Kirby's Korner - November 2007

The beauty of outdoor training.


Jason KirbyThis is the first of a monthly Q&A session with Personal Trainer Jason Kirby. If you've got a question to ask, please send it to :

kirby AT straighttothebar DOT com

A few will be selected (minus the names, of course) each month. This time he looks at outdoor training, warm-ups and creating a workout plan.

What are the real benefits of outdoor training? Why aren't there more open-air gyms?

There are a ton of real benefits to outdoor training, but the one that strikes me the hardest is shaking up the boredom from a routine. Exposure to elements can force new stimuli on the body forcing it to adapt to much more difficult training sessions, and in time yield stronger, tempered results. I suppose open air gyms are not as common because they're not as appealing to the large amounts of people who exercise at health clubs, and because the dinosaur nature of outdoor training is usually more difficult than knocking out a few squats on the Smith Machine, or some Overhead Presses on the Hammer Strength machine; people may be less inclined to do such.

What makes a good warm-up? How can you tell when you're ready to start playing with the heavy stuff?

A good warm-up is a lot like an insurance policy you've earned. I've found that the very best warm up to do is one that follows specificity. I'm a huge fan of joint rotations and joint mobility warm ups to facilitate the joints being lubricated by the synovial fluid. Afterwards I've found that a quick neuromuscular warm up involving some unstable surface training gets proprioreception fired and ready for the ensuing training.

Last but not least make sure to practice a couple of warm ups sets related directly to the area of target, if it's legs, then do a set or so of bodyweight squats, and lunges to get the blood flowing, but also make sure to spend extra time warming up areas that are either injured or lack R.O.M. that they should have. You should be warm and red. You'll know when you're ready to play with the big weights when you're warm to the touch, loosened up enough to touch your toes, and motivated enough to start chucking weights around the weight room.

You seem to put a lot of effort into the training elements which take place out of the gym, such as nutrition and recovery. Do you teach these things to your clients, and if so, how?

I unfortunately don't give my clients as much time into the darker areas of training that can really make or break success with the war on weights. Recovery and rehabilitation should be taken as seriously if not more seriously than the training itself. Replacing joints is not a fun process and muscular imbalances sabotage the fruits of labor. Here and there I get special cases where the out of gym training is more valuable to their goals than what I do with them. Things like proper nutrition, or even sports nutrition can play 1/3 or more of goal completion and can boost exercise capabilities rather quickly. I always remind people that before they come to me, they need to have eaten at least an hour before. Your car won't go far without gas, and I remind them to eat afterwards regardless of what their own personal beliefs or craziness's are. Food is energy, and that's the only way our bodies run.

Why is it almost impossible for a personal trainer to create a plan for someone who isn't their client?

Impossible is only a word, but in all honesty it's extremely difficult to make presumptions on an impersonal experience when writing a plan for someone you don't know. Obviously that can be very dangerous if you're not aware of limitations or strengths. You can create a wonderful plan that covers every corner, but what you cannot teach to someone (easily) is dedication and completion of that plan. You can't gauge whether or not they're stronger than you thought or that they are gifted in talent with particular exercises or training protocols. You can't make them follow it, and with all the training plans available on the internet, with a little bit of research they can find one that works well for them. A plan has to match the goals of the client and has to be specific to their goals, ie. No using powerlifting programs to help a distance runner achieve a shorter time.


If you live in California and would like to hire Jason as a Personal Trainer, the best ways to get in touch with him are :

For more of his work, take a look at the other articles on this site and his writing at All Around Strength.


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Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 35) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

Find out what he's up to via Twitter, Google+, Facebook; and of course his online home. Enjoy.



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