Friday, June 29, 2007

Those CRAZY Complexes!

My friend Alwyn Cosgrove has a great article on Complexes for Fat loss up on the t-nation site....great stuff! We cover some complexes in our Combination Lifts DVD but we are now working on a new DVD that will cover complexes exclusively. Keep your eye out for that along with another DVD we are working on that will go over our favorite KILLER Tabata Protocol exercises.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So you think YOU'RE fit?!?

The amazing Annie of Crossfit fame....pure BEAST. I believe that that is her newborn in the background of one of the camera angles. Unbelievable...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ahhhh...the safety of a Smith Machine!

NOT. Saw this on Charles Staley's site about a week ago. Looks like the poor guy is also standing on some sort of angled platform???

Do you need the best equipment & facilities to get results? NAH!

I was thinking about this the other day. Some of the best strength and conditioning is going on at places you've never heard of. Universities, high schools, and gyms (and even a lowly JUCO) that are not "big time". A couple of years ago I visited the Hungarian weightlifting training hall and got a chance to sit down with their head coach Imre Szuga to pick his brain. Looking around the room I thought to myself, 'wow, I have better equipment than this!'. It was then that I truly understood that the programming, effort, and teaching trumps everything else. Who cares if you have the latest Powerlift squat racks and glute hams? So what if my platforms are made out of plywood from Home Depot rather than from custon stressed hickory wood. My success here is not based on having the best equipment or being at the "big time"'s based on the fact that we teach and train harder than anybody else.

Here are a couple of pics of the Hungarian Training Hall......FAR from fancy but with world class results. The Girl with me in the 3rd pic is Gyongi the age of 15 Gyongi set a Jr. world record with a 100kg (220lb.) snatch and a 122.5kg (270lb.) clean and Jerk in the 148lb. weight class (for reference sake the American records are only a couple of pounds more than this....she did these lifts @ the age of 15!).
Wont' find this glute-ham in any fancy equipment catalogs!

Moral of the story? Just DO WORK already! Great thing happen to those who work HARD.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Understanding Bloggers....

As I mentioned in my very first blog post, I'm still trying to figure out the whole idea of 'blogging'. From my point of view, I see it as a way to talk about things related to my field, things that are being talked about and discussed on my web site, products that I think are great etc....basically things I know something about. What I don't understand is why people would blog about shit that they and their 3 friends who visit their blog talk about. Isn't that what email is for? Who really wants to hear what you're thinking about when you walk down the isle at the supermarket? I mean do outsiders really want to know how dysfunctional your marraige is or that you are 53 and have no family and friends and that you actively maintain 4 different blogs at one time? Giddy-yap geniuses. The entertaining part of this particular blog is that I can get berated and called obscenties by a guy who would cross the street if I was walkng down the same sidewalk as him. I think we call that being an 'internet badass' right? Anyway, keep lurking my forum might learn something.

Have I really become such a huge part of these individual's lives that they would actually create a blog devoted to calling me an asshole? I guess I am.....and in a way I guess I'm flattered (well, and creeped out at the same time). Why do I feel like my picture is on this guy's refrigerator right now?? Can you say Buffalo Bill?? Ugh.....

Enough on this topic.....let's get back to fitness tomorrow!


For those of us who caught the BJ Penn vs. Jens Pulver fight on Saturday night, we finally got to see BJ Penn back in SHAPE! I'm SO glad that BJ decided to hire a strength & conditioning coach to work his ass so that we would have a chance to see the 'prodigy' back to old form. Had BJ been in shape when he fought St. Pierre and Hughes, I think he would have EASILY won both fights. I hope BJ decides to stay in the 155's for a while to win the title and clean house a bit. I don't think anyone (including Sean Sherk) can beat him when he's in shape....anybody. BJ is the perfect example of an unbelievable fighter who was missing something very simple......strength and conditioning. Add that into the mix and watch out world.

Early in his career, BJ was considered one of it not THE greatest MMA fighter in the world (pound for pound). There is no indication that can't get back to the top of the mountain again. Keep training brah! for all your strength conditioning needs!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Olympic lifting at the HIGHEST level

There is no doubt that the Chinese have taken Olynpic weightlifting to the NEXT level. The women, in particular, have dominated like nothing ever seen before. Here are some great training pics of some of the best athletes on the planet...

