Thursday, September 27, 2007


Who knew being on "vacation" could be so tiring? Of course, this isn't a real vacation, but a family visit where almost every moment is scripted. Today is our first "free" day since we've been in CA. We just read and hung out by the pool. Sleeping in a too small bed on a mattress that's too soft in a room that's too hot isn't restful either. Nor is all the driving, sitting, and flying. Today, everything just hurts. Even Z hurts. Probably just need to rest.

The past couple of days have been fun though.

Tuesday, I went to visit a friend in LA. We had brunch (steak, eggs, and pancakes for me) and lots of coffee, talked shop, went to one of the local piers. He gave me a tour of Gold's Venice, the local areas, and we stopped at Santa Monica Beach. Beautiful and empty. Here's the cool part: Not only was I able to repeat the rope climbing feat from July at I-Phase, I also climbed two parallel ropes, one in each hand, simultaneously, with only the use of my upper body. Not bad for never doing it! I can only attribute this to the I-Phase work I've been doing. Anyway, it was a great time for me. We get to see each other at some certs, so this was a lot of fun for me to be in his stomping grounds with him. There's something to be said for good friendships.

Wednesday, I went back over to Rif's. I was feeling slow and tired and should've taken it lighter than I did, (yes, I tweaked something again...right psoas...again...) but I was moving relatively fast on the cleans. After I tweaked the psoas, I tried to BSQ (of course!) but no luck. All classic symptoms for me of systemic fatigue.

A. Power Clean: 60kg/3 x2; 70/2, 80/2
90/2, 100/2 x2, 110/2 x5, 120/1+x, 120/2 x4, 130/1
Worked my way up to 80% for a single. Felt OK. Not great. So I was done. Avg % was about 70% for 20 lifts.

B. Clean, from Scoop (classic clean w/ squat under): 60kg/3 x2, 70/3 x3, 80/3 x3
This was the one that tweaked my psoas. It was on the 80kg, first set. Seemed OK by the third.

C. Back Squat. Not much happening here. 142kg was tough so played with 100kg, but no joy. Psoas wasn't having any of it.

Didn't get to take Rif through any assessments. Both of us were just too cooked by the end of the session. Joe Sarti and Tim Dymmel both dropped by to train. Tim's got one of the most natural looking squats I've ever seen. Rif, Tim, and Joe all were throwing around the KBs. Yesterday was the best I've seen Rif move since I've known him.

Will probably hit some pistols and bodyweight drills tomorrow. Thinking about going way back to old school training: 6 days per week, 2 exercises per day. In and out in 40 minutes. We'll see.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gotta Watch That Low Ceiling On the Snatch!

(And the trophy case!)

Trained with Rif today over at his place. His garage gym is smaller than I remembered it and it has a very low ceiling. It's a sharp contrast to the 20+ foot ceilings of my warehouse. This changed my snatch a little: I was cutting my pull and throwing my head. But I still had a good training session. He has an old York bar which reminded me of Rutgers and the bars I had in the strength room--rust and all. And he has the old York training bumpers--about 8" in width, like tires. Man, those bring back great memories!

My wife actually helped Rif out with his Z more than I did: I had a long training session and they both had short ones. She was in her element--interupting me left and right--it was great to see her so alive. Normally she would've deferred to me. I was glad she didn't. She was busting Rif's chops pretty good too. Anyway, Rif said his right shoulder felt the best to date on the snatches. He performed hip circles on the same side. That was actually for his left shoulder--SC joint but it helped his right shoulder too.

Wednesday will probably be a shorter training session for me and a longer one for him, so we'll get more Z in together. It's fun watching him "get it." He's damn smart and very intuitive with his body and his training despite being so beat up. Z is right up his alley.

A. Power Snatch, Above Knee: 60kg/3 x2; 70kg/3; 80kg/2 x7; 90/2, 90/1 + X, 90kg/2; 100kg/2 x2.
Banged my head on Rif's trophy case on the second rep of the second set of snatches with 90kg. I was lifting a little too close...

