Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Max Out on Squats Every Day?

Max Out on Squats Every Day?

Another article on the Broz Gym showed up today on the T-Nation site. It is posted below for your convenience. I have to say that I personally like John Broz. I like the way he thinks "outside the box" and doesn't get caught up in the typical trendy hype. I like the simplicity of his approach. Keep the exercises to a minimum, focus on hard work, let the numbers speak for themselves. Having said that, I don't agree totally with their approach and while they certainly have created some excitement on Youtube, they have yet to put up huge numbers in a sanctioned meet. I would also argue that while these methods may work for SOME lifters, I would never recommend such training for athletes who are using weightlifting as a training method for another sport. I will throw in some comments in blue.

By Bret Contreras

If your family was captured and you were told you needed to put 100 pounds onto your max squat within two months or your family would be executed, would you squat once per week? Something tells me that you'd start squatting every day. Other countries have this mindset. America does not. Why only two options, once a week or daily? I would choose neither, but would squat as often as I could and manage to recover.

           – John Broz

John Broz oozes Olympic weightlifting. For three years, Broz lived with Antonio Krastev, a Bulgarian superheavyweight who snatched 216 kg in 1987, a world record that's no longer recognized because the IWF reshuffled weight classes.

Krastev revealed the legendary Bulgarian system to Broz, who ultimately ended up opening up a small Olympic training facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am sick of this idea that the Bulgarian system is secretive or needs to "revealed." It has long been public knowlege that the "system" is to be very specific in terms of the lifts that directly effect the Olympic total and to train as hard as possible as often as possible. It has never been as effective in free market economy nations where lifters had to earn a living and drug testing is done. Krastev and Abajiev have both lived and coached in the U.S. and never got the results here that they got in Bulgaria. The "system" obviously is dependant on other factors to succeed.

Broz has produced some absolute freaks in a very short amount of time, such as 20-year-old Pat Mendez, Broz's greatest pupil. Has still not won any major competitions. While he seems capable, actually doing it will increase their credibility.

The Broz Method

After reading up on Broz's methods for several hours and taking extensive notes, I arranged to visit his Las Vegas facility. In this article, I'll attempt to sum up his beliefs succinctly.

Broz Olympic Lifting Methodology

John believes that everyone can and should train every day. He starts lifters off right away with daily heavy squatting and broomstick or empty barbell Olympic technique work.

Over the course of a year, lifters gradually work their way up to 13 training sessions per week – twice a day Monday through Saturday, and once on Sunday. Morning sessions last between 45 and 120 minutes; evening sessions between three and four hours for a total of approximately five hours of lifting per day. This would be tough to maintain in a free market country, unless you want to be 30 years old and living with your parents.

The Broz Olympic Method involves only six exercises: the snatch, clean & jerk, power snatch, power clean, back squat, and front squat. Each of the 13 sessions includes heavy squatting, either back squats or front squats. Usually three lifts are performed each session, and between 30-50 total reps (including warm ups) are performed for each lift.

Every session involves a specific warm-up for several minutes either squatting with an unloaded barbell or a barbell loaded up to 50 kg depending on the lifter, followed by working up to a 1-rep maximum on every lift for the session.

As far as effort is concerned, this 1RM is no different from a competition 1RM, but it may fall short, depending on the day. Each lift involves a true pyramid scheme. Lifters start off with doubles, ramp up to singles as the weight gets heavier, and then ramp back down to doubles and sometimes triples (only for squats, not the classic lifts) with lighter weight following the max attempts.

Around six max attempts are made for snatches, while two-three max attempts are made for cleans. Each session is auto-regulated based on what John sees from his lifters. This is true coaching. I like it.They've been known to stray from the routine and perform up to 50 max attempts on a particular lift such as the snatch before calling it a day.

Additional Work

In Broz's gym, you won't find any foam rolling or other SMR techniques being employed. You won't find lifters engaging in specific stretches or mobility drills, nor will you see any core stability work, activation exercises, or other corrective work, unless an injury requires. Maybe if more  of these methods were employed there would be less injuries?

No accessory movements are performed either, meaning no chins, dips, push ups, rows, military press, good mornings, lunges, hip thrusts, back extensions, reverse hypers, or glute ham raises.

Finally, no other Olympic type movements such as hang snatches, hang cleans, pulls from pins, high pulls, or jump shrugs are performed, nor any types of jump squats, plyometrics, or sled work.

Every so often supplemental exercises are performed, for example biceps curls to help heal an elbow. But accessory Oly lifts such as hang snatches are never performed. Again, maybe injury prevention should be considered too.

How You Feel is a Lie

That phrase is the Broz mantra. You simply can't listen to your body because it's lying to you. Broz can cite countless examples of athletes setting PR's on days they didn't even want to train, as well as days where the athlete felt like a million bucks but didn't fare so well in the gym.

Fact is, when I visited Broz he explained that the previous week his wrist was so sore that he could barely warm up with the bar during split jerks, but he pushed through it, eventually felt warmed up, and ended up jerking 405 lbs. The following day his wrist pain had vanished.

He describes this phenomenon as "floating pain" – your body has to hurt somewhere. It will simply migrate from one place to the next while you sleep, and when you awaken you'll discover where it landed. Nice theory, but I imagine it leaves a lot of broken athletes in it's wake. I've tried to train through some injuries too, usually with disasterous results.

There's no Such Thing as Overtraining
Sorry Charley, there is such thing as overtraining. It is a widely recognized and well-defined concept. Tough talk doesn't alter reality.

Broz believes that there's no such thing as being overtrained, just undertrained.

If you got a job as a garbage man and had to pick up heavy cans all day long, the first day would probably be very difficult, possibly almost impossible for some to complete. So what do you do, take three days off and possibly lose your job? Nice try, but I don't know of any garbage men who lift hundreds of kilos at a time.

No, you'd take your sore, beaten self to work the next day. You'd mope around and be fatigued, much less energetic than the previous day, but you'd make yourself get through it. Then you'd get home, soak in the tub, take aspirin, etc. The next day would be even worse.

But eventually you'd be running down the street tossing cans around and joking with your coworkers. How did this happen? You forced your body to adapt to the job at hand! If you can't' squat and lift heavy every day you're not overtrained, you're undertrained! Could a random person off the street come to the gym with you and do your exact workout? Probably not, because they're undertrained. Same goes with most lifters when compared to elite athletes.

             – John Broz 2002


For peaking before competition, Broz keeps frequency the same (daily), but volume and intensity are reduced. Volume reductions begin eight days out, and intensity reductions begin 2-5 days out from competition.

