Thursday, November 29, 2012

Clarence Kennedy

Some video clips of a great Irish weight lifter, Clarence Kennedy. He is also an amazing all around athlete as is evidenced by his acrobatic Parkour demonstration at 1:25 on the interview video. He is an amazing young lifter who seems to be lifting well inside of his potential and who is making steady improvement. His training is simple and direct and reflects how athletes without goverment support compete.

Clarence Kennedy is a quiet, easy-going Tralee teenager. He is also one of the most phenomenal young sportsmen in Ireland. Despite having taken up weightlifting just under 4 years ago, he has taken the sport by storm, won every available Irish medal, shattered Irish records repeatedly, and has recently been ranked as Ireland’s top weightlifter. In 2010 he attended the Cork Open and promptly shattered every U18 record they had. An incredible progression, but then again, Clarence came into the sport with an unusual but very solid foundation.
“I was involved with St. Brendans’ AC when I was younger and I competed in the Celtic Games, but I was also into ‘tricking’, which is a freestyle combination of martial arts and gymnastics. It’s a non-competitive sport that I got great enjoyment from, and I decided to take up weightlifting to give me a bit more flexibility and power for tricking. I actually taught myself weightlifting, which would be unusual in itself, but the tricking meant that I already had developed my physique and also gave me a great sense of spatial awareness, which you need. As time went on, I found that I had to concentrate on one thing if I really wanted to do my best at it. Weightlifting is a hugely rewarding sport, but it’s also very demanding; you have to give it your best.”
“Weightlifting is both simpler and more complex than people think. There are two lifts involved. The ‘snatch’ involves a straight lift from ground to overhead with arms straight. The other is the ‘clean and jerk’, in which you lift the bar to your chest and in a second movement you raise it overhead. The clean and jerk is usually 20% heavier, but it’s the combined total that counts. You have two minutes between lifts in competition as well as a warm-up session. It’s a very tactical sport, you need to watch the time and judge your best weight carefully. The best thing to do is make sure that your first attempt is manageable and then try and increase it for the next two. It’s not just about muscle at all; you need an awful lot of balance, co-ordination, and flexibility. I’d be pleased with my technique really, but that’s something that you just never stop working on.”
“I have heard some crazy myths about weightlifting and I think it puts people off a really challenging and enjoyable sport. One is that you need to be short to do it – that’s just nonsense. People with shorter arms have less distance to lift the bar, that’s all that comes from. Another is that it’ll damage your body – the sport is thousands of years old, would somebody not have noticed? In actual fact, a 1994 survey examined all sports and found weightlifting to be one of the safest. It’s safer than badminton.”
“I do a minimum of one session of just under 4 hours a day and I have recently been pushing that to two sessions a day. I train in the Austin Stacks Gym. We don’t have a formal club or anything, but a bunch of us bought expensive equipment.
“I have a YouTube channel and just last night I have passed 3000 subscribers and 1.3 million views for my videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/clarence0) which is very encouraging as well.”
“The equipment is definitely expensive. Competitive weights have to be rubber-coated plates,  we all contributed money to our equipment it took us quite a long time to get our equipment we have today and we still need more“. You have to be able to throw them off you to the ground if a lift goes wrong and a bar that won’t break under that kind of stress will set you back €700.
“I competed in Mullingar in the Leinster Championships and Open. I lifted 152kg in the snatch (which was 7kg over the Irish Senior record I held previously) I lifted 182kg in the clean and jerk (which was 12kg over the Irish Senior record I held previously). My combined total was 334kg which makes me the highest ranked weightlifter in Ireland ever. Look, that sounds great, but the truth is that I amn’t too bothered about it. No disrespect to all the people putting in work here in Ireland, but the truth is that the international standard is set by eastern Europeans and Asians. Kids start there at 10 years old, most people here take it up in colleges after they have lost a lot of flexibility. We are way behind. To be honest about it, I want to be world class and those are the people I compare myself with.”
My next big step is going over to Poland to meet up with Pawel Nadjek in November. He holds the Clean and jerk record for Poland at 250kg, and is a three-times Olympian and one of the best coaches out there. My big target this year is the Junior European Championships in Israel in December, I’ll really be hoping to rank high or even medal at that. I was competing at the 94kg class in Mullingar and I am hoping to be at 85kg in Israel. I have snatched 155kg and clean and jerked 190kg in training in recent times. I have also squatted 262.5kg at 87kg bodyweight which is triple my own bodyweight.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Great Advice for Women

Women get best results when they  follow correct principles common to both genders.

