Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reps and Straps

Joe Dube doing pulls at the 1970 World Championships

On another site, GOHEAVY.com, there was a discussion recently about what constitutes a repetition and also the use of straps in training. Many lifters who claim to be doing reps with a weight, actually take significant pauses between each rep, adjusting the bar, resetting,...etc. as compared to consecutive non-stop reps. I think both methods have their place. Obviously Squats, benches, presses and general strength/bodybuilding type lifts are best served by consecutive reps, although the "cluster singles" as I term them have a place also when the goal is maximal strength. When the "quick lifts" such as snatch, cleans, jerks, and their variations are involved, I am not a fan of consecutive reps. I believe that singles or "cluster singles" are the only way to go. Trying to do those types of lifts non-stop fashion is counter productive in my opinion, although many "strength coaches" prescribe such lifts in higher reps. Joe Dube, who was a world champion in weightlifting in 1969 weighed in on the discussion this way,(Although my credentials pale next to his, I will insert some commentary in blue)"I viewed the video of Kendrick (Kendrick Farris whom we have featured in earlier posts)doing the Jerks from the boxes and must say he is a very strong young man. Not to be taken away from his exceptional strength and abilities I would say those were, in my opinion, three quick singles. My definition of reps would be that a lifter would do reps, 2 or more, without releasing the bar back to the racks or boxes from the shoulders. Also, I have viewed many video's of lifters doing snatches, cleans, pulls, etc., bringing the bar back down to the platform after doing a rep then stop and re-adjust the plates, step back then approach the bar and re-grip the bar for another supposingly rep. These are not reps in my way of thinking! My definition of reps would be to continue each rep (whatever movement your training) without releasing the grip and bar back to the platform or racks, doing each rep one right after the other.(I am in agreement) This is the way I did reps back many years ago when I was training, mostly in my earlier years. (Joe trained mostly in a small shed in his backyard in Florida and became one of the world's strongest men) Although I did do many reps in the squats. I am a firm believer in doing many many singles attempts in training on the actual O/L's and any other assistant movements is the best for the lifter to develop explosive speed and power. The problem with continued rep afer rep only slows down that explosive speed and which is not in the best interest of the lifter. ( or thrower, or almost athlete for that matter) It can also throw off the lifters technique and cause possible injuring of the lifter. (I agree, injuries are usually the result of too many reps, not maximal effort, reps lead to fatigue, which leads to technical breakdown, which leads to injury)
I do believe that doing reps just to warm up with the lighter weights is alright to do but when the weight increases significantly stop doing those reps and do singles. (great advice)
While I am on this subject I have another issue to bring up. I continue to see from video's I view all the time lifters using straps all the time in their training. Does anyone use their hook grip anymore in training? To me this is not a very good practice! I think it is very important for the lifter to use their hook-grip as much in training as they can. Also, doing some extra gripping exercises to strengthen their grip would help considerably. (Tommy Kono recommends doing lifts without the hook grip also, to strengthen grip ability)
To finish this post I have must say that all lifters who compete in competition DO NOT use STRAPS on the competition platform nor do they DO NOT do REPS on that platform.
Anyway, this is just my thoughts on this and would like to hear other peoples views on this subject."
Joe Dube

Many top lifters use straps more often than that nowdays. Mainly because they are training frequently and want to save their hands. What about throwers or other athletes? I believe that straps can help one to learn to relax their arms and focus on the explosive extension movement. This can be valuable for throwers, although grip strength is also important. I advise my athletes to use straps for pulls, but not for the full lifts. I hate seeing athletes who use straps for everything, from lat pulldowns to dumbell lifts. Like belts and gloves, some think straps are a fashion accessory useful in trying to look like a lifter. A strong grip allows more force to be applied to the implement. Don't allow your grip to be the weak link in the kinetic chain as force flows from the ground, through the feet, through the core or torso, to the implement. Don't become "strap dependent."

Joe squatting at the same meet in 1970

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Speaking of Brains....

