Should I do a Powerlifting Competition?

Should I do a Powerlifting Competition?
By: Tim Henriques

If you have been lifting seriously for a while and you have gotten a bit stronger, you might be pondering the idea of competing in a powerlifting competition. If you are thinking about doing just that, you probably have some questions. Since powerlifting is my thing, let me see if I can be of some assistance to you. If I don’t address your questions directly in this post, feel free to pose them in the comments section and I will get them to there.

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Sammie squatting

The first question most lifters have is this: Am I strong enough to compete? The short answer is probably yes. Most powerlifting competitions don’t have minimum qualifying standards that you need to reach before competing. Understandably, most lifters don’t want to get destroyed their first meet so I will give you a quick guideline here. If you can hit the following lifts you will hold your own at most local powerlifting competitions:

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To be clear I am not saying that by hitting the above numbers you will win your weight class or you’ll be the strongest person there. I am saying that you should fit right in and you won’t feel “weak” if you can perform these lifts. Certainly there will be some really strong people competing – there are usually 3-5 beasts competing in each competition that are on a really high level. But there will also be people you might not expect to find at a competition: kids and teens often compete; powerlifting is very popular with master lifters (over 40) including a pretty big group of 60 and 70 year old lifters that are competing. Of course at younger and older ages the weights being lifted are noticeably less. And most importantly, the environment at a competition is usually very supportive and positive because everyone there is trying for a PR and everyone knows how hard you have to work to make serious progress in this sport. Most lifters are very friendly and happy to talk about training. A competition is a great place to meet like-minded people. If you want more detailed information on how you might stack up against the competition, refer to the lifting classifications that are found in my book All About Powerlifting. (Bret’s note – this is not an affiliate link, but it’s a great book on powerlifting that I recommend)

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Erin deadlifting

When you are ready to compete the first thing to do is to find a competition that is right for you. Consider the following:

Geography – expect to drive 2-3 hours to find a meet, sometimes it is more, sometimes it is less. If there is a specific, big competition you want to attend then you may have to fly to it. Powerliftingwatch.com is a great place to start your search.

Cost – powerlifting is a pretty cheat sport (compared to something like golf it is super cheap) but there are some costs associated with it. These things include:

  • The entry fee for the competition (usually $70-100)
  • Joining a federation for a year (usually ~$30)
  • Purchasing a singlet to compete in (~$30) [Eastbay and WWsport.com are good places to find singlets]
  • Cost of travel to and from the competition including a potential hotel stay

Date – find a powerlifting competition that is a good date for you to train for. Generally 2-6 months away is ideal, if it is more than 6 months away that may not really motivate you and you can’t just try to peak for the meet for that long. If it is less than 2 months away you may not feel like you have enough time to give it your all in training. Most lifters follow a specific meet prep for 2-3 months to be their best on the platform.

Federation – there is not just one governing body in powerlifting, this is either good or bad depending on how you look at it. It is bad because there isn’t always one set of rules everyone follows, it is good in that it allows various lifters to find what works for them. Basically there are 2 big questions you want to ask.

The first question is are you going use powerlifting equipment like bench shirts, squat suits, etc? If this is your first meet then the answer should be no, don’t even worry about this. But be aware if you compete in a federation that allows gear (usually referred to as single ply (1 layer) or multi-ply (2 or more layers) there may be some people at the meet using it. The gear is super strong, often adding 30-50% to a lifter’s max, so it is almost like 2 separate sports. If you don’t wear any gear that is called raw powerlifting. You can still wear a belt and wrist wraps if you want. Likely you’ll just compete in a competition that is close to you, but if the idea of another powerlifter wearing gear in the competition bothers you then compete in a raw competition.

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Squat Suit and Bench Shirt: Used in Geared Powerlifting

The second thing to consider is drug usage. I am assuming you are drug free and the numbers posted above reflect that. Some federations drug test, some don’t. If someone chooses to use steroids that is up to them but that person should not compete in a drug tested federation. Again if you are new you may just be selecting competitions based on proximity, but if drug use bothers you than select a drug free or drug tested federation. The USAPL and 100% RAW are 2 of the top drug tested federations in America.

