Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do You Train Hard Enough?

Do you train hard enough? I don't think anyone can answer that except you. My guess is though, you don't train as hard as THIS GUY:

Related Post:
Knowing When To Say When

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Cleans, Then Jerks

Tonight, I did some cleans, then jerks: 1 clean, 1 jerk, 2 cleans, 2 jerks, 3 cleans, 3 jerks, 4 cleans, 4 jerks, 5 cleans, 5 jerks - 3 sets. Wasn't too bad, but fun for a change of pace.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Adding Tools

"When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

"They're all just tools. There is no Holy Grail."

"Add this tool to your toolbox."

"Have the right tool for the job."

Whether it's a piece of exercise equipment, an exercise, a drill, or an assessment, "tools" get a lot of attention (good and bad) these days. The tricky part about tools is that all of the above statements are true ...but they don't tell the whole story.

The field of strength and conditioning seems to be tool-happy. We hoard tools and buy, sell, and trade them like stock. The critics speculate on worth while consumers buy on emotion. But, we are not talking about stock shares. What is the point of indiscriminately adding a tool every time you encounter a problem, especially when you have failed to fully exploit and master the old tools you already possess? Adding genuine, high quality tools that you can use effectively takes time. If your squat sucks, do you really need another tool (bands, chains, GHR, pull-throughs, cambered bar, etc), or do you need to spend more time and energy squatting? For complex activities, the answers may not be so straightforward - for example, a baseball player slow at running bases probably won't significantly improve simply by playing more baseball, but often the cause and solution CAN be found within the exercise itself.

Thoughts on tools from Clint...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earlier YouTube Videos

About four years ago, I made my first YouTube videos and most of them were in the powerlifting vein. I thought they were pretty good - especially useful if you were a powerlifting noob who didn't understand equipment basics.

How To Put On A Squat Suit Using Plastic Bags

How A Bench Press Shirt Works

Sunday, April 18, 2010

4-17-10 Kettlebell Jerks

Lately, the past month or so, I've been doing speedier kettlebell jerks in my training. Honestly, a lot of the time, I'm just trying to get my reps in and be done with it - not because I'm not enjoying the process or trying to hurry it, but because I usually train late and I like to unwind before I go to bed. ...and sometimes you just do better with a change in tempo.

Adam Glass had a post about his long cycle progress and wrote that:
...pacing is basically standing around with the weights racked. I believe this practice is unsound. I certainly do not need more tissue changes moving me towards a weird posture. All that standing around counts for something…except for more reps, or more muscle, or better cardio. I note the best LC athletes in the world do not rest in the rack for extended periods of time. So my opinion on standing around in the rack is that it’s a fucking waste of time.

Now, I  don't agree with Adam all the time, but I think most people who've seen anyone agonizing through 10:00 of jerks with terrible, terrible form would agree that if training resembles that, on even a rare occasion, then that is TOO OFTEN. Unless, you are just training to suck, then beyond pain tolerance, there isn't much you are "practicing" when form is allowed to deteriorate so dramatically.

Now, I've said it before, I believe there are a lot of lessons to be learned in the rack and through "rep expansion", rather than constantly striving for density. On the other hand, there's no reason to vilify speed.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kouji Murofushi

For many years, Japan had a television show entitled Kinniku Banzuke (Muscle Ranking) - it featured athletes and everyday people attempting a myriad of athletic events ranging from more mundane challenges (such as push-ups for reps) to (what is now a television in and of itself here in the U.S.) the Sasuke Ninja Challenge. 
Once a year, around New Year's, there's a celebrity challenge pitting athlete celebrities against each other in a number of disparate challenges. Kouji Murofushi (gold medalist hammer thrower at the Athens Olympics) won the whole thing one year and it's a pretty sure bet that he would have won many years if he had chosen to defend his title as "Sportsman #1". He did come back the next year to do a barrel toss for height challenge against the best throwers from the Athens Olympic Games. Fun stuff - enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Words of Wisdom - Mel Siff on Technique

Bold and italices added for emphasis.

The working-effect of a sporting movement is simply the result of the specific form of organisation and control of one's interaction with the environment. However, the fundamental concept of sports technique appears not merely as the organisation of the motor components of the sporting movement, but also as the athlete's ability to manage the external conditions competently and exploit the possibilities which they offer.
This ability is the result of many years of perfecting the motor functions and optimising use of all the body's systems. If this is so, then sports technique is the result of a certain form of the process developing over time, and consequently, as a specific scientific concept, it includes time coordinates. This determines an important principle, namely that sports technique is not a constant, which can be achieved once, but is the result of continued progress from a lower to a higher level of perfection. (Verkhoshansky, 1977).
This suggests that sports technique is widely understood in theory and practice as a means of solving motor problems. Strictly speaking, sports technique is a system of movement, representing not so much a means of solving motor problems, as the specific motor problem itself, which the athlete must solve every time he executes a sports exercise. Consequently, sports technique consists of the search for and the learning of relevant motor methods that provide the best way to use [the] one's motor potential.

- Supertraining, Fourth Edition (Siff), p. 122

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The older and more experienced (and more broken) I become, the less and less convinced I am of the need for "gut bustingly hard" herculean marathon efforts to attain exceptional results.

I've known my share of world class athletes and many (if not most) were NOT the hardest workers. I know this because if they had been trying hard in practice, there was no way I would have ever beaten them. And yet I beat them often in practice... and they destroyed me in competitions.

The "elite" work hard... very hard... sometimes. They can turn it on when they want to or need to, but most of the time they are cruising. Most of the time they are just cruising, making forward progress steadily, and making small, meaningful adjustments along the way.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Grip & Rip 2.0 - Essential Tools For Training Awareness

Mindless Training

Have you ever driven somewhere and, after arriving, have no recollection whatsoever of the trip there? You look at the map and assume you must have taken a particular route, but you remember next to nothing about the weather, the traffic, your car, your physical state, the music on the radio, the landmarks, or pedestrians. Training is often like this. We train without any real awareness and yet we attain the goals we set out to achieve. Later, when we try to duplicate our success, we have less than stellar results, because the only thing we have to guide us is a list of exercises, sets, reps, and percentages that, without a rich context, are simply abstract, historical facts that we cannot use to inform our present training in any meaningful way.

We all know that the variables of volume, intensity, density, technique/movement quality, exercise selection and order are things that vary and may be adjusted according to need and goal. But, how? Add the stress of living to the mix and, without a competent guide, most average trainees get hopelessly lost. So, seeing no options, they choose a "cookie-cutter" approach, template, or system and then they train and hope. ...and when that doesn't work, they search for something new. The "endless seekers" are many.

The fact is, that although old training logs and experience can be invaluable, they will only be helpful if meaningful, and even then, if your present condition is unlike it was on a previous journey, then you will have to strike a new path. Mindless slaving away in a general direction might get you there, given enough natural talent, or if the journey is a simple one, but trickier turns and switchbacks and heretofore uncharted territories will require a greater sensitivity to conditions, both external and internal.

Mindful Training

If you are looking for help on your training journey, then I would like to introduce to you the new DVD produced by Adam "Unbreakable" Glass, and Brad "Nitro" Nelson: "Grip and Rip 2.0".  "GNR 2.0" features three hours of footage shot at a February workshop. It is an amazing collection of strength and conditioning programming knowledge, for coaches, athletes, trainers, and trainees alike.

(Not) "sweating Jack Daniels"

Content of the 2-DVD set covers the deadlift, pressing, grip work, diet and fat loss, and programming with the Gym Movement (TM) protocol. The mastery Adam and Brad demonstrate and their illustrative and varied examples make the material as entertaining as it is informative. Adam does not mince words, so if you are easily offended by rough language or are insecure with your own chosen training path, then some segments will be difficult for you... but you should heed what they have to say.

"Listen to your body" is a hackneyed expression, but beyond a checklist of overtraining symptoms, NO ONE gives a step-by-step approach to how to actually do it. Usually, the only time we truly listen is when we are sick and/or in pain. In our training, we are focused. But focus, though necessary, is not sufficient. Good athletes have focus, yes. But, great athletes have awareness; awareness of self and context. The tools that Adam and Brad present are tools for greater awareness.

"Biofeedback" is not new but, to my knowledge, few training approaches use it for programming. The approach given is simple and easy to implement. Although I have some questions as to the validity of certain tests in specific circumstances, I have no doubts of the genius of the material given. The intelligent use of biofeedback will reverse engineer what great athletes already know intuitively - when to push and when to back off, and when to hit the showers early so that they can come back and kick some ass tomorrow.

With this DVD, Adam and Brad have truly propelled themselves into a very special category of teacher. They have moved from simple consumer-merchant of the strength and conditioning world to artisans creating new content for the rest of us to ponder and enjoy and use for ourselves and our clientele. Copies of this DVD were limited in the first release, but I anticipate more to be available soon as final editing is completed. Check back here and at Adam's website for updates.

"I don't cycle the way I walk to the car. ...I walk, and I get there." - Adam T. Glass

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kettlebell Snatches and Your Hands

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Matt and I were working with his brand new girevoy sport competition kettlebell. It had been a while since I had picked up a competition bell... The thinner handle is, without a doubt, much easier on the grip and it is also, without a doubt, harder on the hands.

The basic technique is the same with a larger handle, however, on a competition bell the smaller surface area of the handle leaves less room for error - if you don't catch it right and fail to follow the bell on the backswing, you will punish your mitts.

Denis Kanygin has a nice video covering "Preventing Blisters". Enjoy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

4/3/2010 - Some Jerks

Did some jerks today after running the hill with a pulling harness. Faster reps seem to be smoother for me lately...