Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 31 of 365: Pulling BIG!!!

Hey Guys!

Tonight, I want to give a shout out to Brannon Muska of CrossFit Texas.  He is the owner and head trainer of the gym and just a badass guy.  
It never fails...whenever I see Brannon, he always walks right up to me, asks how I'm doing and shakes my hand.  
You couldn't find a more humble, or nicer dude.

Well, this past weekend was no different.  The first day of the CrossFit Powerlifting Certification, Brannon walked right up to me, shook my hand and asked how everything was going.  This time there was an added bonus, though.  We got into a conversation about my Strictly Strength program, and my blog project, 365 Days of Strength.  During that conversation, Brannon called me the "regional strength expert"!!!  
Now, you have to understand, Brannon is a massive human-being 
(You'll see a video of him pulling a new deadlift PR of 565# here soon -  for now just take my word for it.)  For him to call me the "strength expert" was a huge compliment!!!  
It is something that I aspire to be, for sure, and I definitely feel like I am on my way!!!   
Nothing's getting in my way to the top!
Just like Brannon pulling a massive deadlift PR, I too, am setting new standards for myself - both as an athlete and as a professional.  
As I reach new benchmarks and standards, I will bring you all with me.
You have to keep pulling BIG if you want to move the world!  
Just think about that...As you do, watch Brannon take it to the next level!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 30 of 365: An Amazing Investment!!!

I am back in Austin, and I am FIRED UP!!! 
This past weekend was FREAKIN' AWESOME!  Ihave come away with a new insight into how to train OPTIMALLY....and the prospects are exciting, to say the least.
L-->R: Me, Laura Phelps, Shane Sweatt, Jeff McKinney, Conner Moore
 In my post yesterday, I mentioned that a lot of the information covered during Day 1 was actually a refresher for me.  Well, today had tons of new information that I soaked up like a sponge!  
I gotta say, I am stoked to begin implementing more of the Westside Barbell/Conjugate Method into my Strictly Strength Project and Strictly Strength Classes.  I have no doubt that my athletes, as well as myself and the CrossFit Central coaches that I train, will see some amazing progress during the next few weeks and months....and that's just the beginning!  
Ask anyone in my Strictly Strength Project/Class what they enjoy most, and I am willing to bet that their response would have something to do with the huge variety of training modes and tools we use.  
Well, it's the very same thing for the Conjugate Method.  They rotate through a crazy amount of exercises, all with tons of different variables that allow for consistent and massive gains while staying mentally and physically healthy and fresh!  
Pretty amazing stuff when you consider the amount weight they move and the intensity at which they work!

My point here is this:  This weekend definitely validated the type of training that I utilize for myself and my athletes.  On the other hand, it opened my eyes to where my programs are lacking.  All in all, this weekend was one of the best investments I could have made in to Strictly Strength, the Coaches' SWOD, and myself!!!

Thank you, Laura, Shane and especially, Louie Simmons for providing this opportunity!

All I can say is that you all better be ready for some SIC content coming your way!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 29 of 365: Day 1 Down

Day one of the CrossFit Powerlifting Certification is complete, and it was AWESOME!!!  I'll be honest, a lot of the stuff that was taught I already knew, but to receive validation was well worth the cert. price and travel expenses! I mean, we all like to be told that we are doing things right, right?  Well, this cert. is doing that for me, as well as providing me with new ideas and thoughts that I know will prove to be extremely valuable.

The perfect example of this is our "hands-on" session today.  We worked a light box squat with light band tension for 12 sets of 2 reps, moving as quickly as possible through all 24 reps.  As soon as that work was complete, we quickly started our deadlift lecture and demo, and before we knew it, we were going for new PRs!!!  
Now, I am very comfortable with the box squat, and found myself coaching the technique nearly as much as the cert.coaches(validation).  But the deadlift technique that they taught us was something completely foreign to me.  In fact, I had a hell of a time just getting into the start position of a conventional deadlift!!!  I quickly forced myself to forget everything I thought I knew about deadlift, and soon I was pulling a new PR of 465# with relative easy.  Mind you, this is a 10# PR where afterwards I felt crippled and wrecked.  The really badass part of all of this was that I was definitely not the only one pulling massive PRs!!!  People were setting PRs left, right, and center!  One guy actually increased his PR from 405(he said he had been stuck here for over a year) to 455!!!  It was freakin' awesome!!!
Trust me!  I am super stoked to share the footage I have with you all ASAP!!  I plan on posting my first cert. video tomorrow, so be sure to check back here for that!!!
Until then, hang in there, have a great Halloween weekend and be safe!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 28 of 365: More Schoolin'!!!

