Friday, May 31, 2013

Finding a Way

Orrin Whaley doing a human flag on a Navajo Trail sign in Florida. He stays in shape while serving as a missionary fulltime.
A rustic outdoor gym in the Ukraine.

I love training under adverse circumstances. As I write this I am going on day 11 of sleeping on the floor of a hospital room while my wife suffers through a recovery from an emergency surgery that was done done to clean up the mess of an earlier failed surgery. My daughter and I are trading off so that she has someone here 24/7. Since the hospital is nearly 3 hours from our home, we have to adapt and improvise in all aspects of our lives, training included. Exercise is a privilege that we are grateful for and brings some order to our lives as well as relieving stress. You can accomplish a lot in a short time and with creativity much can be done with  little or no equipment. We have some bands, a small kettle bell, and a lot of rocks in the surrounding environment.
In my opinion a workout should be composed of some sort of leg bending, which could be squats with one or two legs, high reps and or jumping included, lunges in various forms, and stair work. Another staple is overhead pressing with bands or bodyweight (handstand pressing), pullups, horizontal pushing (pushups),  and some sort of rowing. Explosiveness or pulling power can be exercised with overhead rock or log  throws, band pulls or pull throughs. Of course ab work of various forms is easy to do almost anywhere.
This is not new. We know the story of Milo and the calf. We know that our modern day Strongman events are patterned after tasks that laborers used to perform and challenge each other with. Stone lifting has been a means of building strength and testing manhood for centuries around the world from Europe to the Orient and even the Pacific Islands. Paul Anderson, Bob Peoples, and Joe Dube, and other great lifters of the past loved to train outside with homemade and creative equipement and methods. It's great to have nice gym with good equipment. It's great to have a consistent schedule. But training is still possible, beneficial, and enjoyable even (and especially) under adverse conditions.

There is always a way if it is important enough.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Brute Strength Challenge 2013

Oliver Whaley shows some Warrior Strength and dominates the day....

800 Lbs. Super Yoke 50ft
325 Lbs. per hand Farmers walk 50 ft.
36 Seconds

Dead Lift max reps complete lockout no bounce!!(boing!)
605 lb. X 8

Log Press
Max Reps 1 min.
300 lbs. X 3 reps.

Atlas Stones over 48" bar
 335 lbs. X 3

With friend Daye Halling and Wife,  Katie and Chayton.

With son Chayton.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

BIG 10 ADs focused on game-day upgrades

Football alone is not exciting enough anymore. We want football "on steroids"!

Weightlifting is not the only sport that is looking for increased interest. A few weeks ago we had a post about how the numbers of youth participating in American football has been dropping. According to the article below, spectator interest is waning as well. If this was because so many kids were busy and active doing other things, then that would be good news. Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be the cause. In this age of super high tech mega digital multi-media entertainment, it's hard to get the upcoming generation to even pay attention, let alone sweat.  It seems that kids not only would rather vicariously experience competition, just watching athletes perform is not enough anymore. It needs to be on large screens, with replays, close-ups, food and drink, and in a comfortable environment as well. Over the years I have observed that keeping student's attention is harder and harder. The idea of learning or even just being entertained by listening or watching for extended periods of time seems to be obsolete in many cases. In order to keep their interest you have to present information in short, loud, and colorful bites. It's like a fast food attitude, we want to be able to grab something right now without wasting time in preparation or consumption. Pull up to the speaker, place your order, pull around the corner and pick it up, then eat it on the run. Some don't even want to sit for a couple of hours to see a game, they only want to see the highlights and know who scored the most points. Tune into ESPN after the game and get the story in 30 second sound bites. It sounds like the athletic directors are now faced with the task of packing a lot of other enticing entertainment into the game day experience so that they can sell enough tickets to justify their huge stadiums and fund their bloated programs while still having enough left over to fund some non revenue real athletes as well. It seems even a winning team is not enough to sell tickets anymore.

