Monday, December 24, 2007

What's next, Lulu?

Tallulah Belle (Lulu) says there's lots to do in 2008! Thanks to all of you who have supported Iron Maven and this blog during 2007. It has been a challenging year and afforded me many opportunities for personal and professional growth.

I want to especially thank Alex P, Vern G, Joe P, Catherine I, Dan, Brandon, Laurie, Jill & Geoff G, Big Mel, Coach B and the Queen Bee, The Goils (A, B, C & Sssssss), PJ, G, Sister, and of course, Mr. Kevin, for being there during the tough times and motivating me to reach higher.

I have enjoyed and been inspired by meeting and working with my many new CrossFit friends. Who knew so many adults aspire to physical health! (P.S.--Jen, I haven't forgotten about guest blogging for you!)

I wish you all strength and health as we embark on the new year. Keep your minds open and stop to smell the roses once in a while. Challenge yourself physically and intellectually. Read more. Ride more. Write more. Squat. Sing. Reflect. Contribute.

Make the world around you a better place.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday's Functional Path

Take 6-8" of snow. Find your shovel. Add some slushy, icy car tracks in and out of the garage from this morning. Equals one serious functional training session, a.k.a 50 minutes of continuous hell. Do it before or while the sun shines directly on the pavement. I waited too long and did not get the benefit of the sunlight to melt the remnants. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Murphy, My Own LOL Cat

So Murphy is now 10. That means I've been a practicing PT for 10 years. Wow. Need to reflect on that and jot down a few thoughts soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do you know where your feet are?

Kyle Yamauchi (62 kg) demonstrates efficient footwork and transition from the second to the third pull with this over double-bodyweight (137 kg) clean.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

That extra 5%

Jeff Wittmer won the 94 kg weight class at the American Open and also won best male lifter for that event with 156kg snatch/190kg c&j. Jeff is currently the 4th ranked male weightlifter in the US and competed in the Pan American Games this summer. He was the heaviest male to hit an over-double bodyweight clean and jerk at 190 kg.

His next quest is 200 kg (his best is 197 kg in competition I think, and the current American record is 205 kg, set by Tom Gough in 1999). Jeff made 190 with relative ease and then took 200 kg on his second attempt. While 10 kg might not seem like a lot--it is only 5% at these weights--it can be a significant difference. Notice that you can see the top of Jeff's head on the right; that is the barbell bending more under the stress of the extra 10 kg. So in addition to the extra weight, Jeff now has to deal with probable changing barbell mechanics as he dips, changes directions and drives the weight off his shoulders. At these weights, the lifter looks to time the depth and the speed of dip to perfection, capturing the whip of the barbell, and driving it high enough to wedge himself under the bar.

When the video is slowed to 1/16th of normal speed, we can see the difference in overall speed and change of direction with the 190 vs the 200. A mere 5% is all it takes to challenge this athlete to his physical limits. This is one mega-plyometric endeavor, that pushes a lifter's torso stability and leg power to the limit. Go Jeff go. Get that 200 kg clean and jerk in 2008.


I had the privilege of dining with Ursula Garza and John Thrush last weekend, both accomplished and well respected international-level coaches. On the way back from dinner, we were talking about the need for athletes to train with a deliberate mindset--to be methodical and care about technique with every repetition. Sometimes younger athletes have difficulty appreciating that. This pursuit of excellence pays off at game time, when the stakes are high.

In a weightlifting competition, it is a game of centimeters and milliseconds; technical excellence and consistency is of paramount importance. You only get three chances, so don't waste even one of them. Make each lift count. Here are a few still images showing the slight differences between a made lift and a missed lift. Some are from this weekend, while others are from previous meets.

An aside: The most gratifying aspect of sitting for three days and recording this video--then sitting for many more days and playing with it--is helping athletes learn from their competitive experience. If even a few are able to make corrections and improve their performance, or gain confidence by seeing improvement in their lifting, it is all worth it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I'm back from Birmingham. 1100 miles driven; 100 GB of video taken over roughly 32 hours in the competition venue. I'm beat. There's more work to do, but for now, check out Carissa Gump's new American record clean and jerk, while I head out the door to the clinic.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2007 American Open Promo Video by Iron Maven (Hey that's me!)

