Thursday, November 30, 2006

Something significant to say...

Sit down and make sure you are safe when you read this...

I have not been practicing what I preach!

I'll give you a moment to collect yourself and decide whether or not you want to continue reading.

If you have visited the Applied Strength home page and seen the logo and read about what it means - then you will understand that I believe in a balanced approach to fitness that includes: Power, Endurance, Flexibility, Movement/mobility and a center of Strength. Now I have been doing a great job on the strength end of things (a look at my training log on will show this). However, I have not been doing a good job on the other aspects of the method. And to add to that I have let the transition to a new home and new "routine" take far longer than it ever should have.

There is a thought out there in the world that trainers are somehow different from everyone else. I cannot count the number of times I have had people say things like: "You can eat anything you want." Or many other of the "this doesn't apply to you" comments. Au Contraire!

If anything trainers (speaking for myself) are able to identify what their clients should be doing because we/I have made the mistake(s) MANY times myself. For those of you new to the blog I wrote previously about having a 40' waist. (check the archives if interested) And if I continue on my current path I could have one again!

As I have also written - The only day you have to make a change is today! So I am establishing a new "routine" today!

Issues to address:
Water intake: Horrible at the moment- I am going to buy a nalgene bottle for work and correct this now. I think this explains a good deal of ending up over trained - that along with the next issue.

Nutrition/Dietary habits: Horrible at the moment - In the process of moving and working at multiple things at once I have fallen down on my eating plan. Too much sugar, caffine and crappy convenience meals - No more - I am buying a blender for protien shakes and going to the store for veggies and meat. Your habits will determine you outcomes and your lifestyle and habits are choices. I can get away with crappy eating for a time - but then it catches up with you like a wave and crashes on you - Well - I got caught and crashed upon.

Flexibility/Mobility: While in California I had been teaching between 2-5 classes a day and doing joint mobility and flexibility with all of them. That came to a screeching halt when I moved - and it actually felt good to back down from that volume of mobility work but that time has passed and it is time to return to a good level of it. I am actually going to a YogaFit workshop in a couple of weeks and will be incorporating Yoga into the mix.

Endurance and Power - I have not been training with my KBs! There I said it! So 15 minutes or so a day will be dedicated to Get-ups and Swings.

Strength - I was doing great here - just need to balance the rest of it and this will continue along just fine.

So there - Now it is out in a public (very public) way and I have admitted my human flaws it is up to me to address them and continue.

Oh and I have a "bet" with a friend that I have not forgotten about - Terrance Thomas - you know what I am talking about!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Internet connection, sleep, nutrition and being on the road...

A very quick trip out to San Diego - left Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon and returned around 9pm on Tuesday night - the details of what I was doing on this trip will be revealed in a future blog but will be of great interest to golfers. ;)

So I got in late Sunday and had an appointment early so there was no time to get on the internet. Then when I did have time it was a pay for surfing place and I couldn't get it to accept my payment so no surfing the net. Amazing that I was unable to get on the net! So no blogs over the next few days. Sorry!

Sleep, Nutrition and being on the road...

5 hours sleep on Sunday night - 6 on Monday - 6 on Tuesday - Not the numbers I am looking for! This has a big effect on the body and mind overall and is why I am not coming up with anything spectacular for the blog today - I can literally feel myself getting a bit dumber as I lack sleep. Do as I say not as I am doing!

Nutrition - I didn't eat poorly during my trip - Asian fusion style cooking and seafood that is great to get in Southern California - but I ate differently than I had been. This always throws my system for a loop and makes life difficult for a few days afterward. Our bodies like routine and life has not been recently.

Travel - At this point a necessary evil that I enjoy because of the work and opportunities it brings - and I don't enjoy because of the sleep, nutrition and "routine" issues it brings up. Such is life! Well enough whining and sleep deprived ramblings!
More actual information tomorrow.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Getting Psyched!!!

Do you try to get yourself worked up and psyched up for a lift during training?
If this is for anything other than a new Personal Best in the gym or on the platform for competition - you are confusing training with competing!
Why are you getting psyched up for your work sets?

I have had some great conversations with Mark Rifkeind ( a Senior Russian Kettlebell Instructor and someone very knowledgeable about Westside Barbell training methods - Mark has told me many times that the "max" effort days in the Westside method are to be done with out any psychological arousal (no psyching). This is an important part of the method for a couple of reasons.

