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Friday, February 27, 2015

Real LIfe Ivan Drago (sort of)

Well, he's not Russian, but wow, what a specimen. This week is turning out to be an unofficial Chinese week here at Haske Warrior Strength. Pass the Panda Express. I had never heard of this guy until this week and don't really know what his future in boxing will be. But, what an amazingly athletic 7 footer. I don't know too much about he has trained, but whatever he has done seems to have been effective, at least for developing athletic ability if not fighting skills.  It will be interesting to see what the future holds for him.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Working out wrinkles in China

This is really great. I have never been to China, so I don't know if this is the norm or just exceptional, but I don't know of anywhere in the United States where there are public facilities so open and so well used. Very impressive to see so many senior citizens so obviously enjoying just moving.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lydia Valentin Day in a Life

Lydia in action.

For the girls in my classes, this is nice video that shows a great lifter and role model who certainly trains hard and heavy. Below is an english translation that I found on the All Things Gym website and also an interview by Antonio Robustelli that I found on the EliteFTS site.





At last! Finally I can contribute to the world of weightifting. The documentary, as you say, it is not very technical and meant for the general public, but this is the overview:

Sign outside weightlifting gym:

“They call it luck, but it is consistency. They call it coincidence, but it is discipline. They call it genetics, but it is sacrifice”

Her training is very routinary (she is preparing for the European championship at the time of the filming):

9am – start of morning training;
1pm – end of morning training;
(she then showers, eats and has a nap)
5pm – start of evening training;
7.30-8pm – end of evening training
(she then goes to the spa to relax)
9pm – Eats dinner
11pm – she is sleeping
She started by chance when she was 11 years old. She was very sporty (did all kinds of sports) and the weightlifting coach saw her and suggested to try the sport. Her mother was opposed to it initially as it was a very manly sport and she was just 11 years old, but after she saw that she really enjoyed it she accepted it.

She comments that you need a good physique, ability, flexibility and good technique to get results in weightlifting.

She then talks and explains a snatch, saying how it is the more technical and complicated of the two movements. Then she talks and explains the clean and jerk.

Goals:

She wants to be in the high performance programme (“Alto Rendimiento”: a Spanish programme for elite athletes) until 2016, when she will turn 31.

After that she doesn’t know depending on how she feels, whether she achieves international medals and keeps the same level as she has at the minute; but officially her objective is 2016.

Massage Guy (Sergio):

She goes to have a massage because of muscle overload/soreness on the dorsal and lumbar area of her back.

Sergio comments how these type of soreness is common amongst weightlifters and he treats them every day to take out all the muscular tensions before the second training session of the day. He says that Lidia tends to have recurring tension accumulating in the sacro-lumbar region of her back.

Protein Shake:

70% carbs / 30% proteins – Essential for to replenish the wear from the first training session (ED: you got it right Gregor!)

Snatch Sequence:

Sequence of her 122 kgs snatch from the Worlds in November where she got the bronze medal. She is very proud of it and calls it her super snatch, which she dedicated to her coach Matias

Matias (Lidia’s coach):

He has trained her from the age of 15, since she arrived at the High Performance Centre.

Her Room:

She lives in the Joaquin Blume residence in the Centre of High Performance (CAR = Centro de Alto Rendimiento; its abbreviation in Spanish).

Only the elite sportsmen/women live there, those that are subsidised by grants from the Spanish sports federation.

She also has an ADO grant (Asociacion de Deportes Olimpicos = Olympic Sport Association) and two other funding awards from the regional government of Castilla Leon (the region from where she is from in Spain).

It depends on the level of the sportsman/woman but in her case these grants and allow her to dedicate 100% to olympic weightlifting, without the need to find a job.

Medals:

The most valuable items in her room. She shows her medals when she was silver in the European Championship, gold in the Mediterranean Games, gold in the national championship, bronze at the Worlds and gold at the Grand Prix (President Cup in Russia)

In 20 Years Time:

She says that she sees herself in 20 years having her own business, which will have to do with sports, including personal training and sports training.


She then goes and have dinner with the other girls :)


This is a small interview, or rather a pleasant informal chat, with my friend and great Olympic athlete, Lidia Valentin.

