Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Do something!

Check out Big Wave Dave at 15,000 feet somewhere in the Himalayas.

I think Dave wanted to find out whether the Himalayan salt really is pink or not. I still have my doubts.
This is what we're all about. Having you folks run around and climb up mountains to put all that training to use. Anyone can be good at sitting behind a computer.. Get out there and find your peace in a place of hardship and climb those mountains. You have a couple weeks off. So I'd like to see plenty more of these spectacular shots.
Way to sport that shirt, Dave! It looks good on you, man!
Get out there and just do SOMETHING! Anything!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dates Clarification

Hi folks! Hope everyone is gearing up for a nice holiday season a good break from exercising.

Here's the scoop on the dates: we WILL BE having sessions on Dec. 14th and on Jan 07th. So if it helps, we're off from the 15th through the 6th.


For those of you that exercise thinking it will prevent death, you're wrong. It's a futile effort. We're all going to die one die. If there's anything I've learned from happy old people, it's that we should focus more on life than death. More LIVING, rather than less dying.


Beating a dead horse, much?

Here's a few call-back posts I wrote before and I think they're relevant. Enjoy!




Monday, November 26, 2012

We move weights.

Reminder: We will be off 12/14/2012 - 01/07/2013 to observe ChristmaHannuKwanza. Spread the word.

Welcome back! Before we get too much farther into the guilt-fueled exercise season, lets review a few things.

WE MOVE WEIGHTS. Plain and simple. Why? Because it makes your muscles bigger and stronger. Bigger and stronger muscles CAN DO MORE.

We also get you breathing heavy. Why? Because it makes you function better under stress and it helps your blood carry oxygen around your body more efficiently.

Granted, exercise produces a cascade of benefits, we stick to the easy-to-grasp aspect. Strength & Conditioning. We don't "burn" things or undo things or create deficits. We aim for gains. So please keep this in mind when you show up to exercise. If your idea of a good workout is one that just feels hard and gets you all sweaty and achy, then I suggest holding your breath in a plank.. Let me know how "good" of a workout that is when you come to.

Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks boys should aspire to be big and strong.. Apparently life itself has something to say about it (other than the obvious).

Seems obvious enough that developing an athletic body is a good thing (rather than just bulking), but I suspect that this is a correlation study so I would hesitate to credit all of the benefits to exercise. I figure that a kid that grows up exercising will also adhere to healthy habits down the line as opposed to someone that picks up exercise as a method of treating a long-standing poor health methodology.

"Thin and fat men alike fared worse in terms of life expectancy if they had weaker than average muscles, while more burly men had better survival odds even if they were overweight."

From a survival stand-point, having MORE strength is can only help regardless of the circumstances. I doubt anyone ever said: "Boy, I wish I wasn't so strong!" Ever.

Surprise surprise. Weight loss has little to do with calories burned? Say it isn't so! http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/is-30-minutes-of-daily-exercise-a-sweet-spot-for-weight-loss/

Trust science! Especially when it is paid for by a for-profit industry. What can go wrong? http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/as-drug-industrys-influence-over-research-grows-so-does-the-potential-for-bias/2012/11/24/bb64d596-1264-11e2-be82-c3411b7680a9_story.html

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bacon wrap it!

It was great seeing everyone who started the 5K trot finish it on Monday. Well done. Just goes to show: everyone can get through 5k. We don't train for it specifically, we just do it as an expression of our general physical preparedness training. It's great to just be able to do anything and everything that life throws at you, isn't it?

That's one of our biggest tenets. Empowering the UCLA community to be better at life. To be better prepared to handle tasks that seem(ed) too challenging. To just say "YES!" and go for it, whatever that "it" may be.

To optimize this, we asked that everyone, including our instructors let go of the flawed notions of training specific muscles and specific, yet nebulous goals, and most importantly the b.s. calorie concepts that plague the health & fitness world and just adhere to simple Truths of strength & conditioning. For many this has proven more than successful, but for some it's just too hard to let go. I get asked "what muscle is this working?" or something like that. Others will brag about how many calories the might have  burned off and that now they're permitted to guiltfully consume a few more.

I'm tired, folks. I can't go on explaining the same simple concepts to people who are just looking to debate. If you believe something different, then there is no point in debating. None. At the end of the debate, two tired and bitter people will stand in disagreement just as they started, but worse. The truth is that one of the belief systems is flawed. I suggest objectively evaluating your belief systems to figure out where those flaws may lie, and if you're an adult who is capable of making choices based on discerning critical analysis, trying to address those flaws with some sort of change. What's the worst that can happen? Progress? Learning something?

The great part about BHIP is that it's more than just exercise. It is a community; and communities are great for making changes at the individual level. So help each other out! Share your successes with each other. Encourage others to make positive changes in your lives (eating habits). You see a good deal on high quality protein at a market, share that info. This is the progress that politics and regulations fail with. Not us, though.

Here's Dan John (a notoriously effective coach) musing the same thing I do every day: is there any part of life that doesn't benefit from being stronger..

So for the last several decades, we have been told that saturated fat is BAD and will definitely kill us all in a sudden violent stroke or heart attack.... We've been scared away from eating things simply because "they" told us not to... Turns out, it's still just something we are told. No one has YET proven anything bad about consuming saturated fats. It's all just correlations.. Here's a correlation for you: as the consumption of ice cream increases, so do pool drownings.. (the fact that both of those things happen MORE in the summer months has nothing to do with it, right? WRONG!)

My question has always been: if saturated fat is so "bad" for me, why does my body produce and store it as a preferred lipid-oxidation fuel source? Wouldn't MY OWN fat do just as much damage as consumed fat? (hate to break it to you, folks, but we all have a certain amount of fat in our bodies, including our brain.)

Anyway, have a great break!


