5 Health Metrics That Are More Important Than Weight


For some strange reason American’s have chosen the scale as their favorite way to track progress around their health. People derive their sense of self worth based on the number facing up at them from between their feet. If you’re someone who draws any sort of emotional reaction, positive or negative, from the scale then you may want to self reflect and consider if there are better options out there. 

The funny part is that weight is such an inconsequential and ambiguous predictor of substance. Just consider this. If you have three avocados-one freshly picked and hard as a rock, one brown soft and ooze, and one firm ripe and tender-which one are you going to slice open to make your guacamole with? It shouldn’t matter if they all weigh 170 grams right…

What you are made of, how you feel, and what you are able to produce are all factors of way greater significance than your weight. 

What you weigh is going to constantly fluctuate. You may lose weight and be less healthy. You may be well hydrated one day and performing well then get totally thrown off because your weight went up a pound or two. This number doesn’t say who you are as a person or how healthy and fit you may be. It’s just an arbitrary number. Stop letting the pounds run your life and change the way you feel about yourself. Instead try one of these alternative ways that measure success off the scale!

Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is an alternative way to track your progress and provides much more actionable information than just your weight in pounds. This takes into account your lean muscle mass. In this way you can actually gain weight in muscle which would consequently reduce your percentage of body fat. This is a clear example of how gaining weight would make you healthier. Plus as you add more muscle to your frame you will burn more calories at rest. The fat will disappear faster and faster on it’s own!

Measurements

Taking specific measurements is a great way to achieve the goals around the way you want to look. Measuring neck, arm, waist, hips, thigh, and calf circumference can help you transform your body without ever worrying about the scale. Losing two inches off your waist will make you look and feel like a whole new person!

Habit Tracking

One of the best replacements for weighing yourself is to instead track daily health habits. If you track metrics like sleep, hydration, servings of veggies, daily walking, and other relevant habits you can focus on the right behaviors to make you look and feel great in the long run. This takes discipline but it is essential to long lasting transformation.

Performance Metrics

Switching your focus to the weight on the bar is a great alternative to the scale. People will often train harder and longer in pursuit of strength and performance goals than solely for aesthetic purposes. If you push yourself more in training the results will speak for themselves!

Schedule a time to meet with a coach and determine your action plan and what metrics you should be tracking!

 

Eliminate shoulder pain once and for all!


Shoulder pain is one of the most troubling ailments that can interrupt any avid gym goer.

Exercise should be a place to relieve stress, build, confidence, and of course improve your health. Dealing with one more painful problem to work through is probably not going to be a big motivator for you.

The good news is that you don’t to make training with shoulder pain a part of your life. In fact if you dedicate yourself to the process you can eliminate shoulder pain once and for all.

Let’s talk about where this shoulder pain can come from, address what actions need to be taken and the potential irritants that should be avoided. Finally we’ll take a look at some movements that can help mobilize, activate, and strengthen your shoulders. Dedicate part of every workout to improving the functionality of this crucial joint and you will change your athleticism and quality of life.

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.” -Julius Caesar

Poor technique may load up the shoulder joint in a way that it cannot stabilize. This could cause strain and overuse of muscles around the shoulder. One common example of this is an overworked pec minor and underworked rotator cuff. This leads to rounded shoulders, and weakens the ability to stabilize the glenohumeral joint during pushing and pulling movements from the shoulder. By stretching the pec it will allow your shoulder to sit in a more stable position. By activating and strengthening the rotator cuff and scapular muscles on the back of the shoulder you ensure healthy, balanced stability and function.

Overuse could be another culprit of shoulder pain. Whether your volume (total amount of reps) or frequency (sessions each week) is too high or you are simply trying to lift too much weight can all cause problems. If you go heavy or perform maximal effort sets you may need up to 5-7 days to fully recover. If you work at lower intensity you may be able to work this muscle group 2-3 times a week. Find the right balance of volume and intensity to ensure consistent progress in your lifts.

If you are constantly running into the same shoulder pain issues then technique may be the true problem. The shoulder is the most freely movable joint in the body. This puts at the greatest risk of injury when it comes to repetitive movement with poor form. Even one session with a coach or trainer can revolutionize your upper body pressing ability.

