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Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Hurts More: Rugby or American Football?

I'm a big fan of Rugby and would love to get more involved with the sport—both as a player and as a strength coach. That's why I find this clip from Sports Science so great!

After watching this clip, it becomes very clear why the strength and conditioning programs for these sports are so important. These players absorb incredibly high impact forces during a game and if their bodies are deconditioned or unable to withstand these forces, injury is bound to happen.

Before watching this clip I didn't think much about the psychological effects wearing padding has on a player. Because Quentin Jammer feels protected by his equipment, he doesn't hesitate or hold back during a tackle, which in turn allows him to produce serious, bone-breaking force.

This "pyschological protection" is very important, even when playing recreational sports. Much like having a spotter in the gym, safety equipment can help you achieve bigger, faster and more challenging personal records than you might be able to do in an unprotected state.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trouble Finishing Books? Read Them In The Morning

If you're like me, you find it difficult to complete books you've started. I have every intention of reading the book at some point during my day, but I just never seem to get around to it.

Instead of letting the book get brushed aside by events of your day, try reading first thing in the morning. It doesn't need to be much—perhaps only a few pages. But those pages add up very quickly and soon enough, you'll complete the book and can move on to a new one.

This is how I read The 4-Hour Work Week and I completed it within two weeks.

Monday, April 20, 2009

6 Vids You Need To Watch

Triple Extension Using Resistance Band

No access to a Jammer? Atlas stones too heavy? Snatch technique driving you crazy? Grab a Jump Stretch band and get your triple extension training done in no time.

One-Arm Atlas Stones

I recommend working on two-hand technique before moving on to this single-arm version. Whatever you do, always start light and be cautious of the high stresses lifting an atlas stone will place on your spine.

Bridging Tornado Ball For Advanced Core Training

The guys over at Diesel Crew continue to amaze me. May I one day be as influential in the world of strength and strongman as Smitty and Jedd are. The video was shot during their conditioning circuit and is a little foggy. Just bare with it.

MacGyver's Oil Drums

If you can't afford a heavy-duty power rack, acquiring two large drums (or kegs, for that matter) and get creative!

The Paleo Diet 101

No narration, but it does present a concise argument for the foundations of the Paleo Diet. And you've got to love "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" as background music!

Star Trek Meets Medicine

Perhaps one day we will be able to upgrade our organs to better, more efficient "models."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Tax Day!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Group Fitness Sucks

My boss suggested I start attending the group exercises classes offered at our facility as a way of meeting potential clients. This is a great idea for business, true. But the group fitness classes I have attended in the past focused only on muscular endurance or aerobic capacity and neglect completely muscular strength, speed and power.

When I speak of group classes, I am not referring to training sessions designed by a respectable coach as part of a progressive program, but to the sessions offered as part of a membership fee and usually led by an instructor screaming variations of, "Just two more!" into a microphone while loud techno music plays in the background.

These classes do get people to move about, yes, but do they produce results?

For me, the primary result was an acute increase in lactate and DOMS the next day.

And the long-term results…?

These studies suggest that any form of exercise is better than no exercise at all, but I couldn't find any research on the effects of supervised group training on healthy adult populations.

My gut instinct is that there are more efficient and effective methods to train for muscular endurance and aerobic capacity.

Kettlebells for example. Or sprint training.

And what of my professional image! When I train, I train fast and heavy. Do I really want to be associated with the light weights and high reps found in our group fitness class? Are those the clients I want to work with?

I'm slowly discovering that my body is not designed well for endurance activities and that it responds best to fast, heavy loading parameters. This type of loading, and my current methodology as a trainer, does not lend itself well to the format of a group fitness class. For now, I will stay clear of most of the classes we offer.


Reader Poll: How do you incorporate group fitness into your training program?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Movie Review: Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Steroids, as we use the term, are a class of synthetic drugs designed to mimic various hormones found floating around our bodies naturally. Anabolic steroids (the type of steroid we're most interested in here) mimic testosterone and help increase muscle mass and shorten recovery time. For a bodybuilder, strength enthusiast or performance junkie, the effects of taking steroids makes their use highly desirable.

Steroids are also illegal and perhaps immoral.

Christopher Bell's documentary, Bigger, Stronger, Faster, opens with him speaking of his childhood heroes—Hulk Kogan, Rambo, Conan the Barbarian—and then tells of his shock and disappointment to discover that they all achieved their physiques through the use of steroids.

Heroes, Chris says, would never use drugs; only evil villains would cheat like that.

But if everyone is using steroids to gain a competitive edge, is it really cheating? And, more importantly, why are steroids considered cheating when hypobaric chambers, creatine and other supplements considered okay to use?

The film takes a very balanced approach at tackling those questions and I commend Chris Bell for not allowing his personal beliefs to get in the way of the investigation, letting the film glide seamlessly from each pro and con to the next.

The film makes it clear that "performance enhancement" is sought by everyone in every profession. Did you know (for example) that some musicians take β-blockers to stay calm during a performance? Or that many students self-medicate with Adderall to keep up with their school work?

Why are steroids different than Adderall or β-blockers? All three offer the user the upper hand, so why is one more immoral than another? The viewer is left at the end of the film just as ambiguous about steroid use as Chris is, with the only real conclusion being that American culture has created a society where being the best—being #1—is what's most important. And to be the best, we must sacrifice the moral high road.

My knowledge and experience leads me to believe that anabolic steroids are a reliable method of increasing muscle mass and over-all athletic performance. That said, I am also not ready to risk the social and physical side effects of taking those powerful drugs. Like any other sensitive topic, I invite you to draw your own opinion.

Thank you, Chris Bell, for this concise look into the physical, moral and cultural impact steroid use has had on our country. If you are looking for a better understanding of the true effects steroid use has on friends, family and success, I highly recommend you watch this movie.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April First!