BIG 10 ADs focused on game-day upgrades
By Adam Rittenberg

CHICAGO -- The Big Ten is steeped in history and tradition, but the conference needs something more to connect with the target audience of football recruits and regular students.
It needs to be cooler, especially on game days. And whether it's perception or reality, many don't view Big Ten football as very cool at the moment. Legends and Leaders certainly didn't help. Neither does the continued absence of November night games. The league still boasts amazing venues and plenty of pageantry, and programs have seemed more open to new marketing tactics, whether it's alternate jerseys (hated by some traditionalist fans, incredibly popular with recruits) or more prime-time games.
But something is lacking. Coaches, such as Ohio State's Urban Meyer, have noticed it. So have Big Ten athletic directors.
Whether it's more night games, night games in November, larger scoreboards, better Wi-Fi service, stronger acoustics or broader concessions, the Big Ten has to do more.
"Part of that is to make the league be perceived in reality what it is, and that's a little bit more hip, a little bit more cool," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told ESPN.com. "I have three kids that are age 14, 18 and 20, and they're a great resource for me to bounce ideas off from a Michigan State perspective. But I think we need to take that as a league a little bit as well.
"It's not your grandfather's conference any more. There's so much greatness and so much tradition that needs to be continued and talked about, but also try to add a little unique freshness that's unique to young kids."
Even Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, the Big Ten's newest football arena, isn't the gem planners intended when students don't show up.
Hollis is one of the most innovative athletic directors in the country, masterminding events such as outdoor hockey at Spartan Stadium and a basketball game on an aircraft carrier. Last winter, he proposed playing four simultaneous basketball games at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Veterans Day.
And yet even Hollis has seen recent examples of young people tuning out on game day, such as last fall when Michigan State hosted Iowa on a dreary day in East Lansing.
"One of our biggest no-show rates in football was the Iowa game," Hollis said. "And I'd go out and walk the streets and start talking to kids, 'Why didn't you go?' And they said, 'We couldn't text because it was raining.' They couldn't have their phones out.
"That kind of hit me pretty hard."
Michigan State put in new massive video scoreboards at Spartan Stadium last year, but Hollis knows he needs to do more. Part of a $20 million renovation to the stadium will include some new restrooms and concession stands at the north end of the stadium. The addition also will include a recruiting room.
"We need to make sure we continue to deliver in our venues what's being delivered, and then some, on television," Hollis said. "What's that going to look like? A more comfortable place. It shouldn't be a hassle. … We're putting in more bathrooms, we're looking at a $2 million Wi-Fi system that allows more interaction. We're going to have to deliver wider seats, more comfortable seats. It's making our concession stands more presentable."
Student attendance for early kickoffs has been a problem at places such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Michigan AD Dave Brandon this week called student turnout "unacceptable," and coach Brady Hoke is offering free doughnuts to all students who show up before noon kickoffs this fall.
Minnesota has the Big Ten's newest stadium but still struggles to get students to show up in droves.
"They're the centerpiece of the fan experience," Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague told ESPN.com, "so getting them there changes everything that goes on. We're a new stadium, so we have an unbelievable video board. A lot of the problems that plague other stadiums, we don't have. Our [public-address system] is perfect.
"We've got to do more and more, but our top priority right now is student attendance."
Teague had a group from Minnesota's Carlson School of Management study student attendance at the school. They found that students want a gathering place before games, so the school is providing an entire parking lot near the stadium, Teague said, which will be monitored.
The recruiting component also can't be ignored.
While many interpreted Meyer's post-signing day comments to a Columbus radio station as a direct shot at the recruiting efforts of other Big Ten programs, his fellow league coaches viewed it more as a call to upgrade the game-day experience during the fall.
"It was more, how can we continue to further our brand? How can we make our in-game experiences improve? How can we make our pregame experiences improve?" Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said after the coaches met in February. "All those things in the vein for our fans, the game-day experience of Big Ten arenas and for recruiting."
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass has made football game days a priority since his arrival, adding more night games, a kids' area in the south end of the stadium and other features. Attendance is on the rise, but Glass is still seeking ways to make upgrades.
He turned down Adidas' offer of new uniforms for IU's men's basketball team in the NCAA tournament, but would be more open to a wardrobe shakeup for the football squad. "More highlights, more scores, more fun, coloring outside the lines a little bit," Glass said. "We'll play to our strengths -- the band, the
cheerleaders, the pageantry of college football, flags and color, engagement of students -- and spent a lot of time really trying to enhance that. That's not only a great thing for our fan experience, it translates into the cool factor for recruits who come in."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is Weightilfting Dying?

