Years of research show consuming 250-1,000 mg of high-quality polyunsaturated Omega-3's per day can improve all sorts of issues, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, asthma, hay fever, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, chronic fatigue, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Most importantly, Omega-3's reduce inflammation and pain from physical training, boost brain power and metabolism, reduce stress, lubricate joints, and lower body fat using doses as high as 6,000 mg...
Read the full review at Renaissance Fitness Inc..
MuscleTech Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite is potent!
This is some professional-grade stuff here, even by my standards, and I consume a lot of stimulants!
MuscleTech's combination of ingredients suppresses appetite, boosts focus, and increases energy.
This stuff works incredibly well. So the question becomes, does it burn fat?
While on the pills for two weeks I always had a warm, fuzzy feeling in my body, like I was floating on a cloud. The sensation was manageable, and I can only hope it was the pills doing their job.
Here are my very unscientific before and after photos. What do you think?
You have to be careful with this stuff. These are some serious drugs. The combination of caffeine, coleus extract, green coffee extract, L-theanine, cocoa extract, and yohimbe made my teeth chatter if I wasn't careful.
I recommend starting with one pill in the morning instead of your usual coffee. Don't take this stuff if you're already jacked on caffeine because that's a recipe for disaster and you will overdose on stimulants.
The question that is always asked is, "How do I fix this? I haven't lifted in weeks because of the horrible pain!"
This is where Jedd Johnson's E-book "Fixing Elbow Pain" comes into play. Jedd focuses on various ways to reduce or even eliminate this pain to get any individual back to the activities they love in no time flat!
This category covers a vast area for sure; pre-hab, preparation/ activation, and recovery methods are just a few areas covered by Jedd throughout his E-book. This is an important area because an emphasis on proper movement patterns corrects compensations that could be leading to the problem causing the pain (Jedd also addresses "antagonistic balance").
From Jedd's selection, some of my personal favorites for pre-hab include rubber band finger extensions, rice sand digs/ finger extensions, and the leverage bar rotations. The first exercise, rubber band finger extensions, requires the least amount of weights or equipment; this exercise can be completed in the office, at home, or simply on the go with a thick rubber band or a few smaller rubber bands. The second exercise, rice and sand digs/ finger extensions, can be completed with just a bucket and a bag of rice/ sand. The final exercise requires a bar a bit longer than 12" and a light weight plate with a standard circumference. I would tell everyone how to complete the exercises but that would spoil all the fun... ;)
A huge problem with the way our society takes on fitness is the lack of knowledge that goes around the community as far as tissue integrity and activation is concerned. This to me is the most important factor when it comes to all things exercise; without a good warm up and activation of the muscle tissue, the body cannot mechanically perform properly!
Jedd covers this topic extensively throughout his E-book. Some of the best exercises in this section include foam rolling the problem areas, SMR with a lacrosse ball, and the rolling pin SMR option. The first exercise calls for the use of a foam roller which can be picked up online through fitness type websites. The second exercise utilizes the simple lacrosse ball, putting the ball on areas that are painful, and waiting for the pain/ tightness to go away; this is a great way to take care of problems when at work or even sitting at the dining room table taking care of the bills! The third exercise takes advantage of the rolling pin; take the roller right out of the kitchen... just make sure to clean off all of the cookie dough.
Today we have a brief follow-up review of Arginine's baby brother, L-Citrulline.
Like I stated last month, Arginine is an amino acid, and acts as a vasodilator. It stimulates nitric oxide and creatine production, which means lifting more weight, moving faster, and recovering quicker after each workout. The recommended dose for arginine is 5-10 grams pre-workout.
Potent stuff. I highly recommend it!
Citrulline works in a similar way, and is the precursor to Arginine in the Citrulline-Arginine-Ornithine Cycle. It is found in high quantities in watermelon, watermelon rind, and some other citrus fruits, and is much easier to digest and absorb than Arginine. Therefore, it is more bioavailable.
At dosages of 6-8 g/day, Citrulline has been shown to improve aerobic and anaerobic performance by way of ammonia detoxification and nitric oxide synthesis.
And who doesn't want a boost in performance?!
GLUTAMINE IS YOUR FRIEND
Glutamine is an amino acid. It's mostly found in meats and eggs, and is vital for proper cellular function and repair. It becomes especially valuable to your muscle cells during times of crisis, like after a major injury or, more importantly for us, a very intense workout.
Glutamine is a rather boring supplement, to be honest. There are no amazing jolts of energy or feats of super-human strength. It works quietly in the background, keeping your body happy and healthy.
The NOW brand of glutamine is even more subtle because I had no side effects or ill reactions while taking it, so there was nothing to notice. This is a good thing. G.I. distress reduces performance in the gym, and that's the last thing we want from our supplements. Props to NOW FOODS for making such a high-quality product. I highly recommend it!
My only issue is the serving size.
The recommended dosage for free-form glutamine is roughly 100 mg per kg of bodyweight. This means I need to ingest about 9 grams of glutamine before I see any useful effects. Based on the serving size of one pill, I would have to take 18 pills after every workout.
I don't know about you, but 18 pills is a lot. For my money, I'd rather buy a bucket of L-glutamine powder (at 5 grams per serving) and just throw two scoops in my post-workout shake.
I expect my pills to work has hard as I do, especially if the label has the word "xtreme" on it. I want to feel like a greek god every time I pop those suckers, and they should make people around me cower in fear and reverence at the shear awesomeness of my workouts.
Unfortunately, I did not experience the shock and awe I was hoping for while using Vasopro. In fact, the results were far too ordinary for me to consider this my preferred pre-workout stimulant.
Vasopro is basically a caffeine pill with the addition of acacia rigidula, a shrub that acts like adrenaline and helps burn small amounts of body fat.
The problem with caffeine (any source of caffeine, mind you) is that the more you use it, the less it works. Use caffeine long enough, and you'll need to ingest higher and higher dosages to feel an effect. If the dose gets too high, sleep, blood pressure, heart rate, and a whole slew of other biorhythms are thrown out of whack. Not good.
Each Vasopro pill contains 250mg of caffeine, about the same amount as a medium cup of coffee from Starbucks.
I was taking two pills on a regular basis and, while I felt fantastic the first few days, the feeling was greatly diminished by the end of the first week of use. I tried taking three pills, but became jittery during the workout, so I reduced the dose and was disapointed by the lack of umph only two pills provided.
I am big fan of whey protein, I think its one of the best supplements you can buy and Isopure is one of the top brands in the field, so I was curious if the actual product would hold up to my expectations.
Lets look at the nutritional information first.
Amount per Serving (2 scoops).
1 g Fat, 50 g Protein, 3 g Carbohydrates. It has a complete amino acid profile ( as whey protein should have) and comes with a high amount of BCAAs (about 20%). It has zero lactose, which makes it very gut friendly and is fortified with nutrients and vitamins. Nothing to dislike here, it can even be used in a pre-contest diet.
"My god, I feel like I can take on the universe right now!"
I was standing in the middle of the gym, water bottle in hand, my shirt drenched in sweat. I had just finished an 80 minute-long upper body workout and was shaking uncontrollably from all the hard work.
If you had asked me then to join you for another workout, I would have said yes.
That's because right before my workout, I took a heaping scoopful of MuscleTech NeuroCore, and that is what made all the difference!
My friends over at eVitamins.com sent me a bottle of this magic powder to use and review; and let me tell you: this pre-workout stimulant is more than just a fancy cup of coffee! In fact, it takes coffee to a whole new level with the addition of beta-alanine to buffer lactic acid, L-citruline to increase nitric oxide, creatine to increase strength, and geranium extract to fire up your nervous system.
I give a quick review of this AWESOME DVD made by Jedd Johnson. If you're looking to take your gripper training to the next level or you're just beginning, this is the one and only DVD out there you need to CRUSH anything!
