Thursday, December 31, 2009


I got a surprise Christmas gift in the mail - a Krieg (climbing) chalk bag. I've used it for a couple of kettlebell sessions, and look forward to wearing it during a :30 minute+ kettlebell snatch session soon.

I went to the Krieg website and was very impressed to see that they have custom chalk bags for $23 + $3 shipping & handling. Very, very cool stuff.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Less Itch

I'm one of biggest procrastinators ever, but I'd like to think I do things right on time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Helping Others

"Helping someone else is the best way to ensure your own survival. It takes you out of yourself. It helps you to rise above your fears. Now you're a rescuer, not a victim. And seeing how your leadership and skill buoy others up gives you more focus and energy to persevere. The cycle reinforces itself: You buoy them up, and their response buoys you up. Many people who survive alone report that they were doing it for someone else (a wife, boyfriend, mother, son) back home."

- from Deep Survival(pp. 180-181)

Inspiration can come from many different places. Maybe you'll find this video moving - I know I did:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

T-Shirt Update

T-shirts have all been sent out and, as far as I can tell, everyone who was supposed to get one should have received theirs by now (even the two that I sent overseas). I received one check (thanks Franklin!) which I will be donating to Children's Miracle Network, and have heard from another who plans to donate to a nearby charity overseas. If you got a shirt and are making some kind of donation to pay it forward, I'd like to hear about it, or if you're just giving to a charity for whatever reason this holiday season, I'd like to hear about that too.

Someday, maybe someone will explain PayPal to me (yeah, I know) and we'll make this a regular thing and raise more $$ for people who need it more than you or I.

Merry Christmas everyone. Talk to you again soon.

- Boris

Further Ruminations On The Second Noble Truth

"There was a leper who lived in the forest and suffered from terrible pain and itching. The only way he could relieve himself was to dig a huge hole, fill it with burning wood - thereby creating hot charcoal - and rub his afflicted body against the charcoal. He could only get relief by creating another kind of suffering.
The story goes that he was cured and moved to the city to lead a normal life. Sometime later he had occasion to return to the forest, and there he saw lepers relieving himself as he had once done, rubbing themselves against hot charcoal. He couldn't watch. It was just too painful.
...In order to relieve ourselves from one suffering - our yearning - we create another, with all the things we run after to relieve it. A healthy person who has gotten over the illness we suffer from, finds it painful to watch us, putting ourselves through all this suffering in the hope of relieving suffering.
If this doesn't sound right to you - if it doesn't seem that desire is suffering - then there's no problem. Just go around desiring things and trying to satisfy yourself the way everyone else does. Our culture is built around that activity. We have the greatest consumer culture in the world. We create more and more things to do, better this and better that. We don't, however, seem to get happier and happier."

- Larry Rosenberg, ("Breath by Breath")

In training, and in life, we react to our situations and circumstances, often unthinkingly. We succumb to our monkey mind. We have an itch, and we scratch it. We eat when we are not particularly hungry. We train when we should rest. We get lost and, instead of retracing our steps, we redouble our efforts and pick up the pace. We get angry, or sad, or jealous, or happy, or content and then we marinate in it. We try to re-live the moment, good or bad, that has already passed, over and over again.

"Lean into a problem; lean so far that you might just lean right through it."

- Seth Godin ("The Dip")

I confess. I'm a training addict. I get grumpy when I'm not "allowed" to put in my reps. I feel entitled to my time with the iron. I "covet" training time and results. In the middle of a long set of kettlebell snatches or jerks, I feel discomfort and, more often than not, I run away from it. Rather lean into "the problem", I recoil from it. But every set and every moment is an opportunity to "train" and improve and reign in the monkey mind.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Training Supplement Review

The problem with "supplements", as I see them, is that people use them as a replacement to wise life choices. Many students have asked me about creatine, protein, and prohormone products and are then puzzled when I then ask what they eat for breakfast. They miss the point that supplements are to "supplement", not "supplant" proper diet and training practices.

With that in mind, I've decided to post occasional reviews of training "supplements" that are actually worth their price tag. The products will probably be a little untraditional, but I certainly wouldn't call them avant-garde.

Training Supplement #1: SALINE NASAL SPRAY

With a "proprietary blend" of sodium chloride, purified water, and preservatives benzyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride, this ultra-simple, and ultra-effective supplement will clear out the sinuses in seconds. Serious lifters and sedentary allergy sufferers alike will find this supplement effective for promoting proper breathing patterns and healthy ear and nasal passages.

In my lifetime, I've had several training-related sudden hearing losses that have left me with permanent, raging tinnitus in both ears - I believe that if I had started using saline nasal spray regularly from a much younger age, the severity of these "injuries" could have been lessened if not avoided entirely.