Lidia is currently the top athlete of Spanish weightlifting, and she is one of the most famous female faces in this sport. At the age of 27, Lidia has participated in two Olympic Games—Beijing 2008, where she placed fifth, and London 2012, where she placed fourth. She won the overall bronze medal at the 2007 European Championships, the silver in 2008, the bronze again in 2009 and 2011, and the silver yet again in 2012. She also took home one gold medal and three silver medals in the snatch, and one silver medal and four bronze medals in the clean and jerk.

I thank Lidia for her availability, and I hope that you will appreciate these words.

Antonio: Hi, Lidia. First, thanks for your time. I'd like to start at the beginning. How and why did you come into weightlifting?

Lidia: I started this sport at the age of 11 by accident. Before weightlifting, I practiced other sports such as basketball and athletics. One day, in the gym hall where I was going to train every day, the weightlifting coach fixed his eyes on me. He saw a lot of quality and a great talent for weightlifting in me. At first I did not pay much attention to him, but after his frequent invitations, I said to myself, "why not?" And it was at that moment that I realized how this sport was unknown. At first I was just very curious, but then with every passing day, my curiosity turned into passion. So now...here I am.

Antonio: London 2012: What has this experience meant to you?

Lidia: London has a lot of meaning for me in my career because it gave me a chance to win an Olympic medal. There were four years of preparation to get to this event, so it was so important to me. I was in good condition—with the experience of Beijing 2008, but it was a fourth place finish so I'm a bit sour...but overall I'm satisfied.

Antonio: London 2012, Behind the Scenes: Is there a particular episode to tell us?

Lidia: Yeah, I have many unforgettable memories and anecdotes about London 2012. Those two weeks have been dreamlike—living every day with people from every part of the world, full of dreams and expectations like me. One of the things that I remember with more emotion, apart from the competition day, is the opening ceremony. It was something truly amazing, full of unforgettable moments.

Antonio: Lidia, want to tell us something about your training? How many times a week do you train? How long?



Lidia: I train every day of the week except Thursday afternoons, Saturday afternoons, and Sundays. Training sessions last about three hours in the morning and two and a half hours in the afternoon.

Antonio: What do you think about CrossFit? Tell me the truth!

Lidia: CrossFit is a new sport that I met recently. What I like about this sport is that it uses the two main movements of weightlifting. I think this is good to make people understand how hard it is—the sport of weightlifting.

Antonio: I train many women, and in all these years I realized one thing: women love to be strong. What do you think about it?

Lidia: I think it's great that women like to be and stay strong, not just in terms of aesthetics, which is very personal. I think it's important to stay healthy and play a sport at any age.

Antonio: What is your relationship with your strength? What does it mean to you to be a strong woman?

Lidia: The truth is that it drives me crazy to be a strong woman because it makes you different. I like the trained body for women—not only men can be strong. I love my athletic and trained body.

Antonio: When I train a woman, I am very demanding because I realize that women need more motivation than men. With that being said, what is your relationship with your coach?

Lidia: I don’t know why your level of need is greater when it comes to training a woman. I believe the sport is not a matter of gender. The relationship with my coach is very good. We have been working together for many years now, preparing for training and competition. I think it’s important to have a good environment and a good feeling between the two in order to achieve all your goals.

Antonio: Do you think, in the sport of weightlifting, that there is a sexist environment or not?

Lidia: Around me, at least as far as what I feel, I don’t see prejudice, and I have never felt discriminated against for being a woman.



Antonio: What competition are you currently preparing for?

Lidia: The most important competitions in 2013 are the European Championships, the Mediterranean Games, and the World Championships. Right now I'm preparing for the European Championship that's to be held in April.

Antonio: Tell me something about Lidia Valentin outside of the gym.

Lidia: Lidia Valentin outside of the gym…I consider myself a very outgoing and cheerful woman. With the ideas clear enough, I have the habits of a person of my age—I like being with my loved ones when I can and when workouts allow me to do this. I love my family and I’m very addicted to having good times with them.

Antonio: We are at the end. First, as a good Italian, I must compliment you for your beauty. Second, can you make a dedication to all the women who train to become stronger and even to your favorite interviewer?

Lidia: I address all those women who love the sport like me: Fight for everything you want because with work and dedication you can reach all of your goals. The sport will teach true values and will make you a better person. And don’t ever leave your dreams. A greeting and a big kiss to my fantastic interviewer and to all of the elitefts™ readers.

Antonio: Thank you so much, Lidia.

