Friday, December 31, 2010

Into the New Year with a Blast from the Past

This is footage from the 2004 Midwest Championships--the first time I ever took video at a competition. JMBrown dukes it out with Danny Herr in a epic battle of 77 kg school-age dudes. It is a sentimental favorite.

Happy New Year to everyone! May your 2011 be filled with PR's on and off the platform.

Monday, December 27, 2010

RIP Bud Greenspan

Two great moments in time from the work of Bud Greenspan. He was the ultimate story teller and a friend of weightlifting, with his 1953 documentary of and then 1986 SI article remembering two-time US Olympian, John Davis. I would love to purchase his official Olympic documentaries if they are available. Does anyone know if they are for sale?

Until then, I will hunt around YouTube for some more Greenspan gems and try to find more on John Davis. It is so refreshing to read and see these stories of the human spirit and condition. So much of today's media, especially the sports media, focuses on the flashy trappings of professional athletes or the seedy underside of their lives. It's now all about entertainment and the freaks that entertain; not about the purity of a sport, sport skill or the head-to-head competition.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Video for thought: Why aren't more women sitting at the head of the table?

Never Say Never

Career-ending injury? Not for Zach Krych.

Easy, Economical Visual Feedback

Most of you know have seen my videos and know I'm pretty competent with Dartfish. Great software, but it is expensive and in order to use it in the gym (via In The Action) you have to have your camera streaming to a laptop via Firewire cable or an IP camera set up. This can be a problem if you cannot leave things set up in the gym and there are other things and people flying around the gym. I'm not interested in leaving my laptop or camera around chalk, bouncing barbells or bounding bodies.

What to do? Well, I've used my circa 2000 Sony DSC camera quite successfully to take basic video, but the screen is really too small to see well, and there is no easy way to slow down the video or to quickly get it to people without importing the images to the laptop and emailing them after the session.

I've considered the Flip video cameras, but again, you need to connect the camera to a computer to send the files. The Flip Share / Library is very, very nice, but the screen is still small and you cannot slow down the video or go frame by frame.

Enter the the iPod Touch (gen 4) and VideoPix app! I broke down on Black Friday and went to the Apple Store to get an iPod Touch. I love it. I can take 720p HD video and then open VideoPix to slow the video down to any speed you desire (30 - 1 fps) or scroll through the video frame-by-frame. Now you cannot render and save the video in slow motion--easy to do with Dartfish, Movie Maker or iMovie--but you can capture beautiful sequence stills and easily email the raw video to the athlete if you have Mifi or Wifi in the gym.

I also have iMovie ($4.99) on the iPod, but I think VideoPix ($.99) is much more useful. You simply capture the video with the iPod camera and then VideoPix grabs the video file you want to use and let's you view it with frame grabber and scrolling tools.

So there you have it. Great little tool you can easily carry around the gym. Yes, it doesn't have digital zoom or anything, but it allows you do capture movement and give your athletes quality immediate feedback on the go.

And a giant thanks goes out to my client Mike Roswell (pictured above) from Combat Crossfit in Liberty, MO for alerting me to the VideoPix app!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

OT: Revenge of the Electric Car

The Fobers, owners of a plug-in NEV for 1.5 years now, will be first in line when this film hits the 314. We highly recommend watching Who Killed the Electric Car? to get a bit of the history of the electric car and the issues surrounding its success (or lack thereof) in the US.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great barbell warm up drills from Greg Everett @ Catalyst Athletics

This warm up series and video is like an early Christmas present! It is so refreshing to see someone else emphasize purposeful, dynamic mobility work and quality bottom position work with the barbell. I love the long pulls for both lifts. Lately I've been emphasizing the muscle snatch and clean with all of my athletes to help develop mobility, proper receiving position and smooth, close turnover for the snatch and clean. I will definitely be incorporating these barbell sequences into my warm ups.

And I could just hug Greg for asking people to maintain grip on the barbell with the clean long pulls into the receiving position on the shoulders! Solid racking of the bar on the shoulders in the bottom position demands a very specific shoulder flexibility. Yes, you need normal wrist and elbow mobility, but the key here is shoulder mobility; specifically BILATERAL shoulder external rotation in the context of BILATERAL shoulder flexion with normal thoracic spine mobility.

