Monday, April 28, 2014

Graduation Day

Riding the Cougar 2007-2014
 Last week was a great day in our family as daughter  Deezbaa graduated from Brigham Young University and had a very good track meet as well. Forgive me for getting a little sentimental. It is hard for me to believe everything that has happened since I first set foot on the BYU campus in 1974. I had never been there before and had no idea how much my life would change for the better. Now in 2014 I am seeing my fourth daughter graduate along with Oliver (BYU class of 2011) completing his M.P.A. program at Southern Utah University. Will we see some pictures of Oliver in graduation attire? Don't hold your breath!
With parents at the BYU  student athlete center.

With Coach Niklas Arrhenius, NCAA champion and Olympian.

In front of the missionary board at the student athlete center. Deez took two years off in the middle of her career to serve as a missionary in Arkansas.

Deez is on the prestigious All Time Top Ten board in Weight, Discus, and Hammer. Brother Oliver is on the board in Weight and Hammer, the only brother-sister team on the board and the only Rez kids.

Deez hit a Discus PR of  48.78 m or 160' on graduation weekend. Throwing her bodyweight.

Another look at the BYU Track Record Board in the Smith Fieldhouse.

In the BYU Weightroom where the foundation is built.

The BYU motto. We take that serious.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Some More Chinese Lifting

A couple videos of a great Chinese lifter competing and training through an injury. I love the Chinese equipment. Their designs are "out of the box" of the typical stuff we generally see. They also use more general "bodybuilding"than most and it shows in the physiques of their lifters. I don't have the expertise to comment any more than my own observations and I have never been to China, but these videos are interesting.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Is Exercise an Addiction?

Exercise brings a smile to your face!
It is certainly habit forming for anyone who enjoys feeling strong, healthy, and energetic!

The rumor: Exercise can become addictive -- just like drugs
You've probably heard of "runner's high" and "yoga bliss" -- feelings of euphoria that can come after periods of exercise. And maybe you've heard people talk about how they "have" to work out -- as though if they didn't exercise, they'd suffer severe physical or psychological repercussions.
But is exercise a potent enough "drug" that it can literally make a person an addict? Do some people really need to work out -- and will they suffer withdrawal symptoms if they don't?
The verdict: Exercise can be addictive for some people (but they're the exception)
Ask sports psychologists if exercise addiction is legitimate, and many will confirm that it is.
However, research suggests that so-called exercise addiction affects only a small subset of people -- those who push too hard and exercise when they're injured or exhausted, or to the point that it adversely affects their work and relationships.
So unless you're about to lose your job because of your gym habit (or are running marathons each morning despite having shin splints), you're probably not truly "addicted" to exercise.
People who exercise with fervor -- but responsibly -- aren't addicted; they're what sports scientists refer to as "committed exercisers."
According to Andy Martin, a personal trainer at the Aria Athletic Club and Spa in Vail, Colorado, many people feel guilty after missing workouts, or notice negative changes in their body (such as tighter muscles and joints) when they don't exercise. These people make exercise a priority, but don't suffer from an exercise addiction.
There are a number of reasons people get hooked on exercise in this healthy way. "Runner's high is an actual 'high' in the literal sense of the word," explains Martin.
"During and upon completion of an intense workout -- whether it be an endurance race or a high-intensity weightlifting session -- endorphins flood the brain and can induce an emotional response that can range from satisfaction to euphoria, depending on the intensity of the activity."
For some, group exercise in particular can provide social support, which is a big need for most people.
Of course, becoming "hooked" on exercise requires an understanding of the value that physical activity inherently holds, says Martin.
Some people want to go to the gym because they don't want to suffer from heart disease or stroke. Others show up regularly because they want to maintain their appearance (or have their pants fit after they splurge on dessert). Still others want to be sure they can keep up with their kids.
Whatever your reason for working out, as long as you aren't skipping important meetings to get in a run or doing one-armed push-ups because your other arm is in a sling from overuse, you're more likely to be addicted to your morning coffee than to your treadmill.