For many people, it is sometimes challenging to realize the habits and dreams of true competitive athletes beyond what is seen on the TV. And in the world of strength training, where one is at risk of being constantly blinded by the latest trends, having real athletes, like Lidia, as reference models can be the perfect choice.

Lifting does not make women less feminine.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

How it is done.

Two nice video shots that show the important full extension in the Snatch. I really like the technique of slowing down the middle segment while leaving the lift off and pull under at full speed, followed by a real time view. It really shows the importance of speed under the bar. This is great for teaching beginning lifters what a great lift should look like. Most beginners tend to want to rush under the bar before they fully extend. Also few really understand how to accelerate and pull under rather than just let gravity pull them down. Good stuff here for coaches and learners.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Unmaking of an Athlete

Just a couple of Average American High School Strength and Conditioning coaches.
Below is a great article by Jason Ferruggia that I saw on the EliteFTS site. While I hope I am not incriminating myself here, I have to agree that most High School "strength and conditioning coaches", here in the USA at least, don't have clue. The incompetence is fueled mainly by ignorance and lack of real training experience. As Jason suggests, the situation isn't a whole lot better in the collegiate ranks either. I have seen way too many examples of the ignorance that he outlines below. The main prerequisite for employment is usually having some inside connections in the program. It is amazing (and discouraging) how much the buddy system overrides proven competency. I fully agree with the 10 points Jason lists  and could supply numerous examples of my own of training malpractice. Are there some good coaches out there? You bet. But they tend to be the exceptions rather than the rule. Great article.


I sometimes wonder if there are any prerequisites at all to getting a job as college strength and conditioning coach. As the owner of my private athletic training company (Renegade Strength & Conditioning) I have had the opportunity to work with athletes from numerous colleges and universities across the country and have witnessed their disgust with their schools strength and conditioning programs. Some athletes, such as those attending Arizona State, are fortunate enough to have outstanding strength coaches and tremendous programs that they need not look elsewhere for help. Others are not so lucky. Every August I try to send my athletes back to their respective schools as one of the strongest, fastest, and most well conditioned players on their team. Come December I see the unlucky one's come back to me weaker, smaller and slower. These athletes have the misfortune of training under some Neanderthal strength coach who hasn't learned anything new about weight training since the release of Pumping Iron. There have been countless advances in the field of strength and conditioning over the last ten years, yet very few people seem to take advantage of them. It is inexcusable that, in 2004, a college strength and conditioning coach does not have a thorough knowledge of exercise and nutrition and can not properly prepare their teams for competition. If your athletes are losing size and strength, slowing down, and becoming more injury prone I think it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Every college athlete that hires me as their strength coach brings me their schools workout to look at before we get started. Some of the things I see in those programs are absolutely unfathomable.

One such example of the insanity is the baseball player I train whose school conditioning program includes running three miles through the city of Philadelphia ala Rocky Balboa every morning at 6am before lifting. Long distance running is useless for nearly every sport, especially baseball. Baseball players will normally run no more than 90 feet at any one particular time. That 90 foot sprint usually comes only once every half hour or so and only if the player gets a hit. So how, I ask, does running three miles each morning improve your ability to play the game of baseball? The only player on the field who needs real endurance is the pitcher. A well known strength coach once told me that if a baseball player can play Playstation in the locker room, without getting winded, he is aerobically fit enough for the game. Baseball is a game of skill and hand-eye coordination and the players need size, strength and speed. The major leagues are filled with pumped up monsters that hit 500 foot home runs and can bench press a car, yet many college coaches continue to run their players into the ground. Endless distance running will only cause the athletes to lose size, strength and most importantly…games. To get a few more wins this season, ditch the counterproductive marathon training and get your baseball players doing sprints and lifting heavy weights.

Another one of my athletes is a Division 1 field hockey player whose conditioning test on the first day of camp consists of running from New York to Los Angeles and back in under an hour. I am, of course, exaggerating but not by much. The test involves more running in one morning than the girls will run in a seasons worth of games. Field hockey players must be highly conditioned, no doubt, but the best way to achieve that high level of conditioning is not through an outdated approach of long distance running. Coaches who implement this kind of training are preparing their athletes for a marathon, not a stop and go sport such as field hockey. While the athlete's may be able to run a faster time in the mile, the question is, how does that equate to better performance on the field? The answer is obvious, it doesn’t. There is no sport that consists of running miles at a time. Most sports involve a combination of sprinting, jogging and even walking. Field hockey is no different and as such, these athletes would be best served to do a mix of interval sprint training and longer 200-400 meter sprints. A colleague of mine who works with several NHL players, arguably the most highly conditioned of all athletes, has found that 400 meter sprints performed three times weekly works wonders for conditioning while avoiding muscle and strength losses.