Broz Powerlifting Methodology

John has expanded his methods to accommodate lifters who wished to train for powerlifting competitions. The same method of 13 sessions is employed, and each session involves squatting and speed pulls with loads less than or equal to 80% of the lifter's 1RM deadlift.

His lifters bench press three times per week and max out on the deadlift around once every 6-8 weeks. Some rowing and rear delt work is indicated to balance out the structural demands incurred on the upper body from heavy bench pressing.

Other Broz Gems

  • The following is a myriad of Broz's beliefs:

  • Beginners should start out with a broomstick for 3-4 weeks and do thousands of reps so that their Olympic technique becomes a motor engram.

  • Back squats carry over more to the snatch, whereas front squats carry over more to the clean. Front squats are usually limited by upper back strength, so they don't stimulate the legs sufficiently. Squatting is not very difficult in terms of CNS stress and the body gets used to it very quickly, just like walking.

  • The jerk is the most violent portion of any part of the O-lifts.

  • Max out on squats every day. Max out on deadlifts 2-3 times per year.

  • Don't do overhead squats as a separate exercise; you do them when you snatch.

  • You will go through "dark times" where you're stagnant. Eventually you'll start setting PR's while in a fatigued state. That's when you know you're doing something right.

  • Percentages for daily programming on a long-term chart don't work. You never know what you're capable of on any given day. How you feel is a lie.

  • Slow movements don't help any athlete in any sport. Going slow with light weights is a big no-no.

  • The fastest athlete is the best athlete. Move at a top speed in every movement, every day, every time you touch a bar.

  • Using straps in the snatch is a necessity due to the volume of training. For lower volumes they're not necessary, but for higher volumes your hands simply can't take the abuse. Never, ever use straps with cleans.

  • Deadlifts tax the back too much and take too long to recover from. If you're going to deadlift, do sets of 2-3 fast pulls in the 70-85% range.

  • Lunges suck and are very dangerous.

  • Jumping and plyos should be left to track athletes, not Oly lifters. Save the joint stress and energy for lifting.

  • Eventually, maxing out becomes like clockwork. The more you do it, the more natural it feels, and your body accepts it. There should be a minimum number you hit every day you train.

  • Failing to train daily leads to more injuries, due to the inconsistent recovery rates amongst different tissues. Daily training is training under fatigued muscles. If you take days off, the muscles recover faster than other soft-tissues, which increases the likelihood of injury.

  • The only percentage that is important is what percentage of days you train each year. If you train three times per week, that's 43% of total days. If you train seven days per week you're at 100%. If you train twice a day, seven days per week, even better.

  • Forget jump shrugs, high pulls, etc. Forget all assistance lifts, unless you want to become a master of assistance lifts. The classic full lifts take an immense amount of dedication to learn, so why waste energy on something that probably won't carry over?

  • Don't take days off if you have access to train. Even if you're incredibly sore, go in and do something. Squat something, at least the bar, for 30 reps or so. This will help the adaptation process progress faster. Anything you do is better than riding the couch.

  • The lifter that can endure the most pain will be the most successful. This is the most important piece of advice contained within this article.

  • When you train twice a day, you don't get very tight and don't need much stretching. Stretching is done while warming up by doing the Oly lifts with a bar for 2 - 5 minutes at the beginning of a session.

  • Decent technique takes between two and ten months to develop with beginners, with an average of around six months.

  • When the snatch or clean begins to lag behind the other, train the weaker one first. Switch the order and focus your power on the lagging lift.

  • Hold the bar overhead for 3-5 seconds at the top of every overhead lift. This builds core strength and confidence.

  • If you wait for a day to train when you feel good, you'll lift about twice a year. Those days are rare. Your mind plays tricks on you. Learn to ignore it and keep training.

  • You surely won't PR every workout, sometimes not for months. Keep pushing both intensity and volume to continue progress. If you can't take the tree down with one swing, keep taking smaller swings and it will eventually fall.

  • Hang cleans and snatches should be reserved for training for "hang" competitions. I have never seen a hang competition but if you find one, then those lifts will be good for that.

My Favorite Aspects of the Broz System

Each Lift has its Own Rules

Different exercises place different stresses on the body, so why would volume be equal for every exercise? For the most part, snatching is easier on the body than cleaning & jerking, which is why Broz programs more volume with the snatch. Max daily squatting is no problem, but max daily deadlifting is too strenuous. For this reason the Oly lifts and speed pulls are used daily.

Work Capacity or "Daily Minimums" Rise Every Few Months

Although there may be extended times where strength stagnates or even decreases, the general goal is to slowly increase your daily maxes every few months. For example, if your daily max squat number is 350 lbs. and you raise it to 400 lbs. over the course of a year, you're obviously much stronger. There's not much guesswork involved – you're either stronger or you're not!

Always Training in a Fatigued State

You're always giving it your all, but when you're tired the weight on the bar will be smaller. The effort and desire mimic the competition, but since you're fresh at a meet the weight on the bar will be larger. The fight with maximum weight is the same regardless of the load. This is the key to the system: learning to fight a max. When you rest before a meet you're not getting stronger, it's just that now you're finally able to pull together all of your power to use on the same day.

In training, PR's come on anytime. The resting/peaking allows you to assume that you can hit the PR's on any given day and lets you stack the cards in your favor for the greatest chance of success.

Broz Knows

One could argue Broz's training methods aren't the safest ways to train, but you can't deny the strength and power producing effects that they elicit. Broz has some impressive lifters training under his tutelage and their results speak for themselves.

If your goal is to be the strongest you can possibly be at Olympic weightlifting, you should definitely consider the Broz Method. If powerlifting is more your thing, Broz's powerlifting system warrants serious consideration as well. There are plenty of lifters who simply respond better to high frequency training.

The human body is an adaptive organism. Push the envelope. You're stronger than you think you are. All in all, I like Broz and his attitude, But I wouldn't buy into his "system" (or anyone's) lock, stock, and barrel. Be smart and think for yourself, like he does.

Bret Contreras has a master's degree from ASU and a CSCS certification from the NSCA. He currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand where he is studying to receive his PhD in Sports Science at AUT University.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hard Work Is Smart Work

While I have always believed that any exercise is better than no exercise, this article that I ran across makes a point that more effort equals more results. That is a concept that I can live with.

Older people who regularly exercise at moderate to intense levels may have a 40 percent lower risk of developing brain damage linked to strokes, certain kinds of dementia, and mobility problems.

