Wednesday, June 29, 2016

C.J. Cummings, World Champion and World Record Holder

CJ Cummings broke world records at the Junior World Championships.

16 year old C.J.Cummings has done something no other American has done in over 50 years. As posted by USA Weightlifting......

C.J. Cummings broke three youth world records en route to winning the gold medal at weightlifting’s junior world championship Monday in Tbilisi, Georgia. It is the first junior worlds title for the United States in 16 years.

The most recent American to win a junior worlds gold medal was Oscar Chaplin III, who won his title the same year Cummings was born. Chaplin, a bronze medalist at the Winnipeg 1999 Pan American Games, went on to compete in the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

Competing in the 69 kg. division, Cummings rewrote three world records, scoring 175 kg. in the clean and jerk, then breaking his own record with a lift of 180 kg. His total of 317 kg. lifted in the clean and jerk gave him his third world record. Robin Byrd-Goad, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team, was the last American weightlifter to break a world record (senior), doing it in 1994. The last American men’s weightlifter to set a world mark was Artie Drechsler (junior), who established his in 1970.

Cummings served notice last August that he would be a force to be reckoned with on the American weightlifting scene, winning the national championship at the age of 15 by lifting a total of 306 kg. His clean and jerk of 175 kg. broke the American men’s record by one kilogram. In November, he was the youngest of the nearly 700 competitors at the world championships in Houston.

A native of Beaufort, South Carolina, Cummings is the leading edge of USA Weightlifting’s youth development efforts, which are targeting success at the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.
What an amazing performance and a great shot in the arm for USA Weightlifting who failed to get even one male entry into the 2016 Olympics, even after several big name lifters from other countries were suspended for drugging. This shows it is possible to compete clean in a free market economy when the right talent is identified and trained properly. Congratulations to CJ and to all involved in his development.

Monday, June 27, 2016

More Pressing

Quite awhile ago we posted a comment on over head lifting as opposed to bench pressing. We commented a little on the history of the bench press and the sport of powerlifting.Prior to the 60's when powerlifting began to grow into a competitive sport, "How much can you lift?" meant over head. Not, "What can you bench?" We made clear the benefits of over head lifting as compared to lying on your back, although bench pressing does have it's place. We just think that benching should not be the exclusive upper body exercise, nor even the main one. Having said that, there are several ways of pressing the bar overhead.
Seated presses are common with body builders. They allow isolation of the upper body. This can be good in some cases, such as injury or for a change of pace. (Although be aware that if you have lower back problems, seated pressing creates greater pressure on the lumbar discs than standing) We believe that standing is the best type of press for an athlete. Barbells or dumbells both have their plusses. While dumbells usually require a lighter total weight; I.E.; If your max press with a bar is 100 kg., it is unlikely that you could press 2- 50 kg. dumbells. Dumbells require more stabilization as they must be controlled from drifting in all directions, where as a bar only needs to be stabilized from front to back. Kind of like the difference between riding a bicycle and a unicycle.
In the early days of weightlifting competition the press was performed very strictly with little lean back. Thus the term Military press, meaning straight up as in attention. Over the years the competitive press evolved (deteriorated) into a much different lift. The lifter above is using a pretty extreme back bend, although others of the era were even more exagerated. Below is Norbert Schemnasky, one of the all-time greats whose career spanned several decades and 4 olympiads. His style was fairly strict. When using the press as a training tool there is no reason for excessive lean. Stay straight as possible and drive the bar in front of your face. As you cross your forehead, then drive it back over your ears to lock out driving your head forward under the bar. This style protects the lower back and maximizes shoulder and upper back strength. Indeed, in 1972 the Press was dropped from weightlifting competition as it became too difficult to judge because of the excessive back bend. Since then, lifting meets include only two lifts, the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk.I have to admit that my first competition included the press. That dates me quite a bit.

