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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dr. Fred Hatfields 7 Laws of Training


Fred breaking the 1,000 lb. barrier in 1986.


In training, as in life, there is a lot of room for individual variation, but, that does not mean that there are not some eternal laws that must be followed to insure success. Dr. Fred Hatfield has not been heard from much lately, but is definitely one of the all-time greats in the Iron Game as both an athlete and as a writer/teacher. I heartily recommend his perspective as outlined below.....

I recently sat down with Dr. Fred Hatfield, also known as Dr. Squat, to discuss his views on strength and conditioning and how they fit into modern training systems. For those of you unfamiliar, Dr. Hatfield was a great college gymnast and bodybuilder (he was Mr. Mid America, but he didn’t compete in the Mr. America competition because of a powerlifting meet).

Dr. Hatfield is probably best known for his world record squat of 1,014lbs set in 1987 when he was the age of 45. He was also the founder of Men’s Fitness magazine and the International Sports Sciences Association, and he has written over sixty books. He knows squat and a whole lot more.

The 7 Laws of Training

Dr. Hatfield combed through a great deal of research to best improve his training. Here is what he had to say about seven common laws he found in successful training programs:

If something is called a law then it’s called a law for a reason. It means that you’ve just got to follow the law. If you break the law you go to jail or whatever; or you pay the consequences.

Many years ago, twenty-five or thirty years ago, people began to write about training a lot more than they had in the past, and I’m saying to myself how am I going to judge whether this training program is any good? I scoured the research literature and all of the popular literature for some kind of a yardstick to use to judge the efficacy of these training programs, because Lord knows I didn’t have the time or the energy to go on all of those programs.

In reading the works of many sports scientists, Hatfield boiled down their thoughts to seven fundamental laws that apply to all training (although some sports might have additional laws). These are the seven principles that guided him to squat 1,000lbs without the supportive suit technology available now for powerlifters. He indicated that these laws apply to all types of training and not only powerlifting.

1. The Law of Individual Differences

Everyone has different strengths and weakness, which need to be taken into consideration for the training program. No program fits all individuals. This realization really hits when looking at hip structure. In the picture below, the balls of the two femurs extend very differently. You can imagine that these two people will have very different squat mechanisms. The law extends beyond form and technique as people will have different levels of strength, recovery ability, coordination, and mobility to name a few.


2. The Overcompensation Principle

Our body reacts to stress by overcompensating, so that it can handle stress again in the future. This principle is why beginners at any sport see great improvement when starting their programs.

3. The Overload Principle

In order for your body to overcompensate, you must load it with a greater amount than was already encountered. This principle is the reason that people plateau in their gains over time. It becomes more and more difficult to stress the body to a point where it has not been stressed before.

4. The Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID) Principle

The basic tenet of this principle is that you must tax your body in the same way that you want to improve. If you want to be explosive, then you must train explosively. If you want to be strong, then you must train for strength. A simple example is the oft criticized high-rep Olympic lifts in CrossFit. These high-rep lifts may help in building aerobic or glycolytic capacity, but they will not assist in building Olympic weightlifting strength.

5. The Use/Disuse Principle and Law of Reversibility

The first part of this principle is that we must continue train the skill or we will lose that capacity (“use it or lose it”). However, the second part of this principle is that once it has been trained and lost, the skill (or strength) will be much easier to recover than it was to originally train. The idea is that we have laid a neurological foundation that makes it easier to recover the function after we have lost it.

A simple example is the skill of riding a bicycle. We may not have done if for years, but we can pretty much get back on the bicycle and relearn it quickly. For strength training, it can take a little longer to recover to previous levels, but recovery is still at a faster rate than for people who are untrained.

6. The Specificity Principle

Pavel Tsatsouline calls this principle “greasing the groove.”4 If we want to get better at something, we must do that something. If we want to get better at pull ups, do pull ups. Although leg presses might generalize to the squat, the squat itself will build greater squat strength.

This rule doesn’t indicate that we shouldn’t do ancillary exercises. For example, we might want to work grip strength outside of the deadlift to better hang onto the bar. However, we don’t want to do only ancillary lifts as the main exercise benefits our neurological system the best.