How's this for a posterior core exercise?!

Who says you cant get JACKED from the Oly lifts?!

Did I mention that they are all incredibly flexible...


For a look at an amazing photo album of these athletes go here! WOW.....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Good One!!

Okay, so this is sort of another rant but what the's time.

What is it with fitness forums these days? How is it that the number of posts all of a sudden correlates with your fitness I.Q.? Most of you will know what I am talking about. You know, the car mechanic, computer programmer, realtor etc. who likes to workout and spends 4 hours per day online @ T-nation,, or other fitness forums. I got no problem with you doing what you want in life but what on earth makes these folks feel that they are qualified to not only dispense training information but to JUDGE products and services put out by ACTUAL fitness experts?? Because you have 5,000+ posts?? Because you 'research' any and all things fitness on the internet?? FYI, I don't go down to UCLA and critique the treatment techniques of their cancer doctors nor would I go to McDonalds and tell the kid in the back how to shake the fries. What a joke. I think the funniest thing is that when an actual fitness expert, in an attempt to qualify themselves, states their experience and/or education these 'internet experts' are always quick to say things like "well, it's not about your formal education in exercise science" or "years of experience in the field is overrated" etc. Isn't it strange how those who poo-poo education and experience are the ones that don't have either??

Myself and many other conditioning specialists have gone through years and years of rigorous academics along with thousands of hours of hands-on, in the trenches WORK. You want to offend me? Just try to say that you are on the same training level due to your forum posts or god forbid your blog (whole different blog post that I will save for later). You want to offend me further? Critique my upcoming book when it comes out and tell me what's wrong with my programming.....what's wrong with my writing style.....what's wrong with my font size and margins. Yeah, getting crititqued by someone who hasn't the foggiest idea of not only what I do at work every day of my life but of the book editing and artistic design process....GOOD ONE.

I really have a love-hate attitude toward the internet. On one hand it is an unbelievable resource to learn, share, and even make a few bucks. On the other hand, it has spawned a couple of loathesome creatures....the internet "training guru" who doesn't really 'train' anyone and, for lack of a better term, the "forum bleacher bum". You know the guy that talks shit from the stands while the pros are doing their work. We all know that the bleacher bum would do this better or would have done that differently right?? Right.

If you want to read about real-world conditioning, discuss things on a regulated forum etc. come visit . See you there!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why would a TRAINER need a workout made by another trainer?!

I used to feel this way back in the day....until I fell into sort of a rut in my training. Things just seemed to be going stale and, to be honest, I was having a hard time getting motivated to go to the gym. Sure, I know all the tricks as far as unloading, changing exercises, undulating your cyles blah-blah-blah but in this case, I was just tired of listening to ME.

This is where my friend Alwyn Cosgrove comes in (no, that's not him pictured above...). Not only is this Shrek-sounding dude one of my good pals, he also happens to be perhaps the best in the business. yeah, that's right... THE BEST. Alwyn has once told me that he never writes his own training programs. My reaction was "HUH?!?!". This thought had never before come into my mind, I mean, why would a guy like me ever need help writing a training program??? Well, to make a long story short, I had Alwyn write a program for me and it did wonders for both my body and my mind. There really is something different about doing a program that someone else has created not only JUST FOR YOU but from another perspective. It was a great opportunity for me to take a step back and see how Alwyn's mind would work based on my goals and abilities. For the next few workouts, I actually looked forward to each new workout!

So what's the moral of the story? Well, basically it's that we all need to step back sometimes and realize that we may benefit from someone else's expertise and perspective. Doing so made me do some exercises that I never would have even attempted before! To see some of Alwyn Cosgrove's products, visit his website. Also, if you want to try a personalized training program based on YOUR individual goals, shoot me an email and see if this might be worthwhile for you!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beware of the Olympic Lifts....You might just improve your performance!