Oliver  Whaley (below) pressing 100 lb. dumbells for 28 reps. Oliver recently pressed 152+ kg. .(335lb.) in a standing military press.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

How hard is it to play a sport in college or the pros? Wonder no more

Some really great athletes do not make it to the next level.

Below is an interesting article that shows what the realistic chances of playing at a high level are. This is not meant to in any way discourage anyone's dreams, but rather to hopefully encourage the hard work and discipline that it takes to compete at a higher level.....

Are you a prep athlete who’s always wondered about your chances of playing college ball? Or maybe you’re some poor schlub like me who wondered why you’re career never made it to the college level?
Wonder no more, my friends, because these NCAA statistics provide the answers you’re looking for.

 Sources: High school figures from the 2014-15 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations. College numbers from the NCAA NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report
Based on NCAA research from the National Federation of State high School Associations’ 2014-15 High School Athletics Participation Survey and the NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.

If you’re one of the roughly four million female high school athletes in the U.S., your best chance of playing a major college sport lies on the ice, since 23.1 percent of the 9,418 girls’ hockey players nationwide played collegiately, according to the 2014-15 High School Athletics Participation Survey. That’s followed by lacrosse (13.0 percent). The same is true in reverse for males, as 12.1 percent of the nation’s boys’ lacrosse players and 11.3 percent of the boys’ hockey players play in college.
The hardest major sport to play in college? For boys, it’s wrestling (2.7 percent), then volleyball (3.3 percent) and basketball (3.5 percent). For girls, it’s a tie between volleyball (3.9 percent) and basketball (3.9 percent). And that’s for Divisions I-III. To put a finer point on it, roughly one in every 100 of the nearly one million high school basketball players in 2014-15 played Division I ball.
Now, for the bigger question: What are the odds you’re going pro? Or why you didn’t go pro.

NCAA research figures are based on the number of draft picks made in the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL and MLS drafts only.

Based on NCAA research of NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL and MLS drafts picks.
A lower percentage of college basketball players play professionally than football, baseball, men’s hockey or men’s soccer players. To put a finer point on it, just 96 of the 35,286 college ballers — out of a pool of 916,071 high school basketball players — made the NBA or WNBA. For those of you calculating at home, 0.0001 percent of prep basketball players get drafted. That’s one in 10,000.
Then again, LeBron James didn’t technically play college basketball, either, so just be more like him.
Some sports depend entirely on individual performance.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Finding Strength in Numbers?

Following is an article by Vern Gambetta that I got off of the "Training and Conditioning" site.We have posted some of Vern's articles with comments previously and I really think he hits the nail on the head with this one. In many of my earlier posts I have made the point that coaching is as much art as science. A good coach doesn't need alot of scientific gadgetry to be effective. In fact, too many young coaches are too dependent on these gadgets and lose sight of the importance of the coach athlete relationship and how using your eyes, ears, and intuition can tell you most of what is really important to know. I am not against technology, but I am against forgetting the fact that athletes are living organisms and their training can't be programmed like that of a machine.Enough ranting, Vern says it well....
"You have max heart rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. You have total distance moved in a practice and blood lactate calculations for in- and post-workout activity. You have spreadsheets filled with so many numbers that the question becomes, "How do you translate all these numbers into useful information?"
That is the million-dollar question. It is not a matter of what we can monitor--it is about which numbers we can use.
The explosion in technology has enabled us to monitor virtually anything we want, but before we go further down this path, we need to ask ourselves, "Why?"
On one level, the answer is very straightforward. We need to get accurate feedback to guide and shape the training process. We need to understand our athletes' response and adaptation to various types, volumes, and intensities of training.
On another level, we need to determine what kinds information will help us accomplish those objectives. Monitoring more factors is not the answer, because measurable isn't always the same as meaningful. We need to examine whether the data is helping our athletes improve.
I love data, and I enjoy the challenge of finding meaning in statistics. But--and this is a big but--I wonder whether we're losing sight of the forest for the trees.
We can get so caught up generating numbers that we take our eye off the ball. We need to see our athletes as individuals, and carefully observe how they handle the stress of training and competition. Watch their body language. Ask how they feel. Train them to read their bodies and understand how they react to training stress. Put the focus squarely back on Hu--the human element--not on the technologies.
Don't be a mad scientist--be a coach. Use technology to measure what is meaningful and appropriate. Before becoming inundated with numbers, focus only on what you need to significantly impact training.
Look closely at the tools available to help: How much time do you have? How much help do you have?
Carefully choose how and what you are going to monitor. Then use that data to modify your training for meaningful results."

