Thursday, September 29, 2016

Should Weight Training Be Required?

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Does passion for lifting come from requirements?

This is a very interesting article. I can see the concerns from both sides of the issue. As a public school educator and coach who has taught weight training for the past 36 years, I know of it's value, of course, and can appreciate the desire to set high expectations. However as a parent and just, honestly, in my nature, I am resistant to "required" mandates such as this. In our program over the years we have never attempted to "require" attendance in the weight room, however the expectation, unwritten, has always been there. I would like to think that compliance has been voluntary. No one who could perform well on the courts or fields or competition has ever been excluded due to lack of attendance or effort in the weight room. But early on kids have figured out that they get left behind if they are not putting in the work. Are there exceptions? Yes, but few and far between. We have the occasional athlete who excels on natural ability. I always remember the year that Bo Jackson was the keynote speaker at the NSCA national convention. His first words were "I never lifted weights in college." "I never used weights until I had my hip replaced, then I used them in rehab." I remember the shock wave that went through the audience. It was pretty funny really. I also remember years ago when the vocational director at our school requested to the administration that they drop weight training from the curriculum here because "too many students were taking the class and it was causing a drop in the enrollment of her classes"  Luckily for me, the administration did the right thing and told her that if students didn't want to take her classes that she needed to look at what her program was doing. I feel the same about weight training. If you have to "require" participation, then maybe your program isn't good enough yet to sell itself.

Parents seek end to athlete weight training mandate at Visalia schools.

By Lewis Griswold

A fight over the proper balance between academics and sports has erupted between parents and administrators at El Diamante High School. At issue is the school’s mandatory strength training program.

Visalia lawyer Roland Soltesz, whose daughter is a senior and varsity soccer player, sent the school a letter demanding “the immediate cessation of the mandatory strength training policy.”

The letter also alleges gender fairness problems exist at the school under federal Title IX law, which Visalia Unified administrator Jeff Hohne said is unfounded.

Student-athletes, many of them “A” students involved in more than one after-school activity, are being pressured by coaches to drop an academic elective from their schedules to make room for weight training class, or to lift weights before school starts, Soltesz said.

But principal Angela Sanchez said the school carefully listened to parent complaints last year and addressed their concerns by instituting a waiver program for student-athletes. Under the waiver, any student-athlete taking a full load of six periods can skip the strength training, she said.

The kids are so afraid they acquiesce. They have to make the choice of academics or weight training.

Parents hoped that would resolve the matter but soon learned the waiver option isn’t being honored by coaches, Soltesz said.

Several parents are telling him that coaches are pulling students with waivers from class and pressuring them to sign up for weight training, he said.

“It’s an illusory waiver,” Soltesz said. “It’s a waiver in name only. The kids are so afraid they acquiesce. They have to make the choice of academics or weight training. The attitude is so toxic.”

El Diamante is the only high school in Visalia Unified to have mandatory strength training, a policy that is in force during the season and during the offseason.

“There’s a philosophy” of weight training for El Diamante athletes that began when the school opened in 2002, Sanchez said. The strength training class is offered each period and before school during “pre-first,” around 7 a.m.

Administrators have considered doing away with the mandatory policy, but it’s effective for the athletic program, she said. El Diamante teams are often in noticeably better physical shape than the competition when the season starts.

The waiver option is new this year so inevitably there have been errors by coaches in adjusting to it, but they have gotten the word that students who claim the waiver – about 50 varsity athletes have it – are exempt from strength training, the principal said.

When communicating with students the benefits of strength training, coaches “should not be telling them they have to” take pre-first, Sanchez said.

Still, “there’s an expectation that players will lift,” she said. Other high school athletic programs in Visalia Unified have a similar expectation, Sanchez said.

Parent Aaron Cochran said his son, who is active in sports and music, was forced out of soccer over the issue.

He said the coach pulled his son out of class and wanted to know why he didn’t just sign up for pre-first weight training.

“There’s an expectation that players will lift (weights).

“He was told, ‘You’re the only kid who has a waiver. Our expectation is you will take P.E.’ ” Cochran said.

Later, at a preseason team meeting, the coach told his son – a senior with a record of scoring goals on his ranked club team – that the roster might be 24 players and he was ranked 26 or 27, Cochran said. His son won’t be going out for the varsity team, Cochran said.

Sanchez said she is aware of the parent’s complaint.

Soltesz said he has yet to receive a reply to his letter. He said he has offered to meet informally with the principal and administrators but has yet to hear back.