"Designed to improve your hand-eye coordination, reaction time, depth perception and first-step acceleration, the Nike SPARQ eyeReact Ball is a performance-enhancing super-tool that will benefit athletes of all sports." (Nike Store, n.d.)
The SPARQ eyeReact Ball is a tool used to help athletes improve their ability to detect an unpredictable stimulus due to the ball's unknown bounce pattern, and react to it in an organized and efficient movement pattern. This develops what we call "Human Information Processing". First the person is exposed to a stimulus, in this case the SPARQ eye React Ball, then the individual proceeds to Response Selection where translation occurs. The person chooses how to respond to the stimuli, in this case depending on where the ball bounces the person makes a choice to step in that direction, possibly with a specific foot leading, and reaching with a specific hand, while maintaining a low athletic posture. After the response selection has been identified the next step is Response Programming where the central nervous system organizes an appropriate response and begins the movement. The purpose of using this SPARQ eyeReact Ball is to successfully develop an appropriate, and time efficient; stimulus identification, response selection, and response programming. This is called Reaction Time.
The type of reaction time used while training with the SPARQ eyeReact Ball is called Choice Reaction Time. Choice Reaction Time is very receptive to improvements if practiced. This makes the use of this training tool effective in aiding athletes in their training. The use of this tool in the development of Human Information Processing as mentioned earlier supports Nike's claims of improving reaction time and first step acceleration.
However, Nike's claim to improve depth perception is not entirely valid. As stated in the journal article Training Perceptual Skill by Orienting Visual Attention (Hagemann, N., Strauss, B., & Cañal-Bruland, R., 2006). The benefits of training programs that claim to improve general abilities such as depth perception, visual acuity, and peripheral vision lack empirical confirmation and the benefits of such programs are doubtful. In fact in a comparison between novice and expert athletes it was found that there was little to no difference in those general skills listed above. The major contributing factor to experts performing better was in their ability to better anticipate and react to given stimuli (Hagemann, N et al., 2006). Hand-eye coordination and depth perception are not actually motor skills, but hand-eye coordination can improve from improved Human Information Processing (Aparo, L. ,n.d.).
Hand-eye coordination is a task that requires accurate judgement of timing based on what the person interprets from the visual stimulus and translates that to an appropriately timed response. For example: a football player reaching out to catch a football moving at a very fast velocity with proper placement of his hands to successfully catch the ball. Improving choice reaction time allows the player to see the football (stimulus identification), select when to reach out for the ball and how to place his hands (response selection) and have the central nervous system organize the information and begin the action (response programming). Hand-eye coordination first starts by the detection of the stimulus. As mentioned already visual acuity cannot be improved however, effective anticipation can drastically reduce the time it takes to process the stimulus and give the athlete more time to be accurate with hand-eye coordination. Spatial anticipation can be improved through practice and when used effectively makes a big difference in both hand-eye coordination and information processing. (Bredin, D. S., 2011)
Therefore it can be concluded that the Nike SPARQ eyeReact Ball can effectively improve Human Information Processing, which results in improved choice reaction time. Developing a fast choice reaction time directly supports Nike's claims to improving first step acceleration and hand-eye coordination based on a faster response to the stimulus. However, the claim to improve depth perception is not directly benefited through the use of this training tool.
Aparo, L. (n.d.). Influence of Sport Stacking on hand-eye. soeedstacks.com. Retrieved October 5, 2011, from http://www.speedstacks.com/groups/benefits/thesis_luca_aparo.pdf
Bredin, D. S. (Director) (2011, September 20). Information Processing Parts 1 & 2. Class Lecture. Lecture conducted from Dr. Shannon Bredin, Vancouver
Bredin, D. S. (Director) (2011, September 29).Information Processing Expert vs Novice. Class Lecture. Lecture conducted from Dr. Shannon Bredin, Vancouver
Hagemann, N., Strauss, B., & Cañal-Bruland, R. (2006). Training Perceptual Skill by Orienting Visual Attention. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 28, 143-158.
NikeStore. (n.d.). NikeStore. Shop the Official Nike Store for Shoes, Clothing & Gear. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from http://store.nike.com/us/en_us/?l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pid-304449/pgid-304449#l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pid-304449/pgid-304449
I eased into them by first running 3 miles the first day in them. Felt a little stiff, but not to bad. Then as the days continued I ran further with 5, 7, 10 miles on them I began to feel them break in nicely after about 2 weeks of running in them. I then picked up the amount of miles I ran in them to 30 and 40 miles a week. I mostly ran on hard ball roads (concrete) but did manage to venture off the beaten path and run some trails in them. My first thought was the amount of cushioning may cause me to roll an ankle on the uneven terrain, but things went just fine and felt great!
The science behind the shoe is that it is for the neutral gait runner and is able to go high mileage without losing support. The Enigmas have a full length Parallel Wave Plate, AP+ and a blown rubber forefoot. The upper part of the shoe wrapping around the foot and ankle area is soft and has breathable mesh to allow your feet to stay dry on those high mileage hot runs! With the flexible rubber and breathable mesh the shoe flexes and moves the way your foot moves. So you don't have to worry about the Wave Enigma causing you to run like you have bricks on your feet!
Now when I first read about the NSD Powerballs and their promises of everything from joint rehab to building powerful hands and wrist I was a little skeptical. I mean really? As a Professional Armwrestler I found it hard to believe that I was going to feel anything more then a little Sunday afternoon forearm pump, but like many non-mainstream sports athletes I'm game to give almost anything a try if it means sports improvement. So I bought a couple NSD Powerballs and here are my reviews.
I started out with the 250Hz Powerball with the speed counter. The 250Hz is a plastic lightweight gyro that is easy to start with the starter cord or thumb start (once I saw a "how to" video on YouTube). Happy to say the forearm pump was fast and my hands & wrists got a really good workout after just a couple sets. The speed meter (to measure your rpm) attached on top made the workout a lot of fun because I kept on trying to top my high RPM score (some addiction there lol). The 250 Hz is the kind of powerball you can use a lot and almost everyday as it gives you the perfect low impact workout. At $40 it's a bargain for the kind of workout you'll get again and again.
Next up is the 350Hz lightweight metal powerball, aka "The Raptor". The raptor shows up in a beautiful protective case, extra parts, and some fun goodies. The Raptor reminds me of the movie Jurassic Park when the old guy says "nothing but the best" because it's amazing. Gold plated, computer balanced so it runs smooth and is the fastest Gyro on the planet. (The world record is 20,090 rpms by Akis Kritsinelis). Even with my years of hand and wrist training just hitting 15k was a mega workout, burning up my forearms in minutes. At $190 the Raptor is a little pricey so it may not be your first NSD choice but after trying some of the other products you'll be putting the Raptor on your Christmas list.
If you're not quite sure how (or why) to get started, this is a fantastic primer. Covering everything from Al's philosophy of health & fitness to the mechanics of 'how to begin', Al Kavadlo's We're Working Out is highly recommended.
Let's dive in.
The first thing that struck me when I started reading this (and if you know Al, this won't come as a surprise) is how honest this information is. There's no trace of the soft-spoken, 'great results with almost no effort' language in here - he's simple, clear and direct in everything he says. Extremely refreshing.
Equally unusual - in a good way - is his philosophy of all aspects of health and fitness. To illustrate this, here's an example :
'Don't worry about tomorrow until tomorrow. Take each day as it comes and try to win every day. Keep your mind and your focus in the present and concentrate on what you're doing now. If you can manage to do this and not worry about the future, you'll be pleasantly surprised by what the future brings.'
(here he's talking about diet, but the same thinking applies to almost any aspect of looking after yourself)
The premise of the book is simple - Martin set out out on a world-wide trek to investigate and document the strength and conditioning practices of the most influential martial arts that are used in MMA. He travelled to the birthplaces of these martial arts and trained his ass off with their elite practitioners. Great idea, huh?
