Rise And Grind Podcast – Pilot Episode

Welcome to the Rise And Grind Podcast,

This is the pilot episode of a new podcast for Endurance Sports, Obstacle Course Racing, General Health & Fitness all sandwiched with a big dose of healthy banter!

The Rise and Grind Crew are a mix of 6 blokes who met each other from the OCR scene, we all have completely different backgrounds and credentials and between us, we feel we have pretty big wealth of knowledge to offer and a lot of fat to chew

Host Details
Jake Barber – @Riseandgrindrunning
Graham Roberts – @Ispiremc
George Edwards – @Ge_training
Aaron Selfe – @The.a_ron126
John Chambers – @Idesignthisway
Glenn Coleman – @Glennyc1981

Mastering Your Pull Up

Whether you can hit 20 or 0, you’re not going to master your pull up by doing rep after rep after rep. The key to mastering the pull up is breaking it down into multiple key areas. Grip, Muscle endurance & Strength

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Grip

You need to make sure your grip can crush cans of beer like Stone Cold Steve Austin! But before we do that we need to
know that there are more than one type of grip infact there are three

The Crush Grip – The grip between your fingers and palms, think crushing a can!

The Pinch Grip – The grip between your fingers/thumbs, think holding a deck of cards and applying pressure!

The Support Grip – The most common grip which is used when holding onto something, think deadhangs/farmers carry!

The support grip will give you the most bang for buck, but its not a bad idea to be nailing all three of these to ensure no weaknesses and that you can hold onto that bar for days, if not weeks. But how do you train these grips may you ask? Well here’s some moves to get your grip strong!

The Farmers Carry – This hits the support grip and crush grip

Deadhangs – This hitsthe support grip and crush grip

Plate pinch carries – This hits the pinch grip 

Towel Hangs – This hits the crush grip

Incorporate these into your workout routine for a set amount of time, say 30 seconds, making sure the weights are pretty heavy and increase the time over a period of 3 – 4 weeks.

 

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These moves will help build some muscle endurance using the same movement patterns but in a way thats easier than a strict pull up. The aim here is to ensure that the muscles used have enough muscle endurance to keep the pull ups going.

Negative pulls ups / Eccentric lower – Start at the top of the bar  in a pull up position and slowly lower your self down engaging your upper back

Assisted pull ups – Use a resistance band or resistance machine to take the pressure off a normal pull up and aim to hit more reps than you can do strict

Inverted Rows – Hold onto the bar in a squat rack with your back facing the ground, and pull yourself up to the bar

Incorporate these into your routine by hitting either a few more than your current max pull up rep range, or if you can, try to hit 12+ reps, 2 – 3 sets will be enough to see you progress over a few weeks

 


Strength

Building strength in the muscles associated with the movement will help your body be able to either finally lift you over that bar OR more times than you can dream of. But first we need to understand which muscles a pull up uses? Well there’s a hell of a lot, which is why its considered such a hard move, but, we’ll mainly concentrate on the below, which will in turn hit some of the others also

Latissimus Dorsi – Upper backjesper-aggergaard-539148-unsplash

Trapezius – Upper back

Biceps – Arms

So what moves can we throw down in the gym to help build these bad boys into pull up machines!

Lat Pull Downs – Lat pull down machine

Bent Over Row – Dumbbells or Cable row machine

Barbell Shrugs – Barbell or Dumbbells

Bicep Curls – Dumbbells or Barbell

Incorporate these into your routine with a 5 x 5 to ensure you are building strength, progress this over a few weeks, adding weight and dropping reps if needed and you’ll be on course to success!

 

Advanced

If you’ve use all the above advise and you’re hitting new PB’s how about you work towards hitting some of these bad ass advanced movements, they will make you the envy of everyone in the gym for sure! Please note – These are HARD!

Weighted Pull Ups – Get yourself some weight and see how much you can carry whilst performing a pull up

Muscle Ups – We’ve all seen these in the local crossfit gym, well they can correlate well to getting over a wall in OCR, so may be worth giving them a go!