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Fresno Bee: 559-441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com, @fb_LewGriswold

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/lewis-griswold/article102326477.html#storylink=cpy

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Success comes from passion that can't be "required"

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dimas Part 3

The third installment of Greek weight lifting legend (and now USA Weightlifting employee) Pyrros Dimas talking about his lifting development and experiences. This is must-see for any serious lifter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Who Would You Vote For?

William Wallace for President!!
Election day here in the United States is fast approaching and it is a very unusual and divisive campaign where many Americans (myself included) have trouble being enthusiastic about either choice.. At school this morning one of my students asked who I was voting for. I told them that I could only tell who I was not voting for for sure. (hint: he is an arrogant,  psychotic sociopath with a bad comb over) However, teacher that I am, I recognized a "teaching moment". I decided to share with them my wisdom in determining who is worthy of my vote. My formula, like me, is quite simple.
I never vote for anyone who:

Does half squats
Calls jogging a workout
Wears gloves in the weight room
Does bench press for the first exercise of their workout
Doesn't snatch
Does every lift in front of a mirror
Drinks diet pepsi with their Big Macs and large fries.

That's it. Unfortunately I don't find many highly qualified candidates.I told them that is why they need to train hard and smart so we can have leaders we can trust in the future.

I would never vote for this guy!!

I would vote for Dave Draper on the basis of his squat style. I'm not as sure about the guy next to him though.

Would I vote for Zygmunt Smalcerz? You bet! Of course only if he can produce a birth certificate that proves he was born in the United States.

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Morghan King may be our best bet!

Monday, September 19, 2016


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If the object is to get stronger, train hard and smart.
Great explanation by Mark Rippetoe, who we have featured before. He never holds back expressing his opinion or playing with words. It is a widely held myth that whatever makes you sore, must be a great workout. Mark sets the record straight.

by Mark Rippetoe | September 08, 2016

Soreness does not make you stronger. Soreness does not make you bigger. You should not LiveSore, because not only is it counterproductive to your strength progress and your health, it feeds the wrong psychology – penance is Religion, not training.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is currently understood as an inflammatory response to the eccentric component of an exercise. The actin-myosin crossbridges are damaged by the separation under tension as the sarcomere elongates during the eccentric phase of the muscle contraction, and the damage is repaired during the inflammatory cascade (for more information about the microanatomy involved start here)

When you are sore, you have done muscular work with an eccentric component to which you are not adapted. For example, cycling has no eccentric component, and although cyclists new to barbell training may be fairly strong, they get incredibly sore the first time they squat due to the eccentric component of the movement. And pushing the prowler doesn’t make you sore, no matter how hard you work, because pushing a sled lacks an eccentric component.

Since productive barbell exercises include an eccentric phase in their movement patterns, some soreness is always the result of productive training. But the soreness itself is not the aspect of the training that makes you stronger – the programmed increase in the load over time does that. The soreness is merely an unfortunate but necessary side-effect of having done barbell exercise.

Training specifically for soreness is foolish, since it indicates nothing more than unadapted-to eccentric work. The best illustration of this is 100 bodyweight (“air”) squats done as a single set. Anyone who is actually capable of doing this will get both excruciatingly sore and absolutely no stronger as a result. The soreness will be the product of the negative phase of 100 continuous reps, despite the fact that the load is only your bodyweight. And because the load is only your bodyweight – and because you’re already strong enough to do it 100 times – you cannot increase your force production capacity by doing 100 bodyweight squats. You can only get sore.

And being sore all the time is also foolish, because broadly-distributed DOMS is system-wide inflammation. Just like having the flu. Neither the flu nor 100 air squats makes you stronger, and in fact the catabolic effects of massive inflammation actually detrains strength. And doing this to yourself voluntarily – over and over again, week after week, month after month, for years at a time – takes its toll on your health.

People who do this habitually have either learned the wrong facts about exercise and its benefits, or they are trying to pay off a debt they think they owe, usually to themselves. This type of OCD is outside my experience, so I’ll leave it to the psychologists.

Productive training entails some soreness, and everybody that trains gets used to the idea that getting stronger over time is accompanied by soreness – not the debilitating, crippling kind that makes normal movement difficult, but the mild soreness that accompanies a PR squat. To the extent that PRs are enjoyable, this soreness is welcome. It is possible to train for months and double your squat without being terribly sore at any point in the process.

