Today’s blog is just a bunch of random stuff I’ve come across or thought about recently. While some people find these blogs annoying, others really like them. The former teacher in me is always thinking of new things to blog about so please bare with me and work your way through the blog. With all these topics there has to be at least something you find interesting!
1. Puppies in Vices
I got great feedback on last week’s blog. Some people liked the intro and some hated it. I apologize to anyone I offended. Please know that no real puppies were hurt during the writing of this blog! The blog did a great job of explaining the physiological consequences of sitting. In case you missed it, check it out here.
2. Deadlift 5 Plates Like a Champion
Yesterday Wannabebig.Com published one of my articles on deadlifting. I believe it’s an amazing deadlifting article and will be a classic for years to come. Not many articles talk enough about assistance exercises. This one does a great job of that. Check it out here.
3. Squat vs. Deadlift
In a blog a while back, I wrote about the fact that a squat and deadlift are biomechanically very different. Lately I see many coaches say that they’re basically the same movement with different load placements. This free journal article here does a great job of explaining the difference between a squat and a deadlift using powerlifters as subjects. It’s got a really cool look to it as well. Check it out here.
4. Must-Have Equipment
I believe that there are four pieces of equipment that you must have. Here they are:
• Hampton thick bar pad for hip thrusts and barbell glute bridges
• Core bar for chops and lifts (both plate-loaded or connected to a cable column)
• Ab wheel for rollouts
• Jump stretch minibands for band hip rotations, Pallof presses, face pull/pull aparts, and seated abductions
Seriously, I would hate to perform any barbell glute bridges or hip thrusts without the thick bar pad. With the pad, there is not an ounce of pain. Without the pad, you will wish you were dead. Spend the $30 and get the pad. Trust me; it’s a life-changer.
5. The Opinionated Psoas
There’s a lot of thought that’s been put into this unique muscle!
6. The Fitness Industry
I really love this industry. I’m making a bunch of like-minded friends in the strength training field, I’m getting to “mix-it-up” with some of the guys who I’ve looked up to for a very long time, and I get to speak to fitness experts on a daily basis where we talk shop, discuss training theory and program design, and compare methodologies.
Lately I’m seeing my name appear on almost a daily basis. Sometimes there are good things said about me and sometimes bad, but as they say, all publicity is good publicity. In the past couple of weeks alone, I’ve heard my name in Carl Valle’s mediacasts, seen a video of myself with Nick Tumminello, read about myself in a Martin Rooney article (an amazing one I might add) and a couple of Mike Robertson’s articles, been mentioned on Fitcast and the StrengthCoach Podcast, been interviewed on Sioux Country, seen my name in the blogs of Charlie Weingroff, Brendon Rearick, Allie McKee, and Cassandra Forsythe, and heard my name mentioned in videos created by Perry Nickelston. It’s very flattering to read nice things being said about me. Allie McKee referred to me as “The Father of Hip Thrusts” and a blog written by ” Not Just a Man’s World” referred to me as “The Great Bret Contreras.” These are just some of the blogs and articles I’ve seen with my name in them. It feels really good receiving recognition and praise. If only my mom could see that, she’d be so proud!
Here’s Dr. Perry Nickelston discussing load vector training. I haven’t met Perry, but he seems like a total badass.
7. The Valencia Project
I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I really enjoy Carl Valle’s mediacasts. If you’d like more information about Carl’s mediacasts, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can send you a PDF that shows the different mediacasts. Two mediacasts are released per month on various topics. Carl has a lot of knowledge in the worlds of Track & Field and sports performance. In the mediacasts he shares what he learned what a lot of professional experts are doing in various fields like strength and conditioning, sports medicine, sports nutrition, and sports psychology. He shares these findings on his medicasts. You can purchase the entire year of mediacasts (24 with 2 released each month) for $95 or purchase individual mediacasts later as they are released for $5. The mediacasts are around an hour long each and you will be emailed a downloadable link that enables you to save and listen to the mediacasts.
8. Get Some Sun!
Over 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. Boston University researchers found that 36% of young adults were deficient in Vitamin D at the end of winter.
The US government recommends that we get 200-400 IU’s per day in Vitamin D, but this assumes that we get a lot of sun. The Vitamin D Council believes that folks who are rarely exposed to sunlight supplement with 5,000 IU of Vitamin D per day.
