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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some More Bench Pressing Fun

Just another day for Oliver. Warming up with 315......

Then on to 405......
No wonder he looks like he has four legs! Bench press is an effective upper body exercise when performed correctly without all the "gear" and hype. How often does Oliver bench? Seldom more than once a week. He also works hard on overhead strength and has a military press of 315, Push press of 160 kg and a Jerk off the rack with 200kg. THis is done training 3-4 times weekly for a little over and hour each session while working full-time, taking 6 hours of graduate school credits and being a husband and father to two boys. He proves you can lift well without revolving your life around lifting.

Friday, February 22, 2013

This is a Bench Press!

Oliver Whaley does 505 with close grip wearing nothing but a T-shirt!
All you bench shirted, doped up, wide grip to shorten the range of motion wannabes, take notes!
This is how real strong men do it.
Long live the Warriors!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Back-off Week


Even the world's best athletes need to back-off periodically.

Below is an article I saw on the Catalyst Athletics web site. They have some good stuff on there from time to time. I have been involved in training long enough to know the wisdom of what is being advocated here. For many years I would find myself in a cycle where I would train by constantly adding more volume while trying to increase the intensity every workout. Injury would inevitably result, so I would rehab and start the whole cycle over again.
Mike Gray writes a nice article on the benefits and challenges of scheduling in back-off weeks. Wisely used, these planned periods of lower volume and intensity prevent overuse injuries and allow for the CNS to regenerate and recover. Even though I know this, advocate it, and implement it with athletes I coach, I have trouble doing it myself. It is really hard to back off, even when I know it is smart. I guess that is why  it is good to have a coach, or at least an advisor who can be objective and honest. An old saying attributed to the Chinese is "He who would be his own physician has a fool for a patient" comes to mind. We could say "He who would be his own coach has a tough job." Be smart. Plan for adequate recovery. Get some outside feedback and opinions when necessary.

The Back-off Week


Mike Gray
February 18 2013

Also known as the de-load week, the back-off week is by far my least favorite week during a training cycle. Coincidentally, as I write this I am wrapping up one right now. If you would have asked me last week at this time I would have told you I couldn’t wait for the damn thing to start, but that was last week and I felt like hell because I thought my body was used as a human pry-bar for the last 3 weeks.

The back-off week is a funny little animal in that you know you need it, yet it can literally be one of the hardest weeks in your routine because it’s hard to get motivated for it. This is a typical day for me in my back off week.

Monday:

Snatch - 65%/2, 65%x2, 70%x2, 75%x1, (80%/1)3

Snatch Pull - (95%/2)2, 100%/2

Back Squat - 70%/3, 75%/3, (80%x2)3

Now looking at that one would think “how hard can that be?” and honestly it shouldn’t be, but that’s the point in a back-off week. Odds are its going to be hard because you need to back off. The week before that I was hitting doubles in the snatch @ 85+% for multiple sets, and yet a single at 80% this week feels like it’s welded to the platform. It’s a very hard thing to understand but this sport doesn’t allow you to hit PRs on a week to week basis for very long as many of you have already experienced. Your body can only take a beating for so long before you start to get diminishing returns on it. So as the old saying goes, you need to take step backwards to keep taking steps forwards.

I want to leave you with some tips and thoughts about the back off week to think about and/or implement in your own training.

1. Always plan your breaks or they will plan you, I can promise you that.

2. If you feel slow, beat up or sore as hell during your back off week then you timed it well.

3. You earned it, so enjoy the week, but it doesn’t mean you get to take it lightly. Warm ups and recovery need to adhered to as if it were a normal week.

4. Be brief, Be bold and Be gone. Meaning get in there get to business and get out. These weeks tend to be much shorter so use the time to catch up on other things in your personal life that might get pushed to the side in a normal training week. If you need to get married, I would use this week.

5. Don’t add to the program. By Thursday you should be feeling pretty good. Trust the program and finish the week out as it is written and just know that by Monday you will be feeling even better.

6. Stay out of the gym if you can. I just caught myself doing this a few minutes ago. Off day, yet I was walking by and just poked my head in to see what was going on and next thing I know I am messing around with some dumbbells. It’s time away and respect it for just that.

7. Clean out your gym bag and wash your knee sleeves. Yes, it’s you that has the awful-smelling sleeves, not the guy next to you.

8. If you are having a great 2-3 weeks of training and everything is flying and you feel unstoppable, that is the time to start thinking about your step backwards. It’s better to slow down (notice I didn’t say stop) on your terms than something else’s.