B. Overhead Squat: 60kg/5 x 5 sets. All felt awkward, but relatively discomfort free.

C. Press: 60kg/5 x2; 70kg/5; 80kg/5

Felt tired after the snatches so took the OSQs light. Shoulders tightened up after the snatches so did some hip work and some camshafts in a side lunge. Presses felt good.

Gotta run--being rude to my extended family and got to finish the details for my trip to LA tomorrow.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fully Operational

The fallout from my private session with Dr. Cobb seems to have been positive.

For the first time that I can remember, I actually was able to perform Bulgarian Split Squats yesterday completely pain free everywhere, especially the right knee. (Love hotel workouts--force you to be creative.) Also, no popping in the left knee which has always occurred from not being able to use the left hip adequately. I tested out the lunges afterward which I have not been able to do since I locked everything down back in late July/early August. They were a go: Pain free.

This means I can now squat, lunge, BSS, step-up, and pistol all pain free for the first time since I can remember. I have never been able to perform all those movements at any given time pain free--it's always been a give-and-take game. For example, when I completed the Beast Challenge, I could perform Pistols, but not squat. Pre-Z, I could squat (compensated) but not perform BSS's or Pistol's on my right leg. Here's the great thing: Because I broke the pain cycle, I now have good reps positively chunked in my brain with all the good thoughts and feelings that go along with those reps, making it easier to perform in the future. This is what I was attempting to do at I-Phase.

Here's another interesting thing too: We did some (well attempted to before having an incredibly strong sympathetic response) head mob's and nerve work on the left side of my face and head (concussions and repeated blows to the face plus dominant side while wrestling) and as I sit here typing, I am acutely aware of that side, almost as if it has woken up after a long sleep.

This of course means I now have the ability to use all the muscles in my body to increase my strength levels and drop my bodyfat back down into single digits. I now can eat more (which is always good) because I can now use my toothpicks--uh, legs, to rev up my metabolism. (Side note: This is huge for people/clients trying to make changes in bodyfat--if you can't move well, don't expect to see much improvement in body comp no matter how hard you diet and train. The body will eventually hit a wall and hold onto its remaining fat stores. I have a client with arthritic knees performing full bodyweight squats pain free. This has taken a lot of work on our part using Z, but imagine the payoff for her now having new ROM and using muscles in ways that they haven't been used in 10-15 years...)

The next area for me to tackle will be jumps, hops, etc--all the explosive/reactive movements that I've never been able to perform without pain. However, I think I'll probably wait on those for awhile and just savor this small victory.

On another positive note: I'm glad to see my buddy Rif enjoying R-Phase. I knew this would be his reaction once he finally sucked it up ( ;-] ) and got the program. I'm really looking forward to seeing him tomorrow and being able to train with him all week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back In Action And Then Off To California...

Was able to train a 58kg female weightlifter Tuesday night. I'll post in depth later on it, but long story short, got her doing a triple on the Power Clean with 7.5kg less than her best competition clean. Used some Z principles of course and some things I've been thinking about as a result. Just food for thought: We've been teaching it all wrong. Again, I'll post in detail on it in the future.

Tuesday night, hit 100kg on the Power Snatch above Knee--easy.

Tonite, Thursday, worked up to 120kg for 2 singles on the Power Clean above knee. Then 120kg on the BSQ for 2 ladders of (1,2,3,4) with 60s rest. Here's the interesting part: more plantar and dorsiflexion after a session with Dr. Cobb last night working on my head--cranial work. There's some other stuff in there too and I'll post on that later. But squats felt much different--forward on my whole foot, lots more power of my toes--that's right, my toes. There's an article in that statement too.

Diet update: fat's dropping, bodyweight going back up. Nice to be eating carbs routinely again. Should help my sleep and my strength.

