Mar 18, 2022

A Poignant Comment On Squats

by Dr. Ken Leistner
I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter." –Blaise Pascal

Still want to train your athletes like powerlifters and have them do low reps with heavy weight? Doctor Ken was right then and is still right today. Read on.

I had a very enlightening conversation with the strength coach of one of the National Football League teams yesterday, one which further reinforced my belief that heavy squats utilizing maximum weight for one to five repetitions should remain the province of the powerlifter. In many previous issues of The Steel Tip, I’ve criticized the use of single-rep testing or training for football players, citing the fact that doing heavy, low repetition movements was an athletic skill in itself, one that was unnecessary for anyone but a competitive lifter, and one which placed the trainee at substantial risk for injury. Unfortunately, many of our college and high school strength training programs are based upon a competitive powerlifting cycle, leading the athlete to a maximum low rep lift, and just as often, leading him to serious injury. Two incidents, one which involved the NFL team I was in contact with, point out just how preposterous the situation is.

At the Collegiate National Powerlifting Championships, which were held March 23rd and 24th, Temple University entered a team which included two of their varsity football players. One, offensive lineman John Rienstra, is considered one of the best at his position in the east, if not the entire country. Another, Eric Coss, is described by one publication as “a three year regular.”

Obviously, these two athletes are important to the football program at Temple, and their loss from practice or games would be a detriment to Temple’s bid to become a dominant gridiron power. Yet, when Coss arrived at the site of the championships, he was suffering severe sciatic pain and low back spasm, severe enough to limit all lumbar ranges of motion and alter the muscular responses in his right lower extremity. This came as a result of an injury incurred while training for the Collegiate championships, during the squat or deadlift. As medical director for this meet, I informed him that he would be risking serious injury if he chose to compete, perhaps serious enough to prevent his participation in spring football practice which began four days after the lifting competition. Mr. Coss decided that he would represent his team, despite extreme discomfort, during the warmups. On his second squat attempt (he had missed his first when lumbar pain prevented him from achieving an acceptable depth) he fell to the platform in great pain, and was eventually removed, to a nearby hospital for treatment of extreme myospasm with indications of disc inflammation and sciatic neuritis and irritation. I don’t know if he was available for the start of spring football drills, but if I were Temple’s head coach Bruce Arians, I would have been miffed beyond words that one of my better players could have been lost to football indefinitely, especially when the same type of strength could have been developed, for the sport of football, without exposing Eric Coss to such risk. John Rienstra was not injured and, in fact, won the overall title in his weight class, but he too was at considerable risk in doing so.

While under the reign of a previous head coach, one National Football league team had a strength coach who was much enamored of the achievements of a powerlifter and self-styled strength training expert who lived in the southwest. Arrangements were made to fly all of the offensive and defensive linemen to his hometown, a total of thirteen or fourteen men, and have them spend one week training under this man’s supervision. This was done, and the football players, many of them standing over 6’3”, with terribly disadvantageous leverages for the competitive powerlifts, did these and other heavy quick lifts during that week of training. When the football players returned to their homes, they continued to do the squats, power cleans, deadlifts, power snatches, and other heavy quick lifts for multiple sets of one, two, three, and five repetitions. The strength training expert, of course, had had great success using these techniques, great success as a powerlifter, forgetting of course, that he also had very favorable leverages for the three competitive lifts. As a direct result of this training program, the current coach told me that three of the linemen needed corrective back surgery, and four others have chronic low back problems which necessitate the use of special supportive girdles while they’re on the field. At least two others were waived from the team because their low back problems made their play undependable and erratic.

Very recently, this same team had a young, strong player who had used a “typical” program of low rep squats and power cleans in college, and wanted to continue using them with his professional team. The head coach and the strength coach both felt that the squat was a productive exercise, but only if it was done in such a way that the player was not exposed to the unnecessary risk that maximal weights present. As a direct result of his weight room work, this young player injured his low back, seriously enough to jeapordize his ability to play, and he did this while doing heavy, low rep squats, while the strength coach was not present. The head coach was so outraged that he immediately ordered that the squat racks be removed from the weight room. As the coach told me, “Ken, keep in mind that I have nothing against squats. Like yo u, I realize that they can be extremely beneficial. However, when these players let their egos run wild and put tons of weight on the bar, or try to push their max singles up, it’s not necessarily beneficial to their ability to play football, and the risks are obvious. In our case, the safest thing to do was to just take the racks out so that there would be no risk of further injury.”