*Bret’s Note: Sammie and Erin competed in a NASA meet for their first competition with the Operation Get Strong & Sexy posts – see HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE if you didn’t follow that series. I competed in 100% RAW for both of my competitions – see HERE and HERE for those recaps. 

When the day of the competition comes you’ll want to know a few things to make it go as smoothly as possible. It is natural to be a bit nervous and this applies to first timers and well as the experienced vets. There will be a weigh-in either the morning of the competition or the day before. Weigh in in your underwear so you are as light as possible (a tie is decided in favor of the lightest lifter). You will have to turn in your openers at the same time. Your openers the weights you are going to start with in each lift. It is very important to realize that once you turn in a weight, you can never lower that weight. If you think you can bench 300 and you start with that but fail, you can’t drop back down to 275, you are stuck at 300. If you miss it you just get a zero which is called bombing out and you can’t complete the competition. This is a giant no-no and bombing out shows you don’t know what you are doing so don’t do that. There are many strategies available to select your openers but I suggest using 87.5% of your goal weight, assuming your goal weight is pretty realistic. For example if you have benched 290 in the gym with really good form, you might be hoping to hit 300 in a meet. If that is the case then you could open with 260. You get 3 tries at each lift, you can repeat a weight (if you miss it) or go up. You can up as much as you want, most lifters go up 2.5-10% on each attempt. In our example our lifter might go 260, then 285, then 300. It is worth noting some meets will do their lifts in kilograms. If this is the case then be sure you are familiar with the transition from pounds to kilos (our lifter would open up 117.5 kg in this case).

After you complete your lift then you will go to the scorer’s table and tell them what you want to lift next. Each lifter in your group will go once, then everyone will go a second time, then they will finish with their last try. Squats is always first, then the bench press, and then the competition finishes with deadlift. If one is curling that is usually the last lift performed but not all federations contest that. A powerlifting total is your score which is the addition of your best squat, bench, and deadlift. If a person squats 400, benches 300, and deadlifts 500 their total is 1200 lbs.

Each lift has a few key rules, I can’t cover every scenario due to space here but these are the super key highlights.

Squat

  • You will walk out and you will get the command to “Squat”.
  • Once you get that command you cannot move your feet.
  • You must squat so that your hip is below your knee eg so that your femur is pointing down toward your hip – this is the most common mistake newbies make.
  • Once you finish squatting you must stand up, keep your feet locked to the ground, and wait until the judge says “Rack”.

Bench Press

  • You will lift the bar out of the racks (it is okay to get a lift off), start with arms straight.
  • Lower the bar to your chest and pause the bar on the chest. Keep your feet flat and motionless and keep your butt on the bench.
  • Once the judge says “Press” then you can lift it up – this usually takes 2-3 seconds to receive the press command.
  • Hold the bar with your arms locked once it is finished until the judge says “Rack”.
  • The most common issue here is not realizing how much harder a paused bench is than a touch-and-go which is what most people do in the gym.

Deadlift

  • The bar is on the ground, walk up to it, grab it.
  • You can use conventional form (hands outside your legs) or sumo style (hands inside your legs, feet spread wide).
  • Stand up straight with the bar and hold it until the judge says “down”.
  • As long as you aren’t relying on straps to do deads you are probably performing these with adequate form.

If you compete in the strict curl be aware that the curl is performed up against the wall and it is much harder that way, practice this and take at least 20% off of what you can do standing up. A curl bar will be used.

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Bret curling

Powerlifters are broken up into various classes based on weight, gender, and age. At the end of the competition is the awards ceremony. Because there are so many weight classes and age groups for each gender, it is pretty common to receive some sort of an award at a powerlifting meet. If you don’t want much competition, just compete in your specific age group. If you do want competition, compete in the Open division for your weight class, which means you will be ranked among all of the lifters in that division.