But doing stupid workouts that cannot make you stronger and have not made you anything but sore indicates that you either don’t know what you’re doing, or that your priorities are other than getting stronger. If I were you, I’d reevaluate my priorities.

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Smart training brings great results.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Use it or lose it: Stopping exercise decreases brain blood flow

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Movement feels great!

Great article that again shows that the human body is one piece. Mental and physical processes are not separate entities. They are inseparably connected. Movement is essential and enhances learning and memory.

Use it or lose it: Stopping exercise decreases brain blood flow
Date:August 29, 2016 Source:University of Maryland Summary:Researchers examined cerebral blood flow in master athletes (ages 50-80 years) before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise. Using MRI brain imaging techniques, they found a significant decrease in blood flow to several brain regions important for cognitive health, including the hippocampus, after they stopped their exercise routines. Share:

We all know that we can quickly lose cardiovascular endurance if we stop exercising for a few weeks, but what impact does the cessation of exercise have on our brains? New research led by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers examined cerebral blood flow in healthy, physically fit older adults (ages 50-80 years) before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise. Using MRI brain imaging techniques, they found a significant decrease in blood flow to several brain regions, including the hippocampus, after they stopped their exercise routines.

"We know that the hippocampus plays an important role in learning and memory and is one of the first brain regions to shrink in people with Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology and lead author of the study, which is published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience in August 2016. "In rodents, the hippocampus responds to exercise training by increasing the growth of new blood vessels and new neurons, and in older people, exercise can help protect the hippocampus from shrinking. So, it is significant that people who stopped exercising for only 10 days showed a decrease in brain blood flow in brain regions that are important for maintaining brain health."

The study participants were all "master athletes," defined as people between the ages of 50 and 80 (average age was 61) who have at least 15 years history of participating in endurance exercise and who have recently competed in an endurance event. Their exercise regimens must have entailed at least four hours of high intensity endurance training each week. On average, they were running ~36 miles (59 km) each week or the equivalent of a 10K run a day! Not surprisingly, this group had a V02 max above 90% for their age. This is a measure of the maximal rate of oxygen consumption of an individual and reflects their aerobic physical fitness.

Dr. Smith and colleagues measured the velocity of blood flow in brain with an MRI scan while they were still following their regular training routine (at peak fitness) and again after 10 days of no exercise. They found that resting cerebral blood flow significantly decreased in eight brain regions, including the areas of the left and right hippocampus and several regions known to be part of the brain's "default mode network" -- a neural network known to deteriorate quickly with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. This information adds to the growing scientific understanding of the impact of physical activity on cognitive health.

"We know that if you are less physically active, you are more likely to have cognitive problems and dementia as you age," says Dr. Smith. "However, we did not find any evidence that cognitive abilities worsened after stopping exercising for just 10 days. But the take home message is simple -- if you do stop exercising for 10 days, just as you will quickly lose your cardiovascular fitness, you will also experience a decrease in blood brain flow."

Dr. Smith believes that this could have important implications for brain health in older adults, and points to the need for more research to understand how fast these changes occur, what the long term effects could be, and how fast they could be reversed when exercise is resumed.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Maryland. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

1.Alfonso J. Alfini, Lauren R. Weiss, Brooks P. Leitner, Theresa J. Smith, James M. Hagberg, J. Carson Smith. Hippocampal and Cerebral Blood Flow after Exercise Cessation in Master Athletes. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2016; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00184

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Celebrate life!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Coaching Women: It’s Exactly the Same as Coaching Anyone Else

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The barbell has no gender bias. It will improve anyone who will lift it.

Below is an article by Greg Everett Of Catalyst Athletics. I think he nails this topic. My own experience of coaching both genders in lifting and track bring me to the same conclusions. A good coach coaches individuals and not categories. I will let Greg's article speak for itself........

I won’t lie—I’m not entirely sure I even want to write this article. The subject is one I’m very confident in while simultaneously recognizing that irrespective of the actual nature of my opinions, the topic itself will always draw some criticism and complaint. But I suppose I should be fairly inured to criticism and complaint at this point, so let’s get on with it.
 First, let me hurt your feelings a little bit: Women—you’re not THAT special, at least in this context. Now let me make up for it: Every individual is special, regardless of what type of gear your pants contain.
 Let me make the underlying point clear quickly for those of you who habitually read only above the fold to minimize the mean comments that will hurt my feelings: Every weightlifter is an individual with a long list of relevant physical, mental and emotional qualities that can vary dramatically even among seemingly homogenous groups as defined by things like gender, age, ethnicity, athletic background, favorite food or astrological sign. Yes, you are a unique, special little darling and you deserve to be treated accordingly by your coach.
“ Every weightlifter is an individual with a long list of relevant physical, mental and emotional qualities that can vary dramatically even among seemingly homogenous groups...