First - when you create a high level of psychological arousal you dump adrenaline into the system and try to take advantage of the fight or flight response to increase your strength. This cascade of adrenaline and the physiological responses that follow might provide a temporary boost but have a downside as well. Your adrenals are under a pretty constant load just from the stress of life, and nutrition (sugar, alcohol and caffine overload your adrenals) and now you want that system to provide you with a strength boost just because you want to really hit a big set. This can overload the system and reduce the impact of "psyching" when you really do need it.

Second - if you can approach your training with a worker's attitude and treat your sets as just another set - but you are producing new personal bests - What do you think you will be able to do when you do get a boost from your psyching?
You might actually get that PR on the platform.

Training is training. Competition is competition. Try not to psych up for your training sets. You can have a consistent pre-set routine but for anything short of a personal best or competition lift - don't try to psych up.

Friday, November 24, 2006

How far to push and what is a comfortable stop??

What does this mean? How hard should I push on my conditioning? And a "comfortable stop" - Pavel uses this as a recommendation for the conditioning portion of the programs in Enter the Kettlebell and has been the source of some confusion. So what is a comfortable stop and how far should I be going for my conditioning?

First - What are your goals? and What is your training age? and What is your medical and injury history?
Until you answer these questions - do not pass go - do not collect $200.
So in determining how hard to push you must first address where you are starting from and where you want to end up.
If you are a general trainee you will have a different set up from a hard core military trainee who needs to know how far his body will go before it breaks or he loses effectiveness. Individuals will fall across a broad spectrum of goals and needs - far too many for a blog to cover (well - maybe in time). So be sure you address this and then make sure your training reflects these needs.

Second - What is a comfortable stop? In strength training we can find that "failure" point and know that a comfortable stop would have been a 2-3 reps prior to that. In conditioning this can be a harder thing to define. But I take a comfortable stop to mean that you have reached a steady state of effort that you could maintain but you choose to save it for the next set or next day. If you reach a point of questioning whether you are going to complete the next KB snatch or interval around the track - you went too far. Pavel has a quote in Power to the People -"After your training you should feel ready to battle for the kingdom!" And while meant more for the strength workout (although strength training was the form of conditioning of the day that this quote comes from) I think it applies well to the general trainee.

After your training you should recover well and feel ready to do battle! If you find your training leaving you destroyed and weak and beat for hours afterward or even into the next day - it is too much. Not that it isn't useful to find your limits every now and then. And for the hard core MMA, Ultimate fighter, wrestler, military trainee it can be essential that these people find the raged edge and then recover from it.
A firefighter that is in the habit of finding his maximum level of effort may find him/herself too exhausted to perform the duties necessary to save lives - Not good.

Rotate your effort and intensity and accept that you are supposed to have easy days. Maxing out and finding your limits has its place but not frequently.
Getting basic with some great information...

Thomas Furman of Physical Strategies has been coming out with some great blogs recently on very basic but very effective strength training programs - check out his blog...

An article about Hugh Cassidy really peaked my interest - Hugh has a very simple template for improving the Squat, Bench and deadlift - Squat and bench 5 sets of 3 reps working to a peak or PR followed by 3 sets of 5 at a lighter weight - an even more abbreviated routine for the deadlift two sets of 8 reps then one set of 5 reps and one set of 3 reps. Wrap it up with some hyperextensions for 3 sets of 20 reps. Check out for the complete article.

This was an article from 1974 and he advocates a simplified routine twice per week making sure to make long term progress and not progressing too fast. And if you start to get a bit stale you throw in a variety sets and reps for a couple of weeks and then back to the basic template. Hugh himself hit lifts of 800 Squat, 570 Bench, and 790 Dead-lift and was mentor to Marty Gallahger so the results speak for themselves.

Great stuff from Tom and a great look at old school strength routines.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

A day to be thankful and enjoy friends, family and some good food.

Gathering together with friends and family is always a special occasion (or can/should be) - and on this holiday when we are to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives it is even more so.

I am thankful this year for a successful transition to Pittsburgh and many other things I don't "blog" about. What are you thankful for?

Today - enjoy the day - eat well and laugh often.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A great article to check out:

Lats: Not just for pulldowns by Eric Cressey

A great look at the many functions and importance of the lats. I would have like to have seen more on Eric's thoughts on the importance of the lats in the overhead press but he hits the bench well.