Well said. I have no further comment.Vern Gambetta, MA, is President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. The former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox, he has also worked extensively with basketball, soccer, and track and field athletes. He is a frequent contributor to Training & Conditioning. Vern also maintains his own blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The 10 Commandments of Lifting

We have featured a lot of material from Dan John in the past. He has become a very popular author and clinician as well as a very successful athlete and coach. He has a great sense of humor along with real experiences. He writes from that perspective. No theoretical BS. Here is one of my favorites.

The 10 Commandments of Lifting

 by Dan John | 01/26/15


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.


Bar Overhead


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.

Dan John


Dan John is an elite-level strength and weightlifting coach. He is also an All-American discus thrower, holds the American record in the Weight Pentathlon, and has competed at the highest levels of Olympic lifting and Highland Games. 


Follow Dan John on Facebook


Monday, June 13, 2016

Four Great Leadership Lessons From Muhammad Ali


We noted the impact of Muhammad Ali in a post last week. He is still a major subject of the news. It is amazing how his image morphed from a brash young boxer to an almost Yoda like philosopher over the years. Now with his death, many are jumping on the band wagon and attributing all sorts of wisdom and philosophy to him. Below is an example of some lessons and qualities that were interpolated from some things the author observed. I share it because there are some good points in my opinion. I like Ali and recognize him as a real game changer in boxing and athletics in general, not to mention politics. I don't see him as a greater than human person though. He was just a guy who did his best, like most of us. I imagine he'd be the first to agree.

The Four Greatest Leadership Lessons From The Greatest -- Muhammad Ali

 Many have written that Muhammad Ali transcended sport. To me he did so much more. He “went beyond” as only a truly authentic leader can. He transcended race, national boundaries, religious distinctions and bigotry. He even transcended his own braggadocios persona as he grew, matured and served his globally enriching purpose.


With a leader of such wide-ranging impact, it is impossible to isolate just a few principles of his true greatness. While all leaders must pass, the great ones “pass-on” what is important by example, by how they lived. For me, Ali “passed-on” four great leadership principles through his extraordinary well-lived life:

 1. Be Courageous And In-Character: The essence of Ali was his courageous character. From Sonny Liston to the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, he was always fearless in the face of fear, particularly when the stakes were high. Like most great leaders, he knew that courage is not the absence of fear, but that courage is facing our fear and then doing what is really important. Bryant Gumbel, journalist and HBO host, said, “He simply refused to be afraid. And being that way, he gave other people courage.” Managers see risk and try to carefully mitigate it; true leaders see risk, and if their values or principles are at risk, they run into the fire. In Ali’s words, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”


2. Rope-A-Dope Innovation: Managers improve what is. Managers enhance what is. Managers move forward what is. Leaders go beyond what is. When we face competition bigger and stronger than us, what do we do? Compete in the same way we always do? Run away from the fierceness of the fight? Ali knew better. His only option with George Foreman was to take a path never before considered with such a devastating, powerful adversary. Let Foreman punch you until you wear him down. Then when he is sapped of strength, knock him out. It was a totally crazy strategy, but possibly the only one that could bring victory. Ali took that path, despite the screaming protests of his beloved trainer, Angelo Dundee, and the shocked, skeptical pundits in attendance. Ali took the path of true leadership, going beyond what had always worked and instead trusted his instincts to navigate to the new and the different.


3.Be On-Purpose Through Service: Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Managers secure success while leaders see service as their true measure of significance. Ali served the world. He was an ambassador to our global family. From his mid-east hostage negotiations to Civil Rights reforms and generous philanthropy, he served us all. Ali summed it up this way: “To be able to give away riches is mandatory if you wish to possess them. This is the only way that you will be truly rich.” Ali fought in the ring for the first half of his life; he fought for the world in the second half.


4. Love All: In the end, the true measure of our success will not merely be in our accomplishments, but in the big difference we make in the lives of other people. Managers leave accomplishments; leaders leave people transformed through love and character. Ali said, “I wish that everyone would just love one another as much as they love me.”


Ali fought for us all with his love, service, character, and his unrelenting desire to fight for the principles of peace, equality, freedom, and self-determination. Ali fought for us all. This is what made him an authentic, purpose-driven leader. His enduring mark continues to resonate in our hearts through the joy, courage, service and inspiration he gave so freely.


Kevin Cashman is Senior Partner at Korn Ferry, specializing in CEO & Executive Development and Keynote Speaking.
Muhammad Ali 560x373

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What We See In the Best Weight Rooms

Something I found and modified. Just some commonsense parameters for those who like to train for real....
• Squats are walked out.
• Lift-offs are not given on the bench press.
• If you're going to overhead press, it will be done standing.
• No straps unless you are hurt or doing a hang variation of a lift.
• You don't debate about organic/non-organic, or about milk.
• Squats are done all the way down, thighs to calves ; this is assumed and are not called "Full Squats."
• No need for music or training partners or "the right atmosphere" to train hard.
• There are no 8-week plans, rather yearlong goals and decade long achievements.
• All you need is a rack, barbell, platform and some weights.
• You realize physical strength can develop mental and spiritual strength.
• You never fall for gimmicks; principles last forever.
Now there are quite a few more of these, but you get the picture. The point is this: training has become over run with people telling US how we need to think, how we need to train, and what is functional or even acceptable.
Don't bring your gimmicky elements onto my platform. And please, don't try to sell us on how hardcore you are or how dedicated to strength you are. Your lifts and your silence do more talking than your Internet chatter and bravado. And please, leave your lifting gloves at home.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Another Great Ali Story

I'm old enough to remember a young boxer named Cassiius Clay. I remember when he became Muhammad Ali. I also remember that it took awhile for many of us blue collar types to really appreciate what he was doing and the impact for good that it all ultimately had. Whether you agreed with his beliefs or not, it was hard  not to like him. Even while he was seemingly arrogant, (his type of what today we call "talking trash" was unknown), he invented it, he did so with such personality that we had knew he didn't really take himself too seriously and we laughed along with him. At least I did. I loved his interviews with Howard Cosell. He always got the best of him. He was an amazing athlete and by all accounts of those who knew him best, a great person. Below is another great story among the many that are being posted about him this week. Rest in peace Champ.

It’s hard to imagine now:barely having a clue who the
Beatles were, or the man who would become
Muhammad Ali.
But that’s how things were when Robert Lipsyte found
himself face­to­face with these future legends more
than 50 years ago, through a chance of publicity
The New York Times had plucked Lipsyte from the
feature department to go to Miami Beach and cover
the heavyweight boxing title fight between champ
Sonny Liston and the upstart Cassius Clay, who
would later change his name to Ali. He barely knew
who Clay was, and even less about the mop­haired
singers who happened to show up during his visit.
“I wasn’t a teenage girl,” Lipsyte said. “I really didn’t
know who the Beatles were or what they would become.”
A few days earlier they had appeared for the first time on television’s popular Ed Sullivan Show. Now they were
being led up a stairway in the gym where Clay trained, with an unwitting Lipsyte swept along.
 “They’re little guys with lots of hair and all wearing white terrycloth cabana jackets,” Lipsyte said. “They were yelling
and cursing because they had just been told Clay wasn’t there yet, and they wanted to leave. But these big security
types just kind of herded them up the stairs.”
Lipsyte found himself in a dressing room with the Beatles, who weren’t at all happy. They had gone earlier to Liston’s
training, but Liston took one look at them and refused to pose for pictures.
Lipsyte introduced himself and asked for their prediction, which was for a first­round Liston knockout. Then they all
waited for 10 or 15 minutes, with the Beatles complaining the whole time, for Clay to arrive.
“But suddenly the door burst open and there he is. He’s the most gorgeous creature I’ve ever seen. He kind of glows
and he’s laughing, and he says, ‘Come on, Beatles, let’s go make some money.’”
Make some money they did. In photos that would become legendary, Clay is shown knocking the Beatles down like
dominoes, and standing over them sprawled out in the ring.
It was as if they had all rehearsed it beforehand, Lipsyte said.
“There was a lot of laughter, and then they’re gone, off to their limo,” he said. “Cassius then started training in front of
people who paid 50 cents to get in.”
After the workout, Clay went back to the dressing room for a rubdown, and Lipsyte crowded in with him. Clay
recognized him as being in the room earlier, and beckoned him over with a question.
“Who were those little sissies?” he asked.
Clay, of course, would beat Liston and go on to even greater things as Muhammad Ali. Lipsyte would become a
columnist for the Times and cover him for years.
And the Beatles? They ended up doing OK, too.

 Image result for muhammad ali and the beatles

Friday, June 3, 2016

Take Care of Your Back

In the heavy events like lifting and throwing a strong, healthy back is essential. The human back is a miraculous creation and very complex. In this short post we can't begin to address all of the issues that are pieces of the total back care regimine. We'll just touch on a few points and probably follow with more later. Books have been written about the structure and functions of the spine. Some of the best are by Dr. Stuart McGill. He is a Canadian scholar who has made a life's work of studying the human spine. His writing is detailed, but comprehensible to the non-scholars like me.

I highly recommend these to any serious trainer or anyone who has had low back pain. It is beyond the scope of this post to go into great detail, but one of the important take home messages I got was that the spine is designed to resist compressive forces, not twisting or shear forces.Therefore do not do exercises that push the spine beyond it's normal end range of motion. Do not exagerate or overstretch the natural range of motion. In an earlier post, we designated the difference between twisting and rotational exercises and drills. Twisting is when the hips and shoulders are turning in opposite directions like a discus wind for some or driving the right foot pivot while keeping the shoulder back for separation in the middle. Even these examples do not really require a violent twist as the hips and shoulders still drive in the same direction. (So why do twisting exercises like a seated twist with the bar on the shoulders?) Rotation is when the hips and shoulders are turning at the same time. (such as hammer turns) Twisting can be very hard on the spine if the supporting musculature is not used to keep the stress off of the discs and connective tissues at the beginning and end of the range of motion. Rotation is most dangerous at the endpoint if follow-through is not controlled.

In the videos below Glen Pendlay and Donnie Shankle of California Strength demonstrate the difference between the misnamed Hyper-extension exercises (you don't really want to hyper-extend beyond straight) and Back Raises. Both are important in developing spinal stability. Note that neither are done to the complete end range of motion and there is certainly no attempt to stretch beyond the end range. This is important in preserving disc integrity. Having suffered a serious back injury over 30 years ago after falling two stories in a construction accident, I have used these exercises extensively myself. The "hypers" work the back isometrically (which how it is used in keeping us erect all day) and hip stabilizers togather while the Back Raises work the spinal muscles that extend the spine concentrically.

This second video is a very interesting segment showing some Chinese lifters doing various spinal stabilizing exercises including 1 arm presses and hypers in the back round along with a suspension devise and some spinal walking with a partner. Take care of your back so you can train hard and train for a long time. While there are few genetic animals out there who can break the "rules" and still thrive, most of us will eventually pay a price if we ignore proper back care.