What's up, People?!!?

Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell
 I'm in San Antonio eagerly awaiting the first day of the CrossFit Powerlifting Certification(!!!), so I am going to make this one quick.
I'm super stoked to participate in this certification for several reasons.  But I gotta say, the main reason is to reinforce what I already know with what the experts know.  I love learning from the best and using what  makes sense to me.  I know that this weekend will be jam-packed with tons of awesome information and skill practice.  I will be filming as much of the cert. as I can, and I'll be sure to share it will you as soon as I can!  
Until then, here's what will be going down this weekend!!!  
Go ahead....You should be jealous!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 27 of 365: Try, Try Again

My job as a coach is simple.
(Remember, simple does NOT mean easy!)
I challenge people to be better than they think they are capable of. 
This is a never-ending quest, as no one in this world has ever met their full potential.  
In that sense, I am in the right business!  Hahaha.

The reason I am so passionate about what I do is that I get to watch people break through barriers - both physical and mental - on a daily basis.  I get to experience the thrill and excitement of smashing through old limitations with my athletes.

It creates momentum in my world so that I, too, can continue my quest for self-improvement.  And for that, I am extremely grateful for my athletes and the effort they bring, day in and day out.
You may be asking yourself, "Where is this guy going with all of this?"
Well, have no fear.  I am coming to the end of this rambling.

I want to share a video with you all of my client and friend, Dr. Sam Sneed of Next Level Chiropractic breaking through one of these said barriers.  
And trust me....this one is most definitely a physical AND mental task!
(BTW...You'll hear me doing my JOB when Sam questions himself.  Hahaha.)

Sam was not the only one to blow old PR's out of the water.  Sam's business partner, Dr. Dave Yancey also set a new record box jump along with fellow Strictly Strength'ers, Erik Ditmer(40" @ age 100, as he put it.) and Melissa Bustama who jumped on a 24" box for the very first time, and then continued to stack bumpers on top!!
Great job, crew!!!  
Thanks for relentless work ethic you all bring. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 26 of 365: Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk


What sets CrossFit Central apart from the vast majority of other gyms is the fact that we TALK the TALK and WALK the WALK.  We practice what we preach.  We live the code! 
More specifically, I run my program, Strictly Strength, in the very same fashion.  I do all of the same SWODs that I put my athletes through.  I will not ask them to do anything that I am not willing to do myself.  Plain and simple.  
I have a duty to LEAD FROM THE FRONT, as my mentor, Zach Even-Esh puts it.

I take great honor in doing so.  
Without the willingness to suffer with your troops, you will lose respect and your integrity.  
This just can not happen!!!

So, as a practice in application, Michael Winchester and I threw down a nasty SWOD at our usual 1pm coach's hour.  
This was NO JOKE, people!!!  
Take a quick look...

20 minute AMRAP
3 Wall Walks
10 Up-Downs
5 In and Outs
10 Grasshoppers

3 Rounds NFT
Yoke Carry OR Zercher Walk ----->
Handstand Walk <-----
Prowler Sprint <----->
Dual KB Front Rack Carry <----->

Check out the footage of this beast of a SWOD and let me know what y'all think!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 25 of 365: Take ANOTHER Walk

As are a few videos discussing the farmer's carry, as well as some variations that you can use to spice up your routine.  Check it out and let me know what you guys think by leaving your comments at the bottom of the post. 
GO HEAVY or GO HOME!  :  )

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 24 of 365: Take A Walk

Today, I am going to introduce you to one of the most simplistic, yet most effective ways to strong.  Chances are, you have in fact done this movement many, many times in the past, but you did not realize it's potential to build both mental and physical strength.  Can you guess what it is?

It's the Farmer's Carry! 

The farmer's carry is right up there with "Old School" lifts such as the deadlift, squat, and press.  In fact, just like the lifts previously mentioned, the farmer's carry was a necessity in everyday life and still is, albeit a bit more rare...sadly. 
Think about it, how did we get our suitcases from one place to another?  
Note: Before they had wheels and a fold-down bench seat for the weary(weak) traveler. 
We Farmer's Carried it!!!  
As kids, how did you manage to transport all of your fort-building material?  
You guessed it....
We FARMER'S CARRIED that shit!!!
So, now on to the important question:  Why is it that you don't see it implemented into training program very often?  

