Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Why is a starting point. A question that children intuitively ask to gain information and that we adults use to gain information (or just to frustrate someone). But it is a valuable thing to keep in mind and ask yourself.

The question has been raised as to why I am taking a three month break from the barbell and powerlifting and I would like to delve into that Why.

My goal for the past 2 years has been to achieve a raw elite total in powerlifting and I have pursued that goal with a singular focus. This has brought me to a weight of 196 (up from around 180), a squat of 518 , a bench of 310, and a deadlift of 573 (all competition raw lifts). My absolute strength is the highest it has been in the barbell lifts and I truly love the feeling of being under the bar and my knowledge of tension and strength has grown as a result.

So why take a three month break? Won't I lose too much? What about my goal?

My goal will still be there when I return to it - simple as that.

Won't I lose too much - Russian powerlifters routinely take the summer off from the "power" lifts and I am not concerned about my lifts decreasing. They will go back up - simple as that.

One of the mistakes that I have made in pursuing my goal has been a fevered rush to achieve it without putting the time in. This has been good and has been negative as well. The rush to achieve has left me of a singular focus and a narrow "range" of strength etc... When I return to my goal it will be with a different focus - a long range incremental focus. "The wider the base - the higher the peak."

I am a CSCS, FMS, MRKC, Z-R phase person. So I could be teaching a 5 hour Kettlebell seminar tomorrow, a flexibility workshop the next day, a Tension/relaxation workshop the next - or - it could be a two day FMS workshop. Everyday I have to demonstrate a wide variety of mobility drills, corrective exercises, flexibility drills, kettlebell drills, weight lifting drills, bodyweight drills and on and on... all of this during 12 hour days that I have to have the energy and resiliency to get up and do it again. And add in the travel and having the time and energy to devote to my life (yes I have a life outside the internet and work) - I need a well rounded base of skill and conditioning.
Powerlifting does not provide this. Kettlebell training + Z does - simple as that.

Already - despite the knee "injury"- I feel healthier and have more energy from the Kettlebell training.

My livelihood depends on being able to do all the above - debilitating "injury" is not an option and since I have experienced standing on the edge of debilitating and have come back from it - my health and work capacity is primary - not a powerlifting goal.

So there is my Why.
What is yours?

Training today:
Prep-work - cook hip lifts, ASLR
28kg Armbar x 3 r+L
28kg Windmill x 3 r+L
28kg MP x 5, 5 r+L
28kg SLDL x 5, 5 r+L
28kg Snatches 3+3 x 5 sets and 4+4 x 5 sets in 9:22
16kg Snatch 20+20+15+15+10+10+5+5
16kg Windmill x 5 r+L
Rollouts x 5, 5


Sean Schniederjan RKC said...

its like a good investment account, its good to diversify. i was wondering when all that heavy lifting+a busy schedule would catch up to you!

Sean Schniederjan RKC said...

i studied aristotle in college and he would agree with you that 'why' is, in a way, the first cause. the final cause, or 'that for the sake of which a thing acts' determines everything else.

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Sean - Getting narrow is what caught up with me - the loading never really felt bad but combine that with "work and life" and it takes a toll.
Me and Aristotle - who woulda thunk it.
Great quotes

Anonymous said...

2 questions:
1. What's ASLR?
2. If you have any knowledge of Intuflow, how does it compare to Z-Health?

Mike T Nelson said...


Please correct me if I am wrong as I hate putting words in people's mouths, but would it be fair to say your goals for the next 3 months have changed to prioritize movement quality over shear numbers?

I think even in powerlifting that movement health should be considered at min. I completely understand that you don't win medals based on that though. If you are in pain you will never reach your true potential (stole that one from Dr. Cobb or some paraphrasing of it.)

Glad the knee is all better!
Rock on
Mike N

Rick & The Family! said...


Like I said before, you have to do what makes you happy. If you are forcing something, you will never reach those goals. Good for you for realizing something was wrong and taking steps to fix it.

I am the complete opposite from you. I have singular goals, but then again, I dont have your work schedule. I sit behind a desk and tell people what to do. After doing that for 8 hours, I get to go to the gym and workout. I dont have to workout all day long for my job. That is one of the many reasons I got away from training and the like. Too much like work...