If you fail to stay connected to the bar and let the hand open and wrist extend to receive the bar, you will not only unnecessarily beat up your wrists, you will likely have a tenuous bottom position rack on heavier lifts and struggle to stand. If the wrists extend early, the shoulders and t-spine are not required to do their job. Do not let your wrists compensate for poor shoulder mobility; it will come back to haunt you. Trust me on this one. Be kind to your wrists. Help your shoulders and t-spine develop good mobility to do these lifts and force yourself to use a full grip with drills like this and with front squats.

Fast elbows are simply the result of super-aggressive combination of a shrug against and external rotation of the shoulders around the bar. The shoulder, wrist and elbow work together as one smooth unit in order to meet the bar and place it smoothly and precisely in the receiving position. The beginning lifter must first be smooth and then super-fast with light weight--with full ROM--before s/he can be successful with heavy weights. Gotta link and sync the segments. Gotta learn to stay connected to and move aggressively around the barbell.

Do these drills with purpose and you too can develop the mobility to lift precisely and move smoothly with the barbell. Yes, the Sots presses are tough, but use PVC or a 5 kg bar to work into these positions. Modify your squat height if you need to. Play with some extra ankle mobility in the bottom (1/4" heel lift) and see (feel!) what happens. Be patient and don't rush it. It takes time and work for the ankle, hip, spine and shoulder tissue to adapt to these demands.

Thanks for this video and the entire CA exercise video library, Greg. It is one of the finest online weightlifting resources out there.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Kings Firecrackers!

Very impressive group of young women in 4th - 8th grade. Read more about the team and the PE teacher/coach who founded the club here. You can see more video on their website.

I wonder if they do any conditioning besides jumping rope?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy 90th Birthday Stan Musial

The Man received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week. He and wife Lil are fabulous people--treasures of our fair city. This video captures Stan's graciousness, modesty and sense of humor. Happy 90th Birthday to Stan Musial, one of America's finest athletes and citizens.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ryan Pierson on ESPN 11/16/2010

PB&J, aka Ryan Pierson, travels with his new team, the Northeastern University Huskies to Carbondale, IL for a game against the SIU-C Salukis tomorrow morning at 9 am CT. The game will be televised on ESPN as a part of their College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon. The game will also appear online on ESPN3 if you want to watch a replay later or need an online diversion during the day.

Ryan was in the starting line up for the Huskies first game and victory over the Boston University Terriers last Friday, 66-64. He's #30 in the white jersey in the picture above. He tells me he is working hard and learning how to wrestle with the 7 ft + big dudes in practice. I'm looking forward to watching him play tomorrow. Guess I'm going to have to start calling him Soul Patch, since he's now sporting the very cool facial hair.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Nothing By the Slice

“@StLouisSmack: @pistl Can you buy by the slice in the restaurants?” thanks. We sell whole pies only.
I have the same approach as Pi. There are no individual workouts posted here. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Every workout has a context, purpose and a goal. Not appropriate to sell by the slice.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Wookiee League

Ready to bust out with "I'm a Little Tea Pot" at any moment!

The new kids on the block have been working hard over the summer and fall months. Their genes have blessed them with great height at such a young age--all are only 16 years old--three of them just last month! But gravity, super long femurs, tight hamstrings and school desks conspire against their spines. Muscles and tendons are desperately trying to keep up. So we move and groove, building awareness, alignment, mobility and strength in hopes of creating frames that will be mechanically resilient and resistant to the pounding these guys face on the basketball and volleyball court.

It takes time, patience and calories. And then more patience, more time, more calories, more reps, more sets, more purposeful mobility work to achieve the same movement competencies we ask of their shorter counterparts. For sure, each athlete has a few different tweaks to his programming and understands that he has specific issues to address. And I make sure to relate these issues to their long-term health, as well as their performance goals.

We cannot rush things with these guys. These guys truly put the "long" in long-term athletic development. Who knows when mother nature will be finished with them? It certainly won't be high school and it might not even be college. We must support the physical and emotional maturation process and hope that sport coaches and parents don't let height, hype and the desire to "play up" against older competition overwhelm their bodies.