Answer:  I have no freakin' clue why some choose to ignore the obvious.  I have a theory that many of today's trainers tend to over-complicate things to make themselves feel like the all-knowing, superior trainer.  It's just a theory...
Point is, I will not let you miss out on such a potent exercise!

So, here's the deal....Tomorrow, I will be posting a video of how to actually perform the Farmer's Carry.  We will discuss some of the details that often get ignored, as well as show some different variations of the carry.  After reading/watching tomorrow's post, I want you to use the carry in some form or fashion for EVERY workout you have this week.  Simple, right?  When the week has come to a close, let me know how the carries helped you get warm and/or what effect it had on your workout.

Until then... 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 23 of 365: GETTIN' YOU JACKED!!!

This post has a very simple purpose: 
To get you JACKED UP for what ever you have going on this week!  
Whether you're a student and you've got a big exam....if you're an athlete with a major match up...a businessman or woman with a huge proposal to make...or simply "Average Joe" and just in need of a kick in the ass....
What ever IT is.  Whoever YOU are.  
Pursue that next BIG THING with relentless strength and hunger.  
It's all about YOU vs. YOU!
This video always gets me STOKED and ready to rock!  Let me know if it does that same for you!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 22 of 365: Finding Your Strength

Team Tryptophan
Today, after finishing with my Saturday morning Strictly Strength athletes, I met my Lean Turkey team, Team Trytophan, for our first team workout!  We met at the Austin High track where I was pleasantly surprised to find monkey bars, pullup bars, dip bars, tires, and various other odd objects!!!  
These are the makings of something SPICY!!!  :  )

My co-coach, Jess Estrada, got the group warmed up and then proceeded to put them through a bought of speed work...Just enough to get them ready to rock the SWOD I had in store for them!

This brings me to purpose of this post; I want you to have plenty of SWODs in mind if and when you may need them, say, when you don't have a gym to go to, or if you are in a hotel with a bunch of crappy equipment.
So, here is what we had them do:

3 Rounds with a partner:
  • Monkey Bar down OR 15 Partner Pullups(partner B simply assists the pullup by lifting partner A)
  • 50m Buddy Carry(fireman's carry or piggyback)
  • 6 Partner Tire Flips(both members lift at the same time)
  • 10 Mixed Pushups each(using various versions of the move't)
  • 5 Partner Jumps (partner A sits on the ground w/ legs extended and arms up and out from the sides, forming a "T".  Partner B jumps over R arm, then the legs, then the L arm.  That's 1 rep.)

Needless to say, this was a hell of a SWOD that everyone really enjoyed.  In fact, many of the team members completed their first monkey bar traverse in as long as 40 years!  Pretty freakin' impressive!
It just goes to show that you are completely capable of beginning a strength-training program at any time.  You just have to work hard and work smart.

Try this SWOD out for yourself and a friend and let me know how it goes!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 21 of 365: Do YOU Work This Hard?

Guys and Gals-
Check yourself before you wreck yourself!

I had a badass day of training, and wanted to share the workout that made my day with you all!  Dani is a freakin' BADASS!  She is an rock climber, and only takes on the most extreme stuff

So, today was a chance for me to program a SWOD specifically for her and her sport of climbing.  She was stoked about it and killed everything I threw at here, including 2-finger strict pullups!!!
You gotta check in with yourself every once in a while and ask, "Do I work that hard?" 
If the answer is NO, then you better step up your game!  Dani, and all of my other athletes, will make you look silly if you don't!  

Check out this BADASS CHICA kill this climber's SWOD!  
Be sure to leave your comments afterwards!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 20 of 365: Be Grateful.

Tonight's post is going to be short and sweet because I have come down with some nasty cold thing, and I need to slam some fish oil and get to bed. 
before I do, I want to quickly share a thought with you...

Why, if I am sick and feeling like crap, am I still concerned with blogging?