Weightlifters love the sport, but does anyone else?

While in many ways more people than ever are learning about the Snatch and Clean and Jerk and their variations, the actual sport of Weightlifting seems to be dying. It has never had more than a cult following here in the United States, and now it sounds like world wide interest and support is waning. Below is an article by Randall Strossen, owner of Ironmind Enterprises, who probably has as good a handle on the health of weightlifting around the world as anyone. As he points out, Crossfit gyms and strength and conditioning programs are using the lifts and their variations more than ever before, yet the sport itself seems to shoot itself in the foot with corruption and lack of imagination in marketing and promotion of the sport. While more and athletes are understanding and using the lifts to develop strength and power, fewer and fewer are actually pursuing or supporting the sport itself.  Ironically a few days after this article appeared, Tomas Ajan was re-elected so we can only look forward to more of the same. It is a real shame as weightlifting is a great sport, but it has had so many continuing drug issues that it has little credibility with the general public and the powers that be would rather present the image of reforming the sport than make real changes in testing and enforcement. It's especially sad because weightlifting at it's best is exciting and personifies pure athletic power. Meet promoters must make competitions more spectator friendly by using music, multi-media,  good announcers who keep the crowds informed on the amount of weight and the places....etc., and venues with good seating. Most local meets (and many larger meets) lack all of the above. Most lifters are focused on their lifting and most meet directors are also coaching and mainly focused on their lifters. It makes weightlifting a kind of small and inbred group who meet one anothers needs. No one is really promoting the sport to appeal to those outside of the small lifting community. It can't continue on the same path much longer.

IWF Elections: Calling for a New Course

by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D. | ©2013 IronMind

With the IWF elections drawing near, most of the discussion is about a change in leadership—whether citing lengthy reports, accounts in the press or personal anecdotes, plenty of serious questions have been raised about unreported funds, massive cash transactions and curious patterns in the sport’s doping control procedures.  