Finally if you experience pain when performing a certain movement it may simply not be a good fit for you. There are infinite ways to scale the load and form of resistance to provide your body with a similar stimulus to the painful movement. Perhaps the most commons movement replacements are those that replace a fixed circuit movement such as a barbell bench press or overhead press with single arm variations using dumbbells or kettlebells. Training the arms unilaterally allows you to have more “play” in the shoulder and adopting a movement pattern that better suits your body. No compromises in strength or performance are necessary.

So let’s move on to some strategies to actively prevent your shoulders from injury. Through activation, self myofascial release, strengthening, and stretching.

1. Activate

Activating the muscles for a workout or “prehab” helps your body prepare for the more demanding movements it is about to perform. It will both aid performance and mitigate risk of injury. When it comes to the shoulders

To help activate your shoulders before a workout perform these 3 upper body exercises, band pull aparts, scapular pushups, and face pulls. Perform 3 rounds of this circuit with 10 seconds rest between each movement. Keep the band resistance light enough to move with a slow controlled tempo but make sure it still challenges you. You should feel the blood flow and a warm sensation in the shoulder joint by the end of this circuit.
Perform 3 rounds with :10 of rest between movements.

    • 15 Band Pull Aparts
    • 10 Yoga Push Up
    •  15 Band Face Pulls

2. Roll Out

Self Myofascial Release (SMR) is a fancy name for “rolling out.” The goal is to mobilize soft tissue allowing greater range of motion and improved muscle function. You can use a foam rollers, lacrosse balls, tennis balls or any other device that allows you to access the desired body part at pain level you can withstand. Focus on breathing and eliminating abdominal pressure while you roll out to ensure the tool can work its way into the muscle.

Rolling out helps our body get “unstuck” from tightness due to sitting and positions we spend long amounts of time in. It is important to move and mobilize our tissues as often as possible to mitigate this tightness. Imagine if you were going to run a marathon with a rock in your shoe. You would never run 26 miles with that rock digging into your foot each step of the way! There’s no reason to treat your shoulder in that manner either. Stop pushing through the pain and fix the sticky points.

3. Strengthen

Like an muscle group it is important to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder. The exercise you choose should strengthen the weak muscles that are necessary for optimal shoulder stability. Performing these strength building movement for 5 rounds alternating back and forth between movements

3×8 Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press: Take 3-4 seconds to lower the weight from the top position. IF you struggle with balancing try working from a kneeling or seated position, train one arm at a time, and keep the kettlebell light.
3×8 alternating Turkish Get Up: Try breaking this complex movement into smaller pieces or work with a coach to master the technique. Your shoulders will thank you!

4. Static Stretching

Part of your cool down routine should also include some static stretching. There are many debates around when and how static stretching should be performed. One study has shown that static stretching can improve flexibility by increasing passive fascicle length. Performing a static stretching routine after your workout or anytime that is not immediately preceding an event requiring maximal force production by a muscle.

Stretch the primary movers of your days workout-chest, lats, and traps are some of the key muscles to stretch since a heavy bout of training will leave them tight and could cause a temporary imbalance if not addressed. Hold stretches for about 30 seconds to ensure your brain sends a signal to your muscles that they need to stop firing and allow lengthening to occur.

The real key to eliminating the pain: commit to the process and stay consistent! This isn’t a magic pill, one and done fix. It might take some time!

If you have questions about building strong healthy shoulders don’t be afraid to get in touch with one of our coaches. We will find a safe and effective program to meet your needs!

Top 3 Reasons To Train With Kettlebells


If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and cycles are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone elses body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle.They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes. 

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen. 

    • Carry Over To Sport and Life
    • Add Variety To Your Training
    • Quick And Effective Way To Train

1. Carry Over To Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health. 

Swings will also improve your performance with the olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout. 

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover. 

Wednesdays workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time. 

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swings is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift maximal weight overhead. 

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!

How To Become A Fat Burning Woman


How To Become A Fat Burning Woman

Evolutionary women were built for childbearing. Unlike men, women have survival techniques that are unique to their bodies in order to prepare them for growing another human. While this is a beautiful miraculous trait, it comes with some conditions that specifically come into play when we are talking performance and body composition.

The human body is quite unique and knows how to maintain homeostasis. It knows what it needs. A woman’s body must have enough vital nutrients and the right structure to have a smooth pregnancy. Bigger hips and a tendency for fat storage are a few of these obvious traits. 