One Arm Pull Ups – These are ULTRA HARD! if you can do these, well your F’in awesome.

Archer Pull Ups – These are a fantastic way to build up to your One Arm Pull Up, but again they are HARD!

You could also do those Kipping ones… but nobody wants to be seen doing those…

As always, hit me up if you want any advice, feel free to sign up to the mailing list and share the love!

 

Mental Health – Part 1

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Mental health has soared over the last few decades and many are easy to dismiss it as ‘the new bad back’ but unfortunately a lot of us suffer from it day to day in some form. But what is more prevalent is our lack of being able to openly talk about it.

I’m not going to sit here and state that I have a mental health problem, I feel in control of my feelings and generally most days are good! But like all of us, this hasn’t always been the case.

I grew up as an incredibly shy child who found many social situations induce a form of  crippling anxiety. But over the years I’ve learnt to push myself into those situations which has made me realise that, well, they are never as bad as they seem!

Today, I am someone who is fairly confident in their own skin. Don’t get me wrong, I can still have battles with my confidence in the most stupid things and sometimes my anxiety and shyness does consume me and I can’t always push through it, but on the whole I can control it and it doesn’t cause me too much of an issue.

I also seemingly have a very hectic mind with thoughts darting about all the time, good and bad. But I have learnt recently that I can battle this by journalling, blogging or my latest – Voice recording my thoughts down to get them out of my head! I know it sounds lame, but I actually find it very useful!

Physical fitness has also helped me, especially doing it first thing in the day, it clears my mind and sets me up for my days work or tasks.

We need to understand that Health & Fitness is not just about our physical fitness, but also about mental wellbeing, and this is done by reflection, mindfulness and It’s not hard to see some of the people that look the most ‘physically fit’ are probably some of those with the most pressure and unhappiness in their pursuit.

During December of 2018, I decided that I wanted to make an effort to give back to those that have helped me over the years and also to help raise awareness or funds for a cause close to me.

This year I will be raising funds for MindUK. I will pledge to post at least one blog post per month regarding mental health this year. Make it a hot topic on my social media feeds & I will also I will be putting out some of my thoughts – Via the stream of audio of my opinion on some issues present in modern life which i believe affect our mental health.

Keep your eyes peeled as i update you on the fundraising page when it is live and also the events which I will be taking part in to raise funds.

Feel free to contact me via DM or email at anytime for advice, or if you just want someone to talk to!

OCRWC: The Key To Success

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Failure and learning from your lowest moments is what breeds success, and throughout history there has been multiple figure heads who have down right failed before succeeding. (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, JK Rowling)

Someone who springs to mind is the world renown NBA star Michael Jordan, a figure head in the height of NBA’s popularity with six NBA championships & 5 MVP’s to his name, a guy who has a net worth of over $1 billion USD!

You could say that this man must have fantastic genetics, which yeah, he most likely does have some (Like being 6ft 6″). But is he human? Sure. He’s also a man who clearly learns from his failings (And has probably one of the longest quotes in history)

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Now this man has clearly gotten success out of some heart wrenching failures, in fact, he clearly is fuelled by them. And thats something you need to hold onto as you move into the OCR World Championship this coming weekend.

You will be lined up with the best OCR athletes in the world to compete in a premier event which will test you in the fine art of Obstacle Course Racing.

The aim of the event is to keep your ‘Band’

This band confirms you have completed every obstacle and without it you will not place in the rankings. You may have multiple attempts at an obstacle and will only lose the band if you do not fully complete an obstacle.

But what happens if you are struggling to complete an obstacle?

  1. Breathe – Don’t rush into a second try until you’re 100% ready, breath and evaluate what went wrong and what you may change on your next attempt. 
  2. Assess – Watch others, Another athlete may be using a different technique which could be saving their grip, try to mimic it but only if its within your capability.
  3. Visualise  – A positive mindset can help you achieve anything with a little adrenaline running through your veins. Visualise how you are going to tackle the obstacle and what technique you’re going to use. 
  4. Accept – Attempt the obstacle with the above three key components in place with the view of success but accept the outcome.