Below is an article that I got off of the Elitfts site. It does a great job of pointing out some common myths that many women (and men as well) buy into. Let it be known to all that will listen, resistance training is essential for leaness and overall health and well being. Heavy training is relative. As the years pass, I am more aware of that than ever. But training in a range that is heavy for you brings the greatest benefits. There are times when it seems all I can do to roll weights across the floor that I used to clean, but I persist in cleaning and snatching as heavy as I am capable of now. Protien needs to be a major portion of your food intake. I know I feel and look better when I make lean protien the major part of my diet. I have alot of female athletes that want some special program or exercises. Sorry ladies. While I am grateful for gender differences, training methods reflect more commonalities than differences.

I’m frustrated. Every day I hear things from women that are flat out untrue. The thing that upsets me most though is that there isn’t any science to support their claims. Instead, there is science to debunk their claims. So without further rambling, I’ll dive into separating fact from fiction in regards to common women’s fitness myths.
#1: Cardio is the only way to get lean.

 I know you have the women at your gym who never touch a weight and believe that cardio is the Hail Mary to dropping a few pant sizes. However, here’s the thing—I bet those women look exactly the same as they did when they started their crusade for weight loss. So let’s get something clear. Cardio isn’t the end-all be-all for weight loss.
Weight loss is about more than burning a few calories. Actually, your hormones are the key players when it comes to this game. Sadly, women think cardio is the way, and when weight loss stalls, they do more cardio hoping that this will break through their weight loss plateau. But like I said, cardio isn’t the key. After hours spent enduring hamster-like conditions, they don’t see results. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve been on the verge of tears doing marathons of cardio without any weight loss but weight gain! Scientifically, as you add in more and more cardio, cortisol levels rise, your thyroid starts to shut down, and progesterone levels start to tank. All of this sucks for weight loss and creates an environment where your body slows its metabolism, holds on to fat, and retains mountains of water. So yeah, I know this sounds terrible and you feel like the fitness magazines have mislead you, but at least we can get cracking in the right direction to stop this.

 Fix: Start lifting weights and reduce the amount of cardio you do. The weights will allow you to build lean mass, which will positively affect your metabolism, and reducing the cardio will help reduce cortisol levels and allow your body to burn fat more efficiently.

 #2: Lifting heavy weights will make me bulky or turn me into a bodybuilder.
Wow, this one drives me nuts. First off, let’s be honest—women don’t have the hormones to build the mass that you see men building. They lack the levels of testosterone needed and have high levels of estrogen in its place, making it nearly impossible to gain the types of mass most women are worried about. Often, when you see an extremely muscular and vascular female lifter, there is probably a chance that she’s taking an anabolic steroid. So for the regular woman who wants to lift heavy, this should give you comfort in the fact that unless your fish oil pills are rigged, you aren’t going to build muscle mass over night.

 One more thing—if you do build some mass over a long training period and also eat a huge surplus of calories, yes, you will get bigger. Remember, new muscle covered in more fat will make you look bigger. I’m guessing no one wants that though, so keep your diet in check and your chances of becoming a leaner, meaner you will become a reality.

 Fix: Lift heavy and keep the reps under five if your aim is to not build muscle mass. In fact, lift heavy with full recovery between sets. From a scientific standpoint, the eight- to twelve-rep range that magazines always suggest for “toning” is bull. Eight to twelve reps is hypertrophy, which is the scientific name for muscle growth. The last time I checked, most women claim they don’t want to build too much muscle mass. So ditch the high reps, pick up the heavy weights, and get yourself some kick-ass self-confidence (and booty)!

 #3: Oatmeal and fruit for breakfast is a great way to start off my weight loss day.

 This ideology drives me bananas! Complex carbs and fructose in the morning are more of a recipe for weight gain than weight loss. First thing in the morning, your body is a fat burning furnace. Even though cortisol levels are high, growth hormone is also high. Without the ingestion of carbohydrates, this provides a catabolic environment that lets you burn fat efficiently. However, the second you spoon the oatmeal and blueberries into your mouth, you introduce carbohydrates, which halts the awesome fat burning environment that you just woke up to.

 Fix: Stick to the proteins and healthy fats in the morning to keep the fat burning going. If you’re going to eat carbs, eat them after your training when your chances of them getting stored in the muscle rather than the fat cells are greatly improved!

 I hope this debunking of some common myths of women’s fitness sits OK with you. I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking I’m full of it, but I’m not. I’m a powerlifter. I lift as heavy as my body will let me, and I still compete in the 105-pound and 97-pound weight classes. I’m also a former cardio junkie who has the blood work to prove how detrimental excess cardio can be. I really hope my trials and errors can help you achieve your goals. However, I can’t force you to believe me. I only hope I challenge you to make some changes for a few weeks and see what happens. If you don’t like the results, you can always go back to your old ways!