Once at the age of childbearing, a woman’s body will begin to make sure it has enough fat to feed a baby. DHA, a brain developing nutrient, is usually found in these fat stores, a technique the body uses to save enough of this nutrient for breastfeeding a newborn. This is extremely important for any baby, but can result in unwanted fat retention for women currently not trying to have kids.

Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s optimal for everyone or everything at all times. Depending on your goals, the female metabolism “naturally” seems counterproductive to many of our goals and ideals when it comes to body composition. But there is a way to use this knowledge to your advantage and get your metabolism to work for you! You can achieve the goals you want in a healthy way, regardless of your hormonal and genetic predisposition.

Let’s circle back to DHA and fat storage. We talked about how crucial this is in a woman’s body during pregnancy. You get DHA from consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is commonly found in foods like salmon, flax seeds, and chia. Since the body is already hardwired to store fat this is a very important time to focus on the quality of fats in the diet. Omega-3’s are not only key for brain and eye development-they also play a key role in the body’s inflammatory response.

If you consume a diet high in inflammatory fats you this will results in more fat storage. Get the right amount of fats by increasing Omega 3 consumption so you’re body knows it has enough to meet its needs. 

Next, balance your hormones. Eat a clean and nutritious diet, manage your stress levels with yoga, meditation etc, and talk with your doctor about any hormonal imbalances you may have. Having too much estrogen circulating in your body  is just as bad as not enough, so get some tests done and work with your doctor to find a solution. A lot of the time hormonal imbalances stem from nutritional issues and chronic conditions like chronic inflammation and stress. 

Lastly, don’t be afraid of the heavy weights. Muscle development will help you shape up and lose fat. The more muscle you have, the more fuel your body will need to burn each day. This will let your body handle carbs better, using them to fuel your muscle rather than to store them as fat. A body with more muscle is like a car with a bigger engine, it will burn more fuel! As you start lifting weights you’ll notice changes in body measurements as you swap out fat for muscle.

These tips not only shape your body into a fat burning machine, but they’re going to help with your performance level. Having the right body composition, muscle mass and good nutrition will improve your performance in the gym or in training 10x. Have fun designing the body of your dreams!

 

Make Your Breakfast 10% Better


You’ve heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It’s become cliche. And like so many aphorisms you lose an important message when you overlook it. 

A healthy breakfast can support your physical and mental performance. If you are trying to excel, grow, and make changes to your body or in your life then you need the proper fueling regimen to get you there.

Have you ever crashed during your workout? Felt mentally foggy or weak on a particular day? There’s probably a correlation with your nutrition. Whether it can be drawn back to the days breakfast or the long term effects of neglected nutrition you can probably find a link.

To get the results you want need to pay attention to your nutrition. Some people do better with big changes. But today let’s just focus on how you can make your breakfast 10% better. 

There are so many benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. Of course improved performance is one, but eating breakfast has also been shown to reduce food cravings later in the day. It can also improve mental clarity and boost energy.

Our bodies are complex machines and the benefits of breakfast impacts the way our body operates for the day. Eating breakfast affects neurotransmitter production, electrolyte balance, blood sugar levels and more. Our bodies operate with best with certain types of fuel and the right ratio of carbs, fat and protein to perform at their best. But before you reach for your Cornflakes chill for a second. Not all breakfasts are created equal.  

So what are the makings of a great breakfast?

Choosing high quality proteins, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs is a great start to make your breakfast 10% better!

Increasing protein intake is one of the best decisions you can make for your nutrition, especially at breakfast. Protein contains high quality amino acids that will keep you satiated and prevent cravings later in the day. Try to eat some solid protein such as meat or eggs. If you need a quick option try keeping hard boiled eggs and greek yogurt on hand. They are easy options to scarf down quickly or grab on your way out the door to work. Protein shakes are also good but whole foods are best. People who consume liquid protein in the morning don’t get the same satiety benefits and still tend to overeat later in the day. Use protein shakes only if no other options are available or you are going to exercise first thing in the morning and need something fast digesting.

For fats look for foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados. These foods provide healthy monounsaturated fat and are chock full of vitamins and minerals as well. Rotating through different fats will ensure you have diversity in your diet and prevent excessive intake of any one food. A handful of nuts, an avocado packet, or some chia pudding are all easy grab and go options for healthy breakfast fats.

