140K Front Squat

Last night I hit 305 pounds, or roughly 140K, in the Front Squat.  I’m rather stoked about this since my current max Clean and Jerk is 110k.  I am hoping to hit 115k or even 120k in the clean and jerk by December 12 (we’ve got a contest then), and last nights Front Squat is a good indicator that I’m on track.

Speaking of Squats, off to the gym to do some more …

Advertisements

Can YOU Do a 10K? Not Running, Weightlifting

Melanie Roach

10,000 hours.  Or roughly 10 years.  That’s about how long it takes to become an elite level athlete in nearly every sport.

Gwen Sisto posted a great piece on exactly this issue on his blog Gwen Weightlifting.  He makes the following points:

Even more importantly, factual case studies show that one only needs a minimal level of talent to become, say, Olympic Champion. What makes one greater than competitors is the amount of additional work and practice you have had. In sports, music, business, or academia, their are thousands, millions of talented people; the difference between mediocre, good, and great is the great people had unique opportunities that allowed them to put in the 10,000 hours to be the best.

Per Popov’s comments in Bulgaria — all you need to be a good lifter is (1) the ability to do a full squat, (2) rack a bar in a clean, (3) ability to do an overhead squat— the rest is a function of who has the opportunity and desire to put in the 10000 hours or roughly ten years of hard training.

Consistent, hard training is paramount above all other factors– age, perceived talent, etc.

These comments jive exactly with not only my philosophy of weightlifting, but with my philosophy of life.

Lots of coaches in all sports are obsessed with finding the next young star.  Youth is key, they think.  After 20, it’s too late.

That’s just bullshit.

I think the United States Weightlifting community needs to focus on building an “older” population of elite lifters.  Let’s be honest, Olympic Weightlifting is a pain in the ass (literally!).  It takes months just to be able to do full cleans and full snatches without falling over.  It takes years to be lifting anything substantial.  And it is repetitive as hell (MORE snatches, clean and jerks, and front squats).

Does any of that sound like the kind of thing a teenager is going to get into?  I don’t think so.  They want quick, now, hurry up! … what was I doing?

Once a person gets into their 20’s  they’re starting to mellow out.  They’re learning the power of consistency.  And they don’t mind putting in long hours, and long years, toward a goal post that keeps moving on them.

If you are 25, and you begin Olympic Weightlifting today, then when you’re 35, you’ll be remarkable.  You may or may not be ready for the Olympics, but regardless, you’ll be outstanding.  Take a look at Melanie Roach.  She’s 34 and has 3 kids, and she made it to the Olympics.

If you’re 35 today, you’ll likely be just as strong at 45 as most competitive lifters in their 20’s.  You’ll probably still qualify for the Open Nationals.  And you’ll have the body of a Greek God.

If you’re 45 today or older, then in 10 years you can be competing at the Masters World Championships.  You’ll be stronger, faster, and better conditioned than most high school football players.  And unlike you’re peers, you’ll feel strong and vibrant because you will actually be strong and vibrant.

When I’m 65, I plan on having a 500 pound back squat.  I think that’s a low ball figure. Why, cause I’ve got 35 years to train for it.

Time, it’s on your side.

Quote of the Day: Benjamin Franklin

225px-Benjamin_Franklin_by_Joseph_Siffred_Duplessis

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

–Benjamin Franklin

In other words, get to the gym!

(Painting by Joseph Siffred Duplessis.)

Ice Cream: The Magic Mass Food for Athletes?

Ice Cream Sushi!

Ice Cream Sushi!

Great news for Athletes trying to pack on muscle mass.  A new study has shown that eating saturated fat can increase your appetite and trick you into thinking you need more food.

Since THE major factor holding back athletes who are looking to add large amounts of muscle (or even to maintain what they have–marathon runners, I’m looking at you!) is their inability to eat enough, this fact may come in handy.

My suggestion? Eat ice cream.  It’s high calorie and loaded with saturated fat which will apparently make you hungrier.  You get two for the price of one!

Of course, the article I found this tid-bit on was most worried about the implications of saturated fat on our overall health profiles.  But, that isn’t your problem.  You’re too skinny, and you need to muscle up.  That takes more calories than you can eat comfortably.   Science (and Ice Cream) to the rescue!

Below is the abstract to the  actual study (I hate that most articles don’t do this, especially when they are on the web).

Insulin signaling can be modulated by several isoforms of PKC in peripheral tissues. Here, we assessed whether one specific isoform, PKC-θ, was expressed in critical CNS regions that regulate energy balance and whether it mediated the deleterious effects of diets high in fat, specifically palmitic acid, on hypothalamic insulin activity in rats and mice. Using a combination of in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, we found that PKC-θ was expressed in discrete neuronal populations of the arcuate nucleus, specifically the neuropeptide Y/agouti-related protein neurons and the dorsal medial nucleus in the hypothalamus. CNS exposure to palmitic acid via direct infusion or by oral gavage increased the localization of PKC-θ to cell membranes in the hypothalamus, which was associated with impaired hypothalamic insulin and leptin signaling. This finding was specific for palmitic acid, as the monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, neither increased membrane localization of PKC-θ nor induced insulin resistance. Finally, arcuate-specific knockdown of PKC-θ attenuated diet-induced obesity and improved insulin signaling. These results suggest that many of the deleterious effects of high-fat diets, specifically those enriched with palmitic acid, are CNS mediated via PKC-θ activation, resulting in reduced insulin activity.

Normally your bodies cells are told to stop demanding food by a couple of hormones, leptin and insulin. This study suggests that certain saturated fats, particularly palmitic acid tell your brain to send signals to your bodies cells instructing them to ignore leptin and insulin.  And therefore, you can be “objectively” full, but not feel like you are.  So, you keep eating.

Clearly, if you want to lose weight, this is bad news.  Keep your saturated fats down, and stick to unsaturated fats if you can like fish oils and olive oil.

But, if you are trying to gain size, this is GREAT.  More ice cream, fried chicken, bacon, and even more ice cream!

(The image above is from SushiGallery.net.  Very cool.)

References

Benoit, Stephen C, Christopher J Kemp, Carol F Elias, William Abplanalp, James P Herman, Stephanie Migrenne, Anne-Laure Lefevre, et al. 2009. Palmitic acid mediates hypothalamic insulin resistance by altering PKC-theta subcellular localization in rodents. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 119, no. 9 (September): 2577-2589. doi:10.1172/JCI36714.

Kendrick Ferris “Mr. Olympian” Promo Video

This video shows Kendrick Ferris in a fun and playful way.  I like that.  I think we need to do everything we can to make our sport seem more accessible to young people.

Overhead Squat Tips and Tricks

Mighty Kat, a fellow Oregon Olympic Weightlifter (and current state champion in her weight class), has an article up at Weightlifting Exchange entitled, “Six Tips for the Overhead Squat.

The overhead squat is a pain in the ass, literally!  But, it’s the first exercise that I tend to have people do in the gym.  I give them a stick, do a demonstration, then have them try and “repeat after me”.  I can learn a lot about where a person’s current level of fitness is by how well they are able to perform this exercise.

If they let the bar drift too far forward, or if their arms remain bent throughout, then I know they have shoulder flexibility issues.  If they let their heels come up off the floor, then I know they have ankle and calf flexibility issues.  Some times people will literally shake while performing an overhead squat.  This can be from a number of causes, but foremost among them is a lack of stability strength and balance.

You can find a ton of other writing by Mighty Kat at her website, www.MightyKat.net, and at her blog, mightymix.blogspot.com/

Building a Quiet Weightlifting Platform

Olympic weightlifters make noise–a lot of noise.  And this really pisses off some people.  We’re like those guys driving by in decked out Honda’s blasting their bass-heavy music at a volume that would shake Atlas at his core.  Every time we dump a weight, the other patrons in the gym get a jolt, wince, and log it into their memories.   Eventually, they get fed up and go tell the owner that they just can’t take it anymore.  It’s them or us.  The gauntlet has been thrown.

Whether we like it or not, most of us are forced to train in commercial gyms.  If we’re lucky, they’ll have a platform.  But, that doesn’t mean they want us to use it like it was intended! The platform is there, they think, so that people can do deadlifts.  So, what the Hell are we doing dropping weights from overhead?

Bill Brian has an article at Weightlifting Exchange about how to build a quiet weightlifting platform.  And while it may seem odd to put a bunch of carpet down on it, it would help to mitigate the problem.

Here’s his list of reasons why a quieter platform could be a plus:

Gym owners, managers, trainers, and members often express irritation and fear as a result of the noise and vibration that results from controlled or uncontrolled dropping of Olympic weights from the overhead position.

Olympic weightlifting is sometimes perceived to be a violent sport because of the noise/vibration that results from controlled or uncontrolled dropping of weights.

Damage results to Olympic bumper plates and bars from weights dropped at an angle onto a solid surface or platform with insufficient padding and noise/vibration dampening ability. Some of this damage occurs because the bar quality is poor, the plates are not secured to the bar with clips or collars, or in some cases, abuse by lifters. In many cases, I have been in gyms that did not provide collars or clips, or did not replace them when they were stolen or damaged.

Olympic lifting is prohibited or discouraged by many gyms even though they have the basic lifting equipment and a rudimentary platform because of the above problems.

Olympic lifting is banned or prohibited by gyms by either removing the existing Olympic lifting equipment and platforms or not providing it in the first place because of the above problems.

Out of ignorance or inconsideration, or poorly placed platforms that invite foot traffic across them, gym members walk onto a platform while a lifter is performing a lift, inviting injury and irritation.

He hopes that measures like his quiet platform will help to restore Olympic weightlifting to some of it’s former prominence in gyms.  I’m not convinced.  In fact, I doubt there is any way commercial gyms will ever be amenable to what it is we do.  Bottom line, we mess up their bottom line!  They aren’t in business to help out our tiny sport.  They never will be.  Olympic weightlifting can only get so quiet and cuddly.  And it will never be good enough.

The quiet Olympic Weightlifting platform is still an interesting idea.  I’d love to try one out.  But, let’s face it, making noise is part of the fun!

    • Gym owners, managers, trainers, and members often express irritation and fear as a result of the noise and vibration that results from controlled or uncontrolled dropping of Olympic weights from the overhead position.
    • Olympic weightlifting is sometimes perceived to be a violent sport because of the noise/vibration that results from controlled or uncontrolled dropping of weights.

    • Damage results to Olympic bumper plates and bars from weights dropped at an angle onto a solid surface or platform with insufficient padding and noise/vibration dampening ability. Some of this damage occurs because the bar quality is poor, the plates are not secured to the bar with clips or collars, or in some cases, abuse by lifters. In many cases, I have been in gyms that did not provide collars or clips, or did not replace them when they were stolen or damaged.

    • Olympic lifting is prohibited or discouraged by many gyms even though they have the basic lifting equipment and a rudimentary platform because of the above problems.

    • Olympic lifting is banned or prohibited by gyms by either removing the existing Olympic lifting equipment and platforms or not providing it in the first place because of the above problems.
    • Out of ignorance or inconsideration, or poorly placed platforms that invite foot traffic across them, gym members walk onto a platform while a lifter is performing a lift, inviting injury and irritation.