In the last post we presented an article that supported the fact that resistance training can facilitate brain function. The episode posted below however makes me wonder if some strength coaches even have a functioning brain. Please know, I am not against hard work, nor am I singling out any particular coach or program. It is the general attitude that seems to exist among many coaches associated with football. I played football for ten years up to the Div. I level and coached it for 23 years.I understand the need for mental toughness and team chemistry that comes from a mutual investment into doing hard things. But I also learned early on that hard work is never a substitute for smart work. I guess this comes from also having a track backround where success is measured objectively by a tape. Hard work and smart work are not mutually exclusive. You can have both. But really, what is the point of 100 squats with 240 lb. for a football player? The current state of the college game calls for a player to be on the field for 40-60 snaps that require a maximal effort for 4-6 seconds, interspersed with 30 seconds or longer breaks in between. This is January,the first games will not be until late August at the earliest. Why aren't we working on quality strength, power, and speed work now? What is the point of all of this over-the-top work capacity conditioning? Obviously this program crossed the line here, but why are so many programs following a similar lemming-like tact? Any clown can get an athlete tired and sore, it takes a real coach to make one better. If you are reading this post, you are likely a thrower or lifter who has learned to think for himself. Be grateful you are.
Twelve University of Iowa football players have been hospitalized because of a similar kidney ailment, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The school disclosed the athletes were admitted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Monday night but declined to release the players' names or why they are being treated. The university said the players are in stable and safe condition.
The dozen players were afflicted with exertional rhabdomyolysis, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported Tuesday night. According to the newspaper, the condition could affect the kidney’s ability to clear toxins from the body and could potentially cause permanent kidney failure.
All 12 players were doing fine, a source close to the situation told The Gazette.
It's unclear whether the condition stemmed from the players' recent particiation in lower-body drills that included a series of 100 squats followed by sled work, according to the newspaper.
(You don't think there could be a connection?)
Such winter workouts for football are permissible under NCAA regulations.
School officials said it's not clear when the players will be discharged.
Athletic director Gary Barta said the next step is to find out what happened (
Duh! !100 Squats and sled work?)so it doesn't happen again.
“Coach Kirk Ferentz is out of town recruiting, but he is aware of the situation and is being kept abreast of the progress being made,” Gary Barta, Iowa's director of athletics, said in a statement. “Our No. 1 concern is the safety of our student-athletes, so we are pleased with the positive feedback. Our next step is to find out what happened so we can avoid this happening in the future.”

On Jan. 20, however, Shane DiBona talked about a staggering workout on Facebook: "I had to squat 240 pounds 100 times and it was timed. I can't walk and I fell down the stairs ... lifes (sic) great." (
The typical "It was hard, so it must be good for me" attitude)
Also on Jan. 20, the Facebook page for former Des Moines Lincoln star Jordan Bernstine, an Iowa defensive back, reported: "Hands Down the hardest workout I've ever had in my life! I can't move!" (Did it make you better?)
Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde told the Associated Press that Iowa coaches are concerned about the safety and well-being of players.
"They are nothing if not concerned for the health of the players," Vandervelde said. "That's always the first priority, health and development. I mean workouts are never used to punish.
"It's always about improvement, and workouts are always well within the capabilities of the athletes asked to perform them."
(Then why are 12 hospitalized?)
Tom Moore, a university spokesman, said university officials were still attempting to ascertain the exact cause of the problem.
"The cause is not completely clear," Moore said, "but the faculty and staff are doing an excellent job taking care of these student-athletes. We are still working on why this happened."
(Hint, look at the workout!)

Calls made to the Iowa sports information office and Barta on Tuesday afternoon weren't immediately returned. (Too busy trying figure out what happened?)

Work hard and smart! It's never too early to get started!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lift Heavy, Get Smart

The connection between the physical and the mental is not new knowledge, but it is still nice to see articles like this. It’s amazing how we continue to “discover” what the Greeks knew centuries ago. No child should be left on their behind.
The below was recently posted on the NYtimes website:

January 19, 2011, 12:01 am
Phys Ed: Brains and Brawn

It has long been a cliché that muscle bulk doesn't equate to intelligence. In fact, most of the science to date about activity and brain health has focused on the role of endurance exercise in improving our brain functioning. Aerobic exercise causes a steep spike in blood movement to the brain, an action that some researchers have speculated might be necessary for the creation of new brain cells, or neurogenesis. Running and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown, in mice and men, to lead to neurogenesis in those portions of the brain associated with memory and thinking, providing another compelling reason to get out at lunchtime and run.