But what happens if you lose your band?

Take Mr Jordans advice!

This is a hard pill to swallow but sometimes you have to call it a day, your grips gone, or your saving yourself for the next day. But always, always, take Mr Jordans advice and learn from the outcome.

Don’t let the band rule your race and plan to finish it with your head held high. Afterwards analyse your efforts, take some advice from a Coach, get some pointers from some other athletes and see what you can do to ensure you nail it next time!

And hey, you are on the path to success!

I’m hoping you won’t need any of this advice, but at least its in your arsenal if you ever need to pull it out, good luck and see you on the course!

Recovery is king

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In this day and age, we want everything at the click of a button, we have seemingly shorter attention spans and we’re constantly on the move. Whether its our work, or our play, we seem to hit life at 100 mph with little time to sit back and relax, or to take the time to evaluate.

This is also true with most of our mindsets towards training and racing during the OCR season. The more we train, the more we will improve. The more we race, the better we will get. If we’re not laying on the floor heavy breathing with our legs full of lactate and a pool of sweat beneath us, then we’ve not worked out hard enough. Yet how wrong could we be?

Recently, I’d been going through this phase, maybe for the last 3 or so months. The harder my training, the better. And although I’ve made a conscious decision to race less this season, to yield better training blocks, I’ve still been throwing down back to back days of racing, and the occasional back to back weekend, all intertwined with training blocks of hell for 3 or so solid weeks with little time to breath.

Unfortunately if we do not allow our bodies adequate rest between sessions and we are always depleting the same energy systems, this can lead to a plateau in performance but it can also lead to some pretty serious stuff such as adrenal fatigue. Thats something you do not want, as it can take months to recover from!

We tend to race, weekend in and weekend out, pushing our bodies to the near end of its current fitness capabilities, with our expectations for it to perform well again in  a week or two with some serious training in between.

I raced the European championships in Morzine, a huge race with over 1800+ of gain in over 20Kms after a big relentless training block of exhaustive sessions, to then be back on the line at Spartan Midlands for a back to back weekend. During that weekend, I came 8th in a field I believe I should of at least landed in the top 5. The next day my legs did not want to move, energy systems depleted and rolled in way back of the elite field. My mind and body were exhausted and needed some long awaited TLC.

I took the smart decision to take a minimum of one week fully off of ALL training. Although I still made sure I was fairly active on my step count. I made sure I ate some good healthy food, the occasional drop of red wine, had plenty of sleep and took my mind well away from thinking about training or competing. Sounds easy? But being someone who loves to be active, it actually takes quite a bit of will power to admit you need to rest and not train, especially mid season when others may be out training and laying down the miles.

The results of this week off speak for themselves, on days 6 – 7 my mind and body was ready to train again. My first training session back consisted of a 3 mile benchmark test, resulting in a 5km of 18.22 – Proof that my body needed to rest and re-build.

So, don’t be afraid to have a week off, don’t be afraid to take the pressure off and reset. You don’t have to feel fucked at the end of every session, sometimes taking it slow is actually a lot more beneficial than you would believe, the art is to have a steady progressive overload over a period of weeks, with adequate rest between sessions to ensure you are getting fitter and not burning yourself out.

After all, some high level athletes may not actually be training that much harder than you, they are most likely just recovering better, sleeping a few hours during the day between sessions, eating well, as well as getting regular sports massage, physio treatments and maybe some crazy SC-FI Cryotherapy for those small percentile gains!

Rest up and reap the rewards!

