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The Combine, what I like and a really stupid test.

Admittedly, I like the NFL combine. Not as much as I used to but I still think it’s kinda cool to watch. These guys are absolute freaks of nature and even a “poor” performance by them is an outstanding performance by 99% of people.

Plus it’s nice to see what these guys can actually do. Too often during college football games we hear that kid A squats 500lbs and kid B benches 450…Do these numbers happen?

YES!

They just don’t happen for 3-5 players on every team…Let’s face it, coaches lie to media. Ever seen a media guide with accurate heights and weights? ……Neither have I. Many strength coaches are notourious for lax standards on testing and report inflated numbers CONSISTENTLY….remember this board.

4 guys ran 4.2’s….WTF?

4.2’s don’t come along all that often at the combine WHERE THE BEST UPPERCLASS DRAFT PROSPECTS ARE….But at UF they do this with consistency? (yes I know Florida has AWESOME talent, but really guys?) Oh and the whole it’s a slow track at Indy stuff is trash, it’s not slow, it’s electronically timed….yeah, no I punch the clock a little late on the start and early on the finish so it looks good for the coaches/ fans/ scouts/ recruiters/ media favoritism..so sorry….

According to NFL.com there have been 3…yep a big 3…. 4.2’s run in the combine since 2006 and NONE this year. More about fake 40’s  here. Point is, coaches lie exaggerate and then the guys on TV, Radio and in the print, who don’t really know what they’re talking about, in this regard, recite this trash without question and it becomes commonplace for 18,19,20,21 year olds to run 4.2’s (4.4’s if he’s slow) and bench 500lbs….none of which actually happens in real life very much.

How do I know this? Powerlifting Watch ALL TIME WORLD RECORDS

You think kids, 20 year olds, are almost as strong as some of the strongest powerlifters ever? I doubt that.

Mike Boyle in Advances in Functional Training makes this point:

When I was a college football strength coach, I’d tell our football coaches when they were recruiting a kid to divide his squat by two. A high school kid who claimed to squat  500 pounds would usually get a little more than half that on test day.

Like most things, don’t believe the hype.

That’s why I like the 40rd dash at the combine. It gives real insight into the speed these guys can produce which, quite frankly, is amazing even if it’s not a strength coach lie exaggerated 4.2.

If you want to see what the normal desk jockey would run the 40 in click on this: Rich-Eisen-runs-the-40

The test I really hate is the 225lbs bench test. This thing needs to go, it’s useless. Football is a sport of all out efforts separated by 40 seconds. It has nothing to do with a continuous repeated upper body effort.

Yeah, it looks cool and it’s impressive as hell…but he’s a receiver….does this really matter in his sport at that position?

Me thinks not.

Let’s use some logic here….and some inferences which I know are not 1 to 1 correlations but work for this example: in other words you’ll get the picture.

If player A can bench press 400lbs and he pushes against player B who can bench press 300lbs.

Who wins in a pushing contest? (assuming all other variable to be equal….obviously).

RIGHT! Player A. In fact he’ll probably (all things being equal again) maul player B.

He gets to rest 40 seconds and go at it again. Let’s assume a 10% drop-off in force output per play (this would be a lot of a drop but whatever).

Player A: 400lbs force   Player B: 300lbs force
Play 1:      400lbs                                  300lbs
Play 2:      360lbs                                  270lbs
Play 3:      324lbs                                  243lbs
Play 4:      292lbs                                  219lbs
Play 5:      263lbs                                  197lbs

So obviously the stronger guy would win in force output for every contest and most likely the battle on the field….every down.

When the combine was actually looked at in this article. Here’s what they found:

Performance test with a low correlation in comparison with other tests shows that the skill being measured is unique. The 225-lb bench press test, the 3-cone drill, and the 60-yd shuttle are not as highly correlated with the other tests in the testing battery of the combine. This signifies that these tests measure different components of performance; however, it does not signify that these tests are valuable in determining whether an athlete could be successful playing in the next level.

 For example, the vertical jump was the most important test to determine draft success in the RB position, whereas the 225-lb bench press test had little to no effect.