7. The General Adaption Syndrome

This principle might subsume the others as it contains three stages that overlap with other principles:

The first stage is called the alarm stage, which is when the body reacts to the application of training stress (similar to the overload principle).
The second stage is the resistance stage, which is when our muscles adapt to increasing amounts of stress (similar to the overcompensation principle).
The final stage is the exhaustion stage, where if we continue to train we will be forced to stop from too much stress.

This syndrome has been revised and renamed the fitness-fatigue model. Much of the revised model is due to individual differences in how novice and elite athletes respond.1 Elite athletes fatigue differently and it takes a great deal more stressor to lead to the resistance stage (or overcompensation).

For novice athletes, exhaustion is easier to reach and thus, it might be best to have a wide range of activities to create fitness (to avoid exhaustion in one activity). It might be one reason for new athletes to gain greatly while beginning CrossFit. However, they need to change their training as they begin to respond differently.


Dr. Hatfield’s Perspective on CrossFit

Dr. Hatfield was a multifaceted athlete during college and after (participating in national-level events as a college gymnast (pictured above) and being a strong Olympic and power lifter). If CrossFit were around, he probably would have excelled. However, he had some concerns with the current CrossFit training methods:

I like everything about Cross Fit, but it’s not a system of training. By putting together all those different sports and activities … it doesn’t make any sense because what you do in one sphere is going to take away in another sphere. For example, you cannot become a great marathon runner and an Olympic weightlifter of note all at the same time.

It’s not going to work because the kind of training it takes to create great endurance removes from your ability to lift heavy weights, so you’re competing against yourself really by getting into Cross Fit. … I took the time to go over CrossFit's methods with a backdrop of the Seven Granddaddy Laws to see what was going on. … they are breaking almost all the laws.

Take Home

In general these principles indicate that we can’t blindly follow programs. We all have different technical backgrounds, skeletal structures, and strength levels, to name a few differences. Our programming needs to be tailored to our goals and to us as individuals following the seven laws described above.

One common idea for a solution is to scale the weight in programs. However, that is only one method of trying to create an optimal program. We also need to consider the other laws in making the best possible program to fit our goals.

References:
1. Chiu, Loren ZF, and Barnes, Jacque. 2003. “The Fitness-Fatigue Model Revisited: Implications for Planning Short-and Long-Term Training.” Strength & Conditioning Journal 25 (6): 42–51.
2. Hortobágyi, T., L. Dempsey, D. Fraser, D. Zheng, G. Hamilton, J. Lambert, and L. Dohm. 2000. “Changes in Muscle Strength, Muscle Fibre Size and Myofibrillar Gene Expression after Immobilization and Retraining in Humans.” The Journal of Physiology 524 (1): 293–304. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7793.2000.00293.x.
3. Selye, Hans. 1950. “Stress and the General Adaptation Syndrome.” British Medical Journal 1 (4667): 1383.

4. Tsatsouline, Pavel. 2000. Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American. Dragon Door Publications.

Another image from the meet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Strength and Conditioning program at BYU


Below is an article that appeared this week in a Utah newspaper concerning the impact of a new strength and conditioning coach at BYU. I'll admit that I always root for BYU (it's my alma-mater and all six of my children have attended there) but at times in the past, have had some issues with the approach to strength and conditioning there. In fact, since the early 70's when Greg Shepard (who later founded the BFS empire)was there, I felt like they never had a great program. In my opinion they won in spite of their approach to S&C, not because of it. I even applied for positions there myself over the years and have several rejection letters to prove it! The story below is so typical of how the pendulum swings back and forth. They claim to be on to something that is newer and better than the "olympic lifts". But, in fact, they never used the "olympic lifts" or their variations to anywhere near the extent that I would advocate. What they did do, the typical power cleans, some limited overhead work, some marginal squats, were done with far too little emphasis on technique and little one on one teaching in the team sports. Now they have something "better". Any change will bring about a positive response at first. Google the Hawthorne Effect. We'll see how things go once the season starts, and even more importantly, how it ends. As for me, I will go on record as saying that I don't think they have found the Holy Grail of strength and conditioning yet and I think that the best programs are much simpler than most coaches would believe. I do like the Warrior mentality and I love the fact that they work out early in the morning. I hope they do well and wouldn't mind if the new coach proves me wrong. But I wouldn't bet on it. As long as they keep on recruiting Polynesian players they'll be alright  in spite of whatever they do, or don't do in the weight room.