This article was originally published on upwave.com.
And makes life worth celebrating!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter

Just a reminder that it's much more than eggs and chocolate rabbits..............

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Understanding Sleep for Optimal Recovery & Productivity

Understanding Sleep for Optimal Recovery & Productivity, Travis Cooper, Image from http://www.alongside.me/human-improvement/human-improvement-mind/triphasic-sleep/

Here is a nice article from Catalyst Athletics on one of the most overlooked, yet important (and pleasant) aspects of training, Sleep!
We all know recovery is vital after the stress of training is applied. I like to teach that successful progress is a 3 sided triangular process.
1.Train smart and apply the right amount of stress.
2. Eat good food to supply your body with the materials that it needs to rebuild.
3. Rest and allow time to rebuild.
Rest does not merely mean backing off of training, but it means sufficient and quality sleep. This piece of the puzzle is the least discussed in my experience. Personally, I am one who spends a good deal of my life in a sleep deprived state and I know it. I joke about sleeping faster, getting more sleep in less time, but in reality I wish I could get more sleep time. Below are strategies to at least consider in making the most of whatever your situation is.

Sleep is the most important part of recovery when it comes to illness, depression, stress and especially training. In regards to weightlifting, without quality sleep, weightlifters cannot properly recover and reach their full potential. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about sleep and sleep cycles, so hopefully this article will clarify a few things so you will be able to get the most out of your sleep, which will result in optimal training.

As seen in the included graph, there are several different stages of sleep: Stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM. Most people seem to think that a typical sleep cycle consists of only one cycle through the stages. As you can see in the image above, the stages of sleep actually cycle throughout the night depending on the duration of asleep.

When you initially go to sleep, you soon dip into stage 1. Over the next hour, the body will go into deeper sleep until it reaches stage 4. As stage 4 ends, you will transition out of the deepest part of sleep and reverse back into the lighter stages until you hit REM. REM occurs about 2 hours after initially falling asleep. Some people think that REM sleep is the deepest period of sleep, but as you can see in the diagram, stage 4 is actually the deepest period of sleep and REM is the closest to being awake the body will be in the sleep cycle. While REM is where most of your dreaming takes place, it is actually the period of sleep where you are closest to being awake.

The body typically goes into stage 4 only two times in a full 8-hour sleep cycle. After two full cycles of stage 1-REM sleep, the body will cut out stage 4. After three cycles, the body will cut out stage 3. The body will continue to go through two cycles of stage 2 and REM before you awake naturally.

If you are not getting 8 hours of sleep per night, you are not completing the cycles of sleep and thus not optimizing your recovery. It is impossible to overcome sleep deprivation through any other recovery method. If something helps, the results are merely temporary. In an ideal world, 8 hours of sleep would be a regular occurrence and there would be no need for sleep studies and articles because everyone would be getting enough rest for recovery. In a fast-paced world filled with work, family and other obligations, sleep isn’t always a priority.

Most weightlifters in this country have things other than weightlifting in their lives, such as careers and families to support. They may work a typical 8am-5pm job, participate in family activities, and eventually train in the remaining hours left in the day. In most cases like this, a person is very unlikely to get in a full sleep cycle of 8 hours.

There are some things to take into consideration if you absolutely cannot get a full 8 hours of sleep per night. Often times we set our alarms to go off at the last possible moment so that we can wake up and still make it to work on time. It makes sense to us to do this. More sleep = better sleep, right? 5 hours and 35 minutes must be better than 5 hours and 5 minutes. In actuality, quantity of sleep may not be optimal for your sleep cycle and productivity if you are getting less than the full 8 recommended hours.

