Today’s blog is just a bunch of random stuff I’ve come across or thought about recently. While some people find these blogs annoying, others really like them. The former teacher in me is always thinking of new things to blog about so please bare with me and work your way through the blog. With all these topics there has to be at least something you find interesting!

1. Puppies in Vices

I got great feedback on last week’s blog. Some people liked the intro and some hated it. I apologize to anyone I offended. Please know that no real puppies were hurt during the writing of this blog! The blog did a great job of explaining the physiological consequences of sitting. In case you missed it, check it out here.

2. Deadlift 5 Plates Like a Champion

Yesterday Wannabebig.Com published one of my articles on deadlifting. I believe it’s an amazing deadlifting article and will be a classic for years to come. Not many articles talk enough about assistance exercises. This one does a great job of that. Check it out here.

3. Squat vs. Deadlift

In a blog a while back, I wrote about the fact that a squat and deadlift are biomechanically very different. Lately I see many coaches say that they’re basically the same movement with different load placements. This free journal article here does a great job of explaining the difference between a squat and a deadlift using powerlifters as subjects. It’s got a really cool look to it as well. Check it out here.

4. Must-Have Equipment

I believe that there are four pieces of equipment that you must have. Here they are:

Hampton thick bar pad for hip thrusts and barbell glute bridges
• Core bar for chops and lifts (both plate-loaded or connected to a cable column)
Ab wheel for rollouts
Jump stretch minibands for band hip rotations, Pallof presses, face pull/pull aparts, and seated abductions

Seriously, I would hate to perform any barbell glute bridges or hip thrusts without the thick bar pad. With the pad, there is not an ounce of pain. Without the pad, you will wish you were dead. Spend the $30 and get the pad. Trust me; it’s a life-changer.

5. The Opinionated Psoas

Here is a cool series of articles by Thomas Myer on the Psoas; Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV

There’s a lot of thought that’s been put into this unique muscle!

6. The Fitness Industry

I really love this industry. I’m making a bunch of like-minded friends in the strength training field, I’m getting to “mix-it-up” with some of the guys who I’ve looked up to for a very long time, and I get to speak to fitness experts on a daily basis where we talk shop, discuss training theory and program design, and compare methodologies.

Lately I’m seeing my name appear on almost a daily basis. Sometimes there are good things said about me and sometimes bad, but as they say, all publicity is good publicity. In the past couple of weeks alone, I’ve heard my name in Carl Valle’s mediacasts, seen a video of myself with Nick Tumminello, read about myself in a Martin Rooney article (an amazing one I might add) and a couple of Mike Robertson’s articles, been mentioned on Fitcast and the StrengthCoach Podcast, been interviewed on Sioux Country, seen my name in the blogs of Charlie Weingroff, Brendon Rearick, Allie McKee, and Cassandra Forsythe, and heard my name mentioned in videos created by Perry Nickelston. It’s very flattering to read nice things being said about me. Allie McKee referred to me as “The Father of Hip Thrusts” and a blog written by ” Not Just a Man’s World” referred to me as “The Great Bret Contreras.” These are just some of the blogs and articles I’ve seen with my name in them. It feels really good receiving recognition and praise. If only my mom could see that, she’d be so proud!

Here’s Dr. Perry Nickelston discussing load vector training. I haven’t met Perry, but he seems like a total badass.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMUBjIZjd0U&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1]

7. Father of Plyometrics

Check out Yuri Verkoshansky’s website for some good info on plyometrics and other sports science topics.

8. Get Some Sun!

Over 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. Boston University researchers found that 36% of young adults were deficient in Vitamin D at the end of winter.

The US government recommends that we get 200-400 IU’s per day in Vitamin D, but this assumes that we get a lot of sun. The Vitamin D Council believes that folks who are rarely exposed to sunlight supplement with 5,000 IU of Vitamin D per day.