The fight-styles that Martin focuses on in the book are BJJ, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Boxing, Kickboxing, Judo, Sambo and Karate. It's easy to see the logic behind these choices - the first four are obvious--techniques from these disciplines make up the majority of the MMA technical syllabus. And the later four have been used successfully by a number of MMA champions.
With this book Martin set himself a number of goals ...
Now rather than go into a detailed account of the structure and content of Ultimate Warrior Workouts, I'll take a look at my four favorite features of the book - the Warrior Challenges, style-specific exercises, exercise variations and partner drills.
Each challenge 'favors' a particular martial art. Taken as a whole, the full set of Warrior Challenges provide a simple and effective way to pinpoint the 'gaps' in a MMA fighter's strength and conditioning. For example, I'm into Muay Thai, so it's no surprise that I scored very highly on one of the challenges geared towards muay thai conditioning (a speed kicking drill). However, when it came to a more BJJ-oriented challenge, I scored MUCH lower. No prizes for guessing what I'll be emphasizing in my training over the next few months, eh?
I actually think portraying strength and fitness benchmarks as 'Warrior Challenges' was a stroke of genius. A fighter is a highly competitive animal. By issuing a 'Warriors Challenge', Martin Rooney is basically waving a red flag at a bull. Challenges motivate fighters! So bringing measurable and graduated strength and fitness challenges into the gym is a great strategy to keep fighters motivated and hungry for training :)
Indeed, a key lesson we can learn from this book - and Martin's whole approach to training - is to be willing and open to learn from others. Fighters must be willing to learn from other fighters, other styles, and other training methods. Does that mean boxers should implement every exercise a kickboxer uses? Or a BJJ fighter should utilize every training tool a muay thai fighter uses? No. But we should be open to learn from others, and be prepared to adopt and adapt any relevant concepts, strategies, tools or exercises that can potentially enhance our own training.
Recently I was fortunate enough to be offered a KAOS Komfort Sports Bra to trial during my weight training and cardio sessions. I must admit that in the past, I have not been a big fan of sports bras. Ones I have previously worn have either felt thin and not offered enough support, or have squashed my breasts so much I have felt uncomfortable and unfeminine.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Kaos Sports Bra. Not only did it look good on, I still felt feminine wearing it. It offered great elasticity, strong straps, covered my breasts well and felt extremely comfortable. There was no irritation from seams and stitching and I didn't feel compelled to adjust the bra during my workouts. I also loved the fact that I was not self conscious about bending over and exposing 'the girls'. That was a bonus!
I think proper breast care during training is often overlooked. It is an important issue and I'm confident after trialling the Kaos Sports Bra, that you'll also be very happy and comfortable wearing it.
It is a quality product selling for an affordable price and well designed with athletic women in mind.
The book is really more about getting healthy than a book about working out. That said, if you are working to get leaner, stronger and healthier, and you haven't been pleased with your results then you should buy this book. Sisson's general principles will help you immensely.
The Primal Blueprint opens up with a wonderful introduction that is essentially a "primer". Sisson illustrates the main differences between "Conventional Wisdom" and his 10 laws of Primal life. Much of what passes as conventional thought is truly based on flawed science, protecting special interests, or both. A great example is that most of us think of grain as the "staff of life". On the other hand, Sisson quotes Jared Diamond, UCLA evolutionary biologist, as calling propagation of grain the "worst mistake in the history of the human race".
From here the book quickly moves into the 10 Laws of the Primal Blueprint. Nothing is all that earth shattering but combined, the mandates make up so much more than the parts. Representative of the laws "Use your brain" and "Avoid poisonous things". Combining the 10 together will, however, be earth shaking.
The book goes into significant detail on each of the 10 as it unfolds. Sections include nutritional philosophy and the science behind it. The primal laws of working out... (Hint: sometimes less is more). And finally some great information about altering your lifestyle so that it is congruent with your goals. I found the nutritional information to be the most useful and beneficial. The exercise section is the least complete.
Many folks have said that the book doesn't truly map out a plan of action. I think this is a benefit though, as so many so-called "diets" are so dogmatic that compliance is a virtual impossibility. For that reason, I'd agree that the title may be a bit misleading. In my mind, a "blueprint" leaves nothing to chance. It's a complete plan in other words. More accurately the Primal Blueprint is a supply list and you will fill in the blanks as to how you will utilize the supplies. I don't find that a shortcoming at all.
Review by GoodyGirl77
I was recently fortunate to get my hands on a copy of 'Functional Correction'; a manual written by Tim Hull, a man who has worked in the Health and Fitness Industry for over 15 years. He has specialised in Personal Training, Massage Therapy and also Physical Therapy. This hands-on experience, combined with his understanding and theoretical knowledge, has resulted in a manual which I believe is not only an important resource for beginner to advanced level trainees, but also an invaluable resource for Trainers and Coaches alike.
Sadly, in recent years, we have all become more sedentary, definitely at home and often in the workplace. This increasingly sedentary lifestyle has caused poor posture and movement patterns and has seen a gradual decline in strength and flexibility levels in individuals. This leads to a higher risk of injuries which negatively affect performance and quality of life. But it doesn't have to be this way!
If you want to prevent future injuries, recover faster from an ongoing injury, or simply improve your general function and performance, then you MUST read this manual! I've had a chronic history of both lower back and neck pain and I wish I'd known about these corrective techniques earlier! I have tried these exercises and I like them. They have been beneficial for me and I will continue to incorporate them into my daily routine.
I'll call the main body of this book the 'Muscle' of the Manual. It's meaty. By that, I mean it contains a great deal of volume and is strong in both explanations and instructions. This Manual explores in depth, some of the reasons why we are more prone to injury. It discusses a common cause of injury; muscle imbalances.
You'll learn about particular groups of muscles which tend to be excessively strong or weak. You'll learn about areas which are often overlooked, yet which are important to address. You'll also be supplied with the fantastic '7 Daily Essentials', exercises which hit the majority of problem areas and help promote a more mobile and healthy body. This section in particular, is one you do not want to miss!
Through comprehensive explanations and photographs, you'll also learn the difference between Mobility and Flexibility Exercises and when the right time is to use each one. And by reading this manual, you'll also learn ways to activate weak muscles, loosen tight muscles and eventually correct problem areas.
The Manual continues on to discuss the aspects and importance of Recovery. Nutrition, various stretching methods and Self Myofascial Release techniques are all covered. By utilising these specific exercises, techniques and new found knowledge, you can then eliminate or reduce pain and work towards building a healthier, more functional body!
The plan is to choose a few exercises to incorporate which are relevant to your current physical condition and abilities. As you become more proficient at these, you may choose to advance to some more difficult exercises.
You don't need to go out and spend lots of money to do these exercises. In fact, for most of the exercises, you don't need anything but yourself and some dedication. If you fancy some exercises which require equipment, they're not complicated pieces of equipment, they're all simple accessories and are easy to find or order.
The mobility and flexibility aspect of training is often neglected. Put your new found knowledge into practice! Incorporate these exercises every day and find time for them in your training program and you might just be surprised at the positive impact they'll have on your strength and your overall performance.
This manual is best used in conjunction with the Author's featured YouTube Channels, which offer Exercise demonstrations. The reader will also be provided with a free initial email consultation to help set-up an individualised program and answer any questions they may have about the Manual.
We all want to feel relaxed, move more freely, improve our performance and avoid injuries. If you think you're at your peak without reading this manual, it may be time to think again!
This is an invaluable resource and is certainly worth a read.
But most commercial gyms look down on chalk and have rules against its use on the training floor. The dust, they say, is too messy and gets everywhere, destroying the knurling on the equipment.
Management wants to keep their facility clean, and I can respect that. But what do we do then if we're not allowed to use chalk? The solution, it turns out, can be found in a simple product rock climbers have know about for years.
Comprising no fewer than three content-packed DVDs, Logan Christopher shares a wealth of exercises, variations and training methods in The Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling. It really is essential viewing for anyone looking to get into this amazing activity.