Kelvin Giles and Mick McDermott put it very well in Developing the Total Player - An Integrated Strategy. I encourage you to check out the entire article.
In addition to these basic principles we must never forget that each individual player will require their own unique pathway to repeatable excellence. No two players are the same physically, mentally, technically or tactically and so the fundamental principles for all coaches to have in their tool-box are adaptability and flexibility. This is particularly important in the developmental stages of a player’s journey. The ‘before, during and after’ puberty periods present an array of ‘change’ unparalleled in a young person’s life. The difference in the rate of growth and development seen in a group of 11-15 year old players (male and female) is so profound that there can often be a 2-4 year biological difference between players of the same chronological age. Adaptability and flexibility become THE major tools for the coach during this time.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Real Treat

Repost from Vern Gambetta's Functional Path Training blog this morning. If you have any questions about what this program is like, I'm happy to answer them also. I am proud to be part of the 2011 GAIN faculty.

2011 GAIN Apprentorship June 17 – 22

Be a leader! Apply now and join a select group of professionals at the 2011 GAIN Apprentorship. Our goal is to define the field of Athletic Development by educating professionals in foundational principles and methodology as applied to coaching, physical education and rehabilitation. This program is not for the faint of heart or dilettantes, it is intense, intellectually challenging and demanding.

GAIN Apprentorship = Apprenticeship + Mentorship

We combine both into a blend of theory and practice in a five-day residential coaching school format. This is an opportunity to observe, question, and explore the application of the Gambetta Method - Systematic Sport Development Model of training, teaching and injury rehabilitation.

The coaching school represents just a beginning. To foster continued growth and interaction the graduates of the program can continue to participate via the secure web site, and continue to attend the GAIN coaching school for the duration of their careers if they so choose for no additional cost.

The 2011 school will be June 17 to June 22 at Rice University in Houston, Texas

The program is open to sport coaches, conditioning coaches, physical education teachers, athletic trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors and doctors. To apply go to and go to Apprentorship page to download the application form. Enrollment is limited. Tuition is $3,800 with a $250.00 non-refundable deposit required upon acceptance. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, and room. Please call 941-378-1778 or email mail me at for information on the special scholastic rate or if you have any questions.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Hoop Thoughts: BRIAN McCORMICK ON INJURY PREVENTION: "Some great stuff from Brian McCormick's 'Hard 2 Guard Player Development Newsletter' on injuries: World renowned athlete development specia..."

Amen, Brother Kelvin and Brother Brian. Thanks Jill for sending this to me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Shoulder

If you work with overhead athletes, you know the human shoulder depends on the rest of the body to optimally function. The shoulder needs the cooperation and positioning of the lower extremities and torso to provide the proper base of force production, whether performing a rotational motion (throw, hit) or a vertical thrust (jerk).

An illustration of shoulder position with an upright torso vs a forward torso in the receiving position of the jerk. Who's doing all the work to keep the barbell within the base of support?

If the lower extremities and torso do not do their jobs, the shoulder will ultimately suffer more wear and tear. Good mechanics are imperative for health and sport longevity.

The shoulder is not a smaller version of the hip. It has evolved to give us much more range of motion and requires coordination of the clavicle, scapula, thoracic spine and humerus. The shoulder is not designed to take the same pounding a hip can take. There is no bony socket to provide stability and it really isn't optimized for ballistic weight-bearing. Joint capsule, ligaments, tendons and muscular coordination provide the stability--not bone. So if you are going to bear bodyweight or greater loads in an open or closed-chain movement, you are going to want to use optimal mechanics to support the weight and give the shoulder the best platform possible. In training, you also want to develop balance of strength about the shoulder and reinforce scapulo-humeral rhythm during training with quality repetition and movement.

Chronic shoulder pain, rotator cuff tears, bicep tendinitis, labrum tears and multi-directional instability are not badges of honor for being an overhead athlete. Nor are they the price one pays for being active. They are the result of poor programming or training progression, doing too much too soon, not using good mechanics, or some combination thereof. Good training and proper progression promote good mechanics and build shoulder health, not chronic soreness. It takes time for the shoulder to adapt and build the capacity to tolerate greater volume and loads.

High volume of certain activities in the weight room can interfere with developing and maintaining shoulder mobility and mechanics. If you don't understand how your programming affects your athlete's shoulders, then you need to ask for help and get a clue. It is your obligation to know how what you do affects the short and long–term physical health of your athletes. And it is your obligation to inform them that more weight or more reps isn't necessarily better at any given point in time.

