Showing posts from 2012

DIY iPhone/iPod Touch Tripod Adapter

I have a variety of methods to record images, but sometimes just using the old phone or iPod is the most efficient way to go. Alas, none of my three tripods would work with either. Sigh. So I went online on a mission to find an adapter that is inexpensive and simple. I asked future engineer Tommy Beckmann to build it and he was successful by combining two different DIY methods.  Cost:  $3.
It's not fancy and we could've used black tape, but it is simple, secure and works like a charm with any standard tripod mount. Now if the high school guys want to do video feedback and keep the video, they get the mini-tripod out and use their own phones to evaluate their movement. And I have a nifty way of keeping the iPod Touch nice and steady on the handy, ultra-portable mini-tripod.

Coming soon: Building The Complete Athlete

"You don't need to see different things, but rather to see things differently" -Vern Gambetta

Iron Maven Shoulder Series "A"

I use this series of open and closed-chain movements to expose the thoracic spine and shoulder girdle to various planes of movement and weight-bearing situations. Parts of this series come from GAIN colleague Greg Thompson, who teaches elementary PE in Michigan. Greg has developed a large library of fundamental movements/skills to be practiced in 5 minute segments during the school day. The "5 in 5" program is also being piloted in the UK by Kelvin Giles. 

Shoulder Series "A" is used in warm up, cool-down and on recovery days after a big volleyball tournament. It is meant for any skill-level or age. The Rise & Shine Push Ups can be modified to be Rise & Shine Pillars or Let Downs for those unable to do a solid push up. I have also used it very successfully with shoulder rehab patients.

Chip Conrad on Mobility: Required Watching!

This is one of my very favorite videos from Chip Conrad of Bodytribe. Watch it and let it soak in. There are many out there who thing mobility is a separate quality that is trained outside of the workout.  It is not. 

Everything you do in your training program impacts your mobility in a positive or a negative way. So you can foam roll and wrap yourself in all types of rubber bands and never make a dent in your ability to move better because your past and present training asks your body to adapt in ways that limit your mobility.

You are how you move.

Your movement needs to be varied and you need to realize there are fundamental relationships between various joints, in weight-bearing, that dictate your mobility and thus your ability to move well.  You will eventually limit yourself and your strength and power development if you think mobility is something to be trained separately from strength and power.

Happiness is...

a legit 100 kg front squat.  Not too shabby for a 17 y.o. 6' 7" high school volleyball player. See the video here.

Flexibility is the key here, particularly at the ankle and t-spine/shoulder. You'll note the proper front squat/clean grip rack of the bar. Torso control during the lift, i.e, core strength, is essential.

This is how we roll at the House of Iron. Gotta earn the right to progress. Gotta have the maturity and the experience to try a 1RM lift.

The Collegiate School: Athletic Development Done Right

The video above is by Coach Adam Moss of The Collegiate School in Richmond, VA. Collegiate is one of the few schools I know of to have a dedicated athletic development staff and program. It is so exciting to see these young women getting the instruction and physical opportunities they need to stay healthy and be successful athletes.

You will notice that the facilities at Collegiate are very, very nice. As a fun side note, I am very happy to say Collegiate has 5 Hexlite Training Bars. But that's not what sets this program apart.  It is the people at Collegitate--their vision and dedication to the long-term physical health of the students--that separates Collegiate from many others. These professionals are focused on the process of developing the athlete, not simply on short-term outcomes or performance.

High school coaches of boys and girls, this is the type of comprehensive work that should form the foundation of secondary school physical health and sports performance.

Iron Maven Shoulder Tubing Series

This little tubing series is part of the shoulder infrastructure work my athletes do. I'm not a big fan of the traditional "PT" shoulder band stuff, but Joe Pryztula and his practical seminars at Vern Gambetta's GAIN conferences, has helped me see that I can get creative and do some good things with tubing to connect the hip and the shoulder. Vern has a great Functional Shoulder Exercises DVD that goes into greater depth regarding the concept of "hip to shoulder" and what it means for a shoulder exercise to be "functional."