On the first DVD, Logan explains - and demonstrates - nearly 50 Kettlebell Juggling techniques. These are arranged in order of difficulty, providing a clear progression through the list. And if you're comfortable with basic kettlebell techniques (such as the swing, clean and snatch), you can just dive right in. Superb.
The second DVD takes a look at the various ways to train Kettlebell Juggling. Whether you choose to perfect the basic moves with heavier and heavier bells, or tackle the advanced exercises using a more modest weight; there are a number of ways to perform your Kettlebell Juggling. Everything from timed sets to the many forms of circuit training.
Also on the second DVD is a great look at the many ways to juggle two kettlebells at once. As with the single 'bell forms, there are a number of specific exercises which are clearly explained and demonstrated. Logan also notes the differences (besides the obvious) between juggling one and two kettlebells.
Finally, the third DVD contains interviews with a couple of guys who are no slouches themselves when it comes to kettlebell work : John Brookfield and Dave Whitley. It's fantastic to hear their insights into this incredible training style.
Overall, I highly recommend this collection. If you're looking for a great way to combine your grip sessions and strength conditioning work with a touch of showmanship, you can't go past The Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling. Brilliant.
This is a fantastic book. If you've ever considered learning this incredible strength feat, the Card Tearing eBook is the perfect place to start. Love it.
Before taking a closer look at the eBook, a quick word on my own training. Although I've been lifting heavy stuff for years, I didn't begin doing dedicated grip work until 2007. Since then I've hit a wealth of PRs, and grip work has been a firm favourite.
Despite this, I haven't devoted any serious time to tearing; primarily as I didn't know how, or where to begin. Jedd has bridged that gap brilliantly, and my own card tearing has improved in leaps and bounds in just a few weeks. I have every confidence that full decks won't be all that far away - a great feeling.
Now, back to the book itself. There are 5 key sections which get you tearing within hours :
As with any aspect of gaining strength, there are several ways to do it. Jedd examines a number of techniques for tearing cards, covering everything from the initial hand positions to the movement of the tear. Several common and challenging techniques are clearly described, illustrated and demonstrated.
The book also outlines the various factors that will determine your preferred technique, including everything from hand size to the strength of your own wrists in a particular direction.
Once the basic techniques are covered, Jedd explains the many ways of making the exercise easier or more challenging. These methods will enable you to bridge the gap between one type of deck and the next (and yes, there's a big difference). They will also allow for progressions within your own training; more on that in a minute.
On the other hand, if your first torn deck is still in the future (very few people can tear a deck on their first attempt), these adjustments will bring that goal one step closer. In the meantime, of course, there are many variations on the 'partial deck' theme.
This section of the book alone is well worth the investment. Jedd outlines a number of exercises that will not only radically improve your card-tearing; they will aid you in a number of areas of hand and forearm strength.
Fortunately, all of these make use of training tools probably already found in your garage or home gym. These include :
NB : the general idea is to choose a couple of these exercises (the ones most relevant to your own needs), in addition to your regular routines. A tiny bit of grip work can go a long, long way.
If you think 'all decks are pretty much the same', you're not alone. However, there are actually several differences between one brand and the next. These range from the materials the cards are made from, to how slippery the surface is. These small variations add up.
In reality, there's a natural progression from brand to brand. Working through this progression will make your life much, much easier.
After you've been tearing for a while, one of the best ways to improve your technique is to watch a master in action. Jedd lists some of the world's greatest card-tearers, and the best place to watch videos of them in action. Superb.
I love this book. Not only does it go into great detail on the many aspects of technique and training, it's an incredible resource. As with the Bending eBook, I refer to this one each time I look to refine a particular approach or test out a different style.
If you thought tearing up your junk mail was fun, wait until you read the Card Tearing eBook. Highly recommended.
When it comes to footwear for training, the Vibram FiveFingers are ideal. Not only are they flat (and the absence of a heel will have an immediate impact by itself), they encourage your feet to really engage themselves in the running, lifting and climbing.
It really is like a controlled barefoot training session.
Once your feet become used to them (and this could take hours, days or weeks depending on your current footwear), there are several long-term benefits. Improved posture, balance and so on. It really does get better and better.
This is one type of footwear that I'm entirely happy buying online. The sizing depends on the length of the foot (details here), and is flexible enough to cope with minor variations from person to person.
In Australia, they're available from :
NB : this is where I bought mine, and the service is superb. Overnight delivery; no problems at all.
Following years of shoulder abuse and injury (particularly whilst experimenting during training for the OAC), I was more than a little keen to try out The Rotater. And I have to say, it easily exceeded expectations.
Rather than relive my own shoulder-training trials however, here are a couple of thoughts from my father, who has been using The Rotater for a few days now. As you'll see, it really is an incredible piece of equipment.
When Scott asked me to test the Rotater my response was keen but somewhat apprehensive. Following years of bodily abuse in various sporting activities (several breaks, dislocations & tears) I am now, at age 67, suffering early stages of arthritis. One area of concern is my shoulders - not so much because of pain and stiffness but the limitations this places on my ability to exercise on a regular basis.
When I first used The Rotater for a few minutes my feelings were confused. How could such a simple device create the feeling of freedom I was now experiencing? Having now used The Rotater for several days I have come to the following conclusions :
The results of my test of the Rotater are surprising, amazing, & in my case stimulating.
Here's a brief look at The Rotater in action. As you can see, it's an incredibly simple device; yet you can feel a difference almost immediately. If years of squatting have robbed you of a bit of shoulder mobility, you'll be amazed at just how great this feels.
If you've ever experienced shoulder pain, you'll understand just how frustrating it can be. Apart from the pain itself, it's perhaps the fact that it prevents you from doing your normal exercise routine that's the biggest source of aggravation.
In my case - and in my dad's - The Rotater ended that frustration. An incredible feeling.
Dave Lemanczyk clearly demonstrates the extraordinary potential of this simple conditioning tool. With no more than an empty keg (or partially-filled if preferred - more on that in a minute), a small training area and a bit of determination there is a wealth of power available. It really is an incredible tool.
The Keg Conditioning package comprises both DVD and printed forms, to both demonstrate and explain the techniques as thoroughly as possible. Dave shares a number of exercises (and variations) covering everything from presses to carries; including some particularly creative forms of each. These alone make the DVD invaluable.
The techniques, however, include far more than a simple overview of the exercises (though that is certainly included). Dave carefully explains - and demonstrates - exactly how & why to lift a keg a particular way, where & how to grip the keg; and a number of similar details which can make a world of difference in this type of conditioning work.
I mentioned above that the option exists to use a partially-filled keg. Although all of the exercises are intensely challenging (especially in high volume work) with an empty keg, a simple way to increase the difficulty is to add water to the keg. Not full; a fairly small amount of water (much less than the weight implies, as it'll be sloshing around) makes a significant difference. Try it and you'll see what I mean.
In short, anyone that wants to become obscenely strong, have fantastic strength-endurance and be completely indomitable in their chosen sport or activity. It's an incredibly powerful tool.
More specifically, well, you. If you love outdoor training as much as I do (and particularly at this time of year), grab a copy of Keg Conditioning. Learn how to do it the right way, and you'll see some amazing changes take place.
As I said at the start, I love this package. If you're ready to get yourself some serious strength-endurance, grab a copy of Keg Conditioning. Superb.
"Now, did you really want to talk about the weather, or were you just making chitchat?"
I thought I wanted to learn about anatomy - I was just making chitchat.
Anyone who lifts weights or works out or ages will eventually get injured. It might be a small tweak in your neck or a fractured femur. Some day, something will happen that will set you back in your training. It may not even be your fault when it happens. Our bodies are vulnerable - getting hurt is sometimes the cost of being alive.
One way to prevent injuries or recover from them is to study some anatomy. You know how to do a dumbbell curl. But do you actually know what is happening in your body when you perform the curl? I mean, do you really know? Would Socrates examine you and say that you know or would he start questioning you your knowledge?
