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.