Top reads June
Below you find some of my favorite blogposts, book quotes, workshops attended and videos I came online by in the past month. I hope you enjoy this format. It's a good way for me to recap and store some of the things I learn. I'm not sure yet about the categories used right now and whether I might have narrowed down the boxes too small for some of the subjects but I'm sure I'll figure that out. I enjoyed writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it and maybe learn a thing or two.
Movement & Training
- Henk Kraaijenhof seems to be a guy I keep going back to. He writes about stuff I've never heard of that's often been around for decades. This time it's: bio electromagnetics.
Resonance frequencies can be used to destroy structures, but it can also be used to entrain, modify or normalize other biological structures and cells as well. This is why we can use pulsed electromagnetic fields to accelerate the healing of bone tissue in the case of fractures, or use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to stimulate or inhibit neurons in the brain. The membrane potential and even the activity of receptors can be changed under the influence of electromagnetic waves.
- Jozef & Linda of Fighting Monkey/Rootlessroot keep sharing their creative ideas. This time on using what they call "Reversed Loop" to improve leg coordination and detect limitations and possible future injury. Jozef's emphasis on training AND rehabbing with your feet on the floor in direct interaction with the floor seems to be a logical principle to use as a teacher. A quote they are know to use often: "Feet, feet, feet!"
- I came by these feet and ankle exercises as part of a falling prevention program. These are great tools to put in your toolbox and mix up with the FRC intrinsic foot strength drills. I already implemented some of these with two distance runners I help and have noticed that due to the linearity of their sport, their body is only developed in a "go straight ahead" type way. So getting them out of their usual patterns directly seems to be beneficial for them to lower chance of injury when shit happens.
- Steve Morris on isometrics theory: I bought Steve Morris his DVD on isometrics after seeing positive comments on it by Simon Thakur of Ancestral Movement. Some of the things I liked in the DVD is:
- Steve's advice on working on mental presence when practicing isometrics - and basically any skill
- How to measure progress in isometrics internally and externally
- How to do isometrics to connect yourself to your hip,
- How he breaks his chair while demonstrating how to use objects to do isometrics :)
The best thing is he shares his theory and principles, his thinking behind what he uses isometrics in fighting practice,… this way I am already getting ideas on how to apply isometrics in practice with other sports and let athletes experience isometrics to better get a movement that is specific for their sport It's actually a bit like FRC applied to actually moving movement practice: like the Russians doing heavy strength movements and then plyometrics.
Also Steve seems to have super strong feet, which to me has become a standard of separating the worthy movement teachers from the ones who like to talk about it. If you're not sure, look at their feet.
This DVD's is worth it, buy it if this rings bells! There's also something written on his blog on how he uses isometrics here.
I don't just do isometrics as an exercise, but as a way of figuring out how I can apply more pressure.
- Steve Morris
- Reading about isometrics reminded me of reading somewhere that Bruce Lee used this type of training which got me to Bob Hoffman's book on isometrics, supposedly the guy who Bruce Lee got his isometrics training inspiration from. You can read it here. It's interesting to see how Hoffman used isometrics as pure exercises and Steve Morris applied the theory behind it to a more experimental approach of using them for specific purposes in fighting arts
- Body By Science is a book that keeps coming back to me. After reading this post on it I noticed that it's very similar to what Steve Maxwell recommended as training advice when he gave a workshop at our facility. The book seems to be written from a longevity/stress reduction perspective. In short it's basically do push, pull vertically and laterally and something for legs 1x per week 12 minutes with working with slow concentric and eccentric movement for 45-90s time under load. This might be a good way to set up a routine for people who don't want to invest as little time as possible strength training but really need it.
- Serge Augier's ideas on structure, relaxation and coordination seem to be very similar to what I've been learning from Jozef Frucek. Again something I hope will find it's way in popular movement culture:
Strength work, coordination work or complex movements have no meaning without a general relaxation of the structure. For this coherent ensemble to be relaxed it must be “rooted”. We will look primarily for a postural alignment to find this structure. The alignment of this structure will settle us down on earth and enable us to find our center. In this condition we can go in a more specific search. Without this structure, it will be difficult to do anything.
