I don’t write these types of post often because IMHO, the people that understand this already understand it and the ones that refuse to listen will just ignore it (you know, like clients that hire you to create results for them but they don’t want to listen to your professional experience—because they know better—but still found the need to hire you for your expertise, right?).
Anyways, the timing was right so what the hell.
Long story short, I saw an article this week about an athlete that ended up in the hospital from overtraining with rhabdo, and from the hospital bed she warned other athletes that, “Overtraining is a real thing.” My immediate thought was, “Why yes, yes it is real. That’s why it’s documented in medical literature, and even has an official name, Rhabdomyolysis. Guess what…injuries are real too…that’s why we have to be smart about training and overtraining.”
Again, some people already understand this while others need to experience this type of medical emergency or injury first hand to learn from it (or will just make excuses to rationalize away these warnings). But as the saying goes, a hard head creates a soft behind. This doesn’t just pertain to CrossFit athletes, it crosscuts all competitive sports on REPETITIVE USE ACTIVITIES in general. Especially those yahoo’s featured everyday on @gymfuckery! Bodybuilders aren’t immune from this either! Take Ronnie Coleman for example, one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, known for his InSaNe crazy heavy lifting routines…but as of today, doesn’t know if he’ll be able to walk again, or at least normally. (UPDATE: Ironically enough, after writing my first draft I wanted to fact check myself and did a search on how Ronnie got injured and found he had said this on Instagram ”I hurt my back initially in high school. The real damage was done in college playing football”. I shIt you not. I found this AFTER I had finished this draft and if you decide to finish reading this post you’ll see why this statement is so relevant).
Think about it, how many articles have you read about retired NFL players or other professional athletes that are now having to live on painkillers the rest of their life in chronic pain, from injuries they sustained while doing what they love. I say this because when you’re young, in your 20’s, and 30’s injuries doesn’t mean anything, because all they see is what’s in front of them. The now! Going for a personal record to post on Instagram, regardless of the long-term physical cost. But I’m telling you, the injuries you rack up over the years will catch up to you—even AFTER the “youth” healing occurs.
Unfortunately, I was reminded of this last night after doing a very basic, and light workout—just a damn maintenance workout. But, by the time I was done my wrist had swollen up (and continued to swell throughout the night) and I didn’t even injure it during the workout. It was a damn basic workout. Then I realized it’s the wrist I had broken in 3rd grade while running backward, the wrist I had broken in Jr. High after punching a wall heartbroken over a girl, the wrist injured while playing high school football and the wrist I had continually sprained over the years doing martial arts; not to mention dislocated thumbs, knees, shoulders head contusions, etc…you know the standard sports injury list. Well, at 45, today was the day that all of those injuries caught up to me. Seriously, it’s one thing to EARN an injury while training but getting an injury from doing “nothing” is really demoralizing (let alone getting injured in your sleep…I still don’t know how that happens). Side note: Because of the wrist injuries sustained over the years (and learned from) I’m really conscious about training that involves the wrists. Specifically, one of the WORST types of exercises you can do are those that require you to fall into the push-up position because it bends your wrist back into its weakest position (hence the injured wrist photo)…while your entire body weight + gravity + momentum is simultaneously being thrust upon it. Those that have studied martial arts and boxing understand this and why we are taught to punch with a STRAIGHT WRIST so that the impact is absorbed through the much stronger bones of the forearm the ulna and radius. But again, many athletes won’t hear this tip until they’ve broken their wrist or sustained a serious injury. Worse yet, myself included at one time, they’ll go back to doing the same type of caustic training routine thinking that it has healed and all is good. Well, I’m telling you…it catches up to you. But if you don’t understand and respect CAUSALITY, you’ll end up saying exactly what Ronnie went on to say, “As long as you[r] doing what you love doing, fuck what anybody says negative about you.” Bruh, let me tell you…just because you disagree with common sense science that may require you to stop doing or at least recommend corrective action, IS NOT NEGATIVE TALK! It’s someone trying to help you avoid self-induced injuries that may leave you unable to do OTHER THINGS in your life that you may LOVE doing…like, uhm…say WALKING for example?
So while I truly understand the desire to be ones best, constantly challenging and pushing ones mental and physical limits—in addition to the endorphin high and adrenaline rush–it’s also important to remember that the extreme training we love is just a SHORT SEASON in what we hope will be a long life. But when you’re young, constantly being sold on concepts like YOLO and everyone around you on social media is doing extreme training, it’s easy to forget that the injuries you inflict upon yourself today will likely come back and haunt you in the future. Moreover, as I’m sitting here right now, working through the injury of course, for many people, injuries they sustain will also impact their ability to earn a living….support a family…mental state….and decrease their overall quality of life. Was it really worth it?
