Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Core - continued...

Gentlemen - i hope you don't mind me bringing this out to another blog post but I think this is certainly important enough to continue here...

Franz - Thank you for the info and the article reference...

And Thank you Keats for dropping by and adding to the discussion...
Keats Snideman CSCS, LMT, NMT said...
Hey Franz, thanks for the plug for the article I wrote!

I think most coaches in the know are probably saying the same thing; the primary torque/strenth producers are the hips/thighs. The lower back and trunk should only serve as a conduit for transfering force through to the extremities.

Some mobility and light strengthening exercise should be performed for maintaining adequate lumbar rotation however. Since rotation is very important to specific life and sporting situations, it is better to focus on teaching people to twist through the thoracic spine, as this is where rotation occurs much more easily.

Geoff Neupert said...
Brett--I think I need to clarify even further: since load can be velocity dominant or force dominant, the context in which I was speaking was force dominant. Of course the spine--all of it, must be able to move under the load of velocity and still protect the spinal cord. Failing to train the body to handle these movements is setting up for an injury.

That being said, mobility work should be trained first then loaded either through velocity or load second.

I find myself working very basic core activation and timing drills with my clients and cueing Long Spine and that is where most of my perspective is coming from as far as basic "core" issues.
Ensuring optimal mobility and optimal stability is the ultimate goal and must be determined by the goal activities and stresses that the individual will be facing. So once the basics (mobility and bracing) are dialed in - then attack the movements and demands specific to the goals (force and/or velocity).

And Keats' points about thoracic spine rotation are key as most see the t-spine as an immobile area. As Geoff said - the spine - all of it - must be able to move under both stresses. And it must produce the segmental stability to protect.

BTW - Sounds like you had a great time at the Z health seminar.

I break it down between - Core Activation, Core Timing, and then get to Core "training" (overhead work anyone??, planks, roll-outs etc...). Comments....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Training today - 7-30...

Squats w/ doubled monster mini bands - 315 x 2,2,2,2,2
(secured these around some Dumbbell handles and added several inches of band tension vs. my regular squat rack pin set up)

Bench - all reps Paused - 275 x 3,3,3

DL 475 x 2,2,2

Squats felt good and that added band tension is loads of fun.
Bench - felt good - came out of all pauses with speed.
DL - found my groove again - need to pull every now and then - been too long from the DL.

Thursday will be heavy squats and I am already starting to look forward to it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Training today -

Squats - 465 x 3 (belt only), 475 x 3, 3 (belt and wraps)
Bench with Doubled Monster Mini bands (each rep paused) 185 x 3,3,3,3,3
DL - 445 x 2, 495 x 1, 1, 445 x 1

I am amazed at the impact of Monday's workout. Very sore yesterday and today - which made today's squats VERY fun! Squatting on "not quite recovered yet legs" is a treat.
Bench felt good and pausing on each rep was fun - thanks Rick.
DL was a bit rough after not having pulled in a while and some "heavy" squats on "not quite recovered legs" - but still pretty good.

Thats it - I will have some more tomorrow as I have several thoughts floating around in my head.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Function of the Core....

Geoff Neupert proposed this for the function of the core: 1. Produce non-compressible cyclinder to protect the spine against external load; 2. TRANSMIT force via rotation, etc.

I countered with the idea that I feel the job of the core is to prevent rotation/movement not produce movement.

Then Geoff and I spent some time on the phone and discovered that we were a lot closer on things than these two statements would appear.

When you get into a debate of semantics and internet one dimensional statements a lot can get lost in the process.

Geoff pointed out that the lumbar spine can and should rotate as it is designed to do and should do as a part of normal movement. And I agree (except under load - which we both agreed to) But it should not move beyond those norms and should be a part of the power, movement, and transition of energy from the hips. Very rarely are we in a situation where the spine should "create" movement independent from the hips.

Maintaining "long spine" (it really isn't any more complicated than it sounds - pretend there is a string through your spine out the top of your head and someone is trying to pick you up by the string) is a key we both felt was very important to core activation and function.

So we ended up being far closer and agreeing on this but if you look at the internet conversation it appears different.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Continuing the discussion...

Rick and Geoff (I will hit Geoff's comments tomorrow) have had some great comments and questions and I wanted to continue the discussions...

Rick had asked about individual variances in program design and the fact that some people can handle much greater workloads than others. And all I can say is yes.
Individual variation is a huge factor but instead of wondering where that variation lies I would recommend beginning a program at the low volume I recommended and building slowly from there until you find "the sweet spot". This can result in a little bit of a porridge discussion (too hot, too cold, just right for those of you not getting the analogy).
You will more than likely build the volume to a "too hot" level (too much work - decrease in performance) - then back off to a too cold level (not enough work - no real progress) and then find the "just right" level - (right amount of work and continued progress).