The 225lbs test was also studied here, here and here.

Here is the long and short of their findings:

 muscular endurance repetitions with an absolute load of 225 lb can be used to predict 1 RM bench press strength in college football players, although the error in prediction increases when endurance performance exceeds 10 repetitions.

So yeah, when you perform more than 10 reps the accuracy of the test (in predicting 1RM ie. maximal strength) diminishes as the reps performed increases and the test results have no impact on where a player gets drafted for some positions.

Why do we do this test again?

My alternative is to replace it with a max test….a 1RM or 3RM. It would be closer to the actual maximal force production of the athletes and it would be more protective.

Just about anyone who is not a beginner to the whole weight lifting game will tell you that a 1RM test is “easier” than a high rep RM set to failure, especially in this type of environment where every rep could mean money on the line for an athlete especially a lineman. 1RM tests tend to be difficult but don’t result in the types of injuries seen with these “all out” high rep sets. The potential for muscle strains, tendon strains and ligament injuries are high because as the athlete tires they look for any way possible to squeeze out another rep. The athletes are so strong and the weight is such a low percentage of what they are capable of that they can use poor technique and still complete reps.

Where as with a maximal attempt technique must be maintained to complete the rep….and good technique is what keeps us safe

Poor technique is what leads to injury…NOT WEIGHT!….this test lends itself to poor technique.

Now it looks like agents are questioning this test (and the guy who administers it). If this happens enough players will start to opt out more often and eventually the NFL we either drop of alter the test to something that would actually tell us some information about the player and their physical abilities relative to NFL football.

And with at least one torn pec being suffered this year during the event (by Iowa tackle Markus Zusevics), agents have been complaining about the effort to get the players to squeeze out a final rep that could blow out a muscle or a tendon.

Who cares if my guy gets 24 instead of 27 reps?” one agent told PFT.  “No one has ever won a football game because of how many times a guy can lift 225 pounds with his arms.”

Agreed….

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Never Let Go- I read that sh*t

February 22, 2012 2 comments

A client got me a Kindle for Christmas and I must say this thing is an impressive little device.

Any who, when Dan Johns book Never Let Go became a Kindle freebie a couple of weeks ago I snatched it up. (It’s $10 now, but still worth it). Now this bad boy is long, 418 pages but it’s a really easy read and every article/ story is really good. They’re mostly reprinted, old articles, from T-nation.com, in fact I had already read most of them but after reading them again I’m reminded of how  easy it is to forget things we “know”.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the book:

  • Learn and do the basics: Squat, deadlift, clean, bench…you know the stuff they judge to be unacceptable at the “Judgement Free Zone”.
  • Lift HARD consistently, it takes time, repetition, practice to get “good”.
  • When you work, WORK, when you rest, REST…Make the highs high and Lows low.
  • If it’s important do it….. EVERYDAY
  • Everything works….for about 6 weeks, then things have to change
  • Training systems and fads come and go….the basics always stay

See, stuff we already knew, just need to be reminded of sometimes and it only took 400 pages for this genius to do it.

If you have a Kindle and you’re into lifting, spend the $10, you’ll get your investment back and more.

Why Everyone Learns to Squat

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Virtually (not always if they don’t stick around long enough) every client I train learns to squat. We’re talking 90% or better, obviously I think it’s important. So I was caught off guard a little this week when I got hit with this gem  by a “fitness professional” none the less (paraphrasing):

“You know, you should only have experienced athletes squat because it’s bad for the back and knees and it’s non functional. I went to a seminar and learned there’s just too much spinal compression to justify using it.”

at first I was in disbelief for these reasons:

  • I just met this person an hour before.
  • they told me every fallacy attached to the exercise in 2 sentences.
  • my client was using body weight.
  • she, “fitness professional”, clearly hadn’t been informed of my reputation and wasn’t prepared for the forthcoming Bruce Lee style flying dragon kick that was targeted for her face.

Let’s get through this one by one.

Only “experience athletes”, what the hell does that mean? Define that. What qualifies as experienced and who decides?

I don’t have a definition either, but here’s how this works.

