Thursday, April 29, 2010

U17 Pan Am Championships

Congratulations to Team USA silver medalist Darren Barnes and his coach Derrick Johnson (both from STL) on his record-setting performance at the Pan Am Youth Championships. Very impressive lifting in the 56 kg weight class!

Congratulations also go out to Team USA's Ian Wilson on winning the gold in the +94 kg weight class in the Pan American Youth Championships. Ian is 16 and is coached by Butch Curry. He went 6/6 and set PRs in both the snatch and clean and jerk in Peru.

It's always a little tenuous to predict athletic success later in life simply from success as at early age. These two young men, along with Darren's twin brother Darrell, have been progressing steadily over the last few years and have represented the US with class at home and abroad. Keep up the good work guys!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

DB Snatch Series

This is a DB Snatch Series I learned from Mike Burgener. I use it with my athletes at the beginning of a workout as a transition from warm up into the first major exercise. 6' 10" Ryan Pierson demonstrates it here. He performs 3 DB snatches (both arms), followed by one R arm snatch and a lunge with each leg, then one L arm snatch and lunge with each leg. He finishes with 3 snatches with both arms.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Right Tool For The Job

Somebody referred to my bar--the Hexlite Bar--as a crutch--right in front of me.  It's not the first time someone has spoken in a negative manner of the bar right to my face.  Rippetoe told me, in front of an entire basic barbell certification class, that he thought it was worthless. I just smiled.

Many in the iron game are fixated on the barbell.  They look at it as the ultimate tool to build strength; and for the weightlifting zealots, it is the tool for developing power.  Because we all know that weightlifters are the strongest and most powerful athletes, right?  So then we should train just like they do because...well maybe... depends, right?

Don't get me wrong.  I love weightlifting.  There are 4 different barbells in my home gym.  I enjoy training with the barbell and teaching people how to use a barbell.  It is almost a lost art in this country.  But for every technically sound, good squat, clean or power snatch in this country, there are about 363,765 really ugly lifts.  Lifts by people who have no clue, and maybe no business, using a barbell.  Are they accomplishing anything that really helps them become a better athlete at their sport?  If so, can you demonstrate the cause and the effect or are you just parroting what you've heard others say? 

I don't fit the person to the exercise; I fit the exercise to the person and the purpose.  And there are lots of ways to develop strength and power.  Just as you can't use a hammer to solve every problem, neither should you think a barbell is best the tool for every athlete.

I know women who can deadlift over 2x bodyweight, but they cannot use their legs effectively to clean 60% of their bodyweight.  They can "pull" but cannot use their feet and lower extremities to "push" the weight off the ground.  And we all know men who pile on the plates to squat, and then, well, fail to do anything that resembles a squat. Pffft.

Quality of movement matters to me, not the amount of weight on a bar. And every exercise in a program has a purpose toward developing awareness, alignment, mobility and strength in the context of the individual athlete's goals and needs.  Each exercise is preparation for or complimentary to the end goals of efficient movement and force production.  Each exercise is part of plan to develop physical competencies and movement algorithms.  There is no room or time for stupid strength in this house.  There is no OTW. 

There is no shame in using other implements in the gym to achieve strength and power goals. There is wisdom in having a robust tool box and set of methods to help the human body learn to move effectively and efficiently. 

So much to say.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Everything is Everything

I've been listening to "Everything is Everything" by Lauren Hill recently. This part of the song really hits home with me with regard to current ideas floating about the fitness and S&C worlds:

I wrote these words for everyone
Who struggles in their youth
Who won't accept deception
Instead of what is truth
It seems we lose the game,
Before we even start to play
Who made these rules? We're so confused
Easily led astray
Let me tell ya that
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
After winter, must come spring
Everything is everything

With the interwebs, it is so easy for one person or group to promote very specific ideas about training. These ideas quickly become accepted as fact and truth when repeated, re-Tweeted, and re-blogged. Hey, if so-and-so says it, it must be true, right?

Never mind so-and-so's practical experience and education. Never mind the logic and rationale behind the principle. Never mind the physiology and biomechanics of how the human body works within the context of gravity, or the context of an implement.

Just because someone is charismatic and uses scientific and terminology doesn't mean they have a good grasp on the reality of human function and movement. Just because someone is big, buff and strong doesn't mean they have a clue about physical health or human performance.

Verbal cues might sound good--and they might even be useful in certain circumstances--but in reality they may not describe what the body is doing or what the best practice for a movement pattern should be.

Fitness or performance presented as dogma may not be all it is cracked up to be. Because everything is everything and the whole is often bigger than the sum of its parts--not just a few mantras mixed in with some swagger. Beware of "the one true way" zealots.

Rules and principles are necessary. It is imperative they are based on sound information and logic. Things are a little more complex than we might think, so open your eyes, ask questions and seek knowledge from many sources.