Category Archives: Strength and Conditioning
Here is a cool little clip of Andre Galvao performing some mobility drills for BJJ.
A little over a year ago there was a video going viral around the strength and conditioning community; essentially it was a video of a “strength coach” telling some Olympians that partial squats are the way to go nowadays instead of those dangerous full squats. Anyways, I am not going to beat a dead horse and pick the video apart…mostly because the dudes over at 70’s Big have already done just that. Enjoy.
The 70’s Big Response:
I’m really good at pointing out things that are wrong, so let’s get started.
1. Nobody in this video can string a sentence together confidently. At one point Maurice Greene says that the coach is going “to facilitate us on the weightroom”. Huh??? Then he says, “Here we have Montel Douglas who is the British national record holder…for Great Britain…and shit.” I added the last part because they undoubtedly had to edit that part out. Then the coach makes up his sentence as he goes along as if he’s never had to think about it before. Then he says the squat is “important for a track athlete to simply create force into the ground”. To clarify, we don’t summon force out of thin air like a demon, we apply force into the ground so that Newton’s third law occurs (equal and opposite reaction) to move. I’m not expecting this explanation, but I am expecting correct terminology when you’re a supposed expert.
I could keep going. “We go a hip-width distance” — of what? “We feel that halfway to a quarter is deep enough,” — sharing your feelings is not a way to prove why to do something.
Sure, even I have bad days with communicating, but this was terrible. What is Montel the world record holder of? Why should track athletes lift weights? What is this squat movement accomplishing? Why is this “new” movement beneficial?
2. “What better exercise to load the lower body than the barbell squat,” and then he hardly loads the body by doing a partial rep. And wasn’t this the reason that Maurice stated that they didn’t want to go deeper?
3. ”Puts a lot of stress on yo body, creates injuries…and shit”. If you perform the squat like Maurice Greene, who is labeling himself as the expert, then yes, they can be injurious. In fact, decent squats can be injurious if regular mobility work isn’t performed. This is why a proper squat is done with the hip going below the knee so that it trains the lower body joints and musculature through a full range of motion. This is also why proper foot attire is worn to increase the efficiency and subsequently the safety. Remember that lifting shoes have the slight heel increase, the non-compressible sole, the meta-tarsal straps, and the wider sole base to help solidify the articulation of the athlete to the ground so that they can properly apply force. Furthermore, lifting shoes help utilize the body’s mechanics more efficiently to distribute force evenly across the thighs and hips regardless of anthropometry. A belt will only increase all of this efficiency by increasing the intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure, increasing the stability of the trunk which will not only improve the transmission of force (AKA performance), but help protect the spine by improving the pneumatic “brace” against the anterior portion of the spine.
The rest of the response can be found in the link below…
Another gem of an article from the boys at Elite FTS. There is a serious takeaway from these words below, read closely, take notes, and get strong.
“DEFINITION: A species whose numbers are so small that the species is at risk of extinction.
There was once a time when strength ran supreme. It was the quality by which a person could be measured and judged. It was idolized and worshiped by those who coined sayings of its prominence, “Only the strong shall survive.” Without this trait there was no progress, no honor, no life. The physically strong were admired and looked to for guidance, protection, and inspiration. Civilizations were built by the strong and then torn down and burned to ashes by the stronger.
However, this time has long passed us by and physical strength is endangered. This regression did not happen overnight, rather it was a slow and gradual disease taking hold over centuries. For a long time, this trait and its followers were oblivious of the gradual decay that was taking place. They were unaware that they were slowly being hunted.
Centuries ago, we could not survive without strength. Our great ancestors knew this and placed the highest value on its development. Today, strength is treated as an outcast—unvalued and left to die. The pursuit of it is now looked upon as trite or moronic, a waste of time and energy. How easily people have forgotten what this trait has done for us. It was what kept us alive during the hunt, what protected us against enemies, what gave us confidence during turmoil. It was the primary catalyst in our progress, and we have forgotten and neglected it as if it were a stranger.