A 3 oz. bottle usually costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $6. Wipe the spout clean after every application. I replace mine a month or so after the first use.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Words Of Wisdom From Maya Angelou

Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. We leave our homes for work, acting and even believing that we will reach our destinations with no unusual event startling us out of our set expectations. The truth is we know nothing, not where our cars will fail or when our buses will stall, whether our places of employment will be there when we arrive, or whether, in fact, we ourselves will arrive whole and alive at the end of our journeys. Life's pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.

Life seems to love the liver of it.

- Maya Angelou

ichigo ichie
"Seize the Day"
(Japanese version, more or less)
"One Time, One Meeting"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

SSST = 3 Reps Short...

Ah well. For a while it's been clear to me that I really need to work on speed for the SSST - I probably avoid it because I have a strange love of the overhead rack position... I suppose it has something to do with trying to improve GS numbers and just liking rest in general.... Anywho, I've been stubborn and watching the video made it painfully obvious that I need to be doing more work along the lines of the Viking Warrior Conditioning protocol.

Here's the video, as promised. I'll save you 10:00 and give away the ending however - 197 reps. I'm not happy with it, but it's all good.

The Death Of The Conventional Squat?

I know I'm a little late to the party on this one, but a few people have emailed me to comment on Mike Boyle's recent statement that "squatting is a low back exercise" and "Don't do conventional squats anymore". I posted most of my thoughts to Dave Draper's Iron Online Forum, but I'll add a few things here.

In September, I had a discussion with Pavel (and when I say "discussion" I really mean he did most of the talking and I listened) about lunges and Bulgarian split squats. His point was, and I certainly don't disagree, that both exercises have their share of contraindications. There's a lot that can go wrong. More dangerous than a squat? I don't know and that's not the point. The point is that there is no perfect exercise for everyone and their individual needs.

I've done more than my share of Bulgarian split squats. Truth be told, I love them and think they are the shizzle. Doesn't mean I'll be recommending everyone to give up back squats however.

The 'either... or...' mentality is what gets us into trouble. There are few absolutes in training. Dogma and hyperbole bog us down and prevent us from finding creative solutions. I give credit to Mike Boyle, because I believe that it takes a lot of courage to say, in a world that loves squatting, that his athletes do not squat. He has attempted to bring the pendulum back to center, and that is always a good thing, but the 'Stretching is DEAD!', 'Squatting is DEAD!', etc. hyperbole is tiring.

My grandfather died of emphysema. He was never a physical man to begin with and for the last probably 10 years of his life, getting out of a chair was a metcon workout. I believe that a diet of squats strategically placed somewhere in his lifetime would have made a significant difference in his quality of life. Would squats cure emphysema? Maybe not, but squats; back, front, high-bar, low-bar, parallel, or full would have impacted him positively. I believe that, done properly, they can do the same for just about everyone. Is it possible to have a good program without them? Yes, but squats are a keystone exercise - period. Inclusion of squats or a variant or modification is an absolute necessity (in my opinion).

I've never met Mike Boyle, but I like his stuff a lot - always have. His new book Advances In Functional Strength Training is great. I will post a more complete review soon. Mike Boyle is clearly a very thoughtful and competent coach. His athletes have success and what better gauge of a coach's ability and methodology is there really?

Ultimately YOU (not me, not Mike Boyle) have to make the hard decisions regarding what is best for you and your team. You can put everyone on the same cookie-cutter program, or you can tailor according to need and motivation. Modifying and differentiating instruction is the mark of a superior coach and teacher.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thoughts on Fairness

Graduate school was rough. I studied hard and worked long hours. A lot of classes and experiences accrued over that time that I'd like to forget about. There were a few lessons however that I choose to carry with me and remind myself of every single day - these words about fairness from Rick Lavoie are one of them:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wearing A $1 T-Shirt

Had a very long day of shoveling out of a blizzard. I love my neighbors - 4 hours+ of steady shoveling and I still would not be done without their snow blowing assistance.

Anywho, I put in a short workout after a long day. If you're wondering why I'm wearing the hideous shirt, ask Josh Hanagarne, RKC (aka "The World's Strongest Librarian")


Monday, December 7, 2009

Repost - The Recovery of Jamie Gillentine

Almost two years ago now, I saw this video and linked it here. If you missed it the first time around, then here's another chance. If you're feeling a little low on motivation on this beautiful Monday evening, then this should slap you around a bit.

It's ten at night. I was going to call it a night, but after watching this video, I'm off to the "redemption center" to put in some time.

"It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop."