What do some of the other experts have to say about Vitamin D supplementation? Dr. Clay Hyght recommends 1,000 IU’s per day, Dr. Michael Holick believes that people need to take 1,400 IU’s per day, Dr. Johnny Bowden recommends 2,000 IU’s per day, Dr. Robert P. Heaney estimates that 3,000 IU per day is necessary to ensure that 97% of Americans obtain levels greater than 35 ng/mL, and Doctors Reinhold Vieth, Tim Zeigenfuss, and Bill Roberts all recommend 4,000 IU’s per day. Charles Poliquin believes it’s the best supplement ever, even more important than fish oil. He recommends supplementing twice per week with 30,000 to 100,000 IU’s of Vitamin D until your levels reach 80-100 ng/mL!

What do I recommend? Get some sun!!!

The skin produces approximately 10,000 IU vitamin D in response 20–30 minutes summer sun exposure—50 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 200 IU per day!

Make it a daily habit to try to do something outside, whether it be exercise, a phone call, reading, or simply sunbathing.

A recent study from Austrian researchers showed that Vitamin D levels are directly correlated with testosterone levels. Another study showed that spending an hour in the sun can boost a man’s testosterone by 69%!

Obviously the Venice Beach bodybuilders from back in the day were onto something!

9. Philosophical Thoughts

In a recent interview I offered the following thoughts on learning and training.

• Many roads lead to Rome
• Don’t be overemotional when it comes to exercise like some people are with religion and politics
• Be open-minded and skeptical (it’s wise to be both)
• Strength training is an arta-scienza
• Learn from a variety of fields and sources (articles, journals, blogs, dvd’s, seminars, textbooks, forums, etc.) Theory is good, journal research is good, anecdotes are good! Don’t be over or under-focused on theory.
• In order to learn from specialists in other fields you must first believe that they have something to teach you
• Learn to speak “coach” or “meathead”

10. Lifting Partner

One very important aspect to a lifter’s success depends on his ability to find a good workout partner. This takes time, as good workout partners are very hard to find. Over the years I’ve trained with partners who seemed gung-ho only to fizzle out the second they got a girlfriend, partners who were chronic excuse-makers, guys who talked too much in between sets, comedians who cracked jokes in the middle of your sets, guys who were too stupid to learn how to give a proper lift-off or a spot, guys who could never learn basic technique on common exercises, toxic energy-drainers who were negative and complained too much, guys who relied on you to motivate them, flakes, selfish partners who couldn’t stick to a routine and were always trying to push the workout forward or backward depending on their schedule, guys who lifted with either too little or too much intensity and therefore saw no results and ended up quitting, guys who were downright annoying, lazy guys who never wanted to change or rack plates, guys who were hell-bent on performing solely bodybuilding routines, guys who just wanted to train their upper body and hit their legs on the stationary bicycle, and guys who simply didn’t share the same training philosophy and enthusiasm. Needless to say, these people won’t last and you need to ditch these people or better yet, not let them become your partner in the first place. I’ve also trained with partners who became best friends and made my lifting experiences much more productive and memorable.

Finding a quality training partner is huge as you are reliant on this individual for motivation, accountability, lift-offs during heavy presses, and spots when you attempt 1RM’s on the squat and bench press. Finding a like-minded group of people to train with is even better, as is finding a gym that has the best equipment and optimal atmosphere. Envision these two scenarios: Attempting a max-deadlift at L.A. Fitness while surrounded by idiotic weaklings, listening to smooth jazz, and not being able to chalk up your hands, or attempting a max-deadlift at a garage gym with three powerlifter friends cheering you on while chalked up and listening to heavy metal. Which one would precipitate more productivity in your workouts?

11. Auto-Regulation Works

I need to write an entire blog about auto-regulation, but suffice to say it works and science is finally starting to prove it! Check out this study abstract.

12. Born to Run Backlash

If you’re a runner, then you may or may not enjoy the following article. However, you will most likely enjoy the comments as there are currently 5 pages of passionate responses to the article. The author claims that the barefoot running craze has led to an increase in running-related injuries. Barefoot runners are quick to point out that this has to do with incorrect running form and poor progression/adaptation. Check it out here.