Why, when I can barely whisper, would I show up to coach my class, rather than find a sub?
These may seem like silly questions that most people would answer, "Because you're an idiot!"
Maybe so, BUT...
for those that live a life driven by STRENGTH(of all types), you know the answer.
It's the same reason you wake up every day with a mission to accomplish.  
It's the very same reason you bust your ass in the gym.  
It's the exact reason you work to be the best person you can be every day!
The answer???
Let me tell you something...You and I are among a very select group!!!  Not many people in this world get to do what they are truly passionate about.  Not many people get paid for something they would gladly do for free.  And even fewer people are grateful.  Period.

That is why I am here now writing this blog with a snotty nose, watery eyes, sore throat, and body aches.  
I freaking LOVE what I GET to do!!!  
I am simply sharing my passion with you.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 19 of 365: For the Traveling SWOD'er

Check it out!
  You WILL use this sometime down the road.  Be sure to leave a comment after watching.  
Just nothing about my girlfriend!!!  
I'll find you!  Hahaha. :  )

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 18 of 365: 1st Workout with Zach and Big Mike

I am back in the ATX, and have now had some time to upload some of the videos from this past weekend's Underground Strength Certification.  The video below is from the workout that Big Mike and I hit up with Zach Even-Esh, himself!

As I posted a few days ago, this was a complete honor for me. Programming a workout for my idol and mentor  was mind-blowing!!!  Not to mention, the workout rocked us all...Hahaha!  Check this out and drop a comment below.  

What did you think of the workout?  Do you find that "simple" is the way to go, or do you prefer complex, technical workouts?  Let me know!
Keep in mind, I want you guys to be a part of this community!  I can't service the community as well I'd like to if I don't know what you guys think of these posts, or want to know about in the future.  If you read your thoughts and opinions.  
They matter! 

Until tomorrow, 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 17 of 365: Invitation

Well, our trip to the Underground Strength Gym has come to an end.  I am sitting on the plane, flying back now and I’ll be honest with you, I had a lot of trouble coming up with a topic that I wanted to share with you all.  Not because of a lack of ideas, but rather due to the fact that I have so much excitement and ambition pumping through my veins that it’s been difficult to single down to just one topic!  Hahaha!  It’s a damn good problem to have!

If you haven’t noticed by now, this past weekend with Zach and all the Undergrounders has magnified my passion for what I do and who I do it for.  I do this shit because I live by a certain code…A code of STRENGTH and living a life amplified by that strength.  In doing so. building a STRONG COMMUNITY is a priority I have.  Both in the sense of physical strength, but more importantly, reinforcing the ties that bind a unique community of people that want to live the same way.

I will be completely honest, I don’t put up with a bunch of shit.  I don’t like whiners and excuses.  I can’t stand laziness and those that don’t know what WORK means.   Luckily, I am surrounded by people that bust their ass to improve in any and every way.  That is MY community, and I am responsible for expanding that community.  This blog project….the Strictly Strength Project….the Strictly Strength Classes….the work I do with Austin’s top firefighters…these are all ways that I have extended an exclusive invitation to join me and my family.  But. before you accept, you must be willing to WORK, LEARN and GROW, just like the Undergrounders from this past weekend.  Just like the amazing people in my programs and classes.  Just like the dedicated firefighters I have the honor to train. 

So, ask yourself… 
Am I ready and willing to work relentlessly to be a part of a family  that honors these things and each other? 
Am I ready to be part of something that challenges and pushes me to places that I’m not sure I can go, but dream of going and being?    

If you’re not…don’t waste your time - you will be cast out! 
If you are…join me and my community.  Let me know how I can be valuable to you and your goals and missions.  Comments, emails, tweets, phone calls, texts…I welcome them all and hope you accept my invitation! 

Day 16 of 365: A Trip To The Big Apple

Big Mike and I hangin' with SpongeBob
Hey Guys!
First, let me apologize for the late post.  It's now 3:05am(ridiculous), and I just got back from spending the day in New York City!  It was a fun-filled day, but definitly a busy one!!!   
That being said, I wanted to make sure I get a blog posted,even if it's super late, to stay on track.
Today started with a hotel workout that rocked - proving that you don't need a lot of equipment to get a kickass workout in while on the road.  
For anyone that needs one, try this out:

30-20-10(Total Reps)
Weighted Walking Lunges w/Dumbells(ex: 15R/15L)
Single-Arm DB Muscle Snatch(ex:15R/15L)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 15 of 365: PSYCHED!!!

 It never fails...