What do some of the other experts have to say about Vitamin D supplementation? Dr. Clay Hyght recommends 1,000 IU’s per day, Dr. Michael Holick believes that people need to take 1,400 IU’s per day, Dr. Johnny Bowden recommends 2,000 IU’s per day, Dr. Robert P. Heaney estimates that 3,000 IU per day is necessary to ensure that 97% of Americans obtain levels greater than 35 ng/mL, and Doctors Reinhold Vieth, Tim Zeigenfuss, and Bill Roberts all recommend 4,000 IU’s per day. Charles Poliquin believes it’s the best supplement ever, even more important than fish oil. He recommends supplementing twice per week with 30,000 to 100,000 IU’s of Vitamin D until your levels reach 80-100 ng/mL!
What do I recommend? Get some sun!!!
The skin produces approximately 10,000 IU vitamin D in response 20–30 minutes summer sun exposure—50 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 200 IU per day!
Make it a daily habit to try to do something outside, whether it be exercise, a phone call, reading, or simply sunbathing.
A recent study from Austrian researchers showed that Vitamin D levels are directly correlated with testosterone levels. Another study showed that spending an hour in the sun can boost a man’s testosterone by 69%!
Obviously the Venice Beach bodybuilders from back in the day were onto something!
9. Philosophical Thoughts
In a recent interview I offered the following thoughts on learning and training.
• Many roads lead to Rome
• Don’t be overemotional when it comes to exercise like some people are with religion and politics
• Be open-minded and skeptical (it’s wise to be both)
• Strength training is an arta-scienza
• Learn from a variety of fields and sources (articles, journals, blogs, dvd’s, seminars, textbooks, forums, etc.) Theory is good, journal research is good, anecdotes are good! Don’t be over or under-focused on theory.
• In order to learn from specialists in other fields you must first believe that they have something to teach you
• Learn to speak “coach” or “meathead”
10. Lifting Partner
One very important aspect to a lifter’s success depends on his ability to find a good workout partner. This takes time, as good workout partners are very hard to find. Over the years I’ve trained with partners who seemed gung-ho only to fizzle out the second they got a girlfriend, partners who were chronic excuse-makers, guys who talked too much in between sets, comedians who cracked jokes in the middle of your sets, guys who were too stupid to learn how to give a proper lift-off or a spot, guys who could never learn basic technique on common exercises, toxic energy-drainers who were negative and complained too much, guys who relied on you to motivate them, flakes, selfish partners who couldn’t stick to a routine and were always trying to push the workout forward or backward depending on their schedule, guys who lifted with either too little or too much intensity and therefore saw no results and ended up quitting, guys who were downright annoying, lazy guys who never wanted to change or rack plates, guys who were hell-bent on performing solely bodybuilding routines, guys who just wanted to train their upper body and hit their legs on the stationary bicycle, and guys who simply didn’t share the same training philosophy and enthusiasm. Needless to say, these people won’t last and you need to ditch these people or better yet, not let them become your partner in the first place. I’ve also trained with partners who became best friends and made my lifting experiences much more productive and memorable.
Finding a quality training partner is huge as you are reliant on this individual for motivation, accountability, lift-offs during heavy presses, and spots when you attempt 1RM’s on the squat and bench press. Finding a like-minded group of people to train with is even better, as is finding a gym that has the best equipment and optimal atmosphere. Envision these two scenarios: Attempting a max-deadlift at L.A. Fitness while surrounded by idiotic weaklings, listening to smooth jazz, and not being able to chalk up your hands, or attempting a max-deadlift at a garage gym with three powerlifter friends cheering you on while chalked up and listening to heavy metal. Which one would precipitate more productivity in your workouts?
11. Auto-Regulation Works
I need to write an entire blog about auto-regulation, but suffice to say it works and science is finally starting to prove it! Check out this study abstract.
12. Born to Run Backlash
If you’re a runner, then you may or may not enjoy the following article. However, you will most likely enjoy the comments as there are currently 5 pages of passionate responses to the article. The author claims that the barefoot running craze has led to an increase in running-related injuries. Barefoot runners are quick to point out that this has to do with incorrect running form and poor progression/adaptation. Check it out here.
13. Strong Glutes Will Prevent You From Pissing Yourself
My friend Cassandra Forsythe was kind enough to let me in on a current topic regarding pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence. In a nutshell, there are many individuals who have leaky bladders when they exert physical activity. The muscles of the pelvic floor are supposed to prevent this from happening, but they don’t. Cassandra wrote about it here and here, and Mama Sweat wrote about it here. This is expert Katie Bowman’s synopsis of what’s going on:
“Nulliparous women (that’s women who’ve never had a baby) and men are equally affected with PFD (pelvic floor disorder) so while child birth may accelerate PF weakening, it is not a primary cause of PFD. PFD is first caused by slack in the pelvic floor due to the fact that the sacrum is moving anterior, into the bowl of the pelvis. Because the PF muscles attach from the coccyx to the pubic bone, the closer these bony attachments get, the more slack in the PF (the PF becomes a hammock).”
What Katie is saying makes perfect sense…and is along the lines of what Mike Robertson alluded to many years ago in his “Hips Don’t Lie” TMuscle article. Muscular force couples pull on bones and can affect posture. Weak glutes fail to provide proper postural tension and therefore allow the sacrum to rotate posteriorly which creates slack and weakness in the pelvic floor. A muscle needs to be taught for optimal length-tension relationships and firing ability. Doing too many kegels wouldn’t fix this issue and could indeed make it worse (just like what we see with too many rotator cuff exercises rather than scapular exercises). I could see how a well-timed and balanced approach consisting of hip flexor lengthening, glute activation/strengthening, isolated pelvic floor training, and integrated core training could be the perfect recipe.
If you piss yourself every time you run, jump, or sneeze, then you need to start hip thrusting, squatting, deadifting, kegeling, planking, cable chopping, and cable lifting.
14. Who is Your Fascia?
15. Is he Human, or is he Robot?
I really love my friend Joe Bonyai’s mechanics. He moves so well you’d almost mistake him for a robot. Check out his recent video on shoulder/elbow health for throwing/swinging athletes:
As someone who creates Youtube videos, I know that it’s a laborious and often thankless process…filming, retakes, editing, uploading, etc. So thank you Joe, your videos always rock!
16. Joint vs. Muscular Restriction
Kevin Neeld recently wrote a great blog on the difference between joint and muscular restriction. Basically, it’s not always tight muscles that are responsible for poor mobility. Check it out here.
17. Low Back Pain Myths
18. We’re Too Stupid to Know We’re Stupid!
I really enjoyed this article. Basically, we’re too stupid to know we’re stupid. We’re all a bunch of anosognosics. According to David Dunning, “An anosognosic patient who is paralyzed simply does not know that he is paralyzed. If you put a pencil in front of them and ask them to pick up the pencil in front of their left hand they won’t do it. And you ask them why, and they’ll say, “Well, I’m tired,” or “I don’t need a pencil.” They literally aren’t alerted to their own paralysis.” Most humans are similar in that they don’t quite realize their limitations and therefore have inflated self-perceptions. Check out the article here!
19. Should We Be Busting Out Cobra Poses and Behind the Neck Presses?
Mike Reinold, a highly respected Physical Therapist, recently wrote a blog discussing his thoughts on the Cobra Pose and the possibility that it may be the best postural stretch due to its reversed biomechanics of sitting.
I thought of the same thing when I wrote my “Sitting” blog last week but I didn’t mention it. I guess great minds think alike, right? He created a cool chart that compared the joint positions found in the Cobra pose and in sitting.
In a recent Charles Poliquin blog, he mentioned that his Physical Therapist pal Nick Liatsos believes that “one should be able to press behind the neck to demonstrate healthy shoulder function, and that the strength ratio of the behind-the-neck press to the bench press is a predictor of shoulder health.”
These are certainly interesting concepts as the strength community has drifted away from activities that involve potentially dangerous motions for the low back and shoulders but we certainly need mobility and stability all over. The trick is to understand the fine line between beneficial loading and dangerous loading.
20. Are You Kidding Me? Maxing Out on Squats and Good Mornings Every Day?
Mathew Perryman has been experimenting with some high-frequency training methods that are very interesting to say the least. You can read more about it on this thread and this blog. Matt was working his way up to a daily max on either front squats or back squats, good mornings, and presses five days per week. Basically, you need to get over the “Dark Period” and force your body and brain to adapt to be able to withstand and supercompensate from daily bouts of heavy training. Plenty of weightlifters have done this in the past and there are ways of making it “doable.” I believe that Matt was inspired by the recent popularity of John Broz who adheres to the following philosophy:
• HE DOESN’T BELIEVE IN OVERTRAINING, ONLY UNDERTRAINING. OVERTRAINING IS PART OF THE ADAPTATION TOWARDS BEING AWESOMELY STRONG. HE REFERS TO WHAT OTHERS CALL OVERTRAINING AS THE “DARK TIME” WHEN YOUR STRENGTH GOES DOWN AND YOU FEEL LIKE SHIT. TO HIM, THERE’S LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, AND WHEN YOU START MAKING PRS IN A COMPLETELY FATIGUED STATE, YOU KNOW YOU’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE.
• HE EXPECTS HIS GYM TO BE A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE GYM ON THE WORLD/OLYMPIC LEVEL WITHIN THE NEXT 2-3 YEARS.
• BACK SQUATS ARE STUPID EASY, AND IF YOU NEED TO DO MORE WORK WITHOUT TAXING YOURSELF TO MUCH, DO BACK SQUATS.
• BACK SQUATS ARE GENERALLY BETTER THAN FRONT SQUATS. FRONT SQUATS LIMITING FACTOR IS ALWAYS THE UPPER BACK, NEVER THE LEGS.
• HOWEVER, FRONT SQUATS CARRY OVER TO THE CLEAN, YAY. BS CARRY OVER TO THE SNATCH MORE.
• SQUATTING HEAVY SHOULD BE AS EASY AND NATURAL AS WALKING.
• SOMETHING WILL HURT. ALWAYS. AND YOU’LL NEVER KNOW WHAT IT WILL BE UNTIL YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING.
• IF YOU’RE TIRED, TRAIN. IF YOU HURT, TRAIN. IF YOU HAVE FREE TIME, TRAIN. IF YOU’RE INJURED, GO TO THE ER. IF YOU’RE NOT INJURED, TRAIN.
• WORK UP TO A MAX, BACK OF 10-20KG AND DO 2′S OR 3′S TO GET TO 30-50 REPS TOTAL FOR THE WORKOUT. PERCENTS ARE BS.
• MORE VOLUME = MORE ADAPTATION. TRAIN MORE.
• HE’S MADE OVER 50 ATTEMPTS IN A SINGLE WORKOUT BEFORE HITTING A NEW PR.
• THERE WILL NEVER BE A DAY WHEN YOU WALK IN THE GYM AND CAN’T LIFT THE BAR. IF IT’S ONE OF THOSE DAYS, LIFT THE BAR… A LOT.
• EVERY TIME YOU TRAIN THAT’S A +. EVERY DAY YOU DON’T TRAIN, THAT’S A -.
• PUSH PRESS IS BETTER THAN PRESS.
• HIS LIFTERS ONLY DO LIGHT PRESSES, AND ONLY IF THEIR ELBOWS HURT. ELBOWS DON’T HURT, NO MORE PRESSING.
• START OUT BY TRAINING 3 TIMES A WEEK, MAXING EVERY WORKOUT. ADD ANOTHER DAY, UNTIL YOU’RE UP TO 7, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THEN WORK UP TO MAXING EVERY WORKOUT. THEN ADD 2X/DAY.
• ASSISTANCE WORK IS OVERRATED, UNLESS YOU’RE TRAINING THE UPPER BODY, PARTICULARLY WITH BENCH PRESSES. IN THIS CASE, DO ROWS, PULL UPS, ETC TO STRETCH THE FRONT OF YOUR BODY AND PROVIDE BALANCE.
• DON’T BENCH MORE THAN 3X/WEEK. LIMIT DEADLIFTING, THE LOWER BACK RECOVERS POORLY.
• IF YOU GET PINNED BY A SNATCH, YOU GET LAUGHED OUT OF THE GYM. OR CHAINED TO THE SQUAT RACK FOR A MONTH.
• ONCE YOU START TRAINING THIS WAY, YOU’RE ALMOST NEVER SORE.
Here is a video of John Broz, who has a facility in Las Vegas:
I find this stuff very interesting. Here are my thoughts:
• It may require good genetics and/or anabolic steroid usage to succeed at this type of program
• I don’t think it can be done with the deadlift as it’s too stressful especially on the low back
• Perhaps the body is capable of handling much more than we previously thought
• How often would one need to “back off” and what would one do to “peak?”
• One may be able to make it work but is it the most optimal method?
21. The Joint by Joint Approach
For those who aren’t “in the know,” a couple of years ago Mike Boyle developed the Joint-by-Joint approach to training. During a conversation with his colleague Gray Cook he realized that the future of strength training and corrective exercise may be based on a joint-by-joint approach rather than a movement-based approach. The premise is that the body is simply a stack of joints, and that each joint has specific training needs based on its predictable tendencies to quit working properly. From the bottom-up, the joints simply alternate between requiring mobility and stability. So simple; yet so brilliant. You can learn more about it here.
That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed the Random Stuff.