Since weight training doesn't cause the same spike, few researchers have thought that it would have a similar effect. But recent studies intimate otherwise. Several studies involve animals. It's not easy, of course, to induce a mouse or a lab rat to lift weights,(
But kids seem to love it!!!) so the experimenters have to develop clever approximations of resistance training to see what impact adding muscle and strength has on an animal's brain. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in November, researchers from Brazil secured weights to the tails of a group of rats and had them climb a ladder five sessions a week. Other rats on the same schedule ran on a treadmill, and a third group just sat around. After eight weeks, the running rats had much higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (B.D.N.F.), a growth factor that is thought to help spark neurogenesis, than the sedentary rats. So did the rats with weights tied to their tails. The weight-¬bearing rats, like the runners, did well on tests of rodent learning and memory, like rapidly negotiating a water maze. Both endurance and weight training seemed to make the rats smarter.

In somewhat similar fashion, researchers from Japan recently found that loading the running wheels of animals improved their brain functioning. A loaded running wheel is not strictly analogous to weight lifting; it's more similar in human terms to a stationary bicycle with the resistance dialed high — in this case, quite high, as the resistance equaled 30 percent of the rats' body weights in the last week of the monthlong study. By then, the rats on the loaded wheels could run barely half as far as a separate group of rats on unloaded wheels, but the rats on the loaded wheels had packed on muscle mass, unlike the other rats. The animals that were assigned to the loaded wheels showed significantly increased levels of gene activity and B.D.N.F. levels within their brains. The higher the workload the animals managed to complete, the greater the genetic activity within their brains.
This "study demonstrates for the first time that voluntary wheel running with a load increases a muscular adaptation and enhances gene expression" in the rat brain, said Min-Chul Lee, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba in Japan and lead author of the study, which was also presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Even more striking, he added, his findings indicate that "this kind of exercise may have the identical or even more useful effects than endurance training (e.g., treadmill exercise) on the rat brain."

Whether the same mechanisms occur in humans who undertake resistance training of one kind or another is not yet fully clear, but "the data look promising," said Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a principal investigator at the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia. In results from her lab, older women who lifted weights performed significantly better on various tests of cognitive functioning than women who completed toning classes. Ms. Liu-Ambrose has also done brain scans of people who lifted weights to determine whether neurogenesis is occurring in their brains, and the results, still unpublished, are encouraging, she said.

Just how resistance training initiates changes in cognition remains somewhat mysterious. Ms. Liu-Ambrose said that "we now know that resistance training has significant benefits on cardiovascular health" and reduces "cardiovascular risk factors," which otherwise would raise "one's risk of cognitive impairment." She speculates that resistance training, by strengthening the heart, improves blood flow to the brain generally, which is associated with better cognitive function. Perhaps almost as important, she added, resistance training at first requires an upsurge in brain usage. You have to think about "proper form and learning the technique," she said, "while there generally is less learning involved in aerobic training," like running.

The brain benefits from being used, so that, in a neat circle, resistance training may both demand and create additional brain circuitry. Imagine what someone like Einstein might have accomplished if he had occasionally gone to the gym.

Guess what? He did!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It Helps When You Know How

When you know how to do something well, it looks easy. Doesn't Mac Wilkens talk about the "Effortless Throw"? Correct biomechanical positions allow maximum force with minimal stress on the body. In simple terms there are two types of stress, ustress and distress. Ustress is the type of stress that causes a positive adaptation, in the case of resistance training, increased strength. Distress is a pathological breakdown that occurs when the stress is beyond what the organism can adapt to, in the case of training, an injury. A certain amount of stress to the body is unavoidable in throwing and lifting heavy objects. But the more efficient an athlete is in working with their body, the less stress that has to absorbed by the joints and tissues. Faulty biomechanics and poor positions lead to injuries. If not acute, then eventually chronic inuries will occur. Learn to work with your body and find the proper positions that are suited for your body proportions and type.
Below is a clip of a girl who know how. lol

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Javelin Throw: Technique, Training, Injury Prevention by:Klaus Bartonietz

I found this article while doing some research for javelin throwing. It is pretty sweet...check it out!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Precision Training