A few years ago, a similar series of incidents led to the removal of the racks from the Cincinnati Bengal weight room. Most of the players who did squats came from a powerlifting background where their college strength coach was an active or former lifter, and encouraged them to do heavy, low rep squats as “the only way” to increase lower body power for football. Their previous training or egos demanded that they squat only with the big belt, only with the knee wraps, and only if there was as much weight as possible on the bar. Doing fifteen or twenty repetitions with four hundred and fifty pounds wasn’t seen as being as “strength stimulating” as doing three reps with six hundred and fifty pounds, and many of the players had the low back injuries or chronic stiffness to prove the folly of this type of reasoning. When the injury rate became alarming, the racks were removed, and at least in the case of the Bengals, the players have improved significantly with the use of the Nautilus Duo Squat machine and the new Leverage Leg Press unit, both done for reps in the fifteen to twenty range.

Football is a sport requiring great lower body strength, as is powerlifting. The skills needed for one sport are very different from those of the other, as as long as college and professional football strength coaches confuse that fact, weight room injuries will abound.

Feb 16, 2022

Power Points

by Ken Mannie
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." –Vince Lombardi

Expressions of power – or what is often called "explosiveness" – are the very essence of athletic competition and they are crucial for optimal performance. Considerable controversy exists regarding the most efficient and safest way to build the body's "power engine" in the weight room.

One faction says to lift lighter weights with high speed. An opposing view suggests using heavier weights, but with a smoother, controlled movement speed. The corollary to this discord is confusion – especially among high school coaches who are attempting to formulate strength/power-training programs. Our purpose here is to take a close, objective look at power and offer some suggestions for its development.

The Science of Power

Power is a measure of the amount of work that can be performed in a specific amount of time. The textbook formula is as follows: Power = Work/Time, which means that power can be enhanced by decreasing the time it takes to perform a given task. Power can also be defined as Force X Velocity, which means that power can be enhanced by increasing the force output. Simply put, as your muscles become stronger, they are capable of generating more and higher force. Once you are able to generate more force over the same given distance, you have improved your ability to express power.

It has been established that power involves three components: (1) muscle force, (2) the distance of force application, and (3) the time of force application. Therefore, power can be enhanced by: (1) increasing the muscle force, (2) increasing the distance of force application, or (3) decreasing the time of force application. These are basic, irrefutable laws of physics.

But what about developing power for athletics in the weight room? Is there a "best" way to go about it? Let's take a closer look.

Developing Power vs. Expressing Power

Note: Also read Does the Power Clean Express Power or Develop Power?

A review of the scientific literature reveals a split in the recommended methods to develop power via strength- training. Some studies suggest fast movement speeds, while others indicate that controlled movement speeds are equally effective. Two interesting studies indicate that all of the varying methods have merit.

Tohji et al. (1991) found that subjects who used a combination of moderate speed and isometric (i.e., no movement) muscle contractions enhanced their maximal muscle power production significantly greater than a group that used both moderate and maximal speeds of movement.

Behm and Sale (1993) showed that subjects who trained one limb at 300 degrees per second and the opposite limb isometrically showed similar increases in high-speed power in both limbs.

In effect, there is evidence that power is produced at slow, intermediate, and fast speeds. It can also be produced in an isometric fashion – where there is no movement at all. What, then, is the optimal speed for power development in the weight room setting? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer.

Just about all of the published research on the appropriate movement speed for power development used isokinetic dynamometers. These are low mass devices consisting of a movement arm and either an electronic or hydraulic resistance mechanism. Since the velocity is controlled (i.e., a specific speed is set), momentum is not a significant factor in assessment. Momentum, however, is a significant factor when training with the tools (e.g., barbells, dumbbells, plate loading / selectorized machines, etc.) available to most coaches. Obviously, a certain degree of momentum is necessary to get the load moving. We are referring to unnecessary momentum.