Leg Circuits for Breakfast--YUM!

I put together some workout suggestions for the DeSmet v-ball coach re: pre-season workouts. Now, ideally, the kids would have started this stuff a while back, but several play football and most play club all year round so it is tough to not overload them. Anyway, the boys always lament Coach Mrs. Fober showing up in the weight room, because they know they will have to actually work. And work they did, from 6:30 to 7:30 am.

Thanks to Vern Gambetta for showing me the value of various squat series and leg circuits, way back in 1998! Perfect for team workouts and for young athletes who need to build a good base, without any equipment but maybe a med ball, plate or a dumbbell.

Of course, we had to share the weight room with a few young football players, who bestowed upon us their killer workout, while also poking fun at my guys for actually having the balls to work up a sweat. Here's what two kids actually did:

1. Enter the weight room
2. Walk directly to a bench press station
3. Place a 45# plate on each end of the barbell
4. With partner spotting, complete about 5 reps
5. Repeat for 3 sets
6. Exit the weight room

'Tis a shame so many young guys fall into this trap.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Youth (Flexibility) Is Served

This is dedicated to my CrossFit friends who are working so hard to learn the lifts. These schoolage lifters demonstrate the flexibility you need to do the full lifts. If you lack the flexibility for good lifting positions--and someone should help you determine this--you need patience. One lift at a time. Hammer your flexibility deficits with lots of deliberate practice. There's nothing wrong with doing the power versions of the lifts to work on receiving positions. Gentlemen, please master the front squat with high elbows before going gung ho with heavier, full cleans. Stay light and move fast. Meet the bar; receive the bar; don't just fling it and let it crash on you. Use DBs, KBs or power cleans for that crazy Linda and Elizabeth, if your scapulohumeral flexibility is poor.

I realize the CrossFit world finds the weightlifting world a little anal and boorish, with their low reps and snooty technical attitude. But there are good reasons why they look at you with a raised brow when you tell them you want to do cleans for three sets of 21-15-9 reps with 135 lbs. There is a method to their madness, and you (and CrossFit) will win their respect by being good ambassadors of the lifts. (Yeah, I know CrossFit doesn't need the sport of weightlifting, but the sport deserves your respect.) Trust me, if your technique is ugly, it will eventually matter. Your musculoskeletal system will revolt with an overuse injury, or the barbell will bite you in the ass--or the shoulder, elbow, wrist or back. Break long sets down into 3s at the most; keep it lighter and give your nervous system a chance to move well. Or use DBs or KBs if you really want to make these met con workouts.

Yes, the strong survive, but the injured go on the disabled list. I realize aches and pains happen when working hard, but I don't buy the "that which doesn't herniate my disc makes me stronger" bull. As Vern says, think about whether you are using an optimal load, vs a maximal load, for you and your goals. I really, really like my CrossFit peeps and how they roll; but man, sometimes you guys make me nervous.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The American Open is Next Weekend

Some scenes from last year's 85 kg clean & jerk session. These guys weigh 187 lbs or less. The final weight lifted, was 436 lbs (198 kg), an American record at the time, by Kendrick Farris, age 20. Note the number of athletes who do not use belts or any knee/wrist support.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

For Orie & Dan

Fellas, your hard work is paying off. Keep at it. Now here's some fun. These are sequence shots of under-17 national record holder, Kelly Lynch (69 kg), at the 2006 American Open, successfully lifting 86 kg. No arm-pulling! "Beeg legs" and "all the way up" as her coach, Boris says!

