Monday, June 30, 2014

Apache Crown Dancers

The ideal image of an Apache Crown Dancer

This past weekend we had our annual community celebration in Monument Valley. It is always a great time for the community to get together and celebrate. It has been a long dry spell and it has made life even harder than it usually is, but Native people enjoy getting together and that is cause enough for celebration. One of the activities was mud volleyball. Not traditional, but fun. A tractor dug out the hole and water was hauled in.

We make our own fun.
Singing and dancing are always part of a celebration along with eating (Mutton and Frybread), of course. One of popular performers around the Rez is Joe Tohonnie Jr. and the Apache Crown Dancers. As with all Native singing and dancing, there is a spiritual aspect. The Navajo and Apache are actually "cousins" as both are considered Athabaskan tribes and share a very similar language and history. Joe, himself, reflects this as he is half Apache and half Navajo. He has one of the most powerful voices I have ever heard. You have to understand Native culture to really appreciate Native singing, but Joe's powerful voice can be appreciated by anyone. It is more powerful in person than can be captured on a recording. Here is a video of him performing at another event.

Here is an explanation of the significance of the Crown Dancers...
The Apache (and Navajo) believe that there was once a time when their ancestors lived alongside with supernatural beings. The common belief, even today, is that there are spirits that live within certain mountains and underground realms. Part of the Apache creation story incorporates the belief that they are the blood relatives of the mountains, trees, rocks, and the wind. One of the most important and integral pieces to the beliefs of the Apache is a holy being sometimes referred to as White-Painted Woman, but she also is known as Changing Woman or White Shell Woman. In the beginning, she originally gave birth to two sons, Killer-of-Enemies and Child Born-of-Water and they were said to have ridden the world of evil by killing the evil incarnate monsters, thus making the world safe for the Apache people to live. So, these Mountain Spirit Dancers reflect that story by ensuring the well-being of the people to protect them from not just their enemies, but epidemic diseases as well. The Devil Dancers or Crown Dancers are not considered to be supernatural beings themselves, but simply posses the "special ability" of summoning these mountain spirits. They are a link between the supernatural and natural worlds and they often reflect this in a contradictory fashion. Part of their power is expressed as a "paradox of life". In many Native American cultures, this notion of chaos and disorder is personified as the "trickster", a destructive and simultaneously creative force. In Apache tribes, he is a boy amongst men, in some circles called Libaye, the ritual of "clowning" embodies the Apache beliefs underlying power.
My wife and I attended with all five of our grandaughters (we also have 11 grandsons). The littlest one, Naanibaa wanted to dance and so I took her out to participate. Joe saw her desire and it touched him so that he stopped and presented her with one of his feathers, a real honor.
Being called out.
Naanibaa getting a feather from Joe Tohonnie Jr.

I really appreciate the Crown Dancers and their efforts to keep alive some of the Warrior spirit. I just wish I could get them into the weight room to  recapture the ideal warrior appearance as pictured above. I have always considered it a privilege to live here and if I can make a contribution to preserving the physical warrior traits, I would be honored. I am so proud of the many young warriors who have passed through our program and are learning to take responsibility for their physical well-being.

Another composite photo created by our friend, Harry Nez.
Ahehee'  Harry.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Another Great Example of Training in a Balanced Life

Mother of six is a weight-lifting and fitness champ
Doing some training.

I love stories about people who continue to make progress and rise above the norm while still balancing a full and normal life. Below is a recent article from Utah (USA) about a woman who is doing just that.

SALT LAKE CITY — Being the mother of six kids, ages 3-15, the responsiblities are endless. Making time for yourself seems like an impossiblity for most parents, but Darcie Warren has found the time to become a CrossFit champion.

Warren started exercising after her first child was born and realized she had caught a bug. The perfect combination of Warren’s physical agility and her mental determination has made her a competitive athlete.

“My coaches say what has brought me as far as I have come is my mental game, which a lot of people lack,” Warren said. “They don’t want to take themselves to that dark place. Even though they have the physical capacity to do it, the mental capacity isn’t quite there. So I always say, it’s my six kids. That’s what brought me to the level that I’m at.”