Your back (posterior chain) is what performs well - Your front is what looks good in a mirror!
Grunting and noise in the gym...

See the NY Times story below on a Wappingers Falls, N.Y. man who had his Planet Fitness membership revoked for grunting during his workout:

It says during the story that he was using about 500 pounds "across his back" (I will take that to mean he was squatting!) And while lifting an employee informed him that he was breaking one of their rules - grunting - when he told her he was just breathing heavy he was told to come up front - his membership was being revoked. The story goes on to describe how they have a siren and flashing light that goes off when this rule is broken (they gave it a cute name but it was lost on me).

It seems the "gym" is trying to establish a more friendly and non-intimidating atmosphere - but what this is a symptom of is a continuing trend away from effective strength training.

If you actually expend effort and energy and strive to produce full body tension and lift weights heavy enough to actually build strength - then you may from time to time grunt or exhale loudly and during a successful maximal lift you might just let out a bit of hoop and holler to celebrate! This is not something to be discouraged - it is something to embrace!

Now I am not coming out in support of the yelling, screaming, slapping, stomping and psyching up displays that occur in some instances. Outside of the platform (competition platform that is) or maybe a maximal attempt in the gym - your training should be approached with as little excitation (psyching) as possible - (more on this in a future blog). So stomping, spitting, yelling and the like don't really have a place - other than as source of some amusement - my apologies in advance if you are proud of your psyching displays.

I breath heavy and on occasion (that means every time) I set my deadlift down rather quickly - I do not make a lot of noise but you do know I am in the gym. Guess I won't be joining a Planet Weakness gym anytime soon.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Evidence - It's all around...

Is there research to back that up? There are questions that trigger my gag reflex and - the research question is one of them.
(I won't bore you with the rest of the list)

Should things be researched? Yes
Should I wait for that research before acting? No - Now use your judgement here - because there isn't any research proving that a parachute prevents you from meeting the ground at an extreme rate of speed but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use one! So I think I will use the parachute and wait for research to catch up with the "real world" experience. But there are things I will wait for research on - like some of the experimental drugs coming down the pipes from the pharmaceutical companies.

Physics can prove that a bumblebee cannot fly. It is impossible according to the physics "numbers" - but (having been stung by one) I can tell you that they do in fact - fly. Science actually has a few more of these paradoxes - Lumbard's paradox for the functioning of agonist and antagonist muscles that cross two joints and have opposing actions at those two joints during a movement- (correct me if I have the paradox wrong - I got a bit sleepy and dazed reading about it). But like the bumblebee - I have stood up from a seated position and can in fact tell you that my muscles performed opposing joint actions. A fabulous thing the human body!

Maybe it is a leap of faith - maybe it is the knowledge that good research is VERY hard to come by - maybe it is the fact that research lags WAY behind what is actually being applied in the world of exercise - but I continue to experiment on myself and let real world results speak to me - instead of waiting for the "proof" to be handed to me from a study.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Crocodile Breath - Retrain your breathing

Crocodile breath is a yoga exercise or technique for teaching and training diaphragmatic breathing. It is perhaps the easiest means of doing this that I have come across.

To begin you lie on the floor (prone or face down) with your forehead on the back of your hands - neck is in alignment with the rest of your spine - this is a relaxed position. Then you will breath in through your nose and deep into your "belly" - when you do this correctly you will feel your stomach push out into the ground and your obliques will push out to the sides as well - your lower back may even rise and fall with your inhale and exhale. Once you have a comfortable inhale you simply exhale and begin again.

Do not be in a rush. Let your breathing come at a natural pace and be sure to feel the stomach push out into the floor.

Build up to being able to perform the "crocodile" breath for 5 minutes and you will have gone a long way towards retraining your breathing and having a great feel for what it means to breath with your diaphragm. Another benefit of this style of breathing is that you will mobilize your thoracic spine and when your thoracic spine can move well - your shoulder will move and function better. The diaphragm and intercostal muscles are integral to the proper functioning of your body - shoulder included.

Enjoy this "exercise" and the benefits it can bring.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tip on the Single Leg Deadlift

This tip on the single leg deadlift comes from Gray Cook and the Functional Movement Screen people - and it really helps people learn the proper form for the SLDL.