And here's the video from that performance:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The 411 on Back Angles and Torque When Squatting

The angle of the torso, when squatting, is not a function of whether or not the bar is high or low on the back. The angle of the torso (and thus torque on the spine) is primarily determined by the angle of the shin, a.k.a how much the ankle dorsiflexes. AND IN MY BOOK, THIS IS THE KEY TO BEST BACK TRAINING PRACTICES. GET IT??? MAKE YOUR QUADS, HAMS AND GLUTES DO THE WORK. If your shin is perpendicular to the floor, then your torso will incline forward to keep the CoM over your BoS, regardless of how low the bar is on your back. And your back will be forced to handle higher torque.

A good, general rule of thumb, IMHO, is to keep the shins and the torso parallel, from an inclination standpoint. This could change with femur/torso length issues (tight adductors and hips in general can cause issues too), but this method is pretty good to help someone figure out whether or not they have decent ankle flexibility when squatting. And this will minimize torque on the back, as we will deliberately NOT use torso lean--and not preferentially recruiting glutes/hams--as the primary method of keeping the CoM over the BoS. There are lots of other things to do to train lumbar spine/pelvis awareness and glute/ham strength. I prefer not to do it with maximal squat poundage.

That said, I am not preparing anyone to compete in a powerlifting meet. Personally, I could care less about most people squatting or DL'ing 3 times their bodyweight anymore. If ya' want to, fine; be my guest. I don't believe those movement patterns are best for the majority of the general population or for most athletes. And I said "most" not all; we can talk about that in a different post. There are some weightlifters who need better absolute strength off the floor. However, for 99% of the people I come across, I will train and encourage people to move in a manner than relies on comprehensive leg mobility and strength, vs. a back and glute/hamstring dominant movement pattern that requires little ankle flexibility.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Swim Coach!

It's 47 for the swim coach! Wish him a Happy B-day as he embarks on his final state championship meet today, after 23 years as a head coach--AND NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THOSE YEARS HAS HE HAD HIS OWN POOL! Despite less than stellar training facilities, the Coach has produced several NCAA All-Americans, one national champion, a MO state runner-up and a MO state championship team. But better yet, he's had a positive impact on hundreds of young men and women, helping them to enjoy and learn from their high school and collegiate athletic experience. He leads by example and works his tail off to make sure the young people under his guidance work hard and have fun. Cubby, you are a good dude and we love you so much. Thanks for all you do. And we'll always remember:

"The race isn't swum, until it's swum."

-Kevin Fober

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Sally O'Malley Ride

Because she's FIFTY! Yep, my friend (and Masters National Champion) PJ ever so gently demanded I meet her--and newbies Chris and Terry--at Creve Coeur Park for a nifty 2 hour ride this morning. At 9 am, the temperature was 32 degrees. But the sun was out and the wind was negligible. So, off we went for about 1:40. My legs moaned as the newbies pushed a steady pace. Yesterday was a big squat day and I could feel the effects. But it was all good to be out with three other women, all older than I am, braving the cold fall temps. By the end of the ride, it was a balmy 45 degrees.

I want to be able to kick, stretch, kick, squat, ride, pull up, sprint, push up, press and kick way past 50. And PJ is one of my heroes, for showing us all it can be done. I'm proud to say she's 50 and a complete studdette! She kicks my ass on the hills and the flats!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yes, Virginia, There Are People Who Cannot OHS Without Practice and Improved Flexibility

This post is for Anonymous who thinks I might have staged the pic of the kid trying to do an overhead squat. Nope. I wasn't criticizing the lack of ability or poor form of the kid in the picture. My goal was to illustrate the importance of ankle flexibility in the full snatch/OHS position. If anyone out there is hell-bent on doing or teaching full snatches or OHSs, then you'd be wise to fully understand the musculoskeletal variables that might interfere with your ability to do the exercise.

Back in 2001, I was shopping for some high school athletes to appear in a potential book and video for a friend of mine. A local football coach suggested these guys--and I needed a tall athlete--as possible subjects. They were both pretty athletic football players. So, I put them through some paces, to see how they squatted, cleaned, snatched, pressed, etc. Snatches weren't really a part of their weight room work and they were unfamiliar with most snatch-related movements. I was dumbfounded in their inability to do an OHS with a mere 55#, but now I have a better appreciation for the demands of the movement.

