Monday, January 30, 2012

The Shoulder and Heavy Squatting - Jason Rash

NSCA Strength and Condition Journal

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research:


The Shoulder and Heavy Squatting
by Jason D. Rash (2000)


The shoulder complex is made up of two different structures: the glenohumeral joint and the shoulder girdle. In terms of the power squat for the powerlifter, this article will focus on the glenohumeral articulation and is intended to evaluate shoulder function and injury prevention in the power squat.


The glenohumeral joint is made up of the glenoid fossa (a socket) of the scapula and the head of the humerus (the ball). The arrangement of the joint consists of a shallow socket and a humeral head, which is less than halfway in the socket at any one time. This allows for multiaxial movement in all three plains. The drawback to this arrangement is that because the fossa slightly tilts anteriorly and superiorly, the shoulder is susceptible to dislocations and impingement, respectively, as well as other injuries.

In the power squat, the bar rests on the posterior deltoids, accomplishing several things. First, this puts less downward pressure on the shoulders and and shoulder girdle. Second, this bar position forces the lifter into a more forward leaning position, thus increasing the angle of flexion at the hips and increasing the force production from the lower back and gluteal muscles, thereby increasing the total weight lifted. The downside to this bar position is the increased chance of anterior shoulder impingement and pressure on the long head of the biceps.

Impingement is defined as compression of the bursa, rotator cuff, and/or the tendon of the long head of the biceps. The muscles that constitute the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the subscapularis, and the teres minor. The function of the rotator cuff is to compress the humerus against the glenoid.

Impingement and the resulting pain can manifest itself in squatting and when performing the bench and/or overhead press. The dilemma is how to consistently increase the weight lifted while decreasing the chance and recurrence of an injury.

The approach to this problem is threefold: strengthening the posterior elements of the shoulder, proper stretching and warm-up prior to lifting, and manipulation of sets and repetitions of the power squat itself.


The muscles targeted here are the posterior deltoid, teres minor, and the infraspinatus. Excellent exercises for these muscles are the following:

1.) Side-lying external rotation.
2.) Standing external rotation.
3.) With progression to 70-90 degree shoulder abduction lateral rotation.
4.) Rear deltoid extension.
5.) Prone flyes.
6.) Reverse shrugs.

Exercises 1 and 2 should be done with a small pillow or rolled up towel placed between the ribs and the elbow to allow for greater rotational motion of the humerus.

Later rotation (exercise 3) is more sport-specific because it replicates the actual position of the humerus during power squats. The rear deltoid extension (exercise 4) and the prone flye (exercise 5) work the posterior deltoid, which is an external rotator, but if also, if hypertrophied, will serve as a better resting place for the bar during a power squat.

Also, if the bar has a better surface on which to rest, there will be less shifting of the bar during execution of the squat. Since the primary external rotators, the teres minor and infraspinatus, have a downward angle from the humeral head to the inferior angle of the scapula, they can also play a part in the depression of the humeral head away from the acromial shelf. Therefore reverse shrugs (exercise 6) are also included.

All exercises should be done with very light weights (2-5 lbs.) for high repetitions (10-20) and in a slow and controlled fashion. This is done because of the small muscles involved and because form and technique are crucial.

An isometric exercise that has been used with good results is pictured in Figures 13 and 14. The forearms are placed behind the back with fingers touching. The palms are then pressed down and together isometrically contract the posterior shoulder elements. Start with 5 repetitions for 5-second holds and slowly increase the time of each hold

Stretching and Warm-up

Muscle tightness can also contribute to shoulder impingement. Anterior thoracic muscular tightness due to overdeveloped pectorals and anterior deltoids when compared with upper back strength is the primary cause. The pectoral/corner stretch (Figures 15 a and b) with the forearms flat on the wall surface stretches the anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, and subscapularis. Including at least 3-4 sets of a warm-up exercise prior squatting and pressing, in addition to the previous exercises, can also help alleviate impingement.

Set and Rep Manipulation

In powerlifting, all that is required is one successful repetition, so multiple repetitions are not needed. Several sets of repetitions in the 1-3 range using weights in the 70-80% range done explosively from the bottom position allows the lifter to get many "first" repetitions with which to practice the initial foot positioning and setup of the power squat. [Simmons, L. "Percent training. What is it really? Part II. Powerlifting USA. 19(6):26.1996.]
This set and repetition scheme is recommended so that the lifter avoids multiple repetitions in which the bar can shift or slip, thus increasing the pressure on the shoulder and possibly causing injury.


Shoulder impingement can be caused by many different mechanisms. In this article, the concerns of the competitive powerlifter and/or power squatter have been addressed. By utilizing specific posterior shoulder exercises, anterior shoulder stretching, and manipulation of training variables such as sets, repetitions, and poundage, a lifter can prevent and alleviate injury and subsequent time off from training.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Train-Eat-Grow Routine 2 - Steve Holman & Jonathon Lawson

Train-Eat-Grow: Routine Two Linkby Steve Holman & Jonathon Lawson (1999)

If you've been using training program number one for four weeks, you're now ready to build on it with routine two. We want to minimize overtraining while keeping our calories up in order to gain size. Extra calories from nutritious foods can speed muscle growth, but try not to let your abs go into complete hibernation. Ann extra 200-400 calories a day over maintenance should be a good starting point, and you can easily get that amount without much trouble.

Another key to keeping growth coming is to change routines. That not only forces your muscles to adapt to new stresses, but it also keeps your training from becoming boring. One of the biggest mistakes bodybuilders make is to stay with the same routine for too long. As a result they get bored, just go through the motions and let fiber recruitment decrease due to their body's learning to leverage up poundages. A new program, even one with seemingly minor changes, keeps things fresh.

Train the muscle fibers' full length, with resistance every inch of the way. Rep speed should be our average 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down. No levering for higher poundages and if you hitch up the weight, you'll have to repeat the whole set. If you're not accustomed to lifting with this rep speed do a practice session of the exercises included, and use a timer until you get the groove smooth.

The Program

If you compare Program 1 with Program 2, you'll notice that we kept a lot of the same exercises; however, we moved from splitting up the positions over two workouts -- midrange and stretch at one workout, and midrange and contracted at the second -- to training all three positions for the target muscle at every session. Doesn't that make the workouts too long? It might, but we made an adjustment to prevent that: We train arms, abs, and neck only once a week on Wednesdays, so the new split is the following:

Monday: Quads, hamstrings, calves.
Tuesday: Chest, back, delts.
Wednesday: Arms, abs, neck.
Thursday: Quads, hamstrings, calves.
Friday: Chest, back, delts.

If you think your arms are going to shrink because you're only training them once a week, think again. Your biceps, triceps and forearms will get plenty of indirect work when you train chest, back, and delts, so essentially you're training arms three times a week -- once directly on Wednesday and twice indirectly with upper-body work. Also, you're working arms first on Wednesday so you can go all-out when you're fresh, which doesn't happen on conventional split routines.

While training the different positions at different workouts has its benefits, POF (positions flexion) training is designed to be most effective when you train the midrange, stretch, and contracted positions for each target muscle. For example, the POF triceps routine is as follows:

Midrange: Close-grip bench presses.
Stretch: Cable long-pull extensions.
Contracted: One-arm pushdown.

Midrange: The midrange-position exercise trains your triceps with muscle teamwork, which allows for more overload on the belly of the muscle. It's considered the big mass movement.

Stretch: The stretch-position exercise puts the triceps in a state of full elongation with every rep, which can trigger an emergency response -- an increase in muscle fiber activation -- due to the body's sensing possible injury. (Stretch position exercises have also been linked to muscle fiber hyperplasia, or splitting, and an increase in IGF-release.

Contracted: The contracted-position exercise takes advantage of the heightened fiber activation of the previous exercise by placing the target muscle in its ultimate contracted state. For the triceps the position of complete contraction is the point at which the elbow is locked and the upper arm is down and slightly behind the torso. That position forces the most extreme contraction possible.

With these three exercises you work the triceps through its entire arc of flexion -- upper arm next to your head, upper arm perpendicular to your torso, and upper arm down and slightly back behind your torso. The full-range protocol can produce more fullness and complete development in the target-muscle structures.

For biceps you do preacher curls, with your upper arms in front of your torso; incline curls, with your upper arms down and slightly behind your torso for stretch; and spider curls on the vertical side of the preacher bench, with your upper arms close to your head for peak contraction. Once again, you train the target muscle through its full arc of flexion for better development.

In Program 2 you hit each target muscle through its full arc by training in all three positions, which results in a synergistic growth response from the muscle fibers. Using a midrange-, stretch, and contracted-position exercise for each bodypart every time you train is the number one factor that makes Program 2 different from Program 1. Of course, the split is also different, and there are a few new exercises.

If you can't train five days a week, (Monday to Friday) as suggested, you may want to substitute an every-other-day split. Workout 1 on Monday, workout 2 on Wednesday, Workout 3 on Friday, workout 1 on Sunday etc.