Take a broomstick and place it behind your back. If your Right foot is staying on the ground (the working side)- your left hand will be holding the stick (palm towards you) in the curve of your neck. Your right hand will be holding the stick (palm away) in the curve of your lower back. The stick will be touching the back of your head, your thoracic spine, and your tail bone. Now bend the knee to about 20 degrees and keep it there and perform the single leg deadlift and keep the stick in contact with all three points of the body.

The pre-set of the knee to 20 degrees and keeping the stick in contact with the body will help you in hinging from the hip, maintaining the arch in your lower back and the proper form for the exercise. Make sure the knee does not "bow or cave" in but stays in alignment.

The SLDL will help teach the hip hinge, strengthen the ankle, improve "balance" (a blog for another day but balance is poorly understood and even more poorly applied), and hits the glutes and hamstrings very effectively.

Weighted SLDL can be performed holding a weight in the contra-lateral hand (Right foot on ground - weight in left hand), weight in both hands, and suitcase style in the same hand as working leg (right foot - right hand).
But once you add weight do not lose the form you learned using the broomstick!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Success - just meant to happen or made to happen?

This has come up recently with certain discussions and questions - If someone is good at something - were they meant to do it or did they work to make it happen?

It is easy when we see someone perform an athletic feat to want to emulate that feat - heavy deadlift, Tour DeFrance, a Marathon, etc... - and when we go to try that feat and find that we fall far short of where we think we should be or we endeavor to be successful and still find ourselves short of the mark we set for ourselves we tend to offer the explanation of -
"Well he/she was just built for or meant for that feat - I just don't have it."

True or False? Or Both???? (gotcha there)

There are certainly the examples of individuals who were meant to excel at various athletic feats - Jesse Owens, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, etc... - individuals who had the "natural" talent that placed them on the fast track for success but the "Talent fast-track" is littered with people who fall off of the track due to not working to access their talent.

There are individuals who should never succeed at a given sport because they are the opposite of what the expected success is in that arena - too short, too tall, too fat, too small, too stiff, too whatever... - but yet they succeed. Many people fall off this "Long road" to success - and they fall off sometimes right before they would succeed.

So it can be True - some are "meant" for success at a certain endeavor - and it can be False - some work their way to success and then there are those who do both - they have the talent and they have the work - and whether they are the superstar or in the top group of a particular endeavor - they succeed.

If you have chosen something to achieve but find yourself falling short of the mark you have set for yourself - don't blame or give yourself an easy out (well- guess I just wasn't meant for it?!) - step back - re-evaluate and try another approach. Enlist the aide of an experienced coach in the area you would like to succeed in but don't just stop with an easy out.

Success is sometimes right around the next corner - a better map, or guide might be what you need to find you were "meant" to succeed!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hitting the end of a training cycle

Gotta know when to say when...

It has been a pretty good couple of weeks of training - my squat has really come on strong (hitting my previous 2rm for multiple sets) and I had some great DL sessions (hitting my previous gym PR). And while I knew this and should not have tried to train yesterday - I did anyway and found the end of my training cycle the hard way.

After some floor press and weighted pull-ups I went into my deadlift for the day - which after Saturday's deadlift session should have been a clear "Do not pass go - do not collect $200" but after looking at the weeks left to the AAU meet in Dec. I decided to anyway. Mistake - and after the first rep I knew it - felt my lower thoracic musculature tighten up and after the next rep it turned into a spasm - so just to be sure I did one more rep and then called it a day.

Now this is progress actually - at one point in my life I would have continued to push and survived the session but been out of commission for a while. No longer - knowing when to say when and having a long term perspective have become more important then proving anything. So I called it a day and went to the store to get a bag of frozen peas to use as an ice bag. Then went home - iced for 20 minutes and then put my legs up the wall for 10 minutes. After that a little childs pose stretch and the spasms were much better. (I was also fortunate enough to get a bit of massage later that really put the spasms to rest.) This immediate action was key to a quick resolution to the issue.

What lead me to make a mistake like this - thinking too much! I started looking at the calendar and trying to plan out the next couple of weeks and let that override the fact that I needed another day to two days off from deadlifting. There is the plan and then there is reality. Reality wins most times.

