Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Squat Challenge for 2022 - 315lb x AMRAP (as many reps as proper)

 I'm planning on a good run at squatting 315lb on the bar x 22 reps in 2022. With that in mind, I've posted the challenge to YouTube, and I'm hoping some squat fans will join me in what I'm dubbing the "With Your Shield Or On It - Squat 315 for reps 2022 Challenge". #squat315for reps #withyourshieldoronit

I plan to start this on January 1, 2022 and run it until December 31st! Please join me if you're game!



Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Digging Out of A Blizzard: 5 Lessons for Training & Life

Note: This article originally appeared in Josh Hanagarne's World's Strongest Librarian blog in 2010. Boris STILL does not own a snow blower...

Digging Out Of A Blizzard: 

5 Lessons For Training & Life

Earlier this month, I had to dig our home out of a blizzard. I don't own a snow blower. So, with two shovels, an ice chipper, and 15 hours of labor invested, I managed to clear the walks and driveway.

Nature can be an unforgiving teacher. It doesn't care whether you've been good or bad, and it can just as easily melt all your efforts away the next day as toss another foot of snow your way just to see if you can keep up. The experience provides a good analogy for training, and the lessons learned can be applied to a zen-like approach to strength goals and life. 

Lesson #1: Define Goals & Boundaries Early In The Game

Setting boundaries and goals from the git-go is a smart move, especially if there's too much to do all at once, and/or if the snow is still coming down. No, it's not rocket science, but if you don't have any kind of plan, you may end up creating a mountain of snow that you'll end up having to move later to make room for more. Having goals and realistic expectations keeps things in perspective. I enjoy training and I enjoy process, but the product is important too. Without any kind of training plan or goals, you will be one of those people that stand around the gym drinking fountain wondering what to do next. It's NOT necessary to have every set and rep mapped out weeks in advance, but there should always be a clear rationale for every session, every exercise, every set, and every rep.


"...without purpose, we would not exist. ...It is purpose that defines, it is purpose that binds us." - Agent Smith (The Matrix Reloaded)
A larger purpose and sense of boundaries help us, as Dan John is fond of saying, "Keep the goal the goal". Purpose and boundaries help us better deal with the distractions and obstacles that come along because we realize that we are not defined by the challenges we face - we are defined by how we face them.

Lesson #2: If You Get Sloppy, You've Overdone It

If you notice yourself rushing, and breathing starting to become labored; if you notice yourself heaving snow with heated desperation; if you notice yourself never really straightening up between bouts of snow flinging; if you notice yourself trying to load up bigger and bigger clumps on the end of your shovel, then you've probably already started to overdo it. Your body and mind have switched to a kind of lost panic mode - it's time to dial it down. Stand up straight, breathe right, and reassess your situation. In the gym, if technique starts to suffer, it's time to rerack the weight. If you're rushing through sets to get done, you're asking for trouble. This was a hard lesson to learn personally - impromptu contests at the end of a training session when you're in a hurry to get home is ALWAYS bad news for me... Not only over the couse of a single set, but also you can see this play itself out over the course of a meso/macro-cycle as well and it isn't pretty. We feel weak because we need rest, but because we feel weak we think we need to work harder. Be willing to listen to your body when it's telling you to slow down. The first signs I need a break from my training are poor sleep, fatigue, achey muscles and joints that don't seem to recover. General a-holishness is a clear sign for me, but usually once I get to that point, I'm in some kind of stupid bezerker mode that only ends with an argument, illness, or injury. We've all experienced feeling hopelessly lost, physically and mentally, in a very metaphorical or literal way. In those times, it is common to dig deeper and drive faster, rather than retrace our steps or seek higher ground to get perspective. This phenomena, as Laurence Gonzales describes in his book "Deep Survival", is called "bending the map". Our wishful thinking can make us search for light at the end of a black hole leading to nowhere. Momentary breathers can help us gather our bearings and clear away some of the dirt we've kicked up on the journey to the present moment.