I once trained a football player whose team workout consisted of no work for the lower back or hamstrings, the most important muscles for sprint speed. I have another athlete whose school training program is 100% machine based. One of my standout football players, who I began training in eighth grade lost nearly forty pounds in his first year at college because the team workout consisted of full body circuit training of 15-20 reps with 30 seconds rest, three days a week, year round! There must have been some strong guys in that lineup. Another amazing training program was the one that had EVERY kid on the team do the exact same weight regardless of bodyweight, strength level or position! The reasoning behind it was they had 50 kids to train and didn't have time to change the weights.

To those with a good deal of strength training knowledge the above stories may sound like fiction. But trust me they are all true, you can't make that kind of stuff up. Unfortunately, I have dozens more and could go on forever with similar stories. There are endless mistakes made by strength coaches and head coaches on a daily basis but here are some of the biggest ones and some ways to improve upon them:

1) Excessive endurance training- Nearly every athlete I work with gets run into the ground on a daily basis. This is counterproductive and is usually done because the coaches don’t have the necessary understanding of the body’s different energy systems and how to train them properly. Most sports require speed. Speed can only be improved through proper training of the nervous system and by avoiding excessive endurance work. Too much distance work can convert fast twitch muscle fibers into slow twitch fibers and can actually decrease an athlete's speed over time. Unfortunately I've seen this happen more times than I care to remember and have watched great athletes have their careers ruined by improper training techniques. If coaches kept in mind the requirements of the sport they are preparing their athletes for, maybe this would not be such a problem. For example, in training an offensive lineman, why would you ever have him run miles at a time or sprint more than ten to twenty yards in practice when you know that he will never run that distance in a game? Unless I am missing something, the point of practice is to get ready for what you will do in a game. The problem, much of the time lies in the fact that head coaches dictate how their team's running is implemented. Most of the time a head coach does not have a degree in anatomy or physiology or even a general understanding of either. The head coach is required to know the sport inside and out but is rarely an expert in energy system training. If head coaches could check their egos and let a qualified speed and conditioning coach handle this aspect of training they just might add a few more victories to their record.
2) Overtraining- Most coaches have an old school military attitude of "more is better," and usually end up overtraining their athletes. Spending more than an hour in the weight room is a classic mistake. Performing extra sprints at the end of practice as a form or punishment is another one. By forcing the athletes to run in such a fatigued state, you increase their risk of injury and teach them to adopt improper sprint technique. This combined with three-a-day practices, limited rest times, insufficient nutrition and hydration all leads to a severe state of overtraining.
3) Improper sprint training- Anyone who understands how the body works knows that to improve speed you must target the central nervous system (CNS). Proper neural training requires the appropriate amount of recovery time between sprints. The CNS takes five to six times longer than the muscles to recover, a fact which seem to escape most coaches. Running ten forty yard sprints with a fifteen second rest is not speed training, it is time wasting and nauseating. The frequency of high intensity speed training is also too great. Most athletes are forced to perform maximal sprints every day of the week. The great Olympic sprint coach, Charlie Francis, has his athletes perform no more than three max effort sprint days per week and finds anything more than that to be detrimental in speed development.
4) Too many reps in the weight room- Most of the college weight training programs I see focus on sets of 10-15 reps, even for Olympic lifts. Any strength coach who has yet to learn that Olympic lifts are never to be performed for more than six reps should not be working at the college level. Where is the strength work in these programs? With all of the other endurance work the kids are doing the last thing you want to do is turn the time in the weight room into another endurance session. Focus on strength and speed which is best accomplished by using multiple sets of 1-6 reps and heavy weight.
5) Using the wrong exercises- Triceps kickbacks, leg extensions, and pec deck flyes are all exercises that I have actually seen in the programs of Division 1 schools. These exercises are completely useless for any athlete. Strength is built using basic compound movements and heavy weight. Focus on squats, deadlifts, bench presses, military presses, rows, dips, and chins and throw out the machines and isolation movements.
