Thursday, April 26, 2012

Клоков Дмитрий рывок - 205 кг

For you hard core lifters, a great video of Russian lifter Dmitry Klokov. The first shows a real time training sequence, it goes a little slow, but for real lifters is priceless. Note the stern coach. He should look familiar to our readers as he was featured a few weeks ago. What a beautiful facility for training. So much different than the earlier Soviet style boxes of the past. The second video is a more action packed highlight sequence.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Focus on Laughter

Sometimes  you only have to look around to find something funny....

"If I don’t laugh, I might cry!" Sound familiar? Laughter really CAN help!

Laughter is a helpful intervention strategy, however, laughing may not come easily when a person is experiencing grief or trauma reactions. It may be difficult for them to let go of their pain long enough to experience humor or pleasure, or they may feel guilty about having fun when things seem to be falling apart. Nonetheless, laughter should be encouraged and normalized.

The benefits of laughter are many:

  • Laughter helps lower blood pressure, cortisol levels and decreases pain, all of which are elevated when a person experiences a prolonged and exaggerated stress response.
  • Laugher stimulates chemical changes in the brain that help buffer our bodies against the cumulative effects of stress and trauma.
  • Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins that elevate mood.

A traumatized person is often stuck in the stress, symptoms and reactions of their trauma experience. Ask your client to be mindful of how their body feels before, during and after a good laugh. Laughter releases tension in the muscles of the face, neck, shoulders and abdomen, all common areas where we tend to hold lots of tension. We can all benefit from laughter!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Never Too Old

A fun video of Bulgarian national coach Ivan Abadjiev (if you don't who this is, then it probably won't do any good to explain) snatching about 30 kg. Given that he is reported to be over 80 years old, this is very impressive. Just to get set up at the bar properly at that age and to execute the movement regardless of weight is amazing. I wonder if this was a "to the maximum" effort? lol If he is true to his training methods it will be followed up with a "to the Maximum" Clean and Jerk in about 30 minutes. Then after that a max back squat. lol I wonder if he actually does train regularly or if this is just horsing around. I also wonder if he avails himself of the famous Bulgarian "medicinal support"? Maybe just testosterone replacement therapy, right? Whatever the case it is very impressive from an octogenarian. More power to him.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Eleiko Equipment

Coach Poliquin makes some excellent points here. First,
the importance of surrounding ourselves with quality and motivated people.He states that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. While I can't vouch for the specifics of that statement, I certainly concur with the concept that we tend to reflect our enviroment. Surround yourself with quality people and you'll see your own effectiveness improve. Athletes know that great teamates and great competition bring out the best and cause us reach higher.
He also defines the difference between price and cost, making the point that the cheapest bar may end up costing more in the long run when it has to be replaced after limited use. That is also a great life lesson applicable to training as well. Quality training is more valuable than just plain hard work anyday. Often quality training and hard work go togather, but one can work hard at the wrong things or with poor technique and accomplish nothing of value. Work hard and more importantly, work smart. Below is another clip put out by Eleiko that is interesting. We have 13 Eleiko sets in our weight room and I can fully endorse their claim of being the best in the world.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The surprising new face of obesity