This is actually something that I have discussed on numerous occasions. It is from the a H.I.T. training website who's stated mission was to 'debunk the Olympic lifting establishment' doesn't seem to exist anymore BTW.

Attention: Risk is Real! We received an e-mail this week that we feel stamps an exclamation point on the issue of weight room safety. As we have said before, risk in strength training is inherent, however we feel that a coach can reduce the risk by installing a fundamentally safe program. In the past, coaches have discredited our stance on safety claiming that athletes have never been hurt while performing quick lifts under their supervision. We remind coaches that just because a loaded bar does not fall on an athlete in the weight room he can still sustain an injury. Low back injury is real despite the fact that the coach can not see it. Any coach can identify the injury in the weight room such as a plate falling on a kid's foot. However, the coach does not see the athlete squirm in pain as he tries to put his socks on in the morning after a set of heavy power cleans . Coaches, the risk is increased and the injuries are real when working with quick lifts. Due to the sensitivity of this letter the names have been withheld. Coaches we just ask that you place yourself in this athlete's shoes. Could this football player been an asset to his team without performing quick lifts? We'll never know.

Hi, Coach Rody I returned to College at the age of 29 to play football for [a competitive N.A.I.A. Team. Things were going great until I herniated a disk in my lower back doing clean and jerks in our 2000 spring strength training program. It ended my football career. I have been recommended for surgery. The reason I write you is because our strength coach runs a complete Olympic lifting program. He feels that it is superior for building strength for athletes. Before I even knew what Olympic lifting was, I ran a 4.48 forty and verticle jumped 35+ (among the top three on the team). I also had very strong lower and upper body strength.I think this coach is dangerous and I have heard several of our athletes complaining about injuries from his methods. In fact, many of the athletes lift at other gyms to gain strength and size because the strength coach (who is an avid Olympic fan) will not let them do exercises like the bench press [in the college's weight room] .One of many examples of how risky this man is: he has all returning football players do a one rep max of the clean and jerk at the very beginning of two-a-days football camp. It is amazing to me the administration has not acknowledged this unsafe behavior. I have heard he was let go at other institutions, possibly because of this.... Our national champ track coach (also a football coach for 30 years) rejects [this coach's] program but the football coaches seem to be naive about it. Is there any advice you can give me to help expose this risky program and present a stronger case to the administration. Sincerely, Steve

Steve, First, we wish you the best of luck in your surgery and recovery. Secondly, there is a ton of research pointing to the problems that you have addressed. We have mentioned in previous articles, books by Matt Brzycki, that are great for their bibliographies alone. You should consult these sources before making a presentation. Avoid being confrontational, as this mind-set will hinder rather than help your cause. Simply present the facts, safety concerns, and strength gains that can be made without quick lifts. Keep in mind, Olympic lifting coaches are not the enemy. Olympic lifting is a wonderful sport and thus the lifts have their place. Like you, we simply feel they serve no useful purpose in the realm of training traditional athletes. The risk outweighs the benefits. Good luck.

First of all, where is all this 'research' that shows that the Olympic lifts are more dangerous than H.I.T. - style lifting? I have NEVER.....I repeat, NEVER had one single athlete ever get hurt performing an Olympic lift variation of any kind. Now let's do the math, it's not like I just started using these lifts...we're talking 150-200+ athletes per day for many, many years folks (using Olympic lifts every single session). I am always amazed that the folks that know nothing about the Olympic lifts are the ones that bad-mouth the hell out of them. As far as the athlete in the letter goes, I would look at a few things first. #1 he had no previous experience in the Oly lifts and might have been lifting beyond his abilities. #2 I might also question this individual's core strength since this is an often neglected area (especially posterior chain) in many bodybuilder-type strength programs. #3 being a 29 year old is not exactly an advantage when coming back into the realm of the 18-22 year old man.

I thought I would break-down one of the site's "position stands" on "common sense"...