For carbs at breakfast you should take a less is more approach. Focus on low glycemic carbs such as leafy greens and broccoli. Dark berries are also great choice when fresh and in season. This will give you some additional fuel for your day. Try to avoid highly processed foods that will spike your blood sugar and have you craving carbs and making energy levels crash throughout the day. 

Not a fan of breakfast?

There can be benefits to intermittent fasting too. Just recognize how your body feels and performs its best. For some people that is 5-6 small meals per day. For others a big lunch or dinner is all it takes. Focusing on high quality whole foods, getting enough protein and heart healthy fats, and calibrating carb intake based on your activity levels. 

For more nutritional and training strategies get in touch with Christine today!

 

 

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Ultimate Guide to Changing Habits


Here’s the no-frills, honest truth about establishing new habits. Whether you want to start a new habit or quit something, here are the 7 keys to understand before you get started.

Habits take time
Here’s the deal.  Habits take time. 90 days, at a minimum. Some people are different. They can set habits in 21 days. If you’re reading this article, that probably isn’t you. And it’s definitely not me.

The majority of us require a lot of time to get into a routine of a new habit. Going to the gym. Eating more vegetables. Quitting that bad habit you have. It’s going to take time, and you won’t be perfect from time to time. Don’t let this discourage you, rather let it be an encouragement! You GET 90 days to mess up, fumble around, and figure out exactly HOW you’re going to get this new habit to stick. You won’t get it perfect right away, and that’s good news! Commit to the habit, and give it honest effort – every day- for 90 days. You CAN do it!

You need a plan.
Set a calendar reminder every week (literally, 5 minutes or less) to make a plan for the next 7 days and evaluate the past 7 days. You won’t succeed without a plan. “If you fail to plan, plan on failing.” It’s true guys, you need a plan. Now, if your plan is to “go to the gym at 5:15am everyday” that’s not going to cut it. If you stay up until 12pm the night before, chances are you won’t be willing to wake up in time to get to the gym. So your plan has to be more like “eat dinner at 6pm, prepare for tomorrow, read, and lights out at 9pm.” Those are the behaviors you need to plan! Yes your goal is to go to the gym, but the mindset and behaviors that impact that decision are put in motion way before your alarm goes off in the morning.

You wont feel like it.
Honestly. You won’t feel like going to the gym. You won’t feel like finding a new recipe with vegetables. You won’t feel like waking up early. You simply aren’t going to “feel like it.”

The majority of the time you won’t be motivated.  You’ll have to really work hard to drag yourself to the gym. You’ll have to fight the urge to hit the snooze button. It’s hard and uncomfortable, and that’s really what it’s all about. This is the space where the discipline is built, and this is ultimately where so many failures occur. The moment you find yourself thinking, “I just don’t feel like ____” is the exact moment you’re searching for. You’re on the right track once you’re able to start pushing past that feeling! Keep it up, success is just beyond “I don’t feel like it” moments”

Give yourself grace.
You won’t be perfect, because nobody is. You’re going to miss days. You’ll forget, you’ll ge busy, the kids soccer game will run late.  Listen, what if you forgot to brush your teeth today? You wouldn’t just quit and say, “I don’t have time for it.” No! You’d simply make the time to do it tomorrow.  That’s what I’m talking about. That is a small dose of grace.

But you have to stay committed to the new habit because you know it’s the right thing to do. Commit to becoming better at the habit and you’ll get better! Quitting isn’t an option, you just might need to readjust the plan (don’t forget to make a plan and evaluate it).

Tell someone else
We need accountability. All that means is we need someone to help us achieve our goals, and we need someone who can encourage us along the way. Tell someone close to you what your 90 day plan is, and then check in with them regularly to let them know how you’re doing.

Be smart about who you tell – that friend who hates exercising and sits on the couch for 5 hours everyday isn’t necessarily the person to hold you accountable to go to the gym. Tell someone who makes you feel good, and someone who can challenge you. Or find someone who has already done what you’re trying to do. Either way, tell someone and check in with them! It is powerful!

Track the results
Don’t over complicate this or it won’t work. But keep track of your positive habits so you can see that you’re on the right track! This has nothing to do with goals.  Just track how often you actually do what you intend to do. We are trained to want things immediately and we so easily forget things that happened yesterday, last week or last month. Tracking how often you accomplish your new habit over these 90 days will give you some perspective.