When working with a relatively light weight, a willful effort (external force) to overcome inertia with high speed will lessen the muscle tension through the movement path. Shouldn't the downward pull of gravity on the implement result in a constant application of muscle tension? Not necessarily – and here's why:

If you are able to move the implement with any appreciable degree of speed, the ensuing momentum (Momentum = Mass X Velocity) will at some point enable it to move independently, albeit briefly. This can be easily demonstrated (though we do not recommend you try it) by pressing a relatively light object overhead with a high rate of speed. Then, at or near the top of the movement, release it.

Will it travel a short distance under its own power before falling to the ground? Sure it will. What if the implement was relatively heavy? In that case, the speed of movement would be greatly reduced.

Again, basic physics laws are in effect here: A light weight can be lifted fast, a heavy weight can be lifted slowly, but a heavy weight cannot be lifted fast. Of course, the terms "light" and "heavy" are relative to an individual's existing strength level. The point we are making is that there is a clear distinction between developing power and expressing it.

Expressions of power in the athletic setting (e.g., hitting a baseball, jumping, sprinting, blocking, tackling, throwing the discus, etc.) are the result of strength/power increases from the weight room coupled with the neuromuscular and cognitive components of skill development through quality practice. For developing power, we recommend the use of heavy weights for the given rep ranges (e.g., 6-8, 8-10, 12-15, etc.). During the initial reps, the trainee is instructed to control the rep speed in order to develop and maintain muscle tension. Otherwise, there will be a reduction in muscle fiber recruitment. As the set progresses and becomes increasingly difficult, the trainee must exert more force with a conscious attempt to move the load with "speed." However, due to proper weight selection and the effects of fatigue, it will be impossible to move the load with high speed.

What we have just described allows us to progressively overload the muscle structures while concomitantly developing power with safety and efficiency. The appropriate expression of this power must now be practiced with regard to the athletic skill(s) in question.

Neural Adaptations

Our neuromuscular system is constantly sending and receiving messages in the form of nerve impulses. Along with muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size), there are neural aspects that make significant contributions to enhanced strength and power. Regular, progressive stimulation of the musculature with strength-training movements reduces neural inhibitory impulses. Inhibitory impulses are those that are picked- up by our proprioceptors (sensory receptors that monitor changes in muscle length), which serve as protective mechanisms. Subsequently, there will be an improved economy of motor unit (muscle fiber) firing and greater power output. This is known as motor unit "synchronization," and it is a major player in the strength and power game plan. This improvement in increased motor unit firing enhances the rate of force development – which is the speed at which a skill can be performed.

Basic neuromuscular physiology indicates that maximal fast twitch (Type II) fiber recruitment is achieved with maximal intensity, regardless of the movement speed. "Intensity" in strength-training is defined as the percent of your momentary ability to execute a given exercise – that is, the amount of effort you are able to put forth. The "size principle" of motor unit recruitment – which is one of the most supported principles in neurophysiology – states that muscle fibers are activated from smaller to larger (Type I to Type II) relative to the force requirements, not the speed requirements. The force/velocity curve indicates that there is an inverse relationship between movement speed and muscle force production. In other words, slower muscle contractions generate more force.

Remember that the "intent" to move the weight rapidly may still be evident – but the appropriate weight selection will inhibit the external speed. Therefore, in terms of muscle fiber recruitment, lifting heavier loads with a controlled movement speed is more cost-efficient than lifting lighter loads with high speed. It is known as high-tension, or high-intensity strength training. This is representative of the type of training we have advocated in past articles. While it is not the only way to build the body's "power engine," we feel that it is at least as effective as any other approach, and safer than most.

Final Rep

Any type of progressive strength-training, regardless of movement speed, will elicit gains in muscle hypertrophy with concurrent enhancements in strength and power.

Basically, we have chosen to implement smoother, more controlled lifting speeds (approximately 1-2 seconds for raising the weight, and 3-4 seconds for lowering the weight) for the following reasons:

1) Controlled movement speed reduces momentum, allowing the target musculature to perform the work.