So in closing, remember that even Wolverine sleeps and that guy recovers from everything, so we as mortals should remember that even if we feel superhuman for a bit, recovery is a much-needed time in our training.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ryan Whiting

Ryan has been tearing up the Shot in Europe this indoor season. He also displays some innovative training methods.....
                          He is not bad using conventional methods either......
 

                        I really like his depth. Nice and deep. It seems to give results.....
 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weight Loss Myths?

My great grandfather was a sheriff who served the northwestern reservation area. He solved complex problems by keeping things simple.



Below is a pretty rational examination of a study that was publicized in many news releases over the past few weeks. The study basically said that nothing seemed to really work in weight loss except surgery and drugs. That, after all, is the basic premise of many medical doctors. Disease is the result of either too many organs, (let's remove some) or not enough drugs (let's prescribe some). Of course there are instances where surgery and drugs are lifesaving and beneficial, but it seems that our modern doctors often are chained to eliminating symptoms rather than treating the real causes of illness, obesity included. If all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, then every problem will look like a nail. As this article below point out, many of the common approaches are not effective. Not that the approach is wrong, but is often misapplied. School physical education is certainly important. But, as stated, is often not frequent or intense enough for beneficial results. Is it really that hard to lose weight? Outside of the rare metabolic disorder, it has been my experience that it really is quite simple, although not easy. It really is a  matter of burning more calories than you eat for a period of time. This means being hungry at times and being tired at times. If one is looking for a painless method of losing weight, then it becomes more complex. But if you are willing to suffer some discomfort for awhile, then the process is not all that complex. Keeping things simple brings better reuslts than trying to make problems seem overly complex.

(TheBlaze/AP) You might have heard that sex burns a lot of calories; that snacking or skipping breakfast is bad; and that school gym classes make a big difference in kids’ weight. But is this true?
Turns out all are myths or at least presumptions that might not be true, according to researchers who reviewed the science behind some widely he(TheBlaze/AP) You might have heard that sex burns a lot of calories; that snacking or skipping breakfast is bad; and that school gym classes make a big difference in kids’ weight. But is this true?

Turns out all are myths or at least presumptions that might not be true, according to researchers who reviewed the science behind some widely held obesity beliefs and found it lacking.

Their report in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine says dogma and fallacies are detracting from real solutions to the nation’s weight problems.

“The evidence is what matters,” and many feel-good ideas repeated by well-meaning health experts just don’t have it, said the lead author, David Allison, a biostatistician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The study abstract states:

We identified seven obesity-related myths concerning the effects of small sustained increases in energy intake or expenditure, establishment of realistic goals for weight loss, rapid weight loss, weight-loss readiness, physical-education classes, breast-feeding, and energy expended during sexual activity. We also identified six presumptions about the purported effects of regularly eating breakfast, early childhood experiences, eating fruits and vegetables, weight cycling, snacking, and the built (i.e., human-made) environment. Finally, we identified nine evidence-supported facts that are relevant for the formulation of sound public health, policy, or clinical recommendations.
Here are 7 of the myths or assumptions the authors cite, based on their review of the most rigorous studies on each topic:

Sex burns between 100 to 300 calories. Fact: The only study that scientifically measured the energy output found that sex lasted six minutes on average – “disappointing, isn’t it?” – and burned a mere 21 calories, about as much as walking, Allison said. That’s for a man. The study was done in 1984 and didn’t measure the women’s experience.
Small changes in diet or exercise lead to large, long-term weight changes. Fact: The body adapts to changes, so small steps to cut calories don’t have the same effect over time, studies suggest. At least one outside expert agrees with the authors that the “small changes” concept is based on an “oversimplified” 3,500-calorie rule, that adding or cutting that many calories alters weight by one pound.
School gym classes have a big impact on kids’ weight. Fact: Classes typically are not long, often or intense enough to make much difference.
Losing a lot of weight quickly is worse than losing a little slowly over the long term. Fact: Although many dieters regain weight, those who lose a lot to start with often end up at a lower weight than people who drop more modest amounts.
Snacking leads to weight gain. Fact: No high quality studies support that, the authors say.
Regularly eating breakfast helps prevent obesity. Fact: Two studies found no effect on weight and one suggested that the effect depended on whether people were used to skipping breakfast or not.
Setting overly ambitious goals leads to frustration and less weight loss. Fact: Some studies suggest people do better with high goals.
Some things may not have the strongest evidence for preventing obesity but are good for other reasons, such as breastfeeding and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, the authors write. And exercise helps prevent a host of health problems regardless of whether it helps a person shed weight.