If YOU make a claim YOU need to provide EVIDENCE to back it up..it’s on the ACCUSER not the ACCUSED to prove the point. So yeah, I don’t have a definition but I’m not pushing jackassery either.

First Strawman….DEAD

Bad for the back: Really, how so? Have anything to back that up?

I’mmmmm guessssing….ummmmm, no. But I do, Mcgill, Reinold, Contreras.

Here’s the deal in short. Some spines can take compression, some can’t, the amount of force is individual and depends on their individual level of tolerance. There are no blanket tolerances.

observe the client who transitions to laying on the floor by using a deep squat – this overloads their back. Squatting is appropriate for getting off a toilet or chair but not for dropping to the floor. Instead a lunge that does not bend the spinal discs is a much more appropriate choice. Again, this builds capacity for them to accomplish more in their training session with you- McGill

It’s about the individual and the type of squat performed ass-hat, Yoda  didn’t teach you that this weekend at certified jackassery did he?

But hey, you got a certificate!

The whole “squats are bad for the knees” thing. I was hoping that was dead too. Simple answer:

They are not.

Your knees are meant to bend. People hurt their knees and backs, for that matter, when squatting because they don’t hinge the hips and lack hip/ ankle mobility as well as  thoracic spine mobility.

When you squat the load should be on the hips not the knees. If you’re not hinging the hips, sitting back, keeping tension through the posterior chain, chest up, bar tight etc, etc, etc, you’re not squatting….it’s that simple.

Squats don’t hurt the knees (for the vast majority of people) poor technique hurts your knees.

Stop blaming certain exercises for poor technique and bad coaching…..it’s not Ford motor company’s fault you got into those accidents, it’s YOUR’S….it’s not the tools it is the carpenter

place the blame where it belongs.

Non- Functional…I hate this term, “functional”, it’s become bastardized so much. It used to mean working out so you were better at real world tasks. Now it means all types of crap….

Here’s how functional squatting is….

Don't pop that squat...It's not functional!

That’s really why everyone learns to squat.

Yeah, it teaches good hip mechanics and how to distribute weight across the hip, knee, ankle and drive from the heels and keep the knees out and all that good stuff and more but mostly everyone learns it because everyone poops!
Think about how many times we sit down and get up in a day….Don’t you think it’s important to at least learn how to do it best? I do, so “fitness professional” who learned everything she knows from a weekend Yoda at a certification, I’m still teaching people to squat. I know Yoda wants you to stand up to take a crap but me and my clients ain’t doing that…..We’re gonna be all “non-functional” and clean and stuff and drop the deuce sitting down…..

Awesome article on how to be a Yoda from Bret Contreras- How to become a fitness guru in 25 easy steps.

FitnessTerms I Wish Would Die

February 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Every profession (and I’m using that term loosely in reference to my own) has terms, sayings, whatever, that make people in that profession cringe every time they hear them. These are mostly made up pseudo science terms that have a BS definition. Sometimes these are real scientific terms that are bastardized to mean something  other than what they actually mean, in the rest of the world.

Honorable Mention: Momentum

Momentum as used in “fitness”- think Planet Fitness, no more than a 50lbs dumbbells we don’t judge unless you unless you dead lift, grunt or try to do anything worthwhile, in which case you don’t fit our mold and we judge you to be a “Lunk”. Don’t believe me:

So yeah, they are “Judgment free” as long as you don’t do stereotypical “meat head” things…but totally judgement free for everyone else.

Any way one of the most frequent things you’ll hear from the patrons and staff from this type of establishment is some variation of the following, “You should lift the weights slowly so as not to use momentum“.

Could you define momentum? Do you even know what this means?

I can and do, because of this thing called…..Physics….: Momentum:  Mass X Velocity

So if I have an object , lets say, ohh….. I don’t know……. a barbell………that can be the mass

and I move the barbell so it has a speed of movement or velocity that kids is MOMENTUMMomentum is essentially mass in motion…

So Einstein, it’s pretty obvious that every time we move a weight we are using momentum…we don’t have a choice in the matter. We “use” momentum EVERYTIME we create any movement what-so ever….