They’re running around like picnic ants; huffiing, puffing and straining in an early morning workout where normal guys their age would either be asleep or shuffling like zombies.

This is the scene of a BYU defense workout this summer, a time most of the culture is kicked back looking for leisure. But it’s a time all football teams pay the freight. The leader is BYU’s new director of football performance Frank Wintrich, a muscle whisperer whose job is to reshape bodies and minds.

Crack of dawn? How does he avoid herding zombies?

He gets them to walk into a non-caffeinated electric shock zone.

“First it starts with my staff and me,” said Wintrich. “We have to be motivated and high energy every day and be hard chargers. If we come in and we are flat, the kids are going to feed off our energy, so it is incumbent upon us to be constantly driving the motivation and energy. We have to be excited to see them."

Wintrich must begin his own day with his hair on fire. “When they walk in the door, I’m constantly in their ears, talking to them, asking what’s going on, what did you do last night, what are you sulking for, do you feel good? So they know that I am doing and practicing what I preach and what I expect of them every time they come through here. That’s the most important part. Then, it is keeping them focused on why we’re here, preparing for September at Nebraska, that season and that schedule, one of the toughest this school has ever had.”

Wintrich replaces longtime BYU conditioning coach Jay Omer, who retired after the Miami Beach Bowl. Wintrich previously worked at North Texas, Utah State and The Citadel Military Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. It was at the Citadel he got turned on to the “warrior culture,” an obsession shared by his boss, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

“I had the chance to work with kids who were actually going into the military. Before we developed the warrior mindset, some of the former students there were Army rangers and Delta Force and they were looking for a place to train. They asked if they could join us and I told them to jump right in and train with us. How cool would this be when we were trying to get our kids to have a warrior spirit and culture? What better way than to put an actual warrior on the platform with them at the same time and have that guy motivate them?

“At North Texas, we needed something. Physically we were there, but mentally our edge was gone. I was fortunate to meet up with two former recon Marines. Working with them, we began developing the warrior mindset program. That led to us researching other warrior cultures like the Samurai and our Special Forces communities, and that drove the psychological emphasis. When we train athletes we look to develop physical, psychological, technical and tactical. The first three are where we have the biggest impact. That is the driving force behind how we train.”

Wintrich divides players into groups. These groups work as a unit like a military squad, drilling as a Special Forces attack team on a mission, taking one another’s back, pushing each other and competing. He’s tried to create a warrior culture, one that sees a greater cause than self, where sacrifice and commitment rule every moment.

“We might not be the most talented team on the field every Saturday, but dang it, we are going to be the most conditioned team on the field. We’re going to be the most mentally and physically prepared team that steps on that field and we use that as our frame of reference — instead of doing it for one’s self, for me, or doing it to just be doing it.

A year ago, BYU had nearly a dozen players miss games due to ankle sprains. I asked Wintrick if that was just bad luck or a foundational issue in conditioning.

“I wasn’t here so I can’t really speak to that. I just know football is a violent sport and there are going to be injuries. Taysom breaking his ankle and guys tearing their ACLs is going to happen because of the collisions and violence. Our thinking is to not have our guys be predisposed to have soft tissue injuries with the hamstrings, groins, quads, shoulder and back. We have a very good track record helping to eliminate or reduce those type of injuries through the training process. If a guy does get injured we try to make it so he comes back faster because of training leading up to it.”

Shortly after Wintrich arrived in Provo, current and former players were surprised he cut down on weight lifting time for focus on explosive skill development and sprints.