 About the Author

 Jennifer Petrosino is a member of Team elitefts™ and one of our most popular columnists. She is a former division I strength coach and currently perusing a physical therapy degree. She received her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of Miami (Florida) in 2012 while working as an intern strength coach with the football and track and field teams. Jennifer is also a competitive raw powerlifter in the 97- and 105-lb weight classes. She currently holds a top five squat at 205 lbs in the 97-lb weight class. She can be contacted at  jennympetro@aol.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Big T Again

Oliver making it look easy 

Just another article that states the obvious. There are no shortcuts to health and fitness and you can't fool Mother Nature. Testosterone certainly impacts the health and energy, especially of males. But it is much better to preserve the body's ability to produce it's own hormone levels than to introduce it artificially into the system. People will always look for short cuts and there will always be someone out there who is willing to sell them.  That is why the "fitness industry" in the United States is a 12 billion dollar a year industry, yet collectively our health is steadily declining. Stick with the basics. Have a sound, sane exercise program and eating habits. Good health doesn't come in a bottle or from a syringe.

(CNN) -- For thousands of years, explorers have been searching for the Fountain of Youth. Legend has it the elusive fountain contains a restorative source that brings endless vitality to those who drink from its pool.
No one knows what the source is, exactly. It's been called everything from the "water of life" to the "elixir of immortality."
These days, anti-aging specialists simply refer to it as "T."
You'd think T, or testosterone, was pure magic from its advertised results: increased energy, better mental concentration, less fat, more muscle, fewer sleepless nights and a higher sex drive. But experts say altering your body's natural hormone levels can be dangerous if not done properly.
As more FDA-approved products hit the market, the baby boomer generation is taking note. In 2011, consumers spent approximately $1.6 billion on prescription testosterone therapies, almost triple the amount spent in 2006, according to market research company IMS Health.
Dr. Harvey Bartnof is the founder of the California Longevity & Vitality Medical Institute. His practice focuses on age management medicine and hormone replacement therapies for both men and women. He says patients come to him to slow the aging process; they want to remain active and engaged as they grow older.
"We have medications that help people stay alive longer, but the quality of life declines," Bartnof says. "People would rather not go down the pathway of ... mom, dad if they don't have to."
'Viagra for the boardroom'
Testosterone is naturally produced primarily through a man's testes. (The hormone is also found in women, but that's another story.) The hormone helps regulate bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength, red blood cell production, sex drive and sperm production, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Bartnof compares it to oil in a machine -- while other systems make your body "go," hormones such as testosterone grease the wheels so they work smoothly.
The body's production of testosterone peaks in early adulthood and typically declines about 1% each year after age 30, according to the Mayo Clinic website. A low testosterone level is called hypoandrogenism.
Symptoms of hypoandrogenism include insomnia, fewer erections, reduced muscle strength, depression, trouble concentrating and hair loss.
In other words, getting old, John Freiburger quips. The 48-year-old financial planner first started feeling the effects of his age a few years ago.
As the founder of an Illinois wealth management firm, he was juggling multiple clients' portfolios a day. He found his concentration in meetings started to fade earlier, even when he made an effort to hit the gym more often and eat right.
"Being in the business that I'm in, you need to be on top of your game," Freiburger says. "For a lot of men, it's like, 'Oh yeah, I'm getting old.' I'm not very good at accepting that it's the way it needs to be."
Up until a few years ago, testosterone was mostly the choice of competitive body builders and professional athletes. Now, everyone from Wall Street executives to corporate office managers are taking what the media has dubbed "Viagra for the boardroom."
Testosterone replacement therapies come in many forms, according to Nelson Vergel, author of "Testosterone: A Man's Guide." The hormone can be injected into muscle, absorbed through the skin via a cream/gel, or released slowly through a small pellet that's inserted into the body. A doctor does regular blood tests to determine the correct dosage.
Freiburger saw results just two days after beginning his hormone therapy. First, his energy levels skyrocketed. Then he saw an increase in his concentration level at work. Soon after, his libido returned, and within a month he was losing weight and putting on muscle at the gym.
"I'm a better person. I'm a better wealth manager," he said. "(I) have the energy, vitality to go conquer the world."
No magic pill
You've likely read that there's no magic pill for perfect health. While direct-to-consumer marketing may make it seem otherwise, testosterone is no exception, Vergel says.
"I'm just amazed how many men start a hormone without doing research," he says. "It's a wonderful thing to start if you need it. It also has some side effects if not done properly."
The hormone will help you lose weight and build muscle, but not without proper exercise and nutrition. It will also improve your sex drive; what it won't do, Vergel says, is make you into a teenage Casanova.
A 2004 study showed nearly 20% of patients may not respond fully to testosterone therapies. And the benefits from testosterone can plateau anywhere from six weeks to one year into treatment.
One of the biggest things to be aware of is that most men never stop testosterone replacement therapy, says Dr. Gregory Broderick, a urologist with the Mayo Clinic.
Once you start, your body begins shutting down natural production of the hormone, thinking it's no longer needed, he explains. This can lead to "shrinkage" of the testicles and a suppression of sperm production.
Broderick says finding a qualified doctor is key. Anti-aging is a new field and most doctors are not trained in hormone therapy, so they learn as they go from pharmaceutical reps and the latest published research. Testosterone replacement therapies often fall to physicians who specialize in "boutique medicine."
Once you find a physician, he or she should screen for prostate cancer before starting treatment. While studies have shown testosterone replacement therapies do not increase the likelihood of developing the cancer, they can encourage tumor growth if a patient already has it.
Broderick recommends getting blood work done every three to four months after beginning testosterone therapy. Men taking testosterone have increased levels of red blood cells, which can lead to complications with circulation, depriving areas of the body of oxygen.
On average, testosterone replacement therapy costs less than $40 a month. But many baby boomers, such as Freiburger, are using it as part of a more expensive holistic approach to staying healthy into their senior years -- and they say it's worth the cost.