Off to Cali in 7 hours. Wine Country til Sunday evening then down to the Bay Area and Rif's stomping grounds. Gonna hang out with him next week. This should be a very interesting visit since he's now got the Z bug. Tuesday I'll fly to LA to visit a couple of friends and work out at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach--should be very cool.

Will be posting more from CA.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Back From the Beach.

Four days at the beach was refreshing, but not refreshing enough. Got some sun. Got some Cable TV time. Needed a little more. But I'm thankful to have had time off.

Did some high quality Z.

Did some hard KB work. Here's one session I did, just because I thought I could and hadn't done so before:

A. Clean + Press, 2x32kg, 10 sets of 10+10 reps. 5 Minutes rest.
Pretty tough, especially mentally. Now I don't have to ever do that again. Wasn't really that sore the next day, but I was and still am tired.

Z-Health is back in town this week and I've got another appointment with Dr. Cobb. This time we're going to address some head trauma issues: multiple concussions. This should be interesting since my wife can't do head massage/work on me without feeling like I'm going to throw up.

More later. Hungry and tired.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Right On.

Came up with a new plan (I know, yet another one...) and it just adds to the one I proposed in my last post--so really, it's an addendum.

After talking with Dr. Cobb this past weekend, it was his feeling that my body is responding better to gradual, subtle changes rather than bigger jumps. This means that wave loading and series are out for now. Looking back, I always trained on either end of the spectrum: RM/ME work or Sub-Max Effort work (great for technique). This is what my body knows. This is what it adapted to in the past. I think I have to allow it to "stabilize" again with that type of work, the only difference being this time, is that I'm leaving out the RM/ME work for 2-3 months.

So, the goal is to make small changes in load each training session--to force adaptation s-l-o-w-l-y instead of quickly, which my body has the good fortune of doing.

Here's an example: Tonight, I was doing some High Snatch Pulls from AK for 5s with 90kg. My right knee didn't like that. So, I dropped the weight to the floor and performed "strength" Sn. Pulls--Shrug at the top, arms locked. I stayed with the 90kg. For the first time in almost 5 weeks, I was able to be in that semi-squat position without knee pain. Felt great! Instead of concerning myself with the load, I just focused on setting up each rep the same--weight in the center of the foot, chest out so I can feel the T-Spine, head on top of the body and gaze on the floor--and making the pulls all the same. I got 85-90% of them to feel the same. That's the type of progress I'm going to be aiming for. Once I get the feel back, then I'll start adding load.

Tonight's Session:
A. Front Squat: 70kg/3 x2; 100kg/3 x 5 sets; 2 minutes of rest.
These felt awkward, and the knees never really felt perfect--I had some pain in the right patellar tendon that I was able to alleviate. However, I was able to work my grip in closer which is where I used to hold it when I was almost at my strongest.

B. High Snatch Pull, AK: 70kg/5, 90/5 x 2; Painful in the right knee-still not ready for these yet, at least not tonight, so I switched to--

C. Snatch Pull from Floor for Strength: 90kg/5 x3, 2 minutes rest.

D. Press Behind Neck, Wide, Thumb-less Grip:
Seated: 50/6
Standing: 50/6 x2; 60/6
Just going light on these, plus, last exercise, so tired.

E. Pressing Snatch Balance: Bar/6 x3
Finishing every session with these just to teach the body to get under the bar again and to get used to being there.

This is the pace I'm going to keep my training sessions at. If I can maintain this pace, I should be pretty far along once I the American Open rolls around. Who knows, I may even be there. That's the goal, anyway.
Mmmm...Sore Legs...

...which can only mean one thing: Squats...

...which can only mean one thing: joints functioning properly so muscles functioning properly. Adductors, hamstrings, and glutes all sore, especially the left glute and bilateral adductors; quads--not-so-much.

Went to the platform Saturday and trained smart.

A. Power Snatch, AK: 50kg/3 x2; 60/2; 70/2 x10; 100 degrees in warehouse, so rested as needed.

B. Complex: Snatch Pull, AK + P. Sn., AK + O. Sq. + Pressing Snatch Balance: (50kg/2+2+2+2) x4

C. Back Squat: 70kg/6; 100kg/6 x4 sets; 2 minutes rest. Adductors and Hams turned on after the second set. Good stuff--just like old times, except without the knee pain and with much less weight. But gotta [re]start somewhere.

Went for a 90 minute walk yesterday, which I try to do most weekends.

I'm thinking about going back to a beginner's type training protocol: 3 days per week with the Olympic stuff, every other day--probably Su-T-Th. On 3 of the other days per week, Z and KBs to counteract the bilateral work. Don't know for sure yet, but will probably get more serious about this in October after I come back from CA. It would be great to think I could hit a token meet and qualify for American's in December. That would be a personal milestone.

Going to the beach this Thursday and will have Thursday and Friday to myself--Court will be joining me Saturday. One of my clients is kind enough to let me use her place right on the beach. Very cool. Should be very relaxing. KBs will travel with me though.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ćwiczenia mistrzów

Polish Weightlifting footage from the 70s. Watch the head and neck positions then look at the leg and back musculature...Interesting stuff.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Weightlifting is Reactive...

...and therefore, squatting for weightlifting should be so too. I have noticed this when watching the elite squat. There is no slow descent. Only a descent that's controlled and fast, whether front or back squat. I'm certainly not elite, but I can take a piece out of their playbook.

Needed to get back on the platform so I did some overhead squatting today in spite of earlier knee discomfort. I was fine. In the past I try to think/feel my way down into the squat. Today, I visualized it first and then did it. Quickly, without thinking. Pain free. Relatively discomfort free. And without tape on my right knee. And my right VMO was working great.

Here was today's training session:

A. Power Snatch above knee (AK): 50kg/3, 60/2, 70/2, 80/2, 90/2
The 90kg was a little choppy so I put together this next exercise:

B. Snatch Pull (AK) + P. Sn. AK: (90kg/1+1) 5

C. Combo, AK: Snatch Pull + P. Snatch + OSQ + Pressing Sn. Balance (2+2+2+2):
(50kg/2+2+2+2) 3 sets

D. Bar work: Snatch Balance, Classic Snatch from AK, Pressing Sn. Balance

And then, some unusual work: I went to the track with my wife and we ran barefoot in the grass along the sidelines of the football field. The distances varied, but were between 60-100 yards. All I can say is my wife is very fast! Now my ankles are sore and so are my hamstrings. I did not get out of breath at all. Must be the KB work. Cool stuff. Fun to be out there with her.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pistols and the Stress Response/Experience

I had some major negative stress last week. BIG stuff. Stuff you don't ever want to have to face. And it wasted a lot of my time, especially my creative time. It was interesting to notice my body's response: My knees got stiffer. The progress I had made started to reverse.

One of the things I had stopped doing the last two weeks was the acupressure. So I tried some pistols last night cause I felt like it was time to try. The first two on the left were painful. I couldn't even get down on the right. Then I tried some acupressure. I was able to perform pistols on both legs pain free, although I still had a little discomfort on the medial side of the left knee.

So I performed one pistol holding onto a 16kg KB per leg and supersetted them with 5-10 bodyweight squats with my heels elevated. I paused each one at the bottom and really focused on extending the non-working leg and really sitting into the hip of the working leg especially on the left side to stretch the posterior hip capsule and fully engage the hip musculature on the ascent. I've noticed that if I don't get the bone rhythms correct then the knees pop on the ascent of any leg exercise. I didn't count the sets, but it was somewhere around seven and I rested as I wanted. I also performed acupressure for 30 seconds between each set just before I started each set.

The knees feel OK this morning and were fine when I went out for a 90 minute walk. My quads are slightly sore and my left glute is slightly sore.

I need to further investigate the links between stress, acupressure, and pain in my knees. They are somehow related at this point, I just don't know how.