New research published Wednesday in the journal Neurology says the MRIs of subjects who exercised at higher levels were significantly less likely to show brain damage caused by blocked arteries that interrupt blood flow - markers for strokes - than people who exercised lightly.

There was no difference between those who engaged in light exercise and those who did not exercise at all.

Until now, studies have shown exercise helps lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol and insulin levels, all risk factors for strokes causing brain damage. Treating those conditions is helpful, but some brain damage is not reversible.

"It's not good enough just to exercise, but the more (intense), the better," says study co-author Joshua Willey, a physician and researcher at Columbia University's Department of Neurology. "The hope is with lower risk of having these events you'd also be at lower risk of dementia or stroke."

The research involves 1,238 participants in a study started in 1993 at Columbia and the University of Miami, and it focuses on risk factors for vascular disease.

Participants completed a questionnaire about how often and intensely they exercised at the beginning of the study and then had MRI scans of their brains six years later, when they were an average of 70 years old.

A total of 43 percent of participants reported that they had no regular exercise; 36 percent engaged in regular light exercise, such as golf, walking, bowling or dancing, and 21 percent engaged in regular moderate to intense exercise, such as hiking, tennis, swimming, biking, jogging or racquetball.

The American Heart Association's guidelines for cardiovascular health include 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly.

"We did not want this to discourage anyone from exercising, even if it's light exercise," Willey says. "The benefits of exercise are proven. We feel that's an integral part of general good health."

More research is needed, says Joseph Boderick, a stroke specialist at the University of Cincinnati who was involved in the study.

The research did not look at obesity.

One of the major reasons people don't exercise, he says, is because they're obese.

"Maybe the people who exercised less already had some (damage) and were less steady on their feet," he says.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Article borrowed from www.charlespoliquin.com, for more of his articles visit his site:
How to Build Strong Legs and Healthy Knees

Tips to balance the strength and muscular development of the lower legs

by Charles Poliquin

The vastus medialis oblique (VMO) is a quadriceps muscle that crosses the knee and is shaped like a teardrop. Photo:Sarcev
The vastus medialis oblique (VMO) is a quadriceps muscle that crosses the knee and is shaped like a teardrop. Photo:Sarcev
In the early days of modern bodybuilding, symmetry was king. You had Steve Reeves in the ’60s, Frank Zane in the ’70s, Lee Haney in the ’80s and Lee Labrada in the ’90s. But in recent years mass monsters such as Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler, who possess arms that measure larger than their head circumference, have dominated professional bodybuilding. Bigger is better, and the result is a freak show that has affected the mainstream popularity of the sport. But symmetry is not just a problem in bodybuilding.

In powerlifting, the goal in recent years has been to find lifting techniques that enable the athlete to lift the most weight in the shortest distance. Creating a bigger arch on the bench press and using ballet slippers on the deadlift are two examples of methods that reduce the distance a barbell travels, but it’s the squat that has gone through the most dramatic transformation.

Due to continually evolving supportive equipment and lenient rules regarding how much lifters must bend their knees, the squat has evolved into a type of wide-stance good morning that minimizes the use of the quads – in effect, powerlifters have tried to take the legs out of the squat! As a result of overemphasis on this type of squatting technique, asymmetrical development (or what I refer to as structural imbalances) occur in the quads, which can increase the risk of overuse injuries. There’s more.

In an attempt to have “sport specific” workouts, strength coaches often design programs that do not work all the muscles throughout a full range of motion. For example, a volleyball player or figure skater would focus on plyometrics and would overload at just the end portion of the squat – the result is that the athlete improves their jumping power with little increase in muscle bulk, resulting in supposedly higher vertical jumps. Nice idea, but the muscle imbalances that occur with this type of training increase the risk of knee tendinitis – in fact, before I began working with the Canadian National Volleyball Team, every single athlete on the team had jumper’s knee. Further, such training is one reason we are seeing such a disturbing increase in ACL injuries in women.

As my contribution towards correcting all three of these aforementioned muscle imbalances, I will present an approach to work the vastus medialis oblique (VMO). To paraphrase American weightlifting great Norm Schemansky, “Working the VMO will not only make an athlete look good but also do good!”

The VMO is a quadriceps muscle that is shaped like a teardrop. The muscle crosses the knee and thus is essential for knee stability, which is why I pay considerable attention in my PICP Level 2 course on strength tests for this muscle and specific exercises to develop it.

When you study the development of athletes who seldom bend their knees to parallel, such as volleyball players, you find that although they often possess considerable mass in their upper thighs, their VMO development is lacking. And in the iron game sports, weightlifters (who squat all the way down and even bounce out of the bottom position) have much better development of the vastus medialis than powerlifters have. Likewise, bodybuilder Tom Platz, who did 23 rock-bottom squats with 539 pounds (in an exhibition in Germany in 1993 with over 10,000 cheering him on), had outrageous VMO development on thighs that are considered the best of all time.

Training for Teardrops
If squats are the mainstay of your leg training routine, as they should be, and you want to increase the recruitment of the VMO, you have the choice of (a) using a specific foot position, (b) overloading the bottom position or (c) using both options.

Leg muscle recruitment patterns are affected by mechano-receptors on the bottom surface of the feet, which are highly sensitive to pressure and as such are involved in proprioception. Placing the majority of the load on the ball of the foot will maximize recruitment of the VMO. This is best accomplished by using a narrow stance and moving the center of gravity of the body forward by elevating the heels with an appropriate object. At the Poliquin Strength Institute I use portable angled boxes that are extremely stable and comfortable because the entire foot rests on the board.

Another important concept to increase the recruitment of the VMO is to perform more work in the bottom position of the squat. This concept is apparently lost on the makers of those Buns of Lead videos. You will increase the recruitment of the VMO, because the VMO is responsible, along with the hamstrings, for getting you out of the bottom position.

Tony Parra is a Level 5 PICP coach who rehabilitated his knee injuries with full squats.
Tony Parra is a Level 5 PICP coach who rehabilitated his knee injuries with full squats.
Knee injuries are fairly common in American athletes. I suspect strongly that a major cause is the improper ratio of strength among all heads of the quadriceps and the hamstrings. This disturbed strength ratio comes from all the poor-range squats we see today (coming from strength coaches obsessed with claiming big numbers for their squads) and many partial movements such as hang power cleans. Further, according to sport scientist Andrew Fry, long-term use of partial squats can decrease proprioception and flexibility. And by the way, within just two months of specialized work with exercises that focused on the VMO, only one of those Canadian volleyball players still had jumper’s knee – and her work ethic was suspect.

