Sunday, December 31, 2006

Want vs. Need

Mean what you say and say what you mean...

I am not a - define what "is" means- kind of guy - We all know what is means and we all know what "alone" means! So I certainly feel that we as a people have a common language that we can agree upon and use effectively. When people want to argue over meanings and interpretations it usually means 1) you didn't really understand what was being said, 2) you said or did something that you got caught on and you are looking for a way out, 3) it is a compensation strategy.

Numbers 1 and 2 are pretty easy to understand - #3 can be a bit interesting. A compensations strategy - what do I mean by that. What I mean is when you are not willing to agree upon definitions and meanings you are afraid of committing to an idea and are afraid of being wrong.

Being afraid of committing to an idea or definition will lead you into the trap of not standing for anything because everyone is right in some certain way so how could we possibly have absolute answers. Well - because we do. My absolutes for personal issues that relate to my individual experiences and perspective are not what I am really focusing on here - although you must be willing to make decisions and absolutes for yourself or you are rudderless and easily lost or lead astray. At the same time you must also be willing to admit that your absolutes relate to you and may not transfer to others. And you must be willing to be wrong and admit being so when confronted by the appropriate evidence.

So if we are agreeing upon ideas and definitions (think flat vs. round) we must be willing to take a stance and be willing to be wrong and admit such when confronted with the evidence. Is means Is.

What does this have to do with Want vs. Need in a fitness perspective- Want means want and Need means need.
A want is something you desire - deadlift_______, Bench_______, perform x number of pull-ups, etc...
A need is something you should do for yourself that may not exactly be a want. These are the things we should do but find reasons not to because it isn't - "fun or exciting or something that you are good at doing."

Equivocating over meanings to avoid central issues is how people avoid addressing negative patterns of behavior. We as human beings can rationalize ourselves into anything.

So - Know your wants and your needs and then create the "need" for them to be fulfilled.

And here is where things can get confusing - Did you all see the alternate definition to "need" ? Need has more that one meaning - need as a concept/desire - and need as something you need - like air.

But since we all knew that - we can agree upon both meanings and life goes on!

And on a lighter note - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Another side of Need...

What do you need to "work on"? Most every trainee will work on what they want - not what they need. And what most people need is to address their weaknesses.

So I will list some common needs that most people igonore.

Need #1 - Some sort of reliable screening process to assess asymmetries and restrictions.
Mechanics have "screening" procedures they use to "assess" your vehicle, Eye doctors, Dentists, Othopedics, etc... all have screening procedures they use to assess you. Why not approach your training the same way. Your body will be very good at hiding certain restrictions and asymmetries so you need a screening process to find these and a strategy to address them.
My two recommendations - The Functional Movement Screen and Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook and Z-health by Dr. Cobb.

Need #2 - Some sort of mobility/flexibility strategy. Face it - you don't stretch enough and you can't move with freedom and ease. The goal of training should be to be a more efficient animal. And that means being able to move well.
My recommendations - Yoga!, Super Joints by Pavel, Relax Into Stretch by Pavel, Strength Stretching by Pavel, Steve Maxwell's Joint Mobility DVD, and again Z-health by Dr. Cobb.

Need #3 - Breath work. Unless you are currently working on your breathing you need to be working on it. Pranayama is the yoga term for breath work and it should be an integral part of your routine.
My recommendation - Yoga that focuses on breathing, Tai Chi, Qiqong are top of the list.

Need #4 - Strength work that is focused on addressing your weaknesses. Based off of your screening you should be able to indentify your areas of weakness - work on them! It may not be cool to do a single leg deadlift with a reactive neuromuscular valgus stress but it will strengthen your glute medius. Achieving thoracic mobility could be the answer to many shoulder problems. There are many examples of "rehabish" type of exercises that you probably "need" to be doing.
My recommendation - Go to and look at the Corrective exercise DVDs by Gray Cook, also the Secrets of the Shoulder DVD by Gray Cook and Brett Jones.

"A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link" - or " the weakest link rules the chain" - What you need to be working on is your weakest link.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Need - What is it and how does it effect our goals?

According to - need is defined as:
1. a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation
2. a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary
3. urgent want
4. necessity arising from the circumstances of a situation or case
5. a situation or time of difficulty
6. a condition marked by the lack of something requisite
7. destitution; extreme poverty
8. to have need of; require
9. to be under an obligation
10. to be in need or want
11. to be necessary

Take a moment and see if any of your goals could fulfill one of these definitions.

There is also Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - a very important psychological/behavorial perspective on the concept of needs:
Listed from most basic to highest level:
1) Physical survival needs - water, food, sleep, exercise...
2) Need for Safety and Security - physical, economic, comfort, peace
3) Social Needs - belonging, acceptance
4) Need for Self Esteem - recognition of strength, intelligence etc...
5) Need for Self Actualization - challenging projects

Maslow lists exercise as one of the basic needs - basic meaning until that level of need is fulfilled the other needs are of lesser importance or even that they are unable to be meet because of lack at the basic level.

So - if exercise is one of the basic needs as defined by Maslow and you were unable to find your goals a "home" under the definitions listed - do not wonder why your goal has been elusive.

So how do we create need? How do we shift from a want to a need?

The goal has to reach a level of personal significance that only you can know and/or change. Smokers will sometimes only quit when confronted with death from their habit. Others will quit because it has effected them socially (see Maslow's heirarchy), and still others will not quit regardeless of the consequences. So how a need like exercise fits into the equation can be a tricky area of investigation.

I can lay out for you the physical benefits and the psychological benefits (walking around strong) and even go beyond into more Eastern philosophy (movment of breath and energy) and it may trigger a "need response" or it may fall on the proverbial "deaf ears". Only you will know.

Where does motivation fall when needs are not being met or addressed? It isn't even on the heirarchy of needs if that helps put it in perspective. So if you are lacking in some basic needs how can you expect to be "motivated". (Sorry for the quick aside here but I figured someone would be wonder where this falls in the equation)

So - until your Needs are being met - your need for your goals will probably be lacking. Once your Needs are being met - your goals need to be come a need.
And all of that is inside you - I (and other exercsie professionals) can guide and assist - but we cannot generate need within you - only you can do that.

As we close out the year and begin a new one - take some time and introspection and try to define your hierarchy of needs and find a "home" for your goals as a definable need and see where it takes you in the new year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One holiday down - One to go...

New Years is around the corner and you know what that means - New Years Resolutions and a much more crowded gym! (For about 4-6 weeks that is...)

Have you made a "New Years Resolution" ever - or at least in the past few years?
I know I haven't - my goals are set and in motion long before and long after New Years.

Now - If New Years is the trigger for change - so be it - embrace it and run with it!
But if the gym is any indication of New Years as a "trigger for change" - the change is short lived. Why is this?

Why are the gyms crowded for a few weeks and then you are back to the same crowd of regulars? (Maybe a couple of new additions but a net of zero more than likely)

Why? Undefined goals and a lack of need

Undefined goals - Getting in shape is not a goal - It is an idea.
An idea is a starting point not a goal. Getting in shape - what does that mean?
Round is a shape - as the joke goes so it fits with the "goal" of getting in shape.
In shape for what? For sitting watching TV - well I would argue that most people are already well "trained" for that.
So if we are going to be serious about "getting in shape" - we will need to be far more specific.
Imagine running a business where you goal was to "make money". Great idea but a bit short from goals you can actually work with.

A lack of need - There has to a personal level of signifcance reached before change can occur. Want to - is a reason for visiting a store or a restraunt or buying a pair of shoes. Most people never make it past want to. Need to is a whole other level of significance. Need to is the difference between success and failure.
I will be expanding on this tomorrow but lets just close with the idea that need can be created and used.

So as we approach this new year - do you have any goals you are looking to make into "New Years Resolutions"? If so - Is the goal definable beyond an idea and is there a Need for this goal to come to fruition?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another Holiday Season...

Yet another Holiday Season is upon us and people will be celebrating in their own ways as we bring an end to this year and begin another. I wish everyone a very Happy Holiday Season!

A year in review next week but for now just a bit of stuff from my holiday soaked mind...

Training through the holidays - You simply have to do it. And you have to respect the holiday and time with your family.
Don't expect perfection this time of the year - but do expect consistency.

Diet during this time of the year - Realistic is the word of the season. Your grandmother (insert any family tradition) bakes her famous pie and you are probably going to end up having a piece (or two). Have them - Enjoy them - and tomorrow hop right back on the consistency train and don't worry about it. We are a result of our habits - one meal doesn't make a habit unless you let it.

Eat well - Laugh Often - and Enjoy the Season.

No blog tomorrow as I plan on enjoying celebrating Christmas Day. I wish you all a great day!

Friday, December 22, 2006

What is strong?

Yesterdays blog referenced the idea of "walking around strong." Which begs the question - What is strong?

Is it the strongman competitor, the powerlifter, the olympic lifter, the dancer (ballet or modern), the climber, the kettlebell trainee, the martial artist? Yes and more...far too many to list.

Strong is more than physical and can be displayed in many ways.

The parent(s) - single or married - that works two jobs and sacrifices everyday for their children displays strength everyday. Sacrificing and succeeding are just other forms of "walking around strong."

It is easy to lured into feeling that if you achieve __________ (fill in the blank - 400# bench etc...) then you have become strong. And while it is true that through the physical we can achieve and demonstrate a great amount - it is not the end all be all. Choosing to build and develop strength in the weight room can be an avenue to greater confidence and success but it does not mean everything. I love physical strength but I have much greater strength within me (my mind, my heart, etc...).

It is the struggle that reveals - it is the struggle that defines - it is the struggle - not the numbers. Physical struggle allows us to learn a great deal about ourselves. The early Greeks were believers in "know thyself" and the physical was one of the avenues they pursed in that struggle to "know theyself".

A quick aside - were you aware that Socrates was a warrior? He fought in my battles as a philosopher/warrior. He had the scars to prove it and the physical strength from the battles. He fought in the Peloponnesian War both along side and against Alcibiades. Just in case you thought all philosophers sat in coffee shops sipping lates'.

I feel that physical strength should be a way towards greater confidence - Hence the "walking around strong" lable for reaching a point of physical strength that aides in mental confidence. But this is not dependent upon reaching a level of gym strength - while this is one way to reach strength - it is not the only way.

So - I ask again - do you walk around strong?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Squat cycle Day 2 and "Walking around strong"...

Day 2 of the squat cycle - 5 sets of 5 reps at 315# and despite being quite sore from tuesday I hit all the sets easily and feel better after the fact. I am wearing a loose belt for my sets and trying to hit below PL depth for all the reps. This is the base building phase of the cycle and things will start to get tougher as the weeks go by. Good thing is the cycle is only 5 weeks long so the pain is brief.

"Walking around Strong..." This is a phrase we have used from time to time to describe how it feels to possess a confidence building level of strength. I was recently talking to a friend who has made some great progress over the last 6 months (more that in the previous years of training- thanks to KBs and PTP) and he was saying how much more confident he feels now that he is stronger. Cardio does not build this confidence - Strength builds this type of confidence.

This does not mean a cocky or flashy demeanor - This does not mean bragging or "using" your strength to intimidate - This should not have any negative meanings - although some will take it this way.

"Walking around strong" is an inner strength and confidence in your body and your self that allows you to be more relaxed and more confident. In our cores we know we want and need to be strong. It wasn't that long ago that we truly needed, respected and worked for this type of strength - physical labor used to develop it, hunting and gathering used to develop it but now we are reduced to a level of ease (for some not all) that allows us to be weak.

And weakness breeds insecurity.
Dogs on leashes are a perfect example - once on a leash a dog will be aggressive and mean because it realizes that it's ability to defend itself and it's owner is limited by the restraint of the leash. Once off the leash the dog is relaxed and more likely to be friendly because it knows all its strength is available to it off the leash.

We are not so different. We realize that if we are weak we must put on a front of aggressiveness and hope that no one calls the bluff. This is not true strength - it is weakness in action.

Walking around strong is to walk around with a quite confidence that allows you to help others. I have had the honor of meeting, training with and talking to some of the strongest people in the world and they are some of the nicest, calmest, and best people you would want to meet.

Unfortunately - there have been those that have been perceived as strong that have used their "strength" for "bad" reasons - intimidation, bullying, "power", etc... and now strong can have a negative meaning for people. But true strength is a well of calm and an ability to conquer challenges - not with bragging but with quite purposefulness.

And strength comes in many different forms - and that will be tomorrow's blog.

For now - Can you say that you "Walk around Strong"?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Card tearing and the start of a squat cycle...

Surprisingly my card tearing is improving slightly - I can now quarter a deck - even some very hard decks that Kevin Perrone had sent me from North Carolina. Not sure what to attribute this to since I haven't worked on it and haven't hit the grip too much in recent months. Could be just a bump from my heavy training and squatting. Whatever it is - I'll take it.

Started the pre-RSR cycle for my squat today - this can be found in the articles section of my website under the Programming for the Deadlift article. Today was 5 sets of 3 reps at 70% - I am working off of a 450 projected max so it was 315# today.
And I am going to be sore!

Feels good to have the AAU meet out of the way and to be able to put some time into my squat.

Not much else to report at the moment - the fun continues and Christmas is approaching!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Coming back from an injury...

If you suffered through reading the other posts on injuries then it is time to bring it together with discussion of how to return to activity after an injury has occurred.

First and foremost - Re-read the the other posts - Recognize that an injury has occurred and do what you need to to deal with it. This section of this line of thought assumes that you stopped as soon as you recognized a problem or injury occurred. You applied the appropriate first treatment steps (Ice, Rest, etc...) and that you followed up with your health care professional (Dr., Chiro, PT, etc...). And most importantly assumes that you followed the advice/directions given by said health care professional.

So returning to activity assumes all of these things and that you are "finished" with any pain and/or rehab. Don't become one of those people complaining of a "bad" shoulder that they injured 5 years ago and just thought it would get better and don't fall victim to the recurring injury or the "it's just going to hurt" mindset - all of these are the path to joint replacements and loss of function.

So you are pain free and have clearance from your health care professional - What now?

Do NOT jump back in to your previous program!! If you sustained a non-contact injury then you have an underlying restriction or asymmetry to address. Hopefully you were screened for this and had this addressed during your rehab/recovery time. If not you will need to get screened and address the restriction or asymmetry.

After that - What to do?

If it was a lower body injury - you should be able to deep squat, toe touch, single leg stance and single leg hop for reps as a minimum to returning to activity.

If it was an upper body injury - you should have full overhead movement of the arm, be able to perform planks (on elbows and straight arms), be able to perform a push-up, renegade row, and finally a clapping push-up.

If any of these produce pain or symptoms - you are not ready to go back to your previous routine and you need to re-evaluate your injury and begin again.

Once you can pass the above recommendations:

Start slowly and lowly - Reduce weight, sets, reps and everything to a nice low starting level. After my back surgery my recovery looked something like this - First 4 weeks - walking, Second 4 weeks - bodyweight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups etc...), Third 4 weeks - light Kettlebell swings and other KB drills, followed by a nice gradual progression back to my previous workloads.

Any of the above information is not intended to replace any medical advice or treatment - Always consult your physician regarding an exercise program or changes to your exercise program.

Train hard, Train Safe

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Back from the AAU meet in Las Vegas...

A pretty good weekend - This was the AAU World Push/Pull and single lift meet - (bench press and deadlift).
So straight to the results:
I competed deadlift only in the Sub-master Raw and Open Raw - pulling 540 for my second and missing 552 for a third - I believe I received 1st place in both those categories.

There was some fine lifting on Saturday and it was a good meet. 198's and up lifted today so someone else will have to report on how that went.

My training was very inconsistent leading up to the meet and I am very pleased with a 5 pound PR and a win. Marty Gallagher also gave my form a thumbs up so I am very pleased about that - it was great to get to spend some time with Marty. He is a wealth of knowledge and has some great stories.

Funny moment of the weekend was me having to do an hour and a half of cardio because the 1st scale I stepped on had me 1.5 pounds heavy - then after an hour and a half of recumbent bike and treadmill I was over 4 pounds under on a different scale.
Oh the horror, the horror, the horror of the cardio!!!!! ;)

I will pick a full meet for around end of March or April - and find out where I am in relation to my goal of raw elite.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Off to Las Vegas to compete in the AAU meet...

I leave tomorrow for Las Vegas and compete on Saturday so I will not be posting a blog until Sunday when I report the results etc...

Have fun till then...
If you do end up injured...

Due to competition or an unpredicted situation you end up injured - What to do?

The ideal is to not create a situation where this will happen as noted in yesterdays blog - but since I know some of you will end up in a contact situation where getting injured is not "preventable" and others of you will not stop pushing to the limit - so here is my advice.

Stop before things get bad!
In kettlebell training for example you can tear your hands during extended sets of snatches. And having a callous tear can put your KB training on hold for a while. But if you feel your hand starting to tingle or feel that blister coming on you have the opportunity to stop and prevent the injury. Don't waste it and wish later that you had - if this means not hitting the "goal" for the day - so be it. You will at least live to train another day.

If it happens during competition or training - stop what you are doing. As an athletic trainer I spent a great deal of time evaluating and rehabbing injuries and a good percentage of the time it was something that started small and then "pop" ended up serious. Whether the athlete or individual felt it coming on gradually over a few days or whether is came on gradually over the course of a workout - there were warning signs that were ignored (see above). Then when the injury occurs you must stop and take yourself out of training or competition.

Get evaluated by an Athletic Trainer, Sports Physical Therapist, Doctor, or Chiropractor - basically - get checked out by your Dr. or another allied health care professional. This is like making sure you get your car looked at by a mechanic. You want the right person for the job.

Some form of Ice, Compression and elevation should be applied - other things like gentle stretching and "keeping the area moving" are to be used with professional advice - but if it hurts - don't do it in the initial stages of an injury.

Let's say that again - in the initial stages of an injury - if it hurts don't do it.

Once you know what the injury is and have been evaluated and followed the professional advice - and applied your treatment (ice etc...) - How do you know how and when to come back into training and competition?

That is next weeks blog...

But the huge take home message here is to prevent when possible, listen to your body and Stop when you can to prevent or lessen an injury, Get a professional evaluation and apply the appropriate treatment.

People make the biggest mistakes by not stopping, not getting evaluated and not treating the area injured - so don't be like that. Do what you need to to get taken care of - it will speed your recovery time and get you back in action.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A word on injuries...

They shouldn't happen in training!
Mike Boyle of - who is one of the premier presenters for Perform Better and a great strength coach - got himself a huge number of negative responses when he made this statement in an article on


What about that statement could produce such ire and negativity? Do people really expect to get injured through training?

The answer - sadly - is yes. "If you push hard enough you are going to get injured" - goes the response. "Being afraid of getting injured will keep you weak and not progressing because you won't push hard enough" - goes another. So trainees push and struggle and when injuries happen - it is just a part of what they are trying to do. Not so - or at least it shouldn't be.

Now I will be the first to say that - yes, I have injured myself training - but that was when I was younger and not so wise. ;)
Seriously - it happened and I learned from it.

There are very few instances where you are getting paid to lift - and only the sports that are actually contested with a barbell can even accept the fact that they may get injured due to training (because it is all they do) - But athletes and people trying to get and/or stay fit have no reason to get injured doing something that is supposed to be improving their lives.

Athletes get paid to be on their field of competition - not be on the sideline because of a training injury - an injury should only come from competition for an athlete.

General fitness trainees - no injuries should be the goal - and if that means a lower 1rm or a couple fewer reps - so be it.

This is also where a balanced training approach comes into play - mobility, flexibility and screening for asymmetries should be a part of your routine.

So no injuries - allow yourself that much.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

When life hands you lemons...

Learn to make Lemonade.

Challenges come in all shapes and forms - could be an injury, travel, family "issues", work, and on down the negative scale. But let's take injury as an example.

When I was driving out to San Diego just over 2 years ago I injured my knee while flipping a tire -my foot slipped a bit on some grass and my knee hyperextended (i think) - end result - a knee like a grapefruit and I couldn't deep squat for the better part of 6 months. So what's a guy to do?

Hit the Grip!

During this time my grip training took center stage and I benefited greatly. I reached the point of being able to close the #3 gripper (with a set), hub lift 45# plates and my block weight lifting was going well (42.5# or 45# block was my best). So I could have lamented the fact that I couldn't do much else or I could get to work - I got to work.

Funny thing is when I did go back to training I was strong and snappy with my Kettlebell lifts due to all the high tension techniques used in the grip work. And I had stronger hands and stronger hands mean a stronger body!

Another example - When I had back surgery (L5-S1 laminectomy) back in 2003 and was restricted from doing just about anything but walking I came out of 4 weeks of restricted activity leaner than when I started. Because I recognized the challenge and focused on my diet. I basically used the Warrior Diet (available through - click the link on my products page) and felt great and got leaner rather than heavier. Lemons can equal lemonade!

Obstacles and challenges are opportunities if you are open to them.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yoga weekend and a day of training...

Completed a weekend of yoga training this past weekend and really enjoyed it. I will certainly be developing my personal practice and can feel my hips are much improved and I am feeling great after the training.

Finally hit the gym today - DL felt good - I did hit a single at 505 just a confidence booster going into the contest this weekend. Which means I will be traveling this Friday - Weigh in Friday night and lift on Saturday. Then the Red Eye back to Pittsburgh (arriving Sunday morning!).

I will post a blog of actual significance tomorrow! My apologies for falling behind and having some self indulgent posts but life happens.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A little bit of yoga today...

As a tune up for what will be a long weekend of yoga I was able to slip into a class today. I find yoga to be an excellent part of my fitness routine. Today in class I felt very good with my breath and was holding poses better than the last time I was in a class.

Focusing on the breath and being able to "relax" into the poses makes it a very different part of my routine - which is usually very heavy and stressful. Might just find some balance if I'm not careful.

One caveat here is that you will need an experienced teacher and someone that is willing to modify the poses to fit the individual. I have an issue with some of the cross-legged poses due to some knee issues but with the right modification it works out quite well.

So find an experienced teacher who can individualize your practice and strike a pose.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Doing better...

Better diet but training has been low

Due to the travel as noted and feeling burned from lack of sleep and "work" and I had ended up feeling off my game. But I have turned the diet around with very low sugar and good veggies and protein. I do feel better and should be on target for the 181 weight class next week.

Dietary tip for those with a sweet tooth - Dark Chocolate mini's from Hershey's - or any mini dark chocolate - this allows me to have a bite of something sweet to "end" a meal but doesn't overload the system. And they are packed with antioxidants. ;)

Training - Travel and fatigue has put the brakes on my training but I am feeling pretty good. I will post another time on some experiementation with orthotics I have been doing on myself but an orthotic switch seems to have taken some stress off of my right hip and I am feeling "looser".

Otherwise - I am headed for a yogafit workshop this weekend and am looking forward to the looks on the instructors faces when the "stiff muscle bound guy" comes into class.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Did some bending and discovered a new grip tool...

IMTUG - Iron Mind Tune Up Grippers are mini grippers meant to be used with either individual fingers, Index + Middle or Ring + Pinky - and you can work your thumb with some pinch gripping.

I had seen the IMTUGs before and not thought much of them but had the chance to play around with one this weekend and I like it. Turned out to feel great working fingers in the variety of ways you can hit them with these little grippers. So much so that I ordered a couple for myself today - I know Christmas is coming but I couldn't help myself!

Also over the weekend I hit a couple of bends - just for giggles - 2 x 60d nails and a Red nail - even though I haven't bent with any consistency in quite some time and hadn't bent any since the October RKC it still felt good to bend a bit. One thing that does get a bit worse is the pressure and pain in the hands - with practice you become "numb" to the pain and pressure but only bending every so often it is brand new pain every time! Fun!

So - What are you doing for your grip?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another travel story...

Lost luggage, delays and a crazy trip...

I started this current round of travel on Friday - my 3:30pm flight was cancelled and I was bumped to an 8:40pm flight - made the mistake of checking my bag early in the day and it ended up getting lost (more on that later). When I got to the airport for the 8:40 flight I come to find out it is now 10pm (which ended up being 10:45pm). And instead of flying into Newark, NJ I had to fly into New York LaGuardia (sp?) airport. After landing I find out that my luggage never left Pittsburgh and I am faced with a $120 cab ride to Newark and finally get into the hotel around 2:30AM.

4 hours of sleep and Saturday was a full day of assisting at a Perform-Better seminar in Newark, NJ. Literally run from the seminar to the car and race to make our flight to Orlando, FL. At this time I am still trying to get my luggage and making phone calls to the airline while racing through security etc... Well - that flight from Newark to Orlando (by way of Miami) was delayed and it ends up being another 2AM+ night before we get to the hotel.

Another 4-5 hours of sleep and up again on Sunday to assist at a presentation for the MLB Strength Coaches - after that I finally get my luggage after 4pm.

So no internet and nothing but racing from city to city to seminar to seminar! My apologies for not being able to blog and make other communication with the outside world but just surviving the last couple of days has occupied most of my time.

On a bright note Gray Cook and I have released our Secrets of the Shoulder 2-DVD set (perform better will be carrying it) and it went over VERY well at the Perform Better seminar. And Gray and I are outlining 2-3 more projects!

Travel is crazy - and to be honest with as much as I travel this has been really my first "challenging" trip. Knock on wood!

Back to the "Burgh on Tuesday and some form of a normal schedule.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bench press observations from yesterday...

A current necessary evil/guilty pleasure in my routine at the moment is the bench press. It is a necessary evil because of my powerlifting. And it is a guilty pleasure because I do like to bench although it can be a pointless ego lift overused and abused in the general training world.

In my training yesterday it was a light bench day so I decided to take my grip out to having my index finger on the ring - I normally bench with the pinkie finger on the ring. Couple of things I discovered during my sets: 1. I had a straight drive to the top with a shorter stroke. 2. I was able to lock in my scapulae and stay stable. 3. It is going to take some work to make this my benching groove.

Bench press technique has evolved and it is anything but laying down and pushing. Foot position and being able to drive from the feet and involve the legs is vital. The arch in the back with scapulae pinched and close to the butt provides a solid base to press from. Pulling the bar down low on the chest and trying to bring the chest to the bar at the same time provides a great load and pre-tensing to the pressing muscles. The pause is a powerlifting necessity but also builds the ability to hold tension and transfer strength. A solid drive to the top and a successful press will be the reward for bringing these aspects of the bench together.

Shoulders and the bench - Bench pressing can and has on many occassions ruined shoulders. Poor technique and high volume are the main culprits in my opinion. If the elbows flair and/or the scapulae move during the bench you need to stop and reset. Continuing to bench when the scapulae have moved up and forward will damage your shoulders. This is one of the reasons to not go over 5 reps and even stay to 3 and under. This ties into volume. Even if technique is optimal you are still producing and supporting large loads in the shoulders and there is a limit to what you can take in these areas.

If you don't know or haven't seen solid powerlifting bench press technique - do yourself a favor and spend some time investigating it if you are going to bench.

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