Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Great Example of Aging Well

Here ia a post that likely won't excite hard core lifters or serious athletes. But, maybe it should. We will all get old someday, if we are lucky and tough enough. I find this video amazing. Dick Van Dyke is an entertainer that should need no introduction. I first remember him in the Dick Van Dyke show back in the late 50's early 60's. Of course it's doubtful that many grow up without seeing Mary Poppins at least a few times. recently he appeared in "Night at the Museum" among other things. He is now 89 years old. In this video he moves amazingly well and looks extremely well and fit for that age. He admits that he struggled with alcohol for a 25 year period earlier in his life, but whatever he is doing now, it must be working. What a great example of how moving and some humor can enhance one's life. More power to him.

Truth is, Van Dyke suffers from arthritis and has for over 50 years. He’s taken charge of his health by moving his body with projects and exercise that makes him happy. Here’s a taste of his suggestions for a healthier you:
◾Move and do the things you love.  Dick sings in a quartet at benefits and still dances from time to time.

◾Exercise daily.  To keep arthritis at bay, Dick does exercises that are easy on the joints, including swimming and bouncing on a mini trampoline.

◾Eat right.  Every day for breakfast, Dick eats a fiber-rich breakfast of Raisin Brain with additional raisins, topped with Wheat Bran and blueberries.  Blueberries are not only said to increase brain function but are like nature’s “little blue pill!” ◾Other foods he enjoys include salmon for its Omega 3 fatty acids and Brazil nuts, which are full of selenium and spices like ginger and turmeric.  All of these foods are also anti-inflammatories, which are great for anyone suffering from arthritis.
◾He stays away from refined carbs, sugary candy and fried foods that are full of saturated fat.
◾Keep young friends
“Dick shows that he still has his moves on the dance floor and talks about some of the keys to staying youthful,” he explains. “His message is one that’s so important as you get older. The goal is to live as long of a life as you can, but it’s about quality of life. I don’t care if, like Dick Van Dyke, you love to dance or if your passion is playing tennis or gardening, there are just so many ways to be active. Just because you can do everything without doing that much nowadays through technology doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you or your health.”

The doctor points out that exercise is like a magic pill that we can control, in an extended article on “The Doctors’” healthy push. He stresses “In our country heart disease is the number one killer, but with a third of us obese and the prediction for type-2 diabetes set to skyrocket over the next 20 to 30 years, exercise is a potential saving grace for hundreds of thousands of people when it comes to preventing these things.”

Dick says, “I've always exercised, and of course I've always danced. I tell people my motives [for exercising] have changed. In my 30s, I exercised to look good; in my 50s, I exercised to stay fit; in my 70s, I exercised to stay ambulatory; and in my 80s, I exercise to avoid assisted living."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What it Takes

About 1994 or so, I got a call from the executive director of what at the time was called the United States Weightlifting Federation (USWF, which today is USA Weightlifting USAW). He explained that he had received an invitation for the USWF to be represented at an Olympic development camp held by the Native American Sports Council. Since, at the time, we were the only Native American weightlifting club, he asked if I would be interested in representing the USWF at this event. It was an exciting idea so I agreed to participate.
It was to be held on the Jemez Pueblo reservation in New Mexico. John Eagleday was the director of the Native American Sports Council and the organizer. Several Olympic sports were represented there including Weightlifting, Field Hockey, Archery, Basketball, and Track among others. Being on the reservation, the facilities were rustic. We brought the weights with us and set up outdoors under a canopy with sheets of plywood on the ground. We slept in tents and bathed in the small river that flowed through the reservation. Meals were prepared by parents and community members over the fire and we ate outside. I had my son Oliver and a couple teenage members of our club with me.
The opening day was exciting as there was a large group of youth there. John Eagleday gave them a rousing presentation which included a film clip of Billy Mills winning  his gold medal. He talked about who would be the next Native gold medalist and passed out really nice T-shirts with the Olympic rings on them to everyone there. Then he turned the kids loose to go to whatever sport they wanted to try. We had a large group at the weightlifting area as the weights looked really cool and maybe I did a good job of selling it. We spent several hours demonstrating and then practicing the lifts with PVC sticks and in some cases light weights. It didn't take long for the kids to realize that lifting huge weights wasn't an easy endeavor and couldn't be mastered in 15 minutes.
We encouraged them and built up their efforts with all the creativity we had, then reminded them what time we would be practicing the next day.
Well, on the morrow about 1/3 of the kids showed back up and they complained a lot about how sore they were. As the week passed, we ended up with about 6 of the 60 or so kids that started. The excitement and glory of the first day, with the free T-shirts and stirring presentations, was very short lived when met with the reality of the work needed to actually achieve greatness.
I have fond memories of that week at Jemez Pueblo. Living outdoors in beautiful surroundings with my son and students, and meeting a lot of great people was wonderful. But what I remember the most is that it is not hard to get people excited about doing great things, but very, very few really want to invest the pain, effort, and discipline needed to actually achieve greatness.