“The benefit is we want to be explosive athletes. We say this kind of tongue in cheek, but it’s true. People are always looking for the magic pill on how to make guys more explosive, but if you want to make people sprint fast, you have to go out and run fast.

“When we first got here the kids came in and said, ‘Hey, we’re only lifting 30 minutes a day but we’re running for an hour or hour and a half.’ But the majority of their time on the football field is running. So when we are on the field training, we want to be sure there is a high level of dynamic correspondence or correlation to activity in a game situation and how they expect to perform. We jump a lot, we sprint a lot, we do explosive medicine ball throws. The weight lifting is there to compliment those things, not as the basis for what we’re doing.”

What’s more important for Wintrich, his knowledge or personality?

He says it’s his personal touch. “It’s essential. That’s why I hire people that are smarter than me.” The example is his role as energy engineer, the driver. He is vocal and demands direction and results. It bleeds down the line.

“It is my job to push it forward and make sure the personality and energy I bring drive it, and it rubs off on the kids. Some of our kids are starting to get it. Harvey Langi, Bronson Kaufusi, Tejan Koroma, Ului Lapuaho and Taysom Hill are guys that are starting to realize what leadership is and how that dynamic energy can influence the team, and they are beginning to do a much better job. Coaching it and getting kids to buy into it is essential. If you have a great program, but it’s boring and the leadership is poor, they’ll look at it and say they don’t really believe in it and go somewhere else to find training or not work very hard and not get a good result.”

Wintrich is impressed by the progress of D-lineman Graham Rowley, the return from injury of linebacker Fred Warner and development of outside linebacker Tyler Cook. He says RB Jamaal Williams has refused to take time off and is in the weight room or receiving treatments when everyone else is gone. He’s had to hold the reins back on Taysom Hill, but he’s good to go full bore.

Wintrich said what’s stood out the past five months is BYU players willing to do anything asked of them. “These kids are training themselves. They would go through a wall for us if we asked. I am so grateful, so appreciative to have their attitude, it makes our job so much easier as a staff. All we have to do is coach. We don’t have to coach effort and drive these guys. I don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘Aahhh, how are we going to motivate them?’ “

He said his mileposts in the offseason have been met so far in 2015, but confesses dealing with returning missionaries has caught him off guard.

“I knew we had to slow cook those guys but we’ve really had to slow things down, especially for some of those who might not be as good of athletes. Micah Hanneman came in and boom, he was ready to go in a couple of weeks: rock and roll. But others we have to be careful and slow the process down. I knew that would be a challenge, but it is more of a challenge and long term problem than I anticipated it would be. But 90 percent of the guys they are right where we want them to be.”

He sees a roster of 80 athletes who have gone on LDS missions as a plus.

“They’ve been out, they’ve experienced the world and they are much more mature than a 17- or 18-year-old kid who might be wondering what’s outside this world that he’s used to. These kids have been out and seen a completely different parts of the world that many of us will never experience or see in our lifetime. They’ve got some wild stories to tell. I love that about them and I think it makes us a better football team, but physically, we have to work that and be patient and intelligent about it. Mentally, I love that.”

Nobody, including Mendenhall, or this new Wintrich, who has had more time with BYU’s football players than anybody on the planet the past few months, can tell how good the Cougars will be this fall.

But offseason training is one facet that is hands on, measured and accounted for come the end of July.

Wintrich likes what he sees.


Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Mountain, Hafþór Julius Bjornsson

I have never watched a show called "Game of Thrones" but I understand that this guy is one of the actors. Whatever, but he is sure an amazing specimen. At 6'9" and over 400 lb. in body weight, he is a real live giant for sure. He is another Viking from Iceland who seems born to be a strongman. There is a great article about him in the current (June 2015) Milo magazine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

WHEN GREAT PREPARATION PRODUCES LOUSY TRAINING


Preparing for success increases your chances.
More good stuff from Matt Foreman from the Catalystathletics site. I don't know about you, but I can certainly relate to his conjecture about the relationship between preparation and training. I have experienced all of his examples and I imagine you have too, if you are a serious trainer who has been training for any significant length of time. As he says, the odds are with preparing for a great session, but there are no guarantees. Make the best of whatever happens.