Thursday, November 8, 2012


The monsoons are here, as you can tell. If it is wet tomorrow (11/09) then we won't be able to conduct exercise sessions.

But you can still get access to the gym in The Wooden Center.

Thank you for understanding.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tis the season for cravings

Locations for this week:

FRIDAY 11/09: Meet on Bruin Walk, just outside of the track.

With the onset of November comes the season of people gaining weight. The holiday season is notorious for this miraculous event.
Quick survey: is the weight gain from lack of exercise or from the certain foods that are exclusive to this season that people are consuming with reckless abandon?

Yep. That was a trick question.

This made me realize that I'm working from the wrong end of this fitness scheme. If I really wanted to make a lot of money, I'd start a sweet snack company that makes irresistible foods.

I'm a numbers guy, so all I have to do is invest into "craveability". I think I can gather a team of researchers to quantify "craveability" and from that start producing things that even the most determined and disciplined individual would cave into. Then I could also run a fitness program on the side and have those same people pay me to try to undo the damage that I caused them. I probably won't tell them that you really can't "outworkout" poor food choices; you just have to live with them. Any investors?

Here are some of the things already out there, tempting your sweet tooth, and making your pancreas twitch in fear. http://thisiswhyyourefat.tumblr.com/

I think I need an insulin pump after looking through all of those.

What's up, 185 pounds?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Location update: Friday 10/26 5:15pm and 6:15pm sessions will meet OUTSIDE of DRAKE STADIUM. Spread the word. Thanks!

K.I.S.S. -

Keep It Simple, Stupid! This is the most useful, yet under-utilized acronym ever taught to the military. Simple.... Simple... I can't think of a better way to do ANYTHING! Yet, here I sit, trying to figure out a way to explain the idea of "simple".. I'm drawing a blank... Maybe I'll try to do it by illustrating the opposite.

Here you go..

I really don't care how fast you can run or how resilient to fatigue you may be; IF you think that THIS is a good idea, you are a moron and should probably abstain from procreating. Simple.

Every week I am cornered with various questions regarding some unique, super secret, convoluted squirrel strength training program that only works for a special person, done during a special time, after drinking a special drink, with 48 other restrictions and caveats. I don't care enough to explain why this is pointless because usually, my time is worth more to me than the person asking the questions. If they don't have the time to do even 10 minutes of research, then neither do I.

Even better, someone who can't do a single pull-up or dip will come up to me asking what the easiest way to do a muscle-up is; or something of that nature.

Here you go... Simple.. 4 easy steps.Muscle-upexercise

Maybe a write-up will help if the pictures don't quite make sense.. http://www.fitstream.com/exercises/ring-muscle-up-a21

I don't bother asking "why" anymore. I already know "why". It's nifty, It's different. It's innovative. It's bada$$. It's hardcore. It's special.

For some reason that's where this industry is going. It's about who can bring some innovative new "move" or gadget to the table. Something that pack a secret training methodology that hasn't been explored yet (since all of the others have failed). This is how money is made here.

No training method has ever failed anyone. People fail, not methods.

The reality is that a person who CAN DO a muscle-up is either already pretty impressively skilled (talented) or has been training for a long time using basic and foundational skill and strength development techniques specific to the demands of the task that he or she intends to accomplish. As a result, they probably developed a physique that accommodates the task as a consequence rather than a goal.

There is nothing innovative about the expression of the training. But if you fall into the hype of many of the training gurus out there and start doing muscle-ups as an exercise routine.. Well, I just hope you have a good orthopedist on hand and some free time for rehab. I hope you all see the picture that I'm painting.

Enter "SIMPLE". Simple works. Simple is ellegant. Simple is universal. Simple is.... simple.

For the purposes of training and exercise in broad general domians, I've distilled everything to like 15 different exercises. The rest, life takes care of. We'll never do neck-suspended ring push ups.

We'll never do front-flip juggernauts

We'll never do GHD bench presses.

Why? Because it is NOT simple. If you want to go out on your own and tear it up with these, go right ahead. I'm still trying to figure out a point in hand-stands.

I'll stick to the basics: the more you squat, the better you are at life.

Just in case you missed the point:

"Look everyone, I'm an idiot lemming and I'll do anything anyone tells me to do as long as that person thinks they know something different."

Please enjoy your week while I punch myself in the brain...


Monday, October 15, 2012

Brain is cooked

Location update: This FRIDAY, 10/19, 5:15pm and 6:15pm will meet at WILSON PLAZA. Spread the word. and if that's inconvenient, then just come to an earlier session.

I think the heat and the sun have cooked my brain over the summer. I'm out of topics to write about for a while. Frankly, I feel like I've just been rewording the same rhetoric for the last year or two.

- eat right
- build strength and speed
- enjoy muscles
- train smart
- rest
- work on mobility

That probably sums up all of the posts I've ever written.

So I'm just going to link stuff for a while until something new comes up..

If it ever cools down, I'll turn on the old crock pot and start making all sorts of meats that take days to cook. Here are a few articles that will help you justify eating large quantities of meat, IF you choose to do so.

http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/yeclnm/article/PIIS1751499110000545/abstract  "Increasing the protein content of frequent meals attenuated both the glucose and insulin response."
- I like to imagine that in a good million years, something will dig up our remains and will simply deduce that our generation (the last couple thousand years) was full of a bunch of idiots.

Add some sweet potato if you're good with starches http://producenews.com/index.php/news-dep-menu/test-featured/8957-research-on-orange-flesh-sweet-potatoes-continues-to-amaze

instead of ... http://www.greenmedinfo.com/page/dark-side-wheat-new-perspectives-celiac-disease-wheat-intolerance-sayer-ji

Skip the fructose add some fish oil.. http://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-fructose-makes-you-stupid-and-fish-makes-you-smart/
- eerily sounds like Alzheimer's, doesn't it?

