Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good Mornings

Good mornings are definitely not appropriate for everyone. I like the way Rippetoe and Kilgore deal with them in SS. (Although I will have to say that I have done and will do good mornings without a 1 RM squat of 300 lbs.) I have long hammies and good isometric torso control, so it isn't a big deal for me.

As for your question regarding bar placement, I have always placed the bar in the same position I use for squats--and I'm a high bar squat kinda girl. With my turkey neck, this is nowhere near my C-7. The bar is on my traps. The illustrations in SS appear to show the bar on the traps, not what I'd describe as "in the neck." I am not sure what Rip means exactly; you might go here and ask him to clarify it for you.

An aside, I also personally like to do SLDLs. Again, much more fun if you have good hamstring flexibility. But they are for more advanced athletes who have quality movement and control.

I would never prescribe a weighted good morning for someone I've never personally instructed. There is just too much potential risk involved making sure that lumbo-pelvic awareness and control are there.

That said....I do like to teach anyone the Waiter's Bow (basically a good morning movement, double and single leg) with a dowel and 45 deg hip/torso extensions. I think it is essential for everyone to learn to distinguish spinal flexion/extension from hip flexion/extension, and learn to isometrically lock a neutral-spine torso to the pelvis. There is some data to show that people with LBP have trouble distinguishing spine/hip flexion. Thus, the Waiter's Bow, i.e. good morning / sldl movement, if learned properly, should be protective; and an additional lifting strategy in cases where the squat cannot or does not need to be used. It beats the hell out of stooping, the lifting strategy many people use and the only strategy that has been compared to squat lifting in the literature (that I can find).

I would only add external resistance to good mornings on case-by-case basis. Most people should be fine using bodyweight only for 10-20+ reps and several sets. If you are a competitive lifter, you may find 35% of your 1 RM squat appropriate

I am not a fan of rounded-back lifts. I can understand the argument of preparing the body for those times when a rounded-back position is the only lifting position possible; but I still have a hard time putting a bar in someone's hands or on their back to intentionally train that movement. The risk is too high for my taste; I don't do them myself . I could see doing some spinal flexion/extension over a swiss ball; the anterior shear forces would be reduced and the passive structures controlling the spine into flexion supported, if one absolutely determined they needed to train the spinal extension musculature dynamically.

And I know, there's always that one dude, who's done them for years, that swears by them. Just like there are people who've smoked like chimneys and drank like fish for years. A few outliers survive. Many more do not.

Personally, I think most of us can get by with focusing on isometric torso strength. The musculature is designed to work most effectively, in the context of all other torso stabilizing structures, against heavy load, isometrically. My motto is: Flex and extend a loaded spine at your own risk.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Barbells don't injure people. People who do stupid things with barbells injure themselves. Please lift and workout with a barbell responsibly.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Form and Function

Way back in 2002, I scanned these images by Howard Schatz from Sports Illustrated (October 14, 2002). A fascinating array of elite female athlete physiques, heights and weights, eh? These are some of the women featured in his book Athlete--a very cool pictorial essay that celebrates athletic form and function.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Great Debate

"I'm going to bring my shoes and uniform and tell them I don't compete in just a sports bra."

One of my weightlifting friends has been invited to do an interview and photo shoot for a fairly prominent fitness mag. She will receive no pay; just get an opportunity to tell her story, promote the sport of weightlifting, and also dispel some myths and misconceptions.

However, there is that issue. You know, if you are a hottie and an elite athlete, chances are good they will want you to show a little skin or be photographed in a possibly provocative pose. This person has been there and knows the drill. So many of these rags, and publications that are not rags (Sports Illustrated are you listening?) sometimes border on soft porn in their portrayal of fit women or female athletes. My friend is not about to cave in to pressure for any pictures that will portray her as anything other than a proud competitor, who just happens to be a woman.

So what do you think? This is an issue that really tugs at my soul.