Spartan European Championship 2018

So here I am lined up in the village of Morzine, mountains towering either side, with Europes best Spartan racers. We’d been told the total elevation would be over 1800m+and the distance was to be over 20km. So let’s just put that into perspective shall we… The race would be the equivalent of running to the top of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK, plus an additional 500m gain, with obstacles and heavy carries thrown in! This race was not going to be for the faint of heart…

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The start of the race had us running through the picturesque town of Morzine and hurdling over local car barriers made of wood, before hooking up a local trail by the mountain river. The first obstacle lay ahead, a simple Z wall with block holds which you had to get around. Unfortunately for me, even though I usually have no issues with this obstacle, I landed myself 30 burpees and a face palm of altitude!

After a quick river crossing and some technical trail we were greeted with a waterfall, which included a cargo net some 20 feet high hanging from it. We had to jump into the pool and swim across to get onto the net and climb for the initial ascent of Ponte De Nyon. At this point it was pretty much a power-hike up a seriously steep ski slope which included a barb wire crawl as well as another obstacle, Olympus, at the half way point. No matter how slow you moved, this mountain made sure your lungs and legs felt it!

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It took me around one hour and a half to summit Ponte De Nyon (2019m) which was a total of 1100m climb from the village of Morzine. I was greeted with an incredible 360 degree vista of the French alps. Spartan also nicely placed a cargo net A-frame over the peak of the mountain, which was a cool touch. After this point it was a large downhill section, now I thought I was pretty good at running downhill. It turns out that may not be the case as I witnessed some of these mountain goat runners quite literally throw them selves down that mountain at what felt like whatever cost necessary. I’ve never seen downhill running like it and I commemorate those guys for having the guts to do so at such speeds and recklessness.

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After the initial descent, Spartan gave us a log to carry over to a lake, where we had to swim with it to the other side. This was a nice relief on a baking hot day of over 25 degrees celsius, and to be fair felt like a spa treatment after that ascent. We then ran up and down another small incline before hitting an obstacle which had you pulling two sandbags on a sled across a field, inducing some nice lactate in those quads, just what you need after summitting a mountain…

We were then thrown further down the mountain, with a few obstacles thrown in, Bender, Tyre drag and pull, Twister before we were yet again starting to ascend. At first the trail was tough but zig zagged through a forest so it was cool. But then we were yet again thrown up a Ski slope style hill, straight up, probably another 300m of elevation in total. My legs were broken and the heat was baring down at this point. So in true Spartan fashion, as you could just start to see the top closing in, they decided you needed a big chain to carry the rest of the way… At this point my legs were ruined, energy levels were low and I was dreaming of the end and that finish line.

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At this point even the descents were starting to hurt, with the quads begging for some mercy. Another rope climb, another technical descent… At this point we’d run around 20kms and homing into town with over 1600m of elevation. That’s when I thought to myself… This was advertised as 1800m? Maybe my Garmin Is not clocking 100%… Well it turns out that just as you thought you were coming home, Spartan decided to throw you on the most hellish of a sandbag carries to date. One mile long with a 50lb bag, up another 200m of steep ski slope elevation and back down in the searing heat. I’ve never seen so many grown men laying on the floor, beaten and broken, sweat pouring off of them, some even close to tears. Not to mention so many strong women powering through such an ordeal. Even the racers with the strongest minds and bodies were contemplating waving that white flag!

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Spartan had placed a water station after the carry, but by this point everyone was staving off dehydration, with some throwing water over themselves to keep cool including myself! The mountain had been beaten, it had taken blood sweat and nearly some tears, but now I had the final couple of Km into the village.

The village had some big obstacles, including a spear throw, a multi-rig and a slack line. Not to mention the deviously placed hurdles which after 20km+ of mountain terrain, felt like mountains themselves.

The race was a total mental and physical exhaustion. Your mind wanted you to stop and your body wasn’t far behind… So to hit that finish line, with both intact was a great feeling. My body wanted to rest, and so did my mind!

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All in all, the race was a fantastic experience. Afterwards I said I would never want to do a race like that again, It took me back to my first ever OCR, where the challenge was not the competition but in fact, just completing it! I knew coming into this race that it was not going to be my strongest, due to the mountainous elevation and distance, it definitely showed, with me just about placing in the top 100!

Regardless of my placing, I’m sitting here a week later writing this wishing I was back on that start line again!

