Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kettlebells: Never Cease To Impress

A long time friend of mine dropped by late yesterday afternoon. He's a pilot for Southwest and was in town for 14 hours. He wanted to catch a workout and I had told him a couple of weeks ago about KBs.

So we dropped by my studio and I put the hurt on him in only 30 minutes.

He's naturally athletic so he picked up the swing after only watching me demonstrate it. He cleaned up his form after a few verbal cues from me.

We trained together: I'd instruct him and he'd perform an exercise, then I'd perform an exercise then we'd repeat the cycle.

He was amazed at how much the swings challenged the posterior chain and his cardiovascular fitness and also learned how to press from the lat. He was pretty cooked at the end of the session.

I always get a kick out of the awe expressed by KB newbies. Actually, I never tire of it. Once again, people who don't train with them can't possibly understand their benefits and how much fun they are to play with. It must truly be experienced to be believed.

My training was a circuit of presses, snatches, and pistols. Nothing fancy, just about 5 rounds of 3-5 reps, mixing in some drop sets, with the exception of the 48kg/1+1 for an easy press.

Finished with pull-ups with knees held parallel to the floor.

Stayed away from the platform today cause I only got 4 hours of sleep last night.

Friday, June 29, 2007

"Anything Can Cause Anything" one of the tenets of Z-Health.

Within the last couple of days I read on a forum that malfunctions in one joint are usually resultant as mobility/flexibility issues in the joint above.

Sometimes this is true, sometimes it isn't.

Here's the thing: The body is a very complex system and we as humans often feel the need to control our environments so we put things in boxes. We try to put the body in a box: "If this than this..." And while that's true sometimes, it may not be true all the time. The body is it's own universe and just like the universe in which we live, we don't currently know everything and are constantly and daily discovering new things about both.

Here's another Z-Health example which will vividly prove that point:

Client: Super-athletic female with high work capacity and less than 18% bodyfat (she has a well-defined six-pack) pulled/strained left quad playing tennis.

What would the "normal" protocols be?

Ice, stretching, massage, self-myofascial release, JM for the ankle and hip, etc.

What was the real problem?

She tore a callous on her right hand performing KB snatches and then went and played tennis afterward. Result? Limited mobility in her right hand and wrist leading to elbow, shoulder, and thoracic spine immobility.


It's not always as simple as "left quad pull: stretch L quad, mobilize L foot, L ankle, and L hip." How do I know? Because I tried that (with the exception of stretching). Although it provided some relief it didn't fix the problem.

Here's the thing about Z-Health: It's a complete system that focuses on making changes by directly targeting the CNS. The vehicle for change is joint mobility, first isolated (R-Phase) then integrated (I-Phase and beyond). Within that system is a rationale and explanation of how and why the body works and what cues and signals to look for from the body to help it decrease its pain and improve its performance. It's not a joint mobility program. It's a performance program. It's not a step-wise cookie-cutter program. It's a complete system that offers an explanation for the things we see as fitness professionals every day but aren't quite sure how to interpret those things. For most of us involved with the program, Z-Health confirms our intuition--the things we know we're seeing but either ignore because someone with more letters after his name (but less experience) tells us should work, but doesn't.

The Z-Health experience is like the movie, The Matrix. Once you're inside, the rest of the fitness world is like the Matrix itself to you and Dr. Cobb is like Morpheus--he'll show you how the body really works but won't promise you'll like it. (Sorry EC.) The info is yours to do with what you like. Z reveals the true physiological world and the mechanisms that make that world exist. The problem is, you can't see this until you actually step inside.

And as for me, one of my close friend says he'll believe that Z works if it allows me to load my body to a pre-Z levels and beyond--in other words, if I'm back to routinely squatting in the high 300s to mid 400s and snatching mid 200s and cleaning low to mid 300s. I've always really thought, OK, I'll show him. My response should have been, if what you're doing is so good, how come you're not further along in correcting your injuries? And how come the methods you are currently using, I've used on myself (and others in the past), but I still broke? (By the way, my MRI reveals true mechanical defects with my quad tendon and my patella--structural issues that only surgery will probably fix.) So far, I've squatted 396 with no problem, power snatched from "the hang" 242lbs, and power cleaned 308lbs and 286lbs from the hang. Those aren't great numbers for sure, but they're better than I could've done 18 months ago when ALL I could do were KBs.

Admittedly, the knowledge that "anything can cause anything" isn't exactly the answer we'd like because it doesn't fit in our box.

It is liberating though.

I no longer have to expect a certain result--I can just let the body tell me what's going on. This means nothing ever really "goes wrong," especially when evaluating a client or myself. I just have to have studied enough to interpret the answer and be willing to say, "I don't know, I need to study more" when I don't know the "answer."

