Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/27/16

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My wife and I are approaching the “final countdown” of our European Extravaganza…currently en route (via train) to Copenhagen, Denmark.

When it’s all said and done we will have put foot to ground in five different countries over the course of five flights, two trains, and zero Batmobiles.

Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with Lisa travel blog – HERE – and if not, I hate you. You’re ruining my life!

[slams door]

Just kidding.1

I’d like to offer some of my own candid thoughts on the trip:

1. Europeans know how to squat.

Culturally speaking I think many European countries – particularly Eastern European – spend more time in the squat position compared to North Americans. The also smoke a helluva lot more, but that’s besides the point.

Too, I believe, if we consider anthropometrics, there are segments of the Eastern European population who have shallower acetabulums (hip sockets) and shorter femoral heads compared to North Americans, allowing for greater squat ROMs.

Pretty interesting.

2. Despite speaking in two different countries – Czech Republic and Norway – where English is not the first language spoken, I found there wasn’t as much of a language barrier as I had originally thought there’d be.

OSLO!! @tonygentilcore kicking off day one of Complete Shoulder & Hip workshop today. Oh hi camera crew. I wonder what they’re doing here?

A photo posted by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on

While I’d love to chalk this up to some secret superhero power which allowed me the ability to communicate with anyone at any time, I don’t feel it’s such a secret “thing.”

Besides…that would make me Aquaman, and that’s lame.

It was just a matter of slowing down, not talking over people’s heads, and making sure to stay open to other ideas and mindsets.

One of the best compliments Dean and I received while in Prague was that we were both very approachable, we didn’t make anyone feel stupid2, and that we were open to other ideas and methodologies. NOTHING we discussed was meant to be concrete or interpreted as the ONLY way to do something.

It’s an approach I wish more fitness pros who educate would adopt.

3. Along the same lines I’ve heard from several attendees from the workshops over here that many fitness professionals in Europe are “behind the curve” compared to American trainers. That they’re “behind in the research and trends.”

I think this is BS.

I find that because European trainers seem to be less transfixed or wooed by the latest “trends,” that their approach is more basic and less laborious.

There’s very little fluff.

I see nothing wrong with this.

In working out in several commercial gyms since I’ve been here, I can say that I’ve seen more trainers utilizing the free-weight area and having their clients deadlift, squat, perform KB swings in addition to various movement/dynamic drills than I have ever seen in most commercial gyms in the States.

Just calling it like I see it.

4. Europeans are chill. In Prague I rarely, if ever, heard someone beep their horn. There was a liiiiitle bit more of it in Stockholm, but Stockholm is a bit more of a modern metropolis.

Still, compared to places like NYC or Boston, where you’re suffocated with a cacophony of horns and angry pitchforks if you don’t move your car within 0.02ths of a second of a light turning green, Europe is a welcome reprieve.

Dr. Robert Sapolsky, author of the book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers,” likens this phenomenon to a phrase he coined called toxic hostility.

We all know someone in our lives who is a proverbial hothead. No matter what they’re always “on” or in a rush. The slightest thing – taking too much time at a stop light, a long line at a grocery store, putting too much creme in their coffee – is an opportunity for them to flip-the-eff-out.

In my travels abroad I don’t find this happening nearly as much. People seem to be calm, cool, and collected.

And kind.

This is not to insinuate that everyone in the States is a major league a-hole. However, this is to insinuate that there are A LOT less of those types here in Europe. It’s amazing.

5. The food in Europe, seemingly, is, well, food. As opposed to what Michael Pollen,  author of favs of mine, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food,” refers to as Frankenfoods (that we’re used to here in the USA).

I’m not one of those people who operates in a dream world where total calories don’t count. I saw Alan Aragon put up a Tweet the other day from another nutritionist who said something to the effect of “you need a carbohydrate/sugar deficit to lose weight not a caloric deficit.”

That made me – and the internet – LOL a little bit.

However, people CRUSH bread over here. And dairy. And beer.

Sure, people are more generally active here which counts for the lack of obesity…but what both my wife and I have noticed is that there’s no added “anything” in any of the food here.

Bread isn’t “enriched” with anything. It’s just, you know, bread.

And it’s SO good.

While I can’t speak for all of Europe, I know in Germany (and I have to assume Prague?) there are strict rules on how beer is processed. It can’t have more than 3-4 ingredients.

This is in stark contrast to other beers – particularly in the States – where it’s not uncommon to see an ingredients list that would rival a Breaking Bad episode.

I could keep going, but I’ve rambled enough. Lets get into this week’s list of stuff to read…

1) Regular Cardio Will Make You Fat – John Meadows

Taking away the sensationalistic title, this was an awesome article by John. I’ve always operated under the guise that the bulk of one’s “cardio” should be either brutally short and intense or very, very low intensity (or what I like to call Zone 2 work).

The middle ground – or cardio purgatory – is where many (not all) people tend to lose their way.

2) How Intense Workouts (and overtraining) Can Ruin Your Results – Dr. John Berardi

Speaking of intense exercise…It is necessary for continued gains and adaptation.

That said, not every workout or training sessions needs to be a balls to the wall battle.3.

This was an excellent article by John and the Precision Nutrition team shedding light on the importance of mixing things up, having fun, what’s the right “activity level” given your goals.

3) 3 Reasons Coaches Aren’t Respected Like the Old Days – Chris Fore

This was such a good read.

All the points made by Chris in this piece were on point. #2 in particular, sadly, happens quite a bit.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. But seriously, you should read it. If for nothing else than for the photographic evidence of my first beer.

  2. One of the attendees literally said this. That he appreciated we didn’t call him stupid. Unfortunately, he had some poor experiences in the past.

  3. For the ladies reading, maybe a more appropriate analogy would be uteri to the wall?

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