The least optimal period of sleep to wake up during is stage 4. Stage 4 is the deepest period of sleep and if you wake up out of stage 4, you are likely to be disoriented, groggy, and even have a headache. An example might be on a night where your house alarm goes off and you wake up out of a deep sleep with a headache and it takes a few minutes to figure out where you are and what’s happening. The pattern follows from least to most optimal to wake up is stage 4, 3, 2, 1, REM (stage 1 and REM being the most ideal stages during which to wake up). The deeper the period of sleep you are in when your alarm goes off, the more groggy, disoriented and less productive you will be that day.

When you wake up out of deep periods of sleep continuously, you are subconsciously telling your body that you no longer need deep periods of sleep. Sleep disorders are likely to occur because of this. If you are regularly able to wake up during the lighter periods of sleep, productivity is higher and you will find yourself much more alert and feeling well-rested throughout the day.

For instance, if you only had 5 total hours to sleep, it would be more ideal to wake up at the end of the REM cycle which should occur at only 4 hours 15 minutes than to wake up at any point between 4 hours 15 minutes and 5 hours since your body will be in a deeper stage of sleep in that final 45 minutes. Another thing to realize is that the first 4 hours of sleep is where most of the deep sleep happens. As the sleep cycle continues, you will spend less time in deeper periods of sleep and more time in REM sleep.

So, of what use is this information? This is a weightlifting website and this is an article about sleeping. My suggestion is that if you know you will not be getting a full 8 hours of sleep, you should utilize the sleep stage chart and set your alarm for a time that gives you a good chance to wake up in a lighter period of sleep, even if that means you will get less total sleep. You will find that you will feel more refreshed and be more productive. Training (and other aspects of your life) will go better if you wake up in the proper part of your sleep cycle.

Products are continuously being developed regarding this subject. Eventually, you will be able to purchase a product that allows you to set a time interval and it will know when during that time interval is most optimal to wake you up. These are called smart alarms or sleep cycle alarms. Until then, you have the most control over your sleep intervals. A simple sleep chart and proper planning may make the difference in how you train and recover to the best of your ability. Give it a try and the results may surprise you.

Sleep well, eat well, and train hard!

Travis Cooper is the 2013 National Champion and Pan Am Bronze Medalist in the 85kg weight class. He trains with and competes for team MDUSA.
Train hard, eat well, and sleep soundly.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homeostasis: The Basis of Training

Lift heavy and leave some energy for recovery.

Here is another article by American weightlifting coach, Bob Takano. A biology teacher by profession, he does an excellent job of explaining the process of adaptation. Hard work is vital, but just working hard is not enough. Success requires hard and smart work. Work is performed to stimulate an adaptation response. Too little and it will not force optimal adaptation. Too much leads to break down. A very simple concept, but can be complex in practice. Stressors are not only physical, but can be mental, and/or emotional as well. A good coach observes and adjusts on a daily basis.

Homeostasis: The Basis of Training
Bob Takano  |  Olympic Weightlifting  |  November 5 2013

Homeostasis: The Basis of Training, Bob Takano,
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about protoplasm. I think that periodically it helps to refresh our minds about the medium with which we coaches are working and so I’ve gone ahead and written down some thoughts about how protoplasm works with respect to training. These concepts are important for coaches, both new and veteran, to keep in mind as they go about restructuring and re-engineering the protoplasm of their athletes.

The concept of homeostasis is an absolutely vital one. To understand it is to understand how organisms can live in a wider range of environmental settings. It also provides the understanding for how an athlete can adapt to a an increasing stress load in the form of training stimuli.

As an example, let’s take the concept of stenothermy—the ability of an organism to survive in a very narrow ambient temperature range. This is most common in aquatic organisms since the variation in water temperature is not great within a large water body. Stenothermic fish, for example, live in streams within water bodies that have a very narrow temperature range, say a degree or two Celsius. If the water temperature varies more than that range, they do not have mechanisms to deal with it and die. The reason for this is that the development of physiological or behavioral mechanisms that would regulate the body temperature in response to environmental thermal changes requires energy expenditure, and protoplasm attempts to function at the lowest energy expenditure levels as possible.

