Monday, March 26, 2012

The mighty back.

Big ups to Brook. He just finished a 200-mile bike ride. He's a stud. He trains hard; focuses on going fast before going long, and never turns down an opportunity to put some extra meat on his bones. more than that, he's a cool dude who motivates anyone within 50 feet of him. Thanks for having such a good attitude, bud. It's contagious.

The Neutral Spine, posture, and strength. Those three go hand in hand. If you release the tension holding your [neutral] spine together, chances are that your form will ultimately suffer and break down and you will express weaknesses rather than strengthen them. In some cases you might even hurt yourself or walk away and straight to the chiropractor or worse.

We train the posterior chain a lot. As many of you already know, the posterior chain is composed of the muscles that work synergistic on your back side to extend your hips and upper torso and to isometrically contract to keep you upright. Translation: these muscles constantly work to oppose and counter gravity, especially under load (think: clean, dead lift, pulling, kb swinging).

Our hamstrings and glutes do much of the "work" during the movements, but what is holding the back together in neutral? Surely it would help if those muscles were well developed. Well, indeed it would. Long story short: develop your ERECTOR SPINAE! If you have more strong muscle holding your spine upright and not letting the spine flop forward, you will lift more weight. Period. You will be a better athlete. Period. You will experience less back pain and will keep your hamstrings, lower back, hips, and neck well-protected against injury and decrepitude. Period. In short, it would behoove everyone to turn what are likely flat, tight, erectors from all the sitting we do into something that would resemble the steel cables that hold bridges together. Seriously.

Take a look:
Do those look like they might help keep the spine in a good position? Do they look important? We got them from our fish ancestors and have retained them this far along. Perhaps mother nature was on to something when she insisted that we keep this set of muscles. To a dolphin, this is the most important muscle group; we seem to take them for granted and in exchange are rewarded with wheel chairs and vicodin.

Lets look at the applied value. Who would you trust more under a heavy bar or to win at anything: someone with their vertebrae protruding through their shirt or
pole vaulting 7 Pole vaulting, my new favorite sport (24 Photos)?

Pole Vaulting has to be one of the greatest sports ever and it's no wonder that pole vaulters often win the competitions where they make them compete in every other event other than their own. Best all around athletes. We see them out on the track daily and watching them is inspiring enough, let alone watching them compete. Sergey Bubka (Ukrainian pole vaulter) won athlete of the year on numerous occasions and gold medalist Yelena Isinbaeva was voted athlete of the year in 2009. FYI.

For more images of girls with extremely well-developed erector spinae who also happen to pole vault incredibly well proceed here: Note: I really did try to find pictures of guys, but all I got was beefy body builders and it's hard to drive the "athletic" point home when the rest of the muscles are over-developed as well.

Back development:

Here's some things that will help put meat on your lower backs.

You can even do lots of supermans. Also stretch the low back out and work on mobility not just up and down but side-to-side and twisting.

Once the neutral spine strengthens, squat depth improves because the hamstrings don't have to stress to keep the back upright. I hope I've made the case for developing an intimidating, note-worthy back-musculature.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas of what to do this week and further on.


Have at it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Break

We don't get one. So we WILL be meeting next week on Monday and Wednesday. Unless it's raining, of course.

Meanwhile, read this: Sprinting for Endurance

Monday, March 19, 2012

What they were designed to do..

We all know how much I love strength. Hopefully, I've conveyed the utility of "More" strength to you all enough. In fact, strength might as well be the main tenet of BHIP. It should be BSBSHIP (Bruin Strength Building and Subsequent Health Improvement Program). You like that?

Here's a pretty good read about combat athletes and the need for them to develop strength.

Combat Strength 101

"In the simplest of terms, strength is the ability to produce force and at the end of the day, producing force is all your muscles are really designed for."

Brilliant. So simple and so right.

Those of you into watching two dudes hammer at each other for 15 minutes inside a cage until one is just lightly bloodier and pulpier than the other realize that this is a bit of a paradigm shift in the training methods and ideology. Much like it has been in the endurance world.

See, barbell training for strength, as of the last 50-60 years has been reserved exclusively for people who want to get strong with barbell training (power lifters and Olympic lifters) and football players, with the exception of frat-boys and gym "bros", but they're just trying to emulate football players anyway. Every other sport was all about developing and honing the skill-sets required and then celebrating any incidental strength gains in jest and calling them "good genes" and "talent". Think about all of those Kung-Fu films. You don't see them pumping iron. You see them in their stances practicing the same stupid punch over and over. But in then end, I'd put my money on Conan or Thor over any of the skinny little dudes with the high-pitched squeals. Other than Bruce Lee, of course; he was the man (and a huge proponent of strength training).

Consider this: Tennis. Is it really surprising that the best tennis players ALSO have the most powerful serves and returns? Is it a coincidence or is it a crucial component of winning: dominating your opponent by imposing your will upon them? That's the idea behind "More" strength; to have just that little bit over your opponent so that at the end of the game or race, you can hammer down on the gas pedal while he or she struggles to stay alive. It's an awesome feeling when you really dominate rather than just barely beat someone because they fizzled before you did.

Today, it's a different game. Athletes and coaches know better and are getting busy developing some of the most powerful athletes ever seen. Usain Bolt does a lot of Oly lifting. So does Michale Phelps (although his coach tried to keep his training methods a secret). It's no secret that having more strength means you're less prone to acidosis and you recover faster and can train with higher intensity and frequency.

When I was a little kid and was picky about eating, as little kids get, my grandma told me: "Boys have to be strong." That was it. She didn't say I had to be fast or jump higher or comb my hair a certain way or listen to the best music; I didn't even have to brush my teeth. All I had to do was "BE STRONG!" So I ate whatever she wanted me to. It was a simple correlation that I have carried with me to this day. (Although I have adopted the culturally-imposed hygienic aspects as well..) I can't say that I haven't benefited from being stronger than others...

- The workouts have been a bit intese, so I don't think you all need any supplementary workouts, but if you get bored, you know where to find more. Otherwise, Mobility!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ask and you SHALL recieve.

Thank you all who responded to the previous post with your favorites and workouts you want to destroy. That's very helpful for many reasons. I'm excited to program them. With those workouts in mind, I suggest using them as a training stimulus for the other workouts. So imagine that it's your Olympic event and the workouts lead you into your event more capable with a higher work capacity.

I shy away from saying things are "bad". I try to use "less-good", even when I talk about crappy shoes. "bad" is this nebulous, universal term that seems absolute and I don't really like that. BUT, when it comes to chronic general systemic Inflammation, I might just use that absolute term. [It] IS BAD. There seems to be no part of it that you would want, yet most of us are plagued by it.

Arthritis Sufferers' Increased Risk of Heart Disease Due to Disease-Related Inflammation and Other Factors, Study Finds

Imagine tying almost every ailment into inflammation. This is where much of the current research is pointing. Yet we do nothing about it; almost as if we're all victims of this random tragic demise.

Human beings are the only organism that isn't sure about what and how to eat. Even the simplest (dumbest) organisms have it figured out. Meanwhile, we build bridges across waterways, erect giant building, defy gravity with flight, manipulate the macro and micro-verse. Someday we will even move stellar objects, I promise. Yet the whole eating things creates so much turmoil and controversy.. I find it highly amusing, personally, but it is indeed tragic.

"Apart from lung cancer, there is no other disease that can not be almost completely eliminated with simple lifestyle changes."

- Walter Willett. Star professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

So if you're plagued by something, you're going to have to get proactive about it..

Mobility is no different. -

If you have mobility issues going on, you have to get proactive about those as well. Your hips aren't just going to magically open up and your ankles aren't going to loosen with pleas. One common mistake is strengthening the opposing side of a tightness. So if your hamstrings are tight, people will try to strengthen hip flexion (iliacus-psoas). This won't help and will probably just exacerbate the issues further.


Another option would be to stand a few inches in front of a wall, put your rear-end against the wall and hinge at the hips.

Do 5 sets of leg-lever (20-30) and retest your hip flexion after each set. Work on that "bracing" he's talking about. Meaning your keep your rib-cage locked-in with your hips. Tighten your midsection as if you're about to get punched. If you've never been punched in the gut before, perhaps that will help instill that feeling I'm talking about.


I've been seeing a guy for "manual release" and it's been helping me quite a bit. It is very ad-hoc and deals with single issues.

The guy is pretty close to here and if you're interested, his site is It is NOT pleasant though. In fact, it is excruciating. I'll leave it at that.

If a more whole-body release is your fancy, then perhaps Rolfing is what you'll "like".

I've had Craig Dunham dig very deep into my tissues and it is quite a religious experience. He opened my chest up and I was able to breathe super deep for a while.

When you grow up skinny as a swizzle-stick yet thinking you're Dolph Lungren, you end up with problems, to say the least.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Flash backs anyone?

Are there any workouts that any of you have been dying to do again (to gauge performance improvements)? Workouts that involve coaching and equipment? Not workouts that anyone can do on their own...

Let me know, and I'll see if I can slip them into the programming. I can't make any promises though.

This is a pretty interesting TEDx talk. I have personal experience with Alzheimer's disease so it's fairly relevant to me.

TEDxIowaCity - Dr. Terry Wahls - Minding Your Mitochondria

Any time someone says "my daughter and her friends love them" I immediatly click off, but her message is legit. More veggies, more PROPERLY raised meats. Less garbage, less processed food; and your cells start working properly. NUTRIENT DENSITY.

She says that it's more expensive, but I disagree. Personally, I don't buy things that aren't nutritious so I figure it breaks even. In fact, I recently ate dinner with a friends. I bought a pound of ground beef (from grass-fed cows) at 6.99/lb and a bag of spinach for like 2 bucks. That's less than 10 buck, and quite a bit of food for a normal person (I ate it all in one sitting because I'm awesome like that). Now imagine something cheap, like pasta. Buuuuuuut, you gotta put some sauce on that, and if you're making your won, then you're buyig a whole bunch of other stuff. The cheapest jar of sauce (not paste) is a good 3 bucks. Now you probably want something with a little more substance along side, perhaps some meat.. you see the picture I'm painting? The individual parts are cheap, but it takes a lot of them. I opt for maximal quality of the important things and forgo the junk and use my budget as an excuse to others... It works.

It seems a bit arrogant to think that just because an individual impressed a group of predecessors that he or she can now maniplutate and adulterate the world per his agenda or as he sees fit.

"Nature made it this way and it has worked this way for billions of years? Nah, we doctors and scientists know better! What can possibly go wrong?"

I get very sceptical about recommendations and "truths" that come from government organizations, even if there sits a panel of highly qualified researchers. Dollars don't have college degrees.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tell them to rest!

If you have a co-worker in the on ramp, please explain to them the value of rest. I don't think they believe it yet.

Rest is when we get strong.

Rest consists of sleep, mobility, FOOD, water, and more sleep. It is all of them, not some.


Personally, from my experience, fatigue management should be a heirarchy of factors. All of the theories and foactors play a role, but through training, we learn to mitigate those issues and eventually, the elite athletes are left with the mental hurdles.

Try this: next time you run, think about being tired and fatigued and then run. Record your time. Recover. Then think about energetic things. Like rockets and racecars and lions tearing gazelles apart. Then run again and record your time. Compare. Notice anything? Repeat to ensure quality.

Check this out:

Here's your goal.

Go do a tabata of anything you want that will quantify your output somehow.

Row for total calories.
Airdyne for calories. (we have a couple upstairs in the wooden center)
Any other peice of equipment that has a power-output meter. Some of the bikes might.

Record score.

Give yourself a period of time to blow that out of the water.

FYI: My pr on the airdyne is 95 calories and it nearly killed me.