater levels of speed than the ropes previously discussed. This gives the rope longevity, in that it can be used to progress for a longer period of time. One thing to keep in mind is these ropes are generally non-adjustable, so it is crucial to find a rope that is best suited to your height. Check out episode #14 of the podcast for some guidelines.

Cable Ropes – These ropes substitute any of the ones we’ve discussed so far, with a steel cable, either bare, or coated in nylon. These ropes are built for speed, and speed alone. They can achieve very high speeds, upwards of 4-5 RPS. These speeds aren’t necessarily higher than those of a thin PVC, however the thinness of the rope, the overall lightness of the handles and rope, are very conducive to high speed training. These benefits however may not outweigh the drawbacks, or perceived drawbacks of using a steel cable rope. Firstly, steel ropes have much less elasticity, limiting versatility. These ropes are not recommended for tricks, especially cross-body variations. It is recommended they only be used indoors because rough surfaces will tear the nylon, if applicable, and wear out the rope. Even if used indoors, the durability of the rope is often less than PVC ropes, making the need for replacement more frequent. Finally, steel ropes are prone to causing injury because of the nature of the rope, and the intensity of training. Because of this, I would not recommend them for beginners. I made the mistake of using a steel rope early in my training and suffered many painful moments because of it, often resulting in lashes that took days to heal. Having a strong technique, and a desire to improve speed, and power jumping should be a pre-requisite of using steel ropes.

Ropes for Advanced Level Training – There are certain attributes of a rope that need to be taken into consideration when choosing one for advanced level training. The first is the rope. Based on what I’ve discussed so far, a thin PVC rope is, I feel, the best choice. They are suitable for high speeds, and trick based training. They are light, durable, and create minimal drag on rotation. The second is the mounting system. The best ropes will have an external bearing mounting system, which drastically reduces friction, allows for omnidirectional movement of the rope, and makes for easy adjustment. These attributes allow for smooth movement in rope transitions, cross-body movements, and overall a smoother, and quicker rotation of the rope. External bearings also allow for the highest speeds that can develop elite level quickness, and agility. The third are the handles of the rope. In general, handles should be light, with some sort of grip allowing for better handling, even in the sweatiest of situations. Depending on ones goals, the size of the handle also has an effect. Speed ropes generally have a short, very light handle, that put less resistance on the wrists, forearms, and shoulders. This allows the practitioner to focus on speed, and endurance. Conversely, handles built for cross training, or cross body trick focus, will be longer, and slightly heavier. They are meant to be held lower on the handle which allows for greater distance when the arms cross the body, however this puts more stress on the wrists, forearms, and shoulders. Knowing this, it’s important to consider which scenario fits your goals best. Alternatively, like me, you can have all different types of ropes in your arsenal for when you want to change up your training. Just keep in mind, when switching ropes you will have to adapt to how that rope is meant to perform, so there will be a period of adjustment.

For myself, a rope with long handles, and a white PVC rope is my go-to. I tend to prefer trick based training, with a lot of cross-body variations, so this rope works best for my goals. I also enjoy the extra stress that a long handle puts on the wrists, and forearms, because it helps develop grip strength. I do however have multiple types of rope, so my training tends to be quite comprehensive…


Training Environment and Mindset

When you think of exercise, is there a certain environment that you think of? In the past, I pretty much just considered the gym the only place to be active, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who simply don’t like the gym. I was never really big on sports, I was more into strength training, martial arts, and endurance running, so the gym was where I spent most of my time outside of that. If you aren’t active currently, I think it’s important to ask yourself, is your dislike of the gym part of the reason? I think this is where calisthenics can really benefit people. It opens up a totally new arena to have effective workouts whether at home, or even the local park. More importantly, it is valuable to understand what type of environment you like best when being active. Do you enjoy being indoors, outdoors, a certain sport, or climbing? Some people can’t workout at home because of distractions, they need to be in a place where other people are training. Knowing these types of things will not only engage you at a higher level, but make it a better experience, and easier to stick with it over time.