2) Controlled movement speed minimizes abrupt acceleration and deceleration forces, thus reducing the probability of muscle and connective tissue trauma.

3) Controlled movement speed creates and maintains more muscle tension.

4) Controlled movement speed produces more force output.

For anyone preferring to implement strength-training exercises that are more ballistic in nature (e.g., Olympic- style lifting and its variations), we recommend that you seek the tutelage and advice from qualified individuals and/or organizations who have expertise in that area.

References:

1) Behm, D.G., Sale, D., Intended Rather than Actual Movement Velocity Determines Velocity-Specific Training Response, Journal of Applied Physiology, 74(1): 359-368, 1993.

2) Carpinelli, R., Speed of Movement for Building Optimal Strength, HIT Newsletter, 1996.

3) Kelso, T., The Basics of Muscle Contraction: Implications for Strength Training, In Maximize Your Training ( Brzycki, M., ed.), Ch. 3, 35-80, Masters Press, Lincolnwood, IL, 1999.

4) Tohji, H., et al., Effects of Combined Training Programs on Force-Velocity Relation and Power Output in Human Muscle, Thirteenth International Congress on Biomechanics, (Marshall et al., eds.), University of Western Australia, Perth, 311-312,1991.

5) Wakeham, T., Improving Speed, Power, and Explosiveness, In Maximize Your Training, (Brzycki,M., ed.) Ch. 20, 257- 270, Masters Press, Lincolnwood, IL, 1999.

Feb 14, 2022

The Athleticism Fairy

"Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide. -Marcus Tullius Cicero

Today I read a question of someone wanting to know...

"In you guys opinions is Front squat the best exercise for speed & Athletic performance"

Piss poor grammar aside, let's get at it.

Maybe since it was February 14th and the day the fictional character cupid goes around shooting the arrow of love into people, the asker of the question perhaps believes there is an athleticism fairy.

There is no such thing as the athleticism fairy and she therefore can't give you athleticism via an exercise. If there was such an exercise, people would just do that exercise and play in the NBA, the MLB, NHL, NFL or any league or sports organization. All you have to do is want it bad enough and put in the time, right?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but someone has to, and the sooner the better so you can get a grasp on reality and take control of the things you actually have control over.

For a long time (decades) there have been factions that think certain lifts make you athletic. It's a chicken egg scenario. Which came first? Let's say you are very good a a movement in the weight room and also a very good athlete. Did you suck at athletics until you reached a certain proficiency in the movement you excel in. Chances are the first time you tried the movement in the weight room, you were stronger than most at it.

Now you are a stand out on the field. Someone watches your work out and sees you doing that movement in the weight room that you naturally excel at. They see that and immediately think your performance on the field is from that lift. They let others know the magic exercise you do that makes you a super star. Now every one that wants to be a super star does the exercise too. Of course all others become super stars too. Oh wait... that isn't what happened.

Athletes are born, not made. The hard work they do simply polishes to a high level the inherent physical abilities they have potential for. Repeat that until you believe it, because it's true. You will not stand out at college or any higher level without being born with genetic gifts that allow you to excel in that activity.

Most are not blessed genetically. How do we know? If it was all about hard work and "want to", an NFL team would only have to pay 100k per year for a top flight quarterback as so many want to be top flight quarter backs and work really hard to be top flight quarter backs.

The reality is that top level quarterbacks make millions ever year because there are so few. With a population near 9 billion on the planet, a salary in the millions, certainly the job is attractive enough to have a few folks wanting to be a quarterback and working at it really really hard, right? Yet the annual salary remains in the millions. Salaries are driven by supply and demand. Demand is so high and supply is so low that the salaries stay where they are.

So to become more athletic which lifts do you recommend?

Your reading comprehension is low if you are asking that question at this point.

The only correct answer is to strengthen the muscles used by the activity you want to excel at and then use that new strength when you practice the activity. You will improve your athleticism ONLY to the point that a lack of strength was stopping your potential.