Ultimately though, anything can still cause anything no matter how much I study. There's a certain comfort in knowing I'll never truly know...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Backwards Was Much Harder

Performed another complex today with the 24kg KB. Same exercises as Tuesday only I inverted the order so it looked like this:

Row x5
Contralateral Rack Position Stationary Lunge x5
Clean + Press x5+5
Snatch x5

6 rounds, 60s rest between rounds.

Interestingly, performing it this way took 75s instead of 60s like the other way. That's an extra 90s of work. (For a guy who likes to work for about 10s, that's nine times longer than I'd care to work.) Don't know what that's about--perhaps the transition between the row and the lunge, perhaps fatigue.

Carb loading this evening. It's been awhile. Need to get back to this in order to put some muscle back on.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Confessions of a Volume Junky

I've realized over the years that I like to train, to work out. Most of the time it's goal oriented--platform related, but sometimes, I just need to blow off some steam.

After evaluating last week, I realized that although I like the heavy slow stuff with lots of rest, I really need to counter the barbell lifting with the unilateral KB work. I also need to keep my platform "wind" which KBs allow me to do very well. And I also need to get back to 220lbs, then 225, then 23o...So I decided to go with the best of all worlds: KB Complexes.

These are great because I can put up a substantial workload in a short period of time, tax my cardiovascular system, put on muscle, perform my unilateral work, and work my weak points all simultaneously. So I'm going to spend a number of weeks performing them on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Here was yesterday's:

With the 24kg

Snatch x5
Clean + Press x5+5
Contralateral Rack Stationary Lunge x5
Row, in lunge position x5

This took me approximately 60s. I performed a complex on with my right hand, rested 60s, and then performed one with my left hand. I performed six rounds of complexes.

The 24kg was light enough for me to focus on technique--perfect reps--while allowing me to push the volume. I was sweating profusely by the time I was done and my HR was up significantly. There didn't seem to be enough food to eat for the rest of the day. I've eaten more today and been chronically hungry all day. This is a good sign.

I like complexes because I "feel" like I've done a lot of work, even when I haven't. They're good for the psyche and sometimes, that's all you need. Sometimes.

Yesterday's total load:

25 reps per complex * 6 rounds * 2 arms = 300 reps

300 reps * 24kg = 7200kg or 15,840lbs. In less than 30 minutes. Not bad. Will be better.

Today's training was very easy--some soreness at first in the knees, but disappated quickly into the training session.

A. Back Squat: 110kg/2 x10 sets; 60s-ish rest
Technique much better than Monday. Looking forward to 120kg on Friday. Long, slow, and steady is the name of this game.

B. Military Press: 75kg/2 x10 sets; 60s rest

Back to Complexes tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fortification/Neural Re-Education-Week 1: Done.

Just got back from the platform and had some very easy lifts--just keeping it at a 7 RPE.

A. Power Snatch from above knee: 2's
50kg/2, 60/2, 70/2, 80/2, 90/2 x3, 95/2, 100/2 x2
The 90kg snatches felt great. The first set with 100 felt a little disjointed but the second set felt outstanding--fast and great positioning.

B. Power Clean from above knee: 2's
90kg/2, 95/2, 100/2, 105/2, 110/2, 115/2, 120/2
It'd been awhile since I'd been upto 120. Made it feel fast and easy today. Last week I revisited my old technique on the cleans which was "spinning" my elbows very quickly under the bar. It worked great--just like it used to; don't know why I get away from the things that work...Today was no different: Elbows around quickly and the bar speed was excellent--just like old times (when I was 24!).

C. Overhead Squat: 3's--staying very light and working bone rhythm
50kg/3 x2, 60/3 x3
Felt different from the back squat and there was minimal BR carryover so I had to re-groove the BR. Last set felt really good--very tight positioning--almost effortless.

Today was a very good day on the platform. It's probably been since February since I touched those weights and today felt very easy--reminiscent of the old me--a much younger, stronger me. Whether it was the unload of moving from twice a week on the platform to once or the increased barbell BR squatting, I don't know. What I do know is that it felt good. I guess it's got something to do with the set-up: 3 days a week of squatting and pushing plus one day a week on the platform. That's very similar to what I was doing when I was lifting some bigger numbers: 3 days a week squatting and pressing, 2 days a week pulling, one day a week on the platform. Coincidence? Too early to tell.

I also enjoyed my "lazy strength" days--Tuesday and Thursday--where I perform 3-5 reps of 3-5 exercises with 5 minutes of rest. It's only one, maybe two sets of an exercise, either bodyweight or KB, and it's feeling very nice.