Jonathon Lawson: I really look forward to Wednesdays because we're training arms first. I get a much better pump and have a lot more strength for working arms. It feels great.

Steve Holman: Yeah, but big old pumped arms make your calves look smaller. Stay close to the mirrors so the dumbbell rack hides them.

JL: Good idea, although mine are starting to look better lately.

SH: Combining low reps and high reps works. We'll stay with that strategy. Ready to work triceps?

JL: Close-grip bench press, right?

SH: Yeah. Don't go too narrow or you'll tweak your wrists. Grip the bar a few inches shy of shoulder width and make sure the bar touches your low-pec line.

JL: You just couldn't bring yourself to say nipples, could you?

SH: Nipples!
[Just as Steve screams "Nipples!" three men walk into the gym to train.]

SH: . . . stiltskin. Wasn't that the name of the guy who slept for all those years -- Nipplestiltskin?

JL: Yeah. I think he had a bad case of gyno.
[They each do two light warmup sets and then two heavy sets with the same weight for each.]

SH: Long-pull cable extensions on the overhead cable. One set. Really make these slow and controlled, but don't pause in the stretch position. Fire out as soon as you activate the myotatic reflex.

*The stretch reflex; which is also often called the myotatic reflex, knee-jerk reflex, or deep tendon reflex, is a pre-programmed response by the body to a stretch stimulus in the muscle. When a muscle spindle is stretched an impulse is immediately sent to the spinal cord and a response to contract the muscle is received. Since the impulse only has to go to the spinal cord and back, not all the way to the brain, it is a very quick impulse. It generally occurs in 1-2 milliseconds. This is designed as a protective measure for the muscles, to prevent tearing. The muscle spindle is stretched and the impulse is also immediately received to contract the muscle, protecting it from being pulled forcefully or beyond a normal range. The synergistic muscles, those that produce the same movement, are also innervated when the stretch reflex is activated. This further strengthens the contraction and prevents injury. At the same time, the stretch reflex has an inhibitory aspect to the antagonist muscles. When the stretch reflex is activated the impulse is sent from the stretched muscle spindle and the motor neuron is split so that the signal to contract can be sent to the stretched muscle, while a signal to relax can be sent to the antagonist muscles. Without this inhibitory action, as soon as the stretched muscle began to contract the antagonist muscle would be stretched causing a stretch reflex in that one. Both muscles would end up contracting simultaneously. *

JL: Should I pause at the lockout?

SH: Just for a count, then get it moving again so you keep as much tension on the triceps as possible. Keep the negatives slow.
[They both do one slow, controlled set.]

JL: My triceps feel like blimps!

SH: Let's hope they don't do a Hindenburg during our triceps pushdowns. We just had the place cleaned. We'll do one set with a straight bar, then one set with a cable handle one arm at a time so we can get our upper arms behind our torsos for a harder contraction.
[They do one set each of straight-bar pushdowns, then move to the one-arm pushdowns for one set.]

JL: Whoa! Now my triceps are really trashed.

SH: Wait till tomorrow. I hope you can brush your teeth without screaming in pain.

JL: Lately I've been screaming in pain anyway, especially when I look in the mirror and notice my disappearing abs.

SH: Hey, they're still visible -- and you're looking a lot fuller. You can't gain mass with a reduced food intake. Let's hit preacher curls for biceps.

JL: I thought we were doing midrange movements first. Isn't that a stretch-position exercise?

SH: A common misconception, grasshopper, but I can understand your confusion. Your arms are out in front of your torso, so it's a midrange exercise, although the muscle teamwork is minimal and the pull on the biceps is more noticeable than it is with barbell curls. That's where the confusion comes from. We were getting more synergy with the barbell curls, our biceps midrange exercise in Program 1.

JL: So aren't barbell curls a better basic movement choice then -- because of the synergy?

SH: Not necessarily. Our bodies learned how to leverage the weight up, and the fiber activation was starting to decrease. Switching to preacher curls should kick in some new adaptation and keep the growth coming.
[They each do one warmup set, then two heavy sets of preacher curls with the same weight on both sets.]

JL: Next, we stretch 'em out with one set of incline dumbbell curls, right?

SH: Yep.

JL: So that's really the only strech-position exercise for biceps?

SH: Well, you could do seated one-arm cable curls, facing away from the stack and letting the cable pull your arms back behind your torso, but I prefer the dumbbell version. If we go stale on these, we'll switch.
[They each do one set of incline dumbbell curls to failure.]

SH: Now, one set of spider curls and one set of concentration curls. That should take advantage of the heightened fiber activation from the incline curls.
[They each do a set of spider curls and one set of dumbbell concentration curls, both to failure.]

JL: Big, bloated biceps. I love it. I just hope I don't have to pick my nose 'cause my biceps are too pumped to bend my arms that far.

SH: Which reminds me, don't look at your calves while your arms are pumped.

JL: Right. Look straight ahead. Maybe we should start wearing sweatpants on arm day.

SH: Noh, we have to use Arnold's shortened pants strategy and be tormented by our calves at every opportunity -- so we can torture the hell out of them on calf training day, which is tomorrow. Here, let me start tearing down your self-esteem. Wow, are those calves or calf fetuses?

JL: Hey, was your dad a flamingo or did someone replace your lower legs with buggy whips?

SH: That should do it. Let's do brachialis. Two sets of dumbbell hammer curls.
[They do two sets, keeping the dumbbells moving simultaneously like pistons, with a slight pause at the top.]

JL: On to forearms -- if I can hold the bar.

SH: Premature forearm fatigue. You must have taken home the new swimsuit video.

JL: Ha, ha. Is it let's-pick-on-the-new-guy day?

SH: No, I just notice that your vision has been getting worse lately, so I assumed . . .

JL: Okay, load the bar for reverse wrist curls before this workout turns into a Seinfeld episode.
[They each do one set of reverse wrist curls, add weight and do one set of wrist curls.]

SH: Now one set of forearm rockers. Just let the dumbbells hang at your sides with a slight bend in your elbows, and try to wrist curl the 'bells up and out to hit the extensors and then in and out to hit the flexors. Keep rocking till your forearms flame out.

Next are ab bench crunch pulls.
[They each do one warmup set,then add weight a do a slow set of crunch pulls for about nine reps, with no pause at the stretch and a one-count hold at the contracted position.]

JL: Incline knee-ups?

SH: Yep. One set, and then one set of crunches.
[They each do a set of incline knee-ups, with no momentum, rolling their hips off the bench and holding their knees at the chest for a count on each rep. Then they do regular crunches, emphasizing the top contracted position with a two-second hold while expelling the air from their lungs to enhance the squeeze.]

JL: It's amazing how three sets can do in your abs when they're done right. This POF is great stuff. You should get other people to try it. Why don't you write a book or something?

SH: Very funny. Next month we're going to crank up the intensity a bit with some supersets. Aftershock supersets can change the pH of the blood, which has been shown to increase growth hormone release.

JL: You're always thinking. Let's hit neck, and then we're out of here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Deadlifts - Sumo Style - Hollie Evett

In this photo the author shows the different hand spacings possible in the sumo deadlift. These vary from narrow to wide. Find the place where the arms are hanging lowest for you. Note lines on wall and in back for relationship. Remember, an inch or so can make quite a difference.

Above you see the Sumo squat which conditions and strengthens the inner thighs and is helpful in the Sumo deadlift.

The photos above show the foot angles and the erectness of the body with the toes or feet spread outward. You will find that the hips are lower, the back more erect and the arms in a better position for the initial drive off the floor. When the bar is lifted it will be nearer to the main fulcrum, the hip area. In the photo on the right, when the feet are pointed a little more straight ahead the hips tend to raise more in the initial break off the floor. The back will probably bow, causing shock absorber effect. Bar and hands will come up more in front of the legs, not inside as shown in the photo at left. Thus, the bar will be farther down from the fulcrum, which will not be as strong a position.

These two photos show the feet pretty much straight ahead in the top photo and pointed out in the bottom one. Pointing them out assists you as mentioned above, and in keeping your back straighter and getting a better pulling position.

Above we have a photo showing the hand spacing at the start of the deadlift, then in erect position, showing the spacing that seems to fit this style of deadlift. You start with the hands inside the knees and finish with the hands just outside the thighs as shown. This position allows you to use more muscles in a uniform manner and it effects the legs, hips, glutes and back. In the third photo above we see the author using the isokinetic machine for deadlifts with the feet wide and the toes pointed out. This machine is very helpful due to the fact that all areas are worked to their maximum through a complete range of motion. The governor of the machine is shown in the bottom of the picture. It automatically adjusts to muscle strength throughout the full range.

Deadlifts - Sumo Style
by Hollie Evett (1980)

In my opinion, the wide stance or sumo style deadlift is the most efficient way to deadlift. I wish to discuss why it is so efficient.