Frederic Delavier doesn't make chitchat in Strength Training Anatomy.
Back to that curl. In Strength Training Anatomy, Delavier demonstrates that the following muscles and mechanisms are involved in the curl...
Turns out that when I said "I want to learn some anatomy", I was making chitchat.
It might sound daunting, but here is the good news:
The Book is 99% Pictures! Hooray!
The stereotype is that picture books are for dummies and babies. Not so. I am not a master of visualizing complex medical terminologies on the fly and I don't feel bad about it.
Off the top of your head, maybe you can't think of just how to ensure that your clavicular head doesn't screw up your curls. I certainly can't. We don't have to.
SandBells are available in a range of sizes, from 2lb right up to 50lb. Although there are a number of ways to use them (see the video below), the smaller ones are ideal for my favourite use - grip work.
Before I get into the many ways of exploring grip training with the SandBells, this video will give you a good idea of exactly what they are :
The SandBells increase the grip component of a number of exercises, by providing a shifting weight and a slightly more challenging target to grip. As shown in the above video, these exercises can occasionally take the place of your regular dumbbell, kettlebell and medicine ball work.
In addition to that, there are also several ways to use them specifically as part of your grip training. Here are just a few ideas :
The program centres around a greatly underused exercise - jumping rope. If you've ever sampled the delights of skipping, you know just how challenging it can be.
Linebacker Fitness has been designed as a complete package, comprising all you need to begin straight away. This includes everything from a pair of instructional DVDs - demonstrating various jump rope techniques and training - to the rope itself.
In addition to the DVDs (which are comprehensive, and well worth a look) is a detailed manual; outlining several sample exercise plans for the coming weeks. These illustrate various ways to integrate the rope work with your existing resistance training routine.
With any kind of sandbag training, the bag's going to take a fair bit of abuse. You know it's not going to be put down gently after each rep, and that you don't particularly want to be left standing in a pool of sand.
The first thing that struck me is just how well-built these bags are. Not only are they nice and heavy when empty, the sand is kept well away from the outer lining (see the filling section below to see how) and there's almost no chance of spillage. In fact, there's a very good chance that you'll call it a day well before the bag does.
The general idea with loading the bag is to fill small, inner bags with sand/gravel and to place these in the main bag. These inner bags are tough, and well sealed using a pair of velcro tabs.
These filler bags are available in a range of sizes, making it simple to add weight to the main bag. Just throw in a 10, 20 or 50lb filler and get to work.
So I was watching a clip from Conan the Barbarian--you know, the montage scene where wimpy-boy Conan developed into buffed-man Conan by pushing a big-arse grinding-wheel around in circles for a few years (that's such a bad-ass scene!).
Anyways, I thought to myself, that'd be a pretty cool way to improve strength in my stand-up grappling (I'm into muay thai). I'd been thinking for a while that the best way to really develop the type of 'push' strength used in stand-up grappling was to do strength exercises, um, well--standing up.
After much searching, I eventually gave up on finding the same kind of training device Conan used--Bummer! But that was when I stumbled upon some sled training online (via Straight to the Bar, actually). And not only could I train the 'pushing' used in the standup grapple, but I could also work on the pulling and rotational strength I needed too--which was WAY better than what I could've achieved with the Conan set-up alone! And thus my love affair with sled dragging began.
Initially me and the dudes I train with started our 'sled' dragging with a tractor tyre and a thick rope and worked up from there. Now we're about to DIY our finest sled yet (courtesy of a snowboard cut in half and the tray of a wheelbarrow)--but that's a story best left for another day.
This week, a look at the IronWoody bands which have survived 3 years of regular strength-training abuse. Perfect.
This week, a look at the first of many strength-training videos in my collection - the 2003 edition of Westside's Dead Lift Secrets. Love it.
First up, a quick look at a book I've been regularly using (it's a great one to have on hand when you're in the gym) - the Diesel Crew's Bending eBook.
Now before you say 'that's far too light to do anything with', let me explain. There are actually a number of reasons you'd want a light kettlebell in your arsenal. What's more, this isn't replacing any of the other bells. It'll get used in different ways. For example :
When I pulled the 'bell out of the box, I immediately began to think of the many ways to use this as a grip tool. Essentially it's an iron ball with a handle; perfect for gripping (as you'd hold a tennis ball) and suspending weight from. A short section of chain or rope is quickly fed through the handle; attached to the weight of your choice. Love it.
NB : this particular 'bell is vinyl coated (looks great, challenging for grip work), so chalk doesn't help a great deal. Additionally, it's the perfect size for this sort of work (for me, that is).
As part of an outdoor session, try throwing or putting it across the yard. Once again, it's a great size for doing this; and at that weight it won't exactly destroy your lawn.
A kettlebell of this size is about as far from threatening as you can get (I'm sure I heard someone say 'oh, how cute' when I pulled it out of the box). Perfect for demonstrations.
If you've ever tried to get someone to try a kettlebell for the first time, you know what it's like. Show them a couple of simple exercises with a modest 'bell, and they're keen to have a go. Hand it to them, and suddenly it's far too heavy.
Instead, demonstrate with an incredibly light 'bell such as this. Hand it over, and watch their face light up as they realise they can actually do it. It's then much easier to move up to more reasonable weights.
When it comes to high-rep kettlebell work (for warm-ups, or light recovery sessions), there are only a few exercises I actually use. Two of my favourites (both suggested by Adam, incidentally - greatly appreciated) are the Halo and the continuous Turkish Get-up.
The Halo is a great way of loosening up the shoulders prior to a bench session. On a cold day (remember, it's Winter here), a light kettlebell is a perfect start.
The second exercise is a continuous version of the TGU. Rather than 2 or 3 reps with a fairly heavy 'bell, try a solid 5, 10 or 20min session with a light 'bell. Non-stop.
Bell has an ambitious vision behind this project, and he succeeds. While mainstream movies are generally simple and formulaic, with just one message to deliver, this film tackles a complex subject and reveals it to be more complex than you ever thought it was. It offers you the constructs to explore several messages that already exist, with the catch that you must consider them with respect to all of the other choices. This is not a simple anti-steroid rhetoric piece. There are darker, more graphic places he could have taken the film had that been his intention (incidentally, if that's what you're looking for, read Muscle by Samuel Fussell or Chemical Pink by Katie Arnoldi). While the director tells you he's tried steroids and is against them, and treats their use as unsavory, he respectfully tells the side of each of his subjects, from athletes who passionately endorse steroids as legitimate performance enhancers to medical patients who endorse them as necessary for survival, to varieties of anti-steroid vigilantes. He's giving you the tenets for intelligent discussion of the issue.
The lens he uses to examine the hubris of steroids is perfect - his family of three athletic brothers, and their wholesome, traditional parents. His parents represent the American mindset of success in the 1950s, right before steroids entered the stage. The mother is loving, innocent, and adorable, using cookie metaphors to teach life lessons to her dear sons. The father is a pragmatic 9-to-5'er who provides for his family and rolls out pearls of wisdom and insight, who is aware of his sons' flaws yet accepts them. Without their sons, it would be unthinkable that this mother and father would be connected to steroids at all. But the boys represent the American mindset of today, competing in environments where they are pushed to be above average - beyond natural, even - and to identify themselves by contrasting their parents' iconic identities. But they are forced to be tied intimately, even moreso through their filmmaker son forcing them to confront the issue through his three-year-long project.
Ready to give your bodyweight training a bit of a push? The new book (promo video above) from Bodyweight Culture looks great. And yes, it's free.
Recently I was invited to review Snapple's new range of Antioxidant Water (thanks Deana). I have to say, it's an interesting idea.
Snapple - currently a part of the gargantuan Cadbury-Schweppes group - announced a new range of flavoured waters late last year (press release); Snapple's Antioxidant Water. These are fruit-flavoured drinks, together with the almost obligatory dose of sugar, which sit comfortably alongside the various iced teas and fruit juices already available.