Independent researchers say the authors have some valid points. But many of the report’s authors also have deep financial ties to food, beverage and weight-loss product makers – the disclosures take up half a page of fine print in the journal.

“It raises questions about what the purpose of this paper is” and whether it’s aimed at promoting drugs, meal replacement products and bariatric surgery as solutions, said Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition and food studies.

“The big issues in weight loss are how you change the food environment in order for people to make healthy choices,” such as limits on soda sizes and marketing junk food to children, she said. Some of the myths they cite are “straw men” issues, she said.

“I agree with most of the points” except the authors’ conclusions that meal replacement products and diet drugs work for battling obesity, said Dr. David Ludwig, a prominent obesity research with Boston Children’s Hospital who has no industry ties. Most weight-loss drugs sold over the last century had to be recalled because of serious side effects, so “there’s much more evidence of failure than success,” he said.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The Associated Press content of this report was published by AP’s chief medical writer Marilynn Marchione. ld obesity beliefs and found it lacking.
Their report in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine says dogma and fallacies are detracting from real solutions to the nation’s weight problems.
“The evidence is what matters,” and many feel-good ideas repeated by well-meaning health experts just don’t have it, said the lead author, David Allison, a biostatistician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The study abstract states:
We identified seven obesity-related myths concerning the effects of small sustained increases in energy intake or expenditure, establishment of realistic goals for weight loss, rapid weight loss, weight-loss readiness, physical-education classes, breast-feeding, and energy expended during sexual activity. We also identified six presumptions about the purported effects of regularly eating breakfast, early childhood experiences, eating fruits and vegetables, weight cycling, snacking, and the built (i.e., human-made) environment. Finally, we identified nine evidence-supported facts that are relevant for the formulation of sound public health, policy, or clinical recommendations.
Here are 7 of the myths or assumptions the authors cite, based on their review of the most rigorous studies on each topic:
  • Sex burns between 100 to 300 calories. Fact: The only study that scientifically measured the energy output found that sex lasted six minutes on average – “disappointing, isn’t it?” – and burned a mere 21 calories, about as much as walking, Allison said. That’s for a man. The study was done in 1984 and didn’t measure the women’s experience.
  • Small changes in diet or exercise lead to large, long-term weight changes. Fact: The body adapts to changes, so small steps to cut calories don’t have the same effect over time, studies suggest. At least one outside expert agrees with the authors that the “small changes” concept is based on an “oversimplified” 3,500-calorie rule, that adding or cutting that many calories alters weight by one pound.
  • School gym classes have a big impact on kids’ weight. Fact: Classes typically are not long, often or intense enough to make much difference.
  • Losing a lot of weight quickly is worse than losing a little slowly over the long term. Fact: Although many dieters regain weight, those who lose a lot to start with often end up at a lower weight than people who drop more modest amounts.
  • Snacking leads to weight gain. Fact: No high quality studies support that, the authors say.
  • Regularly eating breakfast helps prevent obesity. Fact: Two studies found no effect on weight and one suggested that the effect depended on whether people were used to skipping breakfast or not.
  • Setting overly ambitious goals leads to frustration and less weight loss. Fact: Some studies suggest people do better with high goals.
Some things may not have the strongest evidence for preventing obesity but are good for other reasons, such as breastfeeding and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, the authors write. And exercise helps prevent a host of health problems regardless of whether it helps a person shed weight.
Independent researchers say the authors have some valid points. But many of the report’s authors also have deep financial ties to food, beverage and weight-loss product makers – the disclosures take up half a page of fine print in the journal.
“It raises questions about what the purpose of this paper is” and whether it’s aimed at promoting drugs, meal replacement products and bariatric surgery as solutions, said Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition and food studies.
“The big issues in weight loss are how you change the food environment in order for people to make healthy choices,” such as limits on soda sizes and marketing junk food to children, she said. Some of the myths they cite are “straw men” issues, she said.
“I agree with most of the points” except the authors’ conclusions that meal replacement products and diet drugs work for battling obesity, said Dr. David Ludwig, a prominent obesity research with Boston Children’s Hospital who has no industry ties. Most weight-loss drugs sold over the last century had to be recalled because of serious side effects, so “there’s much more evidence of failure than success,” he said.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The Associated Press content of this report was published by AP’s chief medical writer Marilynn Marchione. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Deer Antler Magic?