This past week, my squat weights were 100kg, 110kg, and 105kg. This upcoming week, I'll attempt 115kg, 120kg, and 110kg. If that goes well, the following week will be 120kg, 115kg, and 125kg, all for doubles with a slow climb to 150kg. Once I get back to 150kg for 10 doubles, I re-evaluate the squatting situation.

Overall, it's been the most productive week of training in a long time. I'm sure yesterday's two-hour massage didn't hurt either. My midsection has been unusually tight, creating some anxiety and some stress, also decreasing my digestion. So, I decided on a massage. Felt better this morning.

Looking forward to the upcoming week of training. Next weekend on the platform, I'll probably back down and change bar positions--possibly from below the knee.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Importance of Knowing Your Anatomy...

I think this video speaks for itself...

More On Bone Rhythms and Pain

I've been practicing these a lot this week with my Back Squat. After straining my right psoas last week on a 2-Hand Anyhow, the squats were a little rough earlier in the week--couldn't find a comfortable position. I should've stopped, but I didn't--Franz called it like he saw it: I'm an addict.

Here's the coolest thing about the Bone Rhythm (BR) work: when you get it right, movements are literally effortless. I performed approximately 12 sets of 2 yesterday just before my MRI (gotta get that knee really pissed off so it shows up real good on the film...) with only 105kg. There were only 2 reps that created any discomfort in my knee. The bar felt like a broomstick on my back. The only frustrating thing is that my squat technique has changed due to the BR work so it feels like I'm literally staring at the floor between my feet when I'm in the bottom--but the cool thing is I'm no longer visually dependent--my eyes aren't in a fixed position during the squat--they move with the body. Another cool thing about the BR work is that it's designed to fully stimulate the joint mechanorecpetors thereby increasing proprioception (By the way, this does mean you can train and improve your balance without even standing on a wobbly board.) and therefore motor control and therefore, strength.

Back to the strained psoas: It didn't go away on it's own and I didn't know which tools to use in my Z toolbox to fix it, so I broke down and "cheated" and went to the chiro for some ART. I used to be addicted to that stuff. Good guy the chiro and he means well. He treated my multifidus and psoas and "adjusted" my right SI which he said was stuck. It wasn't. When he adjusted me, the adjustment was actually around L2-L3. Anyway, pain never really went away. I got ahold of Dr. Cobb who suggested some ideas, and of course, they worked. Why didn't the ART work? Cause it was painful--it was nocioceptive stimuli. How much sense does it make to put the body in more pain to get it out of pain? Huh?

Here's another thing regarding many of our "treatments:" They don't work right away and they take several sessions or more. Why?

Why is it so difficult for many/most of my colleagues to believe that Z works instantly/instantaneously? Because nothing else does so we're conditioned to believe that Z falls into the "If it's too good to be true..." category.

But here's the thing: Z is just a tool to ask the body the right question so you can give it the right answer. It uses the body's own inherent wisdom it was created with to get it out of pain and into high level performance.

Brad Nelson writes about a similar experience in his blog. Here's the link below:

They are very similar to my own personal experience with Z-Health.

I've said this before many times and I'll continue to shout it from the rooftops:

Z-Health is "it."

It's the "thing" we've all been looking for.

It delivers what every other system promises but fails to deliver (with the exception of the RKC).

Z always works. Always. It just may not work in the manner you intended it, which simply means you didn't know what question to ask the body or misinterpreted and answer it gave you previously.

Z just builds upon itself allowing the body to recapture the maliability and plasticity it had when you were two years old. Imagine moving like that only better. That's what Z does for the body.

Forget balance pads, foam rollers, and TvA activation drills. They work for a short period of time just because they're different input/stimulus for the CNS. Then the results stop. Stop wasting time. If you're a trainer/coach, you need Z in your toolbox. You'll be a better trainer/coach and your clients/athletes will reap the results.

Here endeth the lesson.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fools Rush In

There's an old saying, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

I am probably being foolish.

Unfortunately, my body always produces what I train it for. I perform better on a minimalist routine without a lot of variety. As much as I love training with KBs, the only thing they seem to improve is conditioning, which of course is always a very good thing. Of course they improve my KB strength, but it doesn't seem to transfer to barbell strength. I was going to hold off on returning to my squatting until the fall. I just can't wait 'til then. So, I'm going to be squatting 3 x per week using 10-20 reps per session. I'm starting at 60% of my most recent training max: 170kg. (Pathetic, which is why I'm doing this now, instead of later.) I will perform 2 exercises per session: back squat and military press, M-W-F. Saturdays will be snatch and clean. T-TH will be approximately 15-25 reps total comprised of 3-5 exercises, either KB or bodyweight: MP, Bent Press, Dips, Pistols, Pull-ups, etc. with long rest periods. I will most likely perform full I-Phase on these days as well. Sundays I'll take off.