Once again, my telepathic powers are working in turbo overdrive, because I know what many of you spend a lot of time thinking about.

You put a lot of time and effort into making sure your body is primed and ready for training on a daily basis. I’m specifically talking about how we all try to take care of the various things that can make or break us when we come to the gym and attack the barbell throughout the week. Know what I mean? Things like:
Getting a healthy amount of sleep
Eating the right meals on a consistent schedule
Staying hydrated
Stretching, or “mobilizing” as you new-generation folks like to call it
Using ice, massage, chiro adjustments, and other recovery measures
If you’ve got a reasonable amount of training experience, you’ve probably figured out that you need to look for every possible edge you can find to make your lifting better. This sport is way too challenging to just stroll into the gym like a jackass every day without any kind of preparation. You can get away with that when you’re new and you’re not lifting heavy weights yet. But once you start pushing the edges of your physical limits, taking care of the “little things” becomes a lot more important.

Known fact, right?

Okay, this is where the subject gets juicy. I’ve been training for 30 years and competing for 27 of them. And as far as I can tell, there are basically FOUR different kinds of workouts. I want you to take a look at this, and see how many of these you can relate to:

Great preparation… great training: These are the times when you’re really diligent about your pre-workout prep, and it pays off. You eat well, sleep well, stretch well, yadda yadda yadda…and you go to the gym and burn the joint down. Excellent results, just like you planned.

Great preparation… crappy training: These are the times when you’re really diligent about your pre-workout prep, and you still train like goat vomit. You did everything you could to put yourself in a successful position, and it didn’t matter. You went to the gym and sucked a butthole. 

Crappy preparation… crappy training: This one isn’t complicated. You come to the gym with no sleep, two days of nothing but Wendy’s and Krispy Kreme, bad hydration, and stiff joints from sitting in a work conference or whatever. And your training is pathetic, just like you figured it would be.

Crappy preparation… great training: Aaahhh, now we’re talkin’. Once again, your preparation is disgusting and there’s absolutely no way to expect a successful day in the gym. But for some reason, you go on a rampage and hit one of the best workouts you’ve had in weeks.

Take a second and think about how many of these you’ve experienced. If you’ve been in this business for a while, you’ve probably got stories about all of them. In my experience, the two that are most consistently reliable are these:

Great preparation… great training
Crappy preparation… crappy training
Usually, this stuff is a 2 + 2 = 4 equation. If you prepare well, you train well. If you prepare poorly, you train poorly. This is how it works the majority of the time.

But then it freaks the hell out of you when you have one of the Great preparation… crappy training workouts. These are the ones where you drive home from the gym screaming the F-word at your steering wheel and creating a whole new smorgasbord of vulgar insults for the other drivers around you. It…just…doesn’t…make…sense. You did everything right, and it didn’t matter. Your training sucked, and it’s really hard to figure out why.

The only thing crazier than those workouts are the Crappy preparation… great training. These don’t make any sense either, but you don’t care because you kicked ass. You did everything wrong leading up to the workout, and you got away with it. You don’t have to analyze anything because you set a new PR and you’re too busy giggling like a little kid who’s peeing in the shower for the first time.

A few months ago, I had one of the best Saturday workouts I’ve had in years. The day before, I was coaching at a track meet for 12 hours, sitting on hard metal bleachers in the 110 degree Arizona heat, eating nothing the whole day but hot dogs and pizza from the concession stand, getting home at midnight and getting 5 ½ hours of sleep. It was a textbook performance-destroyer kind of day, and I was on fire in the gym. Nothing hurt, my technique was perfect, and the bar felt like a broomstick. I’ve actually had quite a few of these over the years.

Listen, we’re all trying to control a lot of different variables in our training lives. You’re trying to make four or five separate systems perfect (sleep, nutrition, mobility, etc.) at the same time, and they’re all supposed to blend together at an exact moment to produce maximum physical performance.