Her fitness regimen included many different types of exercises — until she found CrossFit. She quickly found that she both enjoyed and excelled in the sport, rising through the ranks and winning competitions.

“CrossFit is a smorgasbord of different movements and different aspects of fitness,” Warren said. “It’s got strength, body weight movements, gymnastics skills, endurance tests, balance and agility — it includes a broad spectrum, so the idea is that you train for the unknown and to become the most well-rounded athlete you can become.”

She often competes on a whim, as she did this past Saturday. The thrill of competition excites and motivates her to become the best athlete she can be.

“There’s lots of technical aspects, too, where it’s not just strength or endurance or balance, but there’s a lot of technique that is involved,” Warren said.

Competing in events that involve squats, rings, presses and an Olympic lift, Warren is incredibly driven to become stronger and win. To qualify for nationals, Warren dropped her body weight so she would qualify in a lower weight division.

“The less you weigh, the lower the amount (it) is you have to qualify,” Warren said.

She qualified in the 58 kilo division, lifting 150 kilos total when combining the different types of lifts. That’s a little more than 330 pounds.

“I found the athlete within in the process of trying to get back in shape,” Warren said. “The first time I ran a marathon, I was like, I think I can do that faster. I just always wanted to see what I could do, not necessarily competing against others. I like that feeling. I’m a fitness junkie, and I like that high you get from exercising.”
She has inspired her family to become more active. Her husband has joined a CrossFit gym, and her kids are involved in CrossFit Kids.

“But I’m just like any parent,” Warren said. “I’m like, oh I need to be better at feeding them healthy food, or getting them to like to exercise or do active things. We’re not this 'picture of health' family, but we have fun.”

Warren said when she has a minute to herself, she chooses to work out. She doesn’t watch TV or shop or go to the movies. Sometimes, she said, she even skips a shower so she can get an extra workout in.

Those who have seen Warren succeed in pushing herself to the top of her game are inspired by her. She said she’s developed a bit of a fanbase.

“Friends from the gym, family, different people follow that and say ‘I started CrossFit because of you’ or ‘man, if you have six kids I can’t complain about having two kids and using that as an excuse why I can’t get in shape,’” Warren said. “I’ve seen people around town who stop me and say, 'hey aren’t you Darcie?' And usually I’m running around in gym clothes so it’s a dead giveaway.”

Her husband Darin is a photographer and posted a photo he had taken of Warren that showed her stretch marks. While she was embarrassed about them, she said the response to the photo was overwhelmingly positive.

“Other mothers said it was beautiful and inspiring,” Warren said. “Being strong and feeling strong and being able to do stuff with your fitness is what’s cool. I’m kind of empowering women to embrace and make the best of their body. I’ve enjoyed being a role model for girls with muscles.”

Warren will be competing in the National Weight Lifting Competition in Utah on July 18.
Darcie with a couple of her children.Mother of six is a weight-lifting and fitness champ

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rocky Mountain Strongman

Oliver competed in Rocky Mountain Strongest Man held at the Utah Valley University Special Events Center last Saturday. Here is some footage. Some top competitors from around the country showed up. You can see Brian Shaw, who was there as a guest, in several of the videos. It was a tough meet, he had a little adversity but battled through and registered some good events. On to law school this Fall.
 It's a 265 lb. log (120 kg) and 300 lb. axle (137.5 kg)
The yoke is 950 lb. (430 kg) and the farmer's walk is 350 lb. (160 kg) in each hand.
In the deadlift he pulled 735 lb. (335 kg) and missed at 785.
The stone was 400 lb. (182.5 kg)
The wheel barrow was 550 lb. (250 kg) and the kegs 275 lb (125 kg) each. Total over 1000 lb. (452.5 kg)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dumb Weightlifting Questions

Lu Xiaojun Ripped Training Hall Snatch High Pull
Which muscles does that work?

