Jan 14, 2018

Introducing... Corporate Warrior

In the next few months, I'm going to make a an effort here to talk a little bit about some of the folks on our Sites Of Interest.

The links you see there are people or organizations that we feel are doing good work by promoting the correct training methodologies and have some unique information that we think would benefit our readers.

The first one I'm going to talk about is the newest addition to our Links, Corporate Fitness. Corporate Fitness is the effort of Lawrence Neal. Lawrence states he started the site
"after having the epiphany that redefined what I considered to be “effective exercise”.
My journey starts here… 
It’s Sunday evening 22nd July 2012. I’m sitting down planning my workouts for the week: 
Monday – Running and “Core” Work Tuesday – Upper Body Strength Training and Grip  
Wednesday – Interval Sprints 
Thursday – Lower Body Strength Training and Grip 
Friday – Hill Sprints 
Saturday – 45 Minute Run 
I pointlessly penciled in other activities in the few available spaces, knowing full well they weren’t going to get done. 
I planned my life around the workouts that should have come second to my relationships, family, and mission. The result: my career suffered, businesses failed, and I never saw family. I was pretty unhappy. 
14 months later, things were different. I watched this video by Dr Doug McGuff. It was a game changer. 
On a Sunday evening (29th September 2013), I sat down to plan my week. I planned when I was going to see friends and family, work on my business, network, develop/acquire skills for my day job, attend seminars, and play sport. 
Once I had filled this in, I penciled in a single 15-minute workout for Tuesday evening, knowing it would provide all the benefits and more of my previous 6 to 8 training sessions per week with minimum wear and tear on my body. 
My journey took a turn. 
I realised that, like exercise, I was ineffectively managing my life. I started to hunt for the critical counterintuitive in everything. Looking for the principles, strategies, hacks and tactics to more effective living. Default living just didn’t make sense to me."
[Excerpt from http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com/about-us/
Lawrence came across the high intensity training and saw what positive it gave him and then sought a similar approach to living life. I don't think we'll try coining the phrase High Intensity Living (HIL), but it's clear that Lawrence has made every effort to maximize his progress by investing quality time into the things that matter to him.

Just as we do with high intensity training.

I've listened to some of the podcasts on Lawrence's site and really like them. Lawrence asks good questions and probes for answers making the podcasts more interesting and valuable to the listener.
I think you will benefit from Lawrence's information, positive outlook and energy he brings to the table. Visit Corporate Warrior and see what we mean.

Nov 3, 2017

Squats - We Can Do Better!

"Morality is contraband in war." -Mahatma Gandhi

Question the importance of squats on any lifting forum on the net and typically youll get back a range of responses from necessary evil to better than sliced bread. Some people love pushing the squat so much theyll tell you you need to do it if you want a bigger chest or arms. And then a breath or two later explain the principle of SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) without blinking.

Squats, though a good leg exercise aren't necessarily the best choice for every single athlete that comes through the doors of the weight room. In other words, as we stated in a previous article, We would like to emphasize that there is nothing magical about placing a bar across ones back to develop lower body strength.

Whether or not the squat is the right choice depends on several things:

  1. Does the movement fit the subjects body. Is he 6'10" or 5'10"?
  2. Do you have a safe setup for performing squats? If a power rack is unavailable, do you have competent spotters available? Enough racks or spotters that you can run the team through the lift in a time efficient manner?
  3. Are there prior injuries that need to be compensated for, or that make performing barbell squats difficult? For example, if a players injured shoulder doesnt allow the hand to get back to grip the bar properly, then you should be looking in another direction than the barbell squat for leg and hip strength.
  4. There are various squat machines, leg press machines, hip sled machines, lunge movements and body weight squatting movements that also strengthen your legs as well as squats do and possibly in a safer manner.

Sufficient strength can easily be acquired with movements and methods other than the barbell squat. Many athletes are too tall or don't have the right lever arms for proper (safe) form in the squat.   I am working with an athlete that has very long legs and a short torso.   She cannot hit parallel without excessive forward lean and struggles to not fall over backwards.  I quickly ruled out parallel barbell squats as an exercise and have had her working the leg press instead and she is progressing nicely.

In summary we should be thinking about the athlete, any limitations they have, and how to deliver that athlete a safe, effective, time efficient method of strengthening the legs. The weight room is a tool for an athlete to utilize to develop strength. It's how the strength gained in the weight room is brought to utilized on the playing field that matters, not how the strength was gained in the first place.

Don't lose sight of that.

Oct 30, 2017

It's Not Complicated

"Enthusiasm is the most important thing in life." -Tennessee Williams

Don't Complicate Strength

On my own, I have learned simple is best. Yet, what I read said, complex is best.

There are many reasons strength training isnt portrayed as simple, but perhaps the biggest is that the simple is not worth as much money as complex. Arthur Jones and other high intensity advocates had simple programs. Many of todays gurus teach a Soviet/Eastern European periodization that factors in the level of the tide, sunrise, moon phase, barometric pressure and the orbit of Halleys comet.

While those programs can work as well, they work because the body is made to work hard and to follow that work with a period of rest. I believe a lot of the reason for the pushing of the complex approach is because when you see all the factors that you must (according the the ones pushing the complex) consider, you are sure to understand why you need to be paying top dollar for this advice, probably need a personal trainer and could never make gains on a simple program. Reminds me of lyrics from Pink Floyds Mother

  • Momma is gonna put all of her fears into you.
  • Momma is gonna keep you right here under her wing.
  • She wont let you fly, but she might let you sing.
  • Momma is gonna keep Baby cozy and warm.