Some of the points are:

1.) Shorter stroke than the conventional deadlift.
2.) Sumo style takes advantage of tremendous hip and leg power.
3.) Hands placed on the inside of the legs allow for the bar to be closer to the major fulcrums, which are the gluteus and upper thigh.
4.) By using the sumo style, full advantage is taken of all the time spent squatting. Squats are the most important assistance exercise for the wide stance deadlift.

In understanding the proper forms of the sumo style, it is important to know the major fulcrum part. They are ankles, knees, hips, gluteus, lower and possibly upper back. To take advantage of the sumo style, it is important to use all of the muscles and fulcrum points together and at the same time. If this is done properly it can result in a very explosive and smooth lift. If the muscles are developed properly and proper form is maintained, there should not be a specific strain on any one muscle group.

An important factor is to deadlift in a flat foot or flat soled shoe. Weight should be distributed in the mid-sole area when starting the lift. If heels are used there will be a tendency to throw the hips up and shoulders forward. This will result in the bar getting out in front of the legs and away from the main fulcrum area.

Hand spacing is important, too. If the hands are too narrow the shoulders tend to squeeze together, thus binding the trapezius muscles. I the grip is too wide, it means the bar will have to be lifted higher to finish the lift.

The best way to find your hand spacing is to stand in front of a mirror, make a fist, hands down at the side, knuckles toward mirror. Move the hands out and into the side. Notice that their is a point where the hands hang the lowest. This probably would be the most efficient spacing for you (see top photo).

Foot spacing is variable but several factors should be kept in mind. The wider the stance, the shorter and slower the stroke. It is a little more difficult to maintain balance at the top or finish. A narrower stance will be more explosive but it will be a longer stance.

I prefer basically the same heel stance as my squat, with my toes pointed out slightly more than when squatting. The toes being pointed out is important for efficient form. This allows the lift to be started and maintained with the weight in the middle of the sole of the feet. It also allows for the bar to be kept in close inside the legs when deadlifting. Remember the factor, to stay close to the fulcrum.

With proper foot spacing and toes spread apart further than the heels, it gives more time to think of the involvement of the legs. Most people try to lift with their frontal thighs. This is not entirely correct. Much of the power is generated by the adductor or groin muscle. This is important because the knees must remain spread apart so the hands, arms and bar can remain close to the fulcrum.

It is important to have the hips down, back arched, stomach tight and arms straight when starting the deadlift. If this is not done, the explosiveness at the start of the deadlift is lost. The above body parts, if not in proper position, will act as a shock absorber and reduce the momentum that is applied to the bar.

It is not necessary to put the hips down excessively. Remember, the legs are stronger in a half-squat position than below parallel.

The sequence of the sumo deadlift would be:

1.) A visual picture is made of form, explosiveness and completion of the lift before the bar is touched;

2.) The var is touched to the shins (toes spread apart) in proper stance;

3.) The bar is torqued and squeezed for the grip;

4.) Hips are cocked down with back arched, stomach tight, shoulders back, arms ;

5.) As soon as the hips are cocked down and explosion erupts (remember the reformed effect).

The feet are pushed through the floor, inside top legs squeezed together (adducted) and pulled at the same time.

The bar will travel in a straight line from the floor to the completion of the lift.

Usually sumo deadlifts with heavy weights are better to do as singles than as repetitions. This makes it easier to concentrate on explosiveness and form. If repetitions are done the first rep has good form and then the form gets progressively worse as more repetitions are done.

Muscles can be developed and strengthened through a variety of assistance work. Some of the favorites are? bent knee situps, shrugs, leg presses, calf work, hyperextensions, lat rows, grip work, isometrics and self hypnosis.

I would like to elaborate on a favorite of mine. This exercise can be done with weight of with the isokinetic power rack. If a weight is used it can not be so heavy that form is lost. The exercise is done doing the deadlift from the floor to knees and back down. This exercise works the adductors and helps prevent a groin injury. It is also an excellent time to practice explosiveness.

The advantage to the isokinetic power rack is that heavier resistance can be used with strict form. The reason for this is that the principal of isokinetics is that the resistance accommodates the force applied. Thus, there can be a maximum resistance throughout any range of motion either long or short.

I would like to make a couple of minor observations: Straps are extremely valuable as they allow for total concentration on explosiveness without fear of losing the grip. If this is done, a little extra work on the grip is necessary. If straps are used in a workout, they should not be used until they are necessary because the arms need conditioning for the reverse grip. This minor thing could prevent a biceps pull on the arm that is reversed during a meet.

It is a good idea to keep the fingernails cut and callouses filed down. A pumice stone can be purchased and is excellent for callous removal.

An article by Hollie Evett on The Incline Squat is here:

Does Cardio After An Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss? - Brad Schoenfeld

Brad Schoenfeld's Blog:

More Schoenfeld articles:

Strength & Conditioning Journal:

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 4th (2008) edition:

by Brad Schoenfeld (2011)

A common fat burning strategy employed by bodybuilders, athletes and fitness enthusiasts is to perform cardiovascular exercise early in the morning on an empty stomach. This strategy was popularized by Bill Phillips is his book, "Body for Life". According to Phillips, performing 20 minutes of intense aerobic exercise after an overnight fast has greater effects on fat loss than performing an entire hour of cardio in the postprandial (occurring after a meal) stage. The rationale for the theory is that low glycogen levels cause your body to shift energy utilization away from carbohydrates, thereby allowing greater mobilization of stored fat for fuel. However, although the prospect of reducing the body fat by training in a fasted state may sound enticing, science does not support its efficacy.

First and foremost, it is shortsighted to look solely at how much fat is burned during an exercise session. The human body is very dynamic and continually adjusts its use of fat for fuel. Substrate utilization is governed by a host of factors (i.e., hormonal secretions, enzyme activity, transcription factors, etc.), and these factors can change by the moment. Thus, fat burning must be considered over the course of days -- not on an hour-to-hour basis -- to get a meaningful perspective on its impact on body composition. As a general rule, if you burn more carbohydrate during a workout, you inevitably burn more fat in the post-exercise period, and vice versa.

If should be noted that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has proven to be a superior method for maximizing fat loss compared with moderate intensity steady-state training.
[Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, and Bouchard O. "Impact of exercise intensity of body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism." Metabolism 43: 814-818, 1994.]
[Schoenfeld D andDawes J. "High-intensity interval training:Applications for general fitness training." Stength Conditioning Journal 31: 44-46, 2009.l]
[Gibala MJ, Little JP, van Essen M, Wilkin GP, Burgomaster KA, Safdar A, Raha S, and Tamopolsky M.A. "Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: Similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance." J Physiol Sept. 15 2006 575 (3) 909-911.]

Interestingly, studies show that blood flow to adipose tissue diminishes at higher levels of intensity. This is believed to entrap free fatty acids within fat cells, impeding their ability to be oxidized while training. Yet, despite lower fat oxidation rates during exercise, fat loss is nevertheless greater over time in those who engage in HIIT versus training in the "fat burning zone" [see Tremblay, A - above], providing further evidence that 24-hour energy balance is the most important determinant in reducing body fat.

The concept of performing cardiovascular exercise on an empty stomach to enhance fat loss is flawed even when examining its impact on the amount of fat burned in the exercise session alone. True, multiple studies show that consumption of carbohydrate before low-intensity aerobic exercise (up to approximately 60% Vo2max) in untrained subjects reduces the entry of long-chain fatty acids in the mitochondria, thereby blunting fat oxidation. This is attributed to an insulin-mediated attenuation of adipose tissue lipolysis, an increased glycolytic flux, and a decreased expression of genes involved in fatty acid transport and oxidation. However, both training status and aerobic exercise intensity have been shown to mitigate the effects of a pre-exercise meal on fat oxidation. Recent research has shed light on the complexities of the subject.

Horowitz et al. studied the fat burning response of six moderately trained individuals in a fed versus fasted state to different training intensities. Subjects cycled for two hours at varying intensities on four separate occasions. During two of the trials, they consumed a high-glycemic carbohydrate meal at 30, 60, and 90 minutes of training -- once at a low intensity (25% peak oxygen consumption) and once at a moderate intensity (68% peak oxygen consumption). During the other two trials, subjects were kept fasted for 12-14 hours before exercise and for the duration of training. Results in the low-intensity trials showed that although lipolysis (the breakdown of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids) was suppressed by 22% in the fed state compared with the fasted state, fat oxidation remained similar between groups until 80-90 minutes of cycling. Only after this point was a greater fat oxidation rate observed in fasted subjects. Conversely, during moderate-intensity cycling, fat oxidation was not different between trials at any time -- this is despite a 20-25% reduction in lipolysis and plasma free fatty acid concentration.