13. Strong Glutes Will Prevent You From Pissing Yourself

My friend Cassandra Forsythe was kind enough to let me in on a current topic regarding pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence. In a nutshell, there are many individuals who have leaky bladders when they exert physical activity. The muscles of the pelvic floor are supposed to prevent this from happening, but they don’t. Cassandra wrote about it here and here, and Mama Sweat wrote about it here. This is expert Katie Bowman’s synopsis of what’s going on:

“Nulliparous women (that’s women who’ve never had a baby) and men are equally affected with PFD (pelvic floor disorder) so while child birth may accelerate PF weakening, it is not a primary cause of PFD. PFD is first caused by slack in the pelvic floor due to the fact that the sacrum is moving anterior, into the bowl of the pelvis. Because the PF muscles attach from the coccyx to the pubic bone, the closer these bony attachments get, the more slack in the PF (the PF becomes a hammock).”

What Katie is saying makes perfect sense…and is along the lines of what Mike Robertson alluded to many years ago in his “Hips Don’t Lie” TMuscle article. Muscular force couples pull on bones and can affect posture. Weak glutes fail to provide proper postural tension and therefore allow the sacrum to rotate posteriorly which creates slack and weakness in the pelvic floor. A muscle needs to be taught for optimal length-tension relationships and firing ability. Doing too many kegels wouldn’t fix this issue and could indeed make it worse (just like what we see with too many rotator cuff exercises rather than scapular exercises). I could see how a well-timed and balanced approach consisting of hip flexor lengthening, glute activation/strengthening, isolated pelvic floor training, and integrated core training could be the perfect recipe.

If you piss yourself every time you run, jump, or sneeze, then you need to start hip thrusting, squatting, deadifting, kegeling, planking, cable chopping, and cable lifting.

14. Who is Your Fascia?

I’ll tell you who your fascia is, it’s my friend Patrick Ward! Check out these two blogs he wrote on the fascia here and here.

15. Is he Human, or is he Robot?

I really love my friend Joe Bonyai’s mechanics. He moves so well you’d almost mistake him for a robot. Check out his recent video on shoulder/elbow health for throwing/swinging athletes:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOiUqlN0w54&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1]

As someone who creates Youtube videos, I know that it’s a laborious and often thankless process…filming, retakes, editing, uploading, etc. So thank you Joe, your videos always rock!

16. Joint vs. Muscular Restriction

Kevin Neeld recently wrote a great blog on the difference between joint and muscular restriction. Basically, it’s not always tight muscles that are responsible for poor mobility. Check it out here.

17. Low Back Pain Myths

Mike Nelson sent me some links that got me exploring sources of low back pain. I think you’ll find these two blogs interesting as they dispel some rumors! Check them out here and here.

18. We’re Too Stupid to Know We’re Stupid!

I really enjoyed this article. Basically, we’re too stupid to know we’re stupid. We’re all a bunch of anosognosics. According to David Dunning, “An anosognosic patient who is paralyzed simply does not know that he is paralyzed. If you put a pencil in front of them and ask them to pick up the pencil in front of their left hand they won’t do it. And you ask them why, and they’ll say, “Well, I’m tired,” or “I don’t need a pencil.” They literally aren’t alerted to their own paralysis.” Most humans are similar in that they don’t quite realize their limitations and therefore have inflated self-perceptions. Check out the article here!

19. Should We Be Busting Out Cobra Poses and Behind the Neck Presses?

Mike Reinold, a highly respected Physical Therapist, recently wrote a blog discussing his thoughts on the Cobra Pose and the possibility that it may be the best postural stretch due to its reversed biomechanics of sitting.

I thought of the same thing when I wrote my “Sitting” blog last week but I didn’t mention it. I guess great minds think alike, right? He created a cool chart that compared the joint positions found in the Cobra pose and in sitting.

In a recent Charles Poliquin blog, he mentioned that his Physical Therapist pal Nick Liatsos believes that “one should be able to press behind the neck to demonstrate healthy shoulder function, and that the strength ratio of the behind-the-neck press to the bench press is a predictor of shoulder health.”

These are certainly interesting concepts as the strength community has drifted away from activities that involve potentially dangerous motions for the low back and shoulders but we certainly need mobility and stability all over. The trick is to understand the fine line between beneficial loading and dangerous loading.