Expanding on this - I recommend a base of low volume strength training - but I implement "volume" routines a couple of times a year such as the squat cycle I am on now and the RSR (russian squat routine for my deadlift in the past) - the issue comes when you never step down from the "peaking" or volume routine. That is when you are looking for trouble.

Most people I talk to are amazed that I squat 2 x a week - so there we get into a discussion of where your max and your training level are for you. If your max is 1000 in the squat then I would expect you to be able to knock reps with 500 any day of the week and twice on Sunday. If your max is 1000 and you try to keep pushing 900 around you are headed for a fall.

So planned periods of higher volume based off of and returning to a lower volume base is the way to look at it. And people do train themselves to handle sick workloads but I prefer to find out how little I can do and still make progress.

And -

We also get into individual diet, sleep and recovery habits - Proper nutrition and 8+ hours of sleep a night are said to help with recovery (not that I would know anything about that!). So stress from commuting, work, family, money, etc....all zap recovery ability and have to be taken into account. It is the rare individual that can commit their life to the demands of optimal recovery and survive some of the training protocols out there.

So - Combine life, recovery and training and see where things balance out and you can never remove the x-factor of the genetic marvel who comes along and can just do things others cannot.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Squats Good - Bench Bad...

Squats - 425 x 5 (belt only), 445 x 5, 5, 5 (belt and wraps)

Bench - 315 x 1

Squats Good - Groove was good and deep - bar felt light. The program called for 415 x 4 sets of 5 reps today but decided to modify it in my way (which I have been doing all along).

Bench Bad - Just wasn't feeling it today...no groove on my bench and probably still feeling the bands from last monday and I had to take an Imodium today due to some stomach issues. Some days are like that...

I had pulled my right quad last Monday after attempting a sprint with some high school kids I am working with and took it very easy on it last week with lots of ice sessions - didn't feel it at all during the squats. Dodged a bullet I think.

Overall - all is well.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A follow up to the Michael Boyle article...

After reading through the article a few more time and reading the discussion that followed on T-Nation I have a few points to add to the discussion.

Volume - Boyle alludes to the fact that most routines include too much volume and I agree. Some people went nuts but as I am more convinced that reading comprehension is at a very low level for some people it seems people are not getting the point.
The point is that for basic STRENGTH training needs a low volume is all that is required. Note that I emphasize strength training because people are trying to use strength training for conditioning - and they need to stop it!

One of my favorite sayings is "I am after results - not a workout." Strength training is about getting stronger - Period. And I prefer to find a "minimal" level of time and work to accomplish this. "To eliminate the excess" as Bruce Lee said - So I Squat, I Bench, and I Deadlift.
My only variety is in adding jumpstretch bands and manipulating intensity and total # of reps. And I rest a LOT more than I used to - as the weight gets heavy you need to rest more.

So people get confused because they want to leave the gym having had a "workout" - get over it if Strength is your goal. 2x5, 3x3, 6x1 can and should form the base of a strength training program. 5x5 is as high as I would go on volume.

Later in the article Boyle points to the fact that work capacity is where "conditioning" should be focused. And I agree. Kettlebell, sprints, intervals, jumprope, burpee (and other bodyweight drills), and sport skill drills can be mixed as needed to address conditioning and the need to have experienced a "work out". Also of note here is that "Sport Specific" conditioning can and should refer to "work capacity" training made specific to the work:rest ratio of the goal activity. Period.
The weight room is not for "conditioning".

The exception to this rant - Kettlebell, barbell and bodyweight combos for fat loss - you can create combos with "lighter" weight and little rest that are very effective for weight loss (see Cosgrove, Ballentine etc... for details) - BUT these are not strength training - they are weight loss combos - BIG difference.

My solution - focus on the big 3 (squat, bench, deadlift) for strength and then focus on KB swings, snatches, high pulls for conditioning. That's it.

Abdominal issues:
McGill is continuing to gain popularity - This is a good thing!
Boyle now likes the Full Contact Twist (or variations there of) and didn't even know it. See Pavel's Bullet Proof Abs for details.
Planks, roll-outs (performed correctly) and Full contact twist - look no further when combined with your squatting and deadlifting.
And further confirmation that the roll of the "Core" is to prevent rotation and movement - NOT produce it.