My high school senior guys really like this sequence, particularly after a hard practice or upper body work day. Some of them need it more for stability; others for more t-spine mobility. They now get what it means to take care of your shoulders on a daily and weekly basis.

More shoulder stuff soon.

Mitch: Indian Club Ninja

I've introduced indian clubs to all of my athletes. The volleyball guys have really embraced them. Personally, I think they are a fantastic modality for developing and maintaining shoulder girdle health for the overhead athlete. Imagine an entire volleyball team on the court, prior to the timed warm up, facing the other team while doing a scripted indian club warm up in concert. Besides giving the athletes a thorough shoulder warm up, I think it would give the other team something interesting to think about.

6' 9" Mitch Penning, USA Volleyball Youth National Team member and Pepperdine recruit, demonstrates his new-found mastery of the clubs. Mitch learned a few of the basics with me, but then taught himself the more advanced movements by taking home the instructional DVD (by Ed Thomas) and practicing on his own for a day or two. The results are impressive.

Non-Verbal Communication and Power

Check out this fascinating talk by Amy Cuddy. Non-verbals are incredibly powerful and affect our perceptions of others and our feelings about ourselves. Posture has even been shown to affect biology, in the form of testosterone and cortisol levels. Please share this talk with any women or girls in your life.

My Old Sony Camera

I bought this little Sony sometime back in 2003 to take still pictures and video for lifting analysis. My journey into the whole video thing started with this little camera. It is great because it takes MPEG video that is limited only by the memory stick and it also takes sequence shots. Pop the memory stick into the laptop, edit, upload and go.

At nine years old, the camera is showing it's age. The push up video I posted Friday is grainy and not in HD because it was taken with this camera. I am reluctant to get a new one because this camera has been such a big part of my professional and personal journey. But alas, it is time to retire it and get something newer to take better video and still images.

Right now I am a jumble of video and pictures between iPod Touches, phones and iPads--not very organized. Using the mini-dv cameras is a pain; to download the video via firewire or USB to the laptop takes time. I may set up the tripods and cameras at some point, but only for spe…

The Humble Push Up

I love push ups. I can remember doing push ups in front of the little black and white TV in my very cool basement bedroom during the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Before basketball practice in high school, we all had to do 20 push ups, 20 sit ups and then run 10 high laps--about a mile in the "new gym". Ugh. Hated the running, but the push ups didn't phase me.

At this point in my career I'm stunned at the number of high school kids, particularly boys, who cannot do a solid push up. I'm pretty sure it borders on a national disgrace in the US. The saggy backs, droopy heads and severely-winging scapulae are almost unbearable to watch. The lack of depth in the movement is just plain sad.

Then I hear about how push ups are used by sport team coaches as punishment and I have to sigh. Nothing is accomplished when kids are forced to do movements that they are under-prepared to do. We are simply reinforcing dysfunctional movement patterns.

With tall, skinny guys and most girl…

My Office

My "clinic" needs some more artwork and I need to get a couple of white boards. The stall bars (Gladiator Wall) are very new and I look forward to developing some neat new mobility and strength work for everyone here.

Adventures with Indian Clubs

It got a little punchy yesterday, but in all seriousness, the Indian Club should be an integral part of any overhead athlete's foundational work. And why aren't all physical therapy and athletic training programs teaching their students how to implement these fantastic movement patterns? Brothers and sisters let us break free from the purgatory of Theraband and the Thrower's 10! We must prepare the athletic shoulder to move and groove as it does in sport!

In the "See Just How Far We've Fallen" department, check out this footage from a 1904 PE class in Kansas City, MO. Now we have cup stacking competitions. We have such a rich history of physical culture. Let's hope we can regain the lost appreciation of movement skills as the foundation of school-based physical education.

Brilliant! The Official IOC YouTube Channel

I stumbled upon the official IOC YouTube channel tonight. Check it out. It is a wealth of HD video from London and past Olympic games. I've embedded two things US people didn't get to see if all they had was NBC's televised coverage.