The benefits of having someone design your programs for you and guide you is that an observer has the distance to make good objective decisions. This is what I provide in my program design services - clear, objective design and decisions on progression.
When training myself I usually do quite well - until I start to "plan" and force my training into a time schedule and feel that I "have" to do ________ - whatever that may be.

No one has a gun to my head and we should all feel able to adjust the plan to reality.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Volume kills!

Like any tool - Volume- must be applied correctly.

I was speaking with a trainer at the gym where I lift and he was saying that after 10 years in personal training that his joints were not doing well and after telling him that I have been in and around the fitness industry for 17+ years - he was sure that I would be a hurting unit. Well - to his surprise I had to relate to him that not was I doing quite well joint wise even after back surgery and other injuries -but that I was competing in powerlifting and feeling great.

Volume is a tool like any other and it can be applied well or applied poorly. I have used the Russian Squat Routine for my deadllift (twice) - this is a volume routine designed for the squat and most people don't do well on it for the deadlift - I put 100 pounds on my deadlift performing near back to back RSR cycles. Other powerlifting routines use volume - Shieko, Smolov, and others use enough volume to nearly kill most people that attempt them.

So - Volume works - right? Yes - but there is a price to be paid.

A previous blog evaluates the long term impact of exercises - volume is a piece of the puzzle. It is a form of chronic stress on the body. When you look at the fact that form can deteriorate during high rep/high volume work it should come as no surprise that any stress - no matter how good it is supposed to be for you - can have a negative impact.

Volume can be used periodically as an overload but is should be used sparingly - maybe one or two cycles a year at the most.
Otherwise- training should be low rep and low volume.

My deadlift routine today - Three work reps - 515 x 1, 535 x 1, 515 x 1 - finished with an easy set of three and that was it for the deadlift. I will usually accumulate between 3 - 10 work reps on a given exercise and I usually only perform three exercises per workout - sometimes 4 or 5.

Proper cycling of intensity, volume and exercise selection will take care of progression and health. I tend to lift heavy but low in volume - balancing the volume and intensity.

How is your volume?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Chronic Stress from Chronic Positions...

Have you viewed sitting as a position of Chronic Stress?

If not - you should - Why? Well - think of how many hours a day you spend sitting.

It is probably more than you think - Especially if you work a desk job or spend time watching TV, movies or playing Video games. The time spent sitting can go into the hours of time during a day. Individuals who work at a desk and/or computer can spend 4-8 hours a day seated and then go home and sit more.

If we break it down - we hopefully spend 8 hours sleeping - and if we spend 8 hours at work seated - that only leaves 8 hours to fiddle with - and how do we spend that? I will be generous and say that one hour of that 8 is spent exercising - 7 left.
TV - 2+ hours on average - 5 left. Driving - lets just say 1 hour (although commuting can extend this greatly - plug in your own number) - 4 left. Meals - three meals - lets say 3 hours total (your time may vary) - 1 hour left. We will chalk that one hour up to various walking and moving around.

Total time seated and inactive = 22 hours. Total time moving and exercising = 2 hours!

This is of course a gross generalization that is meant to emphasize the point of how much sitting we do during a "typical" day it doesn't reflect everyone's actual time seated - but chart out your day and run the numbers - it may just surprise you.

How is all this time seated bad for you?
High levels of pressure within the discs to begin with - sitting removes the shock absorbers of the legs and muscles that help us deal with gravity - we sit directly on our pelvis (ishial tuberosities to be specific) and the weight and gravity is sent directly into the spine.
And this is if ideal alignment is maintained - forces increase greatly if you round the back or slouch while you sit.
Tightens the hip flexors and hamstrings - sitting places both in a shortened position - not good.
If the upper back rounds we cannot breath with our diaphragm - and we end up with shallow chest breathing - lower oxygen levels and poor thoracic mobility.
Plus we are inactive - no movement = poor lymphatic drainage, increased heart stress as it pumps without the aide of muscular contraction to move blood better, reduced caloric burn etc...

Getting the idea?

What to do about it? For every 30 minutes seated - Stand and move for 5 minutes.
Perform standing extensions, squats, easy shadow boxing/shaking drills, and walk for 5 minutes.
Joint mobility drills fit in well here. As does Pavel's Grease the Groove program - click through my website product page for the Naked Warrior for details.

Don't be a chronic sitter - Get up and move!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Long Term Effects...