Here is their squat technique, with an empty bar:

Lots of torso inclination, little ankle dorsiflexion--knees not past the toes, lack of full depth; but it looks like a squat to most people. Now, give these guys even a 55# bar and change the system center of mass by making them put it overhead in a snatch receiving position and this is what you get:

They are about to fall over--despite trying as hard as they can to keep the bar overhead and get lower. There is also some lack of shoulder stability/flexibility, thoracic spine mobility and hip flexibility coming to play here, along with a motor system that has never been challenged in this way.

There are plenty of athletes--young and old--who look like this, when you first ask them to OHS; especially when all they've really done is mostly low bar, hip-dominant back squats and bench presses. Just wander into any local high school weight room or globo-gym in this country and you'll find plenty of people who cannot OHS. The OHS requires a level of total body flexibility and stability 95% adult Americans (MHO) do not have. And it requires some purposeful, deliberate practice and education regarding the stability and flexibility requirements, so people understand what they need to do to eventually perform it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Got Ankle Flexibility?

Rybakou does. That's the only way he can have this narrow receiving position and keep a world record 187 kg snatch over his head, i.e. an upright torso in a basically full overhead squat. Thanks to Rob Macklem for posting another one of his awesome images on GoHeavy.

Compare that to this young high school dude trying to overhead squat. So, what's the deal? What's so important about ankle flexibility? Does it matter for everyday fitness and health? You bet it does. And it is a fairly common obstacle--and potential contributor to back tweaks--for many adults who dive into the CrossFit world of full ROM cleans, snatches, front squats and OHS's.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Swim Coach

Beijing or ????

So the Fober family has received the email from CoSport telling us which Olympic tickets we have won in the allocation lottery. We were shut out in our desire to get tickets for track cycling (men's team sprint and M/W pursuit qualifying rounds), swimming (men 200 fly finals--Kevin's event), and a session of volleyball (women prelims). We have 72 hours to accept all, some or none. Do we go to Beijing for 12 days--Mr. Fober will have to leave a bit before I do in order to get back for the start of pre-season--or do we take a trip somewhere else, for a longer period in the summer, say 3 weeks or so and leave this Olympic experience to NBC??? The airfare will cost us nothing, either way.

Here are the tickets we have access to if we wish. The total cost for all of these tickets, plus shipping and fulfillment fee, is only $328. The individual ticket prices range from $5 (water polo prelims) to $34 (A session, weightlifting, highest level ticket available). The M 200 Fly finals tickets would've cost us $103 each!

W 53 kg A & B sessions
W 63 kg A sessions
W 75+ A session
M 85 kg A session
M 105+ kg A session

Water Polo
M Prelims

M Prelims

Volleyball (The REAL volleyball!)
M Prelims

Waddayathink? Who votes for Beijing? Who votes for a 2-3 week junket to Australia, Spain, Switzerland or other wicked cool places?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Get an Orientation to Yourself!

A friend just reminded me that a ginormous, privately owned- fitness emporium is about to open a few miles away. It is the size of a mall and promoted as a resort and spa. There are indoor and outdoor pools, manicures, pedicures, granite and cherry appointed locker rooms, full gym basketball courts and luxury yoga/pilates studios and even a poolside bistro. They promote hundreds of square feet of the latest cardio machines and resistance training machines filled with big screen tvs. Heck, you even get a free equipment orientation upon signing up!

But what about an orientation to how YOU work on an everyday basis?

Do you know how to bend your hips and knees when you aren't on the elliptical or seated in some leg press contraption? Do you know why your hamstring inflexibility impacts your back health?

How do YOU move and what adjustments you could make to yourself to develop better musculoskeletal health?

Hips & Shoulders

Some elite athletes are able to "catapult" themselves against/under the barbell with their shoulders way behind the bar, i.e. create vertical forces via a horizontal forces. Taner Sagir comes to mind. But when working with beginning athletes and sub-max weight, I think it is important to reinforce driving the hips vertically vs thrusting them forward. This is especially if the athlete has done lots of kettlebell swings with an exaggerated hip thrust or been instructed to squat with an exaggerated hip thrust at the top of the squat.