In our case Mother is the excessive periodization faction and their followers. If they told you it was as simple as putting more weight on the bar when you can or doing another rep when you can and changing exercises occasionally you would start to question the worth of the coaching you were buying. The more complicated it is, the easier it is for the coach to justify their existence.

Can it be that simple? The resounding answer is yes, not only can it be that simple, it IS that simple. Look for lifting programs from people like Ken Leistner, Matt Brzycki, Kim Wood and the like. These guys practice the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle. You wont see a workout called Double Negative Inverse Loading Periodization Protocol, but you just might find some effective workouts that make you stronger, larger and able to perform at a higher level in your chosen sport.

Sep 3, 2015

You don't need to train explosively to exhibit explosiveness

A long while back in a "Dear StrongerAthletes: Success Story" (scroll down on page link takes you to) a father and mountain bike coach mentioned the improvement he'd seen in his team members and his son after utilizing the Stronger Athlete's method of strength training. He mentioned his son's improvement and if you would like to see some of the things his son can do with a bike - amazing stuff - really, you need to watch this video.

Also check out the America's Got Talent Profile of Jeremy Vanschoonhoven.

Dec 12, 2013

When Resistance Cables are Superior to Weights

December 12 "The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." --John Ruskin

When Resistance Cables are Superior to Weights

As you well know, your muscles get stronger to demands of resistance imposed on them. Resistance and only resistance. It does not matter what provides the resistance. Whether it's a can of soup, a gallon of water, a resistance cable, a weight machine, or a free weight, a log, a barrel of concrete (shout out to Steve Justa) or even your own body weight, it's just another form of resistance.

So, what makes resistance cables so special? Truthfully nothing, you can build strength just the same with anything else in the list of resistance devices I mentioned earlier. Just like there are things a wrench can do that a hammer can't, there are some things that make cables more desirable than other methods of resistance. The smart coach or trainee learns the fundamentals and then can pick the particular tool that will meet the need at hand in the most efficient way.

Fred Crivello turned me on to cables years ago. Fred, an accomplished Jujutsu practitioner and coach uses cables to strengthen himself for Jujutsu and found them superior to weights for his needs. At the time I was lifting weigts a lot and really had not used many other methods of strength training. I had developed some overuse injuries and was looking for a change from weights. [Growing older and wiser has it's benefits:) ] Today I have different types of cables and they are a big part of the strength component of my workout.

Here are a few of the advantages of cables versus traditional weights or machines for strength training:

  1. Low Cost
  2. Cables don't take up much room.
  3. Cables can't smash your toe if you drop them
  4. Cables can provide resistance in any plane easily. Weights and most other devices usually only provide resistance in the plane of gravity unless you have pulley's or some other means to redirect the resistance plane.
  5. You can quickly adjust the resistance level by changing to a heavier cable or by shortening or lengthening your grip on a cable or even doubling it up
  6. Unique strength curve. The further you stretch a cable the more resistance a cable offers. Your muscles are stronger near full contraction than when fully extended. A resistance cable matches your strength curve better than free weights.
  7. Can easily be taken on a trip to provide a workout

Low Cost

Cables are reasonably priced. In addition, if you live somewhere where you would typically need to mail order weights, then you know shipping is going to kill you. Not the case with cables. They weigh next to nothing yet can provide resistance of large heavy expensive to ship weights.


You are not going to get hurt if you drop a cable on yourself. The risk you do run with cables though is they can snap unexpectedly. You should always check them over prior to use. Also I wear safety goggles over my eyes anytime I'm using cables that don't have a capture feature. A capture feature is usually a nylon type enclosure around the cable. If your cables have this, then the risk of injury due to breakage is many times smaller.

Multiple Planes of Resistance

There are many sports and activities in which you need to use strength in directions other than vertical. With weights the resistance is always toward the ground. You have to reposition yourself if you want to hit the muscles from a different angle. This is not always easy or practical. With a cable it's easy. You want horizontal resistance, hook the cable to a support beam or similar and pull until your hearts content. Or take a short piece and hold with one limb well the other pulls away. If you purchase Fred's cable course (highly recommended), you will quickly see what I mean and understand the many advantages cables can give you over weights.

Unique Strength Curve

In most if not all lifts with weights as you get closer to the fully contracted state your muscle is in a position of greater leverage. This means the weight that was so hard at the beginning of the movement is now very easy to lift.
Cables offer more resistance the further you stretch them. That means that at the end of the lift when the weights won't offer your muscle enough resistance, the cables are giving more resistance than when you started the lift.

Travel Considerations

If you are a road warrior, you can't always count on hotels having any sort of fitness center or having it open in the hours you can or want to use it. Cables pack nicely in your suitcase and are available to train whenever you are.

There are more advantages, but these are the biggies. A good set up cables is less than one month at the most gyms. They can be stowed in a duffel bag or hung up when not in use.

Probably the best benefit is the ability to provide resistance in any plane. Whether you have cables that attach to something or have a set in which one end of the cable is in each hand, you are able to work virtually any muscle at any angle. This is nice for variety sake and specificity.

If you train for sports such as wrestling or martial arts you can work standing or on the floor and mimic the sport motion with the cables.  This is in keeping with the principle of specificity.

For the person training at home, or if who has a busy travel schedule and needs a way to get a decent workout on the road, cables could be the anwer. It beats lugging the Olympic barbell with you to use at the hotel. I have read of people bring weights on a vacation with them, not athletes, but the bodybuilder type of folks that are in some cases addicted to working out.