Lets use an example. You play football as an offensive lineman and the average starting lineman can squat 600lbs. Your squat is 400. Chances are you will be a better lineman if you can get your squat to 600lbs because your strength relative to other starting lineman is low.

Now lets assume all lineman squat 600 lbs. Are all of them starters? Of course not. Why are people that are equally strong all not starters? Because of skill and inherent athletic ability. Skill can be improved. You do drills, learn to block better, read your opponents and so on.

Now let's further assume all lineman squat 600lbs AND have equal skill. All must be starters then, right? Again, NO. Now we arrive at athleticism. But what is that? Three of the big factors of athleticism are power, quickness and coordination.

But Ima get hella strong and squat 800, then I will be a starter

Additional strength only goes so far. I have read that many second stringers in the NFL are in fact stronger than the starters in many of the key movements envisioned as "athlete makers" Things like squats, cleans, sled push/pull, hip thrust, you name it. At some point additional strength doesn't mean much because, it's one factor in the equation and not the most important. People cling to strength as the answer because that is one of the few factors they have control over.

Strength is a factor of power, but speed is as well. How fast your nervous system can send a signal to a muscle to contract and how rapidly that muscle responds and contracts is NOT trainable. It's genetically predetermined. I hope you chose good parents because that is the only way to improve that quality. Speed and coordination are largely the same.

No matter how much you want to believe in "functional" exercises and the athleticism fairy, you are going to come up empty.

Don't take my word for it though. Keep seeking the magic exercise and magic workout and pounding your head against the wall. Go ahead and wonder why you can squat 700lbs on the second string, but the starter only squats 550. However, he has a 34 inch vertical jump, but yours is 26.

He has adequate strength and the necessary power. You have excess strength and inadequate power. So he is on the field making big money and you are not. But you are stronger, you have that. You can always tell others you are stronger than the starter. And if you are really stupid you will keep looking for the secret exercise to increase your athleticism.

Feb 3, 2022

An Abbreviated Strength and Muscle Workout

"If the enemy opens the door you must race in." –Sun Tzu, The Art of War

This one is for those souls that program hop and switch to the next big thing when they don't put an inch on their arms per workout. In bodybuilding and strength training, slow and steady wins the race. A workout like what I'm going to give is not flashy in terms of what some propose today. You won't find swiss balls, side planks, face pulls, or any of the other "modern" and "woke" training methodologies.

Why leave all those movements out? Because they are not necessary. Not necessary to gain size, strength, etc. They can be supplemental, occasional exercises to do, but should not be a part of the regular workout. Actually, throw the swiss ball away completely. If you keep it you are likely to get sucked into some silly "balance" strength training.

Imagine if someone were to do the following routine for 3 years without changing:

Monday

  • Squat 1x6 & 1x12
  • Bench 1x6 & 1x12
  • Chin 2x6
  • Curl 1x8 1x12
  • Lateral Raise 1x15 & 1x12

Thursday

  • Deadlift 1x8
  • Dumbbell Press 2x6
  • Row 1x8 1x10
  • Dip 1x8 1x12
  • Calves 1x20 & 1x15
  • (Or similar exercises suited to them.)

Imagine if they added only 0.5kg a week to everything, except presses, curls, calves and lateral raises, to which they should add only 0.25kg a week.

If you want you can get yourself some micro plates to do these small weight additions. They are available online. They are convenient, but over priced for what they are. You can make some simple ones using paracord or rope tied to light objects you can hang on either end of the bar. You could even used a small sandbag and add a bit of sand each workout.


Jan 24, 2022

John Little Workout

"A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change." - Katharine Butler Hathaway

A Workout as Written by John Little

The John Little workout I got most out of and actually shaped my training since, was a routine published in the UK mag Bodybuilding Monthly. I think it was his first article in a UK mag and probably triggered his career into the Weider world of fiction.

The article, printed some time mid ‘80s, was called something like, “The only routine you’ll ever need. It was a simple session and I tried it whilst doubting it’s validity. At that time I had been following a powerlifting routine, which was the big three plus partials for assistance.