If your clients have to constantly see the massage therapist, PT or chiropractor for chronic shoulder problems, or they spend an inordinate amount of time with a foam roller / lacrosse ball attached to their arm pit or t-spine, that should be a red flag for you. Yes, injuries and accidents happen, but they should be extremely rare during training in the gym. Ultimately, the shoulder health of your clients depends on your ability to teach them proper mechanics and provide them with quality programming.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Badger Homecoming

Spent a beautiful weekend in Madison, Wisconsin. Met Kevin's college swim coach, Jack Pettinger. Took in the homecoming game and saw the fantastic UW Marching Band. These people have to be some of the most fit students on campus. We saw them working--marching and playing--from 9:30 am (11 am game time) until 2:30 with their 15 minute, 5th quarter performance. Groups came up into the stands to serenade us during the game, and they were wisely eating--just like athletes who needed some extra calories. I am sure most of the band members burn more calories than most of the football team on a home game day.

The video below has images from our visit, including the entire UW Band run on to the field and the 5th Quarter. If you squint and put it on 480p (yes, I know my 10 y.o. Sony needs to be replaced), you can see them high-stepping in place as the rest of the band runs on. The 5th Quarter is a long-standing tradition where the band comes back on the field and plays On Wisconsin,The Bud Song, Tequila, the UW Alma Mater and The Chicken Dance. It is pure fun for the band, students and fans alike.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Friday Fun From the Platform

Don't know who--IWF?--made this, but I thought it was pretty darn fun for a little TGIF. Have a great weekend!

Meet Coach Jimmy Radcliffe

I first heard Jimmy Radcliffe speak at the 1999 NSCA Coaches College in Colorado Springs. He didn't just talk. The man jumped, hopped, bounded, skipped and ran with grace, precision and an explosiveness I had never seen. He spoke with wisdom and humility. At 5'6" and maybe a buck sixty, this guy was not what I imagined when I found out he was a Division I strength coach.

Since that time, I've had the opportunity to listen to and speak with Coach Radcliffe in depth at the 2009 and 2010 GAIN meetings. His background is in weightlifting and track & field. He is the consummate professional--the real deal when it comes to developing the complete athlete. No false bravado; no quick fixes. If you get the chance to hear him speak, jump, bound, skip and run to it.

Coach Radcliffe will be with me on the faculty at GAIN 2011. If you are interested in attending GAIN 2011, drop me a line.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Build Foundations

Training is about building physical foundations in the context of fundamental movements. The movements begin with basic ground-based movements and then progress to more complex and sport-specific movements.

Physical foundations. What is that? Strength? Endurance? Work capacity? Mobility? Body awareness? It is all of these things, but in the context of movement skills. And this takes time. It begins with an evaluation of where the individual starts--posture, movement coordination, dynamic vs static abilities. It progresses with the individual. Some progress quickly. Others need time--more strength, more reps to master the movement, more time to adapt.

Training sessions apply constructive stress to the system. Over time, positive adaptations occur. More is not always better. High intensity is not always appropriate. Both are always tempting to do. You cannot groove skilled movement going balls to the wall, in a fatigued state. You go balls to the wall when you have mastered the movement. You progress when the body has earned the right and demonstrates the ability to tolerate the new stress.

For me, it isn't about beating people down. It is about building them from the ground up; one block at time, through deliberate practice and repetition. I help them earn the right to progress and teach them the patience to let the process work.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Images from the Journey to COS

Exhibit at OTC. Very pertinent to our two month journey that led to the event in COS.

A new friend visited us as we dined on the patio at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

Kara and Melissa with 2008 Olympian, Kendrick Farris at the venue.

Kara and Melissa right outside the USA Weightlifting gym at the OTC. We observed some current resident athletes training Friday afternoon.

After dinner at Cheyenne Mountain. Great food, fantastic service and a wonderful view. The entire whirlwind weekend--96 hours--was a great finale to our two-month training. I will write more in detail about our experience this week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Mashup

A little off topic, but a delightful way to get a great fall week off to a great start.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sport Expert Website and Weightlifting Exercise Calculator

For weightlifting groupies...

If you are wondering if your classical lifts are in line with each other, or with your assistance lifts, check out the Sport Expert weightlifting calculator. The site also has some very good technique analysis from international competitions.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teaching the Squat: My Philosophy

The squat is fundamental to physical health and athletic development. Load the kinetic chain of the lower extremity in a balanced, efficient manner; then unload. Create a base of support (BoS), control your center of mass (CoM) through a range of motion. In the process, you train awareness, alignment, mobility, strength, power, strength endurance, power endurance—whatever you need.