 When I was a kid, my parents and teachers always said something like "There is no such thing as a dumb question." or "The only dumb question is the one you don't ask." That was about 50 years before Al Gore invented the internet though. If you spend enough time reading comments from Cyberspace you will realize that there actually are such things as dumb questions. Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics answers a few that he has encountered. The insights are worth noting.

Dumb Weightlifting Questions, Greg Everett,
It was suggested to me by our talented editor Yael that I write an article about “dumb” weightlifting questions. I turned to the internet’s leading repositories of dumb questions—Facebook and Twitter—for some ideas. The following are some of the better ones you provided me. She told me my answers were obnoxious and unhelpful so I'll be doing a real version in the Performance Menu next month, but I figured these shouldn't go to waste. Please note that none of these answers will be helpful.  

Will knee wraps make me stronger?
No. They will make you lift more weight.  

What's a WOD?
It’s an obnoxious designation of a workout performed in isolation rather than as a part of a long-term program with purpose and effect.  

How many miles should I run a week?
About one more than how many you’re being chased.  

Do you think if I had better technique I could lift more?
If you’re asking this question, your technique is horrid and your lifts are not heavy enough. So yes.  

Will knee socks make me lift more?

How come people grunt and yell?
Asks the gentleman who’s never physically exerted himself.  

Should I breathe in on the way down and breathe out on the way up?
In an elevator or what?  

Why do weighlifting coaches hate the low bar back squat though powerlifting gurus (Louie Simmons) swear by it?
That’s like asking why baseball players don’t use footballs.  

Why are bumper plates colored like skittles?
Addition is hard enough as it is without having to inspect every plate on the bar to find out what its weight is first.  

Weightlifting and children
That’s not a question. It’s not even a statement. It’s just three English words written consecutively.  

Unilateral exercises or drills to increase speed & balance on your weak side
Also not a question. Just a longer string of words.  

My shoes smell horrible
Not a question and also gross.  

I follow Hook Grip and they posted a pic from the recent Olympics. The pic was of a guy snatching and at the end of the first pull. In the pic he was on his toes, heels were off the ground. Why is this bad? He placed 3rd overall.
It’s not bad and never has been.  

Where are the machines?
In the singlets.  

Do I have to squat?
No. You also don’t have to not be a pussy.  

I know we power clean with a med ball but why don't we power snatch hang squat with a med ball?
We do none of those things and a second mention of them will get you escorted out the front door.  

What's your best 'Fran' time?
Every time I decided not to do Fran.

How do you flip your hands open in the clean from a Hook grip!? I can do it from a regular grip, but when I hook, it is harder for me to manage the flip of the wrists into position. You did say dumb, right?
Stop gripping the bar and push your elbows up.  

Does weightlifting make girls look manly?
There are two kinds of men in the world: Those who find women weightlifters attractive, and those who don’t find women attractive.  

Why are so many weightlifters fat?
Because you don’t know what a weightlifter is and are looking at the wrong people.  

I'd love the definitive discussion on high bar vs low bar. Not really why you would do each one, but more HOW you do each one. Like do you send the hips back first on both or do you just drop down on HBBS? I've heard conflicting advice.
People still use the low-bar back squat?  

How important is ab strength?
Not at all as long as you don’t want to do anything athletic.  

When is a 'weight class' worth considering?
When you compete in a sport that has weight classes.  

What's the single best accessory lift for each of the clean, jerk, and snatch?
The squat. 

I hate the hook grip... Why should I use it?
Get stronger and quicker and you’ll find out.  

Does the bar actually have to touch my body? It hurts my waistline.
No, the bar can be wherever you want it to be, including not overhead.  

Wouldn't it just be easier to power clean it? Why do I have to squat all the way down?
Yes it would. It would also be easier to lift less weight. Even easier to not lift weights at all. It’s weightlifting; it’s supposed to be hard.  

Isn't weightlifting just all technique? Some of those guys don't even look strong.
Yes. If your technique is advanced enough, it will actually circumvent the laws of physics. There is no spoon.  

How can i stop the bar from hitting my knees when i pull?
Stand up.  

Why do I always hit myself in the junk when I do cleans?
Stay over the bar longer. And wear underwear.  