The Body Mass Index is not an accurate measure of health? That is news? Anyone with a brain has known that for decades! We need to measure actual body fat? What a novel idea! This "news" is so obvious that it is almost insulting to those in the health field. And could it also be that some athletic hard training individuals will be overweight on the charts yet very lean when actual bodyfat is measured? Hey researchers, Welcome to the real world.
By Joyce Ho and Dr. Nancy Snyderman
NBC News
Follow @nbcnightlynews
The nation’s ever-growing obesity epidemic may be far worse than originally thought. New research demonstrates that even people with a healthy Body Mass Index, a commonly used scale to measure body fat, could actually be obese and at risk for a host of complications.
A study published Monday in the journal PloS One found that using BMI as an indicator of obesity actually misclassifies 39 percent of Americans as “overweight” rather than “obese.” And because BMI doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle, some people with normal BMIs may have dangerously high amounts of fat in their bodies.
Without an accurate measurement of body fat, the researchers say, millions of people don’t know they are at high risk for a number of obesity-related diseases.
“The fat is what causes heart disease, cancer, menstrual problems, depression, anxiety, and a host of medical problems,” said Dr. Eric Braverman, a professor at Weill Cornell Medical School and co-author of the study. “So if you want to save society from a lot of illnesses … you have to identify how much fat they have.”
More than one in three adults in the U.S. are obese, as defined by a BMI of 30 or higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Obesity measurement, however, has been a controversial topic for years, and the widely-used BMI calculation has been called outdated by experts.
BMI is calculated through a simple formula: weight divided by height squared. The ease of calculation made this formula popular, even though it’s nearly 200 years old. In Braverman’s study, researchers compared the BMI with a different measurement, the Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scan. DXA scans, commonly done in women to check for osteoporosis, measure percentage of body fat, muscle mass, and bone density.
Of the 1,393 people studied, 26 percent were classified as obese when body fat was measured with BMI, whereas 64 percent of them were considered obese when measured with DXA. The misclassification was observed more often in women and increased with advancing age: 48 percent more women between the ages of 50 to 59 were classified as obese when measured with DXA instead of BMI, and among women ages 70 and above, 59 percent more were considered obese after getting a DXA scan.
According to the authors, BMI is an inaccurate measure for obesity – but especially in this demographic, because as women age they lose more muscle to fat than men. BMI, which does not distinguish between muscle or fat, does not reflect this bodily change.
“BMI doesn't tell you how much fat … you have,” said Braverman. “So without knowing how much fat you have, you can't really save people from illness. It is the number one predictor of who's going to live or die.”
Researchers also tracked blood levels of leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that regulates hunger and energy expenditure. Increased blood leptin levels correlated well with DXA scan results, highlighting the potential for a simple leptin blood test to be a measurement for obesity.
Based on these findings, Braverman and his co-author Dr. Nirav Shah, the current New York state health commissioner, suggest lowering the BMI definition of obesity from 30 to 24 in women and down to 28 in males. Under these suggested guidelines, a woman who is 5’ 6” and 150 pounds would be considered obese. Under the current BMI standards, the same woman would be considered healthy.
“Fat is costing the country a fortune, by not measuring it,” said Braverman. “A dollar blood test and doing our bone density scans with body fat scans at the same time is going to save us an enormous medical cost in the end.”
NBC’s Stacey Naggiar, Chiara Sottile and Joo Lee contributed to this report.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cluster Training

Cluster Training can produce maximal neuro-muscular efficiency.

 Following is a nice article by the same author that wrote the Force-Velocity Curve article we published last week. Cluster training has long been used by competitive weightlifters, long before the term "cluster training" was coined. Throwing basically follows the same pattern, one maximal effort throw at a time. It only makes sense to me that this type of training with compound multi-joint movements in the weight room has the best carry over value for throwing. My only input on the article is that recovery periods can be longer than the 10-30 seconds stated below. Doing full lifts like Snatches and/or Cleans and Jerks require recovery times of several minutes or more between attempts. I love including these clusters in a training cycle. A variation that increases power or speed of movment is to contrast lighter attempts between the heavier ones.

Cluster or rest-pause training involves using short inter-set rest periods of anywhere from 10–30 seconds to produce more powerful repetitions or more repetitions with a heavy weight. Big proponents of cluster training include Charles Poliquin, Christian Thibaudeau, and Ashley Jones. I like using clusters because they are a bit different, they’re extremely challenging, and above all, they work! In the following article, I’m going to share the theory behind cluster training and discuss the various types of clusters I’ve used with great results.

Warning! The exact science behind the efficacy of cluster training has yet to be fully understood. For those not interested in the theory behind cluster training, skip to the ‘types of clusters’ section. For those who want to indulge their inner geek, keep reading!

ATP-PC recovery

The ATP-PC energy system is responsible for energy production for the first 10–15 seconds of maximal exercise. Therefore, it’s important for strength and power events. To fully replenish the ATP-PC system, it takes about three minutes, but initial recovery is much quicker. After 30 seconds, it can be 70 percent recovered. By using short inter-set rest periods, athletes can perform more reps with a heavier weight or more powerful reps with a sub-maximal weight when training for power.