We'll see if the frequent exposure but low volume work makes a difference. As much as I'd love to hit the 5s, they just won't cut it on barbell work for now. (This seems like a familiar conclusion--just had it not too long ago. Wonder why I won't learn? Guess I don't like to be "limited.")

Saturday's training:
A. Back Squat: 100kg/2 x10 sets; 60s rest
Easy. But bone rhythm work was difficult.

B. Military Press: 70kg/2 x 10 sets; 60s rest.

Sunday's training: Back in weightlifting shoes, out of sandals.
A. Power Snatch from above knee: 50kg/2, 60/2, 70/2, 75/2, 80/2, 85/2, 90/2
90kg felt surprisingly easy (it is only 70% of CMax).

B. Overhead Squat
40kg/3, 50/2 x2, 60/2 x2;
My snatch lockout has changed so these were surprisingly challenging--not the weight, but the bone rhythm work again. Right knee not so happy on some of these reps.

C. Power Clean from above knee: 60kg/2, 80/2, 90/2, 95/2, 100/2, 105/2, 110/2
110kg felt fast and easy.

Feels weird to be back in the shoes. Feel faster for some reason. We'll see how the knee holds up.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Snatch + Windmill Pre-Z-Health

Snatch + Windmill Post Z-Health

Z-Health and Flexibility

I've always understood mobility as joint ROM and flexibility as soft tissue (muscle) elasticity. The conundrum I ran into pre-Z was performing flexibiltiy exercises trying to increase ROM about the joint. This worked slightly in the very, very long run, but nowhere near as well as the immediate increases brought about by Z--direct, precise, thorough joint mobility work.

Above are two videos, filmed 5 months apart: The first was pre-Z and I weighed about 10lbs more than I did in the second. In the first, I warmed up with 65lbs, 85lbs, 95lbs, 115lbs before attempting the 135lbs. In the second, I had no warm-ups, just two missed attempts at 135lbs before making the third.

My reasons for posting these videos are threefold:

  1. To demonstrate the improvement in motor control from concentrated daily mobility work
  2. To demonstrate the increased flexibility from concentrated daily mobilty work
  3. To demonstrate the increased strength, total systemic strength v. localized special strength, like a focused squat cycle.

However, I really want to focus on the flexbility aspect here.

How much flexibility work does someone practicing Z-Health have to perform?

The answers are "some" and "none."

  1. "Some:" a) An athlete that requires specific flexbility for an event, like a gymnast who has to perform the splits, should perform Z for the joints in which the muscles responsible for the particular task insert, i.e.: hips, hams, and calves, followed by skill work in that position; b) an individual battling to prevent the formation of post-surgical individual scar tissue or an individual attempting the breakdown of post-surgically induced scar tissue
  2. "None:" Neither my clients or I perform any flexibility work anymore. The Z takes care of the soft tissue work by increasing joint ROM and control.

Obviously, this opens a whole can of worms.

What value is there in flexibilty training for the general population? Would it be reckless to say none? Do we truly understand the differences in flexibility training and mobility training? Do we truly understand that many fitness professionals believe that they are the same thing and that the intent in both concepts may be the same, but the outcomes are radically and starkly different?

For me personally and professionally, I no longer see the value in any flexibility protocols if I haven't attempted any mobility work first. I may include some flexibility work after or in tandem with Z, but this is a rare case indeed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kettlebells: Harder Than They Appear

I'm always and almost routinely amazed by how I can constantly challenge myself with even light KBs.

The toll KBs place on the body are nothing short of astounding. Tuesdays and Fridays are my KB days, with Monday and Thursdays being my platform days. Today's training session was focused on putting on some muscle, so there was some "time under tension" so-to-speak. I thought it would be a simple session, but I had to adjust on the fly because after the first set, I knew I was in trouble.

I performed a Double KB Front Squat with 2x32kgs. Easy in and of itself. After each rep, I performed a Double Military Press. Again, pretty simple. (Note: This is not a "thruster." There is a distinct pause between the finish of the FSQ and the MP--no momentum from the squat to drive the press.) However, I'm working this bone rhythm thing and it's a real challenge, so my FSQs are a little slower than normal.

My intent was to pump up the volume and hit this for 10 sets of 5 with 2 minutes of rest. Didn't happen. After the first set I decided to perform a descending ladder of 5,4,3,2,1 and to repeat it. I performed 3 ladders. Probably should've stopped at 2. Tomorrow will tell. Anyway, I was sweating buckets. My right hammie was fully active and talking to me.