I heard about this research back in 2008 and looks like the magical cooling glove is about to go commercial. It's still early, but data shows that the performance improvements are better than those of steroids. That's a tall order but who knows. It's interesting nonetheless and don't tell me you don't want one.. before it's banned that is.
I need this to stay cool while on the track.

Want to open your shoulders? http://gymnasticbodies.com/tutorials/lat-flys/

Paying 120 bucks to jump around in your living room always seemed odd to me as well.

Mat is a funny guy. He's also incredibly smart and a scientist's nighmare.

"An Organic Chemist's Perspective on Paleo" by Mathieu Lalonde, PhD from Ancestry on Vimeo.


Stay cool this week.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Consitent persistance

If any of you have a rain dance or some ritual that you know of that that will make it cool, now is a good time to sing those prayers. I've been praying to every god of weather there is.. Including Storm and Thor.

No, I don't know how to combine images..
After the last couple posts about doing pull ups and dips, many of you have responded about how good it is to be reminded about what you NEED to do and what they NEED to work on.
Here's my advice:
It's basically that simple. If your pull ups are non existent and you want to do them, avoiding that is not going to magically hatch into a pull up one fine morning. You have to hammer away at it for long periods of time. You have to turn your weaknesses into less of a weakness. They may never become strengths, especially if you look at it from Tom Rath's point of view, but at least you'll make progress if not mastery.
The key is consistency and persistence.
- Persistence is simple. It is the metaphysical force you apply to an effort. As long is it's there, you'll "go for it" repeatedly. Failure might frustrate and demoralize you here and there but hopefully it's not enough to kick the bucket. So the easiest advice is: keep trying. Push on. Try again. Eventually, something will come of the effort.
- Consistency is a bit trickier. This part takes character. It takes discipline. It involves relentlessly doing the things that you don't really want to do because you know you SHOULD. But here's the kicker. You have to repeat. Again and again and again. Just when you think you're over it, remind yourself that you've only just begun and then move on to the next repetition. Day in day out. Week in, week out. Month after year after decade. You'll get it. Stay consistent and "it" becomes you. "It" becomes your character. You are what you do consistently.
So find something that you are struggling with and get after it. Make it the reason for exercising today. It doesn't even have to be a big thing. It might just be a component of something else. Like spreading the ground in squatting or punching through during a snatch. I always tell people that MAYBE by the 1,000th clean, it will start to make sense and then it will all simultaneously fall apart again. Continue in this fashion. How long is up to you, but progress can take years or longer. So be patient and dedicated.
Dennis, this article is for you, buddy. But everyone will benefit from reading it.
Eat your yogurt! Unless you don't want "luxuriantly silky fur" or that "certain mouse swagger".
It's on the topic of the on-going gastro-intestinal bacterial biome discussion.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This looks like a job for me..

Thank you to everyone who have been patiently adjusting your schedules and locations and for your understanding during these fun fall weeks when we welcome the students, programs, bands, athletes, events, construction, grand openings, closures, and surely a few other things I'm forgetting.


Last week I wrote about pull ups being a good developer for the arm flexors as an expression of the body's intent to elevate relative to a fixed bar overhead. Hopefully it was clear how the sequential chain of events works and the subsequent development of this chain of events. Again, hand strength is where it starts (if you can't even hold your body, you can't pull it.. much like a heavy dead lift) and then scapular stability, followed by scapular mobility, and finishing with the latismus dorsi doing most of the work and your biceps helping out in what little way they can relative to the bigger muscles at work.

This week I'll discuss the DIP as a developer of the arm extensors. Arm (elbow) extension happens when you decide that you want a little more space between your self and an object that is close to you. You're going to push something.

Push ups and the countless varieties of them are a fantastic way to develop that. The problem is that most people can either do way too many push ups or not nearly enough to stimulate the stress needed to facilitate any development. If you can do 40+ push ups repeatedly, then very likely your body is no longer accommodating the stress with physiological adaptation. The push up is mush like running in the sense that if you're good at it and it's fairly easy then you're just beating a dead horse, much like I am right now. On the other hand, if you can barely do 2 or 3 without dragging your hips on the ground, then the limiting factors are too great to overcome and the stress in the movers isn't enough of an issue for the body to respond against. So it's disregarded by the body as just another challenge that's too hard.

Enter "dips". Here's an example of the beginning of the dipping progression:

I searched for a solid 15 minutes and this was the best I could find. This is a great exercise for elbow extension but a lot of the movement is generated at the shoulder and chest and finished by the triceps. So if you feel other things burning, there's a good reason for it.

Next we move to the parallel bars:

Not a bad video. Again, stay tight in the torso. This is where scapular stability and mobility come into play. So make sure you follow the same progressions as with pull ups.

- First practice "support" where you just dangle for a good 30 seconds to a minute with nice hollow posture with your shoulder blades pulled together and down so your head and chest are high. Pull the elbows back and avoid flaring them out. No chicken wings! Keep your hips under your shoulders and you can bend your knees.

- Then move to "negatives" where you will ride the dip all the way down as slowly as you can. You can even have someone gently pull on your hips to "help". You must maintain the torso rigidity and the shoulder placement the entire time. So keep the blades and elbows back. Hold hollow.

- Once you can do them. Do them with some gusto. Avoid doing them slowly so do sets of only a few that are fast. Try to get a good 50 - 100 a week.

- If you can do 12+ then you might want to put a belt with some weights on. Or get some rings and do them on a set of rings.

Watch this: http://gymnasticswod.com/content/dip-rings

Notice how tightly he hold the "hollow" position through out the entire movement.

A little Controversy

I love controversy! I enjoy every minute of it. I like instigating it. I like fueling it. I like playing devil's advocate. I find it so interesting. And, at the end of the day, when everyone puts out their flames, I feel like learning takes place and things ultimately improve for the positive.