20. Are You Kidding Me? Maxing Out on Squats and Good Mornings Every Day?

Mathew Perryman has been experimenting with some high-frequency training methods that are very interesting to say the least. You can read more about it on this thread and this blog. Matt was working his way up to a daily max on either front squats or back squats, good mornings, and presses five days per week. Basically, you need to get over the “Dark Period” and force your body and brain to adapt to be able to withstand and supercompensate from daily bouts of heavy training. Plenty of weightlifters have done this in the past and there are ways of making it “doable.” I believe that Matt was inspired by the recent popularity of John Broz who adheres to the following philosophy:

• HE DOESN’T BELIEVE IN OVERTRAINING, ONLY UNDERTRAINING. OVERTRAINING IS PART OF THE ADAPTATION TOWARDS BEING AWESOMELY STRONG. HE REFERS TO WHAT OTHERS CALL OVERTRAINING AS THE “DARK TIME” WHEN YOUR STRENGTH GOES DOWN AND YOU FEEL LIKE SHIT. TO HIM, THERE’S LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, AND WHEN YOU START MAKING PRS IN A COMPLETELY FATIGUED STATE, YOU KNOW YOU’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE.

• HE EXPECTS HIS GYM TO BE A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE GYM ON THE WORLD/OLYMPIC LEVEL WITHIN THE NEXT 2-3 YEARS.

• BACK SQUATS ARE STUPID EASY, AND IF YOU NEED TO DO MORE WORK WITHOUT TAXING YOURSELF TO MUCH, DO BACK SQUATS.

• BACK SQUATS ARE GENERALLY BETTER THAN FRONT SQUATS. FRONT SQUATS LIMITING FACTOR IS ALWAYS THE UPPER BACK, NEVER THE LEGS.

• HOWEVER, FRONT SQUATS CARRY OVER TO THE CLEAN, YAY. BS CARRY OVER TO THE SNATCH MORE.

• SQUATTING HEAVY SHOULD BE AS EASY AND NATURAL AS WALKING.

• SOMETHING WILL HURT. ALWAYS. AND YOU’LL NEVER KNOW WHAT IT WILL BE UNTIL YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING.

• IF YOU’RE TIRED, TRAIN. IF YOU HURT, TRAIN. IF YOU HAVE FREE TIME, TRAIN. IF YOU’RE INJURED, GO TO THE ER. IF YOU’RE NOT INJURED, TRAIN.

• WORK UP TO A MAX, BACK OF 10-20KG AND DO 2’S OR 3’S TO GET TO 30-50 REPS TOTAL FOR THE WORKOUT. PERCENTS ARE BS.

• MORE VOLUME = MORE ADAPTATION. TRAIN MORE.

• HE’S MADE OVER 50 ATTEMPTS IN A SINGLE WORKOUT BEFORE HITTING A NEW PR.

• THERE WILL NEVER BE A DAY WHEN YOU WALK IN THE GYM AND CAN’T LIFT THE BAR. IF IT’S ONE OF THOSE DAYS, LIFT THE BAR… A LOT.

• EVERY TIME YOU TRAIN THAT’S A +. EVERY DAY YOU DON’T TRAIN, THAT’S A -.

• PUSH PRESS IS BETTER THAN PRESS.

• HIS LIFTERS ONLY DO LIGHT PRESSES, AND ONLY IF THEIR ELBOWS HURT. ELBOWS DON’T HURT, NO MORE PRESSING.

• START OUT BY TRAINING 3 TIMES A WEEK, MAXING EVERY WORKOUT. ADD ANOTHER DAY, UNTIL YOU’RE UP TO 7, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THEN WORK UP TO MAXING EVERY WORKOUT. THEN ADD 2X/DAY.

• ASSISTANCE WORK IS OVERRATED, UNLESS YOU’RE TRAINING THE UPPER BODY, PARTICULARLY WITH BENCH PRESSES. IN THIS CASE, DO ROWS, PULL UPS, ETC TO STRETCH THE FRONT OF YOUR BODY AND PROVIDE BALANCE.