Post-activation potentiation

Post-activation potentiation (PAP) is an increase in force production of the skeletal muscle following a previous muscular contraction (Sale 2002). The science behind PAP warrants another article, so I won’t get bogged down in it. Essentially, every rep you perform has an excitatory effect on the muscles and nervous system involved. If there is little fatigue, a more forceful contraction can be produced subsequently. This leads to my next point…

Fitness fatigue theory (lactate)

Any training stimulus has two effects—a fitness effect and a fatigue effect. Your performance is a balance between these two opposing factors (Chiu 2003). PAP takes advantage of the heightened fitness to increase force production, but if you perform a set with many reps, more fatigue will be involved and performance will decrease. So with traditional sets, more fatigue is accumulated in the form of lactic acid, thus you can’t take advantage of the fitness effect or PAP. With cluster training, there is little fatigue, so you can make the most of PAP and each rep should be more explosive than the last (Haff 2008).

Types of clusters—strength

Classic 5 X 1 cluster: Using a load that is about 90 percent of your one rep max (RM), perform one rep, rack or drop the bar, rest 10–15 seconds, and then repeat for five total reps and a total rest of three minutes. Repeat for the desired number of sets (often written as 5(1)). This method has you lifting five reps with what is roughly your 3–4RM and always increases maximum strength.

Types of clusters—hypertrophy

It is believed that for hypertrophy to take place lactic acid is required (Schoenfeld 2010), so these cluster techniques initially require higher reps before a short rest. These techniques have the benefit of improving both strength and power.

Thibaudeau’s extended fives: Using a 6RM load, perform five reps, rest for 10–15 seconds, and perform two more reps. Rest another 10–15 seconds and perform one final rep. Rest for 2–3 minutes and repeat for the desired number of sets. Make sure to rack the weight for every rest period! With this technique, you perform eight reps with your 6RM—a brilliant stimulus for hypertrophy.

Verkhoshansky extended set: Here you perform 15 reps with 85 percent of your 1RM with inter-set rest periods of 30–45 seconds. This is usually done as a finisher after other strength work and can be brutal. You perform as many reps as possible, rest briefly, and then go again in this fashion until you hit 15 reps. It may go something like this: eight reps, 30 seconds rest, three reps, 30 seconds rest, two reps, 40 seconds rest, one rep, 45 seconds rest, one final rep, and then run for the sick bucket (Verkhoshansky 1967).


Research has shown that cluster training may increase force or velocity when training for power (Haff 2003, Haff 2008, Hansen 2011). Cluster training is believed to be most effective when training for power. Common ways of training for power include:

•4 X 2 cluster: Perform four cluster sets of two reps with ten seconds rest between cluster sets and three minutes rest between sets. The load depends on programming but will normally range from 40–60 percent of your 1RM.

•5 X 1 cluster: Perform one rep, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for five total reps, and then rest three minutes. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

When to use clusters

Clusters are best used with compound barbell exercises. You could do it with dumbbells, but having to pick the weights up and get set before each cluster set eats into your time and is a nuisance. Ideally, use exercises where you can rack the weight easily (bench, squat) or exercises where you can rest the bar on the floor after each rep (Olympic lifts, deadlifts). Cluster training is pretty demanding and should only be used with advanced trainers. I prefer to use them if a tough week is planned where I know there is a subsequent deload planned. Cluster training is a high intensity and high volume technique so program accordingly.

Cluster training is a novel method that can be used for strength, power, and hypertrophy. It can be an exciting new stimulus for athletes and it works. Olympic lifters have been using this technique without even intending to and it certainly hasn’t hurt them! Give some of these techniques a try, and I’m certain that you’ll be one step closer to your goals.


•Chiu LZF, et al (2003) The fitness-fatigue model revisited: Implications for planning short- and long-term training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 25(6):42–51.

•Haff GG, et al (2003) Effects of different set configurations on barbell velocity and displacement during a clean pull. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 17(1):95–103.

•Haff GG, et al (2008) Cluster training: a novel method for introducing training program variation. Strength and Conditioning Journal 30(1):67–76.

•Hansen KT, et al (2011) Does Cluster Loading Enhance Lower Body Power Development in Preseason Preparation of Elite Rugby Union Players Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(8):2118–26.

•Sale DG (2002) Post-activation potentiation: Role in human performance. Exercise and Sports Science Reviews 30:138–43.

•Schoenfeld BJ (2010) The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24(10):2857–72.