First up is the closing ceremony remix of "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush, one of my favorite songs of all-time. Second is the FULL replay of the women's 800 m freestyle final, featuring Katie Ledecky and RebeccaAdlington. NBC cut the Kate Bush segment from their closing ceremony broadcast and as all swimming fans know, they NEVER show an entire 800 or 1500 m distance race.

Track coaches and fans rejoice! Watch the full 10,000 m without commercial interruption or your favorite NBC commentators. All sport fans can search by sport / event and get highlights or full event replays.

Kate Bush: Running Up That Hill

Women's 800 m Freestyle Final

The Dignified Pursuit

There are days when I grow weary of the hype. Bad ass. Beast mode. Fire breather. Give me a break.

Whatever happened to the dignified pursuit of self-improvement and excellence?

A Good Coach

One on one or big groups. From age 17 to age 67. A good coach understands athletes have varying learning styles and abilities.

He or she uses demonstration, verbal cues and drills to get the athlete to the desired performance outcome.

A good coach appreciates the process and where an athlete is in that process when giving direction.

It warmed my heart this morning to watch my husband direct swimmers of varying ages and abilities in a positive, enthusiastic and effective manner. He wins respect from his athletes not by screaming, shaming or showing them just how much more he knows than they do. He wins their respect by teaching them and giving them the tools to become better, regardless of their age or ability. He leads them by his example and demeanor.

That is a good coach.

Alligator Walk - Scooter Style

A little less intensive style of alligator crawl, using a PE scooter on the rubber floor. This allows for a similar or greater ROM than the traditional low crawl, with a lighter load on the shoulder girdle if the athlete is not able to do the super-low crawling style. And it's pretty darn fun.

Now I just have to get Mitch to slow down and be a bit more deliberate!

TED Excellence: Margaret Heffernan's Dare to disagree

From the TED website:

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers -- and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.

Here is the direct link:

Varying Proportions & Inseams

Here we see that arm length is inversely proportional to shorts length with Mitch and George. Mitch has a wingspan that is 4" longer than he is taller. George's wingspan is about 2" shorter than his height.

Shorts length an ongoing topic in boys volleyball. The blue shorts that Mitch is wearing were his uniform shorts for the USA Youth Boys National Team NORCECA volleyball competition in Mexico this summer. He was proud to wear them. My basketball guys were, of course, mortified to think that someone might wear shorts that did not go below one's knees.

Of course, none of these guys will ever have the challenge of playing on court in long sleeves and "bun huggers." I'll leave my feelings on that topic for another day.

It seems the FIVB will not be persuaded to change inseam length for the men in international play. Mitch and the rest of the USA men will not let that deter them from pursuit of excellence. This little classic shows they have a sense of hum…

No Longer Hamstrung

Last fall a local triathlon coach referred one of her clients to me. He'd been in physical therapy for some hamstring issues that were hampering his running. Things weren't getting better and she thought he'd be up for an evaluation with me.

D had been running marathons and half-marathons for quite a while. In his early 50s, he was in great shape and potentially looking to try a triathlon or two, in between marathons. But for the last 4 months, he'd not been able to really run at all. The guy who used to be able to walk out the door and hit 6-10 miles without a problem couldn't finish a mile without both hamstrings "locking up" and forcing him to shut it down. It was killing him. He thought he was washed up.

A few things caught my attention in the evaluation. First, D had been working with a local personal trainer, but the leg work consisted of leg presses and a few walking lunges, with some scary heavy barbell deadlifts thrown in on occasion. Sec…

Confessions of a Sagittal Plane Junkie

I am my own worst patient. Doing my best to walk the walk, but sometimes habit, inertia, ego and time get in the way.

At 43 I am starting to feel a few hitches in my giddyup. My R ankle (victim of 3 major sprains & a chipped talus) is a bit cranky these days and it seems the issue is moving up the fibula near the knee. My L knee (the one with a complete meniscus) barks at me with consistency. It feels like the lateral facet of the patella is just grinding along the femoral condyle. My R low back seems have a constant dull ache that intensifies with sitting on soft surfaces. A couple of post-whiplash cervical and tspine knots seem to occasionally creep up on me with prolonged sitting at the computer or some overhead lifting.