- Confucius

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Multi-Tasking Addiction & Training Focus

I am HORRIBLE at multi-tasking. Absolutely awful at it, and it's gotten worse with age. What I lack in ability to focus on multiple tasks concurrently, I try to make up with hyper zombie-like persistence. Singlemindedness has its own challenges however; for example, I cannot watch a television program and carry on a meaningful conversation with my wife at the same time. This irritates her to no end - usually not a big deal to me as the only thing I hate to miss are sumo tournaments we watch on satellite TV. Just turn the damn thing off and zombie man will be able to converse again.

Right now, I'm taking a couple classes at a local private university - it's a continuing education thing. They are not cheap. It will sound like I'm bragging, and maybe I am a little, but I've become pretty good at the student-thing. All those years of school, and subsequent years of teaching have helped me develop a pretty good background knowledge/schemata for new material in the field of education. ...and I can focus. In class, the other students, most of them barely out of their teens, are busy carrying on a text conversation, updating their Facebook page, and tuning into class once in a while just long enough to get a handout or jot down a note or two. I, on the other hand, am letting the professor's words and PowerPoint slides wash over me like a dense fog that gradually soaks to the core as I listen, note, and process.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a critical period when it comes to developing attention-span. As the pre-frontal cortex matures, if the brain has not been given enough time and practice focusing without distraction, can the brain have enough impulse control to maintain sustained attention on things when it really matters? Will there be patience to see things through to completion, and resist the urge to panic and begin thrashing about even when things go unexpectedly?

In training, there are always distractions; the latest supplement, a new routine, a better piece of equipment. Things fall in and out of fashion in our little strength and conditioning world pretty quickly. There's nothing wrong with overhauling a program when its flat-out bad, but the constant search for new and different can be a significant distraction to focused training.

The middle path rests on a foundation that is deep, but it must be tended regularly. Constantly changing exercises and routines and expecting consistent growth is like learning how to bat with a putter while a major leaguer throws a myriad of fast balls, curves, sliders, and change-up pitches with balls ranging in size and heft from a pebble to a basketball. Fewer exercises with a greater attention to detail will carry most people further than they would ever believe.

Pitch it where they can hit it. Pitch consistently and pitch often.

Related Article (NPR): Think You're Multi-Tasking? Think Again

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Shopping Guide

I think this is the third time I've presented a Christmas shopping list here at Squat Rx. Please understand that I don't make a thing if you buy any of the products below... zero dinero for me-o. I own them all (except for the Gymboss) and think they are the cat's meow and I think you'll agree. Have a great holiday season and please come back and visit frequently.

$140 APT Strongman Pulling Harness from APT Pro Gear
I bought three of these for the price of one last summer. It is a great piece of equipment and the 3-for-1 deal is still good as far as I know. If you ever wanted to do one of those crazy strongman events, this would be a place to start.

$110 Dan John 4-DVD Set
These DVDs are wonderful. Great, great stuff for any strength coach, athlete, or gym rat. If you are a coach and don't want to buy the whole set (though I strongly recommend them all), start with the Philosophy of Strength DVD for $39.95. His hip-displacement continuum discussion alone is more than worth the price in my opinion, but there are literally dozens of gems in this two-hour DVD. Otherwise, start where your interests lie: kettlebells, Olympic lifts, or Warm-Up, Workouts, & Barbell Complexes ($29.95 each). All of them are delivered in Dan John's easy-going, insightful, one-of-a-kind manner. His lessons will stay with you and you'll be quoting him the next time you go to the gym. He is a teacher and it shows.

$47 Resilient - DVD by Pavel Tsatsouline
Pavel's books and DVDs are all great, but this is one of the best. If you have aches and pains, or are just looking for something different for your mobility work, start here. It seems pricey for a 36 minute DVD, but, like Dan John's work, it is something you'll watch and learn and then put away, and then re-watch later and learn something new. If you've never watched Pavel, he is about as charismatic as they come. "ENJOY!"

$36.95 Twist Yo' Wrist from Ironmind
Wrist strength is often overlooked and the Twist Yo Wrist is a simple wrist roller that stresses radial and ulnar extension - something you don't get with traditional wrist curls. It's a fun and valuable little piece of exercise equipment.

$25 Never Let Go - Book by Dan John
I never reviewed this book like I promised, but it delivered everything I knew it would. Great stories. Great lessons. Great writing. You owe it to yourself or the musclehead you love to buy this. If there was only one product to recommend from this list, this is the one. If you don't own it yet, get it.

$19.95 Gymboss Interval Timer
I don't own one. Everyone I know does and everyone I know loves it. I get by with my watch or an analog clock with a second hand, but if my wife picked one of these up for me I would be pretty happy (hint, hint... Who am I kidding? She doesn't read my blog!).

By the way, I think I might still have an unclaimed SKWAT! t-shirt or two, so if you're one of those people who've been nagging me for one... what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Every time you take hold of the handle...'s a different kettlebell.