Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Snatch Balance - Bob LeFavi


Hard Copy


Bob LeFavi

Bob LeFavi articles:

CrossFit is renowned for challenging athletes with a wide variety of movements and training regimens. Most fitness enthusiasts in the average gym never experience the breadth of exercises common in any good box. So it's not that we can point to a movement and charge CrossFit coaches with neglect. But here's one opportunity - 

The Snatch Balance is one exercise the best exercise most CrossFitters not only don't perform but in many cases also haven't even been taught.

The Snatch Balance is an assistance exercise to enhance performance in the Snatch lift, specifically to improve speed of movement and achieve greater stability in the catch position. Improved speed translates to better performance in many other movements (i.e., clean, thrusters, box jumps), as does a more stable catch (overhead squats, deadlift, wall balls).


 Mike Burgener Snatch Balance:

Start with a barbell across the back of your shoulders as in a back squat. Your feet should be in the pulling position (the same placement as in the first pull of the Snatch), with hands at a wide, snatch-width grip. The weight on the bar should be similar to what you use in the Snatch itself. Athletes progress with weight in the Snatch Balance the way they normally would in the Snatch.

Start the move by popping the bar up by dipping slightly and driving upward y extending the knees, which unloads the spine momentarily and gets the bar moving up and off the shoulders - even just an inch - so space can be created between the bar and the shoulders/traps. The height of the bar is now the highest it should be throughout this movement.

As soon as the bar leaves the shoulders immediately extend your elbows to press your body down against the bar. As you do so, look straight ahead, move your feet into the landing position (usually a bit wider than the pull position) and drive yourself into the bottom of the catch. The elbows should lock out just as you hit the bottom position - never after.

Sounds easy, right? 

It's not. And the reason this exercise is difficult is because it requires mental effort to perform it correctly and benefit from it (which is one reason the Snatch Balance should be performed early in a training session). That is, the real challenge of the Snatch Balance is between the ears.

The mantra of athletes executing the Snatch Balance reflect these coaching cues:

 - Short, quick, dip and drive.
 - Create space.
 - Press under bar and drive body down as fast as possible.
 - Tighten up; bones stacked!
 - Lock out as you hit bottom.

The focus should always be on speed of movement. As you push up against the bar and quickly descend into the landing position, the speed of descent should be so fast that the bar drops from its maximal height following the dip and drive. 

But the Snatch Balance doesn't only develop speed; it also develops confidence. When an athlete has a one-rep max Snatch of 80 kg but can Snatch Balance 90 kilos, imagine what that does to her confidence a) when she approaches a heavy Snatch, and b) when she ponders continuing to improve in the Snatch.   

'Heaving' Variation

Contrary to what one might think, the 'Heaving Snatch Balance' is not performed over a bucket after you've done too many Snatches. This is a true variation of the Snatch Balance except for the extent of the dip and drive. In this variation, you dip lower - as you would during a Jerk. This enables the bar to rise to a higher level and may be best used when an athlete has not quite developed sufficient speed to lock the elbows out when the hips hit bottom.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Words to Grow By - Isaiah Rhodes (2014)

 July 15/2014
Foreword by Kelly Starrett

After over 15 years of training as an elite gymnast and over a decade of coaching, Coach Carl Paoli offers a fresh philosophy on training by connecting movement styles to fit your specific purpose, while also giving you a simple framework for mastering the basics of any human movement. Freestyle: Maximize Your Sport and Life Performance with Four Basic Movements is an interactive way to learn how the body is designed to move through space and how to interact with our constantly changing surroundings. Using this framework and four basic movements, Paoli will help you maximize your efforts in sport and life, regardless of specialty. Despite Carl's experience as an elite gymnast and a renowned CrossFit coach, this is not a book about gymnastics, CrossFit, or any specific fitness program. Rather, it is a unique take on how Carl studies and teaches human movement and how you can better understand how to move yourself. Carl is not going to teach you the specifics of a movement or sport; instead, he gives you a template that you can use to develop any specific movement. For example, instead of teaching you how to throw a baseball, this book teaches you a universal foundation that will help you further develop your pitching skills. Human movement is intuitive, but not always perfect. This book shows you how to: * Turn on and trust your intuition about movement * Use tools that help optimize imperfect movement * Tap into the universal movement patterns and progressions underlying all disciplines * Use Carl Paoli's movement framework to create roadmaps for your physical success * Learn what being strong really means Freestyle is a practical manual to develop human movement regardless of your discipline. It is equally applicable to veteran athletes, weekend warriors, fitness enthusiasts, people trying to pick up a new sport, and people who are simply curious about improving their health. By developing your awareness and learning to see across other disciplines, you can tailor any training regimen to meet your unique goals.

Click Pics to ENLARGE


When you're intent on getting fit, you're willing to do just about anything for a little more muscle and a little less bodyfat. Low-carb days, ultra-high-rep sessions, extra work on the treadmill, a few early-morning workouts or even the paid assistance of a trainer or nutritionist - whatever it takes, right? But in the rush to put the latest hardcore craze to work for us, we lose sight of the fact that the simplest solution can often be the correct one.

For decades, some of the world's most amazing physiques have been built through strict adherence to an authoritative set of guidelines known as the Weider Principles. Named after the late father of modern bodybuilding, Joe Weider (1919-2013), these 'rules' - a list more than 20 deep - formed the basis for nearly every approach to bodybuilding in practice today. Just about every one of them has been affirmed in some fashion by research, even if references to the original guiding principles were artfully omitted.

Developed through years of firsthand experience and anecdotal evidence from those under his tutelage, Joe Weider's principles remain the true-north training indicator for muscle-seeking athletes everywhere. In the pages that follow, we continue our examination of these principles with a few tidbits on how to put them into practice today.

Weider Principle: Negatives

Nearly every lifter in gym-dom is concerned with their bench stats. How much do you bench, bro? To so many, this effort to overcome gravity far too often usurps what follows: the power to resist it.

Generating as much force as possible to move the weight concentrically (the positive) has its benefits. This helps recruit far more growth-prone fast-twitch muscle fibers for the task at hand. But remember: To grow, a muscle must first be broken down, and that process is maximized through a slow, controlled negative rep.

Researchers estimate that some athletes can handle up to 160% of their one-rep max on the negative portion of a rep. That is to say that if you can positively bench 200 lbs, you can likely perform at least one negative-only rep with 320 lbs of iron. A more common approach calls for using a weight that is around 124 to 140% of your 1RM for 3 to 5 reps. And being able to fight the good fight against gravity with that type of weight holds significant benefits, including amped-up protein synthesis and higher levels of muscle-building hormones like insulin-like growth factor-1.

In addition to going slower on the negative portion of all your reps in the gym, you can secure additional benefits by performing dedicated, heavy eccentric work. One option for those who train muscle groups once per week is to try mixing in 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 negative reps - taking 5 to 6 seconds on each rep - on your main mass-builder and after your traditional-rep sets work. These sets should only be done with the help of a strong and attentive spotter or two. Because negative work is more demanding, take 2 to 4 minutes of rest between sets to allow for better recovery.

Sample Negative Chest Workout

1) Incline Bench Press - 4 x 6-8 reps.
On your last set, after reaching initial failure, have a reliable spotter help you through 2 or 3 slow negatives with your working weight. Rest 2 to 4 minutes before starting the next exercise.

2) Bench Press - 4 x 6-8.
Same as above.

3) Bench Press - 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps.
Load the bar with 120-140% of your 1RM and have a reliable spotter or two help you through 3 to 5 slow negatives - about 5 to 6 seconds each. On each rep, have your spotter(s) power the bar through the positive so that you can focus on the negative. Rest 2 to 4 minutes between sets. 

4) Dumbbell Flye - 3 x 15.

Negative training without a training partner (Nick Nilsson):

Arthur Jones articles on negative and negative accentuated training:

Arthur Jones online library:

Weider Principle: Pyramid Training

Joe Weider knew then what we dedicated lifters still have a hard time believing: A warmed-up muscle performs better than a cold one. But out of this simple belief, the concept of pyramid training was born. The concept of increasing weight from set to set was thought to be more effective because the muscles were gradually acclimated to heavier weight with each passing set - you were essentially 'gearing up' for the most demanding set. Science later backed this up in the DeLorme study, which found that subjects who increased the weight by a certain percentage each set - 50, 75 and 100% of 10 rep maximum, respectively - while aiming for 10 reps, gained a significant amount of strength. 


Sample DeLorme (pyramid) Method Routine for Back:

1) Bentover Barbell Row: 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
On your first set use 50% of your 10-rep max.
On your second set use 75% of your 10-rep max.
On your third set perform as many reps as possible using your 10-rep max.
Rest one to two minutes between sets.

2) Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown: 3 x 8-10
Same as above.

3) Seated Cable Row: 3 x 8-10
Same as above.

4) Underhand Pulldown: 3 x 8-10
Same as above.

5) Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown: 3 x 12-15
Regular reps.

The DeLorme Method is considered 'traditional' pyramid training, but another study out of Oxford University in England turned the pyramid on its head and produced similar results.

In the Oxford study, after a thorough warmup, subjects performed their heaviest weight first (100% of 10-rep max) and then reduced the weight each set to reach failure at 10 reps. Hence, the Oxford method is now referred to as the 'reverse' pyramid.

2009 research paper -
Comparison of DeLorme with Oxford resistance training techniques:
Effects of training on muscle damage markers - 

Head-to-head, subjects in these groups gained a similar amount of strength, but the Delorme group came away slightly stronger. The DeLorme method is considered the best for strength, while the Oxford protocol may have he edge in helping lifters add size because it calls for them to reach failure more than once. Also, with the Oxford method, the opening max effort is optimized because you aren't fatigued from other working sets.

Sample Oxford (reverse pyramid) Method Routine for Back:

1) Bentover Barbell Row: 3 sets of 10 reps.
On your first set (after warmups) use 100% of your 10-rep max.
On your second and third sets reduce the weight just enough to reach 10 reps before failing.
Rest one to two minutes between sets.   

Whether you choose traditional or reverse pyramids, you're going to see good gains in size and strength. The DeLorme method can help you gain strength faster, which translates to more reps with more weight on everything else. The Oxford method of pyramid training may help you gain more size because of the increased intensity factor of failing on multiple sets. Either approach is a welcome departure from straight-set training, in which you use the same weight for the same number of reps from set to set.

Weider Principle: Cheating

Yes, we know that cheaters never prosper, but Weider saw the struggle with the weights differently. He saw each set as a fight to be won and thought that sometimes, if you're not cheating, you're just not trying hard enough.

Weider posited that a few calculated 'cheats' in form - using a little body English to get through a sticking point - wasn't all that bad for you. Moving the weight is better than not moving it, right? The answer is yes . . . and no.

When Weider first started vocalizing the benefits of cheating, he was referring to more experienced athletes - those who knew the difference between a productive set and one that is more likely to see you end up in a back brace than on the winner's podium. The most familiar version of cheating is probably the least productive one - the ambitious barbell curler who has loaded up with more than he can handle and must swing his way through every sloppy rep of his prescribed set. This, as Weider would tell you, is not the way to benefit from a little deviation. 

To cheat properly you must first be able to complete picture-perfect reps of a given exercise, even if this means sacrificing weight initially. Then, after some time - this is definitely not a technique for newbies - you can run through a set to failure, using some calculated momentum to 'cheat' your way through a few additional reps. Because going beyond failure is critical to gaining strength or size- or burning fat - cheating can actually benefit you.

Incorporating two to three cheat reps to get through sticking points at the end of a well executed set can help you break down more muscle and come back stronger next time. But you should only use this principle sparingly - the bulk of your reps should be clean - and beginners shouldn't use cheat reps at all. Abusing this principle can have disastrous consequences. Curling with too much sway or cheating for too man reps can injure your shoulders and/or back, meaning you won't be training those biceps for some time, either.

Sample Cheating Method Biceps Routine:

1) Barbell Curl - 3 x 10-12.
Select a weight that allows you to complete 10 to 12 clean repetitions. On your final set, after reaching initial positive failure, use a little momentum in the form of a small hip thrust to 'cheat' through two or three more reps.

2) Alternating Dumbbell Curl - 3 x 10-12.
Same as above.

3) Hammer Curl - 3 x 10-12.
Same as above.

4) Reverse Curl - 3 x 12-15.
Regular reps.     

After over 15 years of training as an elite gymnast and over a decade of coaching, Coach Carl Paoli offers a fresh philosophy on training by connecting movement styles to fit your specific purpose, while also giving you a simple framework for mastering the basics of any human movement. Freestyle: Maximize Your Sport and Life Performance with Four Basic Movements is an interactive way to learn how the body is designed to move through space and how to interact with our constantly changing surroundings. Using this framework and four basic movements, Paoli will help you maximize your efforts in sport and life, regardless of specialty. Despite Carl's experience as an elite gymnast and a renowned CrossFit coach, this is not a book about gymnastics, CrossFit, or any specific fitness program. Rather, it is a unique take on how Carl studies and teaches human movement and how you can better understand how to move yourself. Carl is not going to teach you the specifics of a movement or sport; instead, he gives you a template that you can use to develop any specific movement. For example, instead of teaching you how to throw a baseball, this book teaches you a universal foundation that will help you further develop your pitching skills. Human movement is intuitive, but not always perfect. This book shows you how to: * Turn on and trust your intuition about movement * Use tools that help optimize imperfect movement * Tap into the universal movement patterns and progressions underlying all disciplines * Use Carl Paoli's movement framework to create roadmaps for your physical success * Learn what being strong really means Freestyle is a practical manual to develop human movement regardless of your discipline. It is equally applicable to veteran athletes, weekend warriors, fitness enthusiasts, people trying to pick up a new sport, and people who are simply curious about improving their health. By developing your awareness and learning to see across other disciplines, you can tailor any training regimen to meet your unique goals. - See more at:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Power of Compelling Outcomes - John Inzer (1997)

John Inzer 

I have been breaking all-time historical world records for over a dozen years, and I continue to set new world records, produce grand powerlifting extravaganzas and run a company that provides the most innovative powerlifting gear in the world. To do this, I have learned how to set goals and specific outcomes for myself and have created a strategy for how to achieve them. Achieving my goals is not just hard work. It requires systematically applying certain principles which make these goals compelling as well as developing a plan that takes me step by step to successful fulfillment. I have been modeling the processes required to create the energy and momentum to push my performance to a higher and higher levels of success. I want to share with you how to tap into the vast reserves of power within you to release your imagination and creativity that will inspire you and compel you to success.

Set Your Goals

The first step is to decide on your goals. What do you want to accomplish? To do this you must suspend all of your old limiting belief systems about what you are capable of achieving. For now, set aside all your old doubts and fears. At this step, it is not useful to limit yourself by being practical or trying to be realistic. Now is the time to set grand and important goals. Set goals that will truly transform your life. The power, excitement and drive you need to unleash from within comes from creating bigger, more inspiring and challenging goals. Assume there are no limitations. You must have goals that are big enough and magnificent enough to challenge you to push beyond your old limits and achieve your true potential. I personally believe you and each person on this planet has the potential to do or be anything they want.

If you absolutely knew that you could accomplish anything you want, what would you want to achieve? What is it that you secretly desire to accomplish but have never actually given yourself permission to claim for yourself? Suspend your need to know how you will achieve your goal. Just let yourself dream about having the most intense excitement ever when you see the possibility of achieving what you truly want. This is a very important part of the secret: to find a goal big enough to inspire you to greatness.

A natural part of the way our mind works is to always be pursuing something. Our mind is always moving us toward some objective. We either move away from pain and discomfort or move toward pleasure and fulfillment. Often we fail to strive for the very big goals because we don't want to be disappointed. We create comfort for ourselves by moving away from the possibility of future failure. I want you to know that holding back on your goals is the most painful thing you can do in the long run. You must set aside all your questioning and stop doubting your ability. The most painful thing in life is not achieving your true potential. Don't let life pass you by. Go for it. Re-engineer your life now. Unleash the mental, emotional and physical powers that will sustain you through the most difficult, trying and painful times. When you have a magnificent goal that is truly worth achieving, you will be so obsessed with it that you will be compelled to move toward doing whatever it takes to achieve it. This is how to make having potent goals work for you.

Make Your Goals Real

Just setting goals, regardless of how inspiring they are, doesn't make them happen. You have to learn how to envision your goals with clarity. To do this, turn your goals into specific outcomes. Outcomes are the specific things that you will accomplish. Divide up or chunk down the big goals into specific and achievable outcomes. The foundation for success is turning vague and invisible goals into specific, concrete outcomes. When your outcomes are clearly defined, you know precisely what you will do and when you will do it to achieve success. Take a close look at exactly what you will have done. The more specific you are, the more clearly you will see your vision and the more certain and confident you will feel about your success.

After you know what you really want, you must begin to focus in on what having your goals will truly be like for you. How will you know when you have achieved your outcomes? What will your evidence be that you have achieved your outcomes. What will you see when you are successful? How will having achieved your goals feel? What will you hear? What will you say to yourself and others? To make your goals real, you must be able to clearly see the results, intensely feel the accomplishment and plainly hear what you and others will say in response to your success.

Well-Formed Outcomes

Test to make sure your outcomes are well-formed. First, are your outcomes stated in the positive? Are your outcomes what you actually want versus what you don't want? If you are looking at what to avoid or eliminate, then your outcomes are not well-formed, and, you are setting yourself up for failure. Remember, we always create what we focus one. A well-formed outcome is always stated in the positive so that you know exactly what you will accomplish. Example: I want to win the state championship. I will total 1400 pounds. Versus: I don't want third place. I don't want to total less than 1400 pounds.

Second, what are your outcomes in your control? Are your outcomes stated as what you will personally do versus what someone else will do or what else needs to change for you to accomplish them? Keep your outcomes in your personal control. Don't give up your power to anyone else or anything else. Don't be dependent on anything outside of yourself to accomplish your objectives. Keep all your power within yourself to achieve success.

Third, when and where will you achieve your outcomes? Knowing specifically what the contexts are for achieving success is important. When and where will you complete your objectives? Set specific locations, time frames, dates and deadlines. Be very specific. Only when you have a specific time frame will the necessary subconscious resources be aligned with all the other demands in your life for you to achieve success. If you do not make a commitment to when and where your objectives will be achieved, then other things will take over and sabotage your success. Don't give away your power. Commit to deadlines and keep them.

Fourth, are your outcomes sensory grounded? That is, what will your senses see, hear, feel, taste and smell when you are successful. The more concrete, specific, clear and exact your internal mental representations are of your outcomes, the more your subconscious mind power will find ways for you to achieve them. Remember, you are learning how to unleash the subconscious competence of your mind to propel you to success. When I put on the Greatest Bench Press in America, for example, I consistently thought ahead of time of specifically what I wanted to see, feel, hear, taste, and smell on September 16, 1995. Each day and each week ahead of time I envisioned a packed Majestic Theatre in Dallas with lifters lifting huge weights one by one. I pictured hearing the crowd roaring and saw the camera flashes from Robert Kennedy of Musclemag International, Mike Lambert of Powerlifting USA, and other reporters. I saw the results of the Greatest Bench Press in America printed in Powerlifting USA, Musclemag International, Muscle and Fitness, and other magazines. And I heard myself and others reading the articles. I smelled the scent of Icy Hot and chalk dust in the air back stage. I saw great lifters with intense faces in a group preparing to take their turn at benching on the brilliant red bench set on the huge American flag painted platform. I saw them pushing the power bar and gold colored plates with spotlights gleaming and cameramen wearing black in position. I heard the sound of my psych-up music blasting when it became my turn to exhibit my deadlift prowess, and I felt the straps of my suit being put on before the feel of the knurls of the bar in my hands and the bar's bending action. I felt all my muscle fibers positioning and contracting together in just the right synchronicity. I felt my teeth grit together and saw the ornate ceiling of the theater and the glare of spotlights as I coiled into position for take off with the world record poundage, etc. All of this was in my thoughts ahead of time.

Acknowledge the Barriers

What has stopped you from achieving your goals in the past? Now is the time to acknowledge your past limitations and look them squarely in the eye. No true mental, emotional or physical transformation occurs without complete and utter honesty. How have you sabotaged yourself in the past? What has held you back? How do you limit yourself? Is it fear, frustration, hurt, disappointment, uncertainty, anger, confusion, lack of emotion or physical pain? Take a good honest look at your barriers to success. Denying, suppressing and avoiding them just lets them operate at a subconscious level where they can function indirectly to limit you.

We all need pressure to achieve success. The more you are dissatisfied with your performance the greater the power you can draw upon to move you forward. It's all in the way you form it in your mind. When you look upon your barriers as something to overcome through sheer will power, you are expelling a lot of unnecessary energy. The secret is not to avoid pressure, tension and stress but to induce it intelligently. Learn to feel the excitement that stress and tension creates. See challenges as an opportunity for bettering yourself. By consciously facing your barriers you can learn to use them to create the determination and commitment you need to take positive new action.

A little known fact is that your personal barriers are actually trying to help you. All behavior has a positive intention. Although the actual behaviors and feelings get in your way and can limit you, their deeper level of intention is positive in order to protect you from failure, shame and pain. Most barriers were learned from experiences in the past when you were young, immature and less resourceful. They were your best choice at that time. It is time to acknowledge them, release them and develop more mature and flexible behaviors.

Use your barriers to drive you in the direction you desire. Let your barriers tell you what you need to to do to move through them. when you acknowledge the limitations, face them, work with them (not against them) and take action to resolve them, they will become one more success you can add to your accomplishments.

For example, if you discover yourself hesitating too long before you deadlift or not pushing hard enough with a blastoff on your bench, examine and ask yourself what is stopping you from lifting with more explosive power. Your answer could be many things. An example would be that perhaps there is a fear of hurting your back or injuring a groin muscle. Now that you have acknowledged the fear, you can appreciate yourself for providing that signal that you may need more protection. Now you can adjust your gear, get a better belt and strengthen that specific area to prevent injury. I had an experience once when my deadlift started moving closer to 800 pounds. I discovered that I was not pulling explosively off the floor as I had done when my max was 750. The cause was that I was subconsciously afraid that much weight would slip out of my hands if I pulled the bar faster. If the bar slipped, then it could be embarrassing for me with so much attention from my friends, family and the media. I thanked myself for giving me that signal and began strengthening my grip strength. I also focused even more on a successful pull. My grip strengthened and I gained more explosiveness. I acknowledged to myself that I could suffer some form of intense emotional pain in my path toward my outcomes and I resolved that possible pain was worth the risk for the great feeling I get from improving myself. The results were that I felt exhilaration on contest day and I pulled the world record easily and held onto the bar!

Motivation Strategy

We all know that achieving significant new goals requires a lot of good honest hard work and effort. By understanding how motivation works, you will be able to invest the energy and effort necessary to achieve your outcomes. We are motivated to move away from pain and discomfort, and to move toward pleasure and fulfillment. Many tasks are difficult, trying and painful. However, when you achieve your outcomes, life is pleasurable and fulfilling. Therefore, we tend to move away from doing tasks (pain) and move toward achieved outcomes (pleasure). The secret is to stay focused on the outcome and how it will feel when you are successful. This will keep you moving toward your goals and give you the determination and commitment needed to do whatever is necessary to be successful. The pain of doing the task is only temporary. The pleasure and fulfillment of achieving your goals are lasting effects. A compelling motivation strategy always focuses on the outcome. This creates and sustains the positive feelings necessary to invest the massive amounts of effort and endure the pain required for success. You can achieve anything you want if you are wiling to pay the price and stay focused on the outcome.

Recently, a friend of mine wanted to put on a full powerlifting contest at a local gym. He fretted over all the hassles and the risk of not enough lifter turnout. I helped him keep psyched up to his idea and goal by acknowledging that yes, it is going to be a lot of work, and told him to feel how good it will be to direct a meet. He started applying these outcome procedures and feeling how good it feels to produce and direct a contest and the feeling of getting to put many of his ideas into place of how he wanted to run a meet. Feeling good about feeling good helped him stay focused on his outcome of 45 participants and other specifics, and helped him make it through all the tough tasks a meet director must do. On meet day, he had 47 lifters and expressed how he felt on top of the world directing his first contest.

Develop an Action Plan

Now that you have a compelling vision for the future, have set specific outcomes, acknowledged your barriers and know how to motivate yourself through the pain, it is time to develop a plan of action. You need a road map to track your progress and set benchmarks to achieve along the way. Think of this as a time line. This is a picture of your life; past, present and future.

To begin, look at all the things you have accomplished so far. How did you get to this point in our life? Take some time to acknowledge to yourself all the successes you have already had in your life. Look at the significant things you have already accomplished. Notice what you have learned so far. See the improvements you have made. This is a time line of your past. Notice all the milestones of successes and the natural progression you have made toward where you are at this time in your life.

Next, assess where you are right now. Look at your present skills, capabilities, attitudes, values and beliefs. This is a status check. Be specific and use critical judgement to assess where you are right now in relationship to achieving your goals. Use specific measurements whenever possible. Look at what you accomplished in the past and see how it relates to where you are right now. I'm sure you can see that if you had done some things differently in the past you would be farther along toward achieving your goals. The point is that what you do today significantly impacts where you will be tomorrow. What do you have to do today to keep you on our path to success? The most important thing you can do right now is to take some concrete action toward achieving your goals. Don't just 'DO IT' but 'DO IT NOW.'

Create a future time line that clearly establishes benchmarks that lead to success. Now is the time to be realistic and practical. If you are going to fully accomplish your goals within the deadlines you have set, you must do specific things at certain times along the way. Chunk down the steps you will take into smaller steps that are possible to accomplish. You probably can't lift 793 lbs in May if you don't lift 766 in April and 744 in March. You can meet your deadlines and accomplish your goals by establishing specific benchmarks to complete along the way. In business we call this strategic planning and project management. It's a logical, rational process of mapping out what you will absolutely accomplish and when. There's no simpler way to do it. If you want to give your power away, then set fuzzy and vague goals, objectives, deadlines and benchmarks. The key to success is consistent progress toward your goal. Each day you have a new challenge and a new opportunity to feel the thrill of success.


You create what you focus on. If you focus on limitations and problems then you get to keep them. You have seen some examples of the results of that kind of negative focus by some of the key people in our sport. If you know them, you can look back over their careers and see that they have had some of those same problems for a long time. They probably have some good intention for themselves and some may even have a good intention for the sport. However, they either don't know how to better focus their energy or maybe they fear changing their path or their focus. I suspect all of us have done some type of negative focus ourselves in the past. If you focus on inspiring new goals then they will become yours. The fact is that at the very center of our brain is the reticular activity activating system (RAS) that is specifically designed to filter out routine insignificant information and focus your attention toward important and significant information, solutions and resources. For example, as you have been reading this article, you may notice now that you have been unaware of some insignificant things in your environment. There is probably a ticking clock or the hum of a household or room appliance. You probably weren't thinking of what color your shoes are at this time because your RAS was helping you focus on the important information you were reading. The RAS allows you to focus on finding solutions for what is important, intensely felt and well focused. So, if you want to fail, put a lot of time and emotional energy into thinking about your problems, what you haven't done, what your limitations are and why you have them. To achieve significant and important goals, stay focused on them. Even when you don't know specifically how you will accomplish the goal, trust your RAS to help you seek out and find the solutions and resources you need to be successful. Creating compelling goals and clear objectives shows your RAS what to look for. Your RAS will seek out the most useful resources and solutions that lead to your success. The closer you get to your goal the greater clarity and precision you will have as to how specifically to accomplish it.


In addition to creating an Action Plan and a Time Line with Benchmarks, start clarifying the resources you will need. What changes and improvements will you need to make? What new resources will you need to find, create and use? Be sure to include other human resources like coaches, trainers, colleagues and professionals; physical resources like equipment, gear and nutritional supplements; behavioral resources like changes in habits or routines and new and different skills and actions; cognitive resources like learning new information, resolving negative thoughts and changing old belief patterns; and emotional resources like reprogramming negative feelings, resolving fears and installing position feelings that increase motivation. From a subjective point of view, the right feelings are the most important resources you can develop. When you try to go against, deny or overcome your feelings, difficulties arise. When your feelings are positive and congruent other resources will be easier to acquire.
Any great salesperson can testify to the fact that when he or she believes in and feels good about what they are selling, a great performance comes easily. Let's say you have created a goal of starting a powerlifting club. If you believe in and feel good about powerlifting and the camaraderie you will cultivate, it will be easier to attract club members, coaches and helpers.

Compelling Future

To have a compelling future is to be fully and completely committed to achieving your goals. Your goals inspire you to to invest the enormous and consistent effort needed to accomplish them. Compelling future goals fills you with enthusiasm, excitement and passion. They determine your priorities and are foremost in your thoughts and dreams.

To turn your goals into a compelling future you need to answer some very important questions for yourself. Now is the time to get very honest about this process.

WHY do you want to achieve these specific goals?
What is the deeper, more important meaning and value that achieving these goals will have for you?     
When you achieve your goals, how will your life be different?
How will you be different as a person?
What will you miss out on if you don't achieve your goals?
What kind of person will you have to be to fulfill your dreams?

Write a script that you can say in 20 seconds. Include all the reasons why you must achieve your visionary goals. State clearly and precisely why your goals are significant and important for you. Memorize your script and repeat it to yourself twice a day, morning and evening.

If reciting your script and envisioning your success does not full and completely compel you to consistent action, then you either need bigger goals or better reasons why you want them. Remember to keep some of your best goals to yourself until you have achieved them. This will protect you from the naysayers.

Keep getting better at achieving what you want to achieve. 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Big Man Running - Roy M. Wallack

From: Musclemag, July 2014

Books by article author Roy M. Wallack:

 The photo is stunning and incongruous: 

 A massively muscular man, his Michelin-tire-like delts, lats and traps shimmering in all their glory, jogging along an empty two-lane mountain road. Crowning the sinewy perfection is the symmetrical shaved head of three-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, the awesome apotheosis of the running bodybuilder.

The trouble is, it was all for the cameras.

Yes, Heath ran a lot in a previous life as a college basketball player. Yes, Heath and nearly all bodybuilders use cardio to shed fat and get ripped - but it's usually an hour of low-heart-rate, low-impact aerobics on the bike or elliptical and walking 3.2 to 3.5 mph on a treadmill at a three-degree incline. Heath, like all men his size who compete at his level, can barely run a mile. More accurately, they have no motivation to even do that, says Howie Skora, fitness manager at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, California.

"Their bodies just aren't designed for it," he says. Bodybuilders carrying 30, 40, 50 extra pounds of muscle, and that weight puts too much wear and tear on joints. And anyone who's ever done any bodybuilding at all knows running burns up muscle. I only know one bodybuilder who runs.

So that ends the argument for running and bodybuilding - or does it? Can running benefit the guy who wants to burn fat, develop greater work capacity or maybe compete in the occasional mud run once in a while, but without burning off hard-earned muscle and putting joints a risk?

Some coaches - although not bodybuilding contest preparation experts - think that guys interested in muscle mass and hypertrophy can safely tap into running's proven fat-burning prowess, improved posture development and all-round functional fitness if they do the following:

 -- Utilize Primal Running Form.
You can greatly reduce the impact of running and its risk to joints and connective tissue by learning 'soft' running. This technique initiates the barefoot-running style of the cavemen, in which you land gently on the forefoot with a springy bent leg and avoid the traumatic heel strike that rattles your bones.

 -- Perform Periodized Low-Heart-Rate Training.
Keep your heart rate low, in a sub-lactate threshold aerobic zone that burns mostly fat as fuel. Using a classic periodization program, you can slowly ramp up the pace and get faster over time at the same heart rate and staying in the fat-burning zone.

 -- Do Sprints.
Performed immediately after a leg workout, a short, high-intensity interval session can spare joint stress, have a strength-training-like anabolic effect and raise EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and extra calorie-burning effect for as long as 48 hours.

Before we get into these concepts in more detail, you might wonder: Why run at all when other, less-risky aerobic options like bikes and ellipticals are available? The answer: Nothing blasts fat like running, and nothing is as convenient, natural and functional.

According to the Mayo clinic, a 200-lb man running at a snail's pace of 5 mph burns 755 calories per hour - nearly 50% more than rowing and swimming, beating even high-impact aerobics, basketball and inline skating. Move it up to a still leisurely 6 mph and the calorie burn goes to 917 calories per hour. Only stair climbing, at 819 calories, beats 5 mph running.

Some say no matter how fast you run, it has a positive effect on all your body's functional movements. That's because running is so natural, according to evolutionary biologists like Daniel Lieberman, Ph.D., of Harvard University.

That school of  thought says that evolution built the human body with an upright posture to see far distances over the wide-open savanna, to run, walk and stride for long distances - probably to track down animals for dinner and run from them when the tables where turned - and finally, to look better in a fine-fitting suit. Compared to our slower primate cousins, human bodies have lots of running-friendly features, such as shorter arms that swing faster to balance the cyclic movement of the legs; lighter lower legs and thicker hips, which allow the leg to swing pendulum-like with little effort; bigger more complex feet, to absorb shock; and thicker lumbar vertebrae, also able to absorb shock forces. In addition, our muscles, tendons and connective tissue are designed as natural springs and slings that effectively store energy during the gait cycle, then give it back to you on the next step.

"So if you run - and run well - it not only promotes good posture, but in theory helps you do all human movement and exercise training a little more naturally with more economy of motion," say physical therapist Robert Forster, who trains and rehabs elite-level runners at his Phase IV performance center in Santa Monica.

Los Angeles running coach Steve Mackel, who teaches the soft-landing ChiRunning technique thinks running can help anyone get more in touch with their natural inner caveman.

"Based on the occasional bodybuilder who shows up at my classes, I think running helps reacquaint them with a natural, primal grace - a grace that their sport works against," he says. "Running is all about moving your body weight from point A to point B with as little muscular effort as possible. But bodybuilders spend their time in the gym doing exactly the opposite: making as much muscular effort as possible. So at first they run terribly. Then suddenly, when they learn how to harness gravity, they visibly get more flexible and agile and graceful."

Of course, any time you discuss running, the 800-lb gorilla in the room is size. Big gorillas, whether their weight comes from muscle or fat, have a hard time running with all that bulk. Not only does a big body exhaust itself quickly when trying to move its bulk, but joint injuries are rampant, due to slamming strides with an extra-heavy load. That's why the crucial first step for a heavily-muscled runner is to stop the high-impact slamming. That's accomplished by adopting a "soft" running gait that babies your joints and tendons and takes advantage of your body's natural springs.

The ChiRunning method taught by Mackel, like the similar Pose Method of renowned Russian author and triathlon coach Nicholas Romanov, reduces impact and turns the leg into a big spring that propels you forward.

These two running methods, widely adopted over the last decade by runners concerned about recurrent injuries, can be explained simply: they mostly copy the landing, leg position and gait cycle of barefoot running.

So while learning the Chi/Pose method can seem difficult, a quick shortcut is to just take off your shoes and run 50 feet. Without the heel cushion of a running shoe to protect you, you'll notice several things:

 - No heel strike. 
Your heel should not be the first thing that hits the ground, because that will cause you pain.

 - Forefoot/midfoot touchdown.
You will land on the front and/or middle of your foot. Your heel will come down immediately after that. 

 - Flexed knee.
You will land with your knee bent, not straight. A straight-legged landing and a heel strike are possible in cushioned shoes - but not barefoot.

 - Short strides.
You will land with your foot almost directly under your body, rather than a foot or two ahead, as you may do in shoes.

If you can remember these four things when you put your shoes back on, you'll be running "softly." It won't be easy to remember and coordinate all four, because the heel-strike is so ingrained in the running pattern of so many people. The shoe companies put big heel cushions on running shoes several decades ago, assuming that's how humans naturally landed. The problem is, as you may see when you take your shoes off, that the heel strike is completely unnatural. The conveniences of the modern world have made us forget how to run naturally.

Now, one more thing:

 - Rapid turnover of 180 steps per minute.
 As you are learning the new form, you must also increase your cadence (number of steps) to keep your speed with the reduced length. The fast cadence reduces potential injury because you only get injured when your foot is on the ground. So immediately after your heel touches the ground (following the forefoot landing), lift it into the air. Shoot for a cadence of 180 steps per minute - 90 with each foot. This will be a bit exhausting at first , but you'll quickly get used to it.

Once you learn the form and give your body time to gradually adapt to the new biomechanics (calves and Achilles tendons, in particular, are foreshortened and weak from years of heel-striking and wearing heeled shoes), the reduction in impact forces to your ankle, knee and hip joints, and decreased incidence of injuries to connective tissue and muscles will be profound. Some studies have shown that shock is reduced by 50%.

The other downside of running - muscle loss - can be avoided by using two distinct running methods:

 - Long Slow Distance (LSD)
 - Interval Training

Long Slow Distance Runs

Twice a week, ideally on days you're not in the weight room, do an easy run for 30 to 60 minutes. In concept, the low-heart-rate LSD run should be nothing new for bodybuilders; it's the same slow, 120-140 bpm cardio they've always done on the bike and stairstepper to burn off fat. In the desired low-exertion aerobic zone, your body is going slow enough that it can take in all the oxygen it needs to use fat as its primary fuel. Fat is dense with calories but requires lots of oxygen to burn. The key is not to exceed that heart-rate energy range while running, which is not easy for most people to do, especially at first. Running naturally encourages you to push it, so you must actively throttle back. [I've noticed over the years that a large number of slow-pace runners - joggers -  seem to equate success in their endeavor with some strange notion of pain made visible. Even while running at a pace slower than a brisk walk, you see them grimacing and contorting their facial features as if that were the key to what they seek. Strange indeed, the jokes we allow our minds to play on us, and not that far from what's seen in the weight room as well. If it looks like I'm working hard, well then, I must be!]

Your goal with running, or any other form of cardio, is to train your muscles' mitochondria (the tiny intracellular engines where fuel is ignited and energy created) to get better at burning fat. It does this when you stay in the fat-burning zone, but if you exceed the upper limit of this zone (technically your "threshold," where you can't get enough oxygen in to meet your speed), your muscles will reach for a more fast-burning fuel - carbs. This quicker pace not only diminishes your use of fat and slows your development of a fat-burning engine, it also puts a strain on your muscles, undercutting your recovery. Remember that you worked out in the gym the day before; to best realize those gains, your cardio day must be about recovery.

How do you make sure you don't run too fast? Take the "talk test." At all times, make sure that you can converse easily without gasping for breath. To be sure you don't mistakenly slip into a too-fast pace, wear a heart-rate monitor. Then, as you talk, note your pulse and set the monitor to beep when you exceed it.

Besides burning lots of fat, the LSD pace also safely builds the infrastructure (tendons, ligaments, connective tissue) that allows your joints to handle the stress of running and gives you time to focus on good form.

Interval Training

Once a week, do short, intense interval sessions immediately following a leg workout. The intervals (eight 10- to 30-second all-out sprints on a treadmill at an angle, separated by a minute of slow recovery) become muscle-building extensions of your strength work, taking advantage of a principle called post-activation potentiation (PAP). The hormonal response to all-out sprints, especially testosterone, is similar to lifting. Intervals are very time efficient: just 20 minutes for eight sprints and recoveries, including warmup and cool-down. But don't do them more than once a week, as they are hard on your joints. Minimize the pounding and maximize the effort by raising treadmill elevation as well as speed.

Training Plan

Running is the world's cheapest, most convenient fitness activity. It has a documented endorphin effect that tends to get people addicted - until they get hurt. To stay clear of the addiction, approach running only as an adjunct to your weight training, not as an end unto itself. Your goal for running is to burn fat and expedite recovery, while not impacting your size.

A logical training strategy for simultaneously getting ripped and maintaining recovery is to use easy LSD running (or any cardio) the day after all hard training days. So if you hit upper body/lower body or front/back on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, then Wednesday and Saturday would be the time for a low-heart-rate run. A third run could come as a PAP interval session tacked onto a heavy leg workout. To maintain size, don't run more than three days a week or for more than an hour at a time. For those interested in competing in running events, a standard periodization plan would progressively increase speed and mileage on the two LSD days, with the interval session remaining unchanged.            

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