The pain isn't debilitating but it is irritating and very disconcerting to me. Is it time to throw in the towel and just spring for a Tempur-Pedic?

Not a chance.

Thanks to my friends Jimmy Radcliffe and Joe Pryztula, I am revitalized--mind and body. Pro…

Thoughts on Mobility

In training, it's about what you do and what you don't do.

Poor movement begets negative tissue/training adaptations. Some movements & motor patterns are specifically counterproductive to achieving certain postures and positions.

All the stretching--cussing, pushing, prodding--in the world cannot undo these adaptations if you continue to train the movements that promote them.

Training & programming must promote positive tissue and nervous system adaptations if you want optimal health and performance.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Thanks to my friend Patrick McHugh for sharing this recently in his blog. It is a beautiful story; the bookstore is going to go on my bucket list.

More soon. I'm working up a head of steam to write more this coming school year. There's still so much to do in starting my clinic and the new business for the Hexlite Bar. But things are calming down a bit and my mind is anxious to get back to the blog and work on my own professional development through posting to A Philosophy of Strength & Health.

Pressing Strength


Dr. Atul Gawande on Healing Medicine

This is a very thoughtful approach to changing medicine. We need more thinkers who value humility, discipline and teamwork--and who understand how to implement these values into our broken "system" of health care. It's not about the "stuff" or technology; it's about communication, time, patience, education and mastery of the very basics.

Friday Fun with Nat and Fun!

Thought I'd share this little montage of Natalie and Cheryl with everyone to celebrate a happy Friday. Some classic lifts from 2006-2008.

A Tribute to the Most Fabulous Natalie Burgener: Part 2

After working up to a personal best in the snatch, Natalie prepared to do clean & jerks with Doreen.

She stayed in the zone and finished with a strong 120 kg lift. This was a 2 kg improvement from her recent American record of 118 kg in August. It was a remarkable ending to the session and the training week. During my 4 days at the course, I saw Nat miss one lift in training: a 90 kg push press. She made the 85 kg push press look easy. Like butta. Every last lift.

Maximal snatches and CJs. Second training session of the day after squatting in the AM session. Training session late in the week. No misses. Every lift just like the lift before.

This is what an elite athlete looks like.

A Tribute to the Most Fabulous Natalie Burgener: Part 1

Went to the Arnold Championships this weekend in Columbus, OH to see some old friends and watch great athletes compete in the 2012 USA Weightlifting National Championships and Women's Olympic Trials.

Had a great time seeing everyone. Even made some new friends and visited the Expo for the first time. I'm sure the new friends will last much longer than my trip to the Expo--6 minutes. Yuck. But that's for another blog.

I was very excited to see my friend Natalie Burgener and her family this weekend. A 2008 Olympian in the 63 kg class, Nat was attempting to make her second Olympic team after taking most of 2009 off and then having knee and hip surgery. We knew it would be a tough comeback as her weight class is one of the most competitive at the international level.

It was not to be. And now Nat has decided to retire from the sport. I am sad and excited for her at the same time. Weightlifting is losing a class act and a tremendous athlete. Natalie will be starting an e…

That Was Easy

Here is a 6'6" high school senior building vertical stability, lower body power, upper body strength and bringing some balance to those shoulders. My job is to have her ready to step into the collegiate volleyball setting with a solid physical foundation and a respect and understanding of how to use the many implements in a weight room.

The push press, in front of and behind the neck, is a staple in my programming. It is a total body movement and can be combined with squatting for some great complexes. We press, incline barbell press, dumbbell press and incline dumbbell press for foundational strength. Dumbbell bench press is also added in for variety at times.

Traditional bench press is not normally included in my volleyball athlete programming. It may be included in my basketball athlete programming for general strength and mass.

For all of my athletes, the push press is our bench press.