This blog began in Nov. 2009. Since then we have posted nearly 200 posts on various aspects of training in the Warrior style. It is challenging to always produce fresh material and some things are worth repeating. More than once we have posted on the need for individualizaton of training. One-Size-Fits-All may work for rubber gloves or tube socks, but it isn't smart for optimal training or coaching. We have used excerpts from this article by Poliquin before, but I ran across the full article and felt it bears repeating. While I am not sure about the Eastern philosophy,(years of observing Native Traditonal Healers "Medicine Men", has taught me that there are many things that work that I don't understand) it does seem to illustrate this point well, training that can bring out the best in some individuals will ruin another. Be smart and and listen to your body. Throwers have the advantage of competing in events that are very objectively measured. The tape will tell you if you are improving or not. No matter how scientific a program is or how carefully it was designed,or who else is training this way, if you are not throwing farther, it isn't working for YOU! Don't be a slave to training theory. In other words, don't become so committed to method of training, that you persist inspite of lack of progress. As the throwing season begins, it is of the utmost importance that weight training and other prepratory work be adjusted according to competition results. You don't want to record your best throws in January. Plan for a long range progression that will allow you to be at your best when it counts the most. As the great American weightlifter, Tommy Kono says, "It is better to be undertrained, than over trained." Hard work is essential, but doesn't trump smart work. It's not about who records the greatest training volume, it's all about who can throw the farthest on the day of the meet. Rather than striving to merely outwork your opponents, outsmart them. Listen to your body and adjust according to your results. Enjoy the journey and best wishes for your success.
The Five Elements – A New Training Paradigm
by Charles Poliquin
Famed Olympic track and field coach Anatoly Bondarchuk believed there were three types of athletes: those who respond best to volume, those who respond best to intensity, and those who respond best to training variety.

It was a lesson that served me well for many years, but eventually I started to realize that perhaps the classifications were too limiting. I found that I might give a high-volume program to one athlete and he or she would make excellent progress, but the same program would not be nearly as effective for another athlete. Likewise, when I gave that same athlete an intensity program, he or she would crash almost immediately.

About the same time as this, I was studying Eastern medicine and herbology, and it suddenly occurred to me that these variations in training types correlate strongly with the five physical types described in Chinese medicine. These elements, as they are known, are used to categorize distinct physical types who manifest very distinct personality traits.

The elements are Fire, Wood, Earth, Metal, and the fifth element (which, despite what you might have learned in the Bruce Willis movie of the same name, is not an orange-haired fashion model in gauze bandages) – is Water.

Amazingly, these ancient classifications predict quite accurately how different strength athletes respond to different types of training. They also predict quite accurately their personalities and even their weaknesses.

For years I have listened to people disparage this type of training or that type of training, saying that whatever they’d been doing did not work for them. Some said that the Westside style is no good or that German Volume Training didn’t work for them. The simple truth is that most likely they were performing the wrong type of training for their type, or element.

Breaking the Element Code
For instance, Fire types are the most gifted for weight training with a high concentration of high-threshold motor units. They tend to do a lot of volume with high-intensity work. I know, I know, high volume of high intensity would be paradoxical to what Mr. Universe Mike Mentzer did in his workouts, but it is possible for this type. They can train heavy all the time without crashing, as long as they frequently change the exercises.

Conversely, Earth types can stay on a set program for a long time. You have to first stress them with volume and then stress them with intensity (such as the periodization model presented in 1964 by Russian sport scientist Leonid Matveyev). Each phase is about three weeks. When an Earth type overtrains, their immune system will suffer and they’ll come down with a cold. They are also the ones who have the most trouble reducing carbohydrates in their diet, and it is much harder for them to get lean.

None of the Fire, Wood and Earth types are necessarily disadvantaged when it comes to bodybuilding or strength sports, but it is important for them to train for their type. Obviously, pure types are not that common and most people fall somewhere in between the five points of the element continuum:


The Metal and Water types are, unfortunately, individuals who will never make much progress. They have bad nervous systems, the wrong muscle fibers and poor endocrine systems. These types end up being attracted to non-weightlifting activities like yoga or stamp collecting.

Following are more complete descriptions of each of the element types, including recommended training protocols.

The Fire Type
Fire types typically make the best strength/power athletes. They gravitate towards powerlifting, shot put, hammer throwing, discus, sprinting, long jump and the triple jump. Excitement is their middle name, and they usually have a great deal of enthusiasm. They are the type that inspires people in the gym, the natural-born salesman.

They are the most Yang of the elements; hence, willpower, confidence and excitement describe them. They are the ones who will explode if they get angry. They are also genetically predisposed to heart disease. My client World champion shot-putter Adam Nelson is a poster boy for the Fire type.

Fire types need both high intensity and higher volume in terms of sets compared to the other elements. In other words, Fire-type athletes will thrive on workouts that consist of 10-12 sets of 1-3RM. What’s more, their work capacity curve is phenomenal in that they can do 10-12 sets with a given weight with very little drop-off in performance. Any sets above 8 reps are a waste of time.