I love the KB FSQ. It's such a different animal than its barbell cousin. It doesn't really tax my legs, just the rest of my body!

My goal will be 2x40kg for 10 sets of 5. Gotta make it through the 32's first, though.

Yesterday was a platform day. Here's the session:

A. Power Snatch, above knee: 4's; 2 mins rest
50kg/4, 55/4, 60/4, 65/4, 70/4, 75/4, 80/4; used straps on the last 2 sets--too hot and sweaty palms interfering with grip and therefore the lift

B. Power Clean above knee + Push Press: 4's; 2 mins rest
80/4+4, 85/4+4, 90/4+4, 95/4+4, 100/4+4
Sweating bullets after this one.

Knee held up pretty well. Left one was a little sore this AM.
Thoughts On General v. Specific Programming For Sport

A few months ago, I was involved in a roundtable discussion with a couple of guys I admire on which lift is better for improving power, the power clean or the box squat. Contrary to what many thought I would say, I said the box squat. I wasn't interested in all the USA Weightlifting and NSCA experiments that "proved" how much power was generated by this lift and improvements in power. I was basing my conclusion off three things: 1) Competing in the Olympic Lifts; 2) Coaching the Olympic Lifts; and 3) Training athletes for a living at a Division 1 school.

My stance on the box squat (hey, the olympic squat wasn't a choice) was simple:
1) I am a perfectionist and the lifts have to be close to perfect. They aren't with beginners, especially athletes from other sports who aren't training to be weightlifters. Therefore, I want to teach something that is easier to learn.
2) Weightlifting is a sport in and of itself. The efficacy of using one sport to train for another is something I'm still not sure about. Although weightlifting is fun, it takes years to master (how about 12 to build a world champ).
3) Many athletes cannot land a jump correctly with no load, why on earth would I want them to land a jump with external resistance? I actually had to teach the entire volleyball team at Rutgers how to land from a jump and reload for the next jump. You would think that a team full of jumpers would know how to land. Apparently not...
4) There are other methods that are easier to teach, more cost-efficient, and produce the same results: Weighted jumps, throws, etc.

I bring this up because I just read a short article on Elite Fitness regarding the same thing in sprinters. Carl Valle, the author, stated he worked on his athlete's weakness, which he perceived to be strength in the squat as opposed to teaching him to be "more explosive" by using the Olympic lifts. Here's the article:
Carl makes some great points, not the least of which is most athletes, even world class athletes, are already practicing most of what they need to be great at their respective sports. It's the job of the coach and/or strength coach to find the things that will make the athlete better. Usually, Occam's Razor applies--the simplest solution is the answer: Weak? Make him stronger. Slow? Make her faster. It's usually one of these two. It's not brain surgery.

Therefore, use the easiest method for you to teach combined with the easiest method for the athlete to learn. Usually the lower the skill, the easier it is to pick up and the faster the results.
For absolute strength gains, squat, deadlift, press, chin, pull-up, dip, bench, and row yourself stronger. For power, sprint, jump, and throw as hard and as fast as you can. Add weight when necessary (KBs are also good here--ballistics). Only after that learn new skills like the Olympic lifts to improve your power. Body and movement control are the key, unloaded, then loaded. I'm pretty sure Michael Jordan was the World's Greatest Basketball Player without to much Olympic lifting. That man could move.

Practice the basics and focus on perfecting the "general" before hyer-focusing on the "specific." Let's face it, very few of us will ever work with elite athletes, by which I mean, Olympic or International and World Champions. Some of those guys may need some specific work. The rest of us just need to be generally stronger or faster and general programming will get us there.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Going Back in Time: Thoughts About Squatting

It's no secret that I love to squat--and not powerlifting squats, either, which there's nothing wrong with if you're a powerlifter. I'm talking about butt-to-ankles full Olympic squats. The only problem for me right now is that I can't do them as frequently as I'd like, but I digress...

I was reading on Josh Hillis' blog ( an interview with Craig Ballantyne. Craig stated that he believed that people could make major changes in body composition by just performing variations of the squat for only 10 minutes a day. (Read the article--it's thought provoking.) I paused at that point because it took me back in time to a lesson I learned which led me to the same belief.

In 1995 or 1996 I was riding my to class while doing some post-grad work. A girl kicked open her car door. I swerved thinking I was going to miss her. The edge of the "bear-trap" pedal on my bike caught the edge of her door which launched me feet over head over handlebars. Of course I tucked my chin to miss landing on my head but landed on my left shoulder instead. It was diagnosed by one of the ATCs as a 1st degree AC joint separation, but due to the length of time it took to heal, it was really a 2nd degree.