It is really cool to see the physicality of great athletes, male or female, as seen in this picture, taken by Rob Macklem (from the training hall at the 2007 Weightlifting World Championships). Wow, this dude is a lean machine getting ready to get his game on. There is nothing remotely suggestive in this image. In my opinion, there aren't enough cool pics like this of women that simply show them training or competing. And then there are the pictures of famous female athletes who have chosen, for whatever reason, to pose for photographs that are specifically intended to be sexually provocative, or they are just outright nude.

I'm not sure what to think. Mostly I guess I think it sets women back more than it moves us forward in our quest to be treated with respect and equitably in this working and sporting world.

Anyone else care to chime in?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Murphy Says "Getcha BIME On"

Basic Infrastructure & Movement Evaluation
(1.5-2 hrs): $125

Knowledge is power. Take a proactive approach to your physical health and performance. Or at the very least, find out why it is so hard for you to rack the bar for a front squat or do a bodyweight squat without leaning so far forward!

This comprehensive screening, appropriate for athletes age 12 and up, takes the athlete through a battery of static and dynamic tests to help direct the fitness and training plan, via an assessment of the following:

Key Aspects of Body Awareness & Alignment


Foundational Strength (let's try something different than "core" strength, eh?)

Basic Exercise Technique (bodyweight & barbell, if necessary)

During this session, I will review your injury and training history, and help you understand how these variables affect your current training plan, performance goals and overall health. CrossFit and SimpleFit athletes will be encouraged to review and discuss specific CrossFit-specific exercises (kipping pull ups, thrusters, air squats, SDHP), as well as barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell movements and technique. Each participant will receive a thorough write-up of the assessment, along with training recommendations that can be shared with a coach or trainer.

Email me @ tfoberATgmailDOTcom for questions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nifty Package from Sheila T!

Got a nice thank you note, DVD and commemorative book from Sheila Taormina today as a thank you for providing the Sharing The Dream 2007 tour with some weightlifting video of Cheryl Haworth and Natalie Woolfolk. After the 2008 Olympic Games, I hope to work with Sheila to bring the tour to St. Louis and other areas of the country.

The DVD has highlights of the tour and shows all the athletes demonstrating and instructing kids of all ages and abilities in their respective sports. One of the highlights is listening to the boys from a high school hockey team speak with awe of Angela Ruggiero's skating ability ("She had a sick shot!") and of the opportunity to hold one of her Olympic gold medals. Another highlight is watching Shannon Miller teach and demonstrate gymnastic skills to a group of young women. Three years of law school evidently doesn't diminish your ability to do handstand walks forward and backward.

How cool is it for everyday people to get to meet elite female athletes (free of charge), of such diverse size and ability! Sheila rounded the women up, got her brother to drive the RV and off they went--even to the UP of Michigan--to share their stories and motivate young people to reach for their dreams and take responsibility for their health.

Although Shannon is retired, the other four women are still competing and working toward the 2008 or 2010 Olympic Games. At 38, Sheila is pushing the performance envelope with her attempt at making the Games in a third sport. She is truly a woman of boundless energy and giving spirit. You Go Girl!

(In honor of Jen, I will have to give a rousing WOOT!)

Friday, January 18, 2008

On Power

The relationship between coordination and power is quite strong, so strong in fact that it could be suggested that power training is actually to a large extent coordination training.
-Frans Bosch and Ronald Klomp
Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Applied in Practice

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Big Red Machine

We are awakening the beast within the Big Red Machine, aka Ryan. TBRM posted an 11 kg PR total this past weekend in Springfield and just busted out a 95 kg front squat PR. His goals are to have fun lifting and training with his father while still in high school, competing on the varsity swim and water polo teams. And let's not forget marching band. Oh yeah, it might be fun for the swimmer to break a few of the football team lifting records next year too--with outstanding technique.

We are going to experiment with some of Vern Gambetta's Spectrum SquatsTM and see if we can add a little explosiveness to his 100 free and 100 backstroke starts. TBRM hasn't demonstrated a tremendous amount of natural explosive speed/strength, but I think we are tapping into his natural development at a good time and will be able to get things really firing on all cylinders over the next 18 months.