To develop the vastus medialis muscle there are two exercises I’ve used with my Olympic athletes that you may want to try:

Cyclist Squats. This is a type of squat used by Olympic level cyclists who attain world record performances. In this variation of the back squat, you use a board to rest your heels on in a narrow stance (4 to 6 inches between the heels). The best type of board for this is wedged, so as to minimize the pressure on the arch of the foot. The higher the wedge, the more recruitment of the VMO you will get. You will also find that you will squat more upright when using the wedged board, so less recruitment will occur in the gluteal muscles. At the Poliquin Strength Institute I’ve had special wedges with a nonslip surface made for this purpose. When using a wedge the balance is different compared to regular squats, so make certain to ease into it by using more warm-up sets than you normally perform.

One and a Quarter Squats. This exercise is used in training Olympic skiers to offset their enormous VMO development and prepare their knees for the risky situations they get into. Squat down for a 5-second count until you hit bottom position, come up a quarter of the way at a slow and deliberate pace, go back all the way down under control until the hamstrings cover the calves, and then come up until your knees are short of lock-out. That consists of one rep.

As far as reps and sets are concerned, 5 sets of 6-8 reps should do the trick. These relatively lower reps are used because the VMO has a higher fast-twitch fiber makeup than the other heads of the quadriceps. Give each of these leg exercises a fair try and I’m sure you’ll be pleased with your newfound symmetry.

Notes from Team Haske Strength:

Charles mentions the recent trend of "sport specific" movements and the over stretched idea of "sport specificity" as a major reason for the lack of VMO development among many trainees. Not working specific muscle groups through full ranges of motion can often lead to muscle imbalances, which inevitably will lead to problems in the future. Back in 2009, we posted an article on our take of the so called "sport specificity" movement. To read it follow the link below:

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Monday, June 20, 2011

For those of you who don't know about the hammer throw this is a great article:

"86.74 is going to stand for a long time"
   From 1979 to 1988, either Sedykh (left) or Litvinov had the year's best throw -- four times apiece. Such was the strength of the Soviet sports machine.

By Brendan I. Koerner
ESPN The Magazine

This story appears in the June 27, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

THE SOUND OF 100,000 HANDS CLAPPING has been messing with Yuriy Sedykh's mind all day. Three times he has stepped into the throwing circle at Neckar Stadium in Stuttgart, West Germany, to fling the 16-pound ball-and-wire contraption known as the hammer. And three times the beefy Soviet has failed to wrest the lead from Sergey Litvinov, his teammate and most bitter rival, who shattered the European championships record on his first attempt. Sedykh is unnerved by the steady thwack-thwack-thwack that builds in volume as the crowd anticipates his every throw. He wishes he could yell at the 50,000 fans to shut up and let him concentrate.

As he awaits his fourth turn, Sedykh sits glumly on the sideline, trying to get his head straight. At 31, he's in the prime of his career, having dedicated his youth to mastering the most esoteric of track-and-field events. His body is in peak condition, his drive to beat Litvinov stronger than ever. Sedykh breathes deeply and lets the rhythmic clapping wash over him, until it seems to fade into a distant roar. Something inside his mind clicks. He's ready to throw.

Sedykh strides into the circle. He scrapes his blue suede Adidases against the concrete and places the hammer's iron ball on the ground behind his legs, with the handle off his right hip. Then he explodes in a blur of motion, whipping the hammer around his head as he spins his body counterclockwise. An inch from the foul line, whirling so rapidly that he appears in danger of face-planting, Sedykh releases the hammer with a guttural roar. The ball's four-foot wire tail shimmies slightly as it rockets through the air. A moment later, Sedykh's primal scream of joy echoes through the stadium. He doesn't have to wait for the hammer to land to know that he has set his sixth world record: 86.74 meters.

Never again will he match his mighty throw of Aug. 30, 1986. And neither will anyone else.

SPORTS FANS NEVER tire of arguing over which hallowed records are unassailable. This summer, as with past summers, bleacher-seat squabbles will pit supporters of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak against those who swear that Rickey Henderson's 1,406 stolen bases will never be threatened. As the baseball diehards bicker, a handful of elite hammer throwers will spend their days flinging their peculiar projectiles, to little acclaim. None of them will come within a country mile of challenging Sedykh's mark, which just may be the most invincible record in sports. "I don't know anyone who's even getting within four meters of that right now," says Michael Mai, a top American in the hammer throw, whose personal best is more than 10 meters shorter than Sedykh's milestone. Last year's world-best heave was 80.99 meters, by Japan's Koji Murofushi. Adds Mai, "86.74 is going to stand for a long while, I can guarantee you that."

Sedykh's record isn't quite the oldest in men's track and field. Two months before the Stuttgart meet, East Germany's J├╝rgen Schult set the discus mark that still stands. But Schult's achievement has been tainted by revelations about his country's systematic doping program. To be fair, Soviet athletes were far from clean during the Cold War, and Sedykh may well have dabbled in steroids -- something he has long denied. But even if he did, chemicals can explain only a small part of his magnificence; compared with the discus and shot put, the hammer rewards technical skill far more than it does brute strength. "The bottom line is that the hammer throw is a math equation," says Jud Logan, a four-time U.S. Olympian.

No athlete has ever mastered that equation better than Sedykh, who refers to his elegant throwing motion simply as "the dance." But his physical gifts are far from the only reason his record is so untouchable. Sedykh entered his prime just as the Soviet sports machine was at its peak, creating an environment in which even hammer-throw success was considered essential to national pride. The machine provided him with advantages that today's hammer throwers can only dream of: generous financial support and state-of-the-art coaching. It also blessed him with that one key factor that few aspiring record-breakers can live without.

A nemesis.

Although the modern hammer throw has evolved dramatically from the version shown here at the 1935 Aboyne Games in Scotland, one big component remains: the 16-pound ball. The British established this weight as the universal standard in the 19th century.

Although the modern hammer throw has evolved dramatically from the version shown here at the 1935 Aboyne Games in Scotland, one big component remains: the 16-pound ball. The British established this weight as the universal standard in the 19th century.

MY FIRST ATTEMPT at throwing the hammer is an exercise in humiliation. It is a blustery spring day at Mount Vernon High School, just north of New York City, where reigning U.S. national champion Jake Freeman practices on a weed-strewn field. He has coached me on the basics -- relax the arms, pivot on the left foot -- and I figure the time I've spent studying Sedykh's YouTube videos will serve me well. But once I put the hammer in motion, chaos ensues. My feet shuffle clumsily as the weight pulls my skinny body to and fro. When I finally manage to chuck the hammer over my left shoulder, I stumble backward like a drunkard.

