December, 2011 | Critical Bench

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5 Keys To Explosive Power & Speed

A local friend of mine named Chris Barnard put together a really cool free report for you called, “5 Principles To Increasing Explosive Power & Speed“.

Chris is currently the head trainer at Strength Camp gym in St. Petersburg, FL where I train sometimes.   If you’re an athlete or you want to perform and look like an athlete this report should really help you out a lot.

Direct Download Link:
http://www.criticalbench.com/pdf/5PrinciplesTXT.pdf

Interview With Hybrid Athlete Sarah Grace

December 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Athlete Interviews, Interviews, Recent Posts

As Told To CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar

Sarah has been a pro boxer, a pro female football player in the LFL, a NPC pro figure competitor, and is one of the most hybrid female athletes out there.

CB: Sarah, welcome to Critical Bench. It’s great to have an elite athlete who competes in so many different professional sports. First, tell us about yourself!

SGK: I am a free spirited, hard working young woman originally from New England, Massachusetts. I have my own personal training business serving Fort Lauderdale and Aventura Florida. I am also a fitness model and women’s NPC Figure competitor.

CB: Let’s start by talking about your journey as a boxer. List for us your favorite moment, funny moment, crazy moment, and a moment that changed you?

SGK: Wow…well, my favorite moment was when I won my fight hands down and also took home a belt! Everyone was nervous because they thought my opponent was going to be super tough. Halfway into the first round I knew I had the fight when I hit her with a couple jabs that sent her head back. It shook her confidence when she felt the power of my jab!! Wooohoo! I would say a moment that changed me was when I let some drama in my corner get to my head and affect me negatively in another fight I had. I realized how much of a mental sport boxing is.

CB: What was it about boxing that you loved so much?

SGK: I not only love the physical challenge of boxing but I love the technical aspect of the sport as well. I know it sounds crazy but when I get into it I kinda like getting hit. Of course not when I’m in a fight ’cause that equals points for them, but it doesn’t faze me! (laughs)

CB: Sarah, you are a warrior!! How did people respond when you told them you were boxing?

SGK: I think they were surprised because looking at me they were kinda like “Yeah, okay.” However, once they saw me in action it totally changed their opinions.

CB: Before you boxed, you were a ring card girl. You lived the model’s dream and the athletic dream. Did you like boxing more or being a ring card girl?

SGK: I love boxing WAY MORE than being a ring card girl. I have always been a tom boy, so kicking someones ass is way more fun for me than being sexy!

CB: Very cool. What did you think of being a ring card girl back when you were one?

SGK: It was fun! I was very young so it was quite an exciting experience for me.

CB: You are extraordinarily athletic and in amazing shape. You inspire lots of people. Tell us about your training routine.

SGK: My training routine varies depending on what stage of training I am in. If I’m getting ready for a show my training is usually a typical body building style and I’ll do 2 a days where I split cardio and my lifting. If I am in the off season I prefer to do more circuit, functional style training and I will box or do some MMA for fun.

CB: We also know you compete. How do you train for your shows and what is your diet like?

SGK: For my shows I usually do chest Monday, back Tuesday, legs Wednesday, just cardio on Thursday or arms and cardio, shoulders Friday, and legs again Saturday. It tends to go something like that. My diet also depends on how far out I am from my show. Typically it consists of lots of protein, green veggies, salads, eggs, and some complex carbs. When I am not getting ready for a show I try to stay along the same guide lines but I add more healthy fats in my diet and a little more variety. Also less measuring and being so strict on my portion sizes.

CB: On top of all these accomplishments, in 2009, you played for the LFL with the Miami Caliente. The LFL is professional football and it is played in lingerie for those who don’t know. Sarah, what were your thoughts when it came to playing in the LFL?

SGK: Well again I love sports and I am a huge football fan. I was super excited to get out there and take some broads out! (laughs) Football is an awesome sport!!

CB: What was harder boxing or playing in the LFL and why?

SGK: I would say boxing was harder because football is a team sport and when you mess up hopefully your team has your back. Boxing is just you in that ring and your opponent. May the best man win!!

CB: Was playing in the LFL what you thought it would be?

SGK: I didn’t go in with a lot of expectations but the game of football itself was more complicated than I anticipated, so that was a challenge. You know, we didn’t grow up learning the game in elementary and high school so it was like a crash course on everything.

CB: Speaking of great football players, you also have videos of you training with NFL pro bowl living legend Brendon Ayanbadejo. How did you meet him, and what is it like training with an NFL living legend like Brendon?

SGK: I met Brendon probably 7 or 8 years ago when my best friend and I crashed her fiancées house where Brendon was sleeping. I woke him up and introduced myself and ever since then we’ve been friends!! (laughs) I truly enjoy training with Brendon. He inspires and motivates me!