I can power clean way more than I can front squat. What's my problem?
You don’t squat enough.  

Do weightlifting competitions play better music than crossfit competitions?
I don’t know, I’m busy lifting weights, not dancing.  

Biceps curls: no good?
CrossFit propaganda.  

I keep getting bruises on my you know what and hips! What am I doing wrong?
Not keeping the bar close enough to your body before you hump it with your you know what.  

Why do weightlifting girls always have to pee?
I don’t think they do. I think they go hide the bathroom so they can check their iPhones more.  

How do you determine whether an athlete should stick with their bodyweight/weight class, increase to a heavier weightclass or decrease to a lighter weightclass?
Check his bodyweight.  

Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, head coach of the national-medalist Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team, publisher of The Performance Menu, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, and director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting.

Isn't that bad for your knees and shoulders?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pulling Technique: Full Extension or Flat Footed?

Full Extension here!

Time for a technical weightlifting article. Matt Foremen, who is one of our favorite writers, nails another topic here. There are some coaches who teach that extending or jumping is the way to maximize pulling height and power. Others advocate staying flat footed and focusing on pulling under the bar. He cuts through all of the jargon and pseudoscientific garbage and gives a simple, but sensible answer to the ongoing discussion of proper pulling technique. As usual, well said Matt.

Pulling Technique: No Laughing Matter, Matt Foreman,
No funny business this time. We need to talk about technique. This one is gonna run a little long, but it’ll be worth it. Some of this is from an old PM article I wrote, along with a few changes.

We’re going to look at finishing the pull in the snatch and clean. More specifically, we’re going to do an analysis of the question “Should the lifter extend up on the toes or stay flat-footed at the top of the pull?” This is a confusing question for intermediate lifters who are in the process of building their own technique. Most athletes are smart enough to study the world’s best lifters as they’re trying to develop their personal lifting form. Anybody can get online these days and watch hours of World Championship footage where you can do slow-motion breakdowns of the best lifters on the planet. But this is where things can get puzzling, because not all world record holders use the same technique. Some of them extend high up on their toes at the top of their snatch/clean pull, and then others basically keep their feet almost completely flat on the floor all the way into the turnover phase. If you’re a newbie, you have to ask yourself, “Which way is the right one?”

First of all, let’s make sure we’re all clear that this is specifically analyzing the phase of the lift where the athlete is extended into the top position of the snatch or clean pull, where the upward pulling movement is hitting its completion and the lifter is on the verge of jumping down into the turnover phase. When this stage is reached, we can start to see some variations in movement between different lifters.

The first type of technique we’re going to examine is “toe-extension pulling” for lack of a better phrase. With this, the lifter drives and extends up onto the toes at the top of the pull. If you were to do a frame-by-frame video analysis of this technique and then pause the video when the lifter is at the absolute highest extension moment, the body position would somewhat resemble jumping off the ground. When athletes use toe-extension pulling, there will usually be an audible slapping sound as their feet hit the floor when they jump down into the bottom position. If you’re having trouble telling whether or not the athlete is using toe-extension pulling, this sound is often a dead giveaway. From a biomechanical standpoint, the basic idea behind toe-extension pulling is that the athlete will be able to lift the barbell to its highest possible point by stretching the body to its highest possible point. Maximum force is generated through driving up onto the toes, creating the longest extension line from the floor to the top of the athlete’s body.

Now, there’s another style of pull finishing that you’ll also see if you study world record holders long enough. Let’s call this second technique “flat-foot pulling.” Understanding what this technique looks like isn’t too complicated. It basically looks the way it sounds. Here, the athlete is finishing the pull, but hasn’t fully extended up onto the toes prior to turnover. Most of the athlete’s foot stays on the floor throughout the entire pull. With flat-foot pullers, you will likely still see a little rise from the heels at the moment of full extension. But it’s nothing like toe-extension pullers, and you won’t hear the stomping sound from the feet when they hit the bottom position either. Biomechanically, the reasoning behind flat-foot pulling is that the athlete will be able to continue generating force into the floor if they keep the surface area of their foot in contact with it. If you keep your feet on the floor, you can drive the body upwards harder. Without getting into scientific jargon, that’s about as simply as we can describe it.