Little’s workout went:

  • 2 sets of 20 rep squats 
  • 2 sets of shoulder press
  • 2 sets of chins
  • 2 sets of bench
  • 2 sets of curls
  • 2 sets of dips

Each rep count was the Jones style and set two had an increase in weight. Having tried this for a few weeks, I found that decreasing the weight on the second set really worked, mainly because the first set hurt, especially the squats.

A month later I had dropped one set each of the arm exercises and then cut out the second set of squats. The routine then was great – and still hard work.

Over the next six months Little published a body part specialization routine, where you put a body part first for five sets of various exercises, but then abbreviated the rest of the body. When that ended I went back onto the original and made some good gains in poundages, especially squats.

Since then and for the next 35 years, everything I have done has been a version of that first workout.

Mar 13, 2021

Toughness: An Acquired Trait

 When asked to characterize toughness, people will give you a lot of answers. Is a football player tougher than a baseball player? Or is a father of two physically challenged children tougher than both? What is toughness? We won't waste time trying to define it. We can instinctually discern toughness within others. However, how does one acquire this trait, if possible?

In truth, toughness is not an genetic predisposition but rather a learned characteristic. The events in your life, the way you treat others and are treated by others, your lifestyle, your economic well being and your interests - these are all relevant variables in how "tough" your character may or may not be.

There are several common characteristics that psychologists observe in individuals who are respected and regarded as being "tough".

Performance psychologist James E. Loehr, author of the book "The New Toughness Training For Sports" (Penguin, 1994) notes one specific characteristic of tough individuals. They don't back away from problems, they seek them out and solve them. These kinds of individuals exist in all arenas of society - whether it be a highly decorated military officer, a top level athlete or the emergency room doctor. They don't wait for things to happen to them. They go straight for the jugular. The reason why: you don't improve on yourself when you work within your normal capacities. These individuals make themselves tougher - whether intellectually, physically or emotionally - by constantly seeking out things that will enhance these areas of their character. For example, you don't get stronger by AVOIDING hard work in the gym. You must constantly push yourself further and further. You grunt and strain and make faces like someone is giving you a gravel enema. Every-time you do, the performance you must give to deal with that stress is pushed higher. Therefore, higher effort levels are necessitated. You can't experience any kind of growth - whether that be personal or career - until you have deliberately put yourself into stressful situations that make you better at what you do. This is one aspect that psychologists say make up "tough" characters. Nietzsche was definitely onto something when he said "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". (Nietzsche, if alive today, would be a HIT'er. <G>)

Another key point that they show - especially with people whose occupations are extremely competitive - is that tough people seek out tough competition. They don't choose puny opponents - they pick enemies whom they know will force them to step up their game. Whether on the basketball courts or the boardroom, tough individuals know that they must keep themselves sharp by taking on sharp challengers.

Tough individuals also know the importance of choosing the right friends. Rarely, you will find a tough individual who partners up with someone who brings out the worst of their character. I suppose that is why myself and my training partner click so well. Neither of us are willing to back down from each other and we always bring out the best in each when working out. Some people will argue that "toughness comes from within yourself, not from external sources" and this is 100% true - but a well chosen partner in your efforts can enhance your inner toughness all the more.