Making it look easy is not easy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chinese Pull vs. Russian Pull

Guo Ryba

A great comparison of two lifting styles from http://exokineticssp.com/. the end result is that differences are really slight and obviously both work for the lifters using them.

2 more great high-speed videos from Hookgrip!  A 171 Kg snatch by Chinese -77Kg lifter Zhong Guoshun.  And, a 175 Kg snatch by Belarussian -85 Kg lifter Andrei Rybakov.  Some fans of Olympic Weightlifting will know that the internet reports a fundamental difference between the Russian style of pull and the Chinese style.  I see it as basically a slight difference in the tactics in the phase where the bar travels from the knee to the power position.  The Chinese may be more direct moving into the power position to get longer extension from a deeper power position.  Where the Russians are more latent, waiting and drawing the bar into the power position to get more whip and bar effect during extension.

Here are the videos:

After a computer analysis, it looks like the standard Chinese pull and the standard Russian pull produce, for any practical purpose, the same mechanics!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Squatting History

Here is a great video on the history of the squat. Some great historical images and video clips. The story teller is John Broz who has been rather quiet lately. I'm impressed that he knows his stuff and has done his history homework. It is my opinion that too many young coaches and athletes do not give sufficient respect to the history of the sport. As the saying goes, those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. I have been around long enough now to know that whatever seems new has almost always been done before. Anyway, great job on this video.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Doing it Right

Here is another great article by Matt Foreman, super author and master lifter, who we have featured on our site many times before. He gives some great insight into the fact that while their are some constants in the technique of great lifters, there is also a great deal of room for variation. Doing it right means doing what works.

Look at the pictures you see above. Go ahead, look at them for a minute.

Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, they’re awesome. You know what’s even more awesome? We’re going to learn a very, very important lesson about weightlifting from them. First, let’s lay down a few facts about what we’re looking at.

#1- The pictures were taken at the 2013 European Weightlifting Championships. They were provided courtesy of hookgrip, which is a website organization that currently takes some of the best weightlifting pictures in the world.

#2- The dudes in these shots are some of the best lifters in the sport. One of them is Oleg Chen (Russia, top middle). Apti Aukhadov is there too (Russia, bottom middle), along with Martin Razvan (Romania, top right). You can probably tell just from looking at the weights on the bar… these are some of the finest athletes in Olympic weightlifting.

#3- These particular shots were obviously taken during clean and jerk attempts, right in the middle of the turnover phase where the lifters have completed their pull extension and are “jumping down” into the bottom position. Many coaches refer to this as “pulling yourself under the bar.”

#4- If you’ve learned anything at all about weightlifting, you should know that the top athletes in the world use the exact same movements and technique on all of their lifts. Their light warm-up sets basically look identical to their world record attempts. A great coach once told me, “The best guys in the world make 50 kilos look the same as 150 kilos.” Their consistency and motor patterns are developed to a razor’s edge. Because this is true, we need to understand that these guys aren’t hitting some kind of weird positions in these photos that they only hit with maximum weights. This is what their technique looks like all the time.

So those are just a few important points to know. Now, let’s start getting to the lesson.

There are a lot of ways we could analyze these, but we’re going to specifically focus on what you see with their feet. Obviously, these guys are picking them pretty high up in the air as they descend into the bottom position. Aukhadov, who is probably the best lifter in this particular group, looks like his feet might be 5-6 inches off the platform.

One of the first points I want to make is this: there are some coaches out there (particularly in the U.S.) who would tell you this type of foot lift is wrong. “You shouldn’t lift your feet that high up in the air,” “You don’t want any hang time,” “You need to keep your feet closer to the platform to avoid floating in space during the lift,” etc. These are the comments you would probably hear from these coaches if they were teaching the lifts to beginners and they saw the type of movement you see in the photos above.

In fact, we could do a fun little experiment with these. Let’s say we altered these pictures. Instead of the faces of the best lifters in the world, we change them to the faces of some average Joes nobody has ever heard of. And instead of 200 kilos on the bar, we change the weights to 70 kilos, or 90, or whatever. But aside from the faces and the weights, we leave everything exactly the same. Same body positions, feet up in the air. Now, if we took those altered photo and showed them to these coaches I’m talking about, I’ll bet Greg Everett’s bank account that most of them would say, “God, that looks terrible. Somebody needs to teach that guy how to clean. You can’t lift your feet up in the air like that. That’s not the way you’re supposed to do it. You’ll never lift big weights that way.” They would probably follow these statements up with a bunch of technical-sounding babble about physics, quadrangles, tension properties, etc.