First Runner Up: Intensity

Ever hear this before, “We work at a high intensity in boot camp” or “that was an intense workout”?…

I’m sure you have and we all know what it means…but it’s (usually) wrong…just flat out wrong.

Why?????

Because exercise intensity is a measure of  your maximum ability. It’s a numerical percentage, not a feeling.

If you go for a run at and your heart rate averages 150bpm (beats per minute) and your max heart rate is 200bpm your intensity was 75%

150/ 200= .75……75% 

If your maximum bench press is 315lbs and you bench press 225lbs for 1 rep you worked at an intensity of 71%

225/315= .71……71%

If you come back and bench 225 for 3 reps on the next set your intensity is?????

THE SAME

It’s the same damnit..it’s not more intense because it was harder. You performed the exercise at the SAME intensity, just did more work.

So called “high intensity training” programs where you do the “perfect rep” in a slow and controlled fashion often claim to be “more intense” (and they say that whole “we don’t use momentum to lift the weights jack-assery too)..but the godfather of powerlifting and one of the legitimate Yoda’s out there, Louie Simmons, dispelled this in his article Hit…or Miss

First let’s look at the concept of intensity.  Apparently H.I.T. views it as a feeling, like a pump, a term bodybuilders made popular.  Is it a scientific term?  No.- Louie Simmons

Intensity is about percentages, numbers, math….not feelings.

Runner Up: Tone

“I just want to Tone up” ……”This insert jack ass thing on a bosu ball will Tone your core”

Ohhhhhhhhh, reaaaaaaaaaally?

Tone, how it’s commonly used in this bizz is made up. You cannot lift  3 sets of 10 with 5lbs weights and “tone” up a muscle.

Tone comes from the actual (read used in science and has a universal understanding) Tonus. Which is essentially the electrophysiological state of a muscle. The continuous, involuntary, firing of neurons at a low-level to keep the muscle ready to do work. Tone, in a scientific sense is what keeps us upright and our hearts beating.

It has NOTHING to do with how the muscle appears.

Mark Rippetoe described this disconnect in Practical Programming:

The modern fitness industry’s concept of “toning” muscles is specious—it might sound cool, but it lacks any tangible and definable meaning. The term “muscle tone” or tonus describes an electrophysiological phenomenon, a measure of ionic flow across muscle cell membranes. It can be thought of as the muscle’s readiness to do anaerobic work. The more fit the muscle, the more electrophysiological activity it exhibits at rest. Lack of exercise leads to poor tone, aerobic exercise improves tone a little bit, low-intensity weight training improves tone more, and high-intensity training improves tone the fastest.

Lets use a visual comparison: Kim K. vs. Marissa Miller vs. Jessica Biel

 
 

OK, so first things first, this is not a “which is better” comparison. They all look really good in a bikini (probably because they get paid lots of cash to look that way, but I digress) we know this. Point is, what is “Tone“?

Kim obviously is a little softer than the other two, she has more body fat and  probably less muscle than Marisa, but definitely less than Jess.

Marisa is the skinniest of the group and probably has the lowest body fat and is second in muscle.

Jess obviously has the most muscle of the three and probably is in the middle in terms of body fat.

So what is “Tone“?

In physiological terms Jess, having the most muscle is probably also the strongest and has the best muscle tonuselectrophysiological activity across the muscle cell membranes. But is she the most “Toned” in fitness terms?

I’m guessing most would answer no, Marisa is.

Now, if Kim were to simply stay at her current body fat level and workout some her muscles would get harder because of increased TONUS– more activity across them. But would she look like Marisa?

Obviously not….Why?

Her body fat would be too high to uncover the harder muscles…..

So what does this little experiment tell us? TONE doesn’t mean jack….stuff is made up.

It’s not about who has the most muscle or fat or whatever…it’s about a combination of the two.

If you’re looking for fitness style “Tone” you must do some combination of gaining muscle and losing fat. It’s not a magical process that happens to your muscle just because you began to exercise.

Finally we make our way to the nights GRAND CHAMPION!