Use Common-Sense Coaches have long instructed athletes to perform exercises quickly thinking that this will be best to increase the athletes' power. The fact is that the faster the repetition the less productive in terms of developing power and explosiveness. It is obvious that if the weight can be moved quickly then the load is too light to develop significant power. (This website) also finds it very interesting that none of these Olympic lifting advocates believe that contant muscle tension is an important factor in developing power. This ensures that the muscles are doing the work. Why is it that these coaches stay away from this issue? Another issue that we have addressed before and will address again is the issue of safety in a strength training program. Studies do indicate the reps that are performed slow produce more force output and therefore more power. That being the case, wouldn't the slower method be the choice for our athletes? This is another issue that (this website) finds incredibly surprising. We receive e-mails from coaches saying that the Olympic movements and their variations are actually more safe than the slow movements.

Well, to be honest, I can remember an athlete getting hurt performing bench press and squats but like I said, never while performing an Olympic lift variation. I find it amazing that the H.I.T. folks insist on using the power formula yet only ever address the amount of load being moved...what about the time factor. Let's remember that virtually all sport activity is #1 momentum driven and #2 dependant on TIME. No such thing as slow speed folks. The line about a weight being too light if you can move it fast is also pretty funny....hmmm, let's watch Hossein Rezazadeh of Iran move 580lbs. about 5 feet in about a 1/2 of a second. Oh yeah, that weight is too light to develop any power right?

In fact, let's do a power comparison right now...let's compare the world record bench press and a single power clean rep from one of my volleyball girls (during a SET).

Power = strength / time....OR mass x distance divided by time

World record bench press:
1,010lbs....moved approx. 1 foot....takes approx. 4 seconds = 252.5 power units.

Volleyball athlete power clean (single rep of a set of 3):
152lbs....moved approx. 5 feet.....takes approx. .8 seconds = 950 power units.

**Note: try doing the math on the 580lb. Clean & Jerk!**

Folks, force production is great and the reality is that any sound strength and conditioning coach knows that there need to be MANY tools in his/her toolbox so there is a place for strength-based exercises. The problem is that TIME is a huge factor in sport performance. Sure, force production is great but if you can't produce it FAST ENOUGH, the play is over. Take a look at this graph. It compares three groups, a strength training group, an explosive training group, and a group that did NOTHING. At 200 milliseconds (the time in which most critical athletic movements occur), the power training group is blowing everyone away. The untrained group is right with the strength training group at this time period...remember that they did NO TRAINING AT ALL!

The site no longer seems to be in service which just might be as well since you might actually get dumber from reading some of this 'logic'. You won't, however, get dumber reading the articles and participating in the discussion board @ my website!

Friday, June 8, 2007

How's THIS for a "core" exercise?!

Okay, have you guys ever seen 'stand-up paddle boarding on a long board? It's pretty impressive to say the least, in fact, big wave legend, Laird Hamilton recently completed an amazing trek from London to Dover on a bike then crossed the English Channel via Stand-up paddle board! All this to raise awareness for autisim and an upcoming film on Autism titled "Beautiful Son" by Don and Julianne King.

It took the 6'3 215+lb. Hamilton 5.5 hours to bike the 148 kilometers from London to Dover then, after an hour and a half rest, he took off on the 43 kilometer paddle-board adventure in stormy and rough conditions on the English Channel. He completed the crossing in 6 hours. Oh, and he then covered the 235 kilometer distance from Le Torquet to Paris on his bike in 8.5 hours....why? Because he can.
So why my sudden facination with Laird Hamilton and his Paddle-boarding? Well, I recently read a short article by Jason Winn (an ex-athlete of mine who now owns BonkBreaker energy bars) and how he trains each week with Laird, Don Wildman (Founder of Bally Total Fitness, 9 time Ironman), Chris Chelios (Detroit Red Wings, 23 year veteran), Timmy C (Base player for Rage Against the Machine, AudioSlave), among others. One of the things they do religiously is stand-up paddle board as they feel that it is one of the best core training exercises on the planet. I don't doubt it for a second. I saw a guy doing this out in front of the beach house where we are staying and it looked like WORK just staying up on the board....can you imagine crossing the English Channel on one of these!?!? I officially have a new fitness hero.
Check out the world's best big wave surfer in action!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Keeping up with your training on the road...