The days of hunting for our next meal and protecting our families against deadly wildlife are in the past; however, the value of physical strength remains the same. A quality so important to humanity that it cannot just vanish and be forgotten…although, there are some who wish it were that way. With every infomercial that sells the next fitness gadget, and with every workout video that claims to have reinvented the wheel, we stray further from it. The quest for strength was once pure, but now it is littered with “experts” who care nothing for its development or preservation, who only desire to piggyback off of it to make a profit. Poachers claim that the pursuit of this quality can harm us. They claim that what once kept us safe and healthy is now un-safe and detrimental.
The path to strength is more than physical, it as an all-encompassing quality. Strength is the skeleton key, opening doors that were previously locked. It teaches the values of courage, patience, and perseverance. There are still many who genuinely respect the quality of strength and all that it has done for us; however, I fear that number is dwindling.
So for those of you reading this, I ask that every time you train, you respect this trait and its qualities. When you speak of it, let your words be true and in favor of its prosper. When you see injustice towards it, speak up and defend it.
However, most of all, enjoy the journey towards this trait. Although the road forward can be treacherous, it has been built this way for a reason. Without the hardships, failures, and frustrations this path bears, the unworthy would walk along it freely. Do not stray from this road when forward progress stalls, for strength has always been an elusive trait—broad as day one moment then vanished the next. It is as if strength has developed a defense mechanism, always moving and hiding, cautious and suspicious of the intents of those who walk its road. Do not let this ever defer you from it, for many have walked it genuinely—to arrive with open arms.”
Training and coaching by definition are fairly similar. But, when applied to teaching goal orientated fitness modalities these two become very different animals. Vern Gambetta had a blog post years ago that I really enjoyed reading so I wanted to revisit and share with you all. Vern did a quick breakdown of “Training” vs. “Coaching”, defining what it means to do one versus the other. If you have ever worked in the fitness industry you will completely understand the angle from which this was written. It really defines the difference between a good/not so good trainer and a great trainer. The good trainers can get the results for their clients, but it is the mode in which they do it that separates them from the great trainers. Does the trainer accept bad form, or do they work with the client till it is 100% correct. It is not just the end result, rather, it is also the means by which you get the people there. Enjoy.
1) Training – Focused on the result. Just get it done.
Coaching – Focused on the process, how it is done, making sure it is repeatable.
2) Training – Self centered, all about the trainer, the athlete can’t do it without the trainer.
Coaching – All about empowering and teaching the athlete. Creating self-sufficiency rather than dependence.
3) Training – Has all the answers.
Coaching – Always gathering data from the training, fine-tuning and learning.
4) Training – Lots of screaming and yelling, ”motivating.”
Coaching – Purposeful, meaningful feedback and cue’s, communicating and teaching.
5) Training – Focused on equipment, needs machines and apparatus to train.
Coaching- Focused on the athlete and the sport they are preparing for and coach accordingly. Use what is needed and necessary, not bells and whistles.
6) Training – Scattered, all over the place.
Coaching – Focused on the task at hand. No cell phone!
7) Training – Follows the latest fads, listens to gurus.
Coaching – Knows best practice and follows it. Stands on the shoulders of giants. Has a mentor.
CrossFit North County Marathon Rowing Competition
CrossFit, most of you in the fitness industry have probably heard of it by now and if you haven’t you are probably living under a rock. CrossFit gets mixed reviews by professionals as well as fitness enthusiasts; either they love it or hate it, with very little grey area. Now, some of you may be thinking, but you don’t really do CrossFit anymore?!? This is true, now, but when I caught the fever back in 2006 it was a whole different story.
Before I found CrossFit I was dabbling in quite a few different types of strength/hypertrophy building exercise routines. In the early 2000’s I was all hypertrophy; meaning I would do one or two body parts a day and exercise for way over an hour. During my later college years I was introduced to a strength and conditioning class, this is where I picked up the deadlift, squat, and clean and jerk exercises to add to that already boring and lengthy workout. I very much hated legs and honestly, rarely did squats or deadlifts. I was big, I was strong, but my strength was not distributed equally and I was very much a top-heavy lifter.