Any comments from the peanut gallery?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Learn to Lift: You Can Too!

I want to send a big THANK YOU to Dan Thacker and Brandon Jackson of Crossfit Des Peres for hosting and Laurie Miller of Crossfit St. Louis for promoting the Introduction to Olympic Weightlifting clinic yesterday. The goals of the clinic were to cover basic concepts behind the lifts (LEGS!) and terminology, describe the functional flexibility and stability prerequisites necessary to use the barbell from the floor and overhead, and give everyone the opportunity to work on his/her lifting technique with some feedback.

We also discussed the importance of proper equipment and gave people the chance to experience the blocks vs the hang. Personally, I'm learning to appreciate using the hang, but I also think blocks can be a terrific learning tool to tease out arm pulling, keep the bar close to the torso, and help a beginner find the power position. You could see the light bulb come on in with everyone who got to experience the sweet sensation of the barbell flying overhead or up onto their shoulders. So THAT'S what is feels like when you efficiently transfer the power from your legs to the barbell!

We had a great mix of women and men of all ages and backgrounds. I especially enjoyed meeting Milton Grasle (of Camp Commando fame) and Catherine Imes, our very own St. Louis-based kettlebell expert instructor and champion athlete! Catherine is a woman after my own heart, stressing fundamental technique excellence and developing purposeful body awareness with the kettlebell. I look forward to learning more about kettlebell mechanics from her and using them as a tool to create work capacity and functional flexibility in adults.

My goal with this type of instruction is to introduce weightlifting movements (part and whole) as lifetime fitness skills. And, dammit, let's do it right! Learn to swim, learn to bike, learn to lift. And as adults, some of us have to work through old injuries or flexibility limitations, so we must take a little more care and patience with our journey. But that's the fun part--we learn awareness, alignment, mobility and strength--purposefully and deliberately. So give barbell movements a try. Give yourself the gift of improved functional strength and flexibility, proper lifting mechanics (lifting with your legs), and better bone density health. And if we get a few competitive masters weightlifters in the process, all the better!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Friday!

Okay, so one more day in the clinic for me and then the WL workshop on Saturday! Whew, I think I'll make it. Actually think I helped a few people move and feel better today. Kinda helps when you have time to listen, communicate, educate and give feedback to your patients.

I am looking forward to meeting and working with Dan, Laurie, Catherine, Milton and the rest of the crew on Saturday. Just got a new 5 kg and 10 kg bar in this week, so we should have a variety of tools to help people learn. Bring your questions, ideas and enthusiasm!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Watch Casey Burgener tonight on Nat Geographic Channel!

Wanna see the power (Watts) the current #1 105+ kg weightlifter in this country puts out with his lifts? Info here. 9 pm Central/10 Eastern.

A Question for The KB Peeps Out There

Lower extremity mechanics for a kettlebell swing are similar to the lower extremity mechanics of the second pull in a snatch or clean? Yay or nay and why. How about a kettlebell snatch--are the lower extremity mechanics supposed to be different than those of the swing?

I'd love to hear what you have to say on the topic.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Weapon of Mass Instruction

That would be Coach B. A physical education teacher, dad and coach who is passionate about his endeavors. He makes the world a better place with his tireless enthusiasm, dedication to life-long learning and big heart. He develops great athletes and even better people through his work at school, with Mike's Gym and through Team Southern California.

His style and intensity can be a little intimidating at first, but he is one of the most gracious and generous people in the weightlifting community--and anywhere. He has opened my mind and eyes to new ideas and teaching methods. Thanks, Coach B, for being you. And to the Boss Hoss for keeping you out of too much trouble.

Did somebody say "Yay Burpees?"