Whenever I spend time watching, listening, being around Zach Even-Esh, I get freakin' JACKED!  This guy is so passionate about what he does and helping people do what they love.  The vibe that Zach puts out is one that people either hate, or they absolute LOVE(more likely).  He's able to create a relationship with a viewer from a thousand miles away by being himself...being real!  It's straight up POWERFUL!!!

I think everybody can learn some valuable lessons from Zach:  
Lesson 1.
Whatever it is that you love, you gotta pursue that passion with unwavering commitment.  If you do so, you will always be happy, and most likely, you will be very successful.
Lesson 2.
You gotta be REAL.  If you change who you are at heart in order to make money
(fill in your own desire), it will never happen.  Plain and simple.  Now, that's not to say that you aren't constantly working to improve yourself; that's where true strength comes in to play....You have to be strong enough to realize where you are mediocre.  

I'm sure you can tell by now that Zach is a HUGE inspiration in my life.  I am constantly taking Zach's lessons and applying them to my life.  And I know that there are literally millions of people out there that feel the same.
For that, and for the impact this guy has made in the world....
Thank You!!! 

Now, I'm ready to get home and rock this new found fire.  
You guys better be ready to hang with me....
We are gonna blow it up!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 14 of 365: What a Honor!!!

Zach Even-Esh droppin' knowledge
Today has been FREAKIN' AWESOME!!!  
If you were following my live tweets, you got a small sneak peak into what we got to take part in.  Unfortunately, I am having a lot of trouble uploading videos to YouTube to post on my blog, so until I get back, all blogs will be written.  Sorry.
Anyway, today was a unbelievable experience for me!  We started out by going through some of the Underground Strength Gym's warmups.  Big Mike, Jen Cardella, and I were responsible for assisting Zach, and his athletes, all day, which is always a blast!   The certification participants knocked out some badass bodyweight movements, heavy KB farmer carrys, wall-walking and box jumps.  Then, while the participants took lunch, Big Mike, Zach and I decided to knock out a quite workout.  This was SO badass!!!  I got to workout with my idol and mentor, and to make it even more ridiculous...I programmed the workout and Zach was all about it!  (BTW...I do have footage of the workout, and I will post it ASAP.)  He kept giving me positive feedback throughout the day, which was a complete honor!  This may sound silly to some of you, but when you understand how much I look up to Zach, you'll get it!  The dude is a world-class coach and an even more amazing person!!!
Alright...enough BROmance.  Tomorrow is going to be another action-packed day, so make sure you find me on Twitter @Strict_Strength, and follow my live feed of the day's events!!!  

See y'all on the flip side!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 13 of 365: Dirty Jersey!

It is now 11:39pm in NJ, and I am rushing to get this post out!  It's been a crazy day with tons of flight delays, but I am super stoked to be here!  I had a video that I going to post, but my phone is acting a bit crazy, so this will have to do for now.
This is going to be a badass weekend, and I will be bringing you all the cool stuff I can as it happens.  You can follow me on twitter @Strict_Strength for live updates.

I hope you guys are as jacked up as I am for what is about to go down!?!
'Til tomorrow...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 10 of 365: Try This One On For Size!

Today's post is all about a SWOD that I'd like you to try.  You may need to sub some exercises and/or scale the loads depending on what you have available to you and/or your current fitness level, but in either case, it should prove challenging.

For now, ignore the warmup.  I will be posting some "How-To" vids on some of the movements I have listed in the warmup, but for now, I will trust that you know what works for you in order to get warm and prepped!
So once you are warm, go ahead and load your barbell for some moderate warm up sets, working your way to 80% of your 1RM.  Once there, you are ready to rock 'n' roll!  Here's how it's done...

You will perform 3 back squats, making sure that you are hitting full depth, as well as staying active in the bottom(knees out!!!).  After hitting your last squat in each of the 5 sets, you will stand at the "starting line", start the timer, sprint about 8ft and back, 16ft and back, 24ft and back, and finally, 32ft and back.  After that final sprint, immediately start your set of 20 max effort tuck jumps.  When the work is done, you will get your time for that effort/set and record it.  The goal here is to perform 5 sets of 3 perfect back squat reps, then follow each set of squats with a max effort through the sprint ladder and tuck jumps.  Strive to maintain your time, if not improve it!
Tomorrow, I will be posting a video of how to perform some of  the exercises in the warmup, as well as those in part B of the SWOD.  It's a quick, nasty finisher that is sure to have you busted up by the end!  
Look for that tomorrow.