The amazing thing about Fire types is that you can beat them into the ground, as long as you change the program often. If a Fire type does workout X, they will need to switch to workout Y after five days because they will already have adapted. Because they have a great capacity for training, variety in the program is essential to them, and it is better to change the choice and order of exercise and the mode of contractions. Volume and intensities do not need to vary as much.

An ideal workout for a Fire type would include perhaps two lifts a day consisting of 10-12 sets of 1-3. This athlete could superset two antagonistic body parts; for example, the bench press and the chin-up, perhaps adding some remedial work at the end. They could easily perform relative strength work followed by hypertrophy training in the same workout. They could also easily train twice a day, six days a week, as long as they changed the exercises.

Sample Fire-Type Periodization for a Single Body Part
Day 1: Workout X
Day 6: Workout Y
Day 11: Workout X
Day 16: Workout Y
Day 21: Workout X
Day 26: Workout Y
Day 31: Workout X
Day 36: Workout Y
Day 41: Workout T*

Day 46: Workout U*

*Workouts “T” and “U” might consist of a slightly higher volume and less intensity, for example, 4-5 sets of 4-7RM.

Fire types will invariably ask, “Are you sure this is enough work for me?” If they perform a German Volume Training program (essentially, 10 sets of 10 using the same weight), they will do fine on the first 2 sets of 10 but will crash on the third. If you give Fire types an Earth-type workout, their blood sugar will drop alarmingly. An alternate test involves testing their max, letting them rest 10 minutes and then giving them 85 percent of max. Typically, they will only be able to pump out 1-3 reps.

The Wood Type
Chinese doctors best describe Wood types as pioneers. They are very good at devising plans and sticking to them. They love challenging themselves and pushing themselves to the limit. They are bold and decisive, and they have a tendency to overdo things. That is why you have to plan recovery phases within the cycle – in other words, you have to hold them back every third workout.

Wood types are the most likely to abuse stimulants and sedatives. One might pop three Red Bulls before a workout and eat a Valium sandwich before going to bed. They are most likely to complain of tendon injuries, and they are genetically predisposed to liver problems.

Wood Training. Wood types can tend to overtrain very easily when volume is excessive. Likewise, they can only handle the same routine for roughly two weeks. Typically, for days 1-15 of a program, they will thrive doing rep ranges of 6-10, but you will need to drop the number of sets by about 40 percent every third workout.

Furthermore, they need to maintain a one-to-one ratio between volume and intensity. That means that they will do best on a two-week cycle employing high volume, followed by a two-week cycle using increased intensity. They will use rep brackets of 2-5 for days 16-30, making sure to drop the number of sets by about 60 percent every third workout.

Sample Wood-Type Periodization for a Single Body Part
Workout 1: 10 sets of 8?Workout 2: 8 sets of 7
Workout 3: 6 sets of 6
Workout 4: 10 sets of 8?Workout 5: 8 sets of 7
Workout 6: 6 sets of 6

*** move to higher intensity***

Workout 7: 12 sets of 4-5?Workout 8: 10 sets of 3-4
Workout 9: 6 sets of 2-3
Workout 10: 10 sets of 4-5 ?Workout 11: 8 sets of 3-4
Workout 12: 4 sets of 2-3

A Wood type will invariably ask, “Are you sure this is the most cutting-edge methodology you’ve got?” If they perform a German Volume Training program (essentially, 10 sets of 10 using the same weight), they will complete the first workout, start to peter out on the second, manage only 4 sets of 10 on the third workout and then go home. An alternate test would involve testing their max, letting them rest 10 minutes and then giving them 85 percent of max. Typically, they’ll only be able to pump out 4-5 reps.

The Earth Type
In Chinese medicine, the Earth types are in the middle of the elements. Therefore, serenity and stability are big issues with them. They are well-grounded individuals, as the name would suggest.

As such, they like identical blocks of training and they don’t need variations within the macrocycle. They can stay on a set program for a long time (six weeks), but you have to stress them with volume for the first three weeks, followed by three weeks of intensity. While they don’t have the ability to tap into a lot of high-threshold muscle fibers (i.e., they don’t do well with a lot of heavy training), they have a greater capacity to hypertrophy than the average person.

If you overtrain an Earth person, they’ll come down with a cold. They are generally very particular about the quality and quantity of their sleep. They are the ones who will piss and moan during a squat workout about missing an hour of sleep.