Want to know why I’m so confident that’s what you would hear? Because I’ve heard it, a million times.

People, these pictures are basically indisputable proof that forcefully lifting your feet off the platform as you’re jumping down into the bottom position ISN’T A BAD THING. You’re seeing it from the best lifters on the planet, so it’s obviously not inefficient technique. When you’re lifting weights that are right around the world record, your technique is efficient… regardless of what it looks like. I hope that makes sense to you. If it doesn’t, I can’t do nuttin’ for ya.

Now, it’s important to know that you could also find pictures of some other top lifters who are in the exact same phase of the clean as the guys you see above… with their feet much closer to the platform. And you know what? Keeping your feet close to the platform during the turnover ISN’T A BAD THING EITHER. That’s the whole point I’m trying to make. There’s more than one way to lift world record weights. Different athletes use different movements, for different reasons. The guys you see above aren’t doing it wrong. You know how we know that? Because they’re the best in the world. If you’re the best in the world at something, you’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it YOUR WAY. And if some newbie does it the exact same way, the newbie isn’t doing it wrong either. The newbie is moving his/her body in a way that makes the most physical sense to him/her, just like the world champion.

WARNING: It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean every type of lifting movement is acceptable. I’m not saying, “Everything is OK, nothing is incorrect.” There are definitely some movements that are universally inefficient (rounded backs, looping pulls, jerking in front of your face, etc.) But the issue of whether it’s OK to jump your feet off the platform is an old one that gets disputed by some people who don’t understand the simple facts that are proven in the pictures you see above.

It’s OKto use the type of technique you see here. It’s also OKto use a different type of technique where your feet stay in closer contact with the platform as you’re jumping down to the bottom position. It just depends on the individual. Athletes develop their own styles over time, and the most talented ones (who train in the best systems) become world champions.

These are truths of weightlifting. If anybody disagrees, scroll back up to the top of this and look at the evidence again. Maybe it’ll make sense to you someday. Maybe not…

Friday, May 8, 2015


Another article that has been making the news lately deals with the tragic death of a prominent businessman as a result of falling off of a treadmill.Of course there is a chorus from many who never have even exercised saying "let's ban them, let's regulate them. let's make them safer....etc." While I have never been a treadmill enthusiast (it makes me feel like a hamster), I don't think we need to overreact. Many more people are killing themselves (albeit much more slowly) by being sedentary and overeating the wrong things. I don't think we need to do anything different. I still find it ironic when people drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill. I appreciate the reference to below to the origins of this form of contrived exercise. But in the end, any exercise is far better than none and treadmills can serve a purpose for some. Just use common sense and realize that even walking to your car and driving to the nearest treadmill is probably riskier than gerbilizing on one.

Dave Goldberg, a beloved Silicon Valley executive and the husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, suffered a fatal accident on vacation in Mexico last weekend. According to a spokesman for the local prosecutor’s office, the 47-year-old Goldberg “fell off the treadmill and cracked his head open” while exercising, and died of head trauma and blood loss.

Treadmills are notorious for causing accidents—occasionally fatal ones. The machines’ powerful motors and fast-moving belts can punish any momentary loss of balance with bruises, sprains, broken bones, friction burns, or worse. Distractions like watching TV or reading while running increase the likelihood of an injury.

Statistics from the US Consumer Products Safety Commission are not currently available because of an outage to its injury surveillance database. But a CBS News report in 2011 that cited the commission’s data said treadmills caused about 19,000 emergency room visits in the US in 2009—more than any other kind of exercise equipment—including about 6,000 by children.

Treadmills are especially dangerous to children: Exodus Tyson, the 4-year-old daughter of boxer Mike Tyson, died in 2009 after choking on a treadmill cord. And several medical journal articles have detailed the risks of friction burns if kids’ hands, fingers, or other body parts come into contact with the belt, often when an adult is using the machine.

Consumer Reports has some tips about treadmill safety that are well worth reading, whether you own a treadmill or use one at the gym. They include clearing the area around a treadmill in case of accidents; using a safety key which stops the belt if you fall; and avoiding looking down at your feet while you run, which can make you lose your balance. To avoid accidents involving children, keep them well away from the treadmills during use, and remove the safety key from home machines so they cannot use the treadmills on their own.