3 rounds
20 total reps of a heavy DB floor press - alternating 
10 heavy right-arm DB Muscle Snatches
10 heavy left-arm DB Muscle Snatches

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 9 of 365: You Wanna Get Strong?

Here's the deal...We all know, or at least we should, that strength training is hard work.  If you are under any other impressions, you're not doing it right.  But, good news!  There is a way to make it just a little less hard!  Would you like to know what that is?
 By this I mean you must find out what is out there in regards to training methods, specific exercise benefits, nutrition information, etc.  There are literally thousands of sources out there that you and I can easily browse, take what we find compelling, and implement it into our training protocol. 
I'll be honest.  This is how I created my strength training program, Strictly Strength.  I gathered tons of information from the world of strength, took what I liked, and put it in to action in the form of Strictly Strength. Now, this is NOT to say that I am done with my homework.  Not anywhere close.  The fact is that you are never done with your homework...not if you are good at your job, and actually give a $h!t about the product you provide.
My point, by now, should be pretty obvious; If you are serious about your training, you have to do the work outside of the gym, too!
Here is one of the sources that use to read up on new information.
Let it be known, a lot of the stuff on this site is complete bull$h!t.  On the other hand, you can find some valuable tips, tricks, and info.  Let this article(it should sound similar to another strength program you may know about ; )) mark the beginning of your new mental mass gain program!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 8 of 365: Let It Be Known...

Red Black Gym is the ELITE strength and conditioning facility in Austin!  The work we do here is not for everyone.  In fact, it is only for the select few that truly commit themselves to achieving an elite level of fitness.  We will bust you doubt about it.  
You will come in mediocre....
You will leave with a mind and body of iron, forged by the work ethic of a champion.  
This is not a place for the masses. 
It is a place designed for one purpose:  
Red Black Gym is where Austin's elite firefighters train.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 7 of 365: More LogSWOD

Hey guys and gals!
Rather than hitting you with more info, I thought that today would be better suited for a cool video from our trip out to Benjammin Palmer's last weekend!  Be warned...this is not pretty!  Jeff and I decided that we would take on something a little bigger, and as you'll see, it turns into a battle of epic proportions.
Here is our 1-rep max tree lift!  Check it out!

Have a great weekend!  Be sure to go outside of your usual training routine to try something new and challenging!  I know I am...and I will share that with you soon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 6 of 365: Upping Your Deadlift IQ - Pt.2

Alright.  You now know how to set yourself up in a solid position to perform a deadlift, right?.  You should also know that you need to create peak tension in the "system" before you initiate the pull...right?  Good!
Now that that is all clear, we are going to detail the actual lift and what it goes on as we stand up with the barbell!
Yesterday, we started to hit on the fact that once the tension is created, the next step is the initiation of  the "leg press" response as we maintain our tight and rigid body line.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  Well, it is if you practice perfect pulls enough, and if you know what muscle groups are doing what and when, so let's talk about that...
Knowing the primary muscles involved in the deadlift is more important than you might think, so ask yourself, "Do I know the role of the hamstrings....quads....glutes?"  IF the answer is, "Yes", than you can stop reading right now.  But, if you aren't really on!

First, let's define the primary actions of the each of the muscles listed above.
  • Hamstrings: Flexion of the knee, and extension of the hip.
  • Quads: Knee Extension, partially responsible for hip flexion.
  • Glutes: Hip Extension
Hip Extension
Knee Flexion...Knee Extension

Now that we are clear, it should make this discussion a bit easier.
Getting back to the deadlift...the initial lift off the floor is caused by our hamstrings being strong enough to stabilize our pelvis so that the quads can do their jog; knee extension.  This is where the "leg press" idea comes in. IF the hamstrings don't do their job, the quads will still do theirs, causing the famous, "stripper-pole-deadlift".  NOT what we want!

So, now we know the hammies and quads have a very important roles to play in the early phase of the deadlift, but as we progress through the movement, the roles and responsibilities change.  Once the bar starts to move, and passes the approximate level of the knees, the quads are almost done doing anything other than maintaining the work that has been accomplished.  This is the case until the very end of the lift, where we now must straighten the legs to complete the lift.  The hamstring, on the other hand, now becomes more active in the sense that they are now teaming up with the glutes to execute hip extension!  This "power couple" basically allows us to stand tall with the weight, as long as our back(our entire back) is doing it's job of staying rigid and tight.