"Nice!" Freeman snickers as the hammer plops to the earth, having traveled eight meters. He steps forward to show me how it's really done.

A gargantuan man whose T-shirt can't quite contain his prodigious belly, the 30-year-old Freeman is amazingly nimble on his feet. As he gracefully spins his 330-pound body to accelerate the hammer, he resembles the dancing hippopotami from Fantasia. Just as he seems to be losing control, he effortlessly flings the hammer so far that it nearly disappears from view. And yet, like his teammate Mai, Freeman has never come within 10 meters of Sedykh's record. That is partly because the life of an American hammer thrower isn't easy. Freeman estimates there are only five men in the world who earn a full-time living in the sport -- mostly Eastern Europeans who cobble together enough $2,000 first-place prizes to make it to the next season. Every year, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) sponsors a grueling nine-meet hammer-throw series, considered the event's richest professional prize. The winner gets $30,000, less than Angels outfielder Vernon Wells makes for a single at-bat.

Forced to squeeze in training while working day jobs, American hammer throwers simply don't have enough time to master a sport that rivals the pole vault in terms of technical complexity. Unlike the shot put and discus, which primarily reward upper-body strength built in the weight room, the hammer taxes core muscles that can be developed only with constant throwing. More challenging still, the movements are deeply intuitive: Arms and shoulders must be kept slack, which is precisely what the human body resists doing while swinging a heavy iron ball. Power is supposed to come from the spinning of the lower body, at speeds that approach 65 mph within the confines of a circle that is seven feet in diameter. "They say it takes 50,000 throws to make it so you can throw over 80 meters," says Freeman, who designs websites and cares for a young daughter in addition to training for the 2012 Olympics. "I've got, what, maybe 15,000 throws? And I've been doing this a long time, for years."

Sedykh, by contrast, never lacked for opportunities to throw. Eager to prove communism's superiority after World War II, the Soviet Union focused vast resources on racking up Olympic medals. The Soviets were particularly keen to dominate the hammer, since the event had long been ruled by Americans -- particularly those of Irish extraction, for whom the sport was an ancestral specialty. (The modern hammer throw descends from an ancient Celtic game in which competitors tossed rocks affixed to wood handles.) John Flanagan, a New York City policeman, won three consecutive Olympic golds, starting at the 1900 Paris Games; in 1913, fellow New Yorker Patrick Ryan set a world record with a throw of 57.77 meters that stood for 36 years.

But starting in the late 1950s, Soviet hammer throwers became unbeatable. As with many other sports, scouts crossed the U.S.S.R. in search of gifted youths, who were taught the rudiments at local clubs and lured into the national system with the promise of fantastic perks: apartments in Moscow, cars, travel to the West where they could buy authentic Levi's. But these privileges would be revoked if an athlete didn't meet expectations.

Sedykh, who grew up in the Ukrainian town of Nikopol, took up the hammer as a preteen. His prowess soon earned him an invitation to train with an elite club sponsored by the Soviet army, a traditional cultivator of Olympic talent. (Many athletes, Sedykh included, were commissioned as officers solely so they could receive military benefits; no soldiering was required.) At 17, he was elevated to the national team, where he came under the tutelage of Anatoly Bondarchuk, the Soviet Union's resident hammer guru, who was fresh off winning gold at the 1972 Munich Games and just getting into coaching. Sedykh didn't score well on the eyeball test: With his sloped shoulders and unfortunatemustache, he looked destined to become a bouncer at a midpriced Kiev nightclub. But Bondarchuk quickly realized that his pupil was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. "When Sedykh first come to me, I don't think he can throw 86 meters," says the coach, who now works with throwers outside Vancouver. "But he take only six months to adjust to training, after which technical development can begin. Lots of athletes take three, four, even five years."

At 6'1" and a fleshy 240 pounds, Sedykh was neither the biggest nor the strongest thrower in the Soviet system. But he possessed an attribute that is far more critical to hammer success than mere muscle. "I understand my body," he says. "I give orders to my body and make everything coordinate." That skill was key because the hammer throw heavily penalizes the most microscopic of errors. When the ball and wire are whipping around at maximum velocity, every tic is amplified until it threatens to become ruinous. The difference between a gold medal and 28th place is often a matter of a foot pulled a few degrees off-center, or a shoulder dipped an inch too low. Bondarchuk had Sedykh practice with 10- and 12-pound hammers until he understood every nuance of "the dance."

As he struggled to develop the most seamless throwing motion possible, Sedykh came to view the hammer as having more in common with ballet than the discus. "When you see a ballerina jump, she's like a bird, how she flies so easy," he says. "People are always excited when they see this. They cannot imagine how hard it is to come to this easy, the hundreds of hours of practice, practice, practice. This is also true for hammer."

With so many thousands of throws required to hone technique, the sport's best competitors are typically in their early 30s. But at 21, Sedykh won gold at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal with a throw of 77.52 meters. Four years later, in the Black Sea resort town of Leselidze, he broke the world record twice at a single meet, raising the top mark to 80.64 meters.

His first reign as world-record holder lasted a mere eight days. On May 24, 1980, a 22-year-old Soviet thrower named Sergey Litvinov stunned the track-and-field world by besting Sedykh's mark by more than one meter.

The nemesis had arrived.

ELITE ATHLETES AREN'T always motivated by their better angels. Sometimes they're inspired by a desire to crush a foe who dares consider himself an equal. Last October, a study led by Gavin J. Kilduff of NYU's business school analyzed 71 Division I men's basketball teams. The authors found that the two main determinants of a rivalry's intensity are familiarity and similarity. "The closer the historic matchup between teams was to a 50-50 split," they wrote, "the stronger the rivalry between them, even when we controlled for similarity in the teams' all-time winning percentages."

This implies that the most bitter rivals are essentially mirror images of each other. Beating such a similar foe is akin to triumphing over one's personal demons, giving the competition an almost spiritual dimension. With so much psychological well-being at stake, athletes somehow tap a hidden reservoir of energy when facing a rival.

Or so Kilduff and his team theorized. To find supporting evidence, they looked at the teams' defensive efficiency statistics, basketball's best metric for raw effort. Just as the researchers had expected, defensive efficiency greatly improved when a rivalry was heated -- because the players were so psychologically invested in the outcome.

This study merely confirms what most sports fans instinctively know. After all, if you look at the 20th century's greatest athletic feats, you'll find that many owed much to the performance-enhancing effects of a rivalry: Roger Maris vs. Mickey Mantle for the 1961 home run title, the Cowboys vs. the Steelers for 1970s NFL supremacy, Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. "The first thing I would do every morning was look at the box scores to see what Magic did," Bird once confessed. "I didn't care about anything else."