A lifter like Ilya Ilyin can’t help but inspire with his performances—he is fully capable of generating excitement far beyond the inner circle of the sport.  It is time for weightlifting to cast off its blinders, quit doing business as usual and enter the 21st century.  IronMind® | Randall J. Strossen photo.
Certainly, there is good reason to consider a substantial overhaul in terms of how the sport of weightlifting conducts business because if it were a business, it most likely already would have declared bankruptcy and some of its leaders been deposed, if not brought to trial.
Serious stuff, but let’s leave those matters to others and dwell on something that while lacking the tabloid element is an even more serious indication that things have gone seriously wrong in the sport and whoever captains the ship in the future needs to have a much different sense of where he is headed.
In short, the sport of weightlifting is dying, a relic of the last century, mired in an approach spawned in the Cold War era and one that takes its operating cues from a socialist approach to sport, rather than one based on the open market reality of the 21st century. 
So, power is consolidated in the hands of a few, who rule imperially, and rather than building a sustainable enterprise that can thrive without limit in the market, we have an approach that limps along via government grants, payments for drug fines, and marking up the hotel rooms that the competitors and officials participating in major championships are required to stay in—all the while turning those contests into bloated week-long affairs aimed more at building quantity (think hotel revenue and entry fees) than quality. 
Been to a major weightlifting championships lately?  See any real spectators?  How about the sponsors?  Or the kids clamoring to get into the sport?
Instead, you’re in a large hall with the bottom third dominated by the stage and the many handfuls of officials who oversee lifting that takes place in what is virtually an empty arena—the only people in the stands are coaches, athletes and significant others.
Of course, there are exceptions, as we have seen with Pyrros Dimas in Greece or Naim Suleymanoglu in Turkey or, more broadly, for the 2011 World Championships in Paris, but generally speaking, the sport exists in a social vacuum.  Why?
Is it that strength is not recognized or appreciated?  Or that the snatch and clean and jerk are too obscure?
This is hardly the case because TWI was smart enough to launch a TV show, created by Barry Frank, called the World’s Strongest Man in 1977.  It has a huge global viewership and continues through all these years—a fabulous success by any television standard.  The world’s strongest man?  Sounds like the birthright of weightlifting to me, so who was in command when a TV show waltzed away with this title?  Would the CEO turn a blind eye and escape pointed questions from his board and his shareholders if the formula for Coca-Cola were stolen on his watch?
And as for the lifts themselves, consider that CrossFit, which began in a garage about a decade ago, is now a business worth in the range of US$50,000,000 and it’s projected to possibly grow tenfold.  Guess what’s among its core movements?  The snatch and the clean and jerk.  In fact, ask people who are doing these lifts what they are doing and they’re likely to say, “CrossFit.”
Speaking with my Eurosport colleague David Goldstrom, who heads a company called Televison in Europe and first came to weightlifting in 1995, he mentioned that Eurosport alone had approximately 31,000,000 viewers during this year’s Senior European Weightlifting Championships in Tirana, Albania, which he called “very good viewing” and said “there might be another 10,000,000 from the other countries.”
Goldstrom sees this as a clear indication of the sport’s untapped potential: “There is so much more we could be doing.  The sport is fast moving, it has a strong climax . . . everyone understands strength,” he said.
Cutting to the chase, I asked Goldstrom to grade the sport (giving it anything from an A to an F) in terms of making the public aware of and appreciative of it. 
“C is as far as I could go,” he said.  And in terms of capitalizing on its assets, Goldstrom gave the sport “a definite F.”
Goldstrom, incidentally, was quick to praise the organizers of the 2011 European Weightlifting Championships in Kazan, Russia for having done an unusually good job in terms of things like staging and facility management, and the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships in Paris, France for presenting a theater-like stage and for attracting a  bigger audience than could be accommodated within the hall, day after day. 
I would second those and add that what Antonio Urso and David Goldstrom brought to the 2008 Senior European Weightlifting Championships (Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy) deserves special mention for what I called “Best Staging, Best Lighting . . . The New Look of Weightlifting” (MILO, September 2008, Vol. 16, No. 2, p. 25).
Incidentally, while it’s easy to cast the marketing failures of the sport in ideological terms, there is no requirement that success must come in the form of a Harvard MBA or a shirtsleeves California entrepreneur:  My first serious discussion about how weightlifting needed to do a better job of promoting itself was with the Chinese coach Xiong Han Yang, and it was president of the Chinese Weightlifting Association, Ma Wenguang, who kindly agreed to send his 2004 Olympic gold medalists Shi Zhiyong and Zhang Guozheng and coach Chen Wen Bin to the USA for an exhibition IronMind had organized at the 2005 Arnold Sports Festival, in what was the first time weightlifting was featured on the main exposition hall stage.
Whether it’s finances or drugs, the rules of the the business must be followed or sanctions should be expected.  It’s also the case that businesses that do not adapt to meet the demands of the marketplace will go the way of the dinosaur and the buggy whip. 
It’s time for weightlifting to clean up its act and get with the times: out with the old and in with the new.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weightlifting Motivation

A little motivation for the new week. If these don't get your blood pumping, you had better see a doctor, or a funeral director.......