In other words, we may be able to make very broad generalizations about any given type of weightlifter (according to gender, age, experience, etc.), and this is a smart way to start, but stopping there and assuming these generalizations are all perfectly accurate for a given lifter is an egregious mistake that will limit the effectiveness of your training or coaching. Generalizations are arguably a necessity in many respects, but they should never serve as anything more than a point from which to start refining your approach. You may start, consequently, considering a female weightlifter as a female weightlifter on day one—but you’d better get past that very quickly and start considering her as a weightlifter, period (no pun intended, but subsequently enjoyed).
 I’m going to add one more point that may piss a few of you off, but that won’t be anything new, and I think it’s an important one. Being of a given group of people does not, as one might assume, necessarily make you an expert on that group. It is, in my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes you can make—assuming that because you share some defining quality with others that you know more about them then someone outside that group. That’s grade school nonsense for a number of reasons, including the fact that such an assumption means you believe all people in a given group are the same, so if you know one, you know them all. I hope I don’t have to explain the problems with that.
 What that means here is that being a woman does not automatically make you more of an expert on coaching female weightlifters than a man. I’m sorry. As someone who has always coached more women than men, I find it offensive when it’s presumed that my gender prevents me from understanding women, effectively communicating with women, sympathizing with women, or in any way being unable to work with them as well as a female coach. I’d like to think that my record of coaching women is at least decent evidence of this, but it apparently is unconvincing to some.
 This has a flipside also—two of the best weightlifting coaches I know are women: Ursula Garza and my wife, Aimee. I’ve seen many instances of these women being written off as unable to be good coaches for male weightlifters, as if their knowledge and experience suddenly evaporate in the absence of vaginas. And I’ve seen female coaches being heralded as having some kind of special ability to coach women by virtue of their parents creating female offspring through pure biological chance—despite a lack of experience actually coaching any women successfully.
 Related to this is something to ponder—if a female weightlifter has used anabolic steroids for the bulk of her lifting career, in effect dramatically reducing the general physical disparities between the genders, is her training experience actually more valuable for drug-free women than the experience of a coach (male or female) with significant experience coaching women? This is in no way some kind of moral finger wagging—it’s a legitimate issue to consider.
 Now that I’ve thrown my tantrum and everyone who was on the fence about liking me has long ago has made a decision and stopped reading, let’s throw some nuts and bolts on the table and sort them out. There are indeed some generalizations we can make—and remember, starting points to work from, not black and white facts to rely on. In no particular order:
Hormonal Levels
 Did you know men have more testosterone than women? I know, shocker. This affects a few different things pertinent to weightlifting such as the ability to build and maintain muscle mass, body composition, and even neurological efficiency (see below). That said, we all know women exist who posses significantly more muscularity, better body composition, more strength and more speed than many men—and I mean naturally, not with questionable supplementation practices.
 Women tend to be more mobile than men. This probably didn’t blow your mind either. Typically mobility will not be a primary concern with new female lifters like it is often with males. But I can do the splits, and Jess Lucero can’t even put her arms over her head (and yet, she’s a far better snatcher and jerker than I am… that’s a triple whammy dome-scratcher).