Couple of spots left

If you are interested in integrating barbell movements into your workouts, and learning how they might differ from dumbbell or kettlebell movements, sign up!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sharing The Dream: Natalie and Cheryl

Got a call the other night from Natalie Woolfolk, asking if I could put a few videos of her and Cheryl Haworth together. It would be for a really cool "tour" being put together by Shelia Taoramina, who is trying to make an Olympic team in her third sport (swimming, triathlon and now modern pentathlon)! I am always happy to help others promote women in sport, especially these amazing women. I asked Nat to describe the event a bit and whether or not I could mention the event on my blog. This is what she said:
The tour is called "Sharing the Dream" and we are going through Michigan to motivate kids and try to get them involved in sports. We are doing demonstrations and speaking to middle and high school students. The people involved are: Myself, Cheryl, Shannon Miller, Sheila Taoramina, and Angela Ruggerio. This really isn't for the money, it's more to promote our sport and show that you can be big or small and be a successful weightlifter. I think that it will be a lot of fun, and hopefully we get a lot of kids interested in the sport. Thanks for all of your help, and you are more than welcome to put this up on your blog. I appreciate all that you've done for our sport, and if there is ever anything I can do to help you just let me know.
And here is a low-resolution version of the some great clips of mighty Natalie Woolfolk and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, Cheryl Haworth. Thank you ladies, for showing the world that it is cool to be a strong woman! And thank you, Nat, for your kind words.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Great Sports Coverage...Not!

Last month the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports editors admitted on their online forum that they weren't going to cover ANY high school boys swim meets this fall, until the state meet in November. Staffing issues, space issues--you know, they just couldn't get to a pre-season preview, so we'll just skip the entire season. Well, there might be blurb in the notebook or the blog.

Coach Fober and DeSmet recently hosted an 8-team invitational at the Rec Plex (site of the MO state meet) that featured KC Rockhurst, SLUH, Springfield Kickapoo, Springfield Glendale--teams that will vie for the state title. Not a word on it.

But this morning, much to my delight, the sports page features an interview with a local high school football lineman--regarding his FAVORITE THINGS TO EAT! Subway vs Penn Station; toasted vs non-toasted sandwiches--the really important stuff. But wait, they forgot to ask him about his favorite movies and music?

Fantasy football garbage. Poker tournament crap. Football kids and fast food. Gotta make sure I save my sports pages for kindling for the fireplace.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wait a minute....

I do own at least one pulley mechanism. Here it is. Occasionally, I will do straight arm pulldowns followed by some tricep pressdowns. But I don't tend to do any lat pulldowns or seated rows. Ok, there; I fessed up. But how many chicks also have their very own full set of bumper plates, a competition certified bar, a pull up bar AND a poster of Dimas?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Thoughts on the History of Resistance Training: The Cult of Arthur Jones

I was reminded recently that Arthur Jones died this past August. Mr. Jones was the founder of Nautilus and MedEx. For many, he and his products revolutionized exercise, bringing it out of the barbell /free weight era and into the high-tech, sleek commercial gym era. He brought specific ideas and methods of measuring isolated muscular strength into the medical clinic. And Arthur Jones battled with the other giants of exercise--or, rather, bodybuilding--of the day: Bob Hoffman and Joe Weider. Talk about egos. Big egos and big muscles; muscles trained best through isolation. That's what exercise, strength and health became in America. No more cramped Universal machines or York barbell sets in the back yard.

If you go to the Wikipedia page for Mr. Jones, you will find links to the famous Nautilus Bulletins. They reveal a fascinating individual. I like this quote from his son, William E. Jones:
Arthur was a showman, the P. T. Barnum of exercise. He invited one and all to come and see what he had created, and why it was better than anything else. He would argue with someone for hours, trying to convince them of why his machine was better, and of the proper methods of exercise.
Anyone else remember climbing up into the enormous, blue, Willy Wonka-esque Nautilus leg press? Strap yo' self in and begin the journey to bigger, stronger quads.