Monday, May 13, 2013

An Opinion on Supplements

The real unretouched truth.........

The article below reflects my experience with supplements. I take a multivitamin-mineral tablet along with some fish oil and that's about it. When I was younger and wanting to gain weight, I found protein supplements to be helpful as well. But nothing beats good food. In general, as the article states, the cost to benefit ratio with supplements is just not there. Nothing can compensate for lack of a disciplined diet and smart and consistent training.

“Fitness or Fiction: The Truth About Diet and Exercise”
by Brent Brookbush MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS
Purchase your copy at Amazon.com; available in paperbacke-book, or for rent withAmazon Prime
Myth #18: Most supplements are effective, I should trust my local supplement dealer.
What You Should Know: Writing this section of the book has changed my view of supplementation from skepticism to utter dismay.  There is no doubt in my mind that the supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar, bull-shit industry, with few exceptions!
So as a general rule, I steer far clear of supplementation.  But, I seem to be the exception rather than the rule.  Supplements are more popular than ever, and even high school athletes are hooked50, 143.
What’s Wrong with Supplementation
1 Because they are marketed as a food item they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means no one is policing their effectiveness, purity, claims, or potential for risk.
2 There is a general lack of unbiased third party research to support any claims made by supplement manufacturers.  Most “research studies” seen in magazines and advertisements are done by the company who manufacture the product and are inherently biased. Further, case studies, including the testimonials of individuals, represents the weakest form of research.
3 Those supplements that are effective are generally far too expensive for the small effect they have on your performance.  (Ex. $700 – $1000 a year for a product that may increase your performance by less than 1 percent.)  Personal training and education on program design strategies give you far more bang for your buck.  HMB is a great example of a product that has some effectiveness, but in the amount that has been proven effective is way too expensive for the average consumer.
4 Most supplements are so new that long term studies are not possible.  There are many supplements on the market that are so new that research has yet to be done, and long-term effects cannot be investigated.  These products may hold the key to untapped levels of performance, or they may have terrible long-term side-effects.  Supplementation must be weighed on the basis of risk versus reward. Unless you are performing at the highest levels of competition and rely on athletic performance to pay your bills, it is hard to justify the risk and expense of supplementation, and at the highest level of competition many of these substances are banned anyway.
5 Many supplements have potentially harmful side effects when combined with other medications or certain food products. (example: ephedrine and beta blockers).  The Anne Marie Capati vs. Crunch Gyms case is a tragic example. At 37 years old, Anne Marie Capati had a stroke during a training session.  It is believed that a reaction between her hypertension medication and the supplement Thermadrine (containing ephedrine) is to blame.
6 Many manufacturers overstate claim, or generalize the effects of their product to include markets that will receive little benefit.  An example of generalization:  Gatorade is an extremely effective performance enhancer for intense endurance events lasting longer than an hour, and is effective as a recovery aid post exhausting intense exercise.  Some of their advertising infers that Gatorade will enhance the performance of any activity, including pool, golf, and weight lifting.  Although Gatorade is a great product, it will not enhance the performance of short duration events and lighter activity.
7 Supplements should be just that, supplements to a healthy diet.  They should not be used to replace real food and good nutritional practices.  If you eat garbage most of the time it is unlikely one drink, bar, or powder, is going to improve your performance.  Improving your eating habits should precede any supplement considerations.  A good diet is your foundation for better health, weight loss, and/or performance, supplements are minor details in comparison.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Pick Up Girls at the Gym

A little humor is always a good thing. One of my students showed me this, even the girls in the class thought it was funny.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Coaching in the United States of America in 2013