Another mistake is taking kids who have little to no training experience and having them perform power cleans or some other complex lift. By the time most male athletes reach college they have done a decent amount of weight training but that is not usually the case for females. I have heard of schools taking freshman girls and throwing them right into a workout consisting of snatches and split jerks. Just because a girl may be superstar Division 1 athlete does not mean she is ready to start doing Olympic complexes. Beginners should always train like beginners regardless of the situation.
6) Improper exercise form- Even if you utilize the proper rep scheme, and train heavy on the compound exercises listed above it is all a waste if your exercise form is horrendous. In the college weight rooms I’ve been in, I’ve seen people bench press with their asses a foot and a half off the bench and have seen more varieties of a hang clean than I ever knew existed. As a strength coach it is your job, above all else, to at least be able to teach your athletes proper exercise form and help them avoid injury.
7) Doing conditioning work before weight training- The point of lifting weights is to get stronger. To do so you should be as fresh as possible upon entering the weight room so you can train at your maximal capacity. Running and doing conditioning drills immediately before lifting drains your glycogen stores and saps your energy, leaving you weak and unmotivated, not exactly the way you want to feel before a heavy workout. Completing an exhausting two hour practice and then going straight to the weight room for some heavy squats is also a great way to get injured.
8) Training the whole team with the same workout- You would be amazed at how many schools use the exact same workout for every player on the team regardless of position. Why would a cornerback train like an offensive lineman? Why would a pitcher do the exact same workout as a left fielder? It makes no sense at all. Even though all athletes share a common need for improved strength, the needs for each player can sometimes be very different and the training programs should reflect that. When it really gets to be appalling is when the weights to be used on a certain exercise are already written in ahead of time. Some workout sheets will say something like: Bench Press- 3 sets x 10 reps x 225 pounds. So the 150 pound kicker who has never lifted before and the 375 pound nose tackle who has spent his life in the gym are supposed to do the same exact weight. It will staple one of them to the bench and be a joke for the other; even a first grader could tell you that. This is one glaring mistake I will never understand.
9) Never changing the workout- Too many schools use the same workout month after month and year after year. They have an in season program and an off season program and the workouts NEVER change. Every year, for a good laugh, a Division 1 baseball player I train brings me his teams’ workout book at the start of each season. For four years straight, it was the exact same three-day-a-week workout, fifty two weeks a year! Talk about boredom and burn out. I would go absolutely insane if I did the same workout for more than a few weeks straight, never mind four years. If you are getting paid to write workouts for a team, the least you could do is put a little thought into them and add some variety.
10) Constant negativity- After many years working as a strength and conditioning coach I know that most athletes do not respond well to constantly being verbally berated. It is, of course, part of the job, you have to toughen the kids up and earn their respect. But when they hate you and no longer enjoy coming to practice or the weight room, you have ruined what should have been a great experience for them and you have just lowered the performance output of your athletes. I appreciate a hardcore, militant attitude and train most of my athletes in this manner. However we do have fun and lighten up when the work is done. At the end of the day, everyone needs positive reinforcement once in a while or they will just give up or lose interest, it’s human nature, look into it.



The intention of this article was not to bash all college strength coaches and head coaches, because, as I stated earlier there are many great ones. It was simply a way of trying to get through to those that have been stuck in their outdated ways for far too long. Hopefully it opened some eyes and will cause at least a few people to take a step back and rethink their strength and conditioning programs. Properly trained athletes win more games, which as a coach, is always your goal. More importantly, when an 18 year old kid puts his or her athletic future in your hands, it is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. The training you give them over the next four years could literally make or break their careers and shape the rest of their lives. Think about that before heading for the copy machine to rehash the same useless workouts you’ve been using forever.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kings of Weightlifting


A nice motivational video. Some of the world's best from past and present.


Monday, February 2, 2015

10 Commandments of Training

Dan doing a "no frills" workout.

This is another great article by Dan John, a guy who walks it and talks it very directly and simply and one of my favorite writers.  Straight and true information that anyone will benefit from. This appeared on the T-Nation site last week but I want my students to read it so I am reposting it here. This is one of those articles that I wish I had written. I agree 100%, but probably couldn't have said it so well.