- Edward Hines wrote a post on using questions to be more aware during practice:
Use questions to move your awareness around, like a searchlight in a dark night.
Now for the questions. Here are a few that I like.
- What is happening now?
- What is different now?
- Does this serve me?
- What else can I be aware of?
- What can I do now?
- What needs to happen now?
- What can I do differently now?
- More on questions, a question Henk Kraaijenhof asks himself when as a coach of world class athletes:
I worked and still work with the world’s best athletes, and always ask myself the question am I world class too?
In this interview Kraaijenhof talks about the hypes issue, training too much, his education process, learning from other disciplines:
The main error that coaches all over the world make is the tendency to overtrain: training too often, too much and/or too hard. My important rule: train as much as necessary, not as much as possible. As much as necessary means: necessary in order to improve.
I have to admit that I am obsessive compulsive as far as information goes and reinvested large part of my income in books, articles and visits to colleagues and scientists.
Consistency over time pays.
The internet also makes it look like nothing happened, was known, or was invented or developed before 1990.
There are many things to learn outside of the field of sports: e.g. I learned a lot as far as performance under pressure is concerned from working with special forces operators.
And my favorite, connecting athletic performance and the arts:
We as coaches are the guides, the teachers, the masters, helping the athlete to accomplish this, even if the environment is different. We have to find creative solutions, not being lazy or limited and only copying other coaches’ thoughts and concepts. New exercises, new ways of periodization, new tools and new ways to improve the athlete, let the athlete be part of this creative process and think with you. Make him responsible for his own process.
- Philip Chubb wrote down his throughts on the role of generalist movement practice in a specialist sports: more generalist movement in off-season, more skill-specific pre-season?
- In Food For Thought: Trust Your Unconscious When Energy Is Low I read that:
Our unconscious does not seem to require the same energy needed for conscious processes. Our data show that when we are low on
energy we can employ another decision strategy than thinking consciously: We can trust our unconscious.
Ray Peat or Peat-related
- I picked up reading about Ray Peat's research again. Last year I got into it and started eating bone broths and implementing gelatine as a supplement. Then kinda forgot about Peat. I found that Peat writes about much much more than nutrition through his book Mind & Tissue (see below) and that he also has shared thought on exercise and stress. This is what he wrote about energy expenditure of long mindful walks versus long mindless jogging for burning calories:
While jogging became popular for preventing heart disease, we were frequently told by experts how many miles a person has to run to burn off a pound of fat. However, in Russia, physiologists always remember to include the brain in their calculations, and it turns out that a walk through interesting and pleasant surroundings consumes more energy than does harder but more boring exercise. An active brain consumes a tremendous amount of fuel.
- Ray Peat
- E-mail answers by Ray Peat compiled in a one big list of subjects. Especially good for the training population is his research on stress. Especially people living the crossfit-type lifestyle would probably benefit from reading and implementing his take on exercise and diet as it seems to be catabolic in the long. Also his take on creativity (also see Mind & Tissue) are a fresh breath. Peat's phd dissertation was on William Blake, which says a lot. The interesting thing about Peat to is his wholeness in his personal development and advices. Another good resource that I've been using to learn about this research is Danny Roddy's Patreon.
- An experiment shared in this talk with Danny Roddy on "Tooth Decay, Supplements vs. Food, Long Walks, and Ray Peat's Work:
Once a week I try not to read anything and keep my mouth shut as much as possible.
Try to quiet down the verbal center of the brain.
The more verbal you are, the more analytical you are, the more you're moving towards the serotonin system.