"I would like to have as much quality of life and be as vital as I can as long as the Lord's going to have me on this earth," Freiburger says. "I'm going to take the time and financial resources to try to make that a reality."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Memories of Bob Hise II and III

Bob Hise III with another great lifter of that era, Rick Holbrook

I first met Bob Hise II and III back in the 80's as my family and I participated in some of his AWA (American Weightlifting Association) meets.  Bob II was an American original. He was a long time coach and administrator in U.S Weightlifting when it was under the auspices of the AAU (American Athletic Union) whose practices were arcane and far reaching. He was finally black balled for punching John Terpak, a York Barbell Co. employee and legendary character as well. Well Bob just went ahead and started his own weight lifting organization (AWA), his own magazine, International Olympic Lifter, and his own barbell company, Mav-Rik Barbell. While his organization never really competed with the United States Weightlifting Federation that was born with the dissolution of the AAU, it did introduce the idea of allowing people of all ages to compete. The USWF only allowed those 12 years and older to compete and did not have a developed masters program for older lifters. Bob's AWA had both and his meets were fun. That is how we met. I would take my kids, who lifted as young as 4 years old, and I would lift myself, in my 40's and past my prime, but having fun doing it as a family. Bob like the fact that we did this as a family and also that we were of Native American descent. He claimed to be "part Cherokee" like so many other white people here in the U.S.A. lol Imagine my surprise when one day I received a long rectangular box in the mail from Mav-Rik Barbell. I opened it and found a "PeeWee bar" with a note that is was complimentary to his Native American brothers. These bars were developed ahead of their time, before others marketed such equipment for youth lifters. They were made of titanium, weighed 7.5 kg., and sold for around $600.00. What a gift! I used it well with my children and now it is ready for my grandchildren as they begin lifting. That was Bob II. His son, Bob III was a very talented lifter in his younger days. He got involved in the drug culture of the 60's early 70's and was in a serious car accident which left him with very limited use of his legs. He accompanied his father at the AWA meets and always sent me pictures that he took of my family lifting. He would also ask about Native American issues and was very curious and interesting to talk with. After Bob II passed away the AWA was carried on for a few years then eventually died. Mav-Rik Barbell also continued under new owners for awhile, but I haven't heard anything about them in years as well. It sounds from the reports below that Bob III is still a character and still living life on his own terms, even if it may seem strange to the rest of us "normal" people, whatever that means. The personal account was reported by Chris Dariotis, an old friend and current master lifter on another site.