On land the temperature varies considerably more than it does in the water. Hence terrestrial organisms have evolved adaptations that allow them to live in a wider variety of temperature ranges than many aquatic species. This, however, comes at an energy cost.

When an organism is in a situation where its physiology is functioning at optimal levels with the least amount of energy expenditure it is considered to be in a state of stasis.

A force, event, occurrence, molecule or whatever that disrupts that resting state (and subsequently causes more energy to be generated and used in order to regain stasis) is considered a stressor. If the stress brings about a favorable adaptational change in the physiology, it is considered to be a eu-stress. If the stress is so great that it brings about chronic illness and even death, it is then considered to be a dis-stress.

As an example, if an individual squats with a certain weight for a certain number of repetitions and sets on a regular basis, and even begins to add weight over time, the muscles will adapt by increasing in size, becoming stronger and the bones will restructure themselves to become stronger as well by incorporating more mineral salts into their matrices. This gradual increase in resistance and the subsequent adaptation of the tissues qualifies this training regimen as a eu-stress. If the same squatting regimen, is increased in weight and volume to the point where the individual cannot restore sufficiently from day to day and even suffers injury, illness and perhaps even death, then the squatting is considered a dis-stress. And obviously since in the modern world most humans are not selected for their capacity to withstand physical training, what is considered a eu-stress for one individual may in fact be a dis-stress for another.

As a coach you are charged with designing an appropriate eu-stress that will bring about changes in the structure and functionality of your athletes’ bodies. The proper stress combined with rest, appropriate nutrients, and the body’s secretion of hormones will cause your athletes to improve their performances over prolonged periods of time.

The theoretical goal for a coach is therefore to design training programs that will provide eu-stress, but not continue to the point of dis-stress. Internalizing this concept is one of the first steps a coach must take on a pathway that leads to a successful coaching career.

Originally published by Takano Athletics

The results of mismanaged stress.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Example of Developing Efficient Technique

Deez at recent practice session in the BYU Weight Room.

Below is a very recent video of Deezbaa Whaley, currently in the midst of her final season as a thrower at Brigham Young University. She is a great example of an athlete competing in a sport other than weightlifting (although she has competed in weightlifting in the past and will likely do so in the future) who has developed a safe and efficient lifting style as discussed in our previous post.
There is no reason for sloppy lifting form or using the "I am not training to be lifter" excuse.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sloppy Technique vs. Developing Technique

Clean sequence photos shows the bar brushing the upper thighs.

Below is another great article from Matt Foreman whom we have featured many times. He hits the nail on the head in this discussion of lifting technique.  "Perfect" technique is an elusive goal that even top flight lifters continually pursue. Athletes who do lifts like power cleans and power snatches are not going to have perfect technique either, of course. But the pursuit of developing better technique should be an ongoing process. Settling for sloppy technique is both dangerous and shortsighted.
At the bottom of this post are several Youtube clips of cleans and hang cleans, so common on the internet as Matt points out. The first one is labeled as "perfect form!" It certainly is better than many, but there is a glaring deficiency as lifter fails to bring the bar into his body. Granted he is certainly quite powerful and he does catch the bar with a solid rack. It is quite impressive what he is able to do, but how much more efficient he could be if he understood how to bring the bar in while getting his knees in front of the bar as illustrated above. The claim of "perfect form" shows that the coach in this case does not really understand solid clean technique or the myotatic stretch reflex.
The second video is more typical of the football mentality. The rack is poor and begs for wrist, elbow, shoulder, and low back problems. Shoulders are never over the bar during the pull and my pet peeve of claiming a 480 lb. lift when doing a much lighter weight for reps. This video alone proves that the whole concept of extrapolating a max single from reps is futile.
In the third video the key moment of the lift is partially blocked, but the lack of a good tight receiving position is obvious. The attempt to replace knowledge with cheerleading is also obvious. But, that is what many coaches think coaching is. Get fired up and just do it! Motivation is great, but first you have to know your rear end from a hole in the ground if you really want to get long range results and avoid injury.
Some bad technique flaws can cause immediate injury, such as a strained or broken wrist due to a poor rack. Other flaws such as catching a bar with a hyper-extended lumbar spine will cause disc deterioration that may not show up for awhile, but down the road when picking up a loose plate off the floor or unloading a bar the deteriorated disc will blow out and the poor athlete will say "All I did was bend over...."

