“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” – Bertrand Russell
This Month in the World of Weightlifting:
Lon Kilgore, Michael Hartman, and Justin Lascek have published a new book, FIT. I’ve already grabbed my copy, have you?
Fitness is hard. Very hard. Everyone knows it is, but everyone is also willing to risk time and money on the mythology of easy fitness. If anyone, ANYONE, tells you that there is an “EASY” way to fitness, they just want your money.
Outlined below is 1st week of a 4-week program that will be used by several lifters as they prepare for this meet. This Power Clean Program is designed to maximize the ability in the power clean (clean) over the next month while also addressing the snatch and jerk in a somewhat lesser extent. Keep in mind this is just a snapshot of what will be occurring in the gym over the next month, day to day changes are very likely based on the needs of individual lifters.
The above photo is of Tokyo From Atajo-Yama, Japan during the rebuilding period after the 1923 earthquake that resulted in massive fires that destroyed the city. You can read more about it at Flicker, where I got the picture from the Oregon State University archives.
Zen Quote of the Week:
“Achievement has everything to do with creating a failure-resistant brain and thinking your way to success…you can take charge of the process…Winner’s brains actually operate differently than the average brain.” – Mark Fenske, Neuroscientist
Charles Poliquin. Along the same lines is this article by Poliquin designed to bury you into the ground for 2 weeks, take 5 days off, then come back and be stonger than before. This is similar to how many Olympic weightlifters train, including some of us at PDX Weightlifting. His version is a bit more hardcore than most of ours, but it’s worth looking into. Here’s a quote:
Let’s review: By the end of the first two weeks of this program, if you’re doing it right, you will . . .
1. Lose strength 2. Lose muscle 3. Be chronically overtrained 4. Experience aching tendons and joints 5. Be brutally sore (and train right through it) 6. Experience depression
Now I know you’re enticed!
PDX Weightlifting. You can see an example of how to do something similar to Poliquin’s method above, but as a weightlifter by looking at our 2 week “loading” phase here, and then our 2 week “unloading” phase that we did heading into a local meet on April 16th that resulted in most of us hitting PR’s.
I view all strength training for athletes as general preparation so I really try to stick to the basics in the weight room. In my opinion, all training can fit into one of three broad categories: strength, endurance, and mobility.
These three areas must be addressed in all athletes but to varying degrees based on the needs and classification of the athlete or team, and during different times of an athlete’s career. Most workouts contain a dynamic warm-up, 3-4 basic compound exercises, and then some remedial or corrective pre/rehab exercises.
I tend to focus on technique and quality of the lifts being performed and only bump up the training load when the athlete has demonstrated they are capable of handling the work load. I am a huge proponent of the Olympic lifts and their variations in training so technique is taught and reinforced everyday.
Let me just say this; I recently saw a fitness product released that was based on a specific fiber type and its effects on fat loss. The claims were pretty far out there and anyone one a reasonably sound research background should have had their BS detectors going off like crazy. But guess what? Based on the statistics on Clickbank (and talking to other people who participated in the launch) I’d say they’ve probably sold THOUSANDS of copies. And get this…the product is almost $100!!! So someone out there is making hundreds of thousands of dollars off of a scientific theory that doesn’t hold water.
Now that doesn’t mean that the program doesn’t work. It might work because of mechanisms that are different from what the creators think they are. And it certainly doesn’t mean that anyone who creates a product that isn’t evidence based is trying to rip you off. Maybe they don’t know any better either. What it does mean though, is that you should know whether the theory behind what you’re buying has any merit before breaking out your wallet and spending your hard earned money.
My product will help you do that. So yes, I think weekend warriors should consider purchasing this product.
I’m pretty sure I know who he’s talking about, and I’m also fairly sure this person has no idea that their ideas (about why their program may work) are unsound. This person may need to buy Mark’s product!
The transition from the performing of a Power Clean to a full Clean (or Squat Clean) can be a hard adjustment. Novice lifters, without a ton of practice performing the lifts, will often spread their legs, in an attempt to lower their body in the catch position. Spreading the legs, rather than squatting under the bar, works somewhat in the short term but long term delays progress. When the legs are spread, meaning outside of normal hip-width or shoulder-width position used when squatting, puts you in a position where you are unable to go under the bar.
When internationally renowned double bass soloist and Eastman School of Music Professor James VanDemark took up boxing two years ago, he saw immediate crossover benefits to his playing. VanDemark, a "lightweight" at only 5’6" and 138 pounds, immediately thought of the impact boxing could have on his students, so he sent some of his women students for a conditioning and strength-building session. They, too, came back with greater bow control, more confidence and stamina, and more energy, producing an even bigger and more focused sound from their big instrument.