Of all the element types, Earth types have the hardest time getting lean because they have a problem with reducing carbohydrate intake. Earth types often make good wrestlers or 400- to 800-meter runners. Prototypical Earth types include Arnold Schwarzenegger and Milos Sarcev.

Earth Training. Volume and intensity have to be balanced equally, as they have as much Yin as Yang. They respond best to longer cycles, typically three weeks to a month. They don’t do very well on classical maximal strength programs, as they will burn out rapidly.

Earth types would progress well on routines of 2-3 exercises per body part for the first month (volume or accumulation phase), with 3-4 sets per exercise and 9-15 reps. The next month, they should do 2-3 exercises for 4-5 sets, but do sets of 5-8 reps (the intensification phase).

Sample Earth Type Periodization for a Single Body Part
Day 1: Workout X, 8 sets of 12-15 for 2-3 exercises
Day 6: Workout X, 8 sets of 12-15 for 2-3 exercises
Day 11: Workout X, 8 sets of 12-15 for 2-3 exercises
Day 16: Workout X, 8 sets of 12-15 for 2-3 exercises
Day 21: Workout X, 8 sets of 12-15 for 2-3 exercises
Day 26: Workout X, 8 sets of 12-15 for 2-3 exercises
Day 31: Workout Y, 10 sets of 5-8 reps for 2 exercises
Day 36: Workout Y, 10 sets of 5-8 reps for 2 exercises
Day 41: Workout Y, 10 sets of 5-8 reps for 2 exercises
Day 46: Workout Y, 10 sets of 5-8 reps for 2 exercises
Day 51: Workout Y, 10 sets of 5-8 reps for 2 exercises
Day 56: Workout Y, 10 sets of 5-8 reps for 2 exercises

If Wood Types perform a German Volume Training program (essentially, 10 sets of 10 using the same weight), they will do very well and will still make progress after the third workout. If, however, the Earth types do 10 sets of 3, they will be completely baked after the fourth set. Likewise, if Earth types perform the 1-6 method, they will burn out after only one workout. An alternate test involves testing their max, letting them rest 10 minutes and then giving them 85 percent of max. Typically, they will be able to pump out 7-10 reps.

The Metal Type
For coaches and personal trainers, metal types are the most frustrating athletes to train and I do not accept them as clients. They spend more time talking and philosophizing about training than doing it. Dogma is their middle name. They thrive on discussing discipline and structure, and they love to ponder over the definition of terms. Most of their calorie expenditure comes from talking, and I don’t even bother training them.

The Water Type
Water types are the most Yin of all the elements. They are the least physical or outward of the types. An accumulation phase for a Water type would consist of licking a dried prune 10 times.

I do not deal with Water types, either, and I usually direct them to the nearest yoga studio. Their genetic pool needs a hefty dose of chlorine. Luckily, most Metal and Water types don’t gravitate towards weight training.

Perhaps the best barometer of what type you are, or what blend of types you are, is whether you enjoy a particular type of training. Fire types can perform 10 sets of the same exercise without losing focus, but the same routine would bore an Earth type to tears.

Trainees should ignore the way their heroes train and just be honest with themselves. If you have not made any progress since the first Bush administration, then it is possible that you have not been training “true to your type.” The Chinese ask, “How can you expect to find ivory in a dog’s mouth?” Likewise, how can you find success using programs that are not suitable for your physiology?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Great Lift for Throwers

We really believe in overhead strength. Several of our past posts have focused on various overhead strength buidling exercises such as presses and jerk supports. It seems that many here, in the U.S. at least, are bench press crazy. We see many athletes who can bench 400 lb. (182.5kg) or more yet struggle to support 200 lb. (90 kg) overhead. This is a perfect formula for shoulder injury. Heavy power and split jerks have great value for the throwing athlete for several reasons. Besides the shoulder strength benefits, such lifts require a fast and powerful leg drive to elevate the weight. In reality this is a super heavy plyometric exercise as the stretch reflex is activated by the short dip and leg drive. Also securing and supporting a really heavy weight overhead is a truly functional core exercise that is far superior to rolling around on an inflated ball. Even rotational strength is enhanced as the rotational muscles resist rotation to stabilize the weight overhead. These can be done from behind the neck or from the front. Below are two great examples of heavy push jerks demonstrated by Kendrick Farris, a top American lifter, and Ryan Vierra who should need no introduction on this forum. Note the two different styles of jerk blocks being used. These are great and almost essential to really do heavy reps in this exercise. Lowering a heavy weight is very hard on the low back, knees, and clavicles or neck. Dropping each rep, stripping the bar down, and then replacing it on a standard rack is also time consuming. Jerk blocks require alot of wood, rubber, or whatever material you use to construct as they have to be very solid and sturdy to withstand the repetitive impact. Have any of you came up with a good and economic design for jerk blocks? We would like to hear about it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Some Heavy History