Which brings us back to Sedykh and Litvinov. The two were civil to each other -- the Soviet sporting ethos wasn't big on trash talk -- but they shared little in common other than the burning desire to be remembered as history's greatest hammer thrower. The 5'10" Litvinov was diminutive in a sport that favors athletes several inches taller, as long arms are essential to increasing the radius, and thus the speed, of the hammer as it's being swung. Still, he was considered the Soviet program's finest physical talent, blessed with uncommon explosiveness. Boyishly handsome, with shaggy blond hair and mischievous eyes, he possessed a certain star quality that the pensive, balding Sedykh lacked.

The two men also differed in throwing style: Sedykh made three turns before releasing the hammer, while Litvinov was a devotee of the more common four-turn approach. "The idea is that if you put an extra turn in there, the result is 30 percent more acceleration," says Jesus Dapena, a biomechanics professor at Indiana University and one of the few scientists in the world to have closely studied the hammer throw. "But with another turn, if you have a little mistake in there, it gets bigger and bigger as you go on."

Throughout the 1980s, Sedykh and Litvinov clashed on stages both large and small, regularly swapping records back and forth as they vied for the affections of the Soviet public. At the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Sedykh came out on top, breaking Litvinov's two-month-old world record along the way, with a throw of 81.80 meters. Two years later, Litvinov bested that mark by a whopping two meters. And on July 3, 1984, at a meet in Cork, Ireland, the two men exceeded the world record five times between them. Sedykh ultimately earned first place with a heave of 86.34 meters, despite the fact that he'd spent the previous night drinking beer at a local pub. To hammer-throw aficionados, it was the single greatest day in the history of the sport.

Then came that August afternoon in West Germany. Sedykh barely celebrated when the scoreboard at Neckar Stadium flashed "86.74." He hopped up once, calmly accepted a handshake from a Swedish thrower, then waved a clenched fist at the crowd. That was it. At the rate he and Litvinov were going, surely there would be many more records to come.

It didn't happen in Stuttgart. Inconsistency at major meets was always Litvinov's greatest flaw; under pressure, he tended to speed up his motion and spin out of the circle. And so he came up short on each of his last few attempts. In the years afterward, the rivalry lost some power as age caught up with Sedykh. He finished second to Litvinov at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, with neither man breaking the 85-meter barrier en route to their medals. Sedykh enjoyed one more great victory, at the 1991 world championships in Tokyo, but his winning mark was just 81.70.

Like Bondarchuk before him, Sedykh moved into coaching after retiring from competition in 1995. He traveled the world conducting hammer clinics, teaching the next generation to approach the sport with a certain sense of Zen. "Athletes are always looking for some secret Soviet exercise or program, and this makes damage to them," he says. "The most important thing is for them to understand the vision of the global movement, of the dance. This is my philosophy." He now lives in Paris with his second wife, Natalya Lisovskaya, who has held the world record in the women's shot put since 1987. The couple's teenage daughter, Alexia, has proven herself a hammer prodigy, taking gold at last year's Youth Olympics in Singapore.

Sedykh doesn't consider his record beyond reach, but the numbers tell a different story. Three years ago, a team of French sports scientists concluded that the rate of improvement in track-and-field performance peaked in 1988, and it has rapidly diminished ever since. "Present conditions prevailing for the next 20 years, half of all world records won't be improved by more than 0.05 percent," the researchers wrote.

Sedykh's world record was seriously threatened once. Ivan Tsikhan of Belarus came within a single centimeter of the mark in 2005, and it seemed only a matter of time before he exceeded 87 meters. But then Tsikhan tested positive for excessive testosterone at the Beijing Olympics, and he spent the next two years appealing his suspension. He eventually won a reprieve on a technicality, but the legal struggle took its toll: He is not the thrower he once was, and at 34, his best days are behind him. (The missed opportunity to break Sedykh's record was surely most agonizing for Tsikhan's coach: Sergey Litvinov.)

And so the hammer record may never fall unless someone with deep pockets -- a national government or an eccentric billionaire -- decides to pour substantial resources into the sport, as the Soviets once did. Barring that, the track-and-field world can always hope that some freakish talent emerges out of nowhere, a Usain Bolt who throws 16-pound iron balls attached to wires.

Hammer fans eagerly await his arrival. After which, they will await his rival.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

T-Shirts Now Available!

Our new WARRIORSTRENGTH t-shirts are now available for purchase along with our Train Like A Warrior Posters. Just click our Online Store tab to order. We will also soon be offering a white t-shirt version of our new shirts and hope to offer other designs representing other warrior cultures from around the world in the future. Part of our goal here at Haske is to bring back the warrior spirit found among the many warrior cultures of the world by promoting an attitude and lifestyle that reflects the inner strength and courage of the human body, mind and spirit. We hope you will support us in this effort by wearing our t-shirts. We also appreciate your support as this allows us to sponsor ourselves while continuing to pursue our own personal goals in sports that don't provide much outside financial support or sponsorship. Thank you for your support!

-Team Haske Strength

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Amazing Bodybuilder

I don't use the word amazing to describe "bodybuilders" very often, but I think this lady merits an exception. I'll even give her a pass on the gloves. lol  Besides, any friend of Rocky is a friend of mine.

Thanks for a great example of lifelong fitness.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Muscle Foods

Muscle Foods Part I:

This will be part of a three-part series on my top choices of foods that build muscle. Intense hard work in the weight room is only a piece of the equation in the quest for huge muscles, power, and strength. Although moving freakishly large amounts of weight around the gym is crucial, it will all be for not if you don’t supply your body with the right nutrients it needs to grow. Especially good quality protein, which is the foundational nutrient for building muscle. So here are my top choices of foods that will immensely benefit you in your quest for muscle-building greatness.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa, called the “mother of all grains” by the ancient Incas, is a protein-packed grain native to South America. It contains all nine essential amino acids, so the protein it supplies is complete; something very unusual for a plant-based food. Not only is it high in protein, but it is also a good source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, healthy fats, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Quinoa is also gluten-free and easy to digest. One 3.5 oz serving contains 368 calories, 64 g of carbohydrates, 7 g of fiber, 6 g of fat, and 14 g of protein.