• DON’T BENCH MORE THAN 3X/WEEK. LIMIT DEADLIFTING, THE LOWER BACK RECOVERS POORLY.

• IF YOU GET PINNED BY A SNATCH, YOU GET LAUGHED OUT OF THE GYM. OR CHAINED TO THE SQUAT RACK FOR A MONTH.

• ONCE YOU START TRAINING THIS WAY, YOU’RE ALMOST NEVER SORE.

Here is a video of John Broz, who has a facility in Las Vegas:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwN9SqqIRAk&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1]

I find this stuff very interesting. Here are my thoughts:

• It may require good genetics and/or anabolic steroid usage to succeed at this type of program
• I don’t think it can be done with the deadlift as it’s too stressful especially on the low back
• Perhaps the body is capable of handling much more than we previously thought
• How often would one need to “back off” and what would one do to “peak?”
• One may be able to make it work but is it the most optimal method?

21. The Joint by Joint Approach

For those who aren’t “in the know,” a couple of years ago Mike Boyle developed the Joint-by-Joint approach to training. During a conversation with his colleague Gray Cook he realized that the future of strength training and corrective exercise may be based on a joint-by-joint approach rather than a movement-based approach. The premise is that the body is simply a stack of joints, and that each joint has specific training needs based on its predictable tendencies to quit working properly. From the bottom-up, the joints simply alternate between requiring mobility and stability. So simple; yet so brilliant. You can learn more about it here.

That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed the Random Stuff.

31 Comments

  • Johan says:

    A quick comment on the Hampton thick bar pad, if someone is very cheap or is unfortunate like me and lives in a place like Sweden(which is like Somalia when it comes to shopping training equipment). Then some pipe insulation can do the trick as well!

  • allimckee says:

    Bret, I must say, I love #10. Lifting partners can make or break your training. I’m so grateful for my lifing group (Nick, Marc and myself) and I’ll tell anyone I meet, that I protect that time to train with my group like a mamma bear and her cub. When you’ve found the perfect people for training, it’s priceless!!

    Great post once again!
    Alli

    • I agree Alli! My lifting time is extremely important to me so if I’m going to have a lifting parter(s), the person better have similar goals and be like-minded. It’s just not worth it to have someone drain you of energy during this precious window of time. The right people bring you up, not down. Thanks for the comment!

  • Bret, you are a cyborg man! I would LOVE to see a follow up article from you about which parts of this post you have implemented and the results from it.

    Here are my thoughts.

    1) Autoregulation works and works really well IF done correctly.
    Makes total sense to listen to your body via biofeedback or other methods (range of motion testing). How is a piece of paper written 4-12 weeks ago going to be accurate on that day at that time with changing levels of stress. Is is NEVER going to be optimal. What do high level coaches do all the time–alter the plan based on the needs of the athlete on that day. I know coaches that won’t train their athlete during finals week at college since the risk is too high with the added stress.

    2) I will check out the thick pad—I tried it without and it can be quite painful at times. Hmm, maybe this could be the use for the foam roller collecting dust in my closet.

    3) I find the psoas gets blamed for lots of stuff and is supposed to be tight, but when I do a muscle test on it, most of the time it is weak. Mobility work of the navicular area on the foot and about 70% of the time it fires up like new!

    4) Getting Carl’s stuff for that price is a no brainer. Excellent stuff and love it.

    Do you do any HRV work?

    5) Mathew Perryman—he is a smart dude, but I really wonder about the COST of that type of training. While most will never get close to over reaching or even overtraining syndrome (OTS), it does exist and if it happens to you, you are screwed for a long time with OTS.

    I agree 100% that most are MUCH more capable of work in the gym than they currently think they are. I’ve deadlifted 5 days in a row in the past and even set a 1 RM PR on the last day of it, but they were deadlift variations–rack pulls, conventional, trap bar. I’ve worked with athletes that have been pulling for 2-4 days a week and getting stronger.

    If you want to get stronger and add size, freq is great.
    The trick is you ONLY need to do more than last time to trigger a positive adapation. You don’t need to go bat $hit crazy.