Treadmills, incidentally, were originally created as a way to reform convicts in the 19th century—they were used to mill grain, hence the name. They are the best-selling fitness machines in the United States, accounting for about 25% of the industry’s $77 billion in sales in 2012, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mental Derangement

Bodybuilder nearly loses arms after muscles turn to rock due to toxic injections

I imagine that many people look at those of us who still live the Warrior lifestyle and think that we are mentally deranged. I mean, after all, in this day and age when every thing is computerized, motorized, and programmable, why bother with all that hard physical work? I remember back in the 70's when I was intent on training hard, living healthy, and trying to look good; a "friend" told me that he would rather spend his time earning money to buy clothes that would make him look good. Of course that attitude has only increased over the passing decades. Why exercise all that discipline and hard physical work when you can get the look you are after from a bottle? Below is an article that has been popping up around the news that illustrates this attitude to the extreme.
While I may have been considered strange by some because I wanted to be bigger and stronger than the average, it never, ever, occurred to me to try to just look stronger without actually getting stronger. What a sick and sad story...........

Former bodyguard Romario dos Santos Alves, 25, terrifies children with his supersized muscles and is facing a catalogue of serious health issues since turning to the injections. The married dad-of-one says his experiences of using the synthetic filler became so extreme that he was even scheduled to have his arms amputated.
“If you do it once there will definitely be a second time — it’s addictive,” Romario told Getty.

“I remember the doctor told me that they would need to amputate both arms — they said everything in there, all my muscles, were rock.

“I want other people to see the dangers, I could have died all because I wanted bigger muscles. It’s just not worth it.”

Romario became obsessed with the drug cocktail after moving from his hometown of Caldas Novas to Goiania in Brazil three years ago.

“I saw some really big guys in the gym with huge arms and I started to make friends with them. They introduced me to it and I got excited about the results — I lost control,” he says.

Romario soon found more dangerous ways of injecting himself with the oil, to the point where his muscles “started to solidify and I couldn’t even inject my arms — they were full of rocks.

“I decided the only thing I could do was buy specialist needles to inject, the kind of needles used on bulls — there are no stronger needles around. I know it seems stupid but I had to get my fix.”

He even tricked wife Marisangela Marinho, 22, into injecting him with the oil in places that he could not reach.

“I told her there was no problem with it — that it left the body after a short time,” Romario explained. But after she learned the truth she made it clear that he had to choose between their relationship and the oil.

“She told me that if I start using it again or anything like it she will leave me because of what she went through. That was the hardest part of our life because I had depression and I was removed from my job because I tried to kill myself.”

Romario’s biceps had swollen to an incredible 25 inches when he ended up in hospital.

“I was hospitalised in a clinic and my wife was six months pregnant — it was just me and her, no friends or family,” he says.

“I decided to fix my ways and I never again wanted to take any drugs. We went through a really hard time and almost starved.”

The filler was causing Romario constant pain, and he almost suffered kidney failure due to the toxins in the oil. He was at one point told by a doctor that his only course of action would be to have his arms amputated.

“My wife was crying when I left at 5am to go to the hospital for the procedure,” he says.

“I remember the doctor told me that they would need to amputate both arms. They said everything in there, all my muscles, were rock. It was either that or cut all of my muscles out.

“And then thank God the doctor told me that they did not have to amputate — they could instead remove the rocks which had formed in my arms.”

Romario’s bizarre appearance generates mixed reactions from people in his hometown, and reactions from some members of the public meant that his mental health deteriorated.

“One time I was working in a Catholic Church and a woman came up to me and said that her 12-year-old daughter wouldn’t come in because she was afraid of me,” he says.

“She said that she thought I was a beast, a monster — I just put my head down and didn’t say anything.”

He did also receive praise and adulation for his incredible physique — which made it even harder for him to kick the addiction.

“One time when I was working as a bodyguard in a party the girls started to get wasted and were trying to take my shirt off to see my body,” he says.

“Sometimes kids will come up to me and say that I look like the Incredible Hulk and hug me and have their photo taken with me. I really like that as I modelled my body on the Incredible Hulk.”

Romario has not used the substance for two years, but other muscle enhancing drugs still tempt him from time to time.

“Two weeks ago I bought a horse hormone. I put the needle in my chest and sucked in the air to see if I got a vein but nothing came out. I froze and started to sweat,” he says.

“My mind started remembering things that I’ve gone through and I thought that I couldn’t do it — I couldn’t give into temptation again.”

Romario still has ambitions to become a professional bodybuilder but is committed to staying clean.

“I still feel like taking it but I won’t take it again. If you take it once there will definitely be a second time — it’s addictive,” he says.

“I regret it a lot — my ambition is still to become a bodybuilder but I’ve got a long way to go.

“I know I will achieve it though.”