You don’t do sloppy work at your job, do you?

If you’re an airplane mechanic, you don’t just spray some WD40 on a malfunctioning engine and then say, “That’s all I can do. I hope this sucker holds together.”

If you’re a paramedic, you don’t give an aspirin to a screaming car accident victim and then go sit down to have a sandwich.

If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you don’t lie on your couch and watch soap operas while your kids pee in the sink and fire a crossbow at the neighbor’s dog.

The answer to all of this is NO (I hope). So, having said that, why would you perform the Olympic lifts with sloppy technique?

The reason I’m asking this is because I see plenty of people in my YouTube travels who are doing snatches and clean and jerks like they have a death wish. I’m obviously not going to mention any specific names or organizations, but I have seen some technical displays that make it seem like these athletes made a special Christmas list where they begged Santa for SLAP tears, concussions, and hyper-extended elbows. These people are doing the Olympic lifts with dreadful technique, and they’re also loading up the bar with maximum weights. You can practically see the Grim Reaper floating in the background of the freaking video clips.

Now, make sure you understand that I’m not a snobby weightlifting elitist who dumps on the technique of every lifter I see. I think we should say that there is a difference between “sloppy technique” and “developing technique.” “Developing technique” is what you see with an athlete who is still in the learning progression. When you see these athletes, it’s obvious that they have either been taught by somebody competent or they’ve at least taught themselves with a solid level of discipline and precision. Most of the people I see who post their videos on the Catalyst Athletics forum and ask for help have developing technique. These people need a lot of fine-tuning, but they’re already doing some things right because they’re working really hard to perfect their skills.

“Sloppy technique” is a whole different ballgame. These cats are doing the Olympic lifts with all kinds of massive, freaky errors in their form. Enormous swinging arcs with the barbell, rounded backs, duck-walking all over the place, elbows ricocheting off the knees in the bottom of a clean, extreme pressouts on every lift, etc.. When you see these lifts, you know what I’m talking about. And as you might have guessed, almost all of these people are trying weights that are too heavy for them. Every failed attempt looks like it’s right on the tightrope of total disaster. They’re going too heavy, too fast, with not enough time spent on proper technique development.

If any of you who are reading this are sloppy technique people, make sure you understand that I’m not insulting you. No disrespect meant, but you need to be told that you’re doing these lifts the wrong way because you’re rolling the dice with your health and you’ll never lift really big weights if your technique sucks. Some of you big guys might be arguing with me right now by saying, “Bulls***! I’ve got sloppy technique and I can clean 300 pounds! That’s more than everybody in my gym!” Listen pal, there are 130 pound women in this world who can clean 300 pounds. Keep everything in perspective.

Many of you have less-than-perfect technique, but you’re looking for good coaching and you’re putting a lot of focus on your form. Allow me to express my gratitude to you. You’re doing the right thing because you’re trying to get better. And trust me, you’re the ones who are going to eventually come out on top in this sport.

For those of you who are using sloppy technique and not really making much of an effort to fix it, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.       

Matt Foreman is the football and track & field coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix, AZ. A competitive weightliter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He was also First Team All-Region high school football player, lettered in high school wrestling and track, a high school national powerlifting champion, and a Scottish Highland Games competitor. Foreman has coached multiple regional, state, and national champions in track & field, powerlifting, and weightlifting, and was an assistant coach on 5A Arizona state runner-up football and track teams.