    My buddy frankie likes to say “adaptation can NOT be stopped” We just need to be careful WHAT we are adapting to.

    Missing a lift 52 times teaches you how to MISS. Bad idea. This is not “mental toughness” it is dumb. You need to either stop that day, or break it down into something easier and build from there. Ask Elite Powerlifters or even most Olympic lifters how often they miss lifts—not very often.

    Keep up the great work man!!

    Too bad I won’t see you at the ISSN conference tomorrow.

    I wish you much continued success

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
    http://extremehumanperformance.com

    • Mike, since you no longer use your foam roller then converting it into a thick bar pad for hip thrusts is a no brainer!

      I currently don’t do any HRV stuff but I certainly find it useful and would implement it if I trained a bunch of athletes. You?

      I agree about overtraining; it is real and it can happen to anyone who trains too hard and too often. However, adapting to the “dark period” intrigues me and makes me wonder if some types of athletes would benefit from long bouts of “approaching” overtraining or overreaching in order to cause certain brain-based adaptations which could benefit the athlete in the long run.

      As far as “missing lifts,” I’ve seen this argument time and time again. I like Frankie’s quote too. I’d even agree with you in the case of powerlifting (although I feel that if you never miss in training then you might not be pushing yourself hard enough in training. How often one should miss is debatable but I’d say that several times per year could be warranted). However, in the case of Olympic lifting, since it’s largely a strength-speed sport, I believe there is more wiggle room. Perhaps the nervous system needs to “learn” the appropriate firing patterns and coordination for each new weight, and perhaps you can force an adaptation faster by sticking with a certain maximal weight. For example, rather than moving up through typical progressive overload, perhaps one could stick with a certain weight and keep trying until he/she makes the lift. Maybe the body will keep pulling the bar higher and higher until finally one can get his/her body underneath it to complete the lift. But I do get your point and it will always be an interesting debate (and one that I’d love to see a journal study try to tackle).

      Thanks always for the great comments! -Bret

  • Ronald Berkamp says:

    Bret,

    Th Cobra Pose definitely seems like one potential antidote for too much sitting, but would you say the picture of the women performing it has her getting too much lumbar extension and should not be the way to perform this optimally if it is performed?

    • Ronald, I do not believe so. You want a lot of hip extension with some lumbar extension as well. Since the upper body is supported I wouldn’t be too worried about damaging the posterior elements of the spine and you would see some positive disc-related effects to reverse the sitting damages. Of course, I could be wrong. I know that in Yoga they do utilize progressions and start out elevating the upper body from the elbows before progressing to the hands, which is certainly very wise.

  • Zach says:

    “BACK SQUATS ARE STUPID EASY, AND IF YOU NEED TO DO MORE WORK WITHOUT TAXING YOURSELF TO MUCH, DO BACK SQUATS.”

    is this sarcasm, or is he actually serious about this? how could back squats possibly be considered “stupid easy”?

    • Zach, I believe it’s “tongue-and-cheek.” I know that he utilizes Olympic style full squats which are less taxing on the body since they are easier on the low back and don’t require as much forward trunk lean as powerlifting style squats. Furthermore, he doesn’t have his lifters do “grinding reps” and instead opts for more explosive reps. The combination of these two methods will certainly lead to less micro-trauma and more frequent bouts of training. Since he only likes six lifts (squats, front squats, clean & jerks, snatches, power cleans, and power snatches), then to him squats may indeed be “easy.” It’s all relative, right? Of course I’m sure he realizes that squats are much more difficult than concentration curls and tricep kickbacks!

  • In regards to #10; Very thorough list. 🙂 The list of negatives is; kinda funny, definitely sad, and very true.

    Good job with another great post!

  • Hands down, Joe Bonyai has the best youtube – how to videos on the internet right now. Every trainer needs to bookmark his blog too. He has some of the most “that makes sense” stuff on the internet.

    PS: The scorcher isn’t a must have!?! 🙂

    • Jaison, I believe that Joe is single 🙂 JK! Joe’s videos are awesome and you may very well be correct. My list of “must-haves” only included inexpensive