I probably teach the squat a bit differently than many of my rehab and athletic development colleagues. My squat instruction is based upon a weightlifting squat, not a powerlifting squat or a wall sit. All single leg and other squat variations (speed, pause, partial) and hex or straight bar deadlifts flow from this movement. Remember, we are training a whole body movement pattern, not any one muscle group.

The body moves down and the torso stays tall, parallel with the shin. The knee must go over the toe and there is an emphasis on feeling the full foot pressing against the floor, not just the heel. The foot is balanced and the center of pressure about the foot is dynamic throughout the movement. The athlete learns to feel and control the balance. For me and for weightlifters, the squat is a means to an end, not an end in itself. We only need to squat loads that prepare us for our life and sport task. The focus is on quality of movement and the context the squat has in the current training plan.


1. Start tall, bar on upper traps. About shoulder width, toes out slightly.

2. Shoes are a must. Weightlifting shoes are preferred.

3. Head is neutral. Eyes slightly down

4. Grip the bar with thumb around the bar; no wide grip.

5. Initiate lowering the body with ankle and knee flexion, balance then with hip flexion.

6. Push knees out on descent and ascent.

7. Feel the floor with your entire foot as you lower body. Stay balanced.

8. Keep a neutral, stable spine. No need to hyperextend or over-contract back extensors.

9. Feel hips, thighs, ankles and feet work as you push yourself back up.

10. Control down, strong up. Bring hips over knees, don’t pull knees back under hips.

11. Finish tall with hips under shoulders. Avoid excessive hip forward thrust.

12. Depth is individual and varies with mobility, body type and possibly experience. The goal is below parallel.

Below are two videos. The first shows a novice weightlifter--a high school junior--squatting at the end of a weightlifting training session. The second video is of two elite Chinese weightlifters training at The Arnold Weightlifting Championships. Same movement styles. Up and down with focus.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mastering the Split Snatch

Here are a few clips of Kara's progress over the last 5 weeks. After training for a few days, it became clear to me that Kara would benefit from trying the split snatch. If someone has ankle, hip flexor, or shoulder/t-spine mobility limitations, the split snatch can be a great alternative. It is a very beautiful, athletic movement, as Kara demonstrates. Can you see the changes in her posture and overall mobility?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Thoughts

So glad Friday is here. It has been a long, but good week. Supposed to be beautiful this weekend, in the 70's. I am so ready for fall.

Recently, many of my CF friends have taken a greater interest in working on their mobility. This a good thing. Joint health and movement skill require a flexible, supple musculoskeletal system. One cannot effectively use strength and power without good mobility.

My four building blocks of physical health are awareness, alignment, mobility and strength. A training plan must develop all aspects of your movement system, not just strength and power. Mobility must be integrated and developed within the context of what you need to do. It must be a part of your training, not a random afterthought. If your programming is mindful and purposeful, then your training will not only work to make you stronger. It will also work to address your strength in the context of your mobility needs. Quality strength and power movement grooves mobility.

So I urge my friends to think about why they have the mobility issues they have. What movements in your programming might contribute to your mobility and pain issues? The body adapts to the quality and type of movements it is asked to do. That's how rehab and super-compensation work. The therapist and coach apply training overload to create positive adaptations. If inappropriately applied or poorly constructed, training programs can also lead to negative adaptations and imbalances.

Your body depends on you to think, not just do.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday's Learning Curve

A peek into Thursday afternoon's training. Lots to work on, but these four are learning and incorporating new stuff every day. It takes time and purposeful practice to learn new motor skills.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Positive Shin Angle But Never With Squats?

What is the angle of the shin when one lands with good mechanics on one foot? On two feet?

What is the angle of the shin when one uses proper acceleration mechanics?

What is the angle of the shin with skipping?

What is the angle of the shin in the "athletic stance" or "ready position" for many sports? Batting stance? Getting low on defense?

Doesn't effective ground-based force production require a coordinated effort using the foot, ankle, knee and hip?