I was more than a little bummed. I couldn't do any upper body work whatsoever, but I could still squat and good morning. I had to take a week off from all training, but for the next 3 weeks after that, I performed squats and good mornings 3 times per week. A month after my accident, I decided to test out my upper body strength by maxing out on my bench and seated military press (Makes sense, right?). I lost 5lbs off my bench and my seated MP remained the same. I was flabbergasted!

I could only conclude at the time and from the reading I had done, that although my upper body wasn't being directly worked, the squatting and the GMs were enough strain on the upper body to maintain the strength that I had.

Since that point in time, leg work has always been a priority in my clients training programs. That incident caused me to conclude that the "legs drive the machine." The stronger and better conditioned the legs, the stronger the machine.

When I think back to my quest for strong legs, I recall some of the numbers I've put up at various times in my training life: 500/1 at a bodyweight of 204lbs, 415/13 after pre-exhaust leg ext, leg curl, & leg press, 315/20, 585/8 from pins with 90/90 at the knee/ankle, 625-ish/5 from a 24"'s been crazy. The only lifts with a belt were the 415 & the 585 and never any knee wraps. Are these great numbers? Nope. But they're good--but never good enough. I guess that's why I get frustrated that I can't squat as much now as I used to. I wanted to turn them into great numbers. I love squatting. I love the feel of the lift. I love the benefits. When I squat routinely, I grow. I grow a lot. And I get lean, especially if I'm restricting my calories.

Those were all good times. Once I get fully up-and-running, I want to be able to train like that again. Those types of training sessions build character and friendships that last a long, long time. Still today, after living in NC for 7 years, I can pick up the phone and call my weightlifting coach to talk shop. I still remember that 415 workout like it was yesterday. I was weighing 228lbs and I was big...and strong...I was MPing 225/5 easily...ah, yeah, great times! Once I heal, I may have to go through that training cycle again.

After all these years, I still think if you can't Clean and Jerk, Squat--all-the-way-down. If you can't--learn. If you can't squat, Deadlift. If you can't or won't, get some kettlebells and start swinging. The legs are still being used--still feeding the machine and you'll still get results.

Off to enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, June 08, 2007

What Does the Most Beautiful Woman in the World Have to Do With Z-Health?

This is my wife, Courtney.

The only reason I'm in the picture is to proove that I didn't just pull a pic of a beautiful woman from the web and publish it. What this picture doesn't show is how big and blue and beautiful and captivating her eyes are--but that's a different story altogether.

She is the most beautiful woman in the world.

She is also very, very, very smart.

While in undergrad, she was a scholarship volleyball player at Rutgers. She was Co-Captain and MVP. She graduated "With Highest Honors" with a GPA of 3.88. Very smart.

She is also a super-athlete. She had a 29.5 inch approach jump as an outside hitter, at only 5'5". In college, she performed "hang cleans" with her bodyweight (135lbs) for sets and reps. She could bench press more than her bodyweight; performed snatch-grip RDLs with 225lbs for 2 reps; back squatted 255lbs x 4--beltless. In high school, she ran an unofficial 12.0 100m. She was also a gymnast when she was a kid. Before she dislocated her sterno-clavicular joint, she could snatch the 16kg KB for multiple sets of 15+15 with very little rest between sets.

Court is a physical therapist, with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Duke University (She got two "B's" in grad school--Sick!) and currently works at Duke Sports Medicine.

Why is she on my blog? Because she is awesome! Not only that, I obviously married up so I have to brag about it, don't I? But seriously, she's R-Phase Certified and has been using Z-Health at work. It's working so well that all the doctors are sending her the train wrecks--the people whom they have no idea how to fix.

Last night my brain stopped working and I couldn't get rid of the pain in my knee when I put the hip in extension and then flexed the knee. Then my beautiful bride chimed in. She recommended forward lumbar circles in a lunge position from I-Phase. I then performed them in a lateral lunge position, both right and left lateral lunge, and the knee pain disappeared. I honestly wouldn't have thought of doing them. I relieved so much tension in my lumbar spine I didn't even know I had--I slept like Mike Tyson when he fought Buster Douglas.

Court is one super-smart woman who I'd strongly recommend to anyone who needs rehab.

On a different note, trained on the platform yesterday.

A. Power Snatch, from above the knee, 2 minutes of rest:
50kg/3, 55/3, 60/3, 65/3, 70/3, 75/3, 80/3, 85/3; Used straps on the 85kg.

B. Power Clean, from above knee + Push Press, 2 minutes rest:
Series: (80kg/3+3, 90/3+3, 100/3+3) x2, straps on the last set of 100kg.