And just as Gray Cook voiced frustration with the "functional training" crowd - Coach Boyle does the same and for pretty much exactly the same reasons - 1) light weights waved around in anything but "functional" patterns and 2) a lack of actual strength training.
Somewhere along the way we forgot that strength is a good thing - As long as movement skill is maintained and/or enhanced.

Great stuff...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great Michael Boyle article over at T-nation...


One of the things I admire about Boyle is his willingness to re-evaluate and progress his position on training and his beliefs based on his current information and experience. Others have their opinion and do not want to be confused with the facts.

Do I agree 100% with Boyle - no - but I don't have to and the fact that I don't always agree with him but still read everything I can that he writes should demonstrate the level of respect I have for him. Disagreement is good. Coach Boyle is very smart and has logged some serious hours training athletes and individuals of all levels. There is much to be learned from him.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Training today....

Squats 425 x 4 (belt only), 445 x 4, 4 (belt and wraps)
Bench with Doubled Monster Mini Bands
225 x1, 245 x 2, 235 x 2, 225 x 2, 185 x 2,2 (paused)

Felt good today - I am hitting the first set as called for in the squat program with belt only and then adding some weight and hitting the remainder of the sets with the wraps - seems to be working out well.
And by the end of each three week cycle I am ready for the extra days off.
Bench felt good - heaviest I've gone on band benches and with the heavier bands.

Otherwise - still trying to simplify my life.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A new email address:

In an effort to simplify my life and increase my effectiveness and productivity I will be eliminating my multiple email accounts and reducing them to one account that I will check once per day.

The new email address is:

Please make any necessary changes to your address books etc... and Thank you for assisting me in this effort to simplify my life.

Video of 475 x 2 Squats with belt only - felt very good.

Training today:
Squats 475 x 2 (belt only), 495 x 2,2 (belt and wraps)

Build up: Bar x 5, 135 x 4, 225 x 3, 315 x 3, 405 x 2, 445 x 1 - work sets...

And called it a day - Fun to hit some doubles with my previous max!

And here is a link to the other vid of 495 x 2 with belt and wraps...


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just a bit to think about:

Life is not a zero sum game.

Meaning - some people view life and success as one pie (a finite amount of resources and opportunity to go around) - and this means that if some one has a bigger slice than I have to have a smaller slice.

I choose to view life as a world with many pies (opportunities for success and resources) of many sizes.

Do not fear competition and someone having a "bigger slice of the pie" - we can all create our own success and have lots of pie.

Goofy but it gets the point across.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Here is a quick picture of Kentuck Knob - another Frank Lloyd Wright house here in PA - I have to say I am amazed by his designs and creations. You have to see them to believe them. The terrace and the hexagonal designs on the house are amazing.

Quick training today:

Squats with doubled over Monster Mini bands
315 x 2,2,2,2

Bench with doubled over Monster Mini bands
225 x 2,2,2

Had to get it done today but all felt good - the set up was bit different as I was in a different gym from my usual place. So the bands were about 8-10" further down and added a LOT more tension on the squat - but it felt good.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Squats and 3 hours sleep...

Due to some neighbors partying until Midnight I got about 3 hours of sleep last night - just perfect for a heavy squat workout!

Squats - 455 x 3 (belt only), 3 (belt and knee wraps), 465 x 3 (belt and knee wraps
335 x 3 paused no belt or wraps

And that was it - Quick and fun!

Wraps were a little better today - as I figure them out I suspect they will provide a pretty big bump but right now I am keeping them moderate to loose.

Overall - with 3 hours sleep and a fairly busy day - I will take it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Independence Day!!

Enjoy the 4th of July - Have a fun and safe holiday!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Training Yesterday and Today and something new...

Today - July 2
Squats 405 x 5, add knee wraps x 5
425 x 5,5 with knee wraps
315 x 5 paused

Bench 315 x 1+, 1+, 1+

First session with the knee wraps - very odd.
Bench was singles at 315 with a forced rep after each single.

Yesterday - July 01
Sunday - Mow lawn for warm up
40kg KB for all drills except the pistols
Windmill x 3 r+L
MP 3 sets of 2 reps r+L
One arm row 3 x 5 r+L
SLDL 3 x 5 r+L
Pistols 8kg KB x 3 x 3 r+L
Snatches 4 sets of 3 reps each arm

Basically ran out of time but did enjoy the KB work - really need to keep this up for balance in the routine.

The knee wraps were very odd - not sure how they are going to affect my form but did feel good enough to go 20# heavier on my sets of 5. I am going to try to continue to do the first set of each workout without wraps to maintain the feel.

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