A practice which seems to be common to many top level athletes is visualization of goals. Visualizing yourself with the traits that you wish to posses seems to automatically program your subconcious to achieve those goals. I will honestly admit that I know nothing about how this exactly works - but I do know that it DOES work, from personal experience. I use visualization daily - especially during workouts when psyching myself up and during the football season before practice and games. I can remember one instance where an individual in the gym challenged the fact that I was doing more on the Hammer Leg Press than anyone who had ever worked there. Being 16 years old, 5'10" and 200 lbs. , this was obviously a hard pill for him to swallow. I didn't argue or complain, I just said that I was willing to show him (because I felt as though he was accusing me of being a liar). He stood behind me, I undid my shoes (it's a ritual of mine to do the Hammer Leg Press in bare feet as I feel this transfers power better than if it was dissipated through thick shoes) started breathing heavily and closed my eyes. I envisioned my legs being giant, mechanized, iron pistons, just pushing back and forth relentlessly. I didn't even realize it but the weight was already up and pumping away. I didn't even know where I was, and I couldn't hear anything around me - the only thing I saw was that image of the pistons in my mind. Back and forth, back and forth, mechanical and unstoppable. I finally grunted out the last rep with all of my energy possible, my legs shaking from the fatigue. The weight came down slowly. The man who had challenged me stood in disbelief, said nothing and walked away. I had just done 830 lbs. on the Hammer Leg Press for 9 reps - about a 100 lbs. more than I or anyone else in the gym (regardless of age or size) had ever done for the same number of reps. I still didn't realize the full implication of what I had accomplished. I just sat there, sucking wind, and didn't think anything. Only later that night I realized that I broke through a personal strength record strength record by over 100 lbs., not even thinking about how difficult it would be, in addition to the fact that someone who was challenging my integrity was standing by and just waiting for me to fail miserably. Such is the power of visualization.

Another aspect that psychologists note in tough people is the fact that they are always firmly focused on their goals. No matter what external factors (excuses, delays, forces working against them etc.) they come up against, they are always going to "finish the job". They also are willing to finish the job even when they don't like it. To achieve their goals, a lot of the people interviewed by the psychologists said that an effective technique is to ask yourself what you want (your goal) and then ask yourself how you can go from your present state to achieving your goal. This seems to plot things out very clearly for these people. Common sense dictates that it's much easier to get somewhere once you know how you're going to get there.

In his book, Loehr also recommends that your workouts are structured around intervals of intense activity followed by sufficient recovery periods. This simulates the stresses in life - that periods of high stress are often accompanied by periods of low stress. Structuring workouts in patterns similar to those in life makes you that much stronger against the stress of life. You become accustomed to certain behavioural patterns and deal with stress easier.

Toughness is also a function of your character. Stand up for yourself. Tough athletes and people NEVER blame others when something goes wrong or when they make a mistake. They accept the blame on themselves and move on, then thinking of ways how they can correct the problem. They realize that when wasting time pointing fingers, making excuses and trying to protect one's ego, nothing is done to resolve the problem. Blaming others makes yourself look weak, untrustworthy and spineless. Being able to stand up and say "Yes, I made a mistake" is consistenly found to be one of the most highly respected traits in others. Toughness also refers to the strength of your character. Cheating, lying, stealing - these are all examples of where one's character was not strong enough to deal with temptations. This again, makes you appear weaker.

Toughness is certainly not something that is dispensed at birth - but something you have to consistantly cultivate throughout your life.

Feb 6, 2021

Crossfit Nonsense

By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” – Robert Frost

In the last decade there has probably not been a bigger boon to orthopedic specialists practices than the advent of crossfit. We at Stronger Athletes have long been opponents of ballistic type movements, i.e., plyometrics, olympic lifts and similar for their application on athletes, especially high school athletes.

Along comes crossfit and combines both of those things and adds additional nuttiness such as doing high skill lifts of which those that actually know what they are doing with them (Olympic Weightlifters) never go over a handful or reps, because as the reps go up, the skill goes down. A leg press doesn't require high skill, a power clean does. So as the set continues, form breaks down, later to be followed by the body, maybe not today, tomorrow or next week, but surely in time.

The other bit of nuttiness the crossfitters love to do in addition to high reps is do them as fast as possible by limiting the time.

Thankfully the yap that runs crossfit showed his true colors a few months back and hopefully that will lead to some cessation of this ridiculous training modality. As the sponsors pulled out and the boxes closed up – sadly partially due to Covid and not as a public service for the bettement of mankind, there will be fewer injured over time.

Surely there are safer ways to pursue health and fitness. You only have one body. Treat it well. Your grandkids won't give a care if you were a stud at crossfit if you can't carry them or keep up with them at the zoo or amusement park because your back and shoulders are shot.

Disclaimer

***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the StrongerAthlete.com website. No medical advice is given on exercise. This advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Before anyone begins any exercise program, always consult your doctor. The articles are written by coaches that are giving advice on a safe, productive, and efficient method of strength training.***