More recently, Febbraio et al. evaluated the effect of pre-exercise carbohydrate consumption of fat oxidation. Using a crossover design, seven endurance-trained subjects cycled for 120 minutes at approximately 63% of peak power output, followed by a "performance cycle" where subjects expended seven kJ (kg. body weight) by pedaling as fast as possible. Trials were conducted on four separate occasions, with subjects given (a) a placebo before and during training, (b) a placebo 30 minutes before training and then a carbohydrate beverage every 15 minutes throughout exercise, (c) a carbohydrate beverage 30 minutes before training and then a placebo during exercise, or (d) a carbohydrate beverage both before and every 15 minutes during exercise. The study was carried out in a double-blind fashion with trials performed in random order. Consistent with previous research, results showed no evidence of impaired fat oxidation associated with consumption of carbohydrate either before or during exercise.

Taken together, these studies show that during moderate-to-high intensity cardiovascular exercise in a fasted state -- and for endurance-trained individuals regardless of training intensity -- significantly more fat is broken down than than that the body can use for fuel. Free fatty acids that are not oxidized ultimately become re-esterified in adipose tissue, nullifying any lipolytic benefits afforded by pre-exercise fasting.

It should also be noted that consumption of food before training increases the thermic effect of exercise, compared to the lipolytic effects of an exercise session in either a fasted state or after consumption of a glucose/milk (GM) beverage. In a crossover design, four experimental conditions were studied: low-intensity long duration exercise with GM, low-intensity long duration exercise without GM, high-intensity short duration exercise with GM, and high-intensity short duration exercise without GM. Results showed that ingestion of the GM beverage resulted in a significantly greater excess postexercise oxygen consumption compared with exercise performed in a fasted state in both high- and low-intensity bouts. Other studies have produced similar findings, indicating a clear thermogenic advantage associated with pre-exercise food intake.

The location of adipose tissue mobilized during training must also be taken into account here. During low-to-moderate intensity training performed at a steady state, the contribution of fat as a fuel source equates to approximately 40-60% of total energy expenditure. However, in untrained subjects, only about 50-70% of this fat is derived from plasma Free fatty acids; the balance comes from intra-muscular triglycerides (IMTG).

IMTG are stored as lipid droplets in the sarcoplasm near the mitochondria, with the potential to provide approximately two-thirds the available energy of muscle glycogen. Similar to muscle glycogen, IMTG can only be oxidized locally within the muscle. It is estimated that IMTG stores are approximately three times greater in type I versus type II muscle fibers, and lipolysis of these stores are maximally stimulated when exercising at 65% Vo2Max.

The body increases IMTG stores with consistent endurance training, which results in greater IMTG utilization for more experienced trainers. It is estimated that nonplasma fatty acid utilization during endurance exercise is approximately twice that for trained versus non-trained individuals. Herley er al. reported that the contribution of IMTG stores in trained individuals equated to approximately 80% of the total body fat utilization during 120 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance training.

THE IMPORTANT POINT HERE IS THAT IMTG STORES HAVE NO BEARING ON HEALTH OR APPEARANCE; it is the subcutaneous fat stored in adipose tissue that influences body composition. Consequently, the actual fat burning effects of any fitness strategy intended to increase fat oxidation must be taken in the context of the specific adipose deposits providing energy during exercise.

Another factor that must be considered when training in a fasted state is its impact on proteolysis. Lemon and Mullin found that nitrogen losses were more than doubled when training while glycogen depleted compared with glycogen loaded training. This resulted in a protein loss estimated at 10.4% of the total caloric cost of exercise after one hour of cycling at 61% Vo2Max. This would suggest that performing cardio-vascular exercise while fasting might not be advisable for those seeking to maximize and retain muscle mass.

Finally, the effect of fasting on energy levels during exercise ultimately has an effect on fat burning. Training early in the morning on an empty stomach makes it very difficult for an individual to train at even a moderate level of intensity. Attempting to engage in a HIIT style routine in a hypoglycemic state almost certainly will impair performance. Studies show that a pre-exercise meal allows an individual to train more intensely compared with exercise while fasting. The net result is that a greater number of calories are burned both during and after physical activity, heightening fat loss.

In conclusion, the literature does not support the efficacy of training early in the morning on an empty stomach as a tactic to reduce body fat. At best, the net effect on fat loss associated with such an approach will be no better than training after meal consumption, and quite possibly, it would produce inferior results. Moreover, given that training with depleted glycogen levels has been shown to increase proteolysis, the strategy has potential detrimental effects for those concerned with muscle strength and hypertrophy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Front Squat Round Table - Mark Lawson/Joe Wier/Gerard Martin

Front Squat Q & A
by Mark L. Lawson, Joe Weir and Gerard Martin (1991)

1.) List some of the common technique errors observed in beginners when instructing proper exercise technique for the front squat.

Weir: The most common errors are not maintaining a vertical torso, loss of heel contact with the floor and letting the elbows drop. Dropping the elbows is related to loss of vertical posture in the torso; it may lead to a rounding of the back and loss of balance to the front [Note: all of Weir's responses assume the Clean rack position technique.]

Larson: When racking the bar on the front deltoids, it is common for beginners to have their elbows pointed downward, creating a situation where poor control of the bar may exist. This usually occurs when they use a Clean-style method of gripping the bar. This may produce poor balance and a subsequent loss of control of the bar. To remedy this problem it is necessary that the trainee place the humerus segment of his upper arm in a position parallel to the ground. Individuals experiencing chronic problems with this technique may experience greater success by using a cross-arm grip, which consequently forces the bar to be held higher on the frontal deltoids, thus preventing any forward/downward slipping of the bar.

Some individuals have a tendency to shift their weight forward toward the balls of their feet, thus producing a loss of balance and control. Instructing the exerciser to shift his center of balance back toward the heels will help to remedy this error in technique.

Martin: Common technique errors include:

a.) Rounded back causing excessive amount of stress on the supportive structure of the back (ligaments) instead of on the muscular system of the lower back. Back should be tight and arched.

b.) Elbows low and behind the bar or flared out to the sides. Both of these improper positions can cause a poor rack of the bar, thus causing the bar to actually slip out of the hands of the trainee. The error may be caused by poor flexibility of the shoulder and/or wrist. Also, check to see if the hand grip on the bar is too wide. This can prevent the trainee from achieving the proper position of getting his or her elbows high and in front of the bar.

c.) Bouncing out from the bottom position of the lift. This can cause undue stress to supportive tissues of the knee. Lift should be smooth and controlled at all times.

d.) "Jamming" the bar near top of lift and possible hyperextension of the knee at top of lift. Lift should be smooth and controlled at all times.

e.) Knees pulling together, causing excessive wear on knee joint. Knees should be over the same plane as feet. Feet should be at shoulder width and can be pointed out slightly out to help open the hip joint so the athlete can achieve the parallel position or lower.

f.) Coming to toes during ascent of lift. Poor distribution of weight could cause the athlete to fall due to faulty base. This may be due to inadequate hip flexibility. Feet should always be flat. Weight should be distributed over mid-foot/heel of foot.

g.) Hyperextension of the cervical spine. Head should be in neutral position of slightly up.

2.) Are there any prerequisite strength or skill requirements before trainees should include the front squat in their workouts?

Martin: If starting from the floor, the lifter must be familiar with competent power clean/hang clean movements in order to bring the bar up to the proper rack position to begin the front squat.

Flexibility of the wrist and shoulder joints is necessary in order to keep the bar secure in the rack position. Flexibility of the hip is necessary for the exercise to be properly performed with a straight/arched back.

The trainee needs a strong midsection (abdominal/lower back). Due to the weight being so far from the body's center of gravity, the midsection must be strong in order to properly support the lift.

Weir: My own opinion is that any healthy trainee is ready to learn to squat, whether front or back, as long as appropriate technique is stressed throughout, and light weight is used as a beginning load. There are, however, some flexibility requirements that may facilitate proper technique. These include flexibility in the wrist flexors, iliopsoas, hip extensors, gastrocnemius/soleus and the erector spinae.

Simultaneous with learning proper technique, developing strength in the abdominals and erector spinae should be emphasized in the beginner. This will aid injury prevention and will facilitate proper technique development.

Larson: All lifters should develop sufficient back squatting proficiency before attempting this movement. As a supplemental exercise to the back squat and a source of training variation, I recommend the trainee possess the ability to back squat at least 1.5 times his bodyweight before incorporating this movement into his regimen.

All lifters should adopt either the clean-style rack positioning on the front deltoids, or the cross-arm grip, which places the bar even higher up toward the clavicles. This should be done according to comfort and/or personal preference. The cross-arm grip may produce discomfort with breathing, as technique tends to position the bar too close to the throat and may interrupt normal air exchange.

4.) Are there any particular instructional methods you have found helpful when teaching the front squat to your athletes?

Larson: Wrist flexibility -- wrist flexion and extension stretches should be regularly included in the warm-up procedures prior to any workout involving the front squat.

Grip -- as noted above, according to comfort/personal preference.

Elbows -- positioned parallel to the floor.