Cams and pulleys....isolate the muscle and work it through the entire range of motion; work it hardest in the range where the mechanical advantage is greatest. Isolated strength and hypertrophy. Even in 1995, I sat for hours in a Wash U graduate level physical therapy class, as my instructor droned on about mechanical advantage and cams and lever arms. You know, this dude was a cool teacher, but I'm not sure he'd actually trained any way but sitting down in a machine. But he sure knew how to explain why a cam was different than a pulley.

Then we spent a bunch of class and lab time on isokinetic stuff with the giant Kin-Com monstrosity. And the majority of our practical exposure to resistance training came in the form of going from MedX machine to MedX machine in the hospital wellness center, drilling on how to set up the contraption for its stated purpose. Each muscle, gloriously isolated, by marvels of engineering design.

Function, in context, was never really discussed, except maybe in the OKC v CKC strengthening of the quad. Should you do leg extensions or not? Zero to 30 degrees? Are wall slides better?

The Arthur Jones/Nautilus/MedEx cult of personality and practice live on, for many in the medical profession. I think how far I've come over the last 10 years--I was lucky enough to run a few dudes--dare I say "old-school dudes"--who did not drink the kool-aid. They helped me appreciate the history of the iron game and of physical education; helped me understand the capacity of the human body at the elite levels of sport, and that similar principles of training can be used in rehabilitation and wellness. Vive la gravity--sans cams and pulleys, Mr. Jones.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Feast On It & Take It To Spike Town

Thanks to Jill for sending the link to the Kindagood website, especially the Kindagood Ultimate Beach Volleyball Workout. Happy Friday!

Mini Phinney: Great Genes and Unlimited Potential

You are 17 years old, 6' 4" and have been cycling competitively for less than 2 years. Prior to that, you played soccer. Your mom, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, won the first Olympic women's road race gold medal in 1984. Your dad, Davis Phinney, was the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France, riding for an American team. He also holds the record for the most race wins in American history.

You are the first American to capture a Junior World Championship--2007 20 km Time Trial--gold medal since 1994. Now, with only one month of formal preparation, you go to the US Elite National Track Championships and put the hurt on the rest of the field, capturing a national championship and qualifying for the 2008 track talent pool. The youngest pursuit champion ever, you are now in the running for a spot on the 2008 Olympic Cycling team in the 4 km pursuit.

On the day after Marion Jones finally confesses, you are bright spot in the American sport scene. Go Taylor "Mini" Phinney. Show us that someone can reach the top of sport with the perfect storm of great genetics, supportive, but not overbearing parenting, and hard work.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hitechplates: Thanks Mercedes!

My friend Mercedes is a genius! She has come up with a manufacturing method that allows her to make super high quality, lightweight technique plates. Right now, the only plates retailing weigh 3.75 kg, but she's going to put out a variety of light plates. If you need to teach basic technique with the barbell, these are the ultimate bang for your buck.

These plates hug the collar snugly and there is no wobble or fear of bending; you can add as many small iron plates as you need. Many of the less expensive 10 lb and under training plates bend and warp easily with even minimal use; the high end 2.5 kg and 5 kg training plates from Eleiko can run close to $300 per pair. Hitechplates give anyone the ability to train from the floor. And in my mind, that allows me to make barbell lifts from the floor a lifetime skill and activity for anyone looking to create and maintain good lifting mechanics, mobility and basic leg / torso strength. It doesn't have to be heavy to appropriate or beneficial. And they sure make teaching and learning the basics a whole lot more fun!

If you have any questions about these, feel free to drop me a line.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Expand Your Horizons

It's Saturday October 27, 8 am to 12 noon! Email me for questions and registration info. We'll have some fun and show you the mobility and stability necessary to learn and perform weightlifting movements. This is a hands-on gig, so come dressed to move (if you like) and bring lots of questions. Keep in mind, this particular event isn't about lifting big weights; it is about understanding these total body movements and learning to use your legs! We'll have some great video clips so you can see what the elite athlete looks like, and you will be able to evaluate your own movement patterns with video feedback via Dartfish.

Thanks to Dan Thacker of Fusion Fitness and Laurie Miller of CrossFit St. Louis for supporting this event!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lunch anyone?