That's pretty much it.  Hahaha!  A lot more to the deadlift than you thought, huh?
That's you know, and now you can become even stronger through your deadlift know-how.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5 of 365: Upping Your Deadlift IQ!

Hopefully, by now you have read yesterday's post detailing the setup of the deadlift.  If not, I would highly recommend you do that before starting today's dive into deadlift.

In yesterday's post, there is a lot of good info on how to find the correct start position when deadlifting.  That is great, but that's only part of the story.  Once you find that perfect what do you do?  Just rip it off the floor? NOOOOOO!!!!  Please don't be THAT guy or girl...You'll make me look bad, as well as yourself, and most likely lose a disc or two in the process.

NO.  NO. NO.  Once you find that perfect setup, you must now create as much tension in the "system" as possible.  I use the word, "system" to describe the unit that is YOU + the BARBELL = SYSTEM.  Get it?  Here's a visual that I use with my athletes:
Suppose your buddy and you are out 4-wheeling after a rainstorm.  You both have your own trucks so it turns into a game of "match what I do".  You go first and make through a massive mud pit, but your buddy does not.  Now, you have to hook up a tow strap to pull him out.
Now, let's think here.  Do you think that if you start with slack in the strap and just floor your gas pedal that you'll pull him out?  Nope!  You have either snapped your tow strap, or ripped the front end/back end off of one of the trucks...Not effective! 

Tension in the system = successful pull
Let's take a different approach.  What would happen if you slowly drove forward, taking the slack out of the strap and creating TENSION?  I think we all know the answer to this would successfully pull your buddy truck out of the mud pit without damaging your tow strap or either one of the trucks!
Are you picking up what I'm putting down?  
  • Slack in the system = broken tow strap and/or broken trucks
  • Slack in the system = missed lift and/or broken discs
Pretty straight forward, right?

So, the next time you go to rip a bar off the floor to show how "strong" you are...DON'T!  Rather, create massive tension in the system(YOU + BARBELL = SYSTEM), then slowly initiate the lift by mainitaining your body position and drive your feet into the floor...much like the old days of leg press...just a different angle.

More on this coming your way soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


 The Deadlift is a seemingly straight-forward exercise.  But sometimes, we can underestimate the amount of focus it takes to perform a perfect rep, and we often forget how much work the body is actually doing for each successful repetition.  This is all compounded when the barbell is loaded for a PR attempt.  So it is extremely important that we understand the mechanics of a proper deadlift so that when we train at relatively lighter weights, we develop extraordinary form!

There are 3 very simple, but integral parts to the starting position of the deadlift, as pointed out by Mark Rippetoe:

1) The back must be locked in extension.
2) The bar must be touching the shins, with the feet lat on the floor.
3) The shoulders must be out in front of the bar so that the shoulder blades are directly above the bar.
These 3 checkpoints are easy enough to follow, but why is it so necessary that we follow this protocol?  
Let's take this one at a time...

These are all the muscles that create a rigid spine, plus some!
1) The back must be locked in extension.
Weightlifting is all about the translation of force when you simplify it.  A well-performed rep is basically the force you apply to a foundation - in this case, the floor - being efficiently translated to the object you're attempting to move - the barbell.  The mechanism by which this energy is translated and transferred to the barbell is a rigid, unified spine.  As we all know, the spine is a collection of many joints.  By design, these joints allow us to move in many different ranges of motion, which is very advantageous in the "day-to-day".  But, when we try to pick something up without locking our back in, energy is lost from one joint to the next, causing a failed rep and an increased risk of injury.  When the spine is pulled into a single, rigid unit, the energy we create is efficiently transferred from floor to bar, and the risk of injury is virtually zero!  Think of the spine(when locked in)as a highly conductive cable for force rather than electricity.  If the spine is not locked in, the energy transfer is broken and weak.  We should get by now, right?  Let's move on...