Powerlifting competitions tend to be relatively long, usually starting around 9 am (with weigh-ins possibly before that time) and then wrapping up around 4-6 pm. Some might go shorter, some might go longer. If a competition has 2 lifting platforms it will move faster. Depending on the level of organization of the meet director, the award ceremony might just be 15-20 minutes or it might take an hour or 2. You will want to bring some food and drinks with you, trying to eat something small after squats and then possibly after deadlifts is a good idea to keep your energy levels up. It is important to stay hydrated during the competition since it is a long day.

One of the challenges in powerlifting is managing fatigue. I am not talking about muscular fatigue but emotional fatigue, the type of fatigue you get when you are amped up and on edge for an extended period of time. You have to perform 3 heavy squats so you get fired up for that, then you have to relax for an hour or two, then you hit the bench hard, relax again, and finally it is deadlift. The psyching up and then relaxing multiple times can be hard for some lifters to manage. Usually in the gym you just psych up once, hit the lift, and then you move on to the assistance stuff. Maxing on all three lifts in the same day can be pretty draining.

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Bret deadlifting

It takes some guts to get up on the platform – where it is just you and the weight – and test yourself to see what you can do. But because of the sports individualistic nature, it tends to build self-confidence. Be proud of what you can accomplish, learn from your mistakes and your defeats, and use that motivation to fuel your next training cycle. One of my favorite things about the sport is that it is extremely rare for a person to compete in powerlifting competition and then at the end they say “That sucked, I wish I had not done that”. Usually the only time that happens is when the person thinks they will lift some huge amount of weight, their form is way off, and then the platform is a rude awakening to them. But if you have been training hard and smart, if you are prepared, meets are usually pretty awesome. I think the most common response after a lifter competes in their first competition is “I can’t wait to do that again, only next time I will lift more weight”. That statement alone is the best response I can think of to the question “Should I do a powerlifting competition?”

Author Bio

Tim Henriques is the Director for the National Personal Training Institute of VA/MD/DC. NPTI is a 600 hour long program for people who wish to become personal trainers. Tim was a Collegiate All-American Powerlifter and he currently coaches his powerlifting team, Team Force, which won their federation’s National Championships in 2013. He regularly teaches, lectures, and writes on the topics of health and fitness. He recently released a book entitled All About Powerlifting which has been hailed as “the new bible of powerlifting”.

All-About-Powerlifting

A Spectacular Glute Transformation

Here is Casey Bergh’s story. 

I have no history of athleticism and up until three years ago, I lacked knowledge about fitness in general, and had absolutely no exposure to bodybuilding and the weight room. I weighed 220 pounds after having each of my children and my only goal after having my second was simply to get “skinny” again. Somewhere along my journey, I accidentally stumbled across bodybuilding. I braved the weight room with a beginner’s program and the rest is history.

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After 18 months of lifting my body had completely transformed. I had a fully developed upper body and a pretty decent set of quads and hammies. The only problem was my Glutes! They were below average at a healthy body weight and when I dropped fat to enter the world of competing, I found that I had NO muscle!

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All I really wanted was a good pair of glutes- I trained legs heavy twice a week, I squatted, deadlifted and leg pressed heavy (probably with less than perfect form) I fell victim to the “all you need to do for a great butt, is squat” trend, I was devastated with my lack of results despite my intense efforts to develop a good set of glutes. I am 5’10” and was sure that my lack of development was a direct result of being too tall, and having the absolute worst glute genetics possible… I’m still convinced these two factors work against me but I made a decision exactly one year ago to build the best set of glutes I possibly could. I took pictures that day that were so upsetting I could hardly stand it but I told my husband, “some day, people will hire me to teach them how to get glutes like mine!”

Then, I set to work. I read every article, forum thread, blog post, I subscribed to Bret’s newsletter and ordered his book. I ordered bands and most importantly, I started hip thrusting. At first my heaviest set of 10 was around 80 pounds and it just about killed me. I was so excited it was the first time I felt my glutes really working and it was a real eye opener for me.