So here we go: Read as many or as few of these links and do with the information what ever your little heart desires.

Ready? Go!

- Noakes wrote the book "Lore of Running." It was all the rage a few years ago but I threw it down after I read the nutrition section. It was status quo so I discounted the rest of it and tossed it away. His new advice is to tear the nutrition section out of the book. I may have to finish reading it now.

- Before you light your computer on fire, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Potatoes and yams are wonderful sources of starch (just peel them well). I eat massive amounts of them as I PERSONALLY function very well with them; BUT if I needed to shed a few pounds for various reasons, then I would consider reducing the amount of potatoes I was consuming.

- Those of you counting your calories, I suggest you find something better to obsess over. Quality over quantity. And, if you think you're smarter than millions of years of development and you opt for a "low fat" or modified variety of something that didn't come that way from nature, well, you're probably wrong. Stop being wrong.

- Not all "good" things are good for YOU as an individual. Especially things that ferment. Maybe if humans had ruminant stomachs. Jus' sayin'.

- Don't mess with how your body deals with fructose. Yes, high-fructose syrups are devastating to your liver.

- Check who pays for studies and don't take advice from people who stand to gain from you taking that advice.

- Keep in mind: the USDA (invested in AGRICULTURE) writes the federal diet guidelines. What if it was the USDI (ice cream)? What would the guidelines look like then? 8 servings of ice cream per day? SWEET!

- I had to search what the word "glycosylation" meant. Seems like it means "to bind to a carbohydrate molecule". This is a bit above my pay grade, but pretty interesting.

- Long-winded article that merely says "GO BACK TO THE SOURCE!" Eat from the source. Stop buying into hype and eating junk that scrambles your metabolic circuitry and eat real food. You stand only to gain from this approach.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Armed and Dangerous.


First things first: check out Justin's post about short shorts. It's a revolution people. Just make sure you have the thighs to fill them out if you choose to partake. Don't go strutting your chopstick legs in some rugby shorts. Here's an example of what you're shooting for (just get a smaller size if you're worried).

Obviously those legs are enormous, so a diet rich in sets of 10-12 heavy front squats and the same with Romanian dead lifts MIGHT get you off to a good start. I suggest you forgo walking in exchange for broad jumping and lunge-walking everywhere now. Also, you're going to want to push your car to work rather than actually driving it. You guys should all start "carpooling" anyway. Just switch off who gets to push and who has to steer. If you need to brake, just run around to the front and slow it down that way. Don't be a mamby pamby and bank on the driver slamming the brakes. That's cheating!

All joking aside, there is a saying: "Hard lives build hard bodies". I believe this to be true. An hour of exercise isn't really going to be helpful if you want to resemble a rugby player. Becoming a ruby player and training to BE a rugby player will help achieve that look. The desire to dominate and impose your will upon your opponents for a mere CHANCE at winning helps drive the athletic physique. FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.


I can't believe I only recently discovered this product:

This stuff is amazing! It's ANTI MONKEY BUTT. Now, before you all bring out your inner child and either get carried away, or offended, this stuff goes on any parts of your body that come in contact with other parts. So if you're totally jacked like I am (sarcastic) your arms and lats spend a lot of time together. This causes moisture to collect and friction to increase. Subsequent irritation and rashes are soon to follow. So a little proactive care can go a long way. It's basically talcum powder and calamine powder in one bottle. Pretty simple, but very effective. I got a bottle at either CVS or Riteaid. Which ever one is across from Trader Joes in Westwood.


After reading last week's post, a female BHIP participant came up to me and asked me a question that nearly brought tears to my eyes. She asked how she could put some more meat on her arm bones to match her sprinter daughters' arms. This topic hits close to the heart for me as I PERSONALLY believe that no one should have to go through life with skinny arms.

Having big arms has a certain suggestive power. Take a look.

Here's a guy who is feared on the football field. Probably looks a bit intimidating off the field as well. I'm not saying it's all about the arms. But they certainly help. Believe it or not, Clay Matthews happens to be quite a heart-throb with the ladies. Dudes like him too because he embodies Thor. Now imagine if he had thin bony arms. Let's just say the Packers would have had a mighty hard time winning the 2010 championship without him and his career banks on his physique quite heavily. So it can be argued that Clay's arms won the 2010 Super Bowl. Yes, my logic is bullet-proof.

The key here is symmetry and proportion. You don't want to be this guy:

His arms serve no other purpose than my amusement.

The moral of this story is functionality. Clay Matthews USES his big arms for a load-imposing and bearing purpose. He has to push his opponent harder than the opponent can withstand. That's why he tends to dominate his plays. Greg Valentino (the bubbly dude) has very little utility in his arms other than advertising steroids, which he has been jailed for a few times.

So let's talk function.. The function of your bicep and triceps muscles is, mainly, to open and close your elbow joint. So the immediate training method would be to go do some curls and triceps extensions. Unfortunately, the frat-boy approach is a misguided one. Your arms flex (close) and extend (open) in harmony with other actions in your body. So if you're pulling something in, you're hopefully going to start with bigger movers like your hips and lats and then finish with your arms; just like a ring-row. Same with pushing. You'll start with your legs perching against the ground and with a violent push and follow-through from the chest you'll finish by pushing your arms open. Think push press, even a push up. So arms express the intentions of the body. And if you have big arms, then that suggests that your body can have even more intentions.. Numsayin'?

Sprinters have big arms because they need to keep their arms in tight while sprinting and hammering their fists. The fists can build up quite a bit of inertia at those speeds.

For our purposes, the best way to develop some well-proportioned arms is through pull ups and dips.

Pull ups are great but very challenging for most people. So take as much time as you need to develop the movement. It may take years, but that doesn't matter, it's about the process and progress. If you can already do pull ups, do more.

Progressing - Pull ups are a product of hand strength (most important), dynamic scapular control, and scapular stability.

- So develop your hands to tolerate the load of your body. Use a chair or something else to help you progress. Use an underhand grip.Stay active. So don't just hang like a dead fish. Actually look strong.

- Develop the scapular retraction. So bring your shoulder blades closer together and open your chest. Hold that position for a few seconds at a time.

- Develop scapular depression. So with your shoulder blades together, pull them down your back towards your hips. You may only get an inch or two. Think about popping your head up higher.

- Add in the pull. After you have a good grasp on all the previous stuff, start pulling your elbows down and in. Make sure your shoulder blades stay in and down. External rotation/retraction/depression. If your shoulder blades break the position, you're not ready to pull yet.

- Drive your elbows all the way down and back behind you. This is the finish. Your neck may now be at the level of the bar. I like to hit my chest to the bar.

- Add speed and only do a few at a time. Slow pull ups are useless unless you're going slow on the way down. So do like 1-7 as long as they're fast and structurally sound. Shoot to do a good 50 a week.

So this is how we develop the body and subsequently the arms. We follow a very specific protocol that will help ensure functionality rather than just having grotesque arms and physiques.

Ok. I'm out of brain juice. I'm out! Have a great week!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Too much muscle?

It's hot again, folks. Make sure you stay hydrated!

Also, make sure you're all squared away with the membership stuff. You don't want to be the one who gets called out because you "forgot" to sign up.

Every week I make these long elaborate lists of things I'd like to write about. I get all excited to write some nonsense about the intricacies of the snatch-grip dead lift or some other irrelevance that I know no one really wants to read about. Then I get a reality check... Someone will utter something to the effect of "I have too much muscle.." or "My these or those are too big or bulky.." Immediately thereafter a record begins to scratch in my brain and I get a strange twitch above my right eye. No one can see it, but it's there. Right above the eyelid.

Here's the interpretation that happens inside MY head: "I'm getting a little more awesome and I'm really concerned about it because I want to keep sucking at life.."

*Side note: I hear this from guys more that girls. Frequently, boys will ask me how they should train at the gym. I reply very simply: train to squat twice your body weight and press your body weight. Their immediate response is usually: "I can't squat.. my legs get too big.." A few years ago I would take time to contest their asinine logic but now I just shrug it off. When they say things like that, I just hear: "I don't want to do anything challenging, I don't have the necessary equipment for that.."

I am too awesome.

No one has ever been deemed too much of anything awesome. Even Michael Jordan had plenty of room for improvement. He knew it better than anyone and that's what made him Michael Jordan.

Our subjective perceptions come from contrast. We compare and contrast things. So relative to another car, mine is either faster or slower, or bigger or smaller. How those perceptions are interpreted is up to me. If I BELIEVE that a good car is big and fast, then I can make a generalization like "My car is better than a smaller, slower car". But there is nothing really concrete about that statement. Only what I believe, and not much more.

So when I hear about how some of you believe that your muscles are too big.. I laugh. Compared to who's!? The average person? Really? You really want to juxtapose yourself against the status quo?

Well, let's evaluate a little further. I googled "average American" and got this:

Now, this isn't necessarily an accurate representation of the true average American but it is significant. It doesn't take too much reasoning to conclude that this family ranks pretty high for numerous risk factors associated with obesity. Thus we necessarily conclude that obesity is unhealthy and the opposite must be healthy: polar contrast.

Let's see that: I typed "anorexia" (a disease) into google..

Yikes. It doesn't take medical school to know without a shadow of a doubt that this is an image of unhealthiness. This is an image of obsessive, compulsive, destructive disease. Yet if you ask this woman what she is doing, she might tell you that she is striving for maximal health based on what she believes to be true about health and fitness.

So without beating the dead horse any longer, here's a few things to contrast against..

Talk to me about your "big" muscles (and how awesome they are) when you're cranking out triples of 225 pounds after a couple months of blowing the gym off.

Here's some more: http://www.allthingsgym.com/2012/09/summer-krasinski-squats/

Gentlemen, if you aspire to look like this, then you are useless to humanity and should probably be used as a bear snack for my personal team of sled-pulling polar bears.
Something went terribly wrong in this kid's childhood. His parents need a good beating.

It is my personal contention that every human (males especially) should feel this innate, visceral obligation to be an asset.. To something or someone, perhaps. Be able to at least contribute if not impress. If one's goal is to have just enough muscle to not collapse because it's part of an image that they think is desirable, then that individual is selfish beyond my comprehension. I don't care how vocal that person is about ridding the world of plastic bags and saving the ice caps, he's useless. No one listens to anyone who voluntarily chooses to wither away by the age of 30. I digress...

Here's what a real male should aspire to look like:

Magnus Samuelsson (former World's Strongest Man) says hipsters make for decent protein shakes; of which he drinks 5 a day.

Anyway, the point is that the sooner you stop comparing yourself to others or what your skewed imagination believes is good or better and instead focus on achieving positive things, the easier your training will become.

Go put some meat on your bones and walk around with that certain swagger that only a person who can do awesome things can have.


Volume builds bigger muscles. So doing more reps of light weights to "tone" just means your doing light body building. Enjoy. http://70sbig.com/blog/2012/08/20/

Bigger muscles have greater contractile potential. Meaning, bigger muscles have the potential to generate more force (especially in women).. Awesome! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15947721

Women have at most, 1/10th the testosterone of a (real) male. So without hormonal supplementation, woman generally won't look like dudes. Most boys won't even look like dudes. Bummer. http://70sbig.com/blog/2012/08/20/

Testosterone (along with numerous other hormones) is made from cholesterol. Ladies, you need it too. That bears repeating, but I won't. http://www.endotext.org/male/male3/index.html

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Break Time. 8/30 - 9/9

NO SESSIONS from 8/30 to 9/9. None!

Hopefully many of you heeded the warning I put out last week about sitting and have been spending more time on your feet. Super important! Do it! Do it, more! Walk, stand, be tall; just avoid sitting. Hopefully you've had a chance to roll around on the floor and shove a ball in your psoas.... oh, who am I kidding but myself. Maybe two of you did, one for sure.. Thanks James!

But I'll keep beating the dead horse just for fun.

If you don't want to experience the exhilarating thrill of the lacrosse ball in the psoas, then perhaps try this stretch throughout the day.. every hour or so. It only takes 30 seconds. Sooooo that means that no one will do it.. but at least watch the video.

This is a really good stretch. Just make sure you don't go flopping around your spine. Keep it together and tight and use your glute to open the hips and stretch the psoas only.

If nothing else, use the lacrosse ball to massage your feet to relieve some of the new tension from standing and using your feet more.

Free Time:
Yes, to many people's dismay, we are taking 10 days off. That means that you will skip 4 sessions. Just 4. Not a big deal. 4. That's it. 4 workouts. This will not impact your Olympic careers, folks. It's good to take time off from exercise, so whether you agree with that or not, you're going to have to figure your life out for a mere 10 days.

Here's some stuff you can do while you hold your breath through the 10 days:

- Enjoy yourselves! Go do something that you'll enjoy, for $#@&' s sake. You don't have to constantly spend your recreational time in a state of misery to prove to everyone how healthy you are. No one cares about your pool of sweat from 6 push ups, so quit telling everyone about it and go do something more fun. FUN! Have it!

- Mobility. You all lack it. Period. each and every one of us has an issue or 15 that need to be addressed. How about giving those hips some attention? Your feet? Wrists? Shoulders? Don't know how? No problem. Check out MobilityWOD for some pretty effective Mobs. Just search for the joint you want to deal with. 10 days is enough to fix most anything that ails you.
- Trim your calluses! You don't need those sucker going from exercise accolades to torn "battle" scars. Nothing cool about that battle and it's really not a good story to tell. "How'd you rip your hand?" "This crazy workout! Ring-rows really tore me up." "....... neat?" You don't need that.

- Exercise on your own. You all know the drill. If by now you haven't figured out how to put together workouts, then we need to have a serious talk. Simple. Move your body (squat, lunge, push up, pull up); hold positions (plank, side plank, back bridge, bird dog); Sprint. Simple as that. Mix and match to your little heart's content. Get together with others. I know that groups meet at various times so either show up and see who you find or get on the facebook thing and see what happens.
- Get as deconditioned as possible so that you can make huge strides and gains when you come back. Keep in mind that most progress is made when a person is at their worst. So take 10 days to find your worst. This is easier said than done. Ice cream and Dr. Pepper are good. Throw a couch and a TV into the mix; even better. You see where I'm going with this. Wouldn't be the wisest choice, but a CHOICE nonetheless.
The bottom line is, do whatever YOU want with these 10 days. Their yours to enjoy and waste at your disposal. Have fun with it. The common phobia as that somehow everyone is going to miraculous explode in the 10 days.
Well, if you use exercise to justify questionable eating choices, then you're already in the wrong and unfortunately no amount of exercise is going to undo that. So good luck. If you have addressed your nutritional behavior, then you'll be just fine and your cortisol will settle and you'll find a nice homeostasis. Ideally, that is.
Keep in mind: you can gain strength/muscle/conditioning and store fat at the same time. Think about football players. That's how they make their living. So don't think that exercise will stimulate growth in some but magically won't for you. That's just insane, according to Mr. Einstein.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your hip flexors are short. Fix it!

Glad to hear that so many of you were inspired by Ali McWeeny. I sure am. I can't wait for my signed photo to come in the mail.

The Sport of Life

As members of the UCLA staff and faculty community, your lives are comprised mainly of some sort of sitting. Lots of it. Think about it. Track your day from start to finish and count the hours that you spend in a chair. Many of you will surely be in the double-digits. Well, guess what, sitting SUCKS! I typed in the word "sitting" into google and the screen nearly slapped me in the face with article after article that cited the words "dangerous", "death", "worse than smoking". Here's a few for your reading "pleasure".

The Most Dangerous Thing You'll Do All Day
Sitting less could extend your life
Sitting can be more dangerous than smoking, study shows
Too Much Sitting Can Kill You, Study Suggests
The “Sitting Is Killing You” Infographic Shows Just How Bad Prolonged Sitting Is

Get the idea? Sitting is not the best way to live, but the reality is that we can't avoid it (I can because of my job). If we wanted to abolish sitting, we'd have to make a lot of changes that would certainly trickle into other aspects of our lives. So, chances are that it probably won't happen for many of us. You do stand to benefit by... wait for it..... STANDING UP and walking around frequently.

The big problem for us in exercising is what happens to the hip flexor muscles after prolonged sitting. By prolonged, I mean within a few hours, let alone years.

These are the two main hip flexors:

These two muscles flex the hips. Meaning they either bring your knee closer to your chest, or your chest closer to your knees. Think situps, tuck-jumps, leg levers, flutter kicks.

When you spend too much time sitting, you artificially "freeze" these muscle into a shortened range of motion. Sitting in a full squat would help counter this since they would contract through a full range of motion, but few desks are equipped for this feat. This is a big problem when we ask you folks to squat and your hip flexors think the job is done when your hips drop to chair-height. Instead of pushing through to the bottom, many just drop the chest, round the back, or widen the feet.

The shortened PSOAS becomes a really big problem for many of you that sit and also have muted hip extensors (part of the same sitting package). Notice it is attached to the lumbar spine from the femur. Well if it is shortened, then one of those bony structures has to move. It's not going to be the femur as the leg is too long and that is mechanically unlikely. The lumbar spine, on the other hand, can move forward toward the belly button if pulled by the psoas. So it does. We call this "hyperlordosis". You call it "ouch, my lower back hurts, I probably lifted something incorrectly and now need surgery and a handicapped placard on my car for awesome parking spots".

Here's a picture:

Now let's attribute the mechanics to the source of the problem.

Bam. This is why your lower backs hurt after sitting and dead lifting and squatting. This is why you're prioritizing doing the dead lift with your back instead of your hips and you end up pushing through your belly instead of pulling the bar up.

So how do we fix this. Well, prioritizing hip extension is a good counter measure for the short flexors. Doing things in a hollow position is good too. But ideally, you're going to want to lengthen and relax the hip flexors. This is not easy. Obviously those muscles are hard to find since they're buried deep inside of you.

I go see an ART specialist and he PAINFULLY manipulates my muscles into submission. It is not pleasant but it works. Really well. www.drnelsonsantos.com is the guy, and no, I'm not getting hooked up for mentioning him; I pay, but he does take insurance. Or you can even go to your physician and they can give you a shot directly into your psoas. That sounds like a blast!

If you want to do it yourself, it will take time, but you have to be proactive. Check these out:

I like to do this one by laying on top of the ball and trying to expose the psoas with intensive glute and abdominal activation with rotation. This will hurt if you do it right.

You can use a band to distract the hip flexors as well, while you try to blast the hips open with your glute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=SPpAECK8jFs#t=374s

Justin from 70'sbig made a great video on exposing the psoas to palpate it.

So these will be some fun things to do if you have any interest in preventing the common problems associated with chronic hyperlordosis or you want to actually move some heavy weights correctly and let the big muscles develop in your hips rather than punish your back.

Note: I ripped off all of the visual aids from www.70sbig.com. Justin made a few great posts about the hip flexors and they're really pertinent to us because of our lives in chairs. So read his stuff, watch his videos, and enjoy his work just as much as I do. Thanks Justin!

Stand up, walk around!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maybe she's not human..

It's good to see all of the newly-matriculated exercisers integrating with the on going exercisers. Hopefully everyone is or will be registered by the end of the week. Translation: pay up!! See the memebership desk at the JWC for help with that. Thanks!

Here's a picture of the central and peripheral nervous system. It's the maze of nerves that makes our thoughts and desires become actions. Pretty incredible, right? The human body seems like such a foreign object sometimes; as if we're completely removed and dissociated. Think about it. You exercise, and all of the sudden, muscles develop. You didn't have to tell that muscle to develop. It just did. On its own volition. The muscle fibers and enzymes that control their growth knew to take care of that to accomodate for the increased stresses placed upon them. Amazing! Blows my mind..


Meet Ali McWeeny:

Yes! She is indeed dead lifting on one leg. You thought you had a hard time lifting weights?

Ali was a record-holding powerlifter in 2009, until she loft her leg in a boating accident. Most people would have simply bowed their heads and played the role of a victim. Surely her doctors and many around her probably expected that.

Ali had different plans. She had dumbells delivered to her while in her hospital bed with morphine pumping through her body. She continued lifting weights and is now the only woman to COMPETE on one leg. That's right, she competes. Ali McWeeny is a real life warrior.

I think you all get the idea. Read the post on 70'sbig.com for more info about here.

Ali is trying to raise some cash for a new prosthetic leg that will help her achieve even greater degrees of awesomeness than she already has. You all know what a big proponent I am of making this world AWESOME, and I think that Ali is going to be an integral component: a leader. She was cut from the warrior cloth and I have a feeling that very little is going going to hold her back. She definitely has my support and if anyone else wants to help her out, you'll be doing a good thing. Here's a link to the fund-raising page: New Leg For Ali.

She already met her goal, but I'm sure she'll find something good to do with the extra cash.

If you're on the fence, watch this video without getting sentimental.. I challenge you!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cohort 6. Welcome.

Just like that, another BHIP ON Ramp cohort has made its way through the 12 weeks of diligently learning how to exercise correctly. Ah the stories they will tell. Strangely they all sound much like the stories every other cohort has told, but none the less, they are good stories of epic failures and monumentous achievements.. in the realm of exercise of course. Take a moment to reflect on all of your accomplishments.

Without a doubt, we do get a huge response about the transference of the gains made during exercising into the real world. We love hearing about how easy the hard things are getting for you all. We love hearing about how you're all doing things that you haven't done in a long time or never dreamed of doing. That's what this is all about. Saying "YES" to anything life throws at you. Chances are, it's something fun and worth doing.

Lately, we have started implementing options for workouts. This seems to be a good idea so far and everyone seems to like it. This means that now you get to choose how you want to expend your efforts. No one workout is easier than another, so don't go choosing one over another for difficulty sake. If done right, a heavy lifting workout should wear you out just as much as running Drake Snakes. If it doesn't, then you have spent the workout warming up.

When making your choice consider the following:
- Lifting heavy weight for maximal efforts is intended for gaining strength. Strength means you can "DO" more. A good thing. It means you can impose your will on other... "objects". A good thing. It means that you have the capacity to help others and be of use to the human race. Pretty sweet. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as "too strong". No one has claimed that title.. yet.

- The stuff that makes your lungs burn, legs aches, and leaves you in a sweaty pile panting and moaning is called "conditioning". Some people call it cardio, but what most people consider "cardio" I consider "easy things done while breathing heavy". So we don't waste your time with those. The conditioning we do is done with the intent of improving your existing conditioning. Meaning that you can recover less as you improve. This involves willingly walking through the door into a place of discomfort and likely regret. This is where you hone your mental fortitude and indomitable spirits. This is where you run the risk of losing your lunch. And if not that, at least you'll feel a sense of accomplishment.

- So try to choose based on what you want. You want more strength? Focus of the heavy lifting and skill-based workouts and throw in an occasional gasser. Want to focus on conditioning? Huff and puff away to your heart's (dis)content. Variety is your friend.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

We'll miss you, Guy!

For those of us us lucky enough to know Guy Merchant, (the guy in the back middle with the biggest smile and both thumbs up) we know him as a kind, light-hearted, easy going dude with an infectious laugh, a huge smile, and a scary wheeze. Oh, and lets not forget the unbelievable amounts of sweat.

Unfortunately, Guy passed away on Monday from a quick bout with an aggressive cancer. We lost a good man and a great friend to the UCLA community. This news is a shock to all of us, but let's try to remember Guy the way he left us.

From what we gathered in our short, yet frequent interactions, Guy loved swimming, reading the New Yorker, watching shows like Mad Men and The Walking Dead, and desserts. Desserts bears repeating. I'm pretty sure we all got a new recipe for some insanely awesome-sounding dessert every week. And if you ever tasted Guy's flan, well then it ruined flan for you because nothing compares.

Guy's incessantly up-beat spirits and the joy he found in working hard and training like a true competitor was a lot like dessert after a brutal workout for everyone around him. His positive attitude and his jovial approach to the hard things in life were highly contagious to the folks at 6:15pm and it was very noticeable. He was good time, through and through.

As you all take a moment to mourn Guy, please keep in mind that in life, he cared very much about others' happiness and we should remember him with gratitude for being the man that he is. I am very thankful for getting the opportunity to coach and be friends with such a benevolent person and I will really miss him.

Here's a few more picture of Guy.

We'll miss you, Guy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Like Gatorade for vampires.

Blood tastes weird. So what better way to really hook the vampires than to sweeten it up? What would you rather drink: irony, salty, mineraly stuff or gatorade? Lets turn our blood into gatorade then. I bet the face-eating bath salt freaks aka Zombies will appreciate it as well. This joke sounded a lot better in my head. Oh well..

Here's the real issue. Syrup doesn't flow very well. It is very viscous. Flush it down a fat pipe and it won't matter, but as the capillaries narrow, the flow decreases proportionally and fluid pressure rises. This works well for a tree that needs to keep moisture high up away from the water source, but it is an absolutely disastrous state in our bodies. Our brain and eyes and our appendages and basically all of our tissues have very narrow extensions of blood vessels; some so narrow that only single red blood cells can pass through them at a time. So if a person cranks their blood sugar up and makes it slightly syrupy, then forget about those narrow capillaries passing anything through them. Pump up the blood pressure to boot so that things keep flowing, just a slower rate. It's not good.

Vessels of human brainCapillary blood vessels

Now take a chronically high sugar state. Blood doesn't get to certain tissues for too long, they die. Ever heard of diabetics losing limbs? Going blind? Ever wonder about Alzheimer's Disease? I'm not saying that I have the cure and I'm not trying to blanket the pathologies of these diseases, but it makes you think about the value of preventing these diseases with minor adjustments to our daily lives. So does reducing sugar intake and increasing sugar metabolism (exercise) sound like good ideas? Your call.

So in order to take this serious dialog and make it a little more bearable we made a video. Starring ME! And Dr. Zebra Fish! We made science! Kind of.. ish... whatever.. ENJOY!

Spoiler alert: nothing blows up.. sorry folks. Maybe next time.

Big thanks to Bill and Dr. Rios for helping me out on 15 minutes notice and to Elisa for buying all the goods.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Real food? As opposed to?

Personally, I believe that there is FOOD and then just things that can be swallowed.

This guy has a free seminar where he will teach you about real food, in case you're confused. It's FREE!


So read it, watch it, enjoy it, an then fill me in. Do it!


Monday, July 2, 2012

wah wah wah

Even if you're just joking around, complaining about the workouts, verbally or physically expressing discontent about the workouts, or asking us if we're "going to take it easy on you today" is merely an advertisement of your work ethic and nothing more.

First of all, we don't take it hard or easy on anyone. Everyone is SUGGESTED the same workout and if you don't want to do it, no one makes you do anything you don't want to do. Frankly, you can walk away or stand there the whole time. The choice to do the work is YOURS and YOURS ALONE. With that said, I suggest that if you chose to show up, you may want to also choose to JUST DO THE WORK. That simple.

Keep this in mind:
Bam. Slurp that up with your protein shake.

We all have our off days and you all have heard my urges to get more rest countless times. There is no such thing as getting too much rest when you need it. I often force myself to keep sleeping on weekends so I can get a good 10-11 hours of excessive sleep. If it's a day of rest for me, I move and act like a hibernating bear. But there is a big difference between that and plain laziness. So if you do choose to do the work. You might want to add the gusto it requires. The work isn't going to do itself just because you asked it to.

Paying for a membership only gets you in the door. It's the work that counts, and you can't put a dollar-figure on that.

Ask these guys about "going easy"

Or these guys:

Get my drift?

Have a fun 4th!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Strong enough?

If you don't know what Crossfit is, don't worry about it. It's the sport of exercise. My personal stance is that exercise is NOT a sport. Football and swimming and softball and pole vault ARE sports. But, with that said, some of the individuals "competing" in the Crossfit Games are quite impressive.

Crossfit is all about conditioning. Period. That's how you win at crossfit. Just don't ever get tired and you stand a pretty good chance.. But check this out:

Do you think a sturdy strength foundation helps these numbers and drives a higher level of conditioning? Do you think a cleaning over 300 lbs is even romotely possible without a front squat that is far advanced of that? How about a 250 lbs snatch? Is it possible without a much stronger OH Squat?

Don't forget, Crossfit is conditioning.. Not a strength training program. Is strength a factor?

Don't forget about this either: These rules are NOT optional. Ever.