In 2006 I graduated from school and returned home and rejoined the gym I had been a member of before I left for school, the one where all my bodybuilding went down. By this time the gym had started renting out space in one of the racquet ball courts to a business called CrossFit Encinitas. Being the inquisitive person I am I checked out their gym, equipment, took a business card and reached out to the owner of the gym. He told me the cost of the gym membership and I was unable to afford so I took it upon myself to find the source of this “CrossFit” exercise routine. I went online and searched CrossFit in my Yahoo search engine (yes I used to use Yahoo for searching) and found the CrossFit main page. I checked out the workouts and like most other people, was floored by what they were asking of me to do in one single workout…for time. It actually took me about six months to start working out with workouts from the CrossFit mainpage, I was mostly scared and had no idea what to expect from such intense workouts. In mid-2007 I did my first CrossFit workout, Barbara, loved it and was hooked.
By 2008 I was well into my love for CrossFit and really started to preach the gospel to people I met. I finally had a program that MADE me do legs and did all the programming for me so I no longer had to roam around the gym aimless looking for other exercises to waste time on. By late 2008, early 2009 I met up with a man who would later become my business partner with our affiliate CrossFit North County. I met Marc while he was rowing at the local YMCA gym I was working at. I started chatting with him about how awesome the rower was and how I used it a lot in CrossFit. He of course wanted to know what CrossFit was so I told him, a few months later he joined a local affiliate, started paleo, and lost close to 50lbs.
By late 2009 Marc was deep into the CrossFit mayhem and ended up going to a local certification and got the CrossFit level 1 cert. Once he got this cert we started talking about how cool it would be to start our own affiliate, but we were both working so much, had no equipment, so on and so forth. Well, Marc started purchasing equipment slowly but surely and by early 2010 we had just enough to start our own gym. I found a space, we affiliated and set up shop in a local sports performance facility. All was good, the gym started to grow however I had started to lose my passion for CrossFit. Not sure how and why it came about but for whatever reason I was no longer doing WOD’s and started moving my training to primarily doing powerlifting type exercises. From there I ended up taking a job up north in Los Angeles and had to abandon my business all together which at this point, I was fine with.
I moved away to Los Angeles and started to train in a very powerbuilding training method. I also found a training partner, Paleo Devan, who had similar goals as me with regards to strength and size gains. Devan inspired me to be passionate with my training and programming and we both really benefitted from this training awakening. So, here I am today, strong, happy with my program, gaining size, and when I look back I really have CrossFit to thank.
So how did CrossFit actually change my life?
- CrossFit inspired me to be passionate about training myself again.
- CrossFit made me do legs, which is why I am actually proportionate now.
- CrossFit made me push my body to a level I had never worked at before.
- CrossFit taught me how to program workouts to be more efficient.
- CrossFit introduced me to powerlifting, which is a major part of my routine now.
- Preaching CrossFit to others helped me to help others with their health.
- CrossFit made me enjoy fitness again, plain and simple.
- CrossFit inspires a passion for fitness like nothing else I have ever seen.
- CrossFit introduced me to Paleo. The paleo diet has been a life changing “diet” for me and many others I have helped along the way and I 100% owe CrossFit and Robb Wolf for introducing me to this way of eating.
Thank you all so much for reading through this really long and drawn out blog post. I had not written much about my background with CrossFit, or fitness in general so it was nice to get that off my chest. Do I agree with everything CrossFit does, no. But I do think CrossFit has one of the best platforms for people looking to learn and adapt new training and nutritional philosophies into their own way of exercising and living. I have seen plenty of people start CrossFit and then segue into olympic weightlifitng, powerlifitng, rowing, running, or just add these elements into their old way of working out (like me). CrossFit’s ability to do just that is why I really do think it changed my life for the better as well as the others who I have helped over the years, so thank you CrossFit.
“First rule of Fit-Club, Return all weights to racks after use“
I really don’t expect much out of people nowadays, as sad as that sounds. We all seem to be so consumed with our own lives that we forget that we live on a planet with 7 billion other people. Selfishness is running ramped and selflessness is becoming hard to find. One small, very minor example of this is gym etiquette, primarily cleaning up after yourself. At this point we all know that signs posted basically mean nothing to most people as most people do not read them. I have worked in enough gyms to know that either they don’t read them, or they read them and don’t care to follow what they say; either way, gym etiquette has reached an all time low. No one seems to want to put away their own weights, they see other people leave crap out and copy their same behavior (stupid is as stupid does). Many don’t wipe down their equipment after use and leave their sweat and greasy head sweat all over the benches. The gym I currently go to is a 24 hour fitness, which does have signs posted, which over 50% of the people completely ignore. Tonight I watched one kid go from bench press, to chest press on the hammer strength, to the leg press; he loaded up each machine with weight, did his exercises and then moved on without cleaning up after himself. He is not an anomaly, he is part of a majority. I however am not part of the majority, I clean up, because I have worked in countless gyms cleaning up after others and I know how bad it sucks. Even when I was younger I still cleaned up after myself, because that is what is expected of us, what seems right, what we should all do to show respect to the others around us who should not have to clean up a mess we leave behind. To all those who continue to not clean up after yourselves at the gym, would you please stop being assholes and show some respect to gym staff as well as other gym goers…thanks.