One of the changes I made in my own diet a number of years ago was to stop consuming carbonated drinks. In fact, aside from the occasional beer or glass of wine, my drinks are generally either water (right now, it's at a few litres per day - here's how to work out the 'optimal' amount), coffee (usually one 1 cup per day) or green tea (hot or iced - depending on the weather). Accordingly, I was intrigued to try out the Antioxidant Water.
First let me point out that there are seven flavours in the range, and - so far - I've only tried four of them (marked with *).
The flavours are :
Having said that, the drinks are a little sweet for my tastes. Similar to many flavoured teas - fine in small doses.
So many books merely offer instruction. Lift with your Head offers insight and reflection. If deep down you've always had the inkling that we should play and have fun in order to live well, this book will articulate why that's valid, even vital. If you hanker for recess in your adult life, if you are turned off by today's corporately-run gyms, if you want to feel better without all the drudgery of "three 12-rep sets" and 12-week programs, this book will oxygenate a flame in you that has been quietly flickering. Passage after passage, Chip's thinking certainly resonates with mine.
Given the high standards of his other packages however, it should be fantastic.
On October 27 2007, I attended the Big Seminar at Total Performance Sports in Everett, MA. Featured speakers Alwyn Cosgrove, CJ Murphy, Jim Wendler and Jason Ferruggia were joined by surprise guest Dave Tate. This was my second visit to TPS; I had attended a seminar there in June 2007* and enjoyed it enough to start budgeting for a return visit almost immediately.
Atheists don't go to spiritual retreats. When you go to a seminar like this one, you already know at least some of the information that will be presented. What you get is some new information, new ways to look at old information, connections you hadn't previously considered, and a boost to your motivation. Particularly if, like me, you no longer have a serious gym or training partners available to you where you live.
It was a cold and rainy day, perfect for spending the day indoors. TPS has added some beautiful lifting platforms since my last visit. There were chairs set up in the center of the room along with an easel and a brand new white-board. An unobtrusive video crew was filming. I found a good spot by the pillar and started scribbling. When I was done I had over 2000 words of notes. The following are my scribbles** from each presentation as well as my thoughts (in parentheses). If you don't want to read through 2000 words, here's the short version:
Dave Tate: "Program with your head; lift with your balls."
Alwyn Cosgrove: "Thank you for coming."
The long version:
Alwin Cosgrove: Assessment
- "Usual rules: I'll offend you; I pretty much don't give a fuck if I offend you."
- Assess constantly and give feedback on every set: "If you're not assessing you're just guessing".
- AC drew a bone on the whiteboard and indicated the joint space around it, showing where tension occurs when you do different things. For example, in fighting, applying an arm bar involves applying extension force to the elbow past the point that it extends.
- Any push needs to be balanced. If you are pushing 200lbs, pull 200lbs. If you can't do the same load, do an extra set.
- AC drew the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the white-board to illustrate the importance of posture. Posture allows you to observe the body in a zero resistance condition.
- Most clients aside from Date Tate will be looking for some sort of fat loss. That includes athletes. Athletic Performance in AZ estimates that 75% of the athletes that come to them need to lose fat.
- Most people have sedentary lifestyles: they sit all day, the hip flexors get short, glutes get weak, upper back gets weak, so most clients will need to work the posterior chain.
- "Most people are too weak too fat too tight".
- The body is like a 3D bicycle wheel, the spokes are the muscles, the rim is bone. You need three things to make a good wheel: material, mechanic and a plan.
- AC had a guy from the audience do a body weight squat. (Hey, pick me, I'm the fat woman, I'm the lucrative target market.) The guy had a bit of a forward lean. Then AC had him lie on his back and bring up his legs to the squat position. Lo and behold, the guy could do a perfect squat lying on the floor. So why can't he do the same thing standing up? Core weakness.
- "Anything that's not there at rest is an imbalance"
- There are two types of assessment: structural and performance.
- If you have a car you need to align the wheels before you go somewhere.
- Another demo: AC had a guy hold his arm out to the side, then pushed down on his arm, which the guy resisted. Then he had the guy stand with one leg on a board and repeated the exercise. It's suddenly very easy to push his arm down. The imbalance affects his ability to resist. "The body doesn't give a shit about deltoid hypertrophy; it wants to save the spine."
- You need to look at how your clients do simple things. How is their push up? Do they have to move their leg sideways when they step over a bench? How's their range of motion? At his facility they use Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screen.
- Stability and mobility: the joints alternate: ankle mobility, knee stability, hip mobility, lower back stability , upper back mobility, shoulder stability.
- The key areas are the hip and shoulder. Most shoulder injuries have a hip connection on the opposite side.
- Assessment will help you find out what someone needs. But in reality, everyone needs hard work.
- Why would you put a sedentary client on a treadmill and have her walk a mile? Walking a mile is 1500 reps. Who should be doing 1500 reps of anything? Design a body weight corrective exercise program instead.
- Assess the roadblocks that prevent your clients from reaching their goals. Doesn't matter how hard you push the gas pedal if you haven't released the parking brake; you need to release the brakes before you can start driving.
- Weight loss matters because losing weight reduces the pressure on your joints. A 10lb loss removes 40lbs of pressure on your joints.
CJ Murphy: Non Traditional Strength Training
- I think people expected that non-traditional methods of strength training meant tire flipping and sled dragging, but as Murph put it, "What pays the bills is not strongman training, it's Mr & Mrs Jones."
- Big muscles burn more calories than small muscles, so a big exercise, loaded appropriately, is more useful than a small exercise.
- Train movements, not exercises. Movements can be summarized as follows: Two types of presses, supine and overhead. Two types of pulling movements: pulldowns and rows. Hip flexion e.g. squat, step up, arched-back good mornings and extension e.g. back raises, pull-throughs, keystone deadlifts.
- Don't forget torso work - Murph hates saying "core". The most neglected type of torso work is rotation. There's also stability work: planks and holds.
- Shear and compression: compression=gravity, it's not necessarily bad. Shear is a twist or turn to the join. Sitting down and lifting weights maximizes shearing, so do your exercises standing up.
- Murph does not agree with behind the neck movements. There are better, safer alternatives.
- Most equipment is not designed by people who lift weights. (Wish I had a dollar for every time I thought this while in the gym.) Your clients should have fun and a sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment also makes for excellent marketing:
"Female clients tell everyone when they do the 1st chinup." -Alwyn Cosgrove
- Murph gave a number of different templates, then talked about rep selection. The key is maintaining perfect form. If an experienced person's form breaks down at 7-8 reps why would you give a beginner 3x10? Instead, do a lot of sets with just a few reps. Like a PL'er doing singles, work on their form, stop them on the 2nd or 3rd rep. 2-3 reps doesn't mean high weight and doesn't mean dynamic work.
- TPS uses a circuit training called PHA: Peripheral Heart Action (at first I thought he said peripheral hot action. It's all about the Boston accent). This consisting of an upper body exercise followed by a lower body exercise with no rest, using the most weight you can do with perfect form. It's intense, so it doesn't work for that long, 2-3 weeks at most.
Jim Wendler: Hard Work
- When the opening line is "You don't learn anything sitting at a fucking seminar," you know you're in for a fun session. The topic of this session was supposed to be "Hard Work", but it morphed into a JW Q&A because it's difficult to talk about something that is as natural to the presenters as breathing. (I see this in my students all the time: those students who have a strong work ethic have a hard time comprehending the folks around them that do not.)
- It doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it with good form. The top guys in the WPO all train differently. The strongest people in the world have three things in common, they squat bench and deadlift, they have the right attitude, and they train hard for a long period of time
- Kettlebell swings are just expensive pull-throughs.
- Sets and reps don't really matter. You spend too much time writing programs out.
- Doesn't matter how many days you train as long as you train consistently.