Shouldn't the squat mechanics we teach support teaching a coordinated effort of the entire lower extremity, not just focus on the heel and the hip? The forefoot, midfoot, ankle and knee are also important parts of the equation. Center of pressure on the foot is dynamic, not static. Shouldn't the athlete learn to feel this? Isn't this a part of being balanced? Can we really reduce squat mechanics to the heel and the hip, when so much else of athletic movement calls for a positive shin angle and integration of the ankle, knee and foot in basically the opposite manner?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1 Year with Elmo and Without TV

He's driven almost3,000 miles over the last year without a single visit to the gas station. We track our monthly electricity usage and cannot discern an increase in our bill. We could be off-setting any increase by the fact that also dropped cable / network TV at the same time, so we do not run the projector very often.

It's very interesting to drive Elmo out among other cars. You realize just how powerful and large the average car is and how fast people drive on neighborhood roads. Few, if any, people drive the speed limit on roads with 30-40 mph limits unless a cop is visible. I even notice a difference in my temperament when I drive Elmo vs Sheila (2004 Subaru Forester XT, 5 speed). I have more patience and calm--I cannot really be in a hurry and I cannot use my car to vent frustration. It makes me wonder how different the roads would be if people could not show aggressiveness through their driving.

Speaking of calm, not having TV in the house for a year has been fantastic. I guess we are in the minority, according to this NYT piece. We can watch online stuff (Hulu, PBS, YouTube) if we want to by connecting the laptop to our projector, but we don't do it very often. Background noise is limited to NPR or music, and I'm finding that I have less tolerance for repeated news and discussion on NPR. If KF wants to watch the Twins, Badgers or Packers, he goes to the JCC (gym) or to the GC (local restaurant & bar).

Many evenings we end the day quietly discussing how things went at school and the gym. We play with the cats and get the kitchen, laundry and other chores done together, rather than fall asleep in front of the tv. Seriously, we've probably slept a year in front of the TV over our 16 years of marriage. No more.

When you are not subjected to a constant stream of talking heads and streaming images, you realize just how much excess noise throughout most of our daily environment. Take the constant stream of information out of your day--most of which doesn't really impact our immediate lives and is stupidly alarmist and argumentative--and eventually you will find yourself with more mental and emotional energy to focus on what is really necessary in life.

The next step is to possibly get a phone that is also a Wi-Fi hotspot and ditch Charter altogether. I'm a little nervous about the quality and speed of service, but you know what, I'm probably better off with less internet time anyway. There's so much more to life than being online.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trusting in the Process: Our Great Adventure

Today is the end of week three in our training for the hybrid Crossfit / USA Weightlifting competition October 1-3. I'm working with 4 individuals and we train 8+ hours a week, over 4 days. Two athletes only train 2x a week with my, while the others train 4 days. I told my 4x/week people that I would work with them only under the following conditions:

1. No Crossfit class workouts for duration of our training (2 months). If you have withdrawal or a panic attack, text me and I'll talk you down and give you something appropriate.

2. The following exercises are off limits: deadlifts, kipping pull ups, KTE, CF-style KB swings, ring dips, muscle ups, Prowler pushing, thrusters, push presses.

3. The following exercises are ok: double-unders, rowing, sprints, bodyweight squats, lunges, front squats (strict form), snatches, cleans, power and split jerks, incline DB presses, HSPU.

Just 8 weeks. I know you can do it. Let your bodies recover from your training for and participation in the Crossfit Games. Trust me.

At first it was pretty hard for them, but they are starting to get it. They are seeing progress in their technique and feeling changes in posture and mobility. They are able to sense movement errors and make corrections themselves. They are learning the sweet sensation of the legs moving the bar. They are learning patience--that improvement comes in spurts and some days we learn the most from failed attempts.

In my mind, it has been essential for them to develop a completely different mindset--to break away from the constant nervous system overload and physical exhaustion of individual daily workouts. The weightlifting mind, or any technically demanding individual sport for that matter, has to be calm and able to focus intensely on the task at hand. It's not overhead anyhow; it is lift the weight with precise, efficient technique. Maximal effort, executed with precise control. Some parts of the body must stay relaxed, while others work all out. The nervous system cannot go haywire or function under a state of alarm.