 Women tend to be able to handle more training volume than men of similar biological age, training age and size. In other words, they can do more work in any given period of time and actually make progress with it.
Burdening Periods
 Women tend to be able to handle longer burdening periods in training before requiring a back-off in volume and/or intensity. For example, a male lifter may need to back off every third to fourth week, while his female counterpart may be able to add a week or so to that, and may even require a less dramatic change to the pertinent training variables.
Neurological Efficiency
 Women tend to be less neurologically efficient. In practical terms, this means lower maximal strength relative to muscle mass than their male counterparts, along with the ability to perform more repetitions of a lift at a given percentage of max. That is, a male may be able to squat 90% for 3 reps, and his lady friend may be able to do it for 6. And they can still love each other.
Mental Fortitude
 Nature may have shortchanged ladies on the testosterone dose, but in exchange they got a bigger dose of mental toughness and less back hair. Nearly invariably, the higher-level women I’ve coached have been tougher than the men (sorry guys—nothing personal). More often than not, in a similar training situation I have to reign in the female lifter and keep her from completely blowing herself out, while I have to push the male lifter to work harder. I’ve seen women many times train through incredible pain and serious injuries, for example, while men are in the corner crying over a torn callus and stopping their workouts because their handsies hurt. This toughness goes beyond physical pain—it applies to all kinds of hardship in and out of the gym.
Bodyweight & Food
 Men are more often far more insecure than most women know (or want to know), but women do tend to have less psychologically and emotionally healthy relationships with eating and bodyweight/appearance. Changes in bodyweight, for example, can be a very serious emotional issue for many women. Care needs to be taken with regard to bodyweight and nutrition to prevent exacerbating any issues and helping establish healthier perspectives and habits.
 Yes, women are typically more emotional, or at least emotionally demonstrative, than men, largely because we’ve had our feelings beaten out of us (or shamed out of us by cruel women…). This can manifest in a number of ways, from the way a lifter behaves day to day in the gym or in competition, to the nature of the coach-athlete relationship, to the response to coaching, etc. This can also simply be a difference, with regard to outward emotion, in the type of emotional expression, e.g. in the same situation a woman may cry while a man throws his belt and kicks the wall like a child whose parents don’t like to say No.
 With regard to coaching specifically, it has been claimed (by many female lifters; this author would never be so presumptuous) that the manner of communicating needs to differ somewhat between men and women. Because women tend to be more emotional where men tend to be more rational, the same kind of repetitive technical coaching that men seem to respond well to can sometimes become extremely frustrating to women because they may feel the coach is disappointed or upset, when in reality he or she is more likely simply emphasizing a certain technical element in need of improvement—that is, critique is viewed as criticism.
 While this may be true in general, it is a great disservice to female athletes to assume they require any special treatment, and divergence from what is necessary to help improve their lifting is in a sense crippling them, both in terms of performance in the lifts, and in future coaching and performance situations (and hell… life). The coach simply needs to pay close attention—as he or she does with any athlete, male or female—to how a particular athlete responds to coaching of various manners, and adjust accordingly. Adjustment, however, does not mean coddling of fragile athletes—such athletes are responsible for doing their part to toughen up and meet the coach halfway in the effort.
 Such adjustment for certain female lifters is often as simple as providing more encouragement and positive reinforcement along with any technical coaching. That is, where men are less likely to be upset by, or even notice, a lack of frequent outright praise and tend to be more receptive to continual technical correction without associating it with emotion, women may respond better to such technical correction when accompanied by praise. There will never be a lift that is entirely wrong, no matter how many elements the coach may want to correct—it’s not hard to find one good point to emphasize before making a correction. In reality, such an approach is reasonable for men as well—it turns out that no human being dislikes being told they’ve done a good job.
Athletes… Not Men or Women
 These issues notwithstanding, men and women respond and adapt to training in the same elemental manner. In other words, they may respond to a given stimulus to different degrees and at different rates, but you’re going to get the same basic result. And this is where individualization—not genderization—is so critical. Program design, technical coaching, and all of the other elements that go into coaching the sport of weightlifting need to be adapted appropriately to each athlete—not to each gender.
 Let me give you a simple example. We assume women have less upper body strength than men, so women weightlifters must all need to do more upper body strength work than men. But what if you actually evaluate a female lifter like anyone else and find she can overhead squat or even snatch balance considerably more than she can snatch, and can jerk support well over her best jerk (like quite a few women I’ve coached)? If you waste her time with a bunch of upper body strength work you wouldn’t give a male counterpart with the same metrics, requiring she do less of what she truly needs at that time, you’re doing a bad job as a coach.
 Women: As a lifter, don’t be tricked into believing you need the same specific, special approach to training every other woman does; as a coach, don’t fool yourself into believing every woman is just like you and needs to train and be treated just like you. Men: As a coach, don’t train every woman exactly the same for no other reason than their gender, and certainly don’t train them as if they’re delicate little children who can’t work too hard or ever hear a harsh word from a coach without crawling under a blanket with a pint of ice cream for the rest of the evening.

 If you’re a coach, treat your athletes like athletes—not like male or female archetypes, no matter how accurate you believe your vision of those may be. And if you’re an athlete, find what works for you, not what some stranger who knows not one thing about you says for no reason other than you share reproductive organs of the same classification.

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Lifting is fun. Lifting heavier is even more fun!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Norbert Schemansky R.I.P.