CB: What has it been like being friends with Brendon?

SGK: Brendon has been a great friend to me. He is a real down to earth guy with a super positive attitude! I really appreciate and enjoy his friendship!

CB: Outside of Brendon, name us some athletes who inspire you.

SGK: Wow…that’s a tough one. I gain inspiration from other female athletes like Dara Torres, Mia Hamm, and Figure competitor Ava Cowan. I am all about woman being mentally and physically strong. Sports of all kinds build your confidence and mental strength. Girl power!!!

CB: What motivates Sarah to be a fitness bombshell?

SGK: I like challenges! I’ve seen what I can do with my body and it motivates me to keep pushing to be the best. I also hope to use it to grow my business as a personal trainer and as a model!

CB: What makes Sarah happy?

SGK: Doing what I love and having good friends and family in my life

CB: How do you want to be remembered?

SGK: As a determined, hard working, honest, caring, sexy beeatch!! (laughs)

CB: You will be remembered as all of those and more! You’re a hybrid, professional athlete superstar in so many sports as well. What is your advice for young girls who would one day like to be in the best shape possible?

SGK: Stay focused! Set goals for your self! Pick a sport and become the best you can at it!!

CB: What was it like for you to do a figure contest?

SGK: Well, I had done quite a bit of modeling and bikini contests when I was younger so when it came to getting on stage that was easy, but learning to pose for figure and compete against so many other great athletes has been new to me!

CB: What was it like competing in the NPC?

SGK: I have always wanted to compete in the NPC and I think its a super professional organization. Definitely more competition. You have to bring it!

CB: You did just that and always excelled. What has it been like being a personal trainer for you?

SGK: I think I have a gift for teaching and really I enjoy being able to inspire and potentially change someone’s life. Sometimes I feel like a psychiatrist, and that can be draining at times but like any business it has its ups and downs.

CB: Sarah, let’s hear your top 10 fitness tips.

SGK:

1. Always incorporate squats and deadlifts in your leg routine.

2. Don’t just do low intensity cardio but incorporate intervals as well.

3. Switch up your routine every few weeks.

4. EAT! don’t be afraid to eat, thinking you will get fat. Make sure its real food, not processed and low in sugars.

5. Don’t stretch before you lift. Incorporate an active dynamic warmup that mimics the movements you are going to perform in your actual workout. Stretch after.

6. Consume your protein shake with fruit right after your workouts.

7. Give your self a rest day or two. You will come back stronger.

8. Don’t over train. You don’t need 3 or 4 hours in the gym a day. It’s counter productive to your muscular development.

9. Incorporate single leg training into your leg routines. It will improve your overall leg training and stability.

10. Strengthen your core by doing full body movements, not just crunches. It will make you stronger in all your movements.

CB: These are great tips. Everyone should print these 10 tips out and put them on their refrigerators. Sarah, It has been great talking to you, Sarah. In closing who would you like to thank?

SGK: I would like to say thank you to all the people who support me and encourage me in what I do. Thank you for following me on twitter, facebook, my website and YouTube channel! And thanks to my friends and coaches who believe in me!  You can connect with me at these links:

www.sgtrainingzone.com

www.twitter.com/sarahgfitness

www.facebook.com/sarahgracefitness

Tough Mudder – Tampa 2011

Tough Mudder – Tampa 2011

They called it the Tampa, FL Tough Mudder but it was actually in Dade City which is about an hour away.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Tough Mudder their web site calls it “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet.”

It’s a hardcore mud race that spans 11.5 miles  and had 28 obstacles designed by British Special Forces to test your strength, stamina, grit and teamwork.  It’s not “really” a race though, it’s actually a challenge just to finish and camaraderie is more important than your time.

If you’re an endurance athlete this is probably just your kind of event.  As for me, this was way out of my comfort zone.  Most recently I had been competing in powerlifting and consider myself to be more of an explosive athlete rather than an endurance guy.

Why?

That’s a damn good question.  During the months leading up to the event I often asked why I wanted to put myself through this.

After all some of the obstacles included jumping in a tub of ice water and waiting for others to climb out, crawling underground in dark tunnels, climbing over Berlin Walls, schlepping through waist high mud and even sprinting up a half pipe (see video below).  Did I mention the 11.5 miles?  Well it’s worth mentioning again.

Any normal person would wonder why I’d want to do something like this.  At first it was strictly peer pressure :)  Some of my buddies over at Strength Camp Gym were all doing it and talked me into it.  That got me signed up but I still had to find my own motivation.

The physical and mental CHALLENGE became my motivation.