It has also been essential to eliminate movement patterns and postural adaptations that are counter-productive to weightlifting. It is my experience and observation that an excessive amount of kipping pullups, high-rep, sloppy push presses and hard style KB swings contribute to chronic tightness in the shoulder rotators and scapulohumeral musculature, along with an athletic-induced thoracic kyphosis. This combination of this type of inflexibility in the upper quarter makes keeping the bar close and developing a smooth turnover very challenging. It makes an optimal receiving position in the clean and snatch almost impossible.

The kyphotic upper body posture is then reinforced and combined with lower-body movement patterns if the athlete is allowed to do thrusters with a barbell, sloppy heavy front squats or deadlifts. Combine this with a little tightness in the hammies and you will struggle to have an effective lift off position or bottom position in either lifts.

From an efficiency and movement pattern standpoint, we have focused on:
  • Learning to use the hip, knee and ankle to push the weight off the ground, vs use a high-hip, back-dominant deadlift type start.
  • Keeping the feet on the ground as long as possible in order to connect the leg drive to the barbell. No donkey kicking.
  • Keeping the bar close and getting the hips back into bar.
  • Meeting the barbell, not just diving into the bottom position.
  • Greasy-fast, efficient turnover of the shoulder / elbow / wrist. No extra torso, arm or torso gesticulations.
I'm excited to see what today's training brings. It is very rewarding and refreshing to work with adults who are so enthusiastic and talented. And they have been just tough as nails in this stifling heat and humidity. I too, am learning to trust in the process and not over-correct. Trying to learn how to modify things here and there to let their athleticism figure it out whenever possible. It's been a great adventure thus far!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fascinating History of Osteopenia

I say ditch the Fosamax and get a Hexlite bar, a set of Hitechplates and a few iron plates. I'll come teach you to lift correctly and we'll use gravity to build your bone density.

Pure Joy

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday, August 01, 2010

What does it all mean?

Sometimes there are differences between the L and R sides. Do they matter? If so, do you know why they are there? How might they affect performance and training down the road?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Make Those Around You Better

I'm not an individual sport kinda athlete. Don't like being out there all alone in the discus ring or weightlifting platform; not blessed with raw explosiveness and athleticism. But put me on a team, where strategy, planning, knowledge of the sport, consistency and fundamentals count, and I'll be successful.

In high school volleyball, I was the setter. Too stubborn to get rid of my goofy-footed approach, my high school coach made me set and I thrived. In college, I loved directing a 5-1 offense and keeping the opposing team off-guard.

In high school basketball, I was the 2-guard and a small forward. My job wasn't to score, but to get the ball to Darla Pannier, our junior center who would go on to be a high school All-American. Darla had the school season scoring record; I had the season assist record only because of Darla. Nothing made me happier than drawing a defender off-balance and getting the ball to Darla for the "and-one." My husband is always happy to refer to me as "not normally a scorer"--a phrase used by a local radio announcer during one of my high school playoff games.

I found joy in contributing to the overall success of the group.

Even now, I'm happy to be out of the spotlight and take a low-key role in professional endeavors. And I'm definitely not comfortable with the type of self-promotion that is common on the internet. My goal is to make those around me better and get people the best information I can. My job is to leave the gym a better place than I found it, not prop up my own ego or status in the eyes of others. The health and well-being of my athletes and patients is priority #1.

If there is information that sheds doubt on current practices (including my own philosophy and beliefs) in physical therapy or sport performance, it is my job evaluate it and help others understand it and apply it. If I don't know something, I admit it and work to get accurate information for people. There is no room for bullshit or bravado in my world. There is room to admit I am sometimes wrong and there are better ways to achieve goals. No worries; life is a process and life-long learning is part of that.

Most people have been very gracious and appreciative of my efforts to improve their physical health and athletic performance. Many have acknowledged, publicly or privately, my input on their training philosophy and programming. Others have not been so gracious, but I have no control over this. The only thing I can control is that I give my best, in an honest and professional manner--and make the gym a better place at the end of the day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm starting several new athletes over next few weeks. All will go through an initial 2 part evaluation that occurs over 2 days. I take the time to review past medical history with a parent, look at static and dynamic flexibility, upper and lower extremity strength, torso control with various movements and any other factor that might jump out at me, given PMH and their specific sport demands.

So the evaluation gives me a snapshot of where the athlete is now and then gives me insight into variables that may or may not impact training and performance down the road. I understand certain adaptations occur in sport, so I attend to them but keep in mind that I probably shouldn't try to fix it if it really ain't broke. I want to see if the athlete meets basic physical competencies--the physical building blocks that form the foundations for technical and tactical skills in the sport. And I want my tests to be relevant, measurable and meaningful.