Lesson #3: Occasionally Pause To Marvel At The Beauty Surrounding You

While I was shoveling, my neighbor was doing the same. He was a machine... for an hour. During that time, a gaggle of Canadian geese flew overhead and I stopped to admire their formation and calls. A little while later I yelled a greeting over to my neighbor and mentioned it to him, he replied "Oh, there were geese? I thought I heard something...". If you are doing something, anything long term, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture and the sense of wonder and curiosity you had at the beginning. It pretty common to gradually develop tunnel vision on the road immediately in front of us. Your driver's ed instructor had some good advice; establish a "visual lead" and keep your eyes moving so you don't miss the beauty (and opportunities and dangers) all around you. Never forget your "beginner's mind".

Lesson #4: Don't Test The Limits of Your Equipment

Your snow shovel is not a spade. It is not an ice chipper. It is not a plow, nor a forklift. It is not made of 440 stainless steel. It doesn't have a fancy name or magical powers like Excalibur, Mj√∂lnir, or Billy Baroo. Abuse your shovel and you could find yourself with a broken handle or badly bent blade and thousands of cubic feet left to go. No shovel and it's pretty much game over. 

The same thing applies to your barbell, collars, dumbbells, sandbag, and squat rack by the way; if things fall apart on you, you won't be lifting long. Invest in good equipment and take care of it. I've never had a Jump Stretch band snap on me while training and (knock on wood) hopefully NEVER will. I'll admit I'm a bit anal when it comes to keeping my stuff in good shape, but who wants something coming apart when it's over your head or face, or when you are straining like hell to move it? Respect the weights and the effort you bring to bear, or else. On the recycling bin I take to the curb every other week, there's a label detailing all the items that may be recycled - in bold letters is the message "When in doubt, THROW IT OUT." We live in a use and discard society. In general, we don't pay respect to inanimate objects and we curse them to high heaven when they don't do our bidding. We believe that if we just have enough money we'll be okay, but some things are truly irreplaceable. Your body and mind are the most essential pieces of equipment in your possession. Maintain them - they are the first and last things you'll ever own. We all want to leave our mark on the world, but here's a harsh truth: if you keel over in your driveway, no one will write John Henry-like ballads about how you died with a shovel in your hand. And if you injure yourself in the squat racks training, unless you go viral in a gym fail video, no one will even notice.

Lesson #5: The Key To Shoveling Is "Lazy Strength"

Shoveling thousands of pounds of snow is NOT a sprint. Persistence is an absolute prerequisite to success. "Slow and steady wins the race" really does apply here. If you fling every shovelful for all you're worth, it's going to be torture very quickly. There are circles that believe that limit strength is the wellspring from which all other strengths flow. That may be so, but if you can't sustain the effort needed to complete the job, it doesn't matter how impressive your one rep max is. Likewise, compensatory acceleration is great, but not the best strategy for conserving energy. Efficiency and power are not a dichotomy, but it is true that as power output increases, efficiency tends to decrease. As power output approaches maximum, efficiency suffers greatly. "Lazy strength" is about exerting just the right amount needed to finish the job. Life is not a sprint, and "Lazy strength" is the key to long, marathon efforts where the challenge is to finish well, rather than compete against others.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Christmas Gifts for Your Gym Rat - 2021

The 2021 Holiday Season is upon us! If you're looking for some gift ideas for that gym rat (or home gym rat) in your life, look no further! Here are 10 great ideas for less than $100 (and some less than $10)!

1. IMTUG grippers from Ironmind ($25.95 and Up)

If you have an interest in grip strength and you want to work your pinch grip, it's difficult to do with traditional "grippers" alone. The Ironmind Tug grippers are designed to be used with two or three fingers and can be used to improve crushing grip, pinch grip, and hand health and can be a great supplement for other grip work.


2. Bands from elitefts ($5 and Up)

As a stocking stuffer, or even as THE gift, bands are amazing for gym rats of all stripes. I've given these to my family, friends, and athletes for all kinds of occasions, from thank-you's to graduations. Convenient, easily transportable, and endless uses - bands are always a perfect gift.