This is tricky stuff, homie. With a lot of practice and discipline, you can make it all work together like it’s supposed to… most of the time. But don’t kid yourself, there are going to be times when 2 + 2 doesn’t add up to 4, and you can drive yourself bonkers trying to figure out why.

And hell, we’re just talking about physical factors. We haven’t even talked about the psychological angle of this. What are you supposed to do when you successfully plan and control every physical preparation measure that’s available to you, but you show up to the gym and your brain won’t cooperate? Because I’ve got news for you, this happens to all of us. Even the great ones have to fight to control what’s between their ears. Trust me, I’ve trained with some of the best athletes this sport has to offer and I can promise you something…nobody is exempt from mental days. They’re like rattlesnakes in the weeds. Sometimes you don’t even see them coming. 

All you can do is the best you can do. That’s the whole point in all of this. You have to understand that getting perfect mental and physical performance out of yourself is a challenging process. And I use the word “process” to remind all of us that’s exactly what this game is. It’s a long road with a lot of twists, turns, bumps, detours, roadblocks, and crazy hitchhikers who want to stab you. If you want something that’s completely consistent and predictable, weightlifting might not be for you.


Having crazy, unexplainable training days doesn’t make you a freak. It makes you a normal athlete. Just keep banging away and you’ll be fine.

But there are no guarantees.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bigger Faster Stronger




This article appeared recently in the Salt Lake Tribune, a Utah newspaper. Like many iconic things, BFS is known for good and bad among strength and conditioning professionals.
There are those that say the program is too simplistic. Personally I think the simplicity is genius. I believe that many make things much more complicated than needs be. BFS focuses on basic multi-joint movements that are the foundation of true strength. The set/rep scheme follows sounds periodization principals as I understand them. There is a sound variation of volume and intensity over time. Most of my programs follow a similar scheme, if not identical.
There are those who are critical of the lifts that are used. Some things like towel bench press and box squat have become much more popular since BFS first began teaching them in the 70's. Of course Greg Shepard readily admits that he learned them at the original Westside Gym in California and used them with athletes long before most anybody else did. I personally think those lifts can be done safely, but I also see that most who do them do not do them correctly. I see too many who overload the box squat way beyond what they can do a full squat with and them try to bounce up. That is only a recipe for disc problems. But that is not what BFS teaches. If done precisely as taught, under control and keeping the weight in proportion to the full squat, it can be a great lift. The problem is the high school (or other) coach who doesn't get it and functions as a cheerleader who is always yelling for more and more weight with no regards for body positions. The same for the towel bench. Do I follow the BFS program with my athletes. No, not exactly, but my programs follow the same basic principles and I have no problems recommending BFS to new coaches. Personally I don't use the box squat or the towel bench for the reasons stated. I have too many kids to keep them all honest. I use front squats and incline presses a lot.
There are some that don't think there equipment is high quality. My experience is that it is worth the price. Some of their racks and benches are not heavy duty enough or lack some adjustments that would make them fit for a real heavy duty, high use facility. But the prices are generally lower and the stuff is adequate for most high schools. I found their Glute-Ham units do not have firm enough padding to allow a heavy person and/or heavy weights to be used without "bottoming out" and making it very painful. On the other hand, I love their 5 and 10 lb. full size training plates. I have had about 6 pairs in my weight room for the past 20+ years and they are still good as new. They are very useful for beginners and especially females who are smaller. They are used pretty much all day, everyday. BFS has always been very fair with me on pricing and delivery and very accessible. Greg Shepard, as an individual has been very helpful and supportive over the years in many ways. I wish BFS continued success.


When Bigger Faster Stronger (BFS) first opened its doors nearly 40 years ago, the company couldn't have foreseen the impact it would have in the fitness world.

The company's signature, Utah-built equipment lines studios and gyms across the world, through fitness trends and bodybuilding mainstays for decades.

Its training methods — led by founder Dr. Greg Shepard, whose career spans decades training the world's top collegiate and professional athletes — also had a significant impact. Dr. Shepard, who was the NBA's first strength training coach during his tenure with the Utah Jazz from 1981-1997, has trained hundreds of others to help athletes around the world reach their maximum potential. More high school champions have been trained using BFS methods than anything else.