Of Dead-lifting and other activities...

A recent post on the DD forum got me thinking a bit - the question arose as to what the long term effects of dead-lifting might be and if they were negative. This is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many variables to take into account.

Such as:
Form - how is the individual's form on the exercise? There is a reason serious powerlifters and olympic lifters spend lifetimes trying to perfect their form on an exercise. (3 lifts in powerlifting and 2 lifts in OL)

Volume - What is the level of accumulated stress? Too much of anything can be a bad thing. When it comes to dead-lifting and other lifts (like the bench)- less can be more. The activity might not be the problem - how much might be.

Recovery - Ties into volume but needed an extra section of it's own. Is the rotation of volume and intensity (to be discussed below) adequate for recovery? Too much coupled with too often is an even worse situation.

Intensity - Chronic training to failure or high volume coupled with high intensity can be great ways of hitting the bottom of what an exercise has to offer. BTW - intensity is a percentage of your 1 rep maximum - going to failure may or may not be intense.

Outside factors - What else does the person participate in? Strongman, Highland Games, Skiing, Running, Motocross, or any number of "hobbies" can be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back.

Habits - How we sit and sleep can be more powerful than the activities we participate in - Chronic stress in the body from positions we hold for hours at a time can ruin you more than any lifting activity.

Nutrition - Ties into recovery but needed it's own section - How well does the person fuel the body that they are demanding performance from? If the fuel isn't there the body will simply take from "non-essential" (hint there aren't any non-essential areas) areas of the body and create deficiencies that lead to breakdowns.

And that is just off of the top of my head - medical history, injury history and family history can also play a role in the long term effects of any activity.

In general - with proper form, and cycling of intensity and volume a person can dead-lift for a very long time without detrimental effects. I myself have come back from back surgery to dead-lift 535 (and climbing) and my squat is climbing - and this is three years post surgery. Not exactly long term - but stronger is better and intelligent training is a big piece of the puzzle.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Squats, Allergies and Breathing...

Another day of squatting today 425 x 2,2,2,2,1,1 - the last time I was under 425 it was a maximum double and an ugly one at that - so there has been great progress made in my squatting.

Allergies - I have felt the old allergy bug the past two days (including today) and it has my breathing a bit off and as a result - even though I had a good day of training - I felt "weaker" than I felt I should have. That whole breathing thing as it turns out is VERY important and if you don't include some form of breath work into your overall routine you are missing out on an essential piece of the health puzzle.

The old time strongmen and physical culture people included deep breathing exercises into their routines because it had a profound impact on health and strength. Yoga includes the practice of pranyama (sp?) which is breath work. Martial arts, Tai Chi, Qui Quong all include breath as an integral part of the system they teach. And you are not including it in yours?

The classic Super Squats book by Randall Strossen (available at includes a section where he talks about a variation of the routine where "lighter' weights were used for the 20 rep squats but the focus was on three huge deep breaths between each rep. The results were just as good as on the program where heavier weights were pushed but the breathing was not emphasized. Breath matters!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jumping Rope

If you don't - you are missing out.

I recently added this back into my routine so on the program listed below I jump rope for 5-7 minutes prior to my weights. My goal in doing this is to strengthen my feet and increase some conditioning.

Lifeline sells some really good jump ropes - you can click though on the products page of my website (go to the bottom of that page).

A great conditioning drill that also hits the feet and some "foot skill" by jumping in different patterns.

Jump rope is a winner - just start with small doses and build into it. And if you are one of those people out there who is saying "But I can't jump rope - I tried and it was just too difficult" - that is exactly why you should be jumping rope. Look into trainers or coaches that can help you learn. It will be worth the effort.

As with any recommendation - see your physician before beginning any new exercise routine and stop if you have pain of any sort and get evaluated. (Disclaimers everywhere!)

Monday, November 06, 2006

More simplicity...

Think I've found a little bit of routine for the next month+ until the AAU meet in Dec.

Day 1
Floor press
DL with 35# plates

Day 2
Dumbbell bench
Pull-ups + a set or so of DB row

Day 3
Floor press or Dips
DL - working to a heavy double

Simple and to the point - intensity will be rotated and I kind of go by the feel of the day when I get in the gym but it comes from my gut once I get in there. Then I look back at my log and find I've been rotating intensity pretty well.