Grand Champion of Horrible fitness terminology: Muscle Confusion

Let’s just throw this out there, the term “muscle confusion” is totally “as seen on TV” made up bullshit…

where "muscle confusion" comes from

It is in NO WAY a scientific term. It was made up to sell a product, and now it’s in the lexicon. People, in this business even, use this and think they sound smart. Do some quick searches in Pubmed or  Google Scholar for “Muscle Confusion” you’ll find a whole lot of :

Nothing 

Ohh wait, here’s a nice…. ADVERTISEMENT! ………….Yea for truth!…

There is no SCIENCE behind it!...Just sales..

Here’s a clue muscles don’t get confused people.

They only know length and tension, they don’t have brains with intelligence and critical thinking skills to be confused. They don’t decide…only do.

When new physical tasks are difficult it’s not because you “confused” the muscle, it’s because the task was one of the following:

  • A new movement pattern, the BRAIN must learn to coordinate these new muscle actions.
  • An overload pattern: more tension, time under tension, speed of movement, energy system, etc.

Not because the muscle was somehow “confused”. You may have been, your muscles were not.

If you work in the bizz of training people, please either STOP using these terms or use them correctly…and if you hear your local, I went to a two-day certification this week so now I’m an expert trainer at the local Globo gym say these…stay away, very far away.

Geezers, Get up and lift a damn weight..

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

During my undergraduate education the dogma of the day regarding exercise and aging went something like this, “When you get old you will lose all your muscle and die”.

Well not quite. maybe it was more like, “When you get old you should do “weight bearing” exercise to maintain muscle mass, but you’ll lose all our muscle eventually anyway, become a invalid and die small and weak, as a gelatinous mound of carbon/ protein based goop”.

Well guess what 1980 exercise we like aerobics class, cause 10lbs dumbbell curls do something Yoda’s…You are dead wrong…again….

Yoda. You should really do some "weight bearing" exercise. Like gardening!

I covered why you geezers should be lifting heavy weights before: Geezers are (Strong) People too. So I’m not going to belabor the point but, hat tip Sweat Science, look at these images…FYI the white in the image is non muscle- bone, fat. The dark areas are muscle tissue.

 The leg of a chronically (continuously) trained 70 year  old triathlete looks almost identical to the upper leg of a 40 year old chronically trained triathlete. 

The full paper: Chronic Exercise Preserves Lean Muscle Mass in Masters Athletes

Here are the best excerpts:

It is commonly believed that with aging comes an inevitable decline from vitality to frailty….These declines may have more to do with lifestyle choices, including sedentary living and poor nutrition, that the absolute potential of musculoskeletal aging.

Followed up with:

we are capable of preserving both muscle mass and strength with lifelong physical activity.

So basically it’s YOUR  FAULT if you become a little old geezer, don’t want others to take care of you physically when you hit retirement and beyond? …Get up and do something…EVERYDAY….

It doesn’t have to happen unless YOU ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN…..

Who works on the weekend? Not me, I read!

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

My morning perusal of the interwebs left me with a bounty of good articles…so good you should read them too.

Some Thoughts on Louie and Westside– Charlie Weingroff 

Mr. Weingroff is super smart and his thoughts on neck packing really influenced my training the last year. I know, it’s like ummm “packing your neck” made a difference?

Yeah, yeah it did..

This article is awesome, covers several misconceptions and arguments against the Westside Philosophy. Plus the videos range from informative to down right cool..Best part is in the first video when Louie says he has physicists and engineers come out to evaluate training. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Physics rules the weight room.” You might be strong, fast, quick etc. and have the latest training gadget gizmo or thing-a-ma-jig but ultimately, physics determines the performance and outcomes of exercises.

Everybody used to hang on Lou’s nuts, now it’s popular to bash him. While I don’t think you should be a nut hanger for anybody…If I wanted to get really strong I would go to Lou and do EVERYTHING he says….maybe not forever but for right now, definitely. Know why? Because every one of his lifters are waaaaaaaaay stronger than me and that’s gotta be worth something.

7 Ways to Ease Pain and Avoid Injury– Sue Falsone

Awesome, short to the point article about how…..ease pain and avoid injuries…..If people just did number 2 (no, not that number two)

not this one either…

but, spent 5 minutes a day with prehab it would go a looooooooong way.

20 Best Fitness Tips of All Time– Susy Sedano

Truth

Brace your core, shoulders down and back, hip hinge, lift heavy weights, grip the weights HARD

Do Squats Damage Young Spines– Charles Poliquin

The study this article is talking about is not out in print yet, will be soon, everyone will read it and nothing will come of it except negative no-nothing media driven BS….(think steroids, that’s whats gonna happen here).

I’m going out on a limb here (read: not really): Squatting, we’re assuming proper squatting, is perfectly acceptable and safe. Like Poliquin points out Mel Siff went over this long ago,

It is extremely misleading to focus on the alleged risks of weight training on children when biomechanical research shows that simple daily activities such as running, jumping striking or catching can impose far greater forces on the musculoskeletal system than very heavy weight training“- Mel Siff, Facts and Fallacies of Fitness

Crossfit Endurance, Tabata sprints and why people just don’t get it– Steve Magness

This is a really good article on the pitfalls of CrossFit Endurance. The take home message is this,

#8 Periodization matters:

It seems simple enough that people would know that how you plan and periodize training matters.  Training isn’t a random collection of hard exercises or workoutsThere has to be some sort of logical sequence and progression.  If there’s not, then you can expect to get exactly what you trained for, random results.
 
The bottom line is that so called high intensity interval training (HIIT) which is the new fad word with strength coaches is good.  But for endurance performance it’s even better when it is supported!  You have to support it with something.  Endurance work of various kinds and even pure speed work (with lots of recovery) serves as support for the intense stuff.

Sounds an awful lot like Charlie Francis, Dan Pfaff, Mel Siff, Yuri Verhkoshansky, Mark McLaughlin, James Smith, Buddy Morris ie coaches who know their shit and don’t just make stuff up because it sounds cool or to sell their “certification”……

As far as I’m concerned Steve hits the nail on the head when it comes to CrossFit,

Crossfit exploits a couple different natural reactions people have to get people on their bandwagon.  First, they create a straw man “us vs. them” mentality.  We’ll go over this straw man tactic a bit later, but they try and cultivate this idea that just because it’s different and new means its got to be better.  They throw in some pseudoscience or misinterpretation of science and they’ve bolstered their selling point.  Further exploiting peoples natural habits, they promise better results with less time commitment, which in today’s “busy” world is probably the number one selling point for many products or ideas. If you’ve ever watched late night infomercials, you might start to see some similarities…

Lastly, once you’re in they do something pretty creative.  They first created their own new performance metric on which you’re judged.  Because being good at all the other methods of establishing performance isn’t good enough, so now you’re judged based on some criteria that crossfit develops.  Being a specialist at something is apparently bad?  Additionally, they really go after this hard work/pain = improvement and results idea.  This is also known as the Rocky effect.  But if you’ve been in the coaching business long enough you know that hard stupid work doesn’t get you anywhere.  You can’t just do work that is painful just because it hurts and expect to get better.
 
Jump For Stronger Bones– Caitlin Carlson, Womens Health mag.com 
 
This kinda goes in the no crap category. I’ve never understood why “fitness professionals”, I use that term loosely, always advocate low or no impact training. Obviously some, very few, absolutely need this but the vast majority of people NEED impact. It makes our bones grow…you learn that in anatomy and phys class, think osteoblast, they respond to FORCE on the bone
 
“ohh, like compressive forces? The only type of forces that have been shown to increase bone formation?”
 
Yeah, Just like that…
 
You know what causes compressive forces? Well among other things…IMPACT…ie the result from jumping (it’s called landing) ……so why do we start telling people that they shouldn’t have impact once we get certified? Elliptical machine anyone?
 
 
Tug Toners for everyone!
 
 

Dave Tate on Human Potential/ Drugs in Sports/ Passion etc..

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Dave Tate speaks the TRUTH about human potential and drugs in sports….

He makes the point I was talking about here: Achievement, 10,000 hours, Grit and why you’re not a pro athlete…