Maybe as a weightlifting coach AND a musician, I should be marketing to the local music schools … Hmm. Speaking of weightlifting musicians …
Intermittent Fasting. I’ve been doing some experimenting with Intermittent Fasting recently. I’m not ready to discuss any conclusions I have, since I haven’t come to any! In a few months, I’ll post up a full review of my experience. But, until then, for those of you who are interested, here’s Martin Berkhan’s “Top 10 Fasting Myths Debunked.”
Efficient adaptation to famine was important for survival during rough times in our evolution. Lowering metabolic rate during starvation allowed us to live longer, increasing the possibility that we might come across something to eat. Starvation literally means starvation. It doesn’t mean skipping a meal not eating for 24 hours. Or not eating for three days even. The belief that meal skipping or short-term fasting causes "starvation mode" is so completely ridiculous and absurd that it makes me want to jump out the window.
Looking at the numerous studies I’ve read, the earliest evidence for lowered metabolic rate in response to fasting occurred after 60 hours (-8% in resting metabolic rate). Other studies show metabolic rate is not impacted until 72-96 hours have passed (George Cahill has contributed a lot on this topic).
Alan Aragon has a guest post on Martin Berkhan’s site reviewing a position paper in the ISSN journal on meal frequency. (In the post, Martin also looks to be spoiling for a fight with John Berardi … mud or jello?).
The authors go on to assert that data on the eating habits of competitive athletes (in primarily endurance-based sports) shows a range of roughly 5-10 eating occasions per day. They suggest that this is optimal because it enables athletes to consume a culturally normal meal pattern in addition to meals proximal to the training bout.In response to this, I’d say that this range of frequencies is fine for this population. But, I’d also contend that the energy needs of competitive athletes in endurance-based sports can be 2-4 times greater than that of recreationally active individuals (who make up the bulk of the nonsedentary adult population). Therefore, applying the meal frequency of competitive athletes to less active populations is unnecessary & impractical, at best. In my private practice, I’ve seen recreational athletes succeed long-term with as little as 2 meals per day. The most common meal frequency range I’ve observed in physically active clients with long-term success is rather broad (3-6 meals per day). Whether individuals choose the higher or lower end of that range is based solely on personal preference and tolerance.
Jon North does some lifting at the Seminars Glenn and he did with East Coast Barbell and the Edinburgh Center for Sport and Exercise over yonder across the water.
K-Star has two mobility workouts for the clean and jerk: one for the upper body, one for the lower body. These are, of course, in honor of the recent CrossFit Games WOD that was Clean and Jerk (110#’s for ladies, 165#’s for dudes), as many reps as possible in 5 minutes … ouch! Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this high rep bonanza to benefit from K-Star’s MOB. Any self respecting Olympic lifter with tight shoulders, T-spine, hips, etc will get hours of painful enjoyment out of these!
Crappy College Majors. This isn’t weightlifting related, but it’s funny. It’s a top 10 list of the college majors sure to make you jobless.
Even as the younger Williams excelled on both sides of the line in high school, football was a means to another end, a way to earn a free ride to college. At Gardner-Webb, his ambivalence over the sport gave way to hatred. He felt like he had little control of his situation, and he questioned the motives of agents and scouts. But he couldn’t afford to quit. And he didn’t want to let his teammates down. "In a way," says Williams, "I was doing what my family and friends kept telling me was in my best interest. That was why I got an agent, set up meetings with teams. But in my heart, I knew I wanted out. My playing football made everybody else happy. Not me."
A retrospective review of injuries associated with weight lifting and weight training in preadolescents and adolescents found that weight lifting and weight training are safer than many other sports and activities (see the statistics listed below). In fact, the rate of injury for Olympic weight lifting was even lower than for weight training.
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – For the second straight semester, the USA Weightlifting Team led the U.S. Olympic Education Center with the highest Grade Point Average of any USOEC program atNorthern Michigan University in Marquette,Mich.
The 18 student athletes in the program maintained a 3.26 GPA during the fall semester with 14 athletes earning at least a 3.0, placing the lifters ahead of the speedskating, wrestling and boxing programs.
I received an email this morning from a high school football coach who wanted me to evaluate his off-season conditioning program. He felt that his teams performance dropped off towards the end of the year. The program was filled with 1,2, and 3 mile runs! When I mentioned to him that this type of training was likely the cause of his teams demise, he got insulted and told me that I am not even qualified to train an animal.