Injury wise I am right with you. I have the broken bones (both wrists, thumbs, right hand). Severe sprains (had to have my shoe cut off me in 10th grade). 4 concussions between 11-12th grade football. They did not have those nifty concussion tests then! Fell off a 10' concrete wall as a kid and landed directly on my head. Doc said snow suit hood and hat saved me from instant brain damage. Tore my knee up fairly bad 10th grade, was supposed to get cut open but I decided not to. Wisdom teeth cut out. Dislocated my collar bone. Tore 3 ribs loose from my sternum. Broken foot, twice. First was from a horse, second was from a falling 45. Still hurts today. elbow and knee tendonitis. Numerous stitches. Severely torn pec. Severely screwed up shoulder, same side. Unfortunetly they cant MRI, cause of the kicker, pacemaker implanted in 2000. Replaced 12/07.

My point isnt to compare battle scars, it is to say this: I have bounced back from all of that sh*t and I welcome what ever is around the bend, because I know this is the dirt, blood, and tears that makes me better. Each time I come back, I get stronger. Each time the doctor shakes his head at me, I know I am doing stuff that NO ONE else has done.

My livelyhood doesnt depend on this. This is all I have known since I was 12 years old and this is all I have had to hold onto and control. Everytime to step into the weight room and hit a pr, or move weight I never thought I could move, it is the greatest couple seconds of my life. I put a lot into this, and I expect a lot out.

That is my Why. It is going to leave me a sore, broken old man if I am not careful, but that is something I am willing to sacrafice. If this was about health for me, I certainly wouldnt be powerlifting. I would be doing a ton of cardio, using kettlebells, bodybuilding, etc. Someday I will get into that stuff, but right now I want 2200 at 242 and drug free. What ever it takes.

Good luck bro.


Boris said...

I ended up with a lot of injuries the longer I was in PL - mostly because w. the birth of my son, almost every session was abbreviated to mostly BP, SQ, and DL. There never seemed to be time for the supplementals and auxiliaries and gradually minor pulls turned into at least one major episode of lying on the platform until I could summon the will to get up off the floor and hobble to the car.

KBs (and through extension the RKC community) brought balance back into my training and former-but-still-wannabe-jock competitive mind - I figure I have KBs, Pavel, and you to thank for that. So THANKS and on with the base building!

Geoff Neupert said...

"Why?" indeed. Always good to ask then evaluate. I look forward to seeing your progress.

I too shall diversify a little methinks after this meet. Gotta get work capacity up.

Brett Jones said...

Ryan - ASLR is Active Straight Leg Raise from the FMS - check for details.
The beginning phase of Z is very focused then it becomes more integrative - I have not done Intuflow so I can't comment on a comparison.

Mike - you could phrase it like that - but I am looking at it as expanding my base level of athleticism and conditioning - movement quality has been a goal for a while - despite the PLing.

Rick - You are an Iron Warrior - no doubt about it.
Look into the Z Health information as a way to help you with your movement and pain - it works.

Boris - Thank you - KBs are the real deal for health and fitness.

Geoff - To question is the answer!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Brett.
I am familiar with the active straight leg raise- I have Cook's book, just not the abbreviation.

Mark Reifkind said...

so smart brett,much smarter than I ever was, to step back rather than fall off.maintaining all those important( dare I say crucial) movement abilities and qualities will bode very well for your health and function in the long run.
AND, as I have found out, how you can move and what you can do NOW is WAY more important than ' what I used to squat or deadlift',lol.
When your livelihood is dependent on your being injury free and strong in movement and mobility this makes great sense.
And , you pointed out, your goals, and the barbell will still be there when you return.
smart man.

Unknown said...

Sir, an excellent post, and a cool logo. I hadn't noticed that before.

I'm right there with you about having to respect the integrity of my body as a tool to achieve my living. When I overtrain or injure myself (especially my hands/grip), I can't treat patients effectively, I can't type effectively (to write articles), I can't teach martial arts, and I have a hard time training people.

As much as I like to push the envelope, the reality of tempering testosterone with sensibility and a higher awareness of safety and self-protection has forced my training to evolve.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Rif - that might be the first time I have ever been confused with smart ;)

Thank Dr. - training is something we do to enhance our lives.
Look forward to seeing you the next time around.

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