This will be a first installment in a series of posts describing certain accessory exercises we do and my rational for why.  First and foremost, I’d like to say that NONE of these exercises are NECESSARY for improvement of the Olympic lifts.  They do not reinforce technique and they do not provide a primary adaptive stimulus.  That’s why I use them an accessory lift.  If you’re reading this (or any post on the internet like it) thinking that one of these exercises will become the ONE TOOL essential to your progress then you’ve come to the wrong blog, hombre. Also, I am married to none of these exercises so my views on them are subject to change.  These are simply things that I include in bodybuilding style circuits for my competitive lifters on our accessory days to finish up the workout.

Now that I’ve got that over with, lets talk abut the heavy KB swing.

Whenever a coach of a different discipline validates the KB swing as a tool for improving things other than swings or lungs, KB fanboys get immediately overly excited.  Calm down.  I currently am including the two handed version of these in a bodybuilding circuit for the team once a week for 3×12.  So If I had to assign a % of how important this is to our training, it might be like 3%.  I developed a new respect and appreciation for the swing after listening to a presentation on the swing done by Russell Dunning.  When done correctly, the swing will bias the often lacking posterior chain.  Olympic weightlifting by nature is a very quad dominant sport down to the way our shoes are built.  So if I want to build a sexy butt and hamstrings to fill out my Levis, I’m going to have to do some extra work.  So over the past few years I’ve begun including much more posterior chain work for the team including lighter accessory movements such as single leg DB RDLS,  GHR’s, GH bridges with furniture sliders, BB hip thrusters, banded external rotations of the hip, reverse hypers, ETC.

"ASSessory" exercise to build dat ass.

“ASSessory” exercise to build dat ass.

Keep note that much like an RDL, a vertical shin with your weight placed towards your heel is necessary to bias the posterior chain like you’re supposed to.  Hmm . . . is there a position in weightlifting that is similar to this one?  Perhaps as the bar passes the point of our knee?

Are there other ways to swing a kettlebell that are also correct?  Sure, maybe.  I don’t care really.  I’m not a kettlebell expert.  This is how we do them and why.

It seems that youtube videos are not as in style nowadays.  People would rather watch a 5 second cut up clip, most of which is shot on video phones rather than watch a feature length shot on an ACTUAL camera.  If I’ve learned one thing about fitness and pop culture, it’s that YOU DON’T GET TO PICK WHAT IS IN STYLE. YOU CAN ONLY CHOOSE TO PLAY ALONG OR SIT OUT.  As far as I’m concerned, I’d much rather sit and watch a decently filmed and edited youtube video rather than contribute to the short attention span of today’s youth.  But hey, that’s just me.  I actually get some enjoyment from putting out videos from a particular time period or paired with a song I like.  They’re like little snap shots in time for me and provide hours of enjoyment and self reflection.  I’m also much more likely to re-watch something that is at least decently visually pleasing.

Here’s a new video from my buddy Sean Waxman.  Good ol’ youtube training footage.  Like an ironmind video for a new generation.  Enjoy.

Burnt Ends.

April 27, 2015

Saturday wrapped up the longest stretch of consecutive coaching/work days of my career.  4 weeks by my estimation.  Worth it?  Most certainly.  I started lifting weights as a sport 10 years ago.  I never thought it would take me here.  That being said, If you know and are friends with me on a personal level, I owe you both a congratulations and an apology.  I don’t think I’ve willingly or been happy about answering my phone for at least the last 3 weeks.

Young strength coaches or trainers,  find balance.  Like me, you might find yourself with a few hours of actual free time on your hands only to find that you have no one to spend it with.  All your friends will have given up.

I’d now like to share with you a picture of personal significance to me.

I spent MANY years trying to find my way out of the classroom.  It looks a lot different from this angle.

I spent MANY years trying to find my way out of the classroom. It looks a lot different from this angle.

One thing that they don’t tell you about getting into the strength and conditioning or general fitness field is the amount of time that you will be spending doing work related things OTHER than coaching at the gym.  More often than not, training will be the first thing to suffer.  You’d think that working at a gym means unlimited gym time with your mental state complexly focused on your sport goals.  That might be true for the first couple years while you’re building your base (and are poor) but when you finely find yourself with your feet underneath you, you will also find your church has been turned into your office; albeit the COOLEST office ever.

The photo pictured above is taken from the NSCA Norcal State Clinic.  I was lucky enough to be one of the featured speakers.  For me, this represented a personal milestone.  This is the first crowd that I came in contact with in 2005 that actually KNEW about Olympic weightlifting.  I can remember eagerly walking into the CSUS weight room and some of the masters kinesiology students were in there practicing their lifts or getting ready for competition.  These were my first weightlifting heroes.  Some of those people were actually present this day when I spoke and it gave me a special feeling of closure re-meeting these people; this time on the professional level.

A final closing thought: The grind IS worth it.  Just make sure that by the time you’re done grinding, you have a plan for the future and people to spend it with.

My group has grown.  We are strong and happy to train together.  Every day is a privilege and sometimes I get so lost in keeping this thing going (and improving) that I forget that.

Here are a few clips taken over the last few months of training and contests.

My mind has changed
my body’s frame but god I like it
my hearts aflame
my body’s strained but god I like it

Home Stretch (Not).

April 15, 2015

The last 2-3 weeks have been incredibly busy for me, as is often the case with small business people.

disregard-sleep-acquire-caffeine

I just got back from coaching that the Master’s National Championships.  Two of my athletes competed: Lindsay and Duffy.  Both got themselves some meet PR’s and had a great showing at their first national meet.  Both have been with me for a long time and I’m proud that we made it that far together. I also helped out another athlete from Virginia; a talented one at that.  She also snuck away with some meet PRs.

This weekend I’ll be be speaking at an NSCA conference held at Menlo college.  My presentation is called, “Practical Programming for the Novice and Intermediate Weightlifter.”  I’m actually pretty excited.  I haven’t given a power point presentation since college, but collegiate and high school strength coaches are folks that I don’t normally get to talk to on a regular basis.  I’ll be glad to branch out and exchange ideas with people.

The following day, I’ll be coaching the team up at a meet we’re hosting at our gym.  If you’re in the area, come check it out.  We’ll be there all day.  5 bucks at the door.  BYOB.  You get in free if you bring me a beer.  Just kidding.

Maybe.

Come so you can watch me do a LOT of running back and forth from the warm up area like this ^.

Bill Starr.

April 9, 2015

My introduction to Bill Starr was sort of a unique one.  Like 4 or 5 years ago, I got the opportunity to be shot for some photos for an article in the CF Journal; an article that he wrote.  I had no idea who Bill Starr was at the time but I obviously read the article that I was featured in and then took some time to look him up after that.  I’d suggest you do the same if only to get a frame of reference for the evolution of real strength training in the US.  His contributions are significant.  RIP.

Money shot.

Money shot.

I had a bad habit of sticking my tongue out while pulling and the photographer had to edit it out.

I had a bad habit of sticking my tongue out while pulling and the photographer had to edit it out.

WLforums Interview.

April 6, 2015

Check out this video interview I did with Tony P of WLforums.com.  We met at Nationals last year coaching our 75kg girls.  I talk about my experience with the sport, how I became the coach of Midtown Barbell and a little bit of my coaching and programming philosophy.

The Only Guarantee.

April 5, 2015

The feeling of excitement after breaking through a long time barrier.  Never gets old.

The feeling of excitement after breaking through a long time barrier. Never gets old.

Sometimes breakthroughs come when you need them the most.  Maybe you need a personal “win” in your life and snatching 152 is exactly what you needed.

Maybe it doesn’t come at all.

The point is, nothing is guaranteed.  You need to make your own way in this life inside the gym and out. Hopefully, you’ve found people that share the same goals as you.  Hopefully, you’ve found a process that works for your group.  Trust in it.  Trust in your group.  And don’t forget to have FUN.

Download this BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

Track List:

1) Ibeyi-River

2) Father John Misty-Heart Shaped Box (Nirvana)

3) No Sleep-Wicked Games Remix (The Weeknd)

4) The Doors-People Are Strange

5) Freddie Gibbs and Madlib-Thuggin’

6) James Vincent McMorrow-Cavalier 

7) The Seeds-Pushin’ Too Hard

8) Radiohead-Talkshow Host

9) TV On the Radio-Wolf Like Me

10) Wildbirds & Leacedrums-Ghosts & Pains

11) Mac Demarco-Chamber of Reflection

12) Kendrick Lamar-The Blacker the Berry

13) Nancy Sinatra-Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

14) Arcade Fire-Afterlife

As I often travel to the city to coach at meets, occasionally I’ll make myself a little mini-trip out of it and see a show at a bigger venue, especially if I’m coaching at a two day meet.  Luckily for me, two of my favorite metal acts happened to be playing together Saturday at the Regency Ballroom.

Front and center, brah.

Front and center, brah.

I fan-boyed out and got up close for Pallbearer.  Honestly, the’re better suited for the small club scene and they only had a 1/2 hour to play so they could only knock out some of their new material which I’m nat as into.  Still a good set and I got to make up for not seeing them at Eli’s last time they came around.

At the gates was the headliner.  I didn’t really have any expectations but actually really enjoyed their set.  Tomas Lindberg is an extremely enthusiastic frontman and got the sold-out audience moving.  They played a good amount of older material which I’m sure everyone was there to see. Also, Swedes sound hilarious when speaking english.

Here’s a cut off their new album which I thought was dece’ especially after so many years of not releasing anything.  No, it’s not Slaughter the Soul (a melo-death staple).  But it’s pretty good.

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