- DTI#1 (Dave Tate interjection #1): Information doesn't triple, it just gets regurgitated. George Hackenschmidt was doing hack squats in 1909. This shit has not changed. People need to squat press and pull.
- If you want to get from here to Chicago, just start driving, you'll get there. Most people are paralyzed by the amount of information they have.
Jim Wendler: "[When] I read something I can tell this guy's full of shit. You know why?"
Alwyn Cosgrove: "He doesn't have any traps?"
- Train like a bodybuilder. The most important thing is symmetry. Bodybuilders are still stronger than 99% of the people out there.
- You can't be quad dominant if you have no fucking quads. If your shit's not hanging over your knees...
- Responding to a question about training deconditioned kids for football: bodyweight squats, empty bar squats, sled dragging, wall sits, leg press. Teach them how to land when they step off a box. When Jim coached kids for football Day I was SQ, B, D, Day 2 was SQ, OHP and assistance. Train them to coach each other.
- "I don't care how old you are: you've got to be able to kick ass"
- DTI #2: "If you're trying to get in with a group of really strong guys, they don't need spotters, they don't need motivators, they don't need training partners, they need another pair of eyes."
- Training correlates with personality type. If you're mathematical & by-the-book you'll be fine with Sheiko.
- You need to train to failure sometimes because you need to know where failure is.
- DC stands for Dog Crap, as in the expression "DC training".
- This is not for the general population. This is for people who fucking care about getting stronger.
- One-legged squats are a good way to get kids to stretch without actually stretching.
- At this point I think both Dave Tate and Jim Wendler were starting to lose patience with the quality of questions they were getting:
Q: When's a beginner not a beginner?
A: When you stop asking questions like that.
Q: How do you know that you've made it?
A: When you've stopped going to seminars.
- 99% of people don't need to deload. The best thing to deload in volume, not in intensity.
- "Remember they brought you in because the last guy sucked." -Alwyn Cosgrove responding to a question about starting a new job.
- GPP for anyone except a strength athlete is weight training.
- Jim Wendler often discusses music on his training log, so I asked which five cds he'd buy with $100. He suggested the following: Dopesmoker by Sleep, Take as Needed for Pain by EHG, Our Problem by Iron Monkey, Master of Reality by Black Sabbath and Reign in Blood by Slayer.
This is the fourth part [see parts 1,2 and 3] of this month's collaboration with Run to Win's Blaine Moore on workout audio; looking at just a few of the options available for listening to music whilst working out.
Whether you're lifting weights, dragging a sled or simply going for a run; working out in silence just doesn't seem right. Here's a look at some of the gear that will help you avoid those peaceful times.
Sport or in-ear headphones
When you're moving around the last thing you want to think about is constantly readjusting your headphones. There are a few varieties of earbuds on the market that are designed for sports or workout use; snug fitting, water resistant and tough enough to take a bit of abuse.
I tend to use the earbuds that came with the iPod, but I've been gazing longly at the Sennheiser PMX 70s. Very nice.
A little over a year ago I tested out the a Rave headband mp3 player (the Rave19, a 256mb model). Since then there have been many improvements in sporting headphone technology (including the storage capacity, which almost seems laughable now) which have nearly rendered this obsolete. In my case, the Rave headband sits quietly in the corner whilst an iPod Shuffle gets all of the attention during workouts. Larger capacity, better sound. Case closed.
I am, however, interested to hear from anyone who's tried the later models of these headbands. The idea itself is fine.
I can remember the first time I saw someone out running whilst carrying a Walkman in one hand. My first thought was 'Why don't you put that thing in your pocket?', and as mp3 players took over the role I found myself asking the same question.
An armband fulfils that role nicely. Not only does it give you somewhere to put your mp3 player / mobile phone whilst out running / working out, it provides basic controls (or gives you easy access to the player's own) allowing you to switch between songs and adjust the volume. Very nice.
I'm yet to be convinced by this one. The underlying idea is good - moving the music source to a private, unobtrusive location - but it does have 'Nike marketing exercise' written all over it. Once the technology is used by a few other vendors I may be a little more enthusiastic.
As I mentioned above, I use an iPod Shuffle for my workout music. This isn't due to any great benefits of this particular player; I just happen to have one.
Its role is simple. A playlist of appropriate, aggressive music is copied onto it prior to working out (I don't leave it on there as its a bit of a shock to hear Motörhead in between two TWiT podcasts) and the player put into random mode.
If I'm doing exercises which have the bar at or below waist height (most rowing, shrugs, pulls etc), then I wear the Shuffle. The player itself hangs from its lanyard at about chest height (it's a 1st gen, so there's no clip).
If the bar is going to be above waist height, I plug the player into a stereo and fill the house with noise. Good fun.
Incidentally, if you haven't tried hooking your mp3 player up to a hi-fi, there really isn't much to it. Although there are a few dedicated connectors on the market, these are incredibly expensive (the first one I looked at was £80). All you need, however, is a cable which has two RCA plugs on one end (for the line-out on your amp) and a 3.5mm / 1/8" plug on the other (for the headphone jack of the mp3 player). That's it - you're now looking at only a few dollars.
Diesel Crew Bending eBook
Jedd 'Napalm' Johnson
First up is the question 'Why in the hell would I want to bend nails?'
The answer - as Jedd details in the book - is more than just 'it's great fun'. There are a lot of specific strength benefits that will certainly help other areas of your lifting. This is far more than just training your hands.
The book details all of the areas vital to anyone new to the sport of bending, as well as a great deal of information that should keep even seasoned professionals off the streets. Covered are :
The answers to these are guaranteed to make your next visit to the hardware store a whole lot more fun.
This book is an excellent resource for anyone new to weight training - regardless of their reasons for doing this training. It contains simple program outlines for beginner, intermediate and advanced lifters; and details each exercise showing techniques and benefits.
Columbu's credentials - even if you don't remember him in his bodybuilding heyday (and his career was certainly nothing to sneeze at) - are found in a line near the end of the book :
To me, the most important thing is to be as strong as you look.
As the book is filled with photos showing Columbu bending iron bars, lifting a car, pulling over 700lb, benching 475lb etc it is clear that he stands behind this statement.
The book also features a brief look into Columbu's thinking on nutrition (see something like The Bodybuilder's Nutrition Book for a more complete view), as well as various stories covering everything from old-time strongmen to contemporary arm-wrestling competitions. For those leaning toward bodybuilding, a few thoughts on posing are offered.
Overall it's a great read - and worth looking at for the numerous photos alone; as well as the beautifully simple advice from someone who has certainly 'walked the walk'.
If you've somehow managed to avoid the Total Gym infomercials featuring the well-known faces of Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley, the photo at left should give you an idea of the basic arrangement. It's essentially an inclined bench (with a sliding pad), and a cable at each side to lift/lower the user along the bench. A very simple setup.
The company was founded in 1974 by Tom Campanaro, Larry Westfall, and Dale Mc Murray - with the product changing little since then. As the height of the incline was soon changeable (with 6 heights available on the 1000 model I'm currently using), adjusting the resistance of various bodyweight exercises became a simple matter and the Total Gym products were taken up largely for rehab use. In that respect they're still ideal.
In the mid-90s the Total Gym was brought to a home-user market, with an advertising campaign featuring the Norris/Brinkley combination in 1996 and a website (totalgym.com) the same year. Several advertising campaigns later, the Total Gym range still boasts large numbers of both home and medical centre users.
I am still surprised at how effective the setup (at least on the 1000) feels; whilst I'm not expecting to build large slabs of muscle with it, I'm experiencing far more muscle soreness than following typical bodyweight workouts. All of the exercises I've tried so far (and there are far more than you might imagine - it's a very versatile setup) have been using the steepest incline, which averages out at around 44% of bodyweight. That may sound quite light, but keep in mind that everything on the Total Gym is a compound exercise, and there's more balance and control involved than in many bodyweight movements.