Descent -- slow and controlled; do not bounce at the bottom. Eyes directed straight ahead. Weight positioned over the heels. Trunk straight and arched at base. Toes directed slightly outward at approximately 30 degrees..

Ascent -- drive feet into floor, thrust elbows upward and drive hips forward and upward. Eyes remain focused or slightly up.

Weir: There are several critical clues that need to be focused upon when teaching/learning the front squat. The first is that the elbows need to be held high ("elbows up"). This is related to adequate flexibility in the wrist flexors. A drop in the elbows leads to forward lean in the ascent. Second, the lifter needs to either look straight ahead or slightly upward at all times ("head up"). Finally, it is important that the back be arched as opposed to rounded, and that the lifter lead with the chest ("chest out").

Tips that are helpful include using a weightlifting shoe with slightly raised heel and lateral support, as this helps maintain heel contact and an upright torso. Also, some lifters find wearing a thick sweatshirt provides padding across the clavicles and can reduce bruising when using heavier weights or higher reps. Avoid thick towel wrapping or commercial pads, as the bar will be more likely to roll with these.

Martin: I use the following methods:

a.) Video. We use a video camera and monitor in the weightroom. By this process, the lifters can see themselves right after the completion of a lift. The use of water soluble markers can be used to draw right onto the monitor's screen in order to emphasize and correct improper form and to acknowledge good technique.

b.) There are products that come over the shoulder and hold the weight in the racked position for the lifter. This is helpful if the athlete lacks the necessary flexibility, is recovering from an injury or is presently rehabilitating from surgery.

c.) I also use dumbbells in order for the lifter to learn the necessary mechanics of the lift. The athlete holds the dumbbells along the side of his body and proceeds to do the squat exercise, concentrating on the proper back alignment, foot width and position and form. Once this has been accomplished, the athlete can concentrate on the placement of the bar and the proper positioning of the upper body.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Overcoming Sticking Points in the Bench Press - Don Pfeiffer

Overcoming Sticking Points in the Bench Press
by Don Pfeiffer (1981)

The occurrence of a sticking point during the performance of the bench press is common to all individuals who perform this exercise. In order to maximize your bench pressing ability you must attempt to overcome sticking points as much as possible. Bear in mind, however, that you can never totally eliminate a sticking point. What you can do is move the sticking point upwards, and increase the amount of weight that you can handle.

The first step in overcoming a sticking point -- moving it upwards -- is to accurately determine where the sticking point occurs. This is where most lifters make their first mistake. Many trainees determine their sticking point by analyzing unsuccessful lifts. The point where they fail is, they assume, where the sticking point occurs. This, however, is not necessarily so. The proper way to determine where the sticking point occurs is to observe successful bench presses. The best method is to perform several sets of bench presses with as weight that will allow from 3-6 reps. Your only concern should be the successful completion of the lift, while someone watches you perform the lift attempting to determine the sticking point. The area where the bar's ascent slows down of momentarily comes to a halt is where the sticking point occurs.

Now that the sticking point has been determined we must attempt to strengthen that area of the lift. This can be accomplished in two ways:

1.) You can isolate the specific range of movement where the sticking point occurs, or

2.) You can isolate the specific muscles that are dominant when the sticking point occurs.

The point of either method is to strengthen the muscles which in turn will push the sticking point upwards.

To begin, let's examine how we can isolate the specific range of motion where the sticking point occurs. We will discuss five different, yet effective methods. They are:

negative pauses
isometric negatives

The first method, isometrics, is a static form of exercise. That is, there is no movement; the muscle is exercised only at one point along its range of motion. Supposing that your sticking point occurs during the middle range of the bench press. Here is how isometrics would apply. Using a power rack, set the pins at the point where the sticking point is most pronounced. Then, assume the exact position your would be in for a full-range bench at that part of the lift, and take an empty exercise bar and press it against the pins gradually increasing pressure until you are exerting a maximum effort. Hold at maximum force for about six seconds, without changing your body position. Again, it is important that you remain in the same position as you would be if this were a full-range bench press. To insure that you work the sticking point along its entire range you could place the pins at high, middle, and low parts of the sticking point and work each area separately.

Isometronics, on the other hand, are short range movements with an isometric hold at the end. Assuming once again that your sticking point occurs during the middle portion of the lift, here's how isometronics would be used. You will again need the use of a power rack, but this time position two sets of pins: one pair at the bottom of your sticking point and one pair at the top of your sticking point. Start with the bar on the bottom pins and press upward until it touches the upper pins. Continue this for 3-5 reps. On the last rep press the bar against the upper pins as hard as you can and hold it for approximately six seconds. Here again, a position identical to that used in your full-range bench press is mandatory. The point is not to see how much weight you can lift by shifting position. This is assistance work, used to strengthen your weaknesses and thereby increase the lift. Define fun for yourself and find a way to experience it while training.

Pauses simply involve taking a moderate weight and lowering it to a point about two inches below your sticking point, holding the weight at that position for several seconds and then pressing the weight upwards. This can be continued for reps.

Negative pauses, on the other hand, require the use of very heavy weights. Starting from a point of full contraction -- lockout position -- lower the weight very slowly. When you reach the sticking point, stop the weight and attempt to hold it there for as long as possible. Use spotters.

Isometric negatives are very similar to negative pauses. The main difference being that you start at the sticking point. You will need at least two spotters to hand you the weight at the place where your sticking point occurs. At this point hold the resistance at that position for as long as possible. When the weight begins to drop don't give up -- continue to delay the bar's descent for as long as possible. Be sure your spotters are alert and ready to catch the bar and help you up with it.

Let's now examine how we can isolate the specific muscles that are involved when the sticking point occurs. First of all, we must consider the relationship of your elbows to your torso. If your elbows are at a 45-degree angle to your torso the initial surge of strength is supplied by the deltoids. After about 4-5 inches the pectorals and triceps take over with the triceps supplying the final strength needed for lockout.

This style of benching is characterized by a narrow bench press grip. As the angle of your elbows to your torso increases, less emphasis is placed on your deltoids. At a 90-degree angle, which means your elbows are perpendicular to your torso and which is characterized by a wide grip, most of the stress is placed on the chest from the beginning of the movement. Towards the end of the movement triceps strength becomes very important.

Sticking points will normally occur at a transitional stage where one muscle group takes over from another. Thus, if you keep your elbows at about 45 degrees to your body the sequence of power is: deltoids - chest - triceps, whereas if your keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle to your torso the sequence is: chest - triceps.

When you have determined at which transitional stage the sticking point occurs you can then use the appropriate assistance exercise to strengthen that muscle. Listed below are my picks for best assistance exercises for the bench press, for the three muscle groups:

Deltoids: front deltoid raise performed either standing or lying.

Chest: dumbbell flyes, incline presses.

Triceps: lying triceps extensions, dips.

With regard to the shoulders, the best exercise is the lying deltoid raise. If you are unfamiliar with this exercise here's how it is performed. Assuming your normal bench press position start with the barbell over your head, then slowly lower it until it touches your lower body, the raise the bar back over your head. At all times keep your arms straight.

To briefly summarize, sticking points can be attacked in two different ways. You can isolate the specific muscle group involved in the sticking point, or you can work the muscles along the area where the sticking point occurs. Both methods are effective, and for maximum results you should use both.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Development of the Clean & Jerk, Part Nine - David Webster

Column 1 shows the time from the discs leaving the floor until the bar passes the knees. Column 2 shows the time until the lifter reaches full extension and starts to split or squat. Column 3 shows the time the bar continues to rise after the lifter has begun to move. Column 4 shows whether or not there is a "plateau" when he bar is still as the lifter goes under it, and finally Column 5 shoes the time the bar is actually dropping. All times are in sixteenths of a second.

Recovery in the Jerk

The principles of recovery in the jerk are exactly the same as those in the clean except it should be easier in jerking! Balance is sometimes a bit harder owing to the great rise in the center of gravity of the bar, but the fact the you do not have to rise from a deep position more than outweighs the disadvantages.

The legs are straightened and the front foot retraced a little -- not a lot -- then the rear foot is moved up to place both feet on a straight line with each other. THE GREAT THING IS TO AVOID EXAGGERATED ACTIONS. KEEP THE MINIMUM DISPLACEMENT OF THE BAR SO IT REMAINS OVER THE CENTER OF THE HEAD. If you take a big step backward with the front foot or a huge lunge forward with the back one then you are asking for trouble. I would go as far as to say that in a very wide split you should recover from the front foot first with the usual shortish step and bring the back foot up but not necessarily the full way. The movement can then be completed by a very small step with the front foot. In this way you will have moved the bar the minimum distance. Some of the pathways of movement with a light fastened on the end of the bar have shown terrific movement in recovering from a split.

Avoid forward recoveries; i.e., moving the back leg forward first. This maneuver only be used as an emergency measure. If you feel you MUST use a forward recovery, then your weight distribution must be all wrong and you should look very carefully at your technique.