2. Almonds

Almonds are another plant-based food packed full of protein. A 1/4 cup of almonds contains about 8 g of protein. Almonds also contain very high levels of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, which is the form of vitamin E that is best absorbed by your body. This is important for your muscles because vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy lifting workouts, which means your body will start to recover and grow more muscle faster. Almonds are also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, B vitamins, and essential minerals. One of these minerals, magnesium, is known to play a role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, most specifically in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. A 3.5 oz serving, or about 2/3 cup contains about 578 calories, 20 g of carbohydrates, 12 g of fiber, 51 g of fat, 22 g of protein, 26.22 mg (175%) of vitamin E, and 275 mg (74%) of magnesium.

3. Cottage Cheese

This should be high-up on your shopping list. Simply go to the store and read the label on a container of low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese and you will understand why. A 3.5 oz serving of low-fat cottage cheese contains 98 calories, 3 g of carbohydrates, 3 g of fiber, 4 g of fat, and a whooping 12 g of protein. You can mix it with fruit, top your salad with it, include it in recipes (helps make a very moist pancake), or just eat it by itself. You can also try pureeing it with a variety of herbs, such as chives or dill, for a tasty muscle-building snack. Or use it to add creaminess to recipes as an alternative to fattier condiments. Cottage cheese combined with avocado creates an amazing and super healthy guacamole. It also makes a great bedtime snack, as the high casein protein content will digest slowly and feed your growing muscles long into the night. Whatever way you choose, there is no doubt that this is a very dense source of excellent protein.

4. Chocolate Milk

Milk does a body good, plain and simple. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism showed that plain old chocolate milk may be as good as, or even better than sports drinks like Gatorade in helping athletes recover from strenuous exercise. While this appears to be only a recent significant finding, it just proves what muscle builders for decades have already known. Milk is an animal protein so it contains all the necessary essential amino acids to make it complete. Not only that, but it contains high amounts of calcium, potassium, and vitamin D3, which (D) has been linked to muscle mass and strength in recent studies. Combine the high amount of protein that milk contains with the sugar found in chocolate milk and you have the perfect post-workout recovery drink. Intense weight training reduces the supply of stored glucose or glycogen in your muscles, which is a key source of fuel for quick and explosive exercise. To maximize glycogen replacement, it is important to take in a serving of carbohydrates within at most, 30 minutes after a long and vigorous workout. Chocolate milk provides the perfect ratio of protein to carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores and provide protein to help your muscles recover and build back stronger than before. One more important note to take in is that insulin can be one of the body’s most powerful anabolic hormones. So you’ll go along ways in boosting your insulin levels with the sugar in chocolate milk after your workout too.

5. Lean Red Meat

Beef; make it a regular part of your dinner. Red meat gets a lot of negative stigma because it can contain high levels of saturated fat, something that has now been linked to heart disease and obesity. But anyone who has truly built any real muscle and strength will tell you that they include plenty of lean red meat in their regular diet regiment. Obviously red meat is a great source of complete protein. Just 100 g of lean ground beef contains about 27 g of protein. But it’s the other stuff in red meat that makes it so useful in building muscle. Beef has a rich supply of iron and zinc, two crucial nutrients if you’re looking to pack on muscle. Beef also contains high levels of phosphorus and vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B12, thiamin and riboflavin. Another great tool for muscle-building that red meat contains is creatine. Red meat contains 2 g of creatine for every 16 oz of beef. So for you regular creatine users, eating red meat could definitely help cut down on the supplement bill. And lastly, if all the other reasons for eating beef are not enough, red meat (if its grass feed) is the richest food source of Alpha Lipoic Acid, which is a powerful antioxidant that has many health benefits and has been linked to aiding fat loss. For maximum muscle-building benefits with minimum fat calories, look for lean steak cuts, at least 90% lean ground beef, rounds, and loins while shopping at your local grocery store.

6. Eggs

Eggs are another handy food tool in the muscle-builders refrigerator that has taken a lot of negative criticism as of late. Doctors and so called health experts will tell you that eggs contain high levels of cholesterol making them very unhealthy for your heart. But eggs aren’t as bad as they have been made out to be. They contain high amounts of protein, and next to whey, are the most bioavailable source of protein out there. Which means it is utilized faster and more efficiently than any other whole food protein source. Each egg comes loaded with at least 6 g of protein. They also contain high levels of retinol (vitamin A), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, vitamin B12 (necessary for breaking down fat and for muscle contraction), choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus,  and potassium.The egg is also one of the few foods that naturally contains vitamin D (which has been linked to muscle mass and strength in recent studies). But remember; don’t throw away the yolks, because this is where the majority of the nutrients lie as well as half the protein. As for the bad cholesterol rap, don’t worry about that either, dietary cholesterol is not bound to blood cholesterol. And chances are if you have high cholesterol, throwing away the egg yolks won’t help you any, consider losing some weight before tossing away these nutrient gems. Besides a little cholesterol is necessary for the production of testosterone, the “mother block” of all muscle-building endeavors. When LH (luteinizing hormone) is released from the pituitary gland in the brain, it triggers the production of testosterone from cholesterol. Eggs are very cheap and very easy to prepare, so be sure to add them to your shopping list the next time you hit the store.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Arrhenius leads way as Cougar men’s track finish 8th at NCAAs

The BYU men’s track team wrapped up the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships over the weekend with an eighth-place finish and 27.50 total points.

“It was an outstanding meet for us,” BYU men’s track and field head coach Mark Robison said in a news release. “That is probably one of our best performances at nationals. It is tough to score points so I’m pretty happy with it.”

Senior Leif Arrhenius scored 16 points for the Cougars, with a pair of second-place finishes in the shot put and discus. Arrhenius hit a best mark of 19.37 meters (63 feet, 6.75 inches) in the shot put on Friday, his second All-American honor of the meet after finishing second in the discus throw (61.36m, 201-03) on Wednesday.

“He did incredible for us,” Robison said. “It was an amazing throw and he really competed down to the end. To score 16 points at nationals is pretty tough to do.”

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Great Finish to a Collegiate Career

Congratulations to Leif Arrhenius who placed second in both the Discus and Shot at the NCAA Div. I National championships.

Leif hit season PR's in both events.

Here is an excerpt from a local news release...

"Senior Leif Arrhenius scored all eight points for the Cougars with a second place finish in the shot put. Arrhenius hit a best mark of 19.37m (63-06.75). With the finish, Arrhenius picks up his second All-American honor of the meet after finishing second in the discus throw on Wednesday."

“He did incredible for us,” head coach Mark Robison said. “It was an amazing throw and he really competed down to the end. To score 16 points at Nationals is pretty tough to do.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Winning and Losing

Koji is a winner! Even when he doesn't finish first.