My 10 Day Caffeine Detox

First of all, let’s not victimise Coffee. It has fantastic health benefits from being one of the world’s most widely used anti-oxidants as well as helping reduce the risk of a whole host of diseases. I absolutely love the stuff, and those that know me will hear me regurarly call it the ‘Nectar of the Gods’.

So you may be reading this wondering, why would I detox from something that I enjoy so much? And the answer boils down to my lack of moderation and respect for a cup of the black stuff.

I found myself on a daily basis having a lot more than one or two cups of coffee, maybe up to 5 or 6 and on top of this my energy levels would be all over the place. Sometimes I’d feel wired to the moon, then 3 hours later I’d crash and burn and be struggling with those last few hours of the working day. So I decided to reset my tolerance and go cold turkey from the good stuff for ten days – Apart from the odd cup of Decaf purely to satisfy my tastebuds!

Days 1 – 3 – The Struggle

If embarking on a detox from caffeine, this is the hardest stage. Getting over the initial caffeine withdrawal symptoms, and trust me, even if you think you’re not in someway habitually addicted to the black stuff, you’ll realise how much you rely on that liquid once you’re cold turkey.

From the initial low energy, to the dizzy head spells, to that feeling of fogginess in the forefront of your mind. These first three days are not fun at all, but, you just have to trust the process, keep your head strong and know that once those three days are out of the way, the rest will be easy.

For me, I found the mornings and mid afternoons the hardest times of the day. My concentration levels were at an all time low and I felt like my body was missing its Turbo! On top of this, any small daily tasks seemed to take twice as long, as if I was working on dial-up…

Days 3 – 5 – The Hump

Now for me this is where I started to feel more normal, those foggy headaches were no longer, energy levels were starting to balance but I still had that mid-afternoon slog of low energy that would hit me. I’d weened off of that need for caffeine, like a jump start in the morning and as a result my energy levels started to stabilise and were becoming more… consistent and neutral.

By the time I’d got to day 5 my mind and body did not crave or feel the need for coffee or caffeine. I’d even stopped drinking Decaf as it was not really serving any purpose to me apart from replacing that habitual routine of having a coffee first thing.

Days 5 – 10 – The Home Stretch

From day 5 onwards my energy levels were stable across most of the day. Again, with caffeine I generally find that I have a big energy spike at the start, then it fizzles out over a couple of hours. For me during this detox time, I found my energy levels were never running at that high intensity, however I found them to have a more natural flow throughout the day. Around this time I also started to be aware of the impact eating has on my energy levels, a meal would energise me and I would feel it perk me up rather than it being numbed out by that hit of caffeine you’ve had with my morning or afternoon meal.

After day ten I didn’t really ‘miss’ coffee so to speak but I treated myself to a nice Coconut milk flat white and I’m not going to BS you, that thing hit me like a train, it was like being on rocket fuel for the next 5 – 6 hours!

The conclusion

Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee and I love the health benefits of it, however sometimes exclusion makes the heart grow fonder and also lets the body have a little rest! Our body’s tolerance for caffeine builds the more we consume, so I find it beneficial to reset those markers back down to normal and whilst I’m there I can check in with my bodies natural energy levels.

I found the whole detox worthwhile and I feel that its a process I will repeat every 3 or so months. However next time I will try to cut down my consumption over a few days to see if it helps alleviate some of the inital side effects.

I now try to limit my coffee intake to around two cups per day of the strong stuff (which doesn’t always go to plan…) and also try to avoid caffeine after 2 – 4pm. Caffeine can have a big effect on your sleep cycle, which in turn means your recovery from training will be less optimal.

Anyway… all this talk about coffee has got me thirsty!

Mindful Exercise

We all know that life can be stressful, with average commutes of well over an hour into work, unrealistic deadlines to meet and not enough hours in the day to complete them… Some of you may even have children or other dependants, which adds a complete new dynamic to the stressors of life and the responsibilities you hold.