In addition to its common rehab uses, the Total Gym is also a good intermediate point for a few of the more difficult bodyweight+free-weight exercises; such as chin-ups and handstand push-ups. Neither of these are easy, but using 44% of bodyweight brings them a little closer to attainability.
Overall, think of the Total Gym as another tool that can be used. It certainly isn't better (or worse) than any other form of resistance exercise, but very good at what it does. The only point I'd make on the range available is that many of the optional extras seem quite pointless to me; such as the extra hooks, cables, pins and plates (yes, you can add weight plates to them - but if you really want to lift weights, why start with a Total Gym?). Grab one of the simpler models (usually the lower numbers - which are changing all the time). You'll be surprised.
With the jetlag associated with moving through a dozen timezones in less than two days comes a strong desire to do any sort of strength training available - even at odd times. As it'll be a few weeks before I again find myself with a rack at my disposal, I'm giving my dad's Total Gym 1000 a bit of a test.
If you haven't seen the Total Gym (usually on TV as an infomercial squeezed between various ab machines), it looks similar to an incline bench with a sliding pad, and cables + pulleys to move the pad up and down the guides. Although plates can be added via an optional accessory, the standard for most of the Total Gym machines is body weight.
This machine blends the cardio and strength training components, and seems like a great way of maintaining (or developing in my case) a good level of GPP. As the angle of the slide is adjustable, it's also an excellent way of building up to handstand pushups. Fun stuff.
Over the past few days I've been re-discovering just how good it is to have the right music playing in a workout. Naturally, music affects people in different ways, but I tend to remember the exact song I was listening to when I set a new PR or some other significant event. Playing the same track on a subsequent attempt is often enough to bring success.
Recently I was reminded of the Pandora site, which is a creation stemming from the Music Genome Project. This project (which is still going) set about compiling a massive musical database filled with detailed information on a wide variety of music. Over 400 pieces of information were recorded for each song.
Pandora uses this extensive database to create a surprisingly accurate 'if you like this, you'll probably like this' scenario. The more information (ie, bands you like) you give it, the better it gets. With each suggestion there is the option to indicate whether or not you like it; refining the output even further.
These suggestions are then streamed to you as a personalised radio station. This station can then be saved for future visits to the site. A brilliant way to identify appropriate music. The best part? It's free.
The RAVE19 256Mb MP3 Player Headband that is.
For the past few months my workouts have been silent affairs, save for the clanging of iron and the savage exhalation of breath. The original plan had been to purchase a large capacity device (probably an iPod of some sort) and a pair of speakers. However, the neighbours all seem like quiet types, and I'm not quite sure my musical tastes would agree with them.
Headphones it was then.
The Rave Headband seems like the perfect setup for weight training (at least if you're the only one who wants to hear the music). In one tidy setup there are a pair of over-ear phones, joined via a durable band which contains the mp3 player and a simple set of control buttons. The battery lasts for about 8 hours (easily long enough for a few workouts), and is recharged whenever the headband is connected to the computer (via USB).
The headband acts as any other USB storage device, and simply appears as a drive on your machine. I opted for the mid-range 256mb model; as this should give me enough room for a good selection of tracks for even the longest workout.
In terms of exercises, I was most worried about the possible impact (quite literally) of the bar when setting up for a squat. Fortunately this didn't present any problems at all (I tried several sets, both free and bottom-up varieties); and I honestly can't see a problem with any other exercise. The band is comfortable, sounds good and stays in place.
Yes, this book is a valuable resource for anyone who loves the iron - not just bodybuilders. Without being swayed by more recent debates such as the benefits of creatine, it's an excellent work on the fundamentals of good nutrition.
One chapter of the book came as a bit of a surprise - that on nutrition. After stating that Lee didn't spend time studying up on nutrition (largely leaving things to Linda), it covers a few commonsense principles that guided their diets. In fact, without going to great lengths, Lee's diet was quite healthy by current standards.
The surprise was the fact that between the making of Way of the Dragon (known as Return of the Dragon in the US) and Enter the Dragon there was a marked change in physical appearance (much lower bodyfat), and yet there was no change in his diet. The only changes were in the training routines during this time.
As for the book itself, it is a large, high quality volume replete with photos showing Lee training, acting or giving demonstrations. These alone are a great source of inspiration.
This review looks at the 2003 DVD edition of the Deadlift Secrets offering, which is an updated version of its early '90s predecessor. Whilst there has been a significant amount of change to some aspects of the Westside approach, the fundamentals remain constant and this DVD helps to show just how important those fundamental concepts are.
This DVD shows how a Deadlift workout is arranged at Westside, and is packed with demos of various lifts, showing how they are performed correctly. Louie Simmons also discusses the reasons for including each lift, and offers an insight in how to structure a workout suited to your own physical requirements.
Running a little less than an hour, the DVD comprises the following chapters :
Louie briefly outlines the Westside credentials when it comes to deadlifting, and makes it quite clear that the following techniques have been used to excellent effect for some time.
Using bands tied to a deadlift platform, keeping the lift to around the 40%-70% range, both conventional (Danny Blankenship) and sumo (Louie Simmons) styles are shown. The two lifters alternate using the same setup.
These are performed in a power rack with the bar just below the knee. Louie notes that any rack pull greater than 10% above a lifter's 1RM is pointless, as higher amounts will never be lifted in competition.
With the bar again in the power rack, bands are tied to the top of the rack and looped around the ends of the bar. The bands shown are used to take around 125lb off the bottom of the lift.
This section is a discussion of some of the many exercises that may be performed on an ME day. The exercises demonstrated are :
Bent-over good morning
GM using Safety Squat bar
Box squat using Safety Squat bar
GM using 14" camber bar
Box squat using 14" camber bar
Louie notes that the box squats are taken up to a max single, whereas the good mornings are worked up to a max triple.
This is a selection of exercises that may be used following the core exercises on either ME or DE day. The exercises demonstrated are :
Reverse hyper - using roller
Lat pulldowns (Louie notes that many varieties of bars are used for these)
GHR (glute-ham raise)
GHR with wide stance
Reverse hyper - using straps (Louie notes that long straps emphasise the hips, whilst short straps or a roller hit the lower back)
Zercher squats - using a strongman yoke
Leg curls - using reverse hyper machine
Straight leg sit-ups - using cheap GHR machine
Tread sled work - with straps tied to lower back
Seated calf raise - on seated calf raise machine
Virtual force swing
Land mine - using combat handle
45 degree back raise
Bent back raise - using Back Attack machine
Arched back raise - using Back Attack machine
Lat work pulls (T-bar rows) - using bar + handles
Lat work pulls (T-bar rows) with wide grip - using stand
Belt squats on platform (Louie notes that Lunge squats can also be done using the same setup)
Using bands around ankles
Using bands around knees
Using bands around knees - seated on box, to bring hips below knees
Band good morning
Band upright row
Band leg curl
Band leg curl to side
Louie notes that the Westside routines don't include standard gripper or wrist roller work, as neither of these are considered effective ways to develop the grip strength required for powerlifting. The wrist roller in particular will certainly build large forearms, whilst doing little for the grip.
The primary items used are :
Ironmind's Rolling Thunder
Hex dumbell holds
Various custom grippers to work the fingers in different ways
Additionally, the high volume of speed pulls performed also works grip strength.
Dead lift technique
This section is brief, as the DVD already shows several lifters with excellent deadlift technique in action. The main points mentioned are :
push the feet out
straighten knees, hips and back at the same time
Louie concludes by restating his mix+match policy when it comes to exercise selection. He also mentions the frequency of workouts, the use of the GHR machine for warming up, and the policy of thorough stretching after a workout.
NB : Each chapter includes a brief review.
This is an excellent DVD for anyone seeking greater information on the makeup of a Westside Squat/Deadlift workout (the same supplementary exercises are done for both), as well as anyone looking to see correct form for some of the more unusual movements - particularly those on Louie Simmons' custom creations.