What changed over the course of this past year that led to my transformation? I now go into the gym with the intention of training glutes, not legs. I begin with band work (sumo walks, x-band walks, monster walks, side lying clams, etc.) I often incorporate band hip thrusts or donkey kicks with a 20 lb ankle weight in as my first exercise. I spend a lot of time just trying to fire up the glutes before going into any heavy lifting. I alternate each leg day (2x/week) as either a squat day or deadlift day. Instead of going into the gym and just trying to “go heavy” I now understand that making measurable progress and following some type of program is crucial to making gains. I have recently become more focused on powerlifting and making strength gains but never neglect to follow up my core lifts with direct glute training. I hip thrust twice a week and my current PR is 365×3 (my squat PR is 240×1 and conventional deadlift is 250×2). I have learned how to properly engage my butt in each lift. I have built my body up to what I consider to be an ideal amount of muscle mass for me and for the next year my goal is to focus on strictly building my glutes but maintaining my current size for the rest of my physique. I would like to hit 400 lbs on my hip thrust before the end of this year! Aside from the hip thrust, my favorite exercise is the sumo deadlift, I recently started incorporating it into training and after getting used to the new movement, was able to progress very quickly with it.

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I already mentioned the importance of progressive overload above but if I had to sum up the “how” of my glute transformation, It would simply be: to get better and stronger at squatting, deadlifting and most importantly, hip thrusting. Hard work, consistency, trusting the process and pushing through obstacles all tie into the above, during the time that my body changed, my entire outlook and attitude had to change and I learned the power of goal setting, discipline and the compound effect that occurs over time from making small, consistent changes in in my training approach.

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I would also like to mention that aside from the changes I made in training, a huge factor in my transformation can be attributed to my diet. I increased my caloric intake gradually but drastically over time. After being overweight as a teenager and young adult and then losing 80 pounds, that is easier said than done, but with an increased knowledge about diet and consistent tracking of my macronutrient intake, the results that followed were undeniable and I have been able to re-define the role that food plays in my life, it is no longer the enemy but a tool that enables me to achieve my goals.

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During this process I became an NASM certified personal trainer and I can actually say that countless times, women have approached me in public and at the gym and asked me “can you teach me how to get glutes like yours?” My own clients have had amazing results in the glute department by applying the same principles. Thank you Bret for all of the knowledge and resources you’ve consolidated into one place that have allowed me to literally change my life and body and to help others do the same!

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About the Author

Casey Bergh in an NASM-certified personal trainer in Turlock, California. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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Should Strength and Conditioning Professionals Attempt to Incorporate “Everything” into Their Training Program Design?

Robert A. Panariello MS, PT, ATC, CSCS
Professional Physical Therapy
Professional Athletic Performance Center
New York, New York

In a recent conversation with my good friend Hall of Fame Strength and Conditioning (S&C) Coach Johnny Parker, he commented on his recent visit to a D1 University where in discussions with this University Head S&C Coach regarding the review of the football team’s weight room program design, it was stated that approximately 80% of the program design placed emphasized toward athletic performance and approximately 20% placed emphasis on “prehab” and injury prevention. A breakdown of this football training program design revealed a 50%/50% split of the program exercise volume for both athletic performance and prehab/injury prevention and not the assumed 80% to 20% originally stated.

Coach Parker and I had previously spent time together at a D1 University to present on the topic of program design for the S&C staff at this institution with an emphasis on football program design. We also observed and made recommendations during the football team’s participation during their off-season training.

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During our first “classroom” session with the football S&C staff, they were asked to list in order of importance; the exercises they felt should best be incorporated in their football program design. The top 2 exercises listed were the squat and the Olympic lifts. A breakdown of this particular D1 football program design revealed that approximately 10% of the total program volume was dedicated to the squat exercise performance and approximately 12% was dedicated to the Olympic lifts. Just as in Coach Parkers recent visit, you could imagine the surprise of this D1 football S&C staff when the actual numbers presented were very far below the program design perceived squat exercise and Olympic lift volume of work. These examples of the misconception of the actual work performed occur more often than assumed. Why does this incident of perception vs. reality of program design exercise (athletic performance) volume occur? Before I proceed I would also like to mention that these two D1 programs have excellent Head S&C Coach’s and staffs. These S&C coaches have the respect of their players, football coaching staff, and university administration. They are very organized and run outstanding and successful programs, i.e. conference championships, bowl game appearances, etc.