•Verkhoshansky Y (1967) Special Strength Training: Manual for Coaches.

Jamie Bain, BSc, CSCS, is the strength and conditioning coach of the Bedford Blues Rugby team in the English Championship in the United Kingdom. He is currently finishing off an master's of science degree in strength and conditioning at Middlesex University. He can be contacted via email at Jamie_bain@live.co.uk and followed on Twitter at JBTstrength

Friday, April 6, 2012

Is Sugar Toxic?

Living as I do, in an area where diabetes is epidemic, controlling sugar intake has been a habit for a long time. I have never considered it a "poison" to be avoided entirely, but I have been careful to minimize it's use in my diet. As time passes, it is easy to see the results of this increased sugar intake here in the U.S.A.  For example, here on the Navajo Nation, diabetes was virtually non-existent prior to the 1960's. Since then there has been a steady increase in both the availability of processed foods (and the accompaning sugar) and diabetes along with a marked decrease in the amount of physical activity needed to sustain life. To misquote scripture, "Exercise covereth a mutlitude of sins" at least so far as nutrition is concerned.
The taste for sugar is a developed taste. Back in the late 70's when many Cambodian refugees were coming to the United States and being sponsored by American families, I had the opportunity to work with a group of Cambodian children teaching them english. While many had endured great hardship and even atrocities to arrive here, they were bright and eager to learn. Towards the end of my internship, I wanted to do something nice for them so with my wife's help we planned an "American style" party for them with cake and ice cream. We prepared and they looked forward to it. When the day came we were quite suprised that they didn't like our party food. They would have much rather had fish and rice. The sweetness was foreign to them and it wasn't pleasant. I imagine by now their children are "Americanized" and enjoy candy and sweetsbut it taught me that such tastes are aqquired, not inherent. We can learn to like good stuff just as easy as sugar.

(CBS News) The amount of sugar consumed by Americans today is unprecedented, and is contributing to heart disease and high blood pressure, a dietitian said on "CBS This Morning."
Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist and registered dietitian, was on the broadcast to discuss a "60 Minutes" report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta which explored studies indicating that sugar - more than any other substance - is linked to obesity, type-2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Sass explained that the average American today consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. "In a year's time it's about 17 four-lb. bags of sugar per person per year," she told Charlie Rose. "We need to change our habits."
When asked why sugar may be considered toxic, Sass compared one's blood to a glass of water: "Now think about pouring sugar into that water. The more sugar that's there, the thicker and more syrupy that water gets.
"When that's happening in your body - in your blood - your heart has to work harder to pump that thicker fluid through your system," Sass said. "It puts stress on the heart. It puts stress on the arteries. It Increases blood pressure. It attacks the kidneys, the liver. So it's really the amount that we have that's really causing these problems."
Sass said the source of sugar is also an important consideration. "The sugar that's healthy is the kind that comes from Mother Nature - the sugar that's in fruit, that's in yogurt, that's naturally occurring," she said. "So when you think about blueberries, a cup of blueberries, that has about 7 grams of fructose, but it's bundled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber."
A can of soda, by comparison, has about 25 grams of fructose - about three times more - with no nutrients.
When asked by Erica Hill how people can avoid sugar, Sass replied, "You need to read the ingredient list. That's the only way to know if the sugar that's in the product is added, manufactured in, processed in, or it's coming from nature."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Force Velocity Curve

Olympic Style lifting along with throwing is RFD personified. As Phil Grippaldi shows, size, strength, and power are not mutually exclusive, but interdependant.
I was first formally introduced to the Force-Velocity curve in the late 80's while reading Dr. Mike Stone's great book, Weight Training, a scientific approach.  That was an eye opening experience to me. Although I guess I intuitively sensed that there were qualities such as strength and power that could be improved by training in different ways, I really never had a firm understanding of Rate of Force Development (RFD). Since then, this concept has influenced my training and driven the programs I have developed as a coach. It is really a very simple and obvious concept, but is often misunderstood or misapplied. Following is a nice concise article that I ran across on the EliteFTS site last week.
Periodization is an important topic in the strength and conditioning world. Put periodization in Google and you get 940,000 results. This is great if you’re a sports science geek, but it’s pretty overwhelming to the average athlete or weekend warrior who wants to get an advantage over his competition by using periodization. Yes, I hate to say it, but periodization has become pretty damn complicated. Is it a ploy by those pesky Russians to confuse us with all these advanced models? Conjugate periodization, block, linear, undulating, and many more have led to some great debates over the years, but they have also led to paralysis by analysis.

Turner (2011), in his review of the science and practice of periodization, describes periodization simply as “an optimal strategy for organizing S&C programs.” I believe that if people understand the force-velocity curve and base their training upon it, it is the simplest way to organize their programs optimally.
Force-velocity basics
The force-velocity curve has an x and y axis. The y axis is the horizontal axis that denotes velocity, and the x axis is the vertical axis that denotes force. The curve itself is hyperbolic and shows an inverse relationship between force and velocity (e.g. the heavier the weight you lift (force), the slower you lift it (velocity); conversely, the lighter a weight, the faster you lift it). So different types of training occur on different parts of the force-velocity curve (figure 1). As you go from high force, low velocity to low force, high velocity, you go from max strength work to strength-speed to power to speed-strength to speed.

So how does this help athletes? Well, it is agreed that a desired effect of training is to shift the force-velocity curve to the right (Zatsiorsky 2006) because in sport, speed kills. As you should know, the problem is that adaptations to training are specific in nature. Figure 2 shows what happens to the force velocity-curve after strength training (blue line) and speed training (green line). In advanced athletes, if you train at one end of the force velocity curve, you will improve that part of the curve, but the other will decrease.

So what can we do? Train all the way along the force-velocity curve. The problem is your body can only adapt to so much. If you train all strength qualities at the same time, you won’t adapt optimally. This brings us back to periodization. One principle of periodization is to move from general training to more specific training (apologies to powerlifters). Strength is just general preparation whereas power and speed are more specific. So your periodization plan should travel from left to right down the force-velocity curve (figure 3).

I believe that everyone should train every part of the force-velocity curve, but how long they spend at each training stage depends on four things.
1. Training age
This is easy to understand. A beginner will need to spend more time improving max strength than an experienced athlete. Max strength is highly correlated to power and explosive measures (Peterson 2006), and improvements in max strength for a beginner can also improve speed. As the beginner becomes more highly trained, he will have to emphasize the higher velocity/sport specific speed training, but he will still have to train max strength to maintain it and increase power potential.
2 Sport
Different sports require different strength/speed qualities. For instance, a football player will require more strength work than a tennis player, but that still doesn’t mean that a tennis player shouldn’t improve his/her maximum strength. Part of the strength and conditioning coach’s job is to identify the requirements of his athlete’s sport through a needs analysis and then program accordingly.
3. Position
Even in the same sports, different positions require different training. In rugby, a prop will require more max strength work than a winger. In football, a running back will require more speed training than a lineman.
4. Time of year/season
Earlier in the preparatory period, a stronger emphasis should be on max strength. As the season continues, a more specific approach should be taken and a greater emphasis placed on speed. Again, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t train all parts of the force-velocity curve, but I like to think of it as this—if your programming takes you from one end of the force-velocity curve to the other (from left to right) three times in a season, the whole block will become more specific each time. That is to say, you don’t perform the same max strength block three times at the start of each phase. You might spend less time on max strength each time or just perform a more advanced version each time.
I hope my point was clear—all athletes should train along the force-velocity curve. How long the athlete spends at each stage will depend on training age, sport, position, and time of year. Through a needs analysis and testing, it is up to the strength and conditioning coach to ascertain when it’s appropriate to shift the entire force-velocity curve to the right.

•Peterson M, Alvar B, Rhea M (2006) The Contribution of Maximal Force Production to Explosive Movement Among Young Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20(4):867–73.

•Turner A (2011) The science and practice of periodization: A brief review. Strength and Conditioning Journal 33(1):34–46.

•Zatsiorsky V, Kraemer J (2006) Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.

Jamie Bain, BSc, CSCS, is the strength and conditioning coach of the Bedford Blues Rugby team in the English Championship in the United Kingdom. He is currently finishing off an master's of science degree in strength and conditioning at Middlesex University. He can be contacted via email at Jamie_bain@live.co.uk and followed on Twitter at JBTstrength.

                                     The late George Frenn demonstrating applied RFD.

Grippaldi and Frenn training togather.