Sunday, February 26, 2012


This video is nothing but WIN.

I saw a video for this product a few years ago walking through a department store in Japan. I thoroughly embarrassed my wife by laughing hysterically. Honestly, I don't know why Viva Hula never took off in the U.S., but the Shake Weight did.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blogs Of Note VII

It's been a while since I've listed some blogs that I've thoroughly enjoyed. Check these out and let me know what you think.

Old Country Strong - I haven't spent a lot of time at this blog, but ran across it when doing a Google search for "stone lifting japan". I found this wonderful little gem - Stone Lifting In Japan

Este es James Fisher - a very interesting blog in the stream-of-consciousness-but-strength-and-fitness-related (kind of like our site here, I guess). I found this post, entitled Dining In Poverty (Victorian Nutrtition Compared To You...), very thought provoking.

Lyle McDonald's Body Recomposition - Lyle's writing is always a pleasure and he is never short of intellect and opinion. This older post, Pole Vaulting For a Hot Body, is classic Lyle, and should be an online classic period.

Dan John - I know he worries about over-saturation, but can people who have been training for a while and like to think deeply about the field of strength and conditioning really get enough of his stuff? This post: You can, but should you? is about the idea of "managing compromises" in training and life. It's a post worth printing out and rereading again and again.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Change That @#&% Up!

Plateaus are part of the game. Ruts are not.

Add variation. That doesn't mean squat less, just squat differently.

If you've been doing nothing but 5x5, do sets of 10, or triples, or doubles, or singles. If you've been slogging away at low intensities, ramp it up for a while. If you've been doing nothing but low-bar wide stance squats to parallel, how about trying some good old-fashioned front squats for a while? If you always use compensatory acceleration, how about trying to slow it down? If you always squat slow and controlled, how about adding some chains and acceleration? If you only do barbell squats, how would squats with kettlebells or a heavy sandbag go?

Embrace change. Embrace growth.

"The oldest habit in the world for resisting change is to complain that unless the remedy to the disease should be universally applied it should not be applied at all. But you must start somewhere.
- Winston Churchill (on squat training)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Last Call For T-Shirts (for a while)


If you're interested in a SKWAT! t-shirt, let me know. I'm down to a few only in sizes L and S.

$25 each, shipping included.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Glance At Negatives, But Focus on Positives

"Psycho-Cybernetics" is one of those classic power-of-the-mind books that you read and it blows you away. Then, for a while, every self-help or pop-psychology book you read sounds like plagiarism. Then, you forget about it. Then, you pick it up again, and start that whole process over...

Glance at Negatives, But Focus on Positives
Automobiles come equipped with "negative indicators" placed directly in front of the driver, to tell you when the battery is not charging, when the engine is becoming too hot, when the oil pressure is becoming too low, etc. To ignore these negatives might ruin your car. However, there is no need to become unduly upset if some negative signal flashes. You merely stop at a service station or a garage, and take positive action to correct. A negative signal does not mean the car is no good. All cars overheat at times.
However, the driver of the automobile does not look at the control panel exclusively and continuously. To do so might be disastrous. He must focus his gaze through the windshield, look where he is going, and keep his primary attention on his goal - where he wants to go.  He merely glances at the negative indicators from time to time. When he does, he does not fix upon them or dwell upon them. He quickly focuses  his sight ahead of him again and concentrates on the positive goal of where he wants to go.
Psycho-Cybernetics (p. 147)

As Pavel has said many times, you can only do so many "correctives" but if you want to get down to the business of being strong, you have to lift big. Pay attention to the "negative indicators" when they light up on the dash, but keep your eyes on the road and, when possible, your foot on the accelerator.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Looking At A Person's Squat Online

I get a lot of requests from people to look at their squat online - PMs on forums, Facebook, and YouTube come in waves. Usually requests come from email and when I'm bored, I check out threads on forums entitled "Squat Form Check" or "How's My Squat?".
I enjoy watching people squat - not matter how skilled they are. Putting yourself in another's lifting shoes is always a useful exercise for a coach or trainer when done thoughtfully.
Critiquing a squat video is quite different than in real life - sometimes it's easier, sometimes more difficult. Having a pause and replay function makes seeing you perform a heavy single repeatedly a breeze. However, without proper lighting and a decent camera angle, there are just some things that will be very difficult, if not impossible, to see. 
For example, the image of the squat below is from an online video. From this camera angle, posture, lean, knee and hip flexion, and bar position and path are readily visible. However, the angle makes it difficult to see lateral movement. Something looked "off" so I watched it again and noticed a very slight "helicoptering" of the bar. The third time I watched it, I noticed the left heel coming off the floor. It's slight, but pretty evident here.

So, here's the deal: if you want worthwhile input on your squat form, don't be stingy with the film! A side view like the one above is good, but having the addition of a set shot from directly behind or in front of the lifter will show lateral movement of the feet, knees, hips, and barbell much more clearly.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It Isn't Enough To "Git R Done"

From Ready For Anything: 52 Productivity Principles For Getting Things Done

     If I'm managing the incompletions of my world because in truth I simply want to disengage from my life, the stress never really goes away. Oh sure, I can get a grosser level of relief - and sometimes lots of it. It's great to get my head empty, my in-box cleaned up, and my project and action list updated. But after all that, a part of me can still want to check out, leave, go numb, or in some way blot out the deeper noise that's still there. It's not a big, traumatic, or obviously negative thing I'm avoiding. If it were, it would probably be easier to identify. It's a low-level incessant buzzing that seems to infuse everything with dullness. I experience things coming into my world as irritations, not opportunities. I can't wait to "finish" - so that I can go do something to escape from the whole process! But inevitably with that approach, defeatism creeps in: Why should I even start when there's never any finish? Whoops. Now, that's a negative self-fulfilling loop in my mind if there ever was one!
     If, however, I'm able to move my inner awareness to a more spiritually connected place, more from my heart than my head, it's a totally different game. It's the same activity, but it's draped in elegance and ease. There's an acceptance of whatever is in front of me, and I'm curious about its possibilities. There's an interest in processing all my stuff with our workflow methods because it deserves that - or rather, because I deserve it. When the fulfillment is present inside me and I'm okay with myself at the deepest level, it's not about getting everything done. It's just a process of doing - and a very conscious process at that. What am I doing now, and now, and now, and now... ? And is this the best way to be doing it?
     The wonderful paradox is that the more I get attracted to focusing on the outer physical world (and everything that goes with it), the more I find myself attempting to escape the slings and arrows of that materiality. The more spiritually I'm focused and the less attached to the physical I become, the more productively engaged I seem to be within the material world. I have a clearer sense of where things fit for me in the grander scheme, and I don't allow myself the laxness of being irresponsible for the smallest details about things and activities.

The paradox that David Allen is describing here, as I see it, is between the long-term quest for mastery and the short-term benchmarks along the way to that mastery. We say that "mastery is a never-ending road" on the one hand, and on the other we say "You must establish achievable, quantifiable and verifiable goals". How do we reconcile these? Furthermore, how do we make the discipline and process of training less of a grind and more of an "opportunity" to be relished every time we suit up?