Here's what you need to know...
Use whole-body lifts. The Olympic lifts and those in the powerlifting family are far superior to machines and isolation work.
Loaded carries are a game changer. Do them. And when find something like them that works, look for something else in your training to throw out. Keep it simple.
"The body is one piece" So why do most people train like they're building Frankenstein's monster. Arm day, leg day, etc.
Do the "basic basics." Eat your protein, drink lots of water, eat your veggies and always have breakfast. Even drugs won't get you far in the long term if you skip the basics.
If you're spending so much time at the gym that your mail is forwarded there, you're not dedicated – you've got a mental disorder.
Put the bar on the floor and pick it up a bunch of different ways. And make sure you're always including lifts that end with a barbell over your head.

In 1998, Daniel came down from the mountain carrying two tablets of iron. Here's what they had written on them.

1. Use whole body lifts. Rarely isolate a muscle.

When the web was in its early infancy, High Intensity Training enthusiasts, self-labeled "HIT Jedis," dominated the discussions. Pity them, for they knew not what they do.

They allegedly had horrific genetic limitations as they constantly referred to themselves as "hardgainers." Training more than eight times a month was considered insane.

And I began to notice something else – perhaps their bodies were designed to type as they'd post thousands of times a day discussing the most minute details of training. But, they rarely, in fact, trained.

To them, the key was to bring each and every muscle to momentary failure and then rest it until it fully recovered. By doing so, you would shed fat and have the body of whatever God, in God's wisdom, had ordained you should look like.

It just doesn't work this way.

The big lifts – the Olympic lifts and those in powerlifting family – will do more for your development than all the machines in every facility in the world. You may be able to find a weak-looking 400-pound bencher, but you won't find two.

The big lifts with the big weights, within reason, will get you bigger, stronger and, ideally, faster. It's always been true.

2.  Constantly strive for more weight on the bar and move it faster.

When I wrote this, the only "Westside Club" I knew was in Culver City, California, the home of some of the most amazing lifters and throwers in history. They moved big iron and loved to experiment with ideas and training methods.

Here at T Nation, we're used to reading about the Westside method with its dynamic work, chains, box squats, and all the rest from the minds of Simmons, Tate, and Wendler, but in 1998, not a lot of people outside of track and field appreciated the idea of moving the weights faster.

Danny Sawaya is a strength coach whose method is built on sensing bar speed. If it slows, either go lighter, stop, or recheck your recovery. His method is more complex than that, but not much more.

3.  The best anabolic is water.

Not long ago, someone online took me to task for this point. I told him that it's called hyperbole and I tried explaining it.

I asked him, "If you're eating veggies and protein and drinking water, who gives a shit about anything else you're doing? Maybe calories in/calories out isn't perfect for fat loss, but it is pretty good for everything else."

My point was simple: If you aren't doing the basic-basics, forget about the rest. You can't out-roid three hours of nightly sleep and a diet of doughnuts and bagels. Sure, you can out-roid a bad lifestyle for a while, but, long term, the basics of eating food and drinking water are going to get you where you want to go.

Regardless, anabolic steroids have been around a while and I still think most people who choose to take them begin too soon. In college, a guy from another country told me that he had been "juicing" for a few years. He was a very poor thrower and it made me wonder just how bad he would be if he were "clean."

He told me that at his gym, all the older guys were taking them, so he did, too. The issue? He never even got the chance to figure out how far and how strong he could get without the magic. If you're an elite thrower, you'd better be gifted enough to bench 400 and clean 300 without any steroid support. If you can't, you don't have the aptitude.

This reminds me of a recent rant of mine concerning parents who insist that Billy or Cindy miss sports or activities in high school to take SAT prep courses. They're missing the big issue, which is this: If you have to study to prove you have the aptitude, you don't have the aptitude. Sorry.

If I can drink water, sleep more, and eat normal and still defeat you while you're juicing hard, you probably don't have the aptitude. Sorry. Blame your genes.

4.  Did you eat breakfast? If not, don't ask me anything about nutrition.

Since first laying down these commandments, intermittent fasting has really taken off. I first read about it in the magazine, Mind and Muscle Power, and then later here at T Nation in an article by Ori Hofmekler. Ori called it the "Warrior Diet."

Since then, many others have "invented" it too, but you have to go way back to Hippocrates if you want to know its true inventor. Back about 471 BC, he wrote this:

"Obese people and those desiring to lose weight should perform hard work before food. Meals should be taken after exertion while still panting from fatigue. They should, moreover, only eat once per day and take no baths and walk naked as long as possible."