Normally, I would have given him the verbal equivalent of a Donkey Punch, but as irony would have it, I have to take my animal to the dog park for some training. So there, Mr. Coach!
K-Star has three vids on mobility for Olympic Weightlifters. The first is all about your groin!
I love it when I hear folks say that human adults weren’t meant to consume milk, much less the milk derived from a different animal species. Are you kidding me? So who gets to decide which parts of the cow we should consume? Let me get this straight–we can eat the cow’s muscles, but not the milk that laid the foundation for the growth of those same muscles? Huh? The logic is just too rock-solid for me. Folks who carry the torch against milk consumption typically will have some degree of allergy or digestive intolerance to it, and they take the liberty to project their personal problems onto the world around them. Many of these same “health-minded” people consume whey protein by the tubload –and this is not only a milk product, but an engineered refined milk product to boot. I suggest you raise a salute to cow’s teats the next time you flex your muscles, and let the rest of us enjoy our milk in peace.
Leucine. ABC Bodybuilding has a report on the effects of Leucine (the amino acid) on protein synthesis (it’s a PDF file). Much of the new (last 5 to 10 years) research on Leucine has been vindicating the Bodybuilders obsession with BCAA’s. It isn’t so much the other Branched Chain Amino Acids that were doing the ‘heavy lifting’, it was the Leucine. (Btw, Charles Poloquin – a major supporter of Olympic Weightlifting – has also been pushing BCAA’s for years.)
That said, Alan Aragon has reviewed a few Leucine studies in his Research Review and calls into question the need to take it if you’re getting the total daily amount of protein that you’re supposed to. For instance, the paper above calls for about 20 to 30 grams a day for a male athlete. I’m at just under 200 pounds, so my daily protein requirements should be around 200 grams. Assuming (big assumption) that it all came from high quality sources (read: animal products like meat, milk, and eggs), then I’d be already getting about 20 grams of Leucine a day. (This is because most animal sources of protein are about 10% Leucine.)
My feeling is that it is unlikely most athletes are getting adequate protein in a day in practice. So, if you can improve their rate of protein synthesis with added Leucine directly, then it is worth a shot. I’ll go ahead and try it out for a few months and get back to you.
First, we all have issues with genetics that we have to work around. Some of us are predisposed to carrying excess fat, some of us are lean but have stubborn areas of fat deposition, some have trouble building muscle, and some are muscular but have weak body parts. Some of us have all of this combined, and nobody has perfect genetics!
Around 17 years ago I spent the weekend with my Dad and stepmom. We were driving home late one night in the rain in our Volkswagen bug and some guy fell asleep at the wheel, ran a red light, and T-boned us. The VW was demolished, and the passenger seat that I was sitting in ended up positioned directly behind the driver’s seat where my Dad was positioned. I was secured to a backboard and rushed to a level I trauma center.
Sarah Robles does a 135K power clean and jerk. Seriously, this woman is something special:
Research during the last two decades has revealed that pharmaceutical drugs and personal care products are a major source of pollution in the marine environment. Even in very low concentrations, they have altered the ecosystems.
It’s very hard,” Sauve said. “The question itself is quite interesting. You can’t ask a fish whether it is happier or not. One of things they can do is use cameras to look at the male behaviour. Will it have the same behaviour in mating or feeding? Then you have to go back and look at its normal behaviour. It’s quite tedious work and difficult.”
Residue from antidepressants leaves through bodily waste and ends up in our waterways. Sauve said that his study indicates that the problem of antidepressants contaminating marine animals is probably global.
Seriously, people. Our obsession with using drugs to solve all of our problems is now screwing with other animals. I’m not saying there aren’t people who DO need drugs to compensate for the abnormal dysfunction of their brains. But, most don’t. They just need to do with their brain what we all know more people need to do with their body: work it out. Happiness is a skill.
They’ve also go a great post on the Chinese team. They make the point that while the Chinese system has produced some remarkable results in weightlifting, there is a dark side:
Statistics show that in China there are around 300,000.00 former star athletes living in extreme poverty and a lot are homeless. The good thing I herad is that the goverment is starting programs to help them.
Alan Aragon is a guest on The Fit Cast along with Dan John and Lou Schuler. His interview is the middle one. At one point he discusses the odd tendency of the Bodybuilder crowd to have a deep underlying philosophical belief that the more you suffer, the better you’ll look. This reminded me of a Bodybuilder friend of mine who’s mantra was, “Flavor kills muscle.” He ate only plain boiled chicken breast, plain rice, and plain broccoli for every meal … except breakfast where he ate plain oatmeal.