A great video segment I found on the history of weight lifting. We know that our fascination with lifting and throwing heavy objects is deeply rooted and has been part of all cultures from the earliest times. This segment does a real nice job of explaining that. The only glaring error I found was stating that Serge Reding was Bulgarian. Maybe he meant to say Belgian. Otherwise, well done.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Best Throwing Yell Of All Time

Recently on The Ring some posters were discussing which thrower had the best yell.....it took me a while but I think I found the video of the best yell of all time. This is a clip of my buddy Carlos Valle throwing what I think is his pr in shot put. Carlos was a high school champion in Utah and he also threw at Southern Utah University where he was a multiple conference champion. I hope he doesn't mind me posting this :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Don't Inhale It!

No, this is not an article about Bill Clinton who says he didn't. Nor is it about Arnold who admits that he did.(after all he was immortalized in the act in "Pumping Iron") Neither is it to further downgrade yet another famous athlete who failed to live up to the expectations that come with being a "Hero". I share this story because I think it has a valuable lesson for all of us. Following is an article that appeared in a local Utah newspaper this week.

Rulon Gardner grapples in same old trap
By Doug Robinson

Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 3, 2011 10:48 p.m. MST
Everybody wants it, but nobody can handle it.

It's as addicting and destructive as narcotics.

It lures its victims with promises that are ultimately illusory and unfulfilled.

It often comes at the cost of friends and family.

Fame and fortune – who would wish that on anyone?

It ensnared Tigers Woods and Brett Favre. It entrapped Bernie Madoff, Michael Vick, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. None is immune, not movie stars, athletes, singers, politicians or Wall Street types.

I think about this frequently because I often chronicle the lives of the rich and famous. I thought about this again when I saw Rulon Gardner on TV the other night. He's appearing on the "Biggest Loser" reality show in which people compete to lose weight.

Gardner, you remember, won the gold medal in the 2000 Olympics in the heavyweight division of Greco-Roman wrestling by defeating the unbeaten, legendary Russian, Alexander Karelin. America ate up Gardner's story. It was a slice of Americana — a farm kid beating the beast from America's cold war enemy, Russia, while his wife and family cheered in the stands in their cowboy hats.

It was the best thing that ever happened to him – and the worst.

There's a bit of luck where fame and fortune strike. Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson, two vastly more accomplished wrestlers, went home with gold medals and went to work. Gardner The Giant Killer lived off his fame.

He became a "motivational speaker." He became rich. He traveled constantly. He lived on the road and in the fast lane. Everything came his way – game shows, talk shows, speeches, appearances, endorsements, business opportunities — and he dived into it like a starving man at a buffet.

It took its toll. He's had four marriages – three of them since winning the gold medal. After surviving accidents with snowmobiles, automobiles and motorcycles, Gardner made it a clean sweep of transportation disasters by surviving a plane crash in Lake Powell in 2007. Now he has eaten himself into morbid obesity. He weighs 474 pounds, up from his wrestling weight of 264.

He seems to find a way to milk each setback for more money and fame, and so he has done it again. The Olympic's biggest winner tried out for "Biggest Loser" and got the job.

Nine minutes on the mat with Karelin has provided Gardner with a lifetime pass down easy street. He has time on his hands. He can sleep late, travel where he wants, do what he wants, buy what he wants, and, apparently, eat what he wants.

Before his Olympic victory, he was living off the $9,000 a year from his wrestling stipend, plus his wife's teaching salary. He planned to be a P.E. teacher. Then fame and fortune made him golden.

When I visited him in 2007, he was living in a spacious mountainside home above Bountiful that included a 14-foot TV screen and a sauna/steam room. The garage was filled with a Hummer, a vintage Mustang, an Audi and a Harley, with a new pickup on the driveway and a boat and a Jeep parked elsewhere.

"When we first went to Sydney, we had no idea what was ahead of us," his father Reed told me that year. "He spent nine minutes on the mat with that ugly man from Russia. I spent 50 to 60 years on the farm, and I don't have nothin'."