This is the time of year, at least here in the United States, when champions are crowned. In the scholastic arena it is the time for state championships and in the collegiate realm it is the time for national meets. Below is a story about a high school athlete who was disqualified for vulgar language after a disappointing performance. While I can certainly sympathize with the athlete's frustration, I believe the officials did the correct thing. Learning how to handle and control disappointment as well as success, is one of the valuable outcomes of competitive athletics and is one of the justifications for  making it an integral part of our total educational system. I believe that a competitor shouldn't gloat in victory, nor grovel in defeat. The nature of athletics requires a great personal investment of time and energy into striving to perform at the highest possible level. There are an infinite variety of factors that effect the outcome, many beyond our control. It takes a great deal of guts to put this on the line in a competitive situation. Track and Field is somewhat unique in that a competitor can feel a sense of victory by posting a great time or distance even when not finishing in first place. However sometimes in spite of one's best efforts and preparations, the expected performance doesn't happen. One's identity or sense of self-worth cannot depend on the outcome of an athletic competition. Winners are winners because they think and handle themselves as such in all circumstances. Failure on a given day only leads to success on another if relevant lessons are learned. The only "losers" are those who allow disappointment to discourage them.

Following is a quote from former U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt, himself an athlete. Note the date...... It must have been after a track meet. lol


An excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. "

Loyola pole vaulter disqualified for cursing, costs Cubs state title:

When Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola High pole vaulter Evan Barr failed to clear his final height at the California state track and field meet, he was understandably disappointed. The miss cost him an individual state title and ensured he would finish in third place instead.

Yet, to say that he expressed that disappointment in an inappropriate way is a bit of an understatement. As it turns out, his reaction cost Barr another state title as well.

After falling short of clearing the bar, Barr, whom you can see competing at the 2011 California Relays (not the state championship meet) in this video, let out a loud expletive. According to the Los Angeles Times, the curse word inspired judges to disqualify Barr from the event, with his points taken away from Loyola's team total.
That proved to be incredibly costly, as the adjusted points total cost Loyola a state track and field title. Instead, the Cubs finished second, with 32 points, behind Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High's 35 points.

"He uttered a profanity out of frustration, and the officials thought it was significant to disqualify him," Loyola track and field coach Mike Porterfield told the Times. "He apologized immediately after he said it."

Apologies weren't enough to save Barr or his team from what has to go down as one of the more ignominious and costly setbacks in recent prep track and field history.
If nothing else, the star vaulter has provided a compelling case of the importance of minding ones manners in the heat of competition.

"You can't be profane in a competitive area," California state track and field rules interpreter Hal Harkness told the Times' Eric Sondheimer. "He made an unfortunate lapse in judgment."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Testosterone and Age

I saw an interesting article yesterday. We all know that our endocrine health has everything to do with our performance across a wide range of activities, physical and mental. We also know that there is a great deal of misinformation out there trying to get us to buy something (legal and illegal) to alter or enhance our bodies natural processes. While this article admits that the reported findings are preliminary, it makes a lot of sense to me. Good overall health and keeping body fat under control seems to be the best way to optimize and retain high testosterone levels. No surprise there.

TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Testosterone levels don't necessarily drop with age, but it's more likely among older men with declining general health, a new study suggests.

Bucking prior research indicating age-related testosterone deficiency contributes to deteriorating health, fatigue and libido loss, Australian researchers found that blood testosterone amounts didn't fall in older men with optimal health.
The data, gathered as part of the Healthy Man Study, is scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Boston.

"Our interpretation is that age in and of itself does not reduce blood testosterone levels . . . but the accumulating disorders as men age, some preventable and some not, some genetic and some environmental, do have such an impact, albeit pretty modest," said study author Dr. David Handelsman, a professor of reproductive endocrinology and andrology at the University of Sydney.

"This would make the drive for testosterone treatment for the well-known -- but overrated -- age-related decline in blood testosterone misguided," added Handelsman, also director of the university's ANZAC Research Institute. "But, of course, we could be wrong."

Handelsman and his team took blood samples nine times over three months from 325 men over age 40 who reported being in excellent health. Men who took medications that affect testosterone were excluded from the research.

While age had no effect on testosterone concentrations, obesity was linked to a minor decline, the scientists said.

Dr. Ronald Swerdloff, chief of the division of endocrinology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, noted that other studies had documented a greater drop in testosterone among older men and called Handelsman's research "a piece of the puzzle."

"Many people agree that acute and chronic illness will adversely affect blood testosterone levels, so that's not a surprise," said Swerdloff. "But there are reductions that seem to be independent of co-morbid conditions. The fact of the matter is, with an increase in age [comes] a decrease in testosterone levels, [but] the degree of fall differs from study to study, and the variation could be due to many factors."

Swerdloff said he doesn't support companies who try to profit from older men's fears of declining testosterone by selling supplements that purportedly offset the drop.

"Theoretically, they're exploiting the population and taking advantage of a condition that may be real, but not universal, in order to gain financial reward," he said.

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Keep it simple!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ode To Ricky

As many of you know Ricky Bruch passed away recently after battling liver cancer for sometime. Ricky is remembered as being one of the greatest discus throwers of all time. Ricky was also an accomplished bodybuilder and powerlifter setting many European and Swedish records. He is known most for being a former WR holder in discus and also an Olympic bronze medalist(1972), and silver and bronze medalist in the European championships.(68,72) Ricky was a very good friend of my father and they both grew up together in Sweden and competed together in both shot and disc. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person(my bro's all have) but I had some interesting phone conversations with him in recent years. Ricky had actually told me he was making a comeback and was getting quite strong for someone his age. I think he even told me he had close to 20" arms :) Many of us know Ricky because of his documentary "Soul is Greater Than The World." If you have never seen it, you are missing out! Ricky was a dedicated athlete, coach, friend and will be truly missed. Rest in peace Ricky and may your legacy live on!


Here is a powerpoint presentation I made about Ricky for a Swedish class I took in school - http://www.scribd.com/doc/57103309/RICKY-BRUCH

Photos of Ricky:

Ricky at 1968 Olympics-- Ricky when he was 18

Apparently he was doing exp. on cactus's and performance enhancing drugs---taking a fall in the ring

The king of the push press!-- Ricky doing some advertising

Ricky throwing the discus

Ricky and my dad-- Ricky, my dad, Knut H.

Ricky, Hans H, Per N. -- Ricky signing Authographs

Ricky Bruch
(2 July 1946 – 30 May 2011)

If any of you have never seen his movie...send me an email and I will try and send you a copy.