I had not run more than 3-miles straight in the past five years so I knew I’d have to improve my long distance running.  I was also carrying too much weight having taken advantage of the powerlifting lifestyle a bit so I’d have to drop some LBS to conquer this event. Those were cool incentives, but…..

When it comes down to it I wanted to do this event for myself.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could accomplish this.   You see ever since Baby Karina was born in March most of my life has revolved around taking care of others, working and helping out as much as physically possible.

The Tough Mudder event was just for me.  Sure I’d be tested physically and mentally but I knew that when it was all said and done I’d be a stronger father and husband.  The obstacles in a mud race can never compare to the obstacles and adversity you face in your everyday life.   By crushing this event I’d be better equipped to be the solid rock that my family would rely on when times get tough and they do and will get tough.

Intensification vs. Simplification

Just to let you inside my head for a moment, I don’t know why I think this way.  I don’t recall reading it anywhere or studying this.

During my training I would intensify the event making it seem extremely hard in my head.  I would remind myself that I better be prepared because this was no joke. They make you sign a death waiver after all.  If I got tired during training I’d remind myself that if I can’t fly through the workout I have no business doing the Tough Mudder.

I did this for a while and used it as my “running fuel”.  It served me well for a while.  I got to the point where I could run 9-miles straight.  However as the event started getting closer intensifying it wasn’t working anymore because it was actually making me nervous.

That’s when it was time to start simplifying.  I was prepared and ready so to get rid of the nerves I started simplifying the event by finding out of shape looking people looking in the event videos and telling myself if these dudes can do it, so can I.  I had made up my mind that I was going to finish the event no matter what. Before the event even started I had decided I don’t care what happens I would finish no matter what.  I had to.

Being Thankful?

CriticalBench reporter Ben Tatar and personal trainer Chris Wilson who is a high school buddy of mine did the event together with me on Sunday.

I can’t really explain this and I don’t know how it happened but I had my head in the right place the entire race.  I never expected it to be easy so I wasn’t really surprised by anything.

My Strength Camp buddies had told me how hard it was so I wasn’t caught off guard.

I recall thinking to myself, “Man this is the perfect weather and I don’ think there’s any place I’d rather be in the entire world than right here right now, breathing this fresh air, getting exercise and enjoying  good friends and the company of other determined tough mudders.”

We had to sign a waiver that said we wouldn’t bitch and complain and I laughed to myself a few times as I jogged past a few guys that were bitching and complaining.

Ben, Chris and I all made it to the end and helped each other and other participants out along the way.  When I crossed the finish line I had such an adrenaline rush, I immediately jugged a beer with Chris and thought to myself that wasn’t so bad after all!  Well, it must have been the adrenaline rush because I was walking like an 85-year old man later that night and realized I had sprained my knee a bit and has some pretty nice bruises on my forearms.

At 230 lbs I did an 11.5 mile mud race with obstacles.  Who would have thought that I’d actually get comfortable being uncomfortable!

Oh one more huge key during the race.  I never looked forward to the next phase or wondered when the race would end.  I just tried to enjoy the experience and everything going on around me rather than looking forward to the future.  In that state of mind it doesn’t really matter when or if it ends which for me was a much better mental state to be in.  Now that it’s over I can look back and say, Wow that is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life!

Mudder Training

If you’re going to do this event you may have different weaknesses than me.  I’ve been lifting weights, heavy weights for that matter for over 20 years.  On the other hand it had been since college that I had done any long distance running over 3-miles so that’s what I had to focus on.

Every week I’d get 2-3 long distance running sessions in.   Typically I’d do one shorter and one longer run trying to improve each week in either distance or time.

Another thing I did was try to mimic the obstacles.  Granted I couldn’t build monkey bars and hang ropes across gator infested waters but what I could do is run a mile and then immediately perform some high intensity resistance cardio.

Have you ever heard of Workout Finishers?  Typically these are heavy weight / low volume circuits that you can add to the end of your workout instead of doing 45-minutes of steady state cardio.  The problem with too much cardio is that you lose strength and muscle.   Since Finishers only take 5-10 minutes and are super intense you spare the muscle you’ve been building while getting the fat burning benefits.

Now in my case I used them a little differently to mimic obstacles from the Tough Mudder.  Like I said, I’d jog a mile than I’d perform a Finisher mini-workout for 5-10 minutes.  Than I’d run the next mile followed by another finisher.  I was able to do 6-miles with 6-finishers a few weeks before the race and I think this really helped me out a bunch.

The actual Finishers I used were created by strength coach Chandler Marchman who has a gym here in Tampa too.  I’ve been visiting his gym on Wednesdays because he has tons of cool equipment and is always dropping knowledge on me so it’s an awesome place to hang out.

If you want to learn more about Finishers you can watch this free video from Chandler here.