Thursday, September 27, 2012

Where are the Warriors?

Dave Draper eschewed 44 oz. soda drinks for something better!
Of course in the 60's none of us even imagined that such a thing as a 44 oz. soda would ever be available.

Retired military leaders say this generation is "too fat to fight". Wow. This is a shocking, but unfortunately, not too surprising statement. In my 30+ years in public education here in the United States I have certainly seen a dramatic increase in obesity along with a decrease in fitness levels. Of course it would seem to be much more desirable to have people self-regulate their eating habits rather than mandating what can be sold or served. However, the food industry has no scruples and continues to inundate us with high sugar and fat foods that have long shelf lives and develop addictions in those who make them a steady part of their diets.
It seems that many see goverment regulation as the only solution to the problem. While, I personally, am not against some guidelines and regulations applied to the food industry, I would rather that this wasn't necessary. With freedom comes responsibility. The responsibility to provide healthy products rather than fat and sugar laden garbage that only appeals to the taste buds, and also the responsibilty to make good choices and keep ourselves fit enough for our own defense if necessary.
No one has to buy or eat the garbage that the food industry pushes. But it wasn't that long ago that I can remember that there was no one serving 44 oz. soda drinks and supersized fries.  Of course if no one was buying them, they wouldn't sell them. On the other hand fewer homes have "homemakers" who take the responsibility to insure that children are eating well. Many families have either a single parent or two parents who have to work long hours to make ends meet and children are left to fend for themselves or are served a steady diet of fast and convenient prepared foods. Others have low incomes and choose foods that are cheap and calorie dense, but nutritionaly deficient. Yet others are just ignorant.
This a call to be a warrior.
Make good choices and encourage others to do the same. Be "fit to fight".

Retired military leaders say this generation is "too fat to fight".
(CBS News) Is obesity America's greatest threat to national security?
A group of retired military leaders seem to think so, given 27 percent of 17 to 24-year-olds in the United States are too fat to serve in the military. That's 9 million potential recruits.
In their new report dubbed "Too Fat to Fight," the nonpartisan group of 100 retired generals and admirals known as Mission: Readiness calls on the U.S. government to reduce the amount of junk foods available at schools in favor of healthier options.
"Being overweight or obese turns out to be the leading medical reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service," the group says in the report. "Today, otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight."
More than one-third of U.S. adults -- 35.7 percent -- are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Citing Department of Defense data that 75 percent of young Americans can't join the military because they did not graduate from high school, have criminal records or are physically unfit, the group of retired military leaders has set their sights on combating obesity.
Between 1995 and 2008, the military had 140,000 individuals who showed up at recruiting centers but failed their entrance physicals because of their weight, the report said.
Teaching healthy habits starts in childhood, the leaders note, so a properly managed school environment could help foster a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
They want Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation that bars junk food from schools, increases funding to improve the nutrition and quality of school meals and provides children better access to programs that promote health.
The authors said school stores or canteens, vending machines and a la carte foods sold on lunch lines are areas of focus to make healthier. They are asking Congress to give the Secretary of the USDA power to implement healthier standards.
"The folks that are going to enter the military in 2025 are in school right now," Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Norman Seip told Reuters. "So it's up to us to ensure that when those children reach the age of between 17 and 24 that they are ready or eligible to join the military."

And a related article.....

New research validates the word of doctors and health advocates who warn that sugar-sweetened beverages play a significant role in the obesity epidemic.

"Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages do matter," Yale University endocrinologist Sonia Caprio wrote in an editorial that accompanied the studies. "The time has come to take action."

The study looked at 224 overweight and obese ninth- and tenth-graders who drank either a 12-ounce sugary drink or 100 percent fruit juice on a daily basis.

Researchers split the students into two groups, one which received a delivery of noncaloric beverages such as flavored-water, diet drinks or water every two weeks for one full year.

The other group received no noncaloric drinks, but were given a $50 gift card to a supermarket at intervals during the study, with no instructions on what to buy with the card.

The researchers were testing to determine whether or not changing a teen's household environment to carry fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, with no behavioral intervention, would have an effect on weight.

It turns out that simply swapping the drinks in the home for healthy beverages helped, CBS News reported. "After statistically ruling out other demographics so the only difference between groups would be sugary drink intake, teens who had the noncaloric deliveries gained an average of four fewer pounds over the course of a year than soda drinkers in the control group."