Knowing that world record weights have been lifted using both toe-extension and flat-foot pulling, one of the obvious questions that pops up is, “Which technique is most common at the highest levels?”

If you study weightlifting long enough, you’ll see more toe-extension pullers at the top of the sport. Sometimes, you’ll see lifters who are extreme toe-pullers, like Zlatan Vanev from Bulgaria. If you want to see the ultimate example of what we’re talking about when we discuss toe-extension pulling, watch this guy. His explosiveness when he jumps his feet into the bottom position is faster and more violent than almost any other lifter you’ll ever see, with the exception of Iran’s Behdad Salimi. Salimi, who recently snatched a new world record of 214 kilos (471 pounds), basically defies physical laws of movement with the power and acceleration he generates into the barbell. He and Vanev are what I would call hardcore toe-extension pullers, but there are many other great lifters who use this technique with a more moderate level of foot movement. Soviet legend Alexander Kurlovich and women’s Olympic champ Svetlana Podobedova are pretty good models of this.

However, let’s not make the mistake of thinking that there aren’t some great flat-foot pullers in the sport. Xiaojun Lu from China is probably the best example of flat-foot pulling in the world. Lu uses a very slight toe-extension in the snatch, but his cleans are where you really see what flat-foot pulling looks like.

I’m a firm believer in toe-extension pulling, always have been and always will be. I’ve always felt like the only way I can really put some serious crank on my pull is by driving up to the tallest point I can get to in the pull before jumping into the receiving position with a good loud smack when my feet hit the platform. I’ve never tried to lift any other way, and it’s also how I teach the Olympic lifts to others. Now, there’s a delicate balance you have to hit when you’re teaching lifters to extend onto the toes and then jump their feet into the receiving position. You don’t want them to get excessive with it. I’ve worked with a few lifters who bring their feet too far off the floor during the turnover, almost to the point that it looks like a jump-tuck when they’re pulling themselves under the bar. You don’t want those feet too far in the air because that will cause a little hang-time moment in the turnover where the athlete is basically floating in space. That’s not good.

In my experience, I think athletes will find their own comfortable feel for the movement as they practice it. Some of them will have that dramatic extension/stomp-the-feet technique we see from Vanev, and some will have a more restrained version of the movement.

Flat-foot pulling? I’ve never taught it to anybody and I don’t know if I would want to try. There’s no denying that it can produce world-class results. I would never say otherwise because there’s evidence to prove it. From a coaching perspective, I would let an athlete use flat-foot pulling if that’s what they naturally grew into. Good athletes figure out how to use their bodies in the best way. I would let them do it if it looked right.

How do you know when it “looks right?” Experience, research, and more experience will answer the question. If you’re a competent coach, you’ll know when it looks right, just like you’ll know when it “feels right” as an athlete. But in either case, you have to put in the hours of learning and teaching. You must have a model of good technique that’s second nature to you, and you get this through analysis of the best.

There’s no one right way. Sometimes I get annoyed when I listen to philosophers, politicians, or religious leaders because it basically seems like most of them are saying, “Only I am right, and everybody else is wrong.” That just doesn’t work for me, because I believe there’s usually more than one solution to a problem. It’s a complex world. Your job is to find your own way, the one that’s right for you.

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.

A more flat footed approach. The slight heel raise appears to be  more of a follow-through than intentional.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Being A Man in 2014

Been teaching summer school here. We started a "Freshmen Academy" to orient the incoming freshmen for success at Monument Valley High School. As we looked at our statistics, it jumps out that boys have about 5 times more discipline problems and significantly lower test scores along with a much higher dropout rate. The administration asked for ideas on how to get the boys on track. After my suggestion of testosterone shots was turned down, I got "volunteered" to give a talk to the boys on what it means to be a man in 2014. I couldn't help but remember one of my favorite films. Here are a couple of clips...........