Another question that I think is important to ask yourself is, what do I currently associate to actually getting up and going to train? Do you make it an option, or is it a must? Of course it varies for everyone because of family, commitments, or work, however just getting up and going can be made out to be a lot worse than it really is. For example, exercise is so ingrained into my lifestyle that I do it without even thinking. For some it is a chore that involves gathering the right clothing, packing a bag, driving to the gym, changing, grinding out a workout, showering, driving back home, then doing whatever else needs to be done. It isn’t seen as a worthwhile endeavour. The fact is, you deserve that time for yourself, and it can be made productive in ways other than physical. For example, it can be used to reflect on all of the positive things in your life, what you want and how you can achieve it, or how you can enrich the lives of the ones you love. 

Effective training is about consistency, and the more you can set yourself up for success by optimizing your mindset and finding your ideal environment, the better off you will be in the long run.

EYC Podcast #26 – Deb Anderson

In this episode of the EYC Podcast I chat with Deb Anderson, owner of BodyKnow Inc, a business based out of Burlington, ON, Canada that offers body composition analysis using the BodPod. We discuss the evolution of BodyKnow, wearable fitness trackers, the BodPod and how it works, and the importance of understanding body composition. Be sure to check out the website at www.bodyknow.ca

EYC Podcast #19 – Mark Montefiore

Named The Hollywood Reporter’s Next Generation Under 35 (’14) and Playback’s Top Ten to Watch (’12), Mark Montefiore recently executive produced the CraveTV/Comedy Network comedy Letterkenny, based on the hit web series of the same name, and the Superchannel comedy What Would Sal do?. Montefiore also recently produced the Whistler Film Fest and Toronto Film Festival Film Circuit Audience Choice winning feature film, Cas & Dylan, starring Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus) and Golden Globe nominee Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and directed by Jason Priestley (90210). Montefiore has several award-winning films to his credit including his debut feature film, Eating Buccaneers and The Armoire. Mark has worked with Executive Producers Mark McKinney (SNL, Kids In the Hall) and Garry Campbell (MadTV) to produce The Comedy Network sketch series Picnicface, which won 3 Canadian Comedy Awards. Mark is a graduate of the CFC’s Producers Lab (’06), the Berlinale Talent Campus (’10), the CFC, Telefilm Canada/Just For Laughs’ Comedy Lab (’10), Trans Atlantic Partners (’12) and Schulich School of Business/WIFT-T (’14).

EYC Podcast #18 – Kas

Kas talks squats. Check out episode #18 which acts as a companion to the EYC Squat Progression video, which can be found in the #trainanywhere section. This video demonstrates a progression from the standard bodyweight squat, to the Wushu pistol squat. Topics include technique, progression, and insight I’ve learned through my years of training.

EYC Podcast #15 – Phil Perez

Phil Perez is owner and brand manager of Fuel Foods, a healthy food delivery service based out of Toronto. Topics include Fuel Foods, entrepreneurial concepts, and nutrition. Be sure to check out the Fuel Foods website at www.fuelfoods.ca

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTb7eGMJKx4

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/elevateyourcraft/eyc-podcast-15-phil-perez

EYC Podcast #10 – Iris Kolenski

Iris Kolenski is a Certified Yoga Instructor (completed 200hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training through Kula) with 5 years of experience teaching yoga at fitness gyms, yoga studios and within the workplace. Iris holds a Masters degree in Human Health and Nutritional sciences and outside the studio works full time as a Sales Representative for a Biotechnology company focused on supporting research in Life Sciences.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry6a1Oqg4co

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/elevateyourcraft/eyc-podcast-10-iris-kolenski

EYC Podcast #4 – Chris Kular

Chris Kular is a print media instructor at Ryerson and holds a Master of Science degree in Print Media from the Rochester Institute of Technology. From September 2009 to March 2010, Chris taught courses in print media publishing, advertising, packaging and branding while on sabbatical in Europe.

Chris Kular’s professional background includes more than 30 years of practical experience in Print Media applications and technical services management. This includes ten years of successful development and delivery of professional training courses to Print Media companies and their clients.