You’ll also want to give yourself some encouragement along the way. If you’re doing well, reward yourself (not with cake and ice cream) with some positive self talk! You need to be a cheerleader for yourself, and if you’re winning you need some positive affirmation! “Keep it up” “You’re doing it” “Keep the momentum going” “Don’t stop now!” You get the point. Celebrate yourself, and to do that, you need to keep score! Track your results.

Here’s an example of two recent habits I got started. This is my tracker for each time I performed my tasks. Take a look at how infrequent and random I began, but then also see the consistency improve as I got closer to 90 days. I’m super encouraged by my results, and I’m happy to say I’m continuing on my trend. Many days, I still don’t feel like doing it, but I’ve been building my discipline so it is getting easier and easier. I’m even MOTIVATED to keep going because I’ve committed for so long now.

 

 

Get started today! Go back up to #1 and start there. Write down what habit you want to begin, make a plan, and get started!

 

Nick Prohaska | 816-659-3076 | nick@kcicrossfit.com

Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths


Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths

Stretching is one of the most misunderstood practices in the realm of fitness and sports performance. A long standing staple in many training sessions, it is commonly performed incorrectly, performed at the wrong time, or avoided for the wrong reason.

By the end of this article you should be able to see the benefits of stretching and how to place it into your routine. Let’s take a closer look at what stretching is, when to do it, and debunk 3 of the most common myths about stretching.

    • Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.
    • Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.
    • Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury.

 

Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.

Stretching is sometimes avoided entirely. Especially by athletes who are concerned with losing strength or experiencing a decrease in performance. Holding long static stretches before executing a high intensity lift or movement may have an impact on the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle.

Most folks however, are not going hold a long passive hamstring stretch and immediately pop up into a heavy set of back squats or deadlifts. Proper stretching of the muscle requires breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state to be performed correctly. Odds are that what most folks consider stretching is more like jamming their connective tissues, ligaments, and joints into aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the pain is overwhelming. The positions are wrong. The intensity is too high. The body doesn’t relax. Stretching is not achieved.

Performing proper stretching has actually been shown to IMPROVE strength as the muscle is able to contract properly and generate force through a greater range of motion. But when and how should it be done? Let’s move on to myth #2.

Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.

Stretching before exercise or sport can actually increase performance. The key is knowing how long to stretch. A meta-analyses of studies around stretching and the ability to generate strength or power in subsequent effort found some pretty clear data.

Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds had no negative effect on the ability to jump, sprint, or produce force in resistance training movements. Holding stretches for 30 seconds or longer lead to decreases in the ability to produce force with longer stretch times leading to more significant decrease.

Key Takeaway: Perform dynamic stretching and short duration static stretching before exercise or sport. Take the muscles through a progressively increasing range of motion to improve circulation and prepare the body for performance.

Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury

Based on the first two myths being debunked you probably know where this one is heading… The idea that stretching increases risk of injury is tied in with the lack of knowledge around proper timing and execution of stretching protocols. In fact in today’s society where we spend more time sitting, in poor positions, with our shoulders hunched and necks cranked forward as we peer at our cellphones and computer screens.

We’ve already established a dynamic stretching and short duration (< :30 seconds) static stretching routine can help prepare the body for performance, but there is a huge benefit to longer duration static stretching post workout and during active recovery sessions. By addressing some commonly tight muscles like the pectoralis or psoas we are able to correct our bodies posture and alignment. Stretching these two muscles helps provide stability to the hip and shoulder joints and can significantly decrease injury risk.

So now that we’ve debunked some of the common myths around stretching you should feel confident about incorporating stretching into your training. If you need help with stretching, mobility, or any other training needs consider connecting with one of our trainers to find a plan that works for you.

 

 

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Thursday, June 6th WOD


WOD:  “Squat Clean Ladder”  (2019 Rogue Invitational WOD)

-10 squat clean, 135 / 95 lb.

-8 squat cleans, 175 / 115 lb.

-6 squat cleans, 205 / 135 lb.

-4 squat cleans, 235 / 155 lb.

-2 squat cleans, 255 / 170 lb.

Wednesday, June 5th WOD


Strength WOD:  Press

-5 at 65%

-5 at 75%

-5+ at 85%

Skill practice:  Handstand push ups (10 minute practice

WOD:  “Snatch and Press” (2019 Rogue Invitational WOD)

3 Rounds

-20 DB snatch, 70/45 lbs

-9 strict hspu