Never Stop Learning: My Top 3 Training Tips

by Corey Howard on August 11, 2015

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Corey Howard Pull Ups

At the age of 41, I can honestly say I’m still learning something new all the time.  There is no straight path to success; it is a crooked and curvy line.  I’ve learned some lessons the hard way in my training, but each setback yields another opportunity to refine my craft.

Here are 3 of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned (and relearned) throughout my time as a trainer and fitness enthusiast:

1. Work Your Legs and Glutes

If you were to look through my training log over the past year, you would see most of my workouts are focused on my lower body.  Unfortunately, this is due to having ruptured my triceps and biceps in the last year, but honestly it’s been the best thing ever.  Even when my upper body has been healthy, I still make my lower half 60-70% of my focus… EACH time I train! Most people would hate this because it’s so physically taxing but focusing on your lower half improves your testosterone levels, builds lower body muscle which helps burn more fat, improves stability in your midsection, improves mobility and helps create more explosive power for sprints and jumps. You just can’t ignore pistol squats, shrimp squats, bridges, lunges, hyperextensions or anything else that puts a beating on your lower half.

Sprinting is also a fantastic way to work your legs with only your bodyweight.  If you truly want to feel the benefit of sprints, don’t sprint on a treadmill! The treadmill takes away from you actively creating force.  Get outside and make your legs plant and propel you forward. Training outside is awesome, and running as fast as you can for a short period is even better. Again, the research on sprint work is off the charts (Coach Wade talks about it as a finisher in his book C-Mass). Sprints will thoroughly cook your lower half quickly and effectively, plus they help build size and burn fat at the same time.  So get out and sprint 20, 30, 40 or 50 yards, in a field, through a parking lot, or up a steep hill. No matter where you do it, make your body move as fast and explosively as you can once or twice a week.

Corey Howard Running

2. Refine The Basics Using Regressions

Two of my favorite exercises are jackknife pull-ups and pike push-ups.  These two are simply amazing for adding size in the lats and shoulders, plus they give you a chance to perfect your pulling and pressing groove. The jackknife pull-up has really helped me re-learn pull-ups.  It’s given me a chance to work on my height at the top as well as given me an opportunity to work various grips without completely loading my freshly repaired elbows. The pike push-up has done the same thing; given me a chance to work on various pressing widths as well as practice my groove.  Don’t scoff at either of these; pairing these two for 5 alternating sets each will leave your lats, shoulders, and triceps feeling it the next day.

3. Stretch!

When I was younger, I mistakenly thought that stretching was a waste of time. Now that I’m older, if I don’t stretch out I’m practically crippled the next day. If you stretch the working muscle group in between sets it not only speeds up recovery but some studies have shown it helps with hypertrophy too.  A healthy person should be able to comfortably squat below parallel with their hands behind their head.  If you can’t physically do this, you need to spend some time working on your movement quality.  I don’t know everyone’s personal movement issues or pains but if I could suggest a few areas to spend some time stretching out: the ankles, hips, shoulder complex and neck.

I’m not going to tell you to spend an hour on this every day, but 10 minutes before and after your workout is a great start.  For the ankles, find a step and stretch out your Achilles.  If your ankles can move appropriately then chances are your knees will move and feel better.  For the hip complex, I’d strongly suggest the pigeon for your glutes and the half kneeling hip flexor stretch.  Healthy hip mobility will allow the body to stabilize itself and let your hamstrings and low back relax.  As for the shoulder complex, I like to use a stretchy band hanging from a pull-up bar.  Hinge yourself forward and let the band pull your arm forward stretching through the lats, then turn around and let it pull your arm back to open up the chest.  Healthy shoulder movement will also help the body stabilize and improve your posture.  Finally some simple head nods and slow rolls will go a long way to ease tension.  Again, this is very elementary but just making time for this will be a great start. For more information, I recommend Al Kavadlo’s Stretching Your Boundaries.

Al Kavadlo Overhead Squat

Tony Robbins once said, “The secret to success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you.  If you do that, you’re in control of your life.  If you don’t, life controls you.”  I have chosen to use my pain as speed bumps or opportunities to improve.  I can’t stress it enough: train your lower body three times each week, get outside and run like you’re fleeing the scene, don’t be afraid to take a step back to refine the easier progressions, and stretch out!  It will pay huge dividends on the harder stuff.  Fire it up!

 

***

About Corey Howard, PCC, RKC, CK-FMS: Corey Howard strives to constantly become stronger, and to help others to achieve their fitness goals. He is the owner of Results Personal Training, and can be reached at fithubby.com, resultsptonline.com or coreyhoward.com.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • martymonster

    ‘I have chosen to use my pain as speed bumps or opportunities to improve.’
    Great article.
    FYI. That’s a damn fine pike pushup you’ve got going there.

    • Corey Howard

      Thank you Martymonster.

  • Nick297

    I always like your articles Corey. Keep it up.

    • Corey Howard

      Thank you Nick!

  • Very cool. Your articles are one of my favorites, Corey. Dem legs are impressive for a calisthenics trainee.

    • Corey Howard

      Thank you Silvio for the positive feedback!

  • Great stuff yet again, Corey! Its easy to forget how powerful the jackknife pull up and pike pushup can be… thanks for the reminders!! 🙂 🙂

    • Corey Howard

      Thanks Adrienne!

  • 41 with a few injuries? I can relate to that! Corey, you talk a lot of sense here & I particularly like your phrase “Run like you’re fleeing the scene.” That got me out in the park yesterday for a few short sprints after some free squats. It was good. Thanks.

    • Corey Howard

      That’s awesome! Sprints can be pretty fun! Thanks for the feedback!

  • Aleks Salkin

    Great article as always, Corey! I love how much I learn – and so often re-learn – every time I read your articles. It’s one thing to have some cutting edge theory that might help, but it’s something far different to have decades of experience and training wisdom under your belt. Keep the articles coming!

    • Corey Howard

      Thanks Aleks! As always I really appreciate your input!

  • Great advice, Corey! I totally agree that you should never stop practicing the regressions, even if you can do the more advanced exercises. I can do solid push-ups and pull-ups, but my warm-ups usually include sets of Incline push-ups and Aussies.
    As far as squats go, man, how I used to neglect “leg-day” for fear of the soreness of walking around the following day. Haha, but now, I suck it up and do some type of squat in every workout. It has helped me make strides in balancing out my left and ride sided pistols exponentially! But, I LOVE the idea of incorporating some sprints into my regimen! Thanks for the idea!
    Amen to the stretching, too. This has also been another recent addition to my training. Sometimes I do it after a workout, others, on recovery days, and I definitely feel reduced soreness and overall improved flexibility!
    Thanks for sharing, man! 😀

    • Corey Howard

      Great stuff Grace! It pays big time to keep practicing the easier progressions even in warm-ups! The sprints and stretching are AWESOME! Besides, anytime you can get outside, under the sun, and run crazy fast for a short burst it’s awesome! Thanks for the comments!!!

  • Matt Schifferle

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience Corey, I totally agree with you on those jack knife push ups and the L- pull ups. I still use them to dial in my technique too.

    Gotta get more into the sprints though. You would think I would make that a staple living here in the foothills of the Rockies. That’s my project for the weekend.

    • Corey Howard

      I’m so jealous! I’d love to do some sprints in the Rockies! If I’m ever out your way let’s train together!!

      • Matt Schifferle

        Hells yea man! I’ll introduce you to “the Incline.” Just look me up through the RedDeltaproject.com to get my contact info.

  • Swiss_Olympic

    Great article, Corey. I feel that sprints are often misrepresented in articles as a training tool, but you are right on the money about how to use them.

    • Corey Howard

      Thank you Swiss_Olympic!

  • Paramesvara Dasa

    Hey Corey, great article. I have been following your articles for a while. Glad to know your muscles have healed.

    Your advice on stretching has inspired me to bust out my Super Joints and Relax into Stretch books by Pavel, and the effect on my recovery has been noticeable already. Thanks very much for taking the time to provide this information for everyone’s benefit. You rule.

    • Corey Howard

      Thank you Paramesvara Dasa for the positive feeback! You’re right, it’s amazing how quickly some stretching can really help out. Keep training hard!

Previous post:

Next post: