Saturday, February 26, 2011

Words Of Wisdom - Jerry Maguire

"I'll tell you why you don't have your ten million yet. Right now, you are a paycheck player. You play with your head, not your heart. In your personal life - (points to chest) Heart. But when you get on that field -- it's all about what you didn't get, who's to blame, who underthrew the pass, who's got the contract you don't, who's not giving you your love. You know what? That is not what inspires people. That is NOT what inspires people. Just shut up and play the game. Play it from your heart and you know what? I will show you the "kwan" and that's the truth, man. That's the truth! Can you handle it? Just a question between friends, YA KNOW?" 
-Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Article On Dave Draper's Site

I wrote an article for about a few drills and stretches I've found to be helpful for my lower back and squatting. Let me know what you think.

JumpStretch Band Drills and Stretches

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WTH Effect - A Cautionary Tale

The "What-The-Heck" Effect - A Cautionary Tale

I've seen this happen to quite a few people who find a strength-niche they enjoy. See if it sounds familiar...

A person with solid barbell lifts decides that they really enjoy strongman, or CrossFit, or kettlebells, or grip work. To accelerate their gains in a pet lift or area of specialty, they focus on that activity. As their SPP and numbers improve, they begin dropping the basic strength work that formed the foundation they began with. Eventually, the gains slow to a trickle - to combat this, they power on with more and more SPP, but the gains are still negligible. When they finally say "Forget this!", they return to the power rack to realize that, now, by any measure other than the one they've been training balls to the walls for the past two years, they are weak. Very weak. "WHAT THE HECK???"

It can happen to you. It can happen to me. It can happen to everyone eventually.

So, after an embarrassingly long time away from substantial squatting, I find myself working with weights I would have giggled at just a few short years ago.

2011 will be a good training year. It's getting better everyday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

8 Steps To A Pain-Free Back

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot (Remember When It Didn't Hurt)

For the Dan John Book Club March selection, I read 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot (Remember When It Didn't Hurt). The book looks at posture and its link to lower back pain in modern society and offers simple, effective advice for improving the way you lie, sit, walk, lift, and feel. The only ding I have would be the 500 annoying testimonials sprinkled throughout the book - beyond that, I found it to be an easy read with lessons, drills, and exercises that can be applied immediately. The 8 lessons are (in this order): stretchsitting, stretchlying on your back, stacksitting, stretchlying on your side, using your inner corset, tallstanding, hip-hinging, and glidewalking.

I would say that nothing was particularly surprising to me, but sometimes, even when you "know", it requires being relayed in a certain way to really, really sink in. Take hip hinging, for example - I've known about hip hinging for a long time and it's something we all do when we do proper squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, kettlebell swings, etc. But, reading Esther Gokhale's explanations and seeing the pictures and visuals presented brought me a few ah-has. Should we/I hip hinge when we/I pick things off the floor? Is it "natural" to do so even when the weight is ridiculously light? How might I lifestyle coach someone who spends an hour or two a week with me in the weight room, and the other 166 hours a week sitting, standing and carrying on about their business looking like they are hunchbacks in pain? Your answers to these questions may change after reading this book.

I'd say this book is a "should have" if you or someone you work with suffers from back issues, and a "must-have" if you are someone who suffers from back issues AND poor posture.

Related Post:
Specificity & Posture

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Was Wrong...

...squatting is overrated. Everyone should be doing this instead.

I hope you know me well enough to know that I'm joking by the way...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

It's Valentine's Day. No, you shouldn't go to the gym if there's a special someone in your life - you should take the day off and spend it with them!

If you missed this the first time around, here's a post I made a while back entitled When She/He Doesn't "Get It".

Since it's Valentine's Day, let me introduce a classic romantic-comedy - they don't make 'em like they used to! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mass Made Simple

Before we get too specific: Eat like an adult!
... Honestly, seriously, you don't know what to do about food? Here is an idea: Eat like an adult. Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid's cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and comfort foods whenever your favorite show is not on when you want it on, ease up on the snacking and - don't act like you don't know this - eat vegetables and fruits more. Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up.  (Mass Made Simple, p. 22)
Before reading this book, if you had asked me how to bulk, I would have told you this: Eat better. Eat more. Eat breakfast. Eliminate crap from your diet. Focus your efforts on heavy squats, presses, pulls, and rows. Squat... a lot. Get more protein. Sleep more.
I think this is solid advice. Some kids can take this advice and run with it. Most people, however, to continue long enough to see significant results, are going to need a tangible program - from specific foods, to sets and reps, to the occasional tongue lashing a coach can provide. If you work with teens and young adults or football programs who want to put on some muscle, then you could do A LOT worse than just buying your athletes copies of MMS and guiding them as they progress through Dan John's six week program.