So I have been away all this week at a beach house that my family and a few friends have rented for the week (no, that's NOT me in the pic...). It just didn't seem right to make the trek to the local gym so instead, I packed for my week in paradise. What did I bring? Weighted vests, JC bands, mini and medium jumpstretch bands, medicine ball, jumprope, and foam roller. That's it folks! I gotta tell you, these have been some of the toughest workouts I have experienced in quite a body workouts, tons of great cardio, and all in full view of the Pacific Ocean. Doesn't get much better than this! I wrote a 15-minute beach workout for Men's Health a while back....this will give you some ideas. Also, Alwyn Cosgrove and Myself created a tremendous Body Weight Training DVD that is a must have for anyone who is serious about their training and find themselves gym-less. Make sure to pick up your copy!

Friday, June 1, 2007

How important is strength training for the endurance athlete?!

I can't even tell you how many times I have talked with endurance athletes about the importance of strength training and I get the reply "well, I run a lot of hills....or Climb a lot on my bike etc." and that this somehow can take the place of a solid strength training routine. Think of it this way, if strength were not one of the BIGGEST factors in a 10k, marathon, or Ironman then why aren't the top females times similar to the top male times?

If you are serious about your endurance performance you NEED to be strength training. The benefits are really will get stronger thus allowing you to drop times in your events and you will also decrease your risk of injury. I write lots of little articles and blurbs for Men's Health magazine and many of them pertain to running and cycling. Just a simple jumping program can improve your running performance and help in your conditioning. Simple strength exercises can also get your body stronger and more resilient. One of my favorite strength training 'things to do' with our endurance athletes are combination lifts. These are total-body exercises that are great for getting the body ready for just about any sort of physical activity. They are also very effective and time efficient...this is obviously very important to endurance athletes who spend LOTS of time on the road and/or in the water etc.

Come by my website @ and join us on the discussion board to ask me some questions on strength training for endurance athletes (or anything else for that matter!). I have no doubt that I can help you get to the next level of performance with a sound strength training program so come by my site and check out the articles, post questions, and take advantage of some of my products and personalized services!

Just when you think you know everything...

I have always said that to be successful in the strength and conditioning field you need to be constantly LEARNING. It is very easy to get stagnant, keep doing stale programs, not go out to see what other coachces are doing. There are also a LOT of egos out there that keep coaches and trainers from actually getting better. As my friend and colleague Mike Boyle likes to say "Most people don't want to learn new things....they want to hear about things that validate what they are already doing". Over the years, I have found this to be so, so true. My pal Alwyn Cosgrove, who seems to be TIGHT with every who's-who in the field of strength and conditioning, regularly has staff training days with his crew at Results Fitness here in Santa Clarita, CA (who, BTW has the best crew of trainers I have ever seen...). Sometimes on these days, Alwyn or his wife Rachel will pick a topic and school their trainers a bit. Other times Alwyn will bring in guest trainers to speak to his crew. Just in recent months he has had folks like Jason Ferrugia, Mark Phillipi, Mike Boyle and even ME(?!). Anyway, I use these staff training days as a way to get some serious, often BRILLIANT training information...FOR FREE! (I also get a chance to have a few beers with the speakers afterwards..this is where the REAL learning usually comes!). Okay, so Alwyn held a staff training yesterday at his place and brought in Robb Rogers to speak to his staff on 'muscle activation'. For those of you who don't know who Robb Rogers is.....well, you probably aren't serious about strength and conditioning. Robb has been in this game for a LONG time, in fact, the very first conditioning clinic I ever went to was hosted by him @ USC (where he was the head strength coach) in 1990. I'm not going to get into the specifics of his talk but I had about 8 pages of notes written in the first 30 minutes...not to mention the fact that my glutes were awakened after years of being in a coma.

It's interactions like this that tell me that I sure as hell don't know as much as I THINK I know. As Joe Paterno once said "If you're not getting're getting worse".

Lastly, Alwyn Cosgrove, Robb Rogers, Mike Boyle and other great trainers are in town this weekend in Long Beach for the Perform Better 3-day Functional Training Summit. If you're a trainer in the So. California area, this is a great chance to "GET BETTER"!