On Saturday, November 10th I found Bob Hise III at his street camp on Eagle Rock Boulevard near the 7-11. I identified myself by the nickname he called me in 1968 (Dirty Hippy) and he immediately called out my name. 
We spent an hour on the street remembering the old times training at the LA YMCA under Papa Hise, our trip to York for the Senior Nationals in 1968, and many members of the weightlifting community, some of whom had passed. Bob definitely has not passed although he is broken from his car accident in 1988 and somewhat beaten by his 24 years living on the streets not to mention being shot in the face by a 45. 
His mind and memory are sharp, allbiet unconventional and he remains both friendly to the souls like him who are living on the street and combatative to anyone who wants to change him. 
We shared a beer, exchanged gifts, and parted with a hug. 
He was the coach who first taught me about how to move your body during the "weightless" portion of the lifts and how to believe that your body was capable of more than your mind believed at the time. He is living proof that his body is still capable of more. He still can offer weightlifting advice as he reviewed video of my lifts that day and told me that I should have started higher and with different positions. 
He talked about a book that he had been asked to write about lifting. It would be great if someone could get his unconventional knowledge down on paper to share.

An article appeared in the local paper awhile ago, followed later by an update:


Friday, November 9, 2012

You become what you do

Below is a short statement by Roger LaPointe, owner of Atomic Athetics, distributors of a lot of cool equipment.
I definitely agree with Roger, we become what we do. Of course that doesn;t have to mean that we are limited to doing only one thing. I feel sorry for people who are only lifters, or only anything else. But like Roger, I am a lifter and plan to always be one. Along with that I am a husband, father, grandfather, educator, coach and numerous other things as well.

You are what you do.

I have been telling that to people for decades.  I didn't realize how long I had been telling people that until I ran into my old training partner from my freshman year of college.  I hadn't seen him in almost twenty years and nearly the first thing he said to me is that he had just quoted me.  I couldn't believe it. 

Introducing me to the guy he was with, he said, “This is Roger.  He is a lifter.  When we trained together he would knock on my door and say, “Today is a good day to lift.” That  phrase applied to every day.”  Jeff looked to be in good shape and said that he used that as his training motto.

Jeff was right. 

Several years ago, I was at a business conference and the speaker was talking about sales methodology.  He said that in today's world, Americans define themselves by their possessions.  As business owners, we, in the audience, needed to take advantage of that belief.  I disagreed.  I still disagree. 

Jeff and I ran into each other outside of a book store, with the clothes on our backs.  If I lost all of my possessions I would still be a lifter.

Sure, some people are shallow souls who are defined  by their possessions.  Reality is that you are defined by what you do.  I have a supplier who is also a farmer.  He is always asking about the height of the corn, here in Ohio, or what is the price of milk.  He wants to know everything about our weather for the past week, because he is on the east coast and they will be getting some variation on our weather several days down the road.  Even though he deals in the fitness industry part time, he is a farmer.  The fitness stuff is a job, but he is a farmer.  His mind revolves around the issues of the farm and he thinks in terms of that farm.  The more you do something, the more that work defines who you are.

I am a lifter. 

You might be a car customizer, a lawyer or a painter.  Of course, you might also be a runner, a thrower or a patient of a physical therapist...  If you need to know about lifting, talk to a lifter.  Maybe you want to be strong and you like to lift things. 

I am a lifter... maybe you are as well?

Live strong,
Roger LaPointe 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More Wisdom from Jim Schmitz

Here is another short video from American Weightlifting Coach Jim Schmitz. He gives his experiences with training into adulthood. Again his ideas are based on both personal experience and training numerous athletes over a long period of time. No matter how well we take care of ourselves or how badly we want to improve or maintain our abilities, we will age and eventually deteriorate. The day will come when we now longer can throw over 60 meters or lift 200 kilos. That is when we really find out why we are training and decide if it is worth it to continue, even as our abilities slowly but surely erode. I agree with Coach Schmitz. Don't give up. Training itself becomes it's own reward. Enjoy the journey and adapt your training as you age. Less frequency and lower loads become the new reality, but training still enhances life. Below (at the bottom)  is a lengthy 2 hour plus seminar by Coach Schmitz for anyone who is interested....


Friday, November 2, 2012

Jim Schmitz on LIfting

Jim Schmitz is one of the treasures of American weightlifting. He has been coaching lifters as well as making a living in the fitness business for over 40 years now. While his notoriety and claim to fame is as a coach, he is also an international official and a competitive lifter himself. He served a term as president of the USA Weightlifting a decade or so ago. His gym is based in San Francisco, but he has traveled the world coaching and observing lifters. In my opinion, he is a voice of sanity when it comes to training. He has published several lifting manuals as well as several DVDs on training and technique. He still advocates 3 day a week programs for most lifters with reasonable training loads. He has probably coached more international level lifters and medalists than any other American coach and he developed most of them from beginning level up, although a few advanced lifters moved to the area to train with his team. Below is a great little video clip on lifting basics and also a link to a series of articles he has written on the IronMind website. It's all really good stuff on the basics of training.