And lest I forget, TBRM is "old school" in that he lowers the barbell after each lift, as we are training mostly on a mezzanine level at CrossFit Des Peres. He knows how to control and safely lower the barbell, dropping it only for a rare miss.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

For Melanie and John

We look for love, no time for tears
Wasted water's all that is
And it don't make no flowers grow
Good things might come to those who wait
Not to those who wait too late
We got to go for all we know

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Motivated Women

Melanie Roach and Jackie Berube are both vying for a spot on the 2008 Olympic team. There are 4 slots for the women. So, after competing in the American Open back in December, it was back to the squat rack less than 48 hours after competing. If you want to lift big weights, you have to lift big weights. Here are some interesting facts about these incredibly strong, powerful women:

1) Mel is 33. Jackie is 36.
2) Mel's best 1 RM back squat is 160 kg @ 54.5 kg bw.
3) Jackie has squatted 173kg (weighing in the low 60 kg range).
4) Mel has 3 kids, under the age of 8.
5) Jackie is finishing her Masters in biology, is an EMT and volunteers for a search and rescue team in CO.
6) Jackie holds all of the 58 kg American records.
7) Mel holds the American record of 113 kg C&J (53 kg), that in 1998, was briefly a world record. She is one of two American women to C&J double bodyweight.
8) They are terrific people.


Young male weightlifters (high school age) are highly motivated to lift their best when a team of young women (club volleyball players) are working out in the same vicinity. The weight that seemed so heavy last week just flew up like nobody's business tonight. 3 PRs. Crack me up.

Res firma mitescere nescit

A firm resolve does not know how to weaken.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Blogger du Jour

Jen, of Jen's Gym blog fame, cordially invited me to be a guest blogger. Check it out.

Monday, January 07, 2008

One Time at Weightlifting Camp....

Some good-natured fun between training sessions at the Junior Squad Camp this past summer. You can see more of their sport-specific athleticism here.

Happy Monday! And thanks to all of you for the birthday wishes. I appreciate it.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

CI in the House!

I can think of nothing more exciting that spending a glorious January afternoon outside (71 degrees in STL in Jan?) learning how to do KB snatches! Or at least trying. Kevin and I were very fortunate to have Catherine Imes take time out of her weekend to give us top-notch instruction in the basic points of KB lifting.

I have zero experience with kettlebells, so it is imperative I learn about them from someone who does. There are significant differences between using a KB and a BB, even though both are used to do lifts of the same name. So to have experience from one, does not automatically guarantee you perform the other correctly, efficiently or safely. Cate helped us understand that today. She is a woman after my own heart--strong, smart and meticulous in her attention to technique and detail. She is a student of her sport and of the Iron Game.

A 12 kg KB is on the way to IM HQ. I'm sure we'll have Cate back again for a few follow up sessions after some practice.

Thanks, CI, for your time and help today. The STL region is lucky to have such a great resource. And I'm psyched to have a great new friend and colleague.

Friday, January 04, 2008

2008: The Year of My Epiphany

I turn 39 this Sunday. One of my personal goals is to approach my 40th year on this planet in the best shape and health ever--not just strong. And to do that, I have to seriously address some infrastructure issues: my poorly tracking patellae and tight IT bands. Fate shipped me (by mistake--really!) an entire case of Kinesiotex tape; I thought it was probably a sign that it was time to invest in myself and stop being my own worst patient. I have no desire to undergo a lateral release; it is time to hit it hard and from every angle and plane of movement.

This Capricorn has to look further than the sagittal plane (is that a pun?), and two-legged, barbell squat movements. Lots of accessory joint movement and pronation/supination to address at and below the knee.

So, I'd love to hear from you if you've had good results with any specific approaches to this problem or you know of any success/horror stories with lateral release surgery. It is time to put in the quality time.