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Legendary Olympic Lifter Tommy Kono

On the victory platform, a familiar sight.

From an article that appeared recently in the Sacramento Newspaper. Tommy Kono is one of the all-time greats and very likely the greatest lifter to represent the United States. The story where he mentions going to Russia to compete is very similar to the story line in the movie Rocky IV, except it really happened. He recounts the story in detail in his first book. We highly recommend both of his books for any athlete as the mental principles alone are worth the price of the books, but there is much more too. You can find Tommy's website under the Other Resources tab on our home page and purchase the books. It has been my privilege to meet and talk with Tommy a few times. We even had lunch together once. As the article states, he personifies humility with confidence. I really love the essay he contributed, "If I Had My Way", about respect in the weight room. I will have all of my athletes read it. We have featured Tommy several times in the past here:

Tommy did some general body building exercises during phases of his training.

Legendary Olympic Lifter Tommy Kono
I had the immense fortune of interviewing the legendary Tommy Kono via email.  Kono is arguably the greatest Olympic weightlifter the world has ever seen.  Kono won Gold at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Games in Olympic Weightlifting, and a Silver Medal at the 1960 Games.  As a 6-time World Weightlifting Champion, Kono set an astounding 21 world records.

As rare as it is to set world records in a single weight class, Kono is the only Olympic Weightlifter in history to have set world records in four different weight classes, serving as a testament to his truly elite training methods, biomechanics, and mental fortitude.

Kono was also a successful Bodybuilder, winning the Iron Man Mr. World title.  After retiring from competition, Kono served as head coach to the Mexico (1968), West German (1972) and US Olympic weightlifting team (1976). 

Perhaps most revealing about Kono’s character is that he brought home 2 Gold Medals to the US, the same country that had sent him and others of Japanese descent to the Tule Lake internment camp a decade earlier.  I can think of no greater grace than embodied by this man.

SCS: What is your Asian heritage?

TK: Both my parents were born and raised in Japan.

SCS: Where did you grow up?

TK: I was born and raised in Sacramento.

SCS: What did you love about Sacramento when you lived here?
I grew up and had my education to Junior College in Sacramento except for the 3 1/2 years in relocation camp at Tule Lake during World War II years (June 1942 to December 1945). Sacramento was my hometown so I have good memories of growing up there.

SCS: What do you most strongly identify with in your Asian culture?
TK: I was raised with Japanese culture.

SCS: How did your parents and your cultural upbringing influence your career path?
TK: A strong Japanese ethic culture influenced me greatly.

SCS: Did you experience any specific challenges or misperceptions when you were competing in weightlifting and bodybuilding because of your Asian heritage?
TK: The sport of weightlifting actually attracted minority groups.

SCS: How has your competitive career in weightlifting shaped your philosophy and approach to life?
TK: Being born with poor health, I learned through the principle of exercising with weights that improvement in muscle development and health can be achieved.  The same principle can be applied to the improvement of your life.

Epic photo of National Coaches Robert Roman (USSR) & Tommy Kono (Mexico)

SCS: What projects are you currently working on that you are most excited about?
TK: I have published two instructional books on Olympic weightlifting and currently gathering materials for my third book.  (Editor’s Note: Kono’s classic texts are Weightlifting, Olympic Style and Championship Weightlifting, Beyond Muscle Power: the Mental Side of Lifting.)

SCS: What do you consider as a your greatest athletic achievement?
TK: Competing in the Prize of Moscow Weightlifting Tournament in March of 1958 on short notice.  Leaving the balmy weather of Hawaii and arriving in the freezing cold weather of Moscow almost half way around the world (11 hours time difference) on a propeller plane with no coach and teammates, with only a translator backstage in the warm up area who knew nothing about weightlifting.

I managed to win despite competing against 7 outstanding lifters, 6 of whom were either world or Olympic champions or world record holders.

We wanted to also share the following passage written by Mr. Tommy Kono that reflects his philosophy & passion for the sport of Olympic Weightlifting…


by Tommy Kono

If I had my way, the weightlifting area would be treated like a “dojo” as the martial arts students would use their area and equipment for training.