I know what you're thinking - "I like Dan John and all, but why do I have to spend $19.95 for this? Can't I just do 5x5 or some variant of Super Squats?" Well, yes you could, but here's why I think this program is something special:
  • You won't finish the six-week program feeling like a bloated bag of crap 
  •  By the end of the program, you'll probably be shopping, training, eating, and moving better 
  • You will come to understand how to systematically add and subtract exercises, foods, and supplements to find what's best for YOU 
  • The program is DETAILED. You have to connect the dots, but you won't get lost between them
To top it all off, you get Dan John's usual bits of wit, anecdotes, and no-nonsense training wisdom. This is one of those "must-haves" if hypertrophy is goal for you.

Mass Made Simple

Thursday, February 10, 2011

G's G

I love gyms. When you grew up at a time when gyms were out of the way holes in the wall, you can't help but marvel at how far we've come. But, at some point in the late 90s, it got to the point where if you walked into a big-as-a-mall "fitness center", you'd be mobbed by sales reps, just like you would at your local car or furniture dealership. If you couldn't escape their clutches, or if you were actually interested in exercising, they'd sit you down (notice the irony there) and discuss "options". You couldn't just "go lift".

Sales Rep: "Plan A gives you access to the weight room, the cardio theater, day care, towel plan, exercise room, the Zumba class, the Pilates, class, three free training sessions minus gratuity fee with an assigned trainer, a private locker, three drinks per week at the juice bar, and the pass code to the sauna."

Me: "Wow. That's a lot of stuff. How much is that?"

Sales Rep: "Well, it's very reasonable."

After about 30 minutes of nailing down details, I'd end up walking out of the door investing "a dollar a day" into a $1000/year family plan... 

HOWEVER, apparently some things DO change. About three weeks ago, I walked into an area big-time chain gym (I won't give away which one, but the initials are G's G) and walked away with minimal sales talk and a 3x/week pass for only $10 A MONTH! There are no lifting platforms, chalk, or bumper plates, and for a gym of its size there should be more squatting racks, but I'm enjoying it immensely. I've missed the sparkling clean facilities, the upper body Mr. Olympias, the television monitors, the pop music blaring in the background, and the round middle-aged grunter-men in tanktops.

What am I doing there that I could not at my home or school? Very little, but a change of environment is good every once in a while and getting to see people (regular people, not meatheads like me and you) train is healthy. I keep to myself for the most part. I made the mistake of making eye-contact with round middle-aged grunter man in tank-top last Friday, and less than a second later I was his "spotter-boy", avoiding a moist grunty exhalation on every single rep... It's good to be back!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blogs Of Note V

If you like vulgar language, porn, and "hardcore" lifting, then the Chaos & Pain Blog will be a place for you. I hesitate to recommend it here, but sprinkled among the offensive photos and script are genuine nuggets of knowledge. Probably the best way to describe it would be to say it is like an X-rated version of T-Mag. In this post, The Rule Of Five (Part II), the author takes 5x5 sycophants to task. Be forewarned, "Chaos & Pain" is not exactly high-brow reading and viewing material - expect to be shocked and offended. Do not read it in front of minors, your wife, or at work.

I believe this blog has undergone a number of name changes over the years, but The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban reprints articles from popular writers and athletes about strongman, powerlifting, olympic lifting, and bodybuilding. Many of them are pieces that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else unless you owned the original publications. In this post, The ABCs of Weightlifting (Part 13), Tommy Kono writes about the importance of working your weaknesses.

Dan John recently released a new book with the help of Dave and Laree Draper entitled Mass Made Simple - it's a great book and I'll review it soon. In this blog post, Dan John talks about his book briefly and then outlines his work with a fighter - it should be required reading for doofus trainers who believe that the best way to work with their athletes is smoke them.

Other Blogs Of Note Posts:
Blogs Of Note I
Blogs Of Note II
Blogs Of Note III
Blogs Of Note IV

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Pack

When I read "Born To Run", I was struck by what I saw as the author's call to community.  We all, as Americans, like to think of ourselves as independent, autonomous beings. But, we are ALL here only because of the love and compassion of others. We all come into this world naked and helpless, but our connection with others carry us through.
So here's what Coach Vigil was trying to figure out: was Zatopek a great man who happened to run, or a great man because he ran? Vigil couldn't quite put his finger on it, but his gut kept telling him that there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding. Sex and speed - haven't they been symbiotic for most of our existence, as intertwined as the strands of our DNA? We wouldn't be alive without love; we wouldn't have survived without running; maybe we should be surprised that getting better at one could make you better at the other. (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen p. 98)

Humans are among the most communal and cooperative of all primates; our sole defense in a fang-filled world was our solidarity, and there's no reason to think we suddenly disbanded during our most crucial challenge, the hunt for food. I remembered what the Seri Indians told Scott Carrier after the sun had set on their persistence-hunting days. "It was better before," a Seri elder lamented. "We did everything as a family. The  whole community was a family. We shared everything and cooperated, but now there's a lot of arguing and bickering, everyman for himself." (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen p. 242)
Perhaps the secret to not only social fitness, but also athletic success, is compassion and community.