When I'm lucky enough to be home for lunch, I try like heck to make a giant salad--bigger than your head--with extra greens the foundation of the meal. Same for dinner. We keep a giant vat of salad (in the salad spinner bowl) in the fridge with the following staples:

fresh spinach, other greens, red onion, peas, corn, tomatoes, hearts of palm or artichoke hearts

Garnish with 1/2 an avocado, raw pumpkin seeds and freshly ground pepper. Add a dash of Annie's Goddess Dressing or something you've whipped up yourself. I'll also throw in some leftover roasted veggies (eggplant, peppers, b-sprouts), some veggie pot stickers or some shiritaki if available. Sprinkle on some nutritional yeast for a little B-12.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Melanie Roach: Comeback PRs and 6 for 6 at the 2007 World Championships!

Congratulations to my friend Melanie Roach, who just had a lifetime best performance in an international competition! This 32 y.o. mother of 3 and small business owner has come back from back surgery (herniated disc) 11 months ago to place 12th/44 in the tough 53 kg weight class at the World Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Now older, wiser and more focused than ever, Melanie is relishing this journey in life and making every choice count. She and Coach John Thrush should be so very proud of this achievement! They are truly class people, with wisdom and perseverance beyond compare.

Let me share with you this email Melanie sent to her many friends and fans this morning from Chiang Mai:
I just competed in my 5th World Championships in Chaing Mai, Thailand

It was an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life!

Weighing in at 52.75 kilos I posted the highest total I've ever done in international competition. I successfully made all 6 attempts, also a first for me.

My lifts were:

Snatch 74 kilos, 77 kilos, 79 kilos
Clean and Jerk 105 kilos, 107 kilos, 110 kilos

With a 189 total, I finished 12th out of 44 competitors

189 is 7 kilos more than I did in July at the Pan American Games and only 3 kilos off the American Record I set in 1998.

The coaches chose my attempts based on what was needed to acquire valuable team points. Our placing as a team will determine how many Olympic slots we will have for next years Olympics in Beijing.

Words cannot explain how amazing it felt to put together my biggest lifts in the biggest competition of my life! I truly enjoyed every minute!


It's been A HUGE group effort! Thank you to everyone who is making this Olympic pursuit possible!

Thank you to Dan, my sweetheart and biggest fan for coming all the way to Thailand to cheer me on! You ROCK! :-*

Thank you to our moms and papa roach for taking care of the kids!

Thank you to John Thrush, my long time coach who at times this training cycle I thought was CRAZY and now realize he is actually a genius! :-D

Thank you to Dr. Summers who keeps these old bones young! To think I almost quit because of the pain in my back. Thank you for everything!

Thank you to the all my teammates of the Calpian Weightlifting Club who make great training partners and inspire me to keep pushing everyday!

Thank you Tracy for coming out to Washington to video my lifts! The coaches couldn't believe the difference in my snatches! Yeah!

Thank you Mel J. for running Roach Gymnastics! This wouldn't be possible without you Mel!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More Tour of MO pics

For some really fun pictures out on the course, check out John Musselman's gallery here! How cool to see all parts of the course lined with fans!

Tour of MO in STL

David Canada's bike! Even pros have to visit the porta-potty before the race!
Toyota-United dudes waving from their motorhome!
Discovery finally arrives in the team parking lot.
George Hincapie is mobbed outside the Discovery motorhome.

This image is just down from the start/finish on Market Street. It was a magical day for anyone who rides a bike and appreciates the sport of cycling. Who'd have dreamed this would be here, just a few years ago? We wished David Canada good luck after he hit the porta potty. Kevin had a nice chat with the Tecos racers from Mexico. Georgie rode right past us to sign in and be interviewed. We took in all of the sites and sounds of the expo at the start and then walked backwards around the 10 mile race course, back down to the Central West End, watching the race from both Lindell and Forest Park Parkway. It was amazing to watch the pack easily reel in a 3 minute break.

Can't wait 'til next year!