Interesting observation: hook grip on 1st set of 100kg hurt my knees--nocioceptive input, I guess--hence the straps on the second set of 100kg.

The other reason for the straps was that it was 90+ degrees in the warehouse yesterday--so the sweat from my arms just washed the chalk right off my hands. Safety issue, really.

Changing the reps to 4s and 2s next week.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Got What I Wanted...

An appointment for an MRI. X-rays revealed that the groove in which my patella tracks is shallow, my patella tracks laterally, and there is some quadraceps tendonitis due to calcification of the quad tendon from heavy lifting. Also, there appears to be a spur on the lateral border of the patella which also explains some of the irritation. The swelling is supposed to be a dead give-away of cartilage damage which is why we are scheduling the MRI--so we can confirm damage, survey said damage, and then plan a course of action--be it therapy or surgery. Surgeries are quite extensive in these cases, saith the Ortho.

There's a lot more shoulder work in my program now that I'm back on the platform. I was supposed to at least do some KB presses, but my gut told me not to. Inspired by David Whitley's "DuCane Press," I thought I'd attempt something I suck at: Bent Presses. Every time I've tried these in the past, I was faking it. Sure, I looked strong (that's a relative term), but only my shoulder and my will power were holding the bell in place, not my lats. I shy away from them because they always seem to tweak my biceps tendons. (This of course makes snatching very difficult.) Not so today. LOTS of lat recruitment.

5x5 with 32kg--nice and light. 3 minutes rest.

When I got done, both lats, right hams, left glute, right posterior fibers of obliques and abs were pretty tired. It felt "just right." I really like these and may throw them in once a week or so. It'd be cool to knock off an easy 5 with my 145lbs KBs. Something to strive for.

Back on the platform tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

That's Disappointing...In A Good Way

Just wanted to back squat tonight. My squat is way down from where it used to be--by about 60kg. But, what do you expect with that many injuries.

So tonight's goal was to squat and irritate my knee. Mission failed. No popping. No cracking. No grinding. No twisting. Nothing. The only thing I got was a semi-spasming right VL. Cool. Here's the session:

70kg/4, 100/3, 120/2, 140/1, 150/1, 160/1, 170/1

The 170 was a challenge.

I then rested 2 minutes and then dropped down to 140kg and hit 7 doubles with 60 seconds rest between them. My legs started to get immediately sore: right VMO, adductors, VL, and some hams; left glut max--all the right places. All the Z lunges have definitely worked.

I love squatting--especially all the way down. Can there really be any other way? I don't think so. They're so anabolic.

Anyway, 170/1 is better than I expected tonight--I only expected 160kg. We'll have to see how to work these into the program--maybe once per week.

Maybe I'll get "lucky" and this knee will swell over night and I'll have something to show the orthopod tomorrow.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Increased Speed and Stamina

Just when I think the KBs aren't really doing much for me (I know--heresy!) I get back on the platform after time off and my conditioning is unbelievable. Makes me wonder why I ever stop using them. Between KBs and Bone Rhythm, the last 3 sessions on the platform have amazed me. Granted, the weight is light, but it's fast and the reps are high (3-5).

I know I'm breaking my own rules on the reps with the O-Lifts, but I can't help thinking Profs. Roman and Medvedyev know more than I do. They (at least one of them, if not both) state that 5s should be used for heavyweights and supers. They condition the organism better and are easier to recover from than the lower reps and heavier weights. Plus, looking back in the past, way back, I see that there may be some merit to them. So, against my better judgment, I'll try them for awhile.

Today's session:

A. Power snatch + power snatch above knee, (1+4) x 5 sets, 2 minutes rest:
50kg/5, 55/5, 60/5, 65/5, 70/5, 75/5
Positioning felt strong on all of these--very strong and very long [spine]

B. Power clean + power clean above knee + push press, (1+4)+5 x 4 sets, 2 minutes rest:
75/5+5, 80/5+5, 85/5+5, 90/5+5
Also felt strong; best positioning on overhead work in a long, long time (also very long spine).
90kg was a challenge from a concentration and stamina point of view, but I think it ended up better than the 85kg.
I also have to watch as I fatigue, my body starts to wind to the right, which is an old pattern. I caught it tonight and remedied it.

Saturday was the same training session, essentially, except everything was from above the knee. I worked upto 80/3 on the snatch (maybe 85/3, I can't remember) and upto 90 or 95/3 on the Cl+PuPr. I can't seem to remember that, either.

Tomorrow is max back squat so the knee is ready for the Dr on Wednesday plus KBs.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Long Spine and Head Position When Squatting and Deadlifting

Who can argue with the great Bill Kazmaier?