3. Fractional Plates from Rogue Fitness ($15 and Up)

I know. You're thinking, "What kind of wimp needs ONE POUND PLATES? Be tough and throw on a quarter or at least a dime!!". Sure, I get that. But, if you've been training a long time, you know there are times when you wished you had these. Like when you are doing grip work. Or when you just want to feel the waters beyond your current max. For the "hardcore or die" types, this might not be the right gift, but for the older, more experienced, connoisseur of lifting, it might be just the thing.


4. Adjustable Slant Board from Amazon ($55)

I have one of these at home and I use it often for calf and hamstring stretches, and also for back foot placement on Bulgarian Split Squats. Certainly not a "must-have", but very convenient and if your special someone has flexibility issues then it's a great tool. Honestly, I don't know why something so simple costs as much as it does, but it is sturdy and I don't regret the purchase.


5. Sled Harness from Rogue Fitness ($60)

Many years ago I found a bargain and purchased a couple sled harnesses. Soon after, I was very glad I did because I could not find ANY that looked comfortable and cost under a hundred dollars - fast forward 10 years and now Rogue is producing some at a reasonable price. Pulling a sled with a harness vs. handles is a nice change of pace and shifts emphasis from the grip as a limiting factor, allowing heavier loads and longer efforts.


6. Cramer Gym Chalk (6 oz) from Amazon ($6.99)

Some modern chalk formulas contain resin which is probably fine for some resistance exercises, but would be bad for high rep kettlebell work. Good old plain magnesium carbonate is great for deadlifts, gymnastics, high-rep work with kettlebells, and just about anything else that requires a solid grip.


7. Conquer Your Demons Through Sweat and Steel (T-Shirt) from Defiant Athletic ($28.00)

I don't know about your gym rat, but working out has always been a place of solace for me and this t-shirt speaks to that. I own two of these (one red, one black).


8. Ledgital Gym Timer from Amazon ($79.88

I bought this a couple years ago on Amazon and it's gotten a lot of use in the garage. I use an older version of the Gym Boss when I'm in the basement or outside and need an interval timer, but I prefer having a big digital display that my old man eyes can see without squinting.


9. Raskog Utility Cart from IKEA ($29.99)

I use this cart in my garage for grip implement attachments, chalk, and carabiners. On wheels, it's a handy little storage cart for your gym or even your office. To amuse myself, I wrote "ROGUE" on it with a white sharpie.


10. LIGHT WEIGHT, BABY! (T-Shirt) from Ronnie Coleman ($29.99)

This "officially licensed" product is one item that I'm asking for on MY Christmas list. What could be better than a t-shirt with THE Ronnie Coleman on it saying "LIGHT WEIGHT BABY!"? Maybe a shirt with Ronnie Coleman on it saying "Ain't nothin' but a peanut".


Saturday, October 30, 2021

A New Zombie Trainer Certification!

I wrote this piece years ago for Josh Hanagarne's site (The World's Strongest Librarian). The site has gone away and I was sad to see the piece no longer viewable. So, I'm reposting it for Halloween 2021 - enjoy! 

The Certified Zombie Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification Challenge 
(or the “CZSCSCC” for short)

Life’s No Fair To Zombies - Get Rich AND Help Them Even The Odds with Strength and Conditioning!


The creators of Squat Rx will soon be offering a new certification - the "Certified Zombie Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification Challenge", or "CZSCSCC" (for short). 
Unlike other programs and certifications that promise to prepare you to defend yourself against the inevitable zombie apocalypse, the CZSCSCC will put you in the driver's seat and make you THE trainer sought after by BOTH the living and the undead. 
With the skills learned at the CZSCSCC you will be officially certified to train zombies in and out of the weight room to be stronger, faster, and happier killing machines. 

Jillian may be hot stuff on reality television's THE BIGGEST LOSER, but CZSCSCCs will be the biggest winners when zombies come to town

This untapped niche market possesses earnings only limited by your imagination and local zombie population, which can only grow over the future decades. Our five-day certification will focus on reverse-engineering what the best, most successful brain-eaters do instinctively, and how those qualities can be trained into even the meekest and most feeble zombie BY YOU.
 
Make no mistake, this will NOT be a paper-tiger certification. The successful candidate must demonstrate the physical prowess and cool nerves of a Navy SEAL, the cunning of a Geek Squad Crew, and the teaching and people skills of a Dale Carnegie to pass our stringent requirements. 