Why does Perception vs. Reality in the Program Design occur? 

With all of the available training information presented at conferences, in books, articles, and videos, as well as the gazillions of internet articles and blogs, etc. available, the S&C Professional is faced with a significant dilemma, which exercises to include and which exercises to omit from the athlete’s training program design. What appears to transpire is that the S&C Professional attempts to include everything they can in their program design i.e. as many exercise’s as possible for athletic performance and prehab/injury prevention. This seems to occur because the S&C professional is faced with the concerns of (a) if I don’t include all of these exercises am I cheating my athletes from being the best that they can be and (b) If I don’t include everything in our training program design and my competition does, do my opponents now have an unfair advantage over our players?

This trend also occurs in the field of rehabilitation as I have witnessed less experienced physical therapist’s and athletic trainer’s who will appropriately add more advanced exercises as their patient’s/athlete’s condition progresses, yet do not remove the easier basic rehab exercises performed at the initiation of care. As this tendency continues over time the total volume of work performed by the patient/athlete may become excessive and may lead to the risk of overuse type pathologies.

With regard to the S&C program design, how does the S&C Professional determine which exercises to include and which ones to omit?

Establish a Training Philosophy

It is important for the S&C Professional to establish an athletic performance training philosophy. Once this philosophy is established, regardless of the type of philosophy, the S&C Professional should adhere to this philosophy to allow enough significant time for this philosophy to make its impact upon the athlete regardless of all the “outside noise” of additional exercises of which the coach may continue to be bombarded. Now does this infer that the S&C Professional should not continue to strive to progress and improve to achieve the best training program design as possible? Of course not as to do so would be certainly be foolish and limit the positive outcomes of the athlete during the training process. However, with that said the S&C Professional should not ignore the successes of the past.

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As an example when establishing the selection of the specific strength and power type exercises to incorporate into the athlete’s program design the S&C Professional should review the exercises that are performed by some of the strongest and most powerful athletes in the world. Arguably the most powerful athletes in the world are the Olympic Weightlifters and Track and Field Throwers. A review of these competitive athletes training programs would include exercises such as the squat, Olympic lifts, and overhead pressing and jerking type activities.

The next question that may be asked is why are these specific exercises utilized? The answer obvious answer would be because they work. These exercises have been utilized for athletic performance for over 100 years and are still being utilized by the best athletes in the world today. Why would this occur as there are so many other training exercises to choose from? Unlike some of the exercise fads that have come and gone through the decades, these exercises have passed the stringent test of time, over a century of time. When something passes the test of time it’s because it has value and obtains results.

Lessons from a legendary football coach: “Know what is important and don’t worry about the rest” and the “Birthday Rule”

Through the years of working many off-season training periods with Coach Parker and his football players during his tenure as the Head S&C Coach with the NFL New York Giants not only did I learn a tremendous amount from him but I also met and over time developed a friendship with NFL Hall of Fame Football Coach Bill Parcells. Coach Parcells is a very wise man and over the years he has also been instrumental in teaching me many lessons with regard to working with players and coaching. One of the many lessons I received during my conversations with Coach Parcells, as well as with Coach Parker was “Know what is important and don’t worry about the rest”. In regard to the performance training of athletes this would necessitate, based upon the training philosophy, the selection of the exercises that are most important for the athlete’s development and performance and don’t worry about the other exercises. The S&C Professional may ask “but what about all my prehab and injury prevention work?” I do get this question often and will address this topic a little later.

Coach Parcells also had an instituted a rule called the “Birthday Rule”. His birthday is August 22nd and this rule stated that no additional football play was ever to be placed into the NY Giant playbook after August 22nd. Why? Because the Giants were going to master and be proficient in the running the plays in that playbook by repeatedly working and practicing these selected plays that were important to them. Opposing teams were going to have to beat the Giants at their game. The NY Giants didn’t add fancy plays during the course of the season to beat teams; opponents were going to have to beat the NY Giants. If you ever watched one of Coach Parcells football teams play, there was not a lot of trickery or fancy plays. Parcells’s teams were physical with their opponent. They did what they did best time and time over the course of the game. Coach Parcells knew what was important and he didn’t worry about the rest. The S&C Professional should place emphasis upon the exercises that are most important for the development of their athlete’s physical qualities and performance, and train the athlete to become proficient when executing them.

The relationship between Science, the Program Design and the connection to Athletic Performance, Prehab, and Injury Prevention

Science and research will provide the S&C Professional with valuable information for athletic performance training as well as for the prehab/injury prevention of the athlete. Three of the various topics of my personal interest in exercise science and sports rehabilitation are the joint biomechanics and forces that occur during exercise performance, muscle activity during exercise performance, and the effect of muscle fatigue upon exercise performance. How does this information assist in the program design of the athlete? When incorporating exercises for athletic performance as well as prehab/injury prevention, the S&C Professional must acknowledge both the risks and benefits of each exercise selected as well as the relationship of the similar muscle activity that is present during the performance of these two exercise categories. This concept is often ignored during the process of the program design development. In the establishment of a sound program design wouldn’t the exercises performed during the training for athletic performance enhancement include many if not all of the same muscles/muscle groups and muscle activity that are incorporated during the application of prehab/injury prevention exercise performance? There certainly are situations where additional isolated prehab/injury prevention exercise prescription may be necessary, but this should be determined on a case by case basis.

As an example many prehab/injury prevention programs I have reviewed incorporate the performance of numerous rotator cuff and deltoid muscle exercises for the prevention of shoulder pathology in football players. This was also the case in both D1 program examples mentioned above. When considering the muscle activity during the performance of overhead weight type exercises the anterior and middle deltoid, rotator cuff and scapular musculature have been demonstrated to be very active. The addition of rowing/pulling type activities to the program design will likely include all the necessary components for optimal shoulder development and shoulder health. Depending upon the athlete, the sport and position played, as well as the athlete’s medical history, it may be necessary for the athlete to perform additional rotator cuff exercises as part of the prehab/injury prevention portion of the training program. That said does the athlete have to perform TEN different rotator cuff exercises? If exercises such as overhead pressing and pulling type activities demonstrate high deltoid muscle activity is an additional exercise prescription with the intension to both isolate and train the deltoid musculature of the shoulder also necessary to prescribe?

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By attempting to incorporate “everything” presented in discussions and lectures, read, and seen with regard to the training of athletes, the following is likely to occur:

  1. The volume (percentage) of work performed with the exercises considered the foundation and most important for athletic performance is likely diluted by the overprescribed volume of additional training exercises as well as the prehab/injury prevention exercise performance, thus the appropriate exercise volume for the foundation and advanced athletic performance exercise program design being performed by the athlete becomes a perception and not reality.
  1. The NCAA regulations allow the S&C Professional only 8 hours of performance training per week. Isn’t this important and limited training time better spent with the athlete on the more substantial facets of training vs. the overprescribed and excessive additional volume of exercises including the prehab/injury prevention type activities?
  1. Incorporating “everything” into the athlete’s training program increases the overall exercise volume. This increased exercise volume may produce excessive muscle fatigue, especially in smaller muscle groups such as the rotator cuff. Therefore while the S&C Professional may be of the perception they are preventing injuries with this high volume of assistance and/or prehab/injury prevention exercise prescription, the execution of these types of exercises in conjunction with the corresponding muscle activity that occurs during the athletic performance based exercise execution may actually be setting the athlete up for overuse type injuries.

Don’t forget the guys with the rings

Three of my very good friends are now retired Hall of Fame S&C Coach’s. Together they have 15 Professional Championship rings including 10 World Championships. These S&C Coaches are Al Miller, Johnny Parker, and Al Vermeil and all are leaders in the field of S&C. They are all very successful S&C Coaches and all have won Professional and/or World Championships during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Presently we are now in the year 2014 so one may ask why are the successes of long ago so important at this time. During the 1980’s and 1990’s these three S&C Coaches did not have the information that is available to the S&C Coaches of today. However these coaches where very successful with the information available to them at the time they were coaching. Although these three Hall of Fame professionals coached different professional teams, they all won championships (Al Vermeil is the only S&C Coach in history to win both a Superbowl and 6 NBA Championships) and their program designs were very similar. They all achieved their goal of getting their athlete’s strong and powerful and kept them strong and powerful throughout the competitive season. What about the “prehab/injury prevention” programming? Well although these coaches were very serious about injury prevention and protecting their players from injury, the term “prehab” likely didn’t exist at that time.

To win championships a team not only has to have players who have championship caliber talent, but these talented players must remain healthy to play day in and day out and survive the stresses of a long physical season, the playoffs, and championship games. These three coaches time and time again led their respected league with the lowest team injury rates and if they were not the best (led the league); their respective teams were always in the top 5 in this particular category. How did these S&C Coaches achieve this accomplishment if they didn’t focus on “prehab/injury prevention” type exercises? They achieved this landmark by developing athletes who were very strong and powerful as acquiring optimal strength and power also assists to prevent injury.

bosuI am not insinuating that injury prevention and the incorporation of “prehab” type exercises are not an important aspect of the training program design. I also am aware that some individual athletes may need more of this type of training than others. However the S&C Professional should remember that many exercises incorporated for the foundation of athletic performance also work the same muscles during the execution of “prehab” type activities. The S&C Professional should also remember that the successes of the past can assist to lead to the success of the future, and when developing the training program design, to remember what is important and to forget the rest. The S&C Professional should develop a training philosophy, and based upon this philosophy, select the best exercises that will optimize your athlete’s performance on the field and don’t worry about including “everything” else in the program design. There are certainly many instances where incorporating everything may lead to achieving nothing or as my good friend Derek Hansen and Charlie Francis would state, “You wind up creating a junk pile.”

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3 Ways to Be An Insufferable Fitness Snob

Make no mistake about it – I’m all over social media. You can find me on Twitter, on YouTube, on Instagram, and twice on Facebook. Though I’m not as active as I’d like to be, I try to interact consistently on social media. And even on extremely busy days, I make sure to spend at least 20 minutes scrolling through the various social media posts. As a popular blogger, I consider this to be part of my job – it allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of the industry. However, to be honest, I’m growing increasingly apathetic with this aspect of my job.

I’ve come to realize that an alarming number of posts on social media pertaining to fitness are egotistically driven. I’m not singling out the experts here, I’m implicating everyone involved in disseminating fitness information. Most comments seem to be based not so much on logic, science, or a genuine desire to help others, but on a burning need to validate biases, commiserate, or stroke the ego.

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3 Annoying Motivations in Fitness

In mid-2013, an article appeared on the internet titled, “7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook.” When I first read it, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I agreed with most of the article and found it to be quite humorous. On the other hand, I felt that some of the example status updates were acceptable, and that the author was a bit harsh. Since then, I’ve paid close attention to social media interaction, and my views have merged more close to the author’s. In the article, the author states that:

“Annoying statuses typically reek of one or more of these five motivations:

1) Image Crafting. The author wants to affect the way people think of her.

2) Narcissism. The author’s thoughts, opinions, and life philosophies matter. The author and the author’s life are interesting in and of themselves.

3) Attention Craving. The author wants attention.

4) Jealousy Inducing. The author wants to make people jealous of him or his life.

5) Loneliness. The author is feeling lonely and wants Facebook to make it better.”

In the fitness field, I’ve found the following 3 annoying motivations to be highly common:

1) Attention Craving Surrounding Strength. The author is stronger than others and finds subtle ways to assert his perceived dominance.

2) Insecurity Surrounding Science. The author makes bold comments in an attempt to mask his ignorance pertaining to science. 

3) Jealousy. The author is jealous over the attention that someone or something is receiving so he chimes in in an attempt to cast doubt despite having no expertise on the matter.

Cases in Point 

First, I’ll give some generic examples, and then I’ll follow it up with some specific scenarios. Here are some common annoying status updates:

“Pubmed didn’t help me get these 20″ guns bro!”

“Science is always five years behind what the top dogs in the field are doing bro!”

“You don’t need evidence when you squat 12 wheels brother.” 

“I keep seeing all these fools hip thrusting. What a worthless exercise. Just squat bro.” 

“That bodybuilder is all show and no go. I can out squat him despite being half his size bro.”

“Crossfit is for pansies. I can do 20 rep deadlifts with their 1RM’s bro!” 

“The Jefferson deadlift has to be the most idiotic exercise in existence bro.” 

“Swings are for sissies. Real men deadlift bro.” 

“Last time I checked, there wasn’t a leg press competition. Real men squat bro.” 

“The bench press is completely non-functional. When are we ever laying on our backs? Real men military press bro.” 

“You’re doing lunges? What are you, a chick? Grow a pair and squat bro.” 

I’m sure you get the point. However, below are some more specific examples of what I’m talking about.

Article

Just the other day, an article titled, “Top-ranked NHL prospect Sam Bennett fails to do single pull-up at NHL combine” surfaced on the internet. Since then, I can’t tell you how many posts I saw in response to the article. In general, the responses revolved around the following themes:

  • How pathetic! This hockey player can’t do a single pull-up.
  • This is unacceptable! You know athletic preparation is broken when upcoming players can’t perform bodyweight pull-ups.
  • I can do 15 pull-ups and this joke of an athlete can’t even do one!

What in the hell is wrong with people? This guy is a rising star in hockey, and fitness-people are poking fun of his pull-up strength? Obviously it’s not negatively impacting his game to much of a degree, and hockey prowess is clearly not as highly correlated with chin up performance as some people think. Moreover, certain body types will always struggle with chin ups. Unfortunately, not all athletes can be like Shaquille O’Neal and bust out no-arm chin ups:

Kidding aside, not all pro athletes are weightroom warriors. We’ve seen NBA forward Kevin Durant get pinned by a 185-lb bench press (see HERE), NFL cornerback Fred Smoot manage just one-rep with the 225 lb bench press (see HERE), and NBA center Manute Bol bench press 45 lbs for 10 reps and squat 55 lbs for 10 reps (see HERE). If these feats were to have occurred today, the Facebook warriors would have been all over them.

If maximum strength was the end-all, be-all in sports performance, powerlifters around the world would be dominating the competition in various sports. But they’re not, and the best athletes in the world tend to fall in the middle of the spectrum in the strength department. Strength is just one aspect of athleticism; the ability to rapidly accelerate and decelerate in the horizontal, vertical, lateral, and rotational directions are also paramount, as are skill and technique. But I digress.

Hugh

I shouldn’t be surprised by these antics. We saw the same response in August of last year when Hugh Jackman was busting out some heavy deadlifts (see my article on Hugh HERE). This incident provided thousands of meatheads around the globe a chance to feel superior to Hugh because they can out pull him (not to mention they didn’t know how many reps he performed, they underestimated the load, and oh yeah – they somehow lost site of the fact that Hugh is a ripped actor who makes millions of dollars and can also sing and dance and do most of his own stunts).

Conclusion 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of debate, scrutiny, discussion, and criticism. However, there’s a constructive way of wording comments, and an annoying way of wording comments. Since reading the “insufferable” article I linked above, I now make sure to consider my intentions before hitting the “post” button and commenting. This has definitely helped make me a better professional.