#HEMAstrong

Courage and strength make your enemies hesitate

Why You Should Half Squat

You’ve heard it. You’ve probably heard it a dozen times or more. The scoffs and side-eyed gazes that come when someone only goes down halfway are common in a gym.  You HAVE to squat to parallel EVERY TIME.

That’s not true, especially for most weapons-based HEMA. Let me explain.

When developing your training plan, one of the keys is specificity. That’s how close the exercise you’re doing is to the activity you’re training for. The closer or more specific your exercise is, the more likely it will actually help your combat performance.

So how low do you get when you’re fighting? Most fighters I’ve seen rarely even get as low as a half-squat, for these people a full squat isn’t specific to their style. Pay attention to how you fight, it tells you how to train.

I know. I can see you fuming through the screen.

Of course I’m not suggesting you never squat to parallel. Definitely do it, and often.  Full depth squats are un-paralleled (pun intended) when it comes to giving you the strength foundation you need to fight well. They’ll help you reach your training and health goals faster than almost any other exercise. Plus they make your butt look good in fencing pants.

Those things are not what you’re training for in the weeks before a big competition though. In those 2-4 weeks you should be training to be as good at fencing as you can be. Keep your workouts highly intense, highly specific, and low volume during this pre-competition time frame. This is where half-squats shine.

BE WARNED! You’ll undoubtedly get some odd looks if you’re training at your local gym. That’s because those poor, ignorant souls are so confused why you’re doing the ONE THING everyone knows not to do. Personally, I think curling in the squat rack is a larger sin. If they end up bothering you at all, just go up and tell them that your combat performance coach told you to. 

Supplements Codex

The HEMAists Guide to Supplements, Pills, Powders, Protein, and Potables

Don’t Be A Powdermancer

When I first got into fitness in 2008, it was through a community of gamers/geeks/nerds that also enjoyed working out. I was surprised to “discover” the existence of what the community called “Powdermancers.” Powdermancers are those that spend lots of money on pills, powders, protein and weird liquids in order to be healthier/fitter/stronger. They are like the alchemists of old mixing their potions and remedies, and unfortunately, in many cases, they are doing this before they have the basics of solid nutrition, and exercise habits taken care of. You may see me refer to this as “majoring in the minors.”

In the end, supplements are intended to be “supplementary” to a consistently high-quality diet. There is no “magic bullet,” other than exercising regularly, eating lean protein, vegetables, fruit, fueling your recovery with solid sources of carbohydrates, adding in healthy fat choices for joint and hormonal support, and getting lots of sleep. Continue reading

Get HEMA Strong

Intro

Want to get better at your martial art? The fastest way to do so is to simply practice it more often. But you already knew that. The second fastest way is to get stronger in addition to practicing more often. In a fight between two equally skilled opponents, the stronger one likely wins.

No worries, the myth of strength training making you slow is long dead. Some of the fastest people in the world regularly strength train. Look at that, it’s Usain Bolt literally doing one of the exercises I’m going to recommend you do.
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Weight Loss Gloss

“How can I lose weight without changing my diet or exercise?” – Anonymous

Ha, I love this question. Someone asked this after a Saturday longsword class as I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich while drinking a Guinness. I jokingly answered this by saying that you could start to see which organs you don’t really need (like your appendix, one of your kidneys, etc) and sell them on the black market. This would be a win-win since you could use the money to buy more swords/gear/travel to more events. Disclaimer: Don’t do this.

But the serious answer is that you can’t. However, it doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, you should make things as easy as possible: no more and no less.

Preface

I am going to gloss over (pun intended) the basics of weight loss. There are plenty of areas that I can elaborate on; however, I don’t want to turn this into something that takes forever to read before it’s of any practical use. Instead, I’d love your feedback about which specific areas that you’d like me to expand upon for future articles. Comments (on the site, on Facebook site, or in the Facebook group or even email chuck@hemastrong.com) toward that end are greatly appreciated.

This is not intended to be used to improve “health” through nutrition specifically. Losing fat while maintaining muscle improves health markers like blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc, but health is a bit more complicated than that.

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Fuel Your Fight

HEMA Tournament Nutrition and Hydration Guide

Preface

Hey, I’m Chuck, a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach and HEMAist training in Liechtenauer longsword. I’ve written this guide after receiving a few questions about my personal nutrition/fitness regime specific to my practice of HEMA.

Your nutritional needs for a HEMA tournament are going to be specifically geared toward stockpiling and replenishing your energy levels before the tournament and throughout the day of the tournament.

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What is HEMA Strong?

Hi, I’m Chuck. The TL;DR version is that I grew up as a fat kid, and mostly as a result of my spirit animal being a sloth, ended up as a 28 year old that was over 400lbs. One day, I found out my wife and I were going to have a baby and the idea of becoming a dad inspired me to lose over 200lbs. My life changed forever, and I became a personal trainer and nutrition coach.

I was first made aware of HEMA in the fall of 2016, and once I picked up a real sword, everything again changed. Now there are three things that I enjoy talking about more than anything else (More than video games, more than movies, more than puns, more than comic books).

FITNESS, NUTRITION, and SWORDS!

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