It takes more than deer antlers!

Here in the U.S.A. we are just getting over the Super Bowl. It's an orgy of media hype and speculation. One of the goofiest side stories in a long time involved the claim that some players were using deer antler velvet. It began earlier in the week when a professional golfer admitted to using it. Below is an article that pretty much sums up the hype. Like most performance enhancing fads, this seems to have a kernel of truth that is missapplied to result in no benefits beyond the possible psycholigical placebo. There is always some opportunistic business man out there willing to feed our desires to find an edge. Best to stay on the path of hard work, sound nutrition, and persistence of the long haul. Short cuts never turn out well. Ask Lance.

In the week leading up to Super Bowl, a report surfaced alleging that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, along with a number of University of Alabama football players, had purchased a substance called deer antler velvet. Despite its peculiar name, deer antler velvet has long been on the NCAA and major professional league radars because of its inclusion of one ingredient: insulinlike growth factor-1, or IGF-1, a banned substance. So what is IGF-1, and how does it work?
Last week, Sports Illustrated reported that the 37-year-old Lewis purchased a spray form of the substance along with deer antler pills and other products from a company known as Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS) in October after he tore his right triceps. The same article reported that Alabama players purchased the deer antler products prior to playing Notre Dame in the National Championship in January.
"[Deer] antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet earth ... because of the high concentration of IGF-1," SWATS Co-Founder Christopher Key told Sports Illustrated. "We've been able to freeze dry that out, extract it, put it in a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds and then spray three [times] under your tongue ... This stuff has been around for almost 1,000 years."
IGF-1 is a hormone that naturally occurs in the liver and circulates in the blood. The body produces IGF-1 at normal levels in response to growth hormone. When growth hormone signals the need for IGF-1 for muscle growth or repair, the liver produces it, then it binds to muscle cells, which in turn multiply and grow.
Spyros Mezitis, MD, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told CBSNews.com that IGF-1 can aid in muscle growth and boost muscle strength in humans and that it also increases metabolism of carbohydrates, bringing more sugars to the cells that also help muscle growth.
According to Mezitis, some low growth hormone conditions, such as dwarfism, can be treated with injections of IGF-1. However, "we do not prescribe [IGF-1 ] on a basis for muscle building," Mezitis, who does not treat athletes, told CBSNews.com. He added that he was aware of a spray, but notes it is not as potent as the injection. If IGF-1 is abused, he said, people may experience more muscle strength and issues with aggressiveness.
Why is IGF-1 banned by so many organizations? IGF-1 is "just like giving someone human growth hormone," Don Catlin, the former head of UCLA's Olympic Analytical Lab, told The New York Times. "It goes to the same kinds of receptors and turns them on."
Martin Miner, MD, co-director of the Men's Health Center at Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., says that despite all this, he doesn't believe that when taken orally, IGF-1 can have much affect on a humans ability to heal or perform athletically.
"It's similar to human growth hormone, and there's very little research on HGH in men," Milner told Boston.com. "What we do know is that HGH needs to be injected to have any effects. The body can't absorb enough of the hormone by mouth since too much gets broken down by the liver during digestion.
"I just cannot believe that one could consume high enough quantities of IGF-1 from an oral spray that it would increase healing or enhance athletic ability," Miner added. "I think this product is pretty much a lot to do about nothing."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why Do Some Athletes Cheat?

Adam Nelson  shows that clean athletes can beat cheaters. It's a real shame that in his case, it comes 8 years after the fact!



Here is a great article I saw recently that addresses something that we have seen way too much of lately, although it is certainly not a new problem. It seems that it basically boils down to the source of an individual's sense of identity. If their sole identity comes from athletic performance, then they are likely going to do whatever it takes to maintain that image. Those who have more balance in their lives and treat athletics as something they do, not what they are, are less likely to be tempted to cheat. Work hard, play hard. Compete to win, but never forget that the greatest value is in the preparation to win and the ultimate victors are not determined by a single event. Life is a journey, enjoy it.


What kinds of pressures do athletes face today?