An unfortunate trait with excitable lifters is trying to recover too soon. You must have the weight quite securely overhead before you ever start to recover. The split position is a much safer and easier position in which to fight and hold a weight. Our world championship lifters show this admirably. They will often hold a jerk for quite a while, struggling to get a bar centered. Many lesser lifters would either give up the fight right away or try to recover and juggle with the bar as they stand up. Be restrained; get the bar under control before standing up in the method advocated here.

The jerk is completed. All you need now is the referee's signal and the three white lights.

Weight Transference

Weight transference and balance should perhaps be discussed together, but faulty transferring of weight is so common, that a special section must be devoted to it. It is particularly evident in split lifting, and this of course includes the jerk.

How often do you see a lifter landing in a split and then having to take a step to one side to keep his balance? It's happening all the time! Faulty weight transference is the cause, the step is the effect, but there are more subtle signs too which the coach should observe.

Lifters are sometimes perturbed at one arm dragging behind the other as the weight is pulled into the chest. The bar will, as a result, tend to be uneven, dropping at one end. Often it is thought that the dragging arm must be weaker but more often than not the fault is due to weight transference onto one leg.

Power comes from the ground. The jumper, the thrower and the lifter, by driving forcibly against the ground, produces dynamic action and in pulling for the clean (or the snatch), as soon as you lift one foot off the ground you reduce the force almost by half. As has been said, many splitters anticipating the foot movement will transfer their weight onto what will eventually be the forward leg, thus getting ready to lift the foot going to the rear. As soon as the weight is transferred there will be a loss of power and supposing the right foot goes to the rear you will often find that the right arm, although it may be stronger, may lag behind the other as full force is not being exerted on the right side. If, however, there is a very bad case of weight transference you will find the entire bar and body shifts to bring the center of gravity over the base provided by this forward foot. Because the body and bar are adjusted the bar stays level until the feet are split, but now comes the big snag; once you imparted momentum to the bar and the bar and body going to one side like this, it will tend to keep going in this direction, so now the arm on the side of the FORWARD foot gets the greatest share of the work and the bar will often be lower on this side.

Between the foot movements and the tilting of the bar you have a series of signs, not only to help you spot faults of weight transference, but also to tell you the degree to which they are being committed.

Let's summarize these signs:

1.) If the lifter keeps balanced in a split but the end of the bar corresponding to the REAR leg is slightly lower than the other, then there is a small degree of weight transference onto the side of the forward foot.

2.) If the lifter has to readjust his foot positions, moving toward the side of the forward leg, then there has been a little more weight transference.

3.) If the end of the bar tilts to the side of the forward leg, there has been quite a lot of transference.

4.) If any of these points are combined, then there is a definite need for a lot of work on technique.

The Cure for Faulty Transference of Weight

The first advice I would give a lifter with this fault is to keep his shoulders forward of the bar as long as possible during the pull for the clean. Those who take the back leg away too soon are those who tend to pull the weight backward. Keeping the shoulders forward gives a well-balanced position.

The second hint is to cultivate a very full extension of the body with a good hip thrust in all your lifts. Special exercises which will help are high pulls using hip thrust to set you off balance forward, and when you lose balance forward make sure you regain it by moving forward what would normally be your forward foot, thus keeping the weight on what is your rear leg in a split.

Squat cleans will also help train you in correct distribution of weight. No doubt someone will ask what causes loss of balance to the side of the REAR LEG. Believe it or not, in all the films I have of world championships I don not seem to have one case of this happening. If it does happen, it probably means that the lifter has extended well and as he hangs on to get maximum extension he whips his rear leg away. This I class more as a fault of balance rather than weight transference, but the resulting foot adjustments are similar to those mentioned earlier so should be kept in mind to avoid any confusion between the two errors.

The Speed Factor

How important is speed in weightlifting, primarily the clean & jerk? Is it as important as some would have us believe? Surprisingly enough these are difficult questions to answer.

Speed in itself is no indication of good technique or fine physical condition; there are many pitfalls in considering a lifter good just because he is a fast lifter. Let me elaborate a little to clarify the issue.

If a lifter aims for speed in the first phase of the clean, taking the bar from floor to knee height he will, more likely than not, achieve a very faulty position. The initial lift from the floor involves overcoming of inertia and the body is not in its strongest position. A fast pull will probably cause the back to round and even if you start with the back at a good angle it may well be moved to a more acute angle to the floor by the time it reaches the knees. This means a loss of angular momentum. These faults are very likely to happen unless you take the bar steadily from the floor to knee height.

The second phase may also be completed quickly and still be wrong. This is a part of the lift where you should try to impart great velocity to the bar, but speed must always be relative to the distance the body or bar travels. Some lifters start splitting or squatting far too soon and thus cut down the time taken for the lift but this is not good. THE BODY MUST BE FULLY EXTENDED BEFORE YOU GO UNDER THE BAR. In getting under the bar, again some lifters will not go low so less time is taken. This sort of thing should not be cultivated.

If you lifted too fast to the knees, did an incomplete extension and a short dip you would be a very fast lifter and impress SOME people by your speedy actions, but you would never reach your true limits. By all means cultivate speed, it is absolutely essential, but remember not to become faster by reducing the range of movement.

In my opinion maximum speed is most important in getting under the bar (after the feet leave the floor until the lowest position with the weight fixed CORRECTLY at the chest). It is also important to build up bar speed before your feet leave the floor and this is discussed elsewhere.

From the time the discs leave the floor until the lowest receiving position in the clean takes about 1.25 to 1.50 seconds to perform, excluding the recovery.

None of the current top competitors take less than a second and none as much as 1.5 seconds. I averaged a large number at 1.25 seconds for squatters and 1.125 seconds for splitters. The splitters are generally faster than the squatters at all phases of the lift. Surprising as it may seem, even the splitters take nearly .50 second to get under the weight from the time their feet come off the floor until the lowest position.

This may be hard to believe but it is true. The squatters average even more than this. Lifters like Louis Martin of Britain and Tony Garcy of America take as much as .625 second on some occasions.

All this kills the belief that the clean is done in a split second. I feel that too many novices are brainwashed into the desire for speed and do a lot of harm to their lifting by increasing their speed -- not by lifting faster, but merely by cutting down on the range of movement. Incidentally, the times I quote for Martin and Garcy do not make them "slow" by any means. Tony, for example, goes 15% lower than many other lifters at the same international level, so his movements are bound to take more time.

You should aim for maximum speed in taking the bar from knee height to FULL (and I do mean FULL) EXTENSION. You must then get under the bar as fast as possible, achieving a low but fairly upright position rather than getting a fairly high one and leaving a margin to go down"if you have to." The latter is bad policy -- get FAST into a low position each time.

Remember I am stressing that speed IS important but it must be kept in correct perspective. I can always remember when the pendulum swung too far with me as an active lifter. My technique had improved tremendously but my top poundages remained the same. Friends praised my style but could not tell me why I was not improving. When Al Murray visited my club as part of his duties under the Ministry of Education scheme, it took him about two minutes to set me right.

"Davie," he said in his usual forthright fashion, "your technique is grand, much better, but you are doing the lifts almost in slow motion!" From then on there was an immediate improvement.

It seems ridiculous to mention my own efforts on the same page as the current greats, but this book is being written for ALL lifters and the timings of average lifters vary but slightly from the champions. Another excellent comparison of speed was seen when young Gerry Hay, a bantamweight at the Tokyo Olympics, returned from Australia to his native Scotland. His tremendous speed was an inspiration to our local lifters and I feel they benefited from this example.

The Whoopass Workout - Javorek

From Muscle & Fitness, December 2005

The Whoopass Workout
by Istvan Javorek with Joe Wuebben (2005)

Istvan "Steve" Javorek has been a fixture in the international lifting community for more than four decades. His career began in Romania, his birthplace, where he was the head weightlifting and conditioning coach at Clujana Athletic Club-Cluj from 1964 to 1982. In that span, he trained several junior and senior Romanian national weightlifting teams. In '83, the South Korean Olympic Committee invited him to coach its lifting team. Then he came to the United States.

Javorek became an Aggie in 1984, serving as an all-sports conditioning coach and head weightlifting coach at Texas A & M University (College Station) for three years. From there, he went to Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, where he's still a full-time professor of fitness and the all-sports conditioning head coach today. Since going abroad, his resume, which includes coaching everyone from Olympic-caliber strength athletes to hoops stars, including Wayne Simien (a 2005 NBA first-round draft pick by the Miami Heat) and Kareem Rush (currently with the Charlotte Bobcats), has grown as beefy as his pupils.

His list of nicknames has lengthened considerably, as well: The "Dumbbell King"--aka "Coach Comrade" and "Coach Javorkian"--has delicately tortured athletes with his Big Fun and Tremendous Pleasure programs, to name but two of his most cleverly titled and wildly effective training regimens.

Now Javorek turns his attention to bodybuilding, with a three-days-a-week, four-week program specifically designed to build strength and hypertrophy via a meticulously calculated progressive-resistance scheme. Before we proceed, here's what Coach Javorek has to say about his program.

"After receiving hundreds of letters from M & F readers requesting a routine specifically designed for bodybuilders, I decided to develop a program that can last either eight or 12 weeks and which suits anyone wishing to use a different type of protocol to achieve great results.

"This program provides general fitness for anyone who wants to spend 1-1 1/2 hours exercising three times a week. It includes many dumbbell and barbell exercises beloved by bodybuilders, and follows my philosophy on bodybuilding and conditioning.

"I'm a firm believer in total-body involvement in a daily routine and not of isolating certain muscle groups within a workout. When you change the bodypart or muscle group involved in an exercise, it gives your neuromuscular system a chance to 'refresh' the previously exercised muscles. I like to think of this approach as exercising with the benefit of a so-called 'active rest,' because as you train another bodypart, the muscles you worked previously rest and recuperate.

"For this program I chose six exercises (including combinations) per workout with eight sets per exercise. You may ask, 'Why eight sets?' My answer: In order to get bigger and stronger, you should stimulate your muscle fibers for several sets, always starting with lighter intensities and finishing with heavy sets. As you'll see in this program, I vary the intensities from set to set within an exercise as well as throughout the four-week cycle. Week 1 is the least intense, with intensity increasing each subsequent week. You'll also notice that intensities oscillate during the week: Monday is moderate, Wednesday is low and Friday is the highest.

"I like to keep my routines ever-changing. One exercise is performed with a continuous increase of intensity in each set (for example, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, etc.), while another will have double-step intensities each set (50%, 50%, 55%, 55%, 60%, 60%, etc.) or 'wave' intensities (50%, 60%, 55%, 65%, 60%, 70%, etc.). The list could be endless, so don't be surprised to find different intensity cycles on each exercise. No one said this would be easy.

"But my reason for this is simple: I like to avoid the monotonous core of exercising. Mundane programs tire an athlete's neuromuscular system, which delays improvements in strength and size, and causes the whole body to suffer from a lack of success and satisfaction. I try to make my workouts enjoyable (relatively speaking) so they refresh the body and mind with varying exercises and intensities. Hopefully, this bodybuilding program will achieve just that."


This is but one example of a move that improves strength, power, muscle mass, core stability, balance and overall athleticism.


Go into a deep squat and jump up at the top of the motion. Always lower slowly into the squat, and land on the balls of your feet when you jump.


Standing with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level, face straight ahead with your abdominal muscles tight. Lower to a full squat position, keeping your weight centered between the balls of your feet and heels. Keep your shoulders, hips and ankles in a vertical line. Follow with an explosive overhead pressing movement, done in one fluid motion. Depending on your goals, you can finish this move with your feet flat on the floor or up on your toes (the latter is preferable).


Perform push-ups using specially designed raised bars instead of on the floor. If this equipment is not available to you, do regular push-ups.


Perform a quarter squat, then at the top, go up on your toes with your knees extended--that's one rep. Perform these two moves as one fluid motion.


As noted in the program, do all prescribed reps for step-ups with each leg (onto a plyometrics box), then do all reps for squat-push presses on the floor.

BARBELL HALF SQUAT OVERHEAD PRESS Upon reaching the down position of a half squat, press the bar over--head without extending your legs. To maintain your balance, stay flat on your feet and keep your shoulders, hips and ankles aligned.



Do these movements in nonstop succession as a combination exercise. Do six reps of dumbbell upright rows, then six reps of supinated curls, and so on.


BARBELL UPRIGHT ROW HIGH-PULL SNATCH SQUAT-PUSH PRESS GOOD MORNING BENT-OVER ROW SUPINATED CURL UPRIGHT ROW Do these movements in nonstop succession as a combo move. Do six reps of upright rows, then six reps of high-pull snatches, etc.


Stand holding light plates or dumbbells directly in front of your chest with your elbows bent and your forearms parallel to the floor. Begin the movement by extending your elbows until your arms are straight out in front of you. Then bring the weights out to your sides, keeping your arms straight and parallel to the floor in an "iron cross." Bring the plates back to the start. Repeat or perform in reverse.


Perform a barbell squat with your feet flat on the floor and your knees pointed outward. Keep your chest up and your back slightly arched, and make sure your head faces forward. Rise from the squat and push the barbell overhead in an explosive motion. Finish the movement by rising onto your toes.


Hook your feet under something stable at floor level, cross your arms over your chest and perform a sit-up only halfway up. Pause, then continue all the way up. Lower back to the halfway position, then pause again and lower all the way. That's one rep. Half sit-ups consist of doing only half this movement, bottom or top.


In one continuous motion, do a barbell quarter squat and rise onto your toes at the top (similar to a calf raise). Do this for three reps. On the fourth rep, jump slightly after rising onto your toes. On the fifth rep, do a full squat plus a jump at the top. Repeat this five-rep cycle six times when the program calls for 30 reps and four times when it calls for 20.


Start in the down position of a barbell bent-over row: knees slightly bent, back flat and head neutral (eyes looking down). In one motion, push your heels into the floor, extend your lower back and pull the bar toward the ceiling like an upright row--except you'll pull the bar up past your head. At the top, extend up onto your toes and flip your wrists back to catch the bar overhead.


Lie faceup on the floor with your legs together and straight and your arms straight overhead. Raise your legs and arms at the same time until your hands and feet touch over your body.


Javorek believes this number of sets produces strength and mass gains most effectively and best stimulates muscle fibers





* When determining intensity, if you don't know your one-rep-maximum weight (1RM), estimate. The percentages listed for each set can be used loosely; for example, 40%-60% means you should use a relatively light weight (something you could normally do at least 20 reps with), 60%-80% calls for moderate weight (something you could do at least 15 reps with), and 80% and higher indicates a weight close to your 1RM (less than seven reps).

* If a given weight feels too light for the prescribed number of reps, resist the urge to keep going or add weight.

* Rest two minutes between straight sets and three minutes between combination sets.

* On combo sets (those with a " " between different moves), base your intensity level off your weakest move.

* Before starting this program, you should have at least one year of training experience.

Perform the following cycle as a circuit, with minimal or (preferably) no rest between exercises. Do a total of 80 reps per set; one cycle counts as one set.



Full Sit-Up 10

Half Sit-Up (bottom half) 10

Half Sit-Up (top half) 10

Crunch 10

Half Sit-Up (bottom half) 10

Crunch 10

Half Sit-Up (top half) 10

Javorek Jackknife 10




Dumbbell Upright Row 8 sets 14 reps at (55% of 1 rep maximum), 14 (55), 12 (60),

12 (60), 12 (60), 12 (60),

10 (70), 10 (70)

Dumbbell Hammer Curl 8 14 (50), 12 (60), 10 (70),

10 (70), 14 (50), 12 (60),

10 (70), 10 (70)

Abs 1 80

Bench Press 8 14 (50), 12 (60), 10 (65),

10 (70), 12 (60), 10 (60),

10 (70), 6 (75)

Barbell Quarter Squat Calf Raise 8 10 (60), 10 (60), 10 (60),

10 (70), 10 (70), 10 (70),

10 (60), 10 (70)

Dumbbell Kickback 8 14 (50), 12 (55), 12 (60),

10 (65), 10 (70), 8 (75),

10 (70), 8 (75)



Barbell Quarter Squat Calf Raise 8 14 (50), 14 (50), 14 (50),

12 (55), 12 (55), 12 (55),

10 (60), 10 (60)

Abs 1 80

Dumbbell Overhead Press 8 14 (45), 10 (60), 12 (50),

10 (65), 14 (45), 10 (60),

12 (50), 10 (65)

Reverse-Grip EZ-Bar Curl 8 14 (40), 14 (45), 14 (50),

12 (55), 12 (60), 10 (65),

10 (65), 10 (65)

Barbell Squat 8 10 (40), 10 (60), 10 (45),

10 (65), 10 (50), 10 (70),

10 (50), 10 (70)

Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye 8 16 (35), 16 (40), 14 (45),

14 (50), 14 (55), 12 (60),

10 (65), 10 (65)



Standing Dumbbell Curl* 8 12 (60), 12 (65), 12 (65),

10 (70), 10 (65), 8 (75),

8 (75), 8 (75)

Abs 1 80

Dumbbell Push Press 8 12 (60), 12 (60), 12 (65),

12 (65), 10 (70), 10 (70),

8 (75), 6 (80)

Incline Dumbbell Press 8 12 (60), 6 (80), 12 (60),

6 (80), 12 (60), 6 (80),

12 (60), 6 (80)

Barbell Wave Squat 8 30 (50), 30 (50), 30 (60),

30 (60), 30 (55), 20 (65),

30 (55), 20 (65)

Barbell Upright Row (narrow grip) 8 12 (65), 10 (70), 12 (65),

8 (75), 10 (70), 6 (80),

10 (70), 4 (85)

Iron Cross Complex 8 10 (50), 8 (55), 6 (60),

6 (65), 6 (65), 5 (70),

5 (70), 5 (70)

*It goes against convention to work bi's before larger bodyparts;

however, use light weights here to warm up your muscles for subsequent





Dumbbell Reverse Curl* 8 14 (50), 12 (55), 12 (60),

10 (65), 10 (70), 8 (75),

8 (75), 8 (75)

Barbell Squat Jump 8 8 (50), 8 (55), 8 (60),

6 (65), 4 (70), 4 (70),

4 (75), 4 (75)

Squat-Push Press 8 10 (60), 10 (65), 10 (70),

8 (75), 10 (70), 8 (75),

6 (80), 6 (80)

Abs 1 80

Barbell Complex No. 1: 8 6 (50), 6 (55), 6 (50),

Upright Row High-Pull Snatch 6 (55), 6 (60), 6 (60),

Squat-Push Press Good Morning 6 (65), 6 (65)**

Bent-Over Row Supinated Curl

Upright Row

Dumbbell Lateral Raise 8 16 (40), 14 (45), 14 (50),

12 (55), 10 (60), 10 (65),

10 (70), 8 (75)



Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 8 14 (50), 12 (60), 14 (55),

12 (65), 12 (60), 10 (70),

12 (60), 10 (70)

Abs 1 80

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press 8 14 (50), 14 (50), 14 (55),

14 (55), 12 (60), 12 (60),

10 (65), 10 (70)

Dumbbell Front Raise 8 16 (40), 14 (50), 14 (50),

12 (55), 12 (60), 10 (65),

12 (60), 10 (65)

Barbell Squat Barbell Wave Squat 8 10/30/10 (50), 10/30/10 (55),

Barbell Squat 10/20/10 (60), 10/30/10 (50),

10/30/10 (55), 10/20/10 (60),

8/15/8 (65), 6/10/6 (70)**

Dumbbell Step-Up 8 14/6 (50), 14/6 (55),

Squat-Push Press 14/6 (55), 12/6 (60),

12/6 (60), 12/6 (65),

12/6 (65), 10/6 (70)**



Bent-Over Lateral Raise 8 12 (60), 12 (60), 6 (80),

6 (80), 12 (65), 4 (85),

10 (70), 4 (85)

Abs 1 80

Barbell Upright Row (narrow grip) 8 12 (60), 10 (70), 10 (70),

8 (75), 6 (80), 8 (75),

8 (75), 5 (85)

Barbell Half Squat Overhead Press 8 14 (50), 10 (70), 12 (60),

6 (80), 10 (70), 6 (80),

8 (75), 4 (85)

Barbell Squat 8 10 (60), 10 (60), 4 (85),

10 (70), 4 (85), 10 (60),

10 (70), 4 (85)

Dumbbell Complex No. 1: 8 6 (50), 6 (70), 6 (50),

Upright Row Supinated Curl 6 (50), 6 (70), 6 (60),

Overhead Press Hammer Curl 6 (60), 6 (70)**

Squat-Push Press

High-Pull Snatch

*It goes against convention to work bi's before larger bodyparts;

however, use light weights here to warm up your muscles for subsequent


**Base your intensity level for all exercises in the combination

on your weakest movement. To perform a set of the combination, do six

reps of the first exercise, then six reps of the second, and so on, in

nonstop succession.




Overhead Dumbbell Extension 8 14 (55), 12 (65), 8 (75),

12 (65), 10 (70), 8 (75),

10 (70), 5 (80)

Abs 1 80

Barbell Upright Row (medium grip) 8 12 (65), 10 (70), 8 (75),

6 (80), 10 (70), 10 (70),

8 (75), 6 (80)

Overhead Barbell Extension 8 10 (60), 10 (60),

10 (70), 10 (70), 6 (80),

8 (75), 8 (75), 6 (80)

Barbell Squat Jump 8 8 (50), 8 (55), 8 (60),

8 (65), 6 (70), 4 (75),

6 (70), 4 (75)

Barbell Incline Press 8 10 (70), 10 (70), 6 (80),

6 (80), 8 (75), 8 (75),

6 (80), 4 (85)



Barbell Wave Squat 8 30 (50), 30 (55),

30 (60), 25 (65),

30 (60), 25 (65),

20 (70), 20 (70)

Dumbbell Complex No. 1: 8 6 (50), 6 (50), 6 (50),

Upright Row Supinated Curl 6 (55), 6 (55), 6 (60),

Overhead Press Hammer Curl 6 (60), 6 (65)*

Squat-Push Press High-Pull Snatch

Barbell Upright Row (wide grip) 8 14 (50), 12 (55),

12 (60), 12 (65),

10 (70), 12 (60),

12 (65), 10 (70)

Abs 1 80

Standing Barbell Curl 8 14 (50), 12 (60),

12 (55), 12 (65),

12 (60), 10 (70),

12 (65), 8 (75)

Barbell Complex No. 1: 8 6 (50), 6 (65), 6 (50),

Upright Row High-Pull Snatch 6 (65), 6 (55), 6 (65),

Squat-Push Press Good Morning 6 (60), 6 (65)*

Bent-Over Row Supinated Curl

Upright Row



Squat-Push Press 8 10 (60), 10 (70),

6 (80), 10 (65),

10 (75), 10 (70),

6 (80), 4 (85)

Barbell Quarter Squat Calf Raise 8 12 (60), 10 (75),

10 (70), 10 (80),

10 (85), 10 (80),

10 (85), 10 (85)

Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press 8 10 (70), 6 (80), 3 (90),

8 (75), 6 (80), 3 (90),

6 (80), 3 (90)

Barbell Complex No. 1: 8 6 (55), 6 (60), 6 (65),

Upright Row High-Pull Snatch 6 (70), 6 (55), 6 (60),

Squat-Push Press Good Morning 6 (65), 6 (70)*

Bent-Over Row Supinated Curl

Upright Row

Abs (see p. 144) 1 80

Chin 8 8

*Base your intensity level for all exercises in the combination on your

weakest movement. To perform a set of the combination, do six reps of

the first exercise, then six reps of the second, and so on, in nonstop





Dumbbell Squat Upright Row 8 10 (70), 8 (80), 10 (70),

6 (85), 8 (75), 6 (80), 4 (85), 6 (85)

Abs 1 80

Dumbbell Push Press 8 10 (70), 8 (80), 8 (75),

5 (85), 8 (75), 5 (85), 6 (80), 5 (85)

Barbell Squat 8 10 (60), 10 (70), 6 (80),

10 (65), 3 (85), 6 (80), 3 (85), 3 (85)

Dumbbell Incline Press 8 10 (70), 8 (75), 6 (80),

5 (85), 6 (80), 4 (85), 6 (80), 4 (85)

Wide-Grip Pull-Up 8 8



Standing Dumbbell Curl 8 12 (60), 12 (65), 10 (70),

8 (75), 6 (80), 10 (70), 8 (75), 6 (80)

Barbell Squat Barbell Wave Squat 8 10/20/10 (50), 10/20/10 (60),

Barbell Squat 8/15/8 (70), 10/20/10 (60),

8/15/8 (70), 20/10/20 (65),

6/15/6 (75), 5/10/5 (80)*

Squat-Push Press 8 10 (65), 8 (75), 10 (70),

6 (80), 10 (65), 8 (75),

10 (70), 6 (80)

Dumbbell Complex No. 1: 8 6 (50), 6 (60), 6 (55),

Upright Row Supinated Curl 6 (65), 6 (60), 6 (65),

Overhead Press Hammer Curl 6 (55), 6 (70)**

Squat-Push Press

High-Pull Snatch

Abs (see p. 144) 1 80

Dip 8 15

*Reps correspond to aforementioned exercises. Do all reps of the first

exercise, followed immediately by all reps of the second, and so on,

without rest.

**Base your intensity level for all exercises in the

combination on your weakest movement. To perform a set of the

combination, do six reps of the first exercise, then six reps of the

second, and so on, in nonstop succession.



Barbell Squat 8 10 (70), 4 (80), 5 (75),

3 (85), 2 (90), 5 (75),

4 (85), 2 (90)

Dumbbell Reverse Curl 8 12 (60), 8 (75), 10 (70),

6 (80), 5 (85), 5 (85),

5 (85), 5 (85)

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 8 6 (80), 5 (85), 3 (90),

6 (80), 3 (90), 5 (85),

6 (80), 3 (90)

Abs 1 80

Decline Dumbbell Press 8 10 (70), 6 (80), 2 (90),

5 (85), 2 (90), 8 (75),

2 (90), 2 (90)

Push-Up (on push-up bars) 8 18, 14, 18, 14, 18, 14, 18, 14

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