Personally, I prefer not to use physical activities as punishment, for reasons I explained in earlier posts. The long range effect of such coaching is to develop an aversion to exercise. My personal feelings about that aside, this situation is a sad one. Here in the USA teachers and coaches are under attack for the low performance of their students, yet when any effort is made to really challenge them, parents protest and work to get them fired. Administrators are spineless and cave in to the parents. Scholastic coaches have no support. This particular incident is definitely a border line issue. Personally I would not have done what these coaches did.  But really, the hands on the video seem more dirty than injured. The blisters are not any worse than the scrapes that come from chopping wood, digging with a shovel, or falling on the track with your hands out. Parents are more concerned about protecting their children from any consequences than they are about their commitment to the team and individual excellence. It sounds like the kids chose to take a day off from practice to do something that they could have likely done on their own. It seems as though the majority of the team did just that and were at practice and likely at the prom as well. Parents today want excellence without commitment. They want freedom to choose, not only their actions, but the consequences. We are certainly free to make our own choices, but we also must take responsibility for the consequences that follow. The local reporters make it seem like cruel and unusual punishment. Where were they 40 years ago when my high school coaches dragged us behind their cars around a cinder track in early attempts at overspeed training? We spent hours cleaning the cinders out after we wiped out, and this didn't happen infrequently either. We were subjected to practices in full equipment in the hot sun, no water breaks, (to toughen us up) and getting slapped around when we missed assignments. Oprah and Dr. Phil would have field day interviewing us. Somehow we survived and actually feel that life is supposed to be hard sometimes. We actually came to believe that when you screw up, you take responsibility. Here in the USA in 2013, coaches are at the mercy of the kids and their parents. Offend one and you lose your job.

Four track coaches have been placed on administrative leave and asked to resign from coaching after some of their athletes were hurt during practice.
A parent, who didn’t want to be identified, said a handful of Cascade High School students were forced to do bear crawls on their track during Wednesday’s practice as punishment for missing a practice last week.The practice they missed was scheduled the day before prom. The father we spoke with said his son missed practice because he needed to pick up his tux.
A bear crawl is an athletic move where a person places their hands and feet on the ground and crawls. Their knees never touch the ground.
“I don’t know what they were thinking. I’ve been a coach and I’ve done athletics and I understand there needs to be a consequence when you miss practice. And you know, if you want to do the bear crawls, you can do 600 yards as far as I’m concerned on grass, but not on a tar track when it’s 80 degrees outside,” he said.
The father was told some students had to do more laps around the track than others.
“Apparently one coach made the decision to do it and all four coaches talked about it and it was agreed upon that that’s what they would do,” he said.
His son was taken to the ER after practice. He suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns on his hands after being forced to go around the track twice.
“I think (in) this situation, people weren’t thinking well. People make mistakes, but they sure need to live up to their mistakes,” he said.
The father of the track athlete would like to speak with the coaches.
“I just hope that these coaches will see that there’s a line there when it comes to your authority over these students. (I hope the students) will see that, you know, if you think something is wrong, if you think you are being asked to do something that isn’t right then don’t so it,” he said.
Another parent, whose child runs for the track team, said she was surprised and angry about the punishment.
“I send my kid to school to be protected and they did this. It’s not right,” Tammy Rulfs said.
Rulfs said her daughter’s hands hurt.
“I want to see the coaches have to do what the children did,” Rulfs said.
Mill Creek Community School Corporation officials met with track parents on Thursday afternoon. Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Jill Jay said they are investigating the incident. In a statement she said:
“Last night we became aware of an incident involving the boys’ and girls’ high school track team and inappropriate conduct by the team coaches. We immediately began an investigation and interviewed those involved. In addition, our office contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services. We sincerely apologize to the parents and assure them we do not condone, nor will we tolerate this type of behavior from our school employees. We have requested that all four coaches resign from their coaching positions and they have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Life of a Chinese Weightlifter, Zhang Guozheng

This video takes 25 minutes to watch, but is a fascinating look at the life of a Chinese weightlifter and gives insight into what it takes to compete at a world class level. Also what life is like for an athlete in a communist regime.