If we stay open, we can mine value from every interaction. I learn a ton from the responses I receive, via texts and emails from friends and loved ones, after I write a post. I sit down at my computer daily for growth and continuing education. I’m grateful for the chance to teach, but I’m more grateful for the opportunity to learn.
A few days back I posted about the value of a short cardio warm up prior to a lifting session. During my weight training session that day, I learned something funny about one of the most badass women I know. A mutual friend texted, “Cassidy hurt her back taking a pole dancing class.” Ooooohh. This news was ammo for me.
You remember Cass, right? She climbs shit, lifts heavy weights, dominates races, runs up mountains, etc. I couldn’t wait to bust her on this one. I sent her this text:
Of all the things you could do to hurt your back, this is the most embarrassing.
(A note: I make fun of all fitness fads. If you sense anything misogynistic, stop being so damn sensitive and read our posts more carefully. I’d have given her a hard time if it was hot yoga, too.)
Cass fired back after reading my post.
Woah, woah, woah. You got on an elliptical? You’ll catch me on the pole before that any day. Embarrassment scale invalid.
Nonsense? Sure. But it led to a tremendously valuable exchange. I should mention, Cass trains folks to be healthier and stronger for a living.
Rower will get you into the same ranges of motion as dead lifts and squats. Just saying.
A couple of our regular commenters had made this suggestion as well. I figured she and I should flesh this out a bit for y’all, so we did. She weighed in on the value of getting loose (or warm) before competition and training sessions.
I’m on board with your philosophy. If I am doing a running workout I will start by walking, then running slowly, etc. If I am going to strength train, whether that is a 5×5 type thing, or some high intensity circuit with body weight, I will usually start on the rower simply because that is what most closely simulates those movements while at the same time getting me “warm.” I take warm ups quite literally. I need to break a sweat before I feel like my body is awake and ready to do some real work.
I realized something reading this. That sweat Cass mentioned was beyond valuable to my workouts years ago. It added an intensity that I’ve been recently missing and unconsciously craving. From details.com:
You’d die without expelling this mix of mostly water and salt, which prevents overheating. And it’s a really good thing if you sweat a lot. “It’s men who are most in-shape who will sweat the most, and the most quickly, because their bodies are conditioned,” says Neal Pire, a New York-based personal trainer and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.
I’m ready to incorporate a more adequate warm up, including breaking a sweat regularly. Cass continued, musing on competition.
This becomes very apparent in a race situation. More often than not, I will feel like shit the first 10 minutes and then start to feel amazing. I can tell that if I had warmed up better, I could have felt amazing during those first 10 minutes. Therefore before a race I like to reach the intensity that I will in the race very briefly so I am not feeling it for the first time when the gun goes off. Why should this be any different for a workout? The rower gets the heart rate up (as much or as little as you choose) while warming up literally every muscle in your body by getting in and out of full ranges of motion for the arms/hips/legs. Notice that in proper rowing mechanics, the motion is almost identical to a deadlift with the exception of the hips getting a lot closer to the heels…great! That’s a squat.
Seriously? Who the hell knows “proper rowing mechanics?” I’m still listening.
Throughout the course of 5 minutes on the rower, my range of motion will increase by inches. When I start I feel stiff and it’s a struggle to get my hips close to my heels. Within minutes my butt is smacking the back of my heels with no added effort. I have seen this same improvement with my clients, only theirs is a permanent one made over months of rowing (and squatting).
I buy this. When I squat and build up, it takes many sets before my range of motion is where I want it. Essentially, the rows may take the place of a few of my traditional build up sets.
The rower has also helped me teach clients with very little body awareness a lesson in efficiency. If you are not familiar with the display on the rower, it shows you the time passed, meters rowed, the current pace per 500m (like MPH on the treadmill) and your current strokes per minute. I have gotten clients to understand what efficiency truly means for the first time by showing them how to row a FASTER 500m pace by going SLOWER (less strokes per minute) simply by being powerful, in control and having better range of motion.
This sounds like a whole other post, so we’ll stop there. You can’t blame her for being passionate about her craft. Fortunately for me and for all of us, Cassidy’s knowledge, coupled with her passion and our willingness to mine value at the margins, equaled an informative exchange.