There are probably two ways to look at that pressure. In a lot of Olympic sports, performing at a certain level really might mean the difference between being able to continue [in that sport] or not.
You might have the physical capability to compete for another four years, but if you can’t get a contract and get money to support yourself and your family, you might have to move on. That financial pressure is really a huge part of it for a lot of athletes [who turn to banned substances].
The other pressure that can permeate any level is when athletes have their identity and sense of self really intimately intertwined with their athletic performance. And you see this even with a lot of high school kids; their identity in school is “the golfers.” Everyone knows that they golf, everyone knows that they do well and so there can be this huge, huge pressure on them because they don’t really have much in their lives in terms of how they evaluate themselves outside of their athletic performance.
There are some people who just go all out [with performance-enhancing drugs] right from the very beginning, but a lot of athletes start out kind of small. They feel that their identity is threatened or they feel like they need to do something to maintain that sponsorship or that money or that income, so they might make one small move or decision and another small one and another small one and eventually they find that they’re in way over their heads.
 ”They might make one small move or decision and another small one and another small one and eventually they find that they’re in way over their heads.”

What conversations have you had with athletes about the pressures to perform — and to use banned substances?
Usually, [it's the athletes talking] about the pressures and considering [the doping] option as a fleeting idea of what it would be like, as opposed to [actually doing it].
Most of the athletes, when they get to that point, have very few people who they’ll talk to. They try to keep it very positive, very secretive. Oftentimes athletes are pretty good at rationalizing. You know: “If everyone else is doing it, I’m not cheating; I’m not gaining an unfair advantage, just leveling the playing field.” So then there’s no need to discuss what they’re doing with anyone else and, really, they don’t want to discuss it because they don’t want anyone to shatter that little story that they’ve been telling themselves.
“Really, they don’t want to discuss it because they don’t want anyone to shatter that little story that they’ve been telling themselves.”
How do you help athletes cope with this kind of pressure to perform?

It’s a big challenge. A lot of sports psychologists will try to use some pretty simple techniques to help them not think about it, to put it off to the side.
There’s the very real truth that if someone doesn’t perform at a certain level, his or her career may be over prematurely. Athletes have to find a way to acknowledge that and be able to live with it.
Leading up to the Olympic trials, a lot of my work was talking to athletes about this very topic. My goal was to make them know that if they didn’t make the team, they were going to be down and depressed for two months instead of three years. The goal wasn’t for it to not hurt. If it didn’t hurt, they didn’t have a chance of making it.
“My goal was to make them know that if they didn’t make the team, they were going to be down and depressed for two months instead of three years.”
So, feeling some performance pressure is necessary?
The idea is to put that striving and identity as an athlete into perspective, not to get rid of that potential pain [of failure], but to get to a point where a person feels like he or she can handle it.
A lot of conversations with athletes going into the Olympics were about sense of self and identity. Who loves you? Why do they love you? Who are you as a person? What’s really important to you in life? How does your sense of self-worth fit into that, to not have sports be the only thing?
If you feel that people only like you because of how you perform or you feel that’s the only way you have value as a person, it’s going to make the pressure build and the competition feel way more important than it really is. It almost feels life-and-death — but at some level you know it’s not, which is confusing, and that’s really the gateway to considering a lot of the performance-enhancing drugs. It’s not only your performance on the line; your self is on the line.
The most important thing in our lives is who we are. So if someone decides something about himself is being threatened, he’s going to marshal a lot of resources to be able to protect that. That can lead to wonderfully powerful things in a positive sense or it can be pretty debilitating in a negative sense.
“It’s not only your performance on the line; your self is on the line.”
How pervasive is doping in the Olympics?

It’s still there. I just got back from a sports performance clinic with a lot of our future Olympic athletes and coaches and had a couple of conversations about how London was MUCH cleaner than any other world championship or olympic games in the past.
I think we’ve really turned the corner, maybe more so in track and field than in other sports, though I think universally, it’s much better. But it’s not completely clean. There are still countries and federations that only test [during that sport's] season. They tell their athletes ahead of time, “Oh, we’re going to test.” Then they only test for certain things.
It’s interesting how some of these athletes in other countries are pretty open about their drug use.
“I think we’ve really turned the corner.”
Anything else?
I think the biggest challenge as we’re developing young athletes is to make sure there’s some balance in their identity and in their lives, that they don’t grow up thinking of themselves only as athletes, and that people will only like them and appreciate them and admire them as athletes.
If we can keep some sanity in how we view sports at young ages, we’re much less likely to have children grow up into athletes who are eager and willing to do something like that.

-Steve Portenga joined the U.S. track and field team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as their lead psychologist. He helps elite athletes manage performance pressure.