- Rob Turner of Functional Performance Systems, who teaches a Ray Peat-based nutrition program, shares a more holistic definition of fitness in this interview:
The following are aspects of fitness that integrate aesthetics, performance, cellular health, and well being:
- Competency in biomotor abilities (strength, endurance, power, flexibility, balance, speed, agility, coordination) in relation to needs or goals
- Muscle size, body composition, and activity level that matches needs or goals, not societal definitions or pressures
- Mobile joints & relaxed muscles
- Natural spinal and body alignment fostered by strong bones
- Effortless nasal, diaphragmatic breathing
- Youthful respiratory quotient (optimal body temperature and pulse rate)
- Efficient digestion and elimination
- Healthy heart and good circulation (strong pulse and warm extremities, tip of nose)
- Rarely experience sickness
- Excellent sleep, libido, and fertility
- Relaxed yet focused mind
- Positive outlook
In the second part of this interview, Turner shares three main types of recovery in the case of exercise:
"1. neural – central nervous system
2. muscular – muscle and connective tissue
3. metabolic – thyroid hormone and oxygen availability
"The recovery rate for these are variable and person dependent. But no one in the fitness industry is seriously paying attention to metabolic recovery; that is how you get high-performing athletes or fitness junkies with a near hypothermic metabolic rate."
Further, he shares that "Modern exercise techniques often put the body in the fight or flight survival mode intentionally. If the stress burden is consistently high outside of the gym, I don’t think it’s wise from a health standpoint to raise it further with frequent, vigorous exercise.
"For the general fitness trainee who is looking to improve the body proportions, consider all of the stresses and that will help determine how much exercise is right for the person. It’s about finding a balance between stress and rest. If you have a life that is not high in stress you have more freedom to expend yourself."
For a whole list of Ray Peat quotes on exercise considerations compiled by Rob Turner of Functional Performance, check out this page on Rob Turner's website.
- As I said in the Ray Peat section, I really enjoyed that Peat is writing about the dangers of reductionism and proposes a holistic look at the world when discussing subject such as nutrition, physical culture, and self-cultivation. His book Mind & Tissue: Russian Perspectives on the Human Brain, published a couple of decades ago, really shows this perspective by looking at Russian brain literature, re-visiting Pavlov and his contemporaries, Freud, William Blake, etc. Some outtakes:
What interests me about Pavlov is the way in which the force of nature is seen at work both in the organism as a whole and in the individual cell, and in which these seem simultaneously present in one another. Nature is miniaturized, and it materializes at the very core of being, in its smallest parts. It opens, inwardly, into an internal universe as extensive as the macrocosmic, external one, so that we seem to grow in size. What Freud restored to the mind, Pavlov restored to tissue. It is there too that mystery resides and vision can be found, and that is the source of power.
Creativity is treated as an essential human trait, part of the human need for self-realization through productive work.
The integrity of the organism requires opportunity for exploration, for freedom.
Californian researchers found that rats' brains grow when their environment is enriched.
The exercise of the exploratory reflex seems to make more energy available. As long as the world remains a source of new knowledge, the brain will react to novelty with a continued increase of exploratory energy.
In alertness animals use oxygen more efficiently to produce energy.
Both metabolic and social events can influence the wholeness and intensity with which we interact with the world, and can promote an energy wasting state or a condition of growth towards greater wholeness and intensity.
- Finally finished The Compass Of Zen, which I saw Dave Wardman of Physical Alchemy recommend last year I think. My notes are on goodreads, but the best reminder for myself right now:
Finding quiet in quiet is not true quiet. Finding quiet in noisy is true quiet.
- Westerse Esoterie & Oosterse Wijsheid (in dutch) gives a really good overview of the esoteric and philosophical traditions in West and East.
- WIM, a documentary on Wim Vandekeybus' Ultima Vez dance company (of which Jozef & Linda of Rootlessroot were part of the team) was shown for free on canvas.be this month. But it doesn't seem to be online anymore. Check out the trailer below.
- Nils Frahm is genius musician.
“The music is dark and serious, and sounds wild and complex. But then you see what I am doing this with, and something in the head tickles. You can hit a €120,000 instrument with a $1 Ikea toilet brush!” He is, he says, challenging what an affecting musical experience can be, though he also just wants to raise a smile. “My music wants to be a physical force, which can be quite heavy, and I need a laugh.”
- Joseph Beuys on freedom: