Wednesday, January 31, 2007

From the forum - Feb. 20, 2002

Looking back and thinking about the 4000 or so posts I have had on the DD forum and thought I would go back and pull some for review here on my blog.

Obviously not all 4000 posts have been directly training related but a large percentage are and it will be interesting to look back at them and try to discuss the evolution of my time on the forum and personal/professional development.

Here is a very early post that came about following my RKC certification in Feb. 2002 - even back then I was touting the benefits of simple programming:

If you remember from the RKC, the program minimum was suggested by the Evil One. Snatches and Presses. I can certainly attest to the effectiveness of this program. The snatch truly does work every muscle of the body and the addition of the presses is the cherry on top. It was an almost exclusive addiction to snatches that led to my vertical leap increase. I also found all of the other drills easier to learn from that base. The snatch and side-press are the core of my routine. Is anyone else using this abbreviated type of training? I am a fan of keeping things simple and with the "family" of Kbells at my disposal the variation is perfect. Keep in mind that abbreviated does not mean easy. It is simply an efficient and effective routine.

A quick quote from Thomas Edison - "Great ideas originate in the muscles."

Am I missing anything? Any comments?


This was the beginning of "simple doesn't mean easy" and a shows an early focus on abbreviated routines - I also like the Edison quote.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

From the forum...

Just a re-post from the dd forum that I wanted to re-post here.

workout 1 - 12+ minute sets of swings with the 32kg
workout 2 - 24kg density training 20 min 5r+5L at the top of each minute
(drop minutes and add reps until you are 10+10 at the top of each minute for 10 minutes)
workout 3 - 16kg 12-15 minute snatch sets - rest when necessary
(non-consecutive days)

Idea behind the workout is someone looking to improve on the Secret Service Snatch Test - (10 minutes of snatches - unlimited hand switches).
Heavier swings to make the 24kg feel "lighter" (eventually some snatches with the heavier bell).
Density training to increase volume and compress rest periods.
Lighter but higher volume snatches will build ability to go longer in a continuous manner and condition the hands a bit also a bit of a de-load from the other 2 days.

Just a sample of Applied Strength programming.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Back from my travels to VA...

A busy and successful weekend - another 2 DVD project and 3 "audio seminars" completed over the weekend. Currently Secrets of the Shoulder is available on and soon (hopefully) to be available on - Safe Strength and the othe r projects will be rolling out as completed.

Gray and I have a great time working on these projects and look forward to many more. And speaking of that - I am going to go ahead and put myself on public display and announce that I will be working on a book - I don't want to committ to a finish date but thhis project will be my main focus until completed.

Personal growth - Working on the video I was forced to admit and re-discover a trigger point in my hip and restriction in my deep squat - all because I had backed off of some "therapy" that I should be doing on a consistent basis. My training is heavy and focused and I need to be more diligent about the up keep of my body. I get focused on my squat or dead-lift or whatever and start to let other things slide - it is a re-occuring theme for me (and maybe you as well).

Perhaps more later but for now - I think I will go hit that trigger and take care of the machine.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Out of town till Sunday night...

I am leaving in the morning for a trip to complete some more work with Gray Cook in Virginia so I may not be able to blog while I am away and will not have access to my email while I am gone.

These are some exciting projects and I look forward to being able to share them with everyone in the future.
"If you are bored - It isn't heavy enough." Rif

People search for variety because they don't get results (Mark Rippetoe refers to this in Practical Programming). Variety for the sake of variety or because you are bored because you have been doing the same thing ad nauseum is not a good reason.

The same weight, for the same reps, for the same sets, in the same order - on your special bench or machine is a recipe for disaster - which leads to staleness, boredom and the "need" for variety.

"I am after results - not a workout." (quote attributable to me) - I don't get bored as long as I am getting results. Progression is the cure for boredom.

Let's say that again (with feeling) - Progression is the cure for boredom.

Getting stronger and getting results and making progress towards your goals will keep "boredom" at bay.

Now - there is such a thing as purposeful variety! I am not contridicting my self here - there are times when variation within set parameters will help ensure progress and results.
Beginning a deadlift cycle with snatch grip deadlifts (which will increase the range and challenge the grip), moving to sumo deadlifts (to target the hips) when progress slows on the previous style of deadlift, and then to your conventional or competition style when progress slows on the previous style will allow for an exteneded cycle that can target specific weaknesses in the goal activity. Variation with purpose.

If you are bored I am willing to bet you are not getting results and are not training "heavy" enough. So what are you going to do about it? Seek variety for varieties sake - or will you define goals and focus on results and progression?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

CNS and Max attempts

Feeling yesterdays Squat PR - which was actually a true max effort and there is a difference.

475 x 1, which I hit before my 495 effort was a PR - 495 pushed me to a maximum effort resulting in some Central Nervous System fatigue today.

You can PR without maxing out. And this should be the strategy for most of the year. I don't think you have a large supply of max efforts in the tank. Personal Records break previous levels but leave something in the tank. Max effort - you burn the tank.

So today is stretch and move and relax - tomorrow will be a very light day of training to assist in recovery and Friday may be about the same - then rest over the weekend and get ready for a push-pull meet later in March.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Squat PR!

A very good peak to wrap up the squat cycle!

Hit 495 for a max single today! And I am very pleased.

Now some back off time and build up to a push-pull meet here in Pittsburgh.

Getting closer to the Raw Elite Goal!
Change and Evolve...

Seems to have been the theme for the weekend and since these terms have been used a good deal I thought it wise to look at them and see what is actually being said.
1)to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone
2)to become different
3)to become altered or modified

1)to come forth gradually into being, develop, undergo evolution
2)to develop gradually

All groups, organizations, systems and human endeavors undergo change. And all of these things evolve in their own way and time.

We as individuals progress and change and evolve in our own lives and sometimes this takes us away from people or groups that we never thought we would part from - life however has different plans. Our decisions and choices lead us down and along these paths of our life.

Sometimes change is gradual - sometimes it is quick - sometimes we chose the change and it's speed - sometimes we don't - this is the way of things.

We have all gained friends and lost friends. We lose touch with people we couldn't imagine not being in our lives - conscious choice or natural change and evolution? Only the individual can know.

Combining the human element with business and creating a cohesive group out of individuals that share a vision and common goal is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in personal interaction and business. There is a reason corporations have Human Resources departments!
Sometimes people within a group choose to leave and some choose to stay. Friendships, feelings and business are hard things to reconcile at times such as these but we do continue on.

I for one am where I want to be and doing what I want to be doing. The past 2+ years have been filled with change and evolution in my life - some chosen, some not, some wonderful, some hurtful. But what I know at the end of this is that I have learned, I have changed and I have evolved. And I now understand that I choose to be who I am and that is enough.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


For those of you that thought yesterday's single leg stance test was a "balance" test I thought I would elaborate today on what balance is and is not.

According to - balance is a biological system that enables us to know where are bodies are in the evironment and to maintain a desired position(s).
In perhaps more simple terms - It is our ability to control our center of gravity.

How does our body achieve this control? Through a complicated interplay and interconnection between four systems in our bodies. Vestibular, Proprioceptive/kinesthetic, Visual, and the Central Nervous System all have a roll to play in "balance".
From receptors in the skin, muscle spindles, golgi tendon organs, joint mechanoreceptors, the inner ear (equalibrium), the oculomotor system (and several other 25cent words) all interconnect and communicate to establish our sense of where we are and where we want to go/move.

So what is balance? Is standing on one leg balance? Is standing on the much touted "unstable" surface balance? How about "hopping" from spot to spot? Any other ideas?

The answer to all of these is yes and no....Some are more proprioceptive, some are more kinesthetic, so the answer as to how to train or what is balance is complicated.

Let's break down which of the balance systems is being challenged by these one foot variations:
Standing on one foot - proproceptive/kinesthetic
Standing on one foot moving the head looking from left to right - proprioceptive and vestibular
Standing on one foot eyes closed - vestibular and proprioceptive (removing visual)
Standing on one foot eyes closed and moving the head - all of the above

So we can challenge each of the systems and the input provided by altering the single leg drill but is it "balance"?

Again - yes and no - yes we are challenging the balance systems but no because we were not controlling our center of gravity in a moving/living environment.

And there I let the cat out of the bag - Balance is losing your center of gravity and regaining/maintaining control of that center of gravity.
Imagine walking around and getting shoved from the side unexpectedly - would you fight to stay on one foot - or would you side step (letting your center of gravity move in the direction of the push so you and your center of gravity end up in the same place). You would side step - a little or a lot depending on the shove and any other obstacles in the way.

Standing on one foot or standing on an unstable surface is A way to challenge the balance systems but it is not balance in and of itself.

So we may begin improving our balance by challenging the balance systems but we must progress to real life moving activities that requires us to control our center of gravity.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hip Strategy...

How to implement the information from yesterday on the Glute Medius and hip function.

As the study indicates there is a need to perform screening or testing of the hip in a weight bearing situation. So we begin with a simple single leg stance test.
Stand with feet together and simply shift to a one leg stance. (Note - just bend the knee of the leg you are not standing on and lift the heel a couple of inches off of the ground - no need to raise the leg in front or lift it too high in the back.) After 5-6 seconds of single leg stance on one side - switch to the other side.

What are we looking for - Any deviation from symmetrical. To paraphrase Mike Boyle - any answer other than No - is a yes. If you cannot look at the single leg stance and say No - nothing changed - then it is a yes.

You must keep an open focus - top of the head to the arches of the feet - look for any deviation.
Good neurological systems will hide issues and compensate quickly. A shoulder that raises, a hip that shifts, a foot that collapses in at the arch - all indicate an "issue" in single leg stance.
A raise of a shoulder and an upper trap firing can indicate a "core" firing problem. A shift of the hip can indicate the glute medius firing problem. Collapsing arch indicates - well...a collapsing arch ;)

You can back this up with bridging and Stuart McGills glute amnesia test.
Then implement the Glute Activation Tip from Tom Furman's blog.

Then - and this is the important part - get on your feet and perform the single leg stance test again. Did it improve?
If not - back to the drawing board - re-evaluate and find what you missed.

IF Yes - then perform several brief single leg stance "contractions" to reinforce the now firing glute medius - this is repeated several times a day but with perfection.
When you can perform the single leg stance test at any time and nail it perfectly - progress into squats using a band around the knees, small step ups being VERY strict on perfect form and no deviation during the step up. Then progress to Single leg Dead-lift.

Where to go from there could include small single leg hops and any number of other progressions - but these depend on individual goals and situations.

Screen, address what you find in the screen, Re-screen and so on...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

ETK promotion still available...

Click through and take advantage of this deal.
Patellofemoral pain - a different perspective...

The January 2007 issue of BioMechanics magazine (go to - go to archives and search patellofemoral) had an article titled - "Patellofemoral pain research refocuses on the hip" by Jordana Bieze Foster and it has some great information on the concepts on tracking of the patella and the real cause of this problem.

Tip - It's not the patella tracking laterally. We (I have a bachelor's in Sportsmedicine) in rehab have been told and have been treating patellofemoral pain and tracking as a knee problem related to the patella being "pulled" laterally by the quad muscle.

Well - be prepared to re-think that.

Under weight bearing MRI study it turns out that the knee cap (patella) does not track laterally. It is the femur that is medially rotating due to lack of strength and control at the HIP.

That's right - the hip once again is or should be the focal point for addressing a knee issue.

Another great article on the site is from the July 2006 issue of BioMechanics by Jim Lundy, DPT, CSCS titled - "Gluteus Medius stimulates lower extremity movement". This really goes well with the Patellofemoral article in understanding the function of the Glute Medius.

Hip stability and control is key to proper functioning of the body. If you do not focus here and address the hip - you are missing a BIG piece of the picture.
A map only gets you where you want to go if you know your destination...

Define a goal for your training and reape the benefits.

Maps are great. Lots of roads to choose from and different routes to take but which of the dots on the map are you trying to reach?

If you cannot answer that then be prepared to wonder the roadways getting nowhere fast.

I want to snatch a KB for ____ # of reps. I want to squat _____#.

These are goals that provide a destination. With a destination you can chose your path.

Not that you haven't heard this before but it is a different way to word it/look at it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Blame the exercise....

It is like a golfer blaming his/her clubs for a bad shot - people blame an exercise for a negative result. I was just catching up with Tom Furman's blog where he had some comments by Frank Zane on the squat and this attitude of "blame the exercise" came to mind.

Dan John has said - "Squats don't hurt your knees - The way you squat hurts you knees."

Zane says - to paraphrase - we worked up to 405 for sets of ten and my knees and back hurt after that. Well - you had no business cranking out sets of 10 at that weight and your form was probably questionable. (If Mr. Zane reads this I apologize in advance but would say this to anyone)

Don't blame the exercise - Yes I understand "risk" in certain exercises and we all have a "limit" to what we can accomplish in a certain exercise/load - BUT - good form combined with good sense is a great preventative strategy.

Rule #1 - If it hurts - don't do it.
Rule #2 - If it hurts afterward you didn't do it right or you have an asymmetry or restriction that needs addressed.
Rule #3 - Any answer other than No - is a yes (Thank you Mike Boyle for that one).
Rule #4 - When in doubt STOP what you are doing and go back through Rules 1-3 very carefully.

This also highlights the danger of the reps becoming the goal. In Starting Strength by Rippetoe and Kilgor there is an EMG readout showing degredation of form and stability beyond 5 reps.
Add bad form to degrading neurological control and it is a receipe for disaster.

Blaming the saw for a bad cut of wood, a golf club for a bad shot, and squats for bad knees are all examples of throwing the blame away from where it belongs.
Remember when you point your finger - three are pointing back at you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And it begins!!

Enter the Kettlebell Promotion!

Click through to the Applied Strength home page and click on the links for the Enter the Kettlebell promotion!

Put it to you this way - I am ordering the book again so I can take advantage of the deal!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Squats and stuff...

This squat cycle is going very well. I hit 445 for 3 reps today - this is a good PR considering I had never attempted this weight before. Deep and strong for the reps and looking forward to a couple of lower intensity days then a stab at a 1rm.

Squats are very different from the DL - the prep to put the bar low on your back - wedge in tight with the upper body - un-rack and step back are different from setting up to go down for the DL to begin the pull.
Then once in the hole for the squat to stay tight - hit depth - and reverse out with power is different from squeezing the weight off the floor then accelerating to the top.

Squats are in my routine to stay even after I hit my goal of raw elite.

Single leg deadlift - I cannot believe the continued impact of this exercise as I begin to expose more and more people to it.
If you are not performing SLDL - start and if you are not teaching the SLDL to clients - start. I posted a blog some time back with a tip for teaching the SLDL with a broom stick.

Reading - having just finished Starting Strength and beginning Practical Programming and having another fitness book on the way and reading articles on + my own twisted mental "lifting" + the time I spend working with clients and learning from every interaction - I just wonder how much other trainers and "lifters" spend continuing their education.
BTW - my own lifting and goals are a big part of my continuing Ed.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Endurance training and Strength training...

Weights are for Strength training. They are not an endurance tool.
If you want endurance and increased efficiency in O2 uptake and aerobic markers - Run, Cycle, Jump Rope, Swing KBs, Snatch KBs, Clean and Jerk KBs, Jerk KBs etc...

Strength helps endurance - Endurance will not help strength.
Anaerobic improvements will improve aerobic - Improvements in aerobic will not improve anaerobic.

Use the right tool for the job. 20 reps of squats for example compared with 10,000 steps during a 5K race is nothing. It will not improve the O2 uptake specific to the task of the run. On the other hand - increased strength will allow fewer muscle fibers to be recruited for each step and leave more in reserve and less demand on the O2 uptake.

Power - is improved through strength. Even endurance events are power events - how fast can you move X amount of weight (even if that is your body weight) in what time. Well if you are stronger and able to move X amount of weight with more force (ie. faster) then you go....ummm.... Faster.

Strength train to get stronger - then go use your strength in your sport skill practice.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

First read through of Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgor

Overall I like the book very much and would recommend it as a resource for anyone training with barbells or training others with barbells. Mark and Lon lay out a very detailed approach to teaching the basic barbell lifts (Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press, Power Clean). Included in the descriptions are lots of great coaching tips.

The writing style is direct and dead on in many areas. Great descriptions and tips on understanding the Valsalva Maneuver (although he doesn't deal enough with the diaphragm). More evidence and EMG proof that 5 reps and under are the "best" rep range especially for learning and adherence to proper form.

Mark does some statements in the squat section that I don't agree with/need to research. He states that an inability to keep the knees open/out during the squat (preventing valgus knee stress/colapsing) is a function of the adductors not the abductors. Reasoning that since you get sore in the adductors (from an interview on not the book) and that the ABductors are small muscles that the ADductors are responsible for preventing this collapse. Although his teaching cues are dead on and a good open hip position is achieved and emphasized - we both end up the same place. BUT I will have to say that I do think that ABductor weakness/improper firing is a major factor in the collapse during the squat (this and pronation of the feet). More on this at another time.

This and a coaching cue in the Overhead press (which I need to practice and use before I comment on) are the only real areas where I had any question.

He includes and likes the Power Clean - I prefer Kettlebells and "jump training".

Squat, Deadlift and Bench covered very well - Overhead lift covered very well (except for that thing I need to try) and the first line in the book: paraphrasing:
"Physical strength is of the upmost importance" - Yes! The introductory chapter needs to shouted from the roof tops and drilled into everyones head!

A good two thumbs up with a couple of caveats but certainly recommended.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Finding your identity...

People tend to find their "identity" in various places and in the athletic sense people find an identity in their chosen activity.

Imagine people you know who will identify themselves as - A Runner, A Basketball player, A Golfer, or for me as a Strength guy or a Powerlifter. It almost comes off as: "Hi - my name is __________ and I am a runner."

Why does this happen? Because success binds us to an activity or goal. A person who may not have been particularly athletic in high school finds out later that they can run. And they become a Runner. It becomes a part of their identity. Success breeds confidence and the binding to who we/you are.

This is good and bad. Good because it develops consistency and another level of dedication to the goal or activity.
Bad because it is devastating when that identity changes. People who cannot participate in the activity that was a part of their identity have to deal with that loss and find another outlet/indentity. Or it is a crippling loss.

I am careful to try to leave my identity open. Not so open that I cannot sit here and say with confidence that I am a strength guy not a physique guy but open enough that I feel I could deal with a change to that identity.

What is your athletic "identity"?
Lots of good stuff out there...

Thomas Furman has had some great blogs recently - has a very good first part of an article series on what some of there top writers believe but cannot "prove" scientifically. Alwyn Cosgrove, Chritian Thibaudeau, Mike Roberston, and Mike Boyle all have some great stuff there. Boyle's is sure to raise an eybrow or two!

Great discussion on the re: the power clean and athletes - some coaches swear by them and give them credit for things I personally do not think they provide. Jack Reape and Geoff Neuport both give some great info on the box squat side and Randy Hauer on the OL side.
Good stuff.

For me - I had a great squat workout yesterday - 5 sets of 3 reps at 405. And almost didn't do it but thought of a Jack Reape article:

"Mistaking mental feelings as equivalent to physical signs when it comes to skipping or cutting short workouts is another error. For example, if your girlfriend just left you or you just found out you're being audited, you might not feel like doing legs that night. Man up and get to the squat rack. What you feel like doing is often the exact thing you shouldn't do, and vice versa. On the other hand, if after a few weeks of very hard training before a targeted contest or goal point, you get a poor night's sleep, you missed lunch due to a work emergency, and the hamstring you pulled while waterskiing last weekend is killing you, this is probably not the time to man up and push through it. If love is never having to say you're sorry, then love is the key to avoiding injury. Missing a workout now and then, however blasphemous, is a key to maintaining progress through injury avoidance. You ignore hurt feelings, but you don't ignore a hurting hamstring."

So - had I not "Manned up" and made it through my workout I would have missed out.

Just a mish-mash of what is out there and catching my attention.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A natural drug...

Advertising and supplements etc...

I was listening to an advertisment the other day and the announcer said: "this is safe because it is a natural drug..."

Well arsenic, nicotine (did you know that nicotine is a very effective pesticide), and other very natural substances are very dangerous. Natural does not equal safe.
Acetylsalicilic Acid - or asprin is a natural extract of white willow bark - a wonder drug for its time and a key heart "supplement" today - can be dangerous. So what exactly is a "natural drug"?

First - What is a supplement and what is a drug?
Thisis from an FDA website:
What is a Botanical Drug?
A botanical drug product is intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in humans.
A botanical drug product consists of vegetable materials, which may include plant materials, algae, macroscopic fungi, or combinations thereof.
A botanical drug product may be available as (but not limited to) a solution (e.g., tea), powder, tablet, capsule, elixir, topical, or injection.
Botanical drug products often have unique features, for example, complex mixtures, lack of a distinct active ingredient, and substantial prior human use. Fermentation products and highly purified or chemically modified botanical substances are not considered botanical drug products.
A botanical drug's special features require consideration and adjustment during the FDA review process. CDER issued a Guidance for Industry-Botanical Drug Products to take into consideration these features and to facilitate development of new therapies from botanical sources. The Botanical Guidance applies to only botanical products intended to be developed and used as drugs.
No botanical products that fulfill the Botanical Guidance definition of a botanical drug product are currently marketed as prescription drugs. There are some botanical drugs, including cascara, psyllium, and senna, that are included in the over-the-counter (OTC) drug review. For a botanical drug substance to be included in an OTC monograph, there must be published data establishing a general recognition of safety and effectiveness, including the results of adequate and well-controlled clinical studies.

What is a Dietary Supplement?
There are numerous botanical preparations that are marketed in the U.S. as dietary supplements.
A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet.
The dietary ingredients in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites.
Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates, and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids or powders.
Dietary supplements can also take other forms, such as a bar. If they do, information on their label must not represent the product as a conventional food or a sole item of a meal or diet.
Whatever their form may be, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, places dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of foods, not drugs and requires that every supplement be labeled a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements are labeled to describe how a nutrient or dietary ingredient affects the structure or function in humans or to describe the documented mechanism by which a nutrient or dietary ingredient acts to maintain the structure or function. The labeling on a dietary supplement can not make a disease claim to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease.
For information on the regulation of dietary supplements and the reporting of safety problems for dietary supplements currently on the market, please see the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) website FDA/CFSAN Dietary Supplements: Overview

So appreciate the difference between a drug and a supplement and be wary of supplements that claim drug like effects and "natural" status.

Or to be very cynical - "If it works - its a drug - If it doesn't - its a supplement." Rif.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Where to start...

My brain has been running over time on me today - random thoughts on many subjects...headphones for my ipod shuffle, squats, adductors, glute medius, variety in training, box squats, how much wood a wood chuck get the idea.

Really it is too much to put into blogs quite yet so I will have to sort through my brain and get things in a usable and understandable format. I did make a decision on the headphones though. ;)

Joined the forum at today - looking forward to poking around on there and learning from Boyle and the other coaches that frequent the board.

Also ordered Starting Strength and Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgor - these have been highly rated and said to be essential text for coaches and trainers. I will post reviews when I have them and have read them.

One liner for the day: Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
I see this acted out pretty much everyday on the forums and the gym. In an effort to be "functional" or to add "variety" people perform exercises that are questionable at best - dangerous at worst. Is a given exercise helping you achieve your goal or phrased another way - is a given exercise improving a movement pattern in your goal activity? If it is - by all means - continue. If it is for variety - re-evaluate your exercise and define your goals and get specific to the movement patterns associated with those goals.

On a slightly different note - regarding powerlifting training - I am really liking establishing my raw base. When people go too soon to gear they miss out on developing this base and have to back track at a certain point. IMO.
Lift raw until you hit a true sticking point - then look for other methods to improve. And a slow down in progress is not a sticking point. Marty Gallahger has written very well on this subject. His "Purposefully Primitive" approach is right in line with my thinking. (Go ahead Rif - fire away) ;)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Big ain't strong - Strong is strong....

Someone mentioned recently that they liked my one liners so here is another one that is a favorite of mine. Due to bodybuilding and a movie culture of big action stars (especially in the eighties) people now associate size with strength. Well - Big ain't strong - Strong is strong.

Strength comes in a variety of sizes - yes there is "big strong" (Worlds Strongest Man) and yes there is "skinny strong" (rock climber, gymnast) and yes there is just plain strong which comes in many forms.

Where should you fall in the strength/size continuum? To paraphrase a friend of mine - "Where you deserve to."
If your goal is to be an offensive/defensive lineman - then yes you are going to head to the "big strong" end of things. If your goal is to be a rock climber - then you look towards the skinny strong end. But what if you ignored size - instead just focusing on strength and recovery. Letting your body find it's own place.

In powerlifting it is common to just move up weight classes when a sticking point is hit. "There isn't a sticking point that you cannot eat your way through." Can't remember who to attribute this to but it is a common mindset. I am trying to just eat well and focus on being strong and making progress towards my goals - if that ends me up at 198, then so be it. But I would prefer to be at 181.

Just to be big has never made sense to me. Why? Size without purpose has no purpose - but if that is your goal then at least be as strong as your size should allow you.

So where is your goal on the strength/size continuum?
Just a quick post (more later)...

Squats went well on Friday - 405 x 3, 425 x 3, 405 x 3 - and I was pretty much done. I made it through two sets of pull-ups and one set of dips and had to stop during the second set because I had hit the wall.

Rif and I were talking the other day about squats and recovery. He made the statement that he became obsessed with recovery. And I can understand why! The routine I am using at the moment has me squatting three days a week and I have "modified" the program. The percentages listed in the Pre-RSR and the estimated 1rm I used to get started turned out to be a bit off so I have taken the liberty to change them. Great idea!

So I have tried to hit some yoga, the far infrared sauna, sleep and nutrition over the weekend to aide my recovery.

What is your recovery strategy? Or are you training hard enough to need one?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Travel, Training and (darn I can't think of another T) - oh yeah - Thinking!

Travel - I am already booking workshops, presentations and travel into October of 2007. Having a long range plan and ability to schedule events is key to sanity and success as the year progresses. BTW - If you have been thinking of booking me for a workshop in 2007 - don't wait because the dates are disappearing.

Training - Man am I looking forward to my squats this afternoon - Rif's post yesterday re: Pressure in training is very true - If I can feel the weight as I take it off the rack I know I wasn't ready with my level of pressure and preparation for the lift. (
Also - the sauna yesterday does seem to have helped my recovery.

Thinking - There are two prime concepts to wrap your head around where training, mobility and flexibility are concerned. 1) Muscles are dumb - they only do what the neurological system tells them to do. 2) Follow #1 to it's logical conclusion.

Meaning - If you have a tight "something" - what neurological program or pattern is involved and are there trigger points etc... that need to be addressed.
Z-health is making more and more sense to me - as they focus on "flexibility" by addressing the neurological restrictions - and then patterning - and then - wow you can move. Pavel's materials, Gray Cook's materials - we are all trying to get to the same place - just different paths. Results matter - if you have a way of removing restriction and enhancing function that works - great - use it. I prefer Pavel's and Gray's and am looking to add Z-health when I can.

Squats later - I can't wait!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A pretty slow day...

Squatting cycles can result in two things - 1) Lots of eating! and 2) Lots of need for recovery!

Man - I cannot eat enough - even the bad calories are being shoved in right now. I have had a great squat cycle so far and am feeling good but my legs are feeling the workload. Enter the Far Infrared Sauna!

I got to spend 40 minutes in a 120 degree Far Infrared Sauna today and it felt great! A great sweat and there are supposed to be loads of benefits of the wavelength of the infrared heat. With any luck I will squat tomorrow and be able to get in the sauna again on Saturday.

Not much else to report or pontificate on today.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Read Thomas Furman's blog today -
He has a tremendous blog today on the importance of not waiting - Do what you are thinking of doing because you never know - No day is promised to anyone!

Also - I am reposting this from the dragondoor forum because I feel it has some good points and just needs to be repeated.
This is the response to a couple of different posts on questions regarding hollowing vs. bracing for core stability and pilates.
"Core stability" is a misunderstood and misapplied concept in most cases - read and give feedback if you wish.

Here we go - I am sure this will fuel a good bit of ire and discussion especially from pilates/hollowing fans so:

Drawing in is A Way to activate the TVA - it is not the way we use it during lifting.

While laying on your back or supported by bands etc... you can use damn near any stablilization strategy - it doesn't mean it is the right one.

When you stand on your own two feet or one foot and have to produce "core stablity" - you will/should brace.

Fluid movement is the result of the proper balance of tension and relaxation - if you look at a dancer on point and executing jumps etc they are displaying that balance. It does not mean they are not producing stablity - it is just in balance with their movement.

The pelvic floor is a fascinating area that deserves a great deal of thought - Yoga and Qigong include this in their respective practices but breathing through a pose and lifting a barbell are a bit different so the level of pelvic floor "activation" that is conscious during "heavier" activities and the level that naturally occurs would be very interesting and it is my feeling that squatting produces pelvic floor activation. And being a Yoga fan - I am working on my locks and breathing.

Bracing does not always mean "bracing for a punch" - that is a helpful visual but just as a punch is not always thrown at maximum effort - "bracing" happens at different "intensities". So don't think that bracing is always maxed out - it is appropriately applied.

The TVA is a retaining wall - not a mover - it contracts to form a wall against which IAP can be developed and maintained - it doesn't draw in - it retains - look at alignment of fibers and it's role as a postural/stablizing muscle and this becomes clear.

Look at the "core" as the drive shaft - it transfers power and energy - it is not meant to flex and produce - it transfers.

Pilates does have standing progressions - does any one use them? I have yet to see a class or instructor bring people to their feet.

The example in the post above - If the strategy the PT is using is addressing an asymmetry or restriction that the BBer brought to the "table" then it will work - however - the "rehab" should progress back to "goal" activities and then see how things go.

What the human body "should" do - is the body meant to handle 1000 pounds - maybe - maybe not - It's not meant to do a great number of the things we do to it - but we do. I am no fan of gear for bigger numbers but also respect those that get under the weight. The human body is capable of many things. But - life is to short to be weak - find a strength strategy that appeals to you (PL, OL, Bodyweight, etc...) and work it - also find a movement strategy (dance, MA etc...).

To sum up - Don't lay on your back and tell me you are working "core stablity" (unless the beginnings of rehab)- stand on your own two feet (or one foot) and handle an outside load - then tell me where your "core" is.



Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

2007 Goals and a good article to check out on by Mike Boyle

My goals for 2007:
Progress towards Raw Elite total in Powerlifting - 1396# total
Squat - current (will know in a couple of weeks) - needs to be 500+
Bench - current - 300ish - needs to be 350
DL - current - 540 - needs to be 550+
Deepening my Yoga practice
Improving movement skills

Hitting the individual numbers for the Squat, Bench and Deadlift will come but putting them together into a single day of competition will be the key. So the powerlifting journey continues.

Yoga is something I need in my routine for achieving the balance I talk about in the Applied Strength philosophy. Between PL for strength, KB for endurance and power, and Yoga for mobility/flexibility I am hitting a good combo that addresses much of the Applied Strength philosophy.

Improving movement skills may involve a martial art or combat skill and/or learning to dance!
We will see what presents itself in 2007 - but the PL goal is center stage for now.

Mike Boyle has a really good article up on - 6 Things I Really Dislike
Lots of good info and a good front squat video using a 12" box for squat depth consistency.

Hope your New Year is off to a great start!

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