But can you use exercise as a form of escape, a place to leave your daily stress at the door? For me, I find that the effects of exercise really calm me down and help me to let go of some of that pent up stress that may have been building up throughout the day.

One example of this would be a serious interval or track session where my mind has little time to think apart from placing one foot in-front of the other. My thoughts in this session will only be on the task ahead which limits any external influences from the day entering my mind. However with this type of workout a new mental game comes into play, and that’s the one of convincing my mind that the body is capable of pushing through the pain!

Another example of my escape in exercise would be when I’m going for a slow, easy effort, like your typical Sunday long run. I will run and let thoughts enter my mind, maybe reflect on a recent situation which has happened that day or week. Sometimes I will think of all the things I’m thankful for and ponder on them, including the ones I love. This leads me into a positive attitude once my session has finished, almost like a mindful therapy session.

Other days I may leave the headphones at home and I concentrate my time on how I am moving, and how I am breathing, again moving my mind away from any daily stresses and thoughts and move that concentration onto that singular simple task of running. I find this has a very calming effect, and it can also make me more aware of my surroundings rather than blocking them out which again leads to added appreciation of whats around me.

I feel that over time, this is one reason why I have learnt to love running more and more, as I use it not only for the purpose to keep me fit but also a place to ponder my mental playground and check in on my mental wellbeing. In a day and age where life is full of distractions and we are constantly glued to some form of information, it’s good to check in, let go and switch off.

I’m a strong believer that a lot of people would actually benefit a whole lot more mentally from regular exercise, not even taking into consideration the great physical benefits, so next time you go for a run, relax into it and reap that mental wellbeing.

How to: Rise & Grind

The whole ethos of this blog, apart from my personal musings is to inspire and educate people into making positive changes in their life and that starts with one small step.

The Rise&Grind!

Training first thing in the morning can relieve stress and flood your body with happy endorphins as well as having that huge benefit of giving you a better life/work balance which includes more time with your family and friends!

Now it may not be for everyone, but trust me when I say if you decide to train this way it will have a positive impact on your life, you will gain hours in the day you never knew existed. This process is all about optimising your time in the day. So here are my five top tips on how to Rise&Grind.

1 – Prepare

Make sure all your clothes are laid out, bags packed & nutrition for the day is ready to go. For me I like to be out the house within 15 minutes of waking, that means I’m up, teeth brushed, Coffee brewed, bag on the back and I’m out of there ASAP.

2 – Plan

Make sure your workout, journey and destination are planned the night before. If your training right from your front door then this is less of an issue. Some days I will be located somewhere random in the country and I have to locate a local gym near to where my destination is to make sure my morning session is in the bag.

3 – Train your sleep cycle

Now this is the hardest step. You have to train yourself into one of those dreaded morning people, and trust me, it can be done but it takes quite a bit of time.

The first step is making sure you’re in bed early enough to get some solid sleep (I go for as near to 8Hrs as I can) and if that means being in bed by 9.30 – 10pm then so be it. You’re seizing so many new hours early within the day that you can lose a little at night.

The next step is to make sure the alarm is set for the exact same time every day. This way the body slowly starts to recognise that as the time to wake up and you will eventually find your body will start to awake at this time in a more natural pattern.

4 – Start slowly

For the first few weeks take it slowly, dont get up and try to smash some beastly HIIT workout, instead go for a slow jog or a light spin maybe even try some yoga. Get your mind and body into that positive habit of getting up and moving before work. Then as time goes by (after a good warm up) you can up the ante and throw down some beastly interval sessions before work.

5 – Coffee

I love coffee. And man, nothing wakes me up like a good brew. So get the kettle on, the french press out and make your morning ritual include a great organic coffee! Time it well so it starts to kick in just in time for your workout (This usually takes around 40minutes for most people) and then you have your natural pre-workout sorted.

I’m a big believer in exercise’s effects on your mental health and working out before you hit the office is a great way to awaken your mind and set you up for a good day ahead.

So try it out and let me know how you get on!