Think how good their moves would have been if Michael had been trained by a CZSCSCC! 

What You'll Learn:
  • Which five exercises are indispensible for your zombie-clients to outrun their victims and outeat their rivals... 
  • Which of your zombie clients need foam rollers, and which need baseball bats... 
  • Which supplements will help your clients... and which will put them BACK in the grave... 
  • How to screen and treat mobility dysfunction unique to many zombies... 
  • How zombie-stereotyping may be crippling your efforts at effective programming... 
  • How to improve VO2Max in clients who don't respirate... 
  • How to properly spot and cue a zombie WITHOUT GETTING YOUR BRAIN EATEN... 
  • How to "bullet-proof" your zombies' weakness and enhance their latent supernatural strength... 
  • How to turn a slow-moving "Night Of The Living Dead" zombie into a light-footed "28 Days Later" zombie... 
  • Why kipping pull-ups may reduce shoulder integrity in undead shoulders... 
  • Why zombies hate the Turkish Get-Up and how to help them get-UP to get-down... 
  • Why sleepy glutes may be the second-death of your zombie-clientele… 
  • What shoes are best for the tactical zombie… 
  • What tough-love means to a zombie (and how to administer it without infection)...
ALL THIS AND MUNCH, MUNCH, MUNCH MORE!!!!!!!! 

This zombie would still be enjoying brain if only he had been trained by a CZSCSCC! 

As an added bonus, upon successfully passing the Certified Zombie Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification Challenge, instructors will receive FREE
  • THE ZOMBIE MARKETING HANDBOOK - detailing how to make the most off of your zombie-clients' estates. Comes handsomely bound with Bostitch-brand staples! 
  • The opportunity to buy an instructional seminar DVD starring you at a fraction of the certification price! 
  • Two Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencils! 
  • CZSCSCC golf shirts @ reduced prices (10% off)! 
Space is limited, so REGISTER NOW! 
Early bird registrants will receive 50% off of the rock-bottom, dirt-cheap fee of $10,000. 
Act now... they're coming.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

New Series on YouTube - SKWAT TAWKS

I've started a new series of videos on YouTube called "Skwat Tawks". I plan to talk about anything and everything squat related. Please give it a listen and let me know if there's anything you'd like me to talk about! Skwat Tawks Playlist

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Words of Wisdom from Rory Miller

 Last, there is an industry supplying fantasy disguised as information...
  What does that mean to you as a teacher? If you have extensive direct experience, you are a valuable resource. If you don't have extensive direct experience, you can still be valuable as a teacher, but be alert for what you don't know. Be especially alert for things you are sure of if you can't articulate a basis for your certainty. You "just know"...? How do you know? Have you tried it? Did you read it somewhere? Did the people who wrote the article actually try it? How many times? You (all of us) actually know very little with any reliability. But we tend to "know" a lot of things with great confidence, many of which are not true.
  Watch your sources. Be skeptical (including with me).
 Principles-Based Instruction for Self-Defense (and maybe life) by Rory Miller (p. 3)
Do not be afraid to question what you 'know', and don't be afraid to question what others 'know'. Is the person giving your team advice on "sport specific" strength and conditioning someone with experience in that specific sport, or someone with general knowledge of strength? Both is better. Be mindful of 'gurus' - people who have all the answers. I've had a lot of experience in strength and conditioning, mostly working with high school and age group swimmers, and, despite that, feel my knowledge is quite limited. Would I hire me? Absolutely. Would I say my word is final on the subject? Not even close.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Happy Fourth of July!

Tom Platz!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Squat Memes

I've made a lot of memes about squatting over the years. I've seen a lot of them on people's feeds, sometimes years after I made them - that's pretty cool really. I've made a few recently that I thought were solid - I posted most of them to my Instagram @squat_rx and I'll post some of them here.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Squat Rx #30 - The Last Squat Rx

On May 27th, 2020, I made the last Squat Rx video. If you like squat workouts and just shooting the sh*t about squatting, then you might like it. The talk is a bit meandering (from squat training and technique to music). Take a look (if you haven't already) and let me know what you think of it.