The fitness world is fundamentally different after BFS opened in 1976, but perhaps the biggest impact the locally owned company had is the one at home.

"We're proud of where we are, and the people we employ at our Salt Lake City facility," said BFS President John Rowbotham. "And we're proud to sell world-class equipment to our neighbors because we stand behind what we make."

Although BFS has been a mainstay for high school gyms, professional studios and weight rooms for years, the company also sells strength and conditioning equipment direct to consumers who are looking for world-class products at reasonable prices.

BFS is holding its first ever "virtual tent sale" on marked-down items from its extensive catalog of strength and conditioning equipment. The sale, which is available only at BiggerFasterStronger.com, includes equipment marked down nearly 50 percent for beginners to advanced users, at a range of prices for any budget and won't last long. The items, produced for new lines and development purposes, is one-of-a-kind and once it's sold, won't be available anywhere else.

The Salt Lake-based company, created by Dr. Shepard shortly after helping Brigham Young University's powerlifting team to the national championship in 1973, has dedicated itself to creating smarter, better athletes everywhere.

"We've worked with athletes around the world to help them in world-class performance, but we're also keen to help people who just want to maximize themselves. BFS helps create better, healthier lives through targeted, smart training," President John Rowbotham said.

BFS manufactures world-class equipment at its Salt Lake City headquarters and sells it worldwide. Hundreds of products are available from the company through its website, http://www.BiggerFasterStronger.com . Although many of its customers are businesses, apartment managers, high schools, CrossFit "boxes" and professional gyms, the company is happy to sell directly from its warehouse doors in Salt Lake City.

In addition to its products BFS is also hosting a free event for the community, hosted by Dr. Alina Fong, who is the Director of Concussion Treatment at CognitiveFX, to help people and parents understand the risks of concussions in youth sports.

"On top of better athletes, we want to make smarter athletes. We're holding this event to raise awareness among coaches, parents and students about concussions and brain trauma. We live in this community and we care about our athletes," Bigger Faster Stronger CEO Bob Rowbotham said.

The free seminar will be held at 9 a.m. to noon, June 13 at Mountain View High School, 665 W. Center St., in Orem.

With 40 years in the industry, the team at Bigger Faster Stronger promise to continue working hard to build better athletes and stronger ties with the community.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

For Better Grades, Try Gym Class




More evidence to support what most of us already know. In a nutshell, exercise is a great way to enhance mental processes. Yet, most of our schools are doing just the opposite and are cutting physical activities in favor of more seat time. Don't let this happen in your community and certainly don't get too busy to have active fun with your kids at home. It will make a huge difference when you build their foundation on a base of health and fitness.

For Better Grades, Try Gym Class
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS 

If you want a young person to focus intently in school and perform well on tests, should you first send him or her to gym class? That question, which has particular relevance for school districts weighing whether to reduce or ax their physical education programs to save money, motivated a number of stimulating new examinations into the interplay of activity and attention. Some of the experiments studied children; others looked at laboratory rats bred to have an animal version of attention deficit disorder. For both groups, exercise significantly affected their ability to concentrate, although some activities seemed to be better than others at sharpening attention.

The most striking of the new studies involved 138 schoolchildren ages 8 to 11 who were living in Rome. The children were physically healthy, and none suffered from serious attention deficits. But like most children that age, they found it difficult to remain fully engaged in their lessons as the school day wore on. As the study’s authors, all affiliated with the Foro Italico campus of the University of Rome, point out, children “who undergo prolonged periods of academic instruction often reduce their attention and concentration.”

To determine whether exertion could make students less distracted, the researchers, whose study was published last week in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, had the children complete several types of gym classes, as well as a typical instructional or lecture class. Just before and immediately after the classes, the children took a written test that required them to pick out certain letters from long chains of symbols in a short time. The test is widely accepted as a good indicator of a person’s attention and ability to concentrate.
The children’s test scores rose after each of the classes. But by a wide margin, their scores increased the most after a 50-minute gym class that concentrated on endurance exercise. In that session, the young students ran, walked, skipped and otherwise kept moving for the duration of the class. Afterward, according to their test scores, they were much better able to focus.

Interestingly, the children did not improve as much after a 50-minute gym class that required them to learn new drills with a ball. That session, which was “geared toward the development of both motor control and perceptual-motor adaptation abilities,” required more thought than the endurance class, the researchers wrote. Afterward, their scores on attention tests rose, but not by as much. The researchers speculated that asking the students to both think and move was too much, inducing “an excessive stress load” on their brains.

These findings resonate intriguingly with those of other newly published experiments involving lab rats bred to have the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These rats are twitchier and even less capable of settling down than typical rodents. They also can’t seem to stop investigating meaningless stimuli. When researchers shine a light into these rats’ cages, the animals keep going to the glow, long after they should have learned that the light was unimportant.

But researchers at the department of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth University found that giving adolescent rats access to a running wheel for three weeks before starting to shine the light in their cages significantly altered how the young animals responded. The exercised rats noticed the light, investigated it a few times and then moved on. Running had enabled the attention-deprived rats to better focus on what was meaningful — or not — in their cages.

The full effect of exercise on attention, though, remains tangled. During a separate part of the experiment that presented the A.D.H.D.-afflicted rats with a learning challenge, the animals that had exercised were no better than sedentary rodents at figuring out that a different light cue meant food. Exercise did not seem to boost their intellect, just as the Italian schoolchildren didn’t focus as well if their gym class added mental tasks to the physical exertion. “There is still a great deal that we need to learn about which parts of the brain preferentially are affected by exercise” in animals or people with attention deficits, said Andrea Robinson, a doctoral student at Dartmouth who conducted the rat experiments.


Still, she continued, the current findings are encouraging. “The implication is that exercise might in fact help to treat” young people with A.D.H.D. and, more broadly, enable all children to better absorb lessons in geometry or geology. “If I had to extrapolate” to children from her group’s findings in rats, Ms. Robinson said, the lesson would be, “let kids run around” during the school day and don’t require them constantly either to sit or to think. Or, to be more blunt, it may be time to start looking at gym classes not as lost academic hours but as a means to scholastic enrichment.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Life After Sumo

Speaking of size and Mother nature....... here is an interesting clip about the adjustment of Sumo wrestlers after they retire, or in some cases, are forced to retire due to health issues. There are some athletes who must try to maximize their body mass to increase performance. Besides Sumo, these can include Superheavy class lifters, strongman competitors, throwers, American football lineman...etc. Most realize that this is a temporary condition and after their competitive years have ended, they reduce back to their "normal" bodyweight. Some examples that I have noted over the years include High Cassidy who was a world champion powerlifter at a bodyweight of around 300 lb. who reduced back to 198 lb. within a  year or so of his retirement. Al Feurbach, world record holder in the shotput, who was small for a world class thrower even when "bulked up," trimmed down a lot after his career.
Many other examples of a healthy transition could be cited. There is no getting around the need for mass in certain athletic pursuits. However, forcing your body to carry more mass than it was genetically programmed to will eventually lead to health problems if continued after the competitive career has ended. The wise athlete will have a plan for returning to the state that Mother nature had in mind for them.



Monday, June 1, 2015

Brian Shaw

Nice video about Brian Shaw, an American strong man who has won the World's Strongest Man. Unless you have stood next to Brian, it's hard to imagine how massive he is. He is so well proportioned and even relatively lean so that he doesn't look as huge as he really is unless he is standing next to something to give some size perspective. He attended a strongman competition in Utah a year or so ago that my son Oliver was competing in. As I stood near him on the floor I was nearly overwhelmed by his sheer size. Around 6'7" or so and 415 lb.  That is two 200 pound men plus. This video discusses the road he took to get where he is. The height, of course, is something that you are blessed with or not. But he worked and ate long and hard to build the massive size with strength and power to go with it. Time will tell how long he will be able to sustain this before Mother Nature begins to take over and return things to the range of "normal" if there is such a thing.