The no bath and walking naked thing hasn't been discussed much, but this basic idea about fasting has obviously been around a long time.

Back to breakfast. I train in the morning and stopped eating a regular meal before training years ago. But I really hit breakfast hard. If you train in the afternoon or evening, you should really consider breakfast as your key meal, especially for protein. So, yes, breakfast is something you may want to eat.

5.  If you smoke or don't wear your seat belt, please don't tell me the quick lifts are dangerous.


Back in the 1990s, the internet was filled with doomsayers telling us that we'll all die from doing snatches and cleans. I hate to give any credit to CrossFit, but it's nice to see non-performance people doing the O-lifts again.

It's not that those lifts were "lost," it's just much easier for the local personal trainer to sit you down on a machine and have you push the little stack up and down versus teaching the Olympic lifts. Unfortunately, O-lifters don't spend enough money to keep the lights on. Machines are a lot easier to teach to a neophyte.

People also need to keep things in perspective. Lots of things we do in the gym are "dangerous," but most of them pale in comparison to the dangers presented by the big, bad, world, especially stuff that's easy to remedy, like wearing a seat belt, stopping smoking, or not running with the bulls while wearing flip flops.

6.  Go heavy, go hard.

I wasn't as smart when I wrote this as I am now. It should have said, "Go heavy, go hard, and go home."

If you're spending so much time at the gym that your mail is forwarded there, you're not dedicated – you've got a mental disorder. Enough is enough with good, solid training.

7.  Keep it simple. Less is more.

I'm always searching for quicker ways to reach goals in both my training and my coaching. The arrival of kettlebells helped me with the hip hinge and squat. The TRX has done miracles for balancing my pull and I use dozens of exercise variations with different sleds, wagons, and Prowlers.

These new tools have allowed me to toss out all kinds of other things. For instance, thick bars teach the deadlift and clean pull better than me talking; chains teach acceleration each and every rep; and ab wheels target the anterior chain better than a dozen core movements.

When you add something new, search for what you can throw out!

8.  You have to put the bar over your head.
See commandment #9.

9.  Put the bar on the floor and pick it up a bunch of different ways.

I'll hit these two points together.

My philosophy of strength training can be broken down into these points:

Put weight overhead.
Pick it off the ground.
Carry it for time or distance.
The body is one piece.

I love the Olympic lifts and I still compete in them. The O-lifts are completed with the weight lifted and mastered overhead and it's easy to figure out a good lift or a miss. Picking weights up and putting them down is really all that strength training comes down to in the end.

In powerlifting, I still think the deadlift is king. There's no cheating with arches, depth, or equipment, and judges can't really make a bad call. It's the root lift of strongman contests and it's easy to figure out who accomplished the most.

As for loaded carries, nothing in my coaching toolbox approaches them as far as being a game changer. Do them.

"The body is one piece" is from John Jerome. Few people heed this advice, though. Instead, most of us train like we're building Frankenstein's monster. Arm day. Leg day. Freaking tibialis anterior day. But the body is one piece, and you have one digestive tract, one cardiovascular system, and one magnificent nervous system.

If you have trouble "here," you're going to have trouble "there." If we shut the supply of blood to your brain, your training will be impaired. That's not medical advice, by the way.

Thinking "the body is one piece" begins the process of seeing the life of the athlete, a training year, and a workout from a more distant vantage point. It's a global view, a paradigm shift, from seeing everything as bits and pieces like Frankenstein's monster to seeing everything as miraculously interconnected.

10.  Know and love the roots of your sport.

I love throwing and lifting. I like going back in the archives and articles of people from the past and trying to steal some insights. For football, I own John Heisman's book on the game (yes, that "Heisman") and a dozen or so other books that basically show us that nothing is new under the sun.

When I read articles, I often see the vision and impact of people who have died long years before the author's parents were alive. And it's great.

Studying Arnold isn't a bad thing for an aspiring bodybuilder. He didn't let much get in his way. If you want to be on the stage, you had better learn that lesson.


For strength athletes, figure out how John Davis was the first to clean and jerk 400 pounds after serving in WWII, using no drugs, and by following a very simple training template.

There are lessons there to be learned and the best ones stay with you. Case in point, I wrote these commandments in 1998 and I still stand by them.


Throwing the Discus