2) The bar must be touching the shins, with the feet flat on the floor.
This is another very simple, yet often neglected requirement for a solid deadlift.  I know the athletes in my classes probably get sick of me saying, "Make sure the bar is IN CONTACT with your shins!"  But here's the reasoning...
I want you to use your imagination for a second, and picture yourself standing tall and holding a 35# dumbell directly out in front of you with your arm fully extended parallel to the floor.  Got it?  Most of us could handle that, right?  Now, magically, a large fishing net with a 5ft. handle became available.  You have put that same 35# dumbell in the net, and have extended it out in the same fashion as before.  Do you think you could lift it?  Probably not.
This is the basis of the "bar in contact with the shins" rule.  Naturally, due to gravity, objects have more torque acting upon them when they are lifted using a longer lever-arm, which seemingly makes them feel heavier.  Keeping the barbell in contact with your body throughout the movement is yet another way that your application of force is efficiently translated to the object.

3) The shoulders must be out in front of the bar so that the shoulder blades are directly above the bar.

This one is not so easy to understand, but I will give it my best effort and then refer you to Mark Rippetoe's article in the CrossFit Journal for some supplemental reading.
Now that we understand that force is being conducted from the floor, through our legs and hips to our spine, we can go one step further.  The energy we've created is transferred from the spine to the scapulae(shoulder blades), to the arms, and finally to the bar.  So, the shoulder blades are like a translator bridging the gap from one language to another.  When the shoulder blades are actively pulled back and together, the trap muscles are now doing a lot of work stabilizing the shoulder position, as well as assisting other muscles in locking in the spine.  More importantly to note, is the fact that gravity is acting on the bar in a linear fashion - meaning gravity is pulling it straight down to the floor.  Now, to effectively counteract the force of gravity, we must position ourselves so that our force is being translated directly opposite that of gravity - straight above the bar.  Makes sense, right?

Just think.  This whole blog is all about the start of the deadlift!!!  Actually, if you set up properly you've pretty much got it made!  The only thing now is timing and proper muscle activation, all of which happens fairly naturally after the initial pull.  Just stand up and keep the bar tight to the body...

As you can now tell, there is a lot of biomechanics and physics that goes into having a solid understanding of weightlifting.  It is to your advantage, as an athlete, to have some understanding of why we do what we do.  This understanding will lead to increases in weight lifted, guaranteed!!!  Who knew reading could make you physically stronger?  
Go get it!!! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Off to a Great Start!

This past weekend, CrossFit Central's very own, Randal Setzler competed in his first powerlifting competition and brought home TWO 1st place trophies from the East TX Powerlifting Regionals!!! 
Randal pulling a new DL PR!

Coach Randal Setzler is renowned for his awesome feats of body-weight strength(gymnastics), as well as his kettlebell technique and coaching, but just recently, Randal started his journey to becoming "70's BIG".  This is a term that you will hear me use a lot, but basically, it means that you are going for the size and look of the "Golden Era" body-builders.

Since I have never competed in a powerlifting competition, but have a string interest in doing so....I figured that someone out there is probably in the same boat.  So, this interview with Randal is meant to inspire, motivate, and educate those out there that have not yet taken the first steps to competing.

  You can definitely expect more from Randal and I as we are already discussing a CrossFit Central Barbell Club!!!

More on that to later.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 2 of 365: FERAL FITNESS!!!

Benjamin, in all his glory!
Yesterday, a small group of us,(Me, Crystal Nelson, Aaron Arehart, and Jeff Vanlandingham) went outside the box to train....LITERALLY!  Friend and fellow Strictly Strength'er, Benjamin Palmer, invited us to join him for a Log SWOD as we were calling it.  After seeing a video of his first LogWOD, I was stoked to take him up on his offer....I had no idea what he had in store for us, or how fun it was going to be!

Before I let y'all get to the video...I want to make a point in saying that strength training does not, and should not, always take place in the gym.  If you are not changing your scene every once in a while, I garuntee that you will burn out and learn to hate strength training....and nobody wants that!  Get outside and do some crazy sh!t like this every couple of weeks.  Create new and entertaining ways to train, and I promise you will find yourself getting strong as hell and having fun doing it!  Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Alright.  Here it is....Enjoy! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Here It Goes....Day 1 of 365

My newest project, "365 Days of Strength", is a blog dedicated to bringing you the world of STRENGTH one blogpost at a time.  My goal with this is simple; learn as much as I can about strength training and the lifestyle that accompanies it...and while do so, I want to bring you along with me!  

Get ready to become stronger than you have ever been, both physically and mentally!  
We are going to do it together, one day at a time.  
Here we go!!!