Reed is a retired farmer who milked cows twice a day for 50 years. He is salt of the earth. He and his wife Virginia raised eight children, seven of whom became teachers, nurses, housewives, businessmen, doctors and farmers.

"Rulon lives a different lifestyle than the rest of us," Reed said. "One thing I tell him is that he ought to get a real job and get up in the morning."

Reed continued. "He's not the same kid he used to be, and I wouldn't expect him to be. Being a celebrity would change anybody."

Gardner seemed to have come to the same realization by then. After discussing his marriages, he told me, "People dream of something, but be careful what you dream for After I won, it changed everything."

He said he was happy, but he seemed restless and uncertain. He said he wasn't lonely, but he searched an Mormon Internet dating site while we talked. He said he saw no end to the victory lap he was taking through life.

"I'll never get a real job," he said. "I don't think it will ever dry out."

I have quoted this once previously, but it seems especially relevant again as a warning for those intoxicated by fame and adulation. The late James E. Faust, a member of the Mormon Church's First Presidency at the time, once warned one of the church's new General Authorities, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, about how kindly and warmly he would be treated by people because of his position in the church.

"Be thankful for this," Faust said, "but don't you ever inhale it."

I guess each of can ask ourselves, what is real happiness? what is real success? In the end fame and fortune have little to do with it, in fact, often becomes an obstacle to it. Fortunately, I guess us throwers and lifters have little to worry about in that area. Lift heavy, throw far, and be happy.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year, New Opportunities

Each new year brings time for reflection as we evaluate the past year and look forward to the year ahead. To me it is a time to plan for changes and improvement. For nearly 50 years I have been fascinated, encouraged, and probably even addicted to the power of exercise, particularly resitance training, to shape and empower my life. An understanding of correct training principles allows one to change and control his or her own body and become what they want to be. In this day and age so many depend on technology to survive in our modern world and create a virtual world for themselves. I prefer to live in the physical world where strength and fitness still count. Following is an excerpt from an essay by Orson Scott Card, a modern author and philosopher that captures the poiont I am trying to make more eloquently than I ever could:

The Myth of Progress - 23 December 2010
Orson Scott Card

The Myth of Progress is the idea that all of history is a long series of improvements leading to us, the Best So Far.
Technology certainly gives support to this idea. No one can dispute the idea that transportation is now faster and more comfortable, communication simpler and farther-reaching than in previous generations.

Photography led to the moving picture, followed by talking pictures and then color. Home movies gave way to VCRs, then DVD players.

Galleys, sailing ships, steamships. Balloons, propellor planes, jet planes, spaceships. Semaphores, telegraphs, telephones, cellphones. The printing press, the linotype, offset, photocopy, laserjet, inkjet, and now the internet and the paperless office.

It's an illusion that all change was progress, however. Plenty of new ideas were awful and failed completely. Marxism was once new -- and was considered scientific by many. Eugenics led to atrocities -- but it was once the great new "scientific" idea.

We tend to ignore the failures and remember only the successes. So we are likely to greet each new development as the Next Great Thing. If it turns out not to be so good, we quickly forget it, so the Myth of Progress can sweep on.

Scientists should be immune to the idea that new theories will eventually overcome all obstacles. They should recognize that most hypotheses turn out to be false.

Instead, we keep hearing, over and over, the same refrain. "In fifteen years, we will be able to ..." "In ten years, science will find the answer to ..." "We are five years away from a breakthrough in medical...."

What they're really saying is, "I have so much faith in the ability of science to solve all problems that I believe this particular one will become clear to us in ten years," or five, or thirty, or two.

There is no scientific was to know or even estimate such things. Anyone who talks that way has left science behind and entered the realm of soothsaying and fortune-telling.

Even historians, who should know better, sometimes fall prey to the Myth of Progress, teaching history as if it were a steady upward march from barbarism to our particular civilization, as if because of our superior technology, all our other beliefs and practices must be superior as well.

There is an alternative, however: the Myth of the Golden Age, which says that things used to be better in the idyllic past, and we are but a decadent remnant. "Why, I remember when I was a kid we used to...." The idea is that man has decayed from a higher state.

I In reality, no matter how much technology changes, it does not change human nature. We have more effective tools and weapons, faster transportation and communication. We live longer. But we individual humans using the tools and weapons -- we have not improved and we have not decayed.

I agree. physical strength along with mental and spiritual development will never be obsolete. Warriors are never obsolete. Make your 2011 great. Live strong and enjoy the journey.