DL today off of the 35# plates for 405 for three sets of three reps felt great. Pull-ups will be weighted and the floor press, dips, DB bench rotation is to deal with the fact that I don't have a consistent spotter for the bench - gotta make due and bring up some weak areas while I do.
Keeping the squats in the rotation will keep those progressing but allow me to keep the focus on the DL.

As the old saying goes - "I love it when a plan comes together."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Making up some ground...

I was traveling and filming DVDs this weekend so I wasn't able to hit the blog on Friday and Saturday but it will be worth the wait for the DVDs.

Gray Cook and I shot two DVDs - one will be a two DVD set on the shoulder and one will be a DVD on the deadlift. I will keep you posted as they become available.

Something from this weekend - even though Gray is considered a "functional" training guru he knows that strength is an important foundation for athletes and the general public. During filming we were discussing how someone will throw their luggage around (which may weight between 25-40 pounds and more) but will balk at the idea of picking up heavier than a 10# dumbbell.

My favorite example is parents who will lift, carry, bend and twist in every possible combination with their child (children are a form of progressive resistance training - starting around 8 pounds and getting up to 40+ pounds before they don't want to be picked up any more) but will again balk at the idea of "lifting" weights! Pick up a 35# child but resist the idea that 35# Kettlebell is ok to lift. Perspective is everything!

Heavy is a relative thing. Not everyone will have a goal in powerlifting or have a desire to hit a maximal weight but this does not preclude that individual from lifting "heavy" for themselves. Fact of the matter is - in order to get toned, and strong you need to progressively get stronger.

This is a recurring theme for me but a necessary one and one that bares repeating.
The 1000 pound Deadlift has fallen...

or rather - been lifted!!

Andy Bolton recently broke the world record deadlift by hitting 1003# in a powerlifting meet.

That is not a typo - 1003 pounds - held in human hands and lifted from the ground to lockout in front of judges and a crowd!
An incredible feat!! And more proof that barriers and records are there to lift us up and propel us to our greatest potential.

Think about this the next time you feel that something is not possible - "That's too heavy" is a mindset not a reality.

This will be a short blog - but profound - I am a deadlift junky and this is an amazing lift!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why are you turning the squat rack around?

Little questions like this tend to pop up in health clubs when I train as I travel. The rack was of course set up so that the person squatting would be able to look in the mirror as they curled - I mean squat. So I understood the nature of the question and after explaining that it was difficult enough the stare at my face long enough to shave mush less when straining during squatting I gave her the real reasons.

#1 - Always relying upon a mirror can ruin your own kinestetic (sp?) sense of where you are in space when you don't have the mirrors feedback. Most people cannot "feel" where there arm is positioned or much less where a foot is turned or hand is turned unless they have the visual input from the mirror. A bad habit when they have yet to mirror the world so you can check your form every step of every day.
A mirror can be helpful for a spot check - but once you see what you want to check - get away from the mirror and re-create it by feel.

#2 - Since my goal is to compete in powerlifting it is important to train the way I will compete. There are no mirrors at the meets - only judges. I want to know my depth and feel of my squat perfectly without visual feedback.

I thnk she actually believed the initial reason of not being able to stand more "face" time in the mirror (this is a joke BTW). But seemed to accept the other reasons as well.

So - are you relying on the mirror? Or can you feel where you are in space?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's called STRENGTH training for a reason!

That is a little something that has been lost in the bodybuilding/unstable training based philosophies out there. We have gone from training to "working out" - from strength training to "sculpting" and it has ruined people's strength.

If you have visited the website and seen the logo on the home page you will see the Japanese symbol for strength inside a compass - this symbolizes the "cardinal points" of fitness with a center of strength. Strength is the most under-trained aspect of fitness in the traditional gym.

Doing sets of 15 with the same weight every time you go in the gym is not strength training. It is better than nothing but it is not strength training. When was the last time you progressed in your weights?

No seriously - when was the last time you followed a progressive cycling that resulted in an increase in your strength? If you can't remember or never have it is time to return to the roots of what weight training is all about- getting STRONGER!

This does not mean that everyone needs a power-lifting goal or needs to set a series of Maximal efforts - it does mean that your training should result in a progressive increase in your strength. Don't know how? Visit the Services section of my website and I will show you how (shameless self-promotion!).

So - Are you strength training or are you just working out?

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