Norb in action.
USA Weightlifting lost another legend this week. Along with passing of Tommy Kono last summer, the passing of Norbert Schemansky cuts ties with the generation of Americans who dominated world weightlifting. Norb was known as a blunt speaking, honest and truly strong man who sacrificed a great deal economically to train and travel to represent the United States. He overcame back surgery at a time when it was very primitive as well. His story is amazing and largely unknown outside of hard core iron game insiders. Below is a brief synopsis of his accomplishments on the platform.

Four-time Olympian and weightlifting legend Norbert Schemansky has died at the age of 92.
According to ClickDetroit.com, Schemansky died in hospice care Tuesday night in Dearborn, Michigan, where he lived for 56 years.

Schemansky, one of the most lauded weightlifters in American history, represented the United States at the Olympic Games in 1948, 1952, 1960 and 1962. He won the Gold medal in 1952 at the Games of the XV Olympiad in Helsinki, Finland. He won Silver in 1948 at the Games of the XIV Olympiad in London. Schemansky took home Bronze in both 1960 and 1964 at the Games in Rome and Tokyo. With the Bronze medal in Tokyo, Schemansky became the first weightlifter ever to medal at 4 Olympic Games.

Norbert Schemansky on the May 1951 cover of Strength & Health Magazine

Schemansky set 15 world records during his weightlifting career that spanned nearly 3 decades. "Norb," as he was affectionately known, was a 4-time World Champion and 9-time National Champion. The International Weightlifting Federation inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1992. Schemansky has also been enshrined in the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.
Born on May 30, 1924 in Detroit, "Norb" put his Olympic dreams on hold while he served our country in World War II. Twice he overcame injuries that doctors said would end his weightlifting career. In the mid-1950s, Schemansky suffered a severe back injury. After a risky surgery on his spine, he returned to competition, only to suffer a more serious back injury. After a second successful surgery, Norb returned to weightlifting and ended up on the Olympic medal platform.

"Norb’s passing is a great loss to the Weightlifting community, both in the US and Worldwide. As one of the most decorated weightlifters of all time and a member of the IWF Hall of Fame, Norb was as an inspiration for generations of athletes. We will be keeping Norb in our thoughts in the coming days and weeks," USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.
Norbert Schemansky's Career Accomplishments

Olympic Games
               -1948. 82.5kg – Silver
               -1952. 90kg – Gold
               -1960/64. 90+kg – Bronze

World Championships
               -1947. 82.5kg – Silver
               -1951/53. 90kg – Gold
               -1954. 90+kg – Gold
               -1962-63. 90+kg – Silver
               -1964. 90+kg – Bronze

National Championships
               -1949. 82.5+kg – Gold
               -1951-53. 90kg – Gold
               -1954/62/64-65. 90+kg – Gold
               -1957. 102.5kg – Gold

World Records
               -Press: 2 records at 90kg

-Snatch: 2 records at 90kg. 3 records at 90+kg

-Clean & Jerk: 5 record at 90kg. 1 records at 90+kg

-Total: 2 records at 90kg

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Some More Thoughts on Rotational Strength

In past posts on this site we have discussed what we percieve to be the difference between rotational training and twisting. Rotation is turning the hips and shoulder as a unit, even while the hips may lead. Twisting is moving the hips and shoulders in opposite directions. Many trainers and trainees assume they are the same and/or that twisting movements are essential to developing rotational force. I do not believe that. In fact, I believe that twisting exercises are only a shortcut to back problems. Recently Sean Waxman, a California based strength coach who we have featured on this site before, posted a presentation that he made to a group of strength coaches and would-be personal trainers at an NSCA Conference. I am posting a few excerpts here. You can view the full presentation by clicking the link at the finish. Sean doesn't waste words. I agree with his views on torso training and his opinion of the general NSCA populace. While this is directed to the sport of baseball, (personally I think any sport where you spend most of your time standing around and where you can get a hit 3 out every ten trys and be considered good breeeds mediocrity) I think it applies a great deal to the throwing events.
My comments are interjected in blue.
Rotational Training and Weighted Bats
• One of the biggest mechanisms of torso injury occurs while flexing the spine during rotation. So If an athlete’s torso is not strong enough to prevent spinal flexion/extension then wouldn’t introducing rotational movements such as med-ball throws be foolish? Specific rotational exercise is an advanced form of training and should not be introduced into a program until the athlete has developed enough isometric strength in their torso to stabilize the spine. A better choice for training rotation would be barbell exercises. While an athlete rises from a squat or especially an overhead squat they will be strongly resisting the tendency to rotate. This act of stabilization creates significant increases in rotational strength. As an athlete matures and gains control over their torso function, specific rotational exercises can be introduced. However, unlike in other rotational sports such as the shot put, hammer, and discus where the implement thrown will range between 16lbs and 4.4 lbs and specific rotational training may be beneficial, (
not twisting)the heaviest object a baseball player will handle will be the bat, which will generally range between 30-40 oz. So aside from actually practicing hitting the baseball, it would seem unnecessary to spend the time in the weightroom on rotational training.
As far as using weighted bats, you are doing more harm than good. Adding weight to the bat changes the swing mechanics as well as the timing of the swing. And Because of the extra weight the muscles contract more slowly, therefore stimulating less type 2 fibers.