The study was published online Friday by the New England Journal of Medicine,

The new study comes at the crest of an ongoing debate, the Wall Street Journal reported. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is preparing to impose a ban on the sale of sugary beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces in movie theaters, restaurants and other venues in the city.

The findings "provide a strong impetus to develop recommendations and policy decisions to limit consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages," Sonia Caprio, a professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

The new studies unleashed a storm of objection from Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., described by the Los Angeles Times as the "icons of a $110-billion-a-year industry whose products have penetrated the remotest corners of the earth."

"Sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity," the American Beverage Assn., which represents the soda makers, said in a statement released Friday. "By every measure, sugar-sweetened beverages play a small and declining role in the American diet."

The beverage ban goes into effect March 12. The ban only applies to drinks that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces, USA Today noted. It does not include beverages with more than 50 percent milk or 100 percent juice drinks.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chuck Norris

A few weeks ago we looked at Clint Eastwood's foray out of the movie industry and into politics. We decided he was a better actor when he stuck to his film persona. Here is a look at another film star who wanders into the political arena as well. I like Chuck Norris's films and who wouldn't like Walker, Texas Ranger? But, I don't think I would trust him to influence my vote. Not the guy who is responsible for all those Total Gyms that are gathering dust in the closets and yard sales of America. Come on Chuck! You picked Mike Huckabee and then Newt Gingrich. And we are supposed to take you serious now? Just stick to kicking the stuffing out of the bad guys. Thanks for not taking yourself too seriously and being able to enjoy the jokes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


                                 Pablo Lara, a great lifter, in action.

Here is an interesting story from Roger LaPointe as he told it in one of his Atomic Athletic Bulletins. The story reminds of the time when I attended a seminar sponsored by the NSCA back in the 80's. They had Angel Spassov, who was billed as a Bulgarian weightlifting coach, touring the country and speaking on the "Bulgarian Training Methods". Of course as time passed it became clear that Mr. Spassov was only marginaly associated with the national team and he fed us alot of trash about stepups that later was refuted. Nevertheless, I distinctly remember his response when one of the attendees asked about the role of sport pyschology and motivation with the Bulgarian athletes. It took him awhile to comprehend what was being asked, then he said that in Bulgaria there was no need for such strategies. Bulgarian weightlifters were sufficiently motivated by circumstance. The story below about the Cuban system supports the idea that athletes from free market economies have to bring their own sources of motivation to the table as the time spent training for lifting, or any other non-professional sport, actually costs time and income rather than generating it.

Motivations from Castro
Do you know who Pablo Lara is?
Even if you do, I'm betting that almost nobody you know has a clue who Pablo Lara is or what he is famous for doing.  For those of you who don't know of Pablo Lara, he won the gold medal in the 76 Kg Weight Class in Weightlifting during the 1996 Olympics.  His 205 Kg (451.9 lbs.) Clean & Jerk was an Olympic Record.
Motivations are funny things.  By the year 2012, anyone knowing  who won the 75 Kg (167 lbs.) weight class is filling up brain capacity with some pretty useless trivia.  Yet, For PABLO LARA, that information is NOT TRIVIA.  Lara set five world records during his career and was a national hero in Cuba. 
You want to know about intensity?  In 1997 I was able to watch Lara lift.  I never spoke with Lara.  I wanted to shake his hand, but really didn't have a good opportunity.  He was being watched pretty closely by the Cuban coaches.  I was lucky enough to be sent down to Guatemala for the NACACI Championships in order to politic and try to sell weights for the York Barbell Company.  Lara was my hero.  I was able to watch every one of his warm-up attempts and his lifts on the platform.  This was not a big contest, so he ONLY did a 190 kg Clean & Jerk.  That is 418.9 pounds, more than any middle weight lifter has ever done from the United States.
Here's some real motivation.  I watched Lara come into the hotel, before the meet, with at least a pound of gold chains around his neck.  I thought it was pretty ostentatious, but I had grown up in the Detroit area and had seen that sort of thing before.  Leaving Guatemala, I saw Pablo in the airport and he didn't have any chains.  I found out, from one of the Canadian Coaches, that he had sold all of his gold so that he could bring back dollars to Cuba.  Essentially, the Cuban team lived a good life sponsored by the state, but the lifters families were still in poverty and that is what the lifters would go back to when they were no longer part of the National Team.  Those gold chains were going to be a chunk of Pablo Lara's retirement.  I have no idea how true that may be, as I have never heard anything more about him after that meet.  I have heard similar stories about successful lifters from other third world countries.  That is some motivation.
You have to find your motivation.  I know that through that look of intensity, Pablo Lara also seemed like one smiling happy guy.
Weightlifting is hard work.  I also know that no one sticks with it without truly enjoying it. 
Ultimately Lara was done after 1996.
Live strong,
Roger LaPointe

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cross-fit Certified?