Lord knows this isn’t meant to be an anti-training post but, as we say in the software industry, “Stand on the shoulders of giants,” so that you can learn from those that have already walked the path and avoid common pitfalls. So this isn’t being written to be negative, it’s being said to help you live a better (healthier life) instead of having to repeat the same mistakes that have already been experienced and documented by those that have gone before you.
Now back to the grind.
Also a good article worth reading I came across: https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/athletes-healthcare
Not All Gym Equipment is Created Equal
The ALLN-1® RackTrax™ F2 HIIT System is not your typical piece of equipment. It exceeds expectations and is nothing short of a breakthrough in the mid-commercial fitness equipment market. While other equipment works in a single plane or are limited in what they can do, the RackTrax relies on inverted resistance training, among other modalities, to challenge your muscles in a completely different way.
If you have ever used a TRX for inverted rows, then you’ve experienced inverted resistance training. By working against gravity, exercises are performed with a greater intensity requiring greater effort. This type of training is not new and is often used to complement a traditional lifting routine, but can also be used as a stand-alone method of training. Lifting heavy has its place, but that’s not the purpose of the RackTrax F2 System which is geared towards a higher volume of work using lighter weights. Quite honestly, lifting heavy can have its drawbacks if that is your only form of resistance training. Studies have shown that adding in more bodyweight work and using lighter loads can, in the end, increase your strength, improve your form and is less taxing on the body.
Most injuries occur when form suffers. This happens when you keep increasing your weight, but your body is not quite ready for this. Sure, you want to get stronger, but doing it safely should take precedence over ego. Strength will come, but you have to work for it and you must be patient.
The RackTrax combines the best of both worlds—free weight training and machine training. Some prefer the freedom that free weights allow. Your movements are less restrictive and you can move in various planes. Machines, however, don’t offer this flexibility in movement. Both have their pros and cons. For beginners, machines can help to keep your form in check. For advanced lifters, machines may feel too cumbersome or unnatural.
What makes the RackTrax unique is that it’s made out of lighter steel with connector components. The state-of-the-art design allows increased motility near the fulcrum points and hinges of the system creating more natural and fluid movement. You will feel less restricted while working in a more natural plane of motion. When you throw inverted resistance exercises into the mix, you’re now maximizing the equipment’s use and working harder in the process. How? Your core will be more engaged to offer stability and balance (an often overlooked component when training) through your entire range of motion.
A perfect example that demonstrates the effectiveness and joint-friendly nature of the RackTrax would be the leg extension. A seated leg extension will place a lot of stress on your knee as you increase the weight. That is not an issue on the RackTrax which utilizes a standing leg extension that places the load on the fulcrum point of the machine, rather than your knee, by way of inversion. This goes back to the system’s development purpose in providing effective training that allows for weight increases without increasing the potential for injury. An exercise basically becomes more difficult not because you are using more weight, but rather your way of training has drastically changed with regards to proper movement and working in a different plane of motion.
The RackTrax began with the ALLN-1 Functional Fitness Bench made out of commercial grade, 12-gauge steel. The multifunctional use of the bench (more than 170 possible exercises) made it the perfect addition to the ALLN-1 RackTrax F2 HIIT System. Simply attach the bench to the wall mount RackTrax and it has now become a versatile piece of equipment extending beyond a traditional squat rack or bench.
The bench’s small size means it takes up less space and is easy to fold up and store under a bed or in a closet. You can adjust the height as well by simply sliding the bench down the “Trax”. The frame is light enough to stay securely on your walls. And don’t worry about it becoming an eyesore. You can add some shelving to it giving it a dual purpose and an added piece of décor to your room. How’s that for multifunctional?
What else can it do? You can use free weights, resistance bands, heavy bags, speed bags, suspension trainers and so much more with it. Exercises include pull-ups, squats, dips, shoulder presses, glute raises and bench presses. The RackTrax F2 HIIT System allows you to work out in the privacy of your own home on your schedule. You don’t have to worry about braving the cold or extreme weather conditions to get to a gym. It’s right there for you.
The RackTrax is the brainchild of Al Smith, founder of TrainChange Fitness. Al has been in the fitness industry for more than twenty-five years as a fitness consultant and personal trainer. Aside from that, he is also a software engineer and architect as well as a Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt. He wanted to change the way people approach fitness by not only making it more accessible through design, efficiency and scalability, but to also use science and empirical logic to make it the most effective way for you to exercise. When he designed the system, he also understood the need for something that was diverse, yet not cumbersome, lightweight, but not flimsy, sturdy, yet flexible.