Notice his head positioning on both the squat and deadlift.

What amazing demonstrations of raw strength!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Looking In the Wrong Places

I forgot to publish this Z-Health experience last week.

Only now are many coming to understand that all may not be what it seems with regard to the human body. Shoulder pain? May not be the shoulder. I saw an article on T-Mag the other day and one of the presenters who was written about said about the shoulder that the other hip was also involved. It's a start in the right direction, but many times, it's even more than we think as the following story will demonstrate.

One of my clients had been struggling with some swelling over her cuboid in her right foot for about 2 weeks. She has tight feet from bad shoes and stiffness in that foot in particular. So at first, we thought it was just foot work she needed. Specific R-Phase foot mobility did indeed help--in the short run. But the foot kept locking down.

She came in and we tested passive dorsiflexion with her sitting and me pushing the foot into dorsiflexion: -20 degrees. Not the foot.

We then checked her opposite hand which was indeed tight. After some specific R-Phase hand work, she was at neutral passive dorsiflexion.

Not good enough.

What innervates that particular area of the hand? C7. So we moved onto some specific R-Phase neck work. Guess what? 15 degrees positive passive dorsiflexion.

We followed that up with some specific R-Phase drills for the pelvis to cement the neck work. The result? About 20 degrees positive passive dorsiflexion.

No stretching.

No foam rolling.

No soft tissue work.

Only Dynamic Joint Mobility work Z-Health R-Phase style.

Powerful stuff.

If you want to learn more, go here:
The Best Laid Plans...

I wanted to up my training to six days a week because, well, I'm kinda compulsive. But the value of having been around the block more than once means the territory you walk in starts to look familiar if you're paying attention. Tuesday and Wednesday nights I barely got any sleep. Thursday was to be a platform day. It wasn't. It was sushi night with our friends instead. I slept very well that night.

Yesterday was supposed to be heavy, very heavy. I wanted to press the 48kg for doubles. I got one set on my left and only one rep on my right. Wrong day for that type of training. CNS was very tired from lack of sleep, and lack of rest. It'd been a crazy week in my other business.

So yesterday's session was framed on the background of Roman's ideas/evidence that elite weightlifters only improve through an increase in intensity, not volume of loading. The temptation was to perform a high volume of work since my CNS would not allow me the enjoyment of heavy loading. I refrained. I absolutely need to keep the volume low enough to focus on making loading difficult enough to be perceived as an increase in intensity by my CNS without lifting heavy. Generally, I believe for me this is 25 total reps per exercise or less. Although, some exercises I will extend the sets as my body continues to learn the exercise "intra-session." This is a "play-it-by-ear" type of thing.

Yesterday's training session ended up looking like this:

A. Z Lunge with contralateral loading, KB in Press lockout position:
24kg/5+5 x 7 sets. This was one of those "intra-session learning" times. These felt different, but not always better each set. I performed an extra set on the right side. It felt perfect.

B1. "KJ" KB Presses: 2x16kg/5+5 x 5 sets (A KJ KB press is named after SrRKC Kenneth Jay--he improves his pressing strength my handicapping his leverage by pressing 2 bells in the same hand.)

Rest 60s then...

B2. Chins, bodyweight only, focusing on bone rhythms.

Rest 60s then back to B1.

Pizza for dinner.

Next week, we'll see if I can get 6 sessions in. If all goes well it'll be 2x 3-day cycles of the following:
1. O-lifts
2. Z-Strength
3. KB conditioning

The first cycle will be light, the second, heavy (heavier).

I'm also thinking of building my 2-week cycles into the following 6 week format:

Weeks 1-2: Hypertrophy focus
Weeks 3-4: Strength focus
Weeks 5-6: Power focus

Then repeated. It's just a thought, and a familiar one at that. I think I've had this before--I'll have to go back and check my journals/notes/etc.

What's the end goal? Well, admittedly, I haven't come to rest with the idea that I should surrender my dreams of weightlifting. Rif, of course, and rightfully so, will warn me against this. He is my voice of reason. On the other hand, I have Z-Health, which he does not. It has changed everything about the way I move. It allows me to dream and right now, I'm not sure which is more important--listening to reason or following my dreams. However, I wrestle with that particular dream whenever it rears its ugly head. I don't want to be "that guy." He's the one who still dreams of glory at age 42--recapturing his lost youth and sacrificing everything that stands in the way of that "glory"--wife, kids, etc. My only desire is to get back on the platform--to compete at Nationals, the one thing I robbed myself of in 2000. I think I'll be satisfied when that happens. I'll also be 35. Young enough for many, many other things, but old for weightlifting. We'll see what the future holds.