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Rack Chat: Partial Squats vs. Full Squats

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 Video:

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…

http://70sbig.com/blog/2012/08/a-part-of-me-died/

Strength: An Endangered Species – Joe Amberlock (Orlandi)

elite-fts-gym

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.”

http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/strength-an-endangered-species/

Gym Pet Peeves – Cleanliness

“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.

Yours Truly,

SD
P.S: This is Ridiculous

And this is funny:

Rack Chat: Back Squats vs. Front Squats

There is a ongoing argument within the fitness community on which squat is better, the front squat, or the back squat. Lets call this the beer vs. wine debate. Some like wine, some like beer, others like none or both. In the end though we should all know beer has its place at the local watering hole, and wine serves its purpose at classed up dinner parties. This is probably a bad analogy but I going to run with it. I think the same can be said for front and back squats. I don’t think any one is better than the other, rather each one serves a specific purpose and both should be implemented in a strength program(given the clients limitations). I personally implement front, back, overhead, and box squat into my strength program. I find I enjoy the variety, each serves a purpose, and they keep my program dynamic and strength gains are maximized.

Picture 083

There is a great article titled “A Biomechanical Comparison of Back and Front Squats in Health Trained Individuals” that goes over each lift, and the differences between the two. It is a good read, check it out.

There was another blog posted on the Elite FTS website on the advantages of the front squat which sparked quite a debate in the comments section. I would encourage you to read the comments, pretty funny stuff.

Seven Points to Getting Stronger – A Basic Road Map

So you’ve been cutting work and bailing on your responsibilities to hit the gym three times a day for the last handful of months.  You’re training partner knows more about you than your own family.  You’ve even shaved your chest and fake tanned, but the problem is you’re still benching 135 and can’t dead lift your body weight.  What’s the deal?  Your girl is gonna be pissed when she finds out you’ve been ditching her every night to lift, and you still can’t squat 225.

Below are 7 points to consider on your way to deltoid domination.

1) GOALS – Rich FroningKendrick FarrisOh…So you want to be the next Rich Froning or Kendrick Ferris ?  Good for you.  So do I.  But let’s be realistic.  What do you want to clean & jerk in three, six, even twelve months?  WRITE IT DOWN!  What’s the saying? You’re 110% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down or something like that? I don’t know but it WORKS.  Give yourself something to focus on.  Look at it every day.  Think about it when you walk into the gym.  Make the goals tough yet achievable.  Don’t sell yourself short.  I often find that people are much stronger than they believe they are.  Own the mental game, or it will own you.  Goals…It does a body good.

2) PROGRAMMING – You’re not a planner are you?  I saw you at the gym looking like the new kid at school.  Do you know what you’re doing today?  More importantly, what are you doing the rest of the week, next week, next month?  See where I’m going with this? If you don’t have a plan, how do expect to hit your goal of a 225 bench?  If you don’t know how to program or what to do to reach your swoll goal, find someone that knows what they’re doing to program for you.  Look up Wendler, Smolov, or Hatch and follow those programs.  They are well-known and proven strength programs you can use to get stronger, and they are readily available on the internet for free.  Guess what? Your four sets of 8-12 reps ain’t gonna get you a 225 bench press.

3) WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN – Did I shoulder press 175 or 185 last week? Hmmm…Well I forgot my pre-workout so I’ll just do 175. SOFT. HTFU and start writing EVERYTHING down.  It’s called accountability.  Write down your weights, reps, how they felt, if they were good or shitty reps, if the moon was waxing or waning…I don’t give a shit. Write down the color hair of the girl you were creepily staring at if that helps.  For example, you might lift the same weight this week as you did last week, but this week your reps and form we’re solid.  That’s a gain.  Be happy about it.  I bet you wouldn’t have recognized that before your started writing everything down.  This also gives you a point of reference – If you did a max set of 15 pullups this week, no doubt you can do that many again next week.  And when you try again, you have a benchmark to shoot for…16 reps.  What’s that?  You did 17?  Check you out.
4) YOUR FORM IS AWFULAwful DeadliftHoly shit, put that bar down before you permanently change the genetics in your back so your future children aren’t affected.  You sure as hell aren’t going to deadlift twice your body weight with that noodle spine.  Check your ego at the door and lift within your means.  Lift with the best form possible, and watch your numbers increase.  Don’t know how to perform a specific movement or lift?  Find someone that does.  Shit, pay a qualified trainer $25 to take you through the movements and show you proper technique.  $25 is a lot less than the cost of a knee replacement.  How about this – Put yourself through an On-Ramp program at your local CrossFit gym.  In two weeks you’ll learn well enough how to back squat, front squat, overhead squat, deadlift, press, push press, push jerk, split jerk, clean and snatch.  You don’t know what half that is? That’s because you’ve been spending too much time on the Smith machine.  And remember – you have to constantly refine your form just as much as you do your golf swing.  FOUR!
Golf Swing

5) REST– Bro, take it easy.  That’s right; a rest day might actually HELP you.  After all, your muscles have been working overtime every day for the past few weeks.   Listen to your body.  Are you tired?  Are you stupid sore?  I have a solution for you – Take the day off.  Two days off?  Sure, if you’ve been hitting it hard.  Don’t stress about it.  A couple days is not going to derail your training.  Some of my best PR’s have come after traveling for a week or two and not lifting a finger the entire time.  Intensity gets results…Crazy right?

6) YOUR DIET SUCKS – Donuts Look, I’m not a dietician, so I’m not going to beat the proverbial diet horse.  It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to tell you to put down the pizza, ditch the donuts, and skip the soda .  Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – Eat something…ANYTHING.  Your car will run like shit with bad gas, and won’t run at all if the tank is empty.  Eat a lot, and eat WELL. There are a million different beliefs on diet, what’s healthy and why, when to eat, where to get carbs, etc.  Find something that works for you and use it as a framework.  It’s going to take some time, trial and error, and adjusting to really dial in your diet. But do me a favor…Try to pick ingredients with some redeeming value, please?

7) PUT OUT THE VIBE – This has nothing to do with directly getting strong, but I think it’s just as important.  You gotta find that headspace where you believe you can rip Hulk Hogan’s bandana off before he crushes you like a soda can.  Figure out what gets you pumped.  Sitting in the gym listening to Adele feeling sorry for yourself ain’t gonna get your adrenaline racing.  Grab some buddies, turn on some Pantera, and get to work.  Yell at each other, high five, scream, chest bump…I don’t care what you do, just build some momentum, have fun, and get strong. BRO SESH!
Bro Sesh