The entire area would be treated with respect from the bar to the barbell plates, from the chalk box to the platform.

The barbell bars would never have the soles of a lifter’s shoe get on it to move or spin it, no more than you would place your shoes on the table top. The bumper plates would never be tossed or stepped on.

The barbell will always be loaded with double bumper plates on each side whenever possible to preserve the bar and the platform. The purpose is to distribute the load over two bumper plates instead of one with an assortment of small iron plates.

The barbell lifted would never be “thrown” down or dropped from overhead except for safety reasons. The hands will guide the bar down in a controlled manner as it is in a contest.

Anger from a failed lift will be controlled so no four-lettered words would be used.

Instead the energy for the anger will be directed for a positive result.

A good Olympic bar will never be used on a squat rack for squatting purpose. There is no need to use the good bar on the squat rack where it could ruin the knurling or cause the bar to be under undue stress, damaging the integrity of the quality of the bar that makes it straight and springy.

When a lifter finishes using the area for training, it would be left neat and clean with the barbell bars and plates properly stored.

Imagine how it would be if you did not have the gym to work out in and had to go to one of the spas, health clubs or fitness gym to practice Olympic lifting.

Imagine if you did not have a “good” Olympic bar and bumper plates for training.

Imagine if all the equipment was your very own and you had to replace it if you or someone damaged it by abuse – the money coming out of your own pocket.

Treat the Olympic barbell bars, bumper plates, platforms and any items used for training or competition with respect.

Development of a strong character begins with respect even for innate objects.

Character Building begins with Respect and Responsibility.

Photo credits: www.honoluluadvertiser.com

In a body building competition.

A recent picture with Arnold who he inspired as a young man.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Can't Do a Pullup?

Franco Colombu doing some pullups.

Saw this article today about a highly regarded NHL prospect who could not perform a single pullup at a scouting combine. This can be interpreted several ways. There is no doubt that Hockey is a physical sport. It is a high impact contact sport where high speed collisions are the norm. Players skate at speeds higher than an athlete could run. The surface of the ice is much harder than the ground. Slamming your opponent into immovable barrier walls is part of the strategy.
If a young man can play so effectively without the ability to do a single pullup, then are pullups really a valid test for hockey? It seems obvious from this case that pullup strength is not essential to hockey success.
However, as a long time Physical Educator with some military backround, I do think that being able to do a pullup is is important for both men and women. I believe that while the specific strength required is not vital to many athletic activities, it may have a positive impact on injury prevention and longevity.
In my mind, I still think the ability to pull oneself up to a bar is a foundational exercise that everyone should work to achieve. It is a survival movement that allows us to scale barriers and climb things. It reflects a certain amount of strength to bodyweight ratio that is a worthy goal. If I was his coach, I would get him doing pullups.

Sam Bennett is an extremely talented hockey player.
If he weren't, NHL Central Scouting wouldn't have tabbed him as the No. 1 prospect entering the 2014 NHL Draft.
Scouts found out this weekend, however, that upper-body strength is not the 17-year-old's area of expertise.
Bennett, who racked up 36 goals and 55 assists for the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs this season, failed to complete even one pull-up during testing at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto.
The young forward told reporters afterward that he was unhappy with his showing but not all that worried about it. "I was definitely disappointed with myself," Bennett said, via The Canadian Press. "I was wanting to do the best I can in every test. But, I guess, ultimately games aren't won or lost if you can do a pull-up in the gym."
NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr agreed with that assessment, saying Bennett's lack of pull-up prowess doesn't overshadow his skill on the ice.
"The fact that he can play the game the way he plays the game, I think the teams feel that he's a pretty complete package," Marr said. "This is what the whole combine's about: The team that's going to get Sam Bennett knows what work lies ahead and they'll be able to put him on the proper path for development."

The NHL draft will take place June 27 in Philadelphia, with the Florida Panthers owning the top pick. NESN.com's latest mock draft has the Panthers taking Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad first overall, with Bennett going to the Edmonton Oilers at No. 3.

I practice what I preach.