The Chinese lifters have been observed doing some rotational plate walks before and after training.

15. Sports Specific Movements
I thought it necessary to discuss this idea of sports specific torso training in the weightroom. This does not exist in weight room. It is the job of the S&C coach to improve athletic attributes such as strength, power and speed. It is then the job of the baseball (
or Track)coach to teach the athlete the sports specific movements. Doing a side toss with a med ball or rotational movements on a cable column is not the same as swinging a bat or throwing a ball.(or discus, shot, javelin, or hammer) Throwing and hitting are very specific skills, which require very specific motor patterns, which you will not be able to replicate in the weightroom. In fact these rotational exercises create conflicting motor patterns and may very well negatively affect the athletes skill on the diamond. (or circle)Remember, in an untrained or under trained population nearly any training method will get a positive result for a short period of time. That doesn’t make it proper training.Sean's final statement was:
And you will never again go to a presentation on torso development because you will understand that the very premise is ridiculous.

Good stuff. I would recommend that you read the entire presentation by clicking the link below.


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A solid, stable overhead position requires great strength in the rotational muscles as they resist rotation.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cupping, massage and hot tubs? Breaking down alternative therapies in Rio

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Morghan King uses sound recovery methods.

Nice, concise article below on the efficacy of various recovery methods that were seen being used by athletes in Rio. The bottom line is what effect therapy has on an individual, whether it is "scientifically" supported or not. Without a doubt, sleep is the best, most pleasant, and cheapest therapy available.

Cupping, massage and hot tubs? Breaking down alternative therapies in Rio
Heidi Dawson
Friday, August 26, 2016
Cupping, massage and hot tubs? Breaking down alternative therapies in Rio The traditional Chinese therapy of cupping gained worldwide attention at the Rio Olympics.
Alternative therapies hit the news during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Athletes in many of the disciplines were spotted sporting evidence of these varying techniques below. 
But do they really work on a physiological level or is it just hype? Or perhaps a psychological boost?
Here are six of the most commonly used and discussed therapies, including what they are, who used them, why they use them and the evidence for or against.

Cupping is the one that really hit the headlines, thanks to a certain American swimmer named Michael Phelps. But he's not the only one at it. U.S. gymnast Alex Naddour has also been receiving this slightly bizarre treatment in a bid to ease muscular aches and pains.
Cupping involves using glass "cups," which are heated inside and then applied to the skin, resulting in a suction effect. While it may be a new concept for many people, cupping actually dates back 2,000 years and is a traditional Chinese therapy. 
The idea of cupping for these athletes is to promote faster recovery of the muscle tissues, readying for the next round of training or competition. Clearly those who use it believe it aids their performance, with Naddour stating "(cupping) provides relief from the soreness and pounding that comes from gymnastics. It has saved me from a lot of pain."
Proponents claim this is achieved by increasing blood flow to the skin, as can be seen in the circular bruises the cups leave behind.
In reality, there is little data in its favor. A 2015 review article of 75 studies on Chinese medicines concluded that a temporary relief in pain may be expected following cupping treatments to the neck or lower back. But there is scant evidence for any further physiological benefit.

Elastic therapeutic taping
Much better known by the name "kinesio tape," this brightly colored tape could be seen on the bodies of many an Olympian. It was perhaps most prominent in the beach volleyball competitions, although could also be spotted on many track and field athletes.
Manufacturers (Kinesio Tape, KT Tape, RockTape, etc.) claim it has many functions, including reducing muscle tension, increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage, increasing muscle function and supporting injured muscles. However, there has yet to be any definitive evidence from the science world.
One thing that can be proven however is its popularity. It featured heavily in the London 2012 Games, and it certainly doesn't appear to have lost any great proportion of its fan club four years on. So while the jury is out in terms of physiological effectiveness, many an athlete will swear by it to aid the function of their worn-out muscles.

Massage has been around for thousands of years as a form of treatment for the body and mind. Professional athletes have regular treatments to help their muscles and other soft tissues recover from training and competition, to help prepare them to compete and to aid in injury treatment.
It tends to be something that takes place behind the scenes, either before competition in the athletes warm-up areas, or as a routine part of training with their physical therapist. Therefore, it's hard to know exactly who uses massage as part of their routine, and it leaves no obvious signs such as the circular cupping marks.
I would anticipate most professional athletes having used massage therapy at some point. Unlike the first two forms of therapy mentioned here, there is more evidence to support the use of massage for professional athletes. This probably explains its popularity.
Massage has been proven to increase blood flow and improve lymphatic drainage. These functions are important in recovery to bring in new, nutrient-rich blood and flush out metabolic byproducts. It also helps to stretch out muscle and fascia and to break down any adhesions or scar tissue developed from heavy training and injuries.

Acupuncture is another ancient Chinese therapy that is still used today by our Olympians. However, it has evolved into two distinct forms — the traditional Chinese form and a more modern, westernized medical form. Most would refer to the latter as "dry needling," and it is this which will be used more regularly by athletic trainers, physical therapists and the like.
In dry-needling, very fine needles are inserted through the layers of skin and fascia directly into trigger points (aka knots) within the muscle. This can help to alter the perception of pain and reduce muscle tension.
There is some positive evidence to demonstrate the effect that acupuncture in this form can have on pain levels (read it here). However, it is unlikely to have any effect on function in terms of muscle flexibility or strength.

Hot tubs

Diving is the sport where hot tubs were regularly seen. Before and after a dive, competitors were seen hopping into or out of a nice warm bath. But why?
Heat has long been a treatment for muscular aches, pains and stiffness. The warmth seems to ease the muscles and make them feel relaxed. Warmth also increases vasodilation, which brings with it fresh blood and everything it contains to maintain muscle function and help it to perform and recover.
Once again, evidence exists to suggest heat can help to reduce lower back pain, but not much else. However, in the case of Rio many swimmers and divers had commented that the pools were a little colder than they would like. So it could just be a case of warming up again in between dives.

Ice baths
The exact opposite of the above and far less pleasant experience is the ice bath. While this is not usually seen as a treatment, I can guarantee that many an ice bath was used behind the scenes in Rio.
Ice baths are used as a recovery tool, post-exertion, to speed up recovery. These would have been used the most by athletes who were partaking in multievent sports, more than one event or events with multiple rounds. The theory is that dunking the body in cold water causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) and reduced metabolis, which together help to flush out waste products and reduce inflammation.
Once again, there is some support for their use, although there is also research that dispels this evidence, so the jury is certainly out on this one. Some athletes seem to swear by an ice bath after competition while others find the benefits, or lack of, not worth the discomfort.

Having reviewed these different forms of therapy, it appears solid scientific evidence to support their use is lacking. So why do top-level athletes — and more importantly their trainers and therapists — keep using them?
The answer more than likely comes down to positive experiences. Many of these treatments have been around for thousands of years, before scientists started trying to prove the value of everything. Even with the newer therapies such as elastic therapeutic taping, the product came first and then the science world started testing.
Imagine you have found a treatment that feels as though it helps your performance and boosts your recovery. Maybe it eases some pain or stiffness from an old injury. Then somebody else comes along and tells you it doesn't work. But you've felt it for yourself and believe it helps you. What do you do?
When the difference between winning and losing is a fraction of a second or an extra few millimeters, it is no wonder athletes are looking for anything that can give them the edge over their rivals. Some of the therapies listed here are proven to have some positive physiological benefit, which could help the athlete to perform at his/her best. For others, this evidence is lacking.

However, the placebo effect cannot be ruled out. If an athlete feels a certain treatment helps him/her to recover quicker, avoid injuries or even allows him/her to perform with an injury, then there is something in that. The psychological boost gained from this belief in itself can make a huge difference. We all have our superstitions and quirks — athlete or not — things we believe make us feel better, more confident, more relaxed.

And when years of training come down to those final moments, any advantage — whether perceived or real — can be the difference between gold and silver.
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Sadly, it will take more than kiniseo tape or cups to recover from this. Our prayers were with him.