Right now my evaluation process is has a very physical therapy feel to it, as the results of the evaluation are summarized in a written report that I send to parents, athletes and sport coaches (if applicable). I try to make it as easy to understand as possible, but it could be better. And it is going to get better by implementing elements of the PCA (Physical Competency Assessment), by Kelvin Giles of Movement Dynamics. Time to get my Excel and Radar Graph love on.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From the Vault

Here's a blast from the past while I recombobulate after a long June and great vacation in Europe. More soon!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

GAIN 2010

There aren't many in-depth learning opportunities these days. I recently spent 6 full days immersed in topics that relate to LTAD (long-term athletic development) at the GAIN 2010 Apprentorship in Ft. Lauderdale. This was my second year to attend and my first to speak.

Some highlights of the event for me:

1. Diversity. As always, the diversity of the faculty and delegates makes this event unique. There are international / Olympic level coaches in dialogue with grass-roots physical educators and coaches. MDs, ATCs and PTs get together in group sessions in the evening to discuss barriers to patient care and how to overcome them. We in the US are exposed to the sport cultures of the UK, Europe and Australia. The threads that tie us together are a quest for physical health and performance for all levels of athlete. We still lack diversity as far as race and gender are concerned, but hopefully that will come around.

2. Professionalism and respect. The GAIN environment promotes intellectual curiosity because all speakers and topics are treated with respect. There is discussion and there may even be disagreement, but minds are open here and people are allowed to make their case.

3. The motor learning approach to performance. Frans Bosch just knocked me out with his approach to elite sprinters and running. For whatever reason, the US is so caught up in a mechanistic - strength approach to sport and the training of sport athletes. I know it has application in elite weightlifters. His talks really made me dig deep into my undergraduate study in philosophy of science and graduate work in kinesiology (motor control and learning). We cannot just reduce performance to strength, power output, rate of force development in the weight room. Yeah, it's easy to measure and it's fairly easy to develop. It's not just programming reps and sets; it's skill acquisition.

4. Athletes must earn the right to progress. And we must be held accountable for giving them a progression appropriate for their particular needs. We cannot progress if the fundamentals and infrastructure are lacking. We must educate parents, administrators and sport coaches to respect the process if we are to succeed in the long run.

5. Keep the beef on. Bill Knowles had some words of wisdom for all rehab peeps. Gotta attack LE strength quickly and aggressively upon injury and after surgery. He presented new research that show things shut down quickly--possibly on both sides. Gotta be creative and use all tools at our disposal.

6. Keep fighting the good fight. Yes, the grass appears greener on the other side, but many of us face the same type of challenges--at every level, from the Olympic stage to the public school gym class. Look to your tribe for support and take it one small victory at a time. We'll get there.

7. Give athletes more opportunities that ask them to self-organize, rather than cue them too much or limit them to one method of solving a motor problem. For example, I'm a big fan of the top-down method of teaching the classical lifts. After listening to Frans and talking to Jimmy Radcliffe and his method of teaching the lifts from the ground, I will now be more open to going from the ground if the right physical competencies are in place. There is no OTW.

8. Jimmy Radcliffe is not of this world when it comes to moving. And he is truly a pioneer in the collegiate S & C setting.

9. Joe P. is the bombdiggety in athlete rehabilitation. He researches, absorbs and applies more information--from all kinds of sources--in one month than I can ever hope to in one decade.

10. John Perry gives me hope for the PT profession. He walks the walk and gets people moving Gravity and ground reaction forces are our friends. Great warm up series during the Sunday am session.

11. Greg Thompson is pure energy in physical education. I know he'll find the cure for perspiration aversion syndrome in our lifetime. Our physical health depends on it. He wins the award for best slide of the week.

12. Ed Ryan and Dave Joyner. Should we all be so lucky to have massive experience and organizational skills of these sports medicine professionals. And they're pretty funny too.

13. Finally, a giant thanks to Vern Gambetta and Kelvin Giles for having the drive and ambition to do better. To provide thought-provoking topics and speakers for nearly a week, and to urge us to be defenders of technique and athlete-centered development. I can't wait until next year. The AD is coming with me.