He also talks a bit about the Burden of Proof and the Paleo Diet. So many people seem to not understand a fundamental tenet of science which is that the burden of proof is on those who develop theories. One must show that ones theory actually holds water if one wants others to buy into their shit. The Paleo Diet is basically a theory stating that it is the optimal way for humans to eat for health and longevity. That is a testable theory. Sadly, they have yet to show much in the way of evidence to support such a claim. It is NOT on the backs of detractors to show that it DOESN’T work. In this way, Science is the opposite of the American legal system: A theory is guilty until proven innocent.
Alan Aragon has a post about the “Wild West” nature of the Fitness Industry. In it he mentions some cats who have had great careers in spite of not being “credentialed” in any formal way, including Lyle McDonald and Dan Duchane (who apparently got his degree in Theater!). This field is wide open in that regard. You don’t have to be “licensed” to get a job in some arbitrary way. There is a downside, of course:
The fitness industry is famous for being chock-full of quacks and charlatans. There are heaps of people running their mouths online and off, pontificating about this nutrient or that, this way of training or that — without having learned the physiological basis for such recommendations or protocols. The fact that this field has so many wackos makes it difficult for the consumer to discern whose material is scientifically based, and whose material is a lot of hot air. This is the unfortunate side of the picture, but it’s also part of my point — you can be devoid of scientific knowledge (or you can create your own brand of pseudoscience), and still become successful in the fitness industry.
Still, I’m a big believer that one should always give others enough rope to hang themselves. After all, most people will surprise you, and use that rope for something interesting. Would we really have wanted to block Lyle McDonald from entering into our field? No. How about Dan John or Mark Rippetoe (his degree is in Geology)? Dealing with the hordes of Wackos is worth it.
Pat Mendez of Average Joe’s Gym does a 330 kilo deadlift for 4 reps!
The main chemical in muscle contraction is SEROTONIN. It actually regulates how HARD the muscle contracts, which is why only the heaviest weights seem to effect our mood, the reason why people shy away from maximal lifting and cower from the imaginary symptoms of overtraining.
A Week of Training at East Coast Barbellin Ireland:
I am into Paleo now, but it’s a little different. I eat the foods that a caveman would eat now if he were alive. Which would be Twinkies and doughnuts and pizza.
But NO fruits.
Too many pesticides. And too much sugar.
The best thing about my diet is that I talk about it all the time around family and friends, make sure they all know about what/when I’m eating and how poor they are eating and then make a HUGE deal when we all go out and have to order off a menu.
I will also pout and frown when the restaurant we picked doesn’t exactly support my dieting and make sure everyone feels bad that they don’t support every little part of my pathetic, self-absorbed life.
Basically, I am a shallow pain in the ass. NO matter what I look like on the outside, I will be the most unattractive, annoying piece of shit you’ve ever met. You want to hear about how much cardio I’m doing now?
That begs the larger question, “Does foot speed have anything to do with agility?” I know coaches or parents reading this are asking, “Is this guy crazy?” How many times have we heard that speed kills? I think the problem is that coaches and parents equate fast feet with fast and quick feet with agile. However, fast feet don’t equal fast any more than quick feet equal agile. In some cases, fast feet might actually make an athlete slow–often I see fast feet as a detriment to speed. In fact, some of our quick turnover guys, those who would be described as having fast feet, are very slow off the start.
Most coaches will be disappointed after a match in which so many jump serves went into the net and will probably schedule a practice to work on jump serve skills. What is needed is strength and conditioning where the athletes can work on developing more vertical jump height, and to be able to jump well when fatigued. This is a good example of the coach not realizing the factor that is in need of remediation.
Call me a nerd, but on numerous occasions I’ve watched an entire football game with my trusty stopwatch in hand and I’ve timed everything — average length of a play, average rest between plays, length of TV timeouts during NFL & NCAA games, average rest between each series, length of halftime, etc. Just for shits and giggles, I did this again today while watching the Giants game in preparation of writing this blog post. Here are the highlights:
Average play = 5.5 seconds
Average rest between plays = 32 seconds
Average rest between each series for an individual player = 7 minutes
(This obviously wouldn’t apply to a high school player that goes both ways.)
Time between last play of 1st Half and first play of 2nd Half = 18 minutes
Here’s the first of 10 videos on the training methods of the Polish Olympic lifting team back in the day (way back in the day). Yes, it includes skiing!