This has got to be one of the worst videos I've seen.
I know the difference between a barbell clean and a thick bar continental clean, strongman style, but this isn't that.
Now, let’s see here:
Dropping barbell on head – check
Filing down teeth from excessive gritting – check
Knees bowing inward/outward during jerk catch phase of the lift – check
Breaking spinal alignment – really check!
Hyper-extending neck – check Nearly being crushed by barbell – check
Trying to do something again that you clearly couldn’t do the first time – check
Not paying attention while barbell falls to the floor – check
Bent elbows during the clean portion of the lift – check
Lifting weights that are clearly too heavy for you – double-check
Nearly injuring oneself in the pursuit of better health? – check

What ever happened to teaching and coaching sound lifting technique? It has always been my conception of coaching that you teach the lift first, then drill it, then add weight when the student is ready. Unfortunately the coaching malpractice that is exhibited here is all too common across the collegiate and scholastic as well as the commercial scene.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Body Is One Piece

Holding a heavy weight overhead both identifys and corrects many deficiencies.
As one of my favorite training writers, Dan John, often says, "The body is one piece." It makes little sense to train or evaluate movements out of the context of whole bocdy movement. Below is a great article that reinforces this basic, but often ignored idea........
We have included alot of Vern Gambetta's ideas in past posts. He makes alot of sense, which given his many years of successful experience, only makes sense. Here he gives a real "from the trenches" coaching view of the value of so called "movement screens". Like anything involving training, there is no "one size fits all" method. All evaluations must be in the context of a full movement with individual characteristics taken into account.
In a related issue, I observe so many "strength and conditioning coaches" who focus so much on work load, volume, intensity, ...etc. but never teach proper exercise technique. One program I am familiar with hands out workout sheets and walks around enforcing compliance to the exercises, sets, and reps specified; while the athletes are lifting with rounded backs, valgus knees, and over all poor posture. What ever happened to teaching proper body positions and coaching  and correcting good body positions? Generally a little feedback and coaching will create enough awareness in athletes to correct many "movement dysfunctions."
Red Flagging "Dysfunction"
By Vern Gambetta
I am tired of hearing about red flags and dysfunctions. Why is something a red flag or a dysfunction? Watch what happens when the athlete gets up and actually moves--it is amazing how many of the red flags disappear and the supposed dysfunctions discovered in isolated artificial movements smooth out. If there is pain or discomfort they will tell you. If you feel you have to look for red flags, do so when the athlete is actually moving within the structure of their sport. Evaluate movements just like you train movements.
Our job as coaches, therapists and ATCs is to get the athlete moving as efficiently as possible not to segment and robotize. Chances are, if there is a deficiency it will scream out at you. A truly functional movement screen will have the body move through and in postures that are similar to the postures in actual performance, executing movements that work with or against gravity. It must give some information on how the athlete uses the ground and how they reduce force and dynamically stabilize.
There is no universal movement screen. I believe that you must have a screen that is specific to the movements of the sport or at the very least for categories of sports. For example, a movement screen for throwing sports would have different elements than would an evaluation for a running sports. One size does not fit all.
Incorporate movements like bending, extending, reaching, pulling, and pushing. This will give you information you can then translate into the training and performance environment. Don't look for what the athlete can't do, look for what they can do and use that as a starting point for the training progression. Beware of confirmation bias--you find what you are looking for.
Realize that it is our job to get the athlete ready for the rigors of competition by training them to be as adaptable as possible to the demands of their sport. You don't do that by focusing on what the athlete can't do and fixing supposed dysfunctions through corrective exercise.
All exercise should be corrective to a degree if you use proper progression. Corrective exercise and injury prevention should be a transparent part of a sound training program. I have said for years that Training = Rehab and Rehab = Training.
I will end with two questions: If what is going on today in MLB, NFL, and NBA is so good then why are preventable injuries off the scale? Is it because we are looking so hard at dysfunctions and prevention that we are compromising training and preparation?
Vern Gambetta, MA, is President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. The former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox, he has also worked extensively with basketball, soccer, and track and field athletes. He is a frequent contributor to Training & Conditioning.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Real Kettlebell Competition