P.S: This is Ridiculous
And this is funny:
The Bench Press; Lie on your back, press a heavy weight over your heart, what is not cool about that? The bench press is a historical exercise and dates back to the 19th century. The bench press is by far the most talked about strength training exercise. It is also one of the best anterior upper body strength building exercises you can do. I do not know anyone personally who does not have this exercise in their routine, not one. I for one continue to be a huge fan, and continually challenge myself each time I perform the lift.
Aside from the “how do I tone” questions I get all the time, I would have to say the second most frequently asked question is “how much you bench”? The question gets asked, to which I answer with “not as much as I used to”. I know, cliché is it not? I think most of us have come to terms with the fact that if you don’t do bench press, you need to. There is no better ego building, shit talking exercise out there than the bench press. The ability to bench press the most weight is a constant battle between friends, enemies, frenemies, co-workers, cops, robbers, you name it and we want to bench more than it. I really have nothing negative to say about bench press. Can you get hurt, sure, but you can get hurt on most exercises if not done properly. Shoulder girdle stability is crucial to keeping your shoulders safe (scapular depression/retraction). I always run through shoulder mobility exercises, rotator cuff exercises, and make sure I am properly warmed up before I bench press(but this is the same for most lifts I do). Have fun, be safe, and go bench press.
If you have not added the bench press into your routine and feel you should(as I feel you should), here are some tips on how to perform the lift safely and properly. They also include the variations on the bench press to add continued value to your program and increased strength gains.
Even Ronald McDonald does The Bench Press
It was my birthday, the pic was kind of a joke.
Lets face it, not everyone can be genetically gifted in the arm department. I have been fortunate in that my arms tend to grow bigger, and at a faster rate than all of my other larger muscles; I truly have to thank my grandpa from my mom’s side for my bigger arms, he was a beast. However, I was a skinny punk at a point in my life and my size gains came from hard work, eating a lot, and a sprinkle of some good genetics. When I first started working out I focused a lot of energy on isolation exercises, with training that was very similar to most bodybuilding routines. It wasnt till about 2006 that I started training with mostly compound exercises with very little, if any, isolation exercises. I continue to train in a very similar manner, focusing very little attention on isolation of muscles. I wanted to list some of the best compound exercises that help to grow your arms bigger, and stronger without the time needed to do isolation.
These are listed in no particular order:
1) Dips/Weighted Dips (5-20 reps)
2) Pull Ups/Chins – Weighted Pull Ups/Weight Chins (1-20 reps)
3) Deadlifts – Great for forearm building (1-5 reps)
4) Push Ups/Weighted Push Ups (8-50 reps)
5) Bench Press/Narrow Bench Press (1-30 reps)
6) Standing Military Press/Handstand Push Ups (1-20 reps)
7) Seated Row/Bent Over Row/Inverted Rows/T-Bar Rows (8-12 reps)
8) Muscle Ups/Weighted Muscle Ups (5-10 reps)
9) Cleans/Clean and Jerks (1-3 reps)
10) Snatches/Hang Snatch (1-3 reps)
As you can tell the rep schemes on these exercises can differ greatly. It really depends on where my cycle is at if I am going to go high rep, vs. low rep. I work in all spectrum’s of the rep matrix for most lifts, with the exception of cleans, snatches, and deads. I will periodically do burn outs with bench press, typically no higher than a 30 rep set. Your body needs different stimulation’s, and I feel these exercises and rep schemes are what will do it. Enjoy.
My Humble Beginnings: Gangsta!