For many, the focus of training should be on form and not how much weight is being used. By following this mantra, you not only learn how to do an exercise properly but also how to do other exercises properly that utilize the same muscles and similar movements. Inverted resistance training using the ALLN-1 RackTrax F2 HIIT System will take your workouts to a whole new level—one that focuses on form, efficiency and using your whole body to build muscle and get stronger.
Avoiding the Fitness Equipment Graveyard
Without a doubt, the fitness equipment manufacturers are going to hate me even more now for dropping this open secret. But in fairness, I hate to admit, but I’ve got about 15k-20k worth of fitness equipment in storage–collecting dust.
If you’ve been involved in fitness for any length of time, or ever purchased a piece of fitness equipment, it’s safe to say that you’ve paid a visit to the Fitness Equipment Graveyard. In fact, if you’re an OCD fitness equipment hoarder like myself, you probably have one at your house.
In my storage, you’ll find:
1. 2 x Olympic Bar
2. Indoor Cycles (Now resting in peace outdoors)
4. NordicTrack Recumbent Bike
5. NordicTrack Treadmill
6. Adjustable Dumbbells
7. Hoist Squat Rack with Cable Flys
8. Heavy Bag
9. Versa Climber
10. Hyper Extension
11. A back stretcher something
So what’s a fitness equipment graveyard, well, it’s the place where all of the fitness equipment ends up when we’re tired of using the same equipment; it gets unattractive or when a newer model (of the same equipment) has been released. (All things being equal, I use to enjoy purchasing and refurbishing equipment but I no longer have time for that). And if you don’t know by now, if your garage is considered a fitness graveyard, then Craigslist and the Goodwill should be considered the fitness equipment Afterlife. Seriously, having opened two fitness studios in the past and invested a ton of money into equipment, I eventually learned that if I need [want] a new [different] piece of equipment, the first place to look is on Craigslist. Or at best start with companies that sell refurbished equipment. Because after 25+ years buying fitness STUFF, here’s the sad reality.
One, people end up moving and don’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of moving heavy equipment with them, so they either sell it for fire-sale prices on Craigslist or two, they just drop it off at the Goodwill.
Two, people go through fitness phases like underwear. As a result, after about 8-10 months a 3k dollar treadmill usually becomes a $20 clothes rack in the basement.
Lastly, just from straight statistics, most businesses fail within 2 years—and anyone that’s ever owned a gym knows, when you have to close your doors and have all the equipment out of the building—you will sell the equipment at cents on the dollar, even if you’re still paying off the loans taken out to purchase the equipment. So let’s be honest, the real money being made in the fitness equipment business is on the high margin sale of new equipment, and the middle man hustle that has the cash and storage to buy used equipment then resell it. #Truth.
To me, this was just insane and I wanted a better solution. Especially as someone that loves to purchase fitness equipment, but also moved around about every 6 months, and didn’t want to take my old equipment with me, but at the same time got tired of throwing my equipment out. So with a serious desire to solve this problem, I developed the ALLN-1 Functional Fitness Bench.
Granted, the ALLN-1 product line doesn’t, nor is it intended to replace commercial gym equipment (as of today). It can’t, because it wasn’t designed for that. It was designed to be lightweight and semi-commercial grade. Easy to assemble and disassemble. That way, if you had to pack up and move, packing it up and relocating it with you would be simple and cost effective. Hell, even if you just wanted to paint a room in your house we all know how daunting it is to move a 300 lb. piece of equipment from one corner to another. Not to mention the amount of space that’s required for a good home gym, then they either make everything as one big clunky piece, or into 10 different machines could essentially be consolidated into one or two pieces. That was my initial, goal, consolidate the 20k worth of fitness the equipment in my garage, into one piece I could easily keep and maintain in the house/studio. Second, since fitness boredom will inevitably kick in at some point, why not make the equipment SCALABLE so that you can continuously add new variations to it, instead of dumping it into the grave yard. Finally, all that said, I wanted it to be more than just traditional home equipment limited to either only doing suspension band training, body weight training or free-weight training. A good piece of equipment should be able to accommodate all of the progressive resistance modalities. So I took all of those requirements, while continually looking at the dead pieces of equipment stacked up in my garage, the ALLN-1 Functional Fitness Bench and recently the RackTraX were born. Truly, out of a desire to solve a consumer problem…but more importantly, a passion for fitness, and NECESSITY!