This is fascinating to me. I have heard about kettlebell competitions before, but never had seen an actual competition other than seeing them used in American cross-fit type meets. That is a far cry from this. Of course you probably don't want to invest the hour and 46 minutes or more that it takes to watch the whole thing, but let it run for awhile and check back on it now and then. Some really interesting and amazing performances. While I am not going to suggest that kettlebells replace your barbells and dumbells if you are a serious strength-power athlete,they are versatile and can be a fun and productive addition to your programs. If you are training for overall fitness kettlebells can be a fun and convenient way to add variation. Personally, I don't think you really need to attend any special kettlebell training workshops or get "certified". If you have a little kinesthetic sense and a basic understanding of exercise physiology you should do fine in finding ways to incorporate some of these moves into your training.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Steroid use among high school girls on rise?

Teen-age lifter Zoe Smith appears to be a role model for high school girls who want to perform and look great.

I don't buy into this article. While it has got to be excruciating to have a child commit suicide, something I would never want to experience, I'm not sure that Taylor Hooten's suicide can be attributed purely to his use of steroids.
I commend his family for their work, but am not sure I see a significant number of high school girl's using steroids to improve appearance or performance.
My impression is that this issue is over-hyped in order to generate interest.
To get backround on where this is coming from, check out their website:
http://taylorhooton.org/ and form your own opinion.

NORWALK -- Performance-enhancing drugs have been in the news so much that the acronym PED is recognizable shorthand for many people.
But what about APED? That stands for appearance -- and performance-enhancing drugs -- a more accurate description of why teenagers can be lured into the use of dangerous anabolic steroids, says Don Hooton Jr., whose 17-year-old brother, Taylor, became depressed and committed suicide in 2003 after using anabolic steroids.
Taylor was a Texas high-school baseball player looking to add muscle, which aligns with the common understanding of what performance-enhancement drugs can do for athletes such as Barry Bonds and, more recently, Melky Cabrera.
But during a seminar on athletes, steroids and prescription drug misuse at Norwalk City Hall on Wednesday night, Hooton surprised many of the two dozen area coaches, trainers, athletic directors, parents and students in attendance when he named the demographic that has seen the largest increase in the use of APEDs.
"Young high school girls are the fastest growing users of steroids," he said.
Are these girls using drugs to add muscle and improve athletic performance? Studies show otherwise, said Hooton, president of the Texas-based Taylor Hooton Foundation, which promotes education about the dangers of steroids.
More often young girls are using them as weight-loss supplements. To the crowd listening, this revelation sparked a collective moment of cognitive dissonance: Using steroids to lose weight? Aren't steroids used to add weight? As with many types of drugs, it depends on how you use them.
"I was very surprised to hear that girls are using them for body-image purposes," said King associate athletic director Karen Cella, who also serves as the school's softball coach.
Cella said she hears rumblings about steroid use among students -- always boys -- but has never directly encountered an incident in her 15 years at the school.
"You see kids add weight rapidly, the drastic change in body type. I've talked to our trainers, and they've said there's always the possibility, but never a known fact."
During an hour-long slideshow presentation, Hooton, 31, highlighted the dangers of steroid use, including the side effects of heart and liver damage, and the increased risk of diabetes and depression. His brother, who had cycled off steroids, became depressed and hung himself by a belt from his bedroom door.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation was started in 2004 by Don Hooton Sr. along with family members.
Hooton Jr. admits that the lure of steroids is difficult to combat. Kids see their friends using steroids, getting bigger, and often want similar results for themselves. According to surveys,
one in 16 high school students have used steroids, but that only reflects the number of those who admit it, Hooton said. For parents who think their kids can't be using -- perhaps because they mistakenly believe that steroids are cost prohibitive -- Hooton said an average cycle of steroids (6-10 weeks) costs between $200 and $500 and are easily obtainable on the Internet.
Joyce Sixsmith, a substance abuse counselor whose son is a senior at Staples High School in Westport, said Hooton's presentation was eye-opening.
"I knew very little about steroids. You did an excellent job," she said during a question-and-answer session.
Tuesday's seminar was sponsored by the Fairfield County Sports Commission and also included a brief discussion on the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Giancarlo Ceci, a 15-year-old swimmer who attends the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering in Stamford, attended the seminar at the suggestion of his parents.
"It taught me a lot about steroids and stuff that I should not be putting them in my body," said Ceci, who added that he doesn't know of any friends or fellow students who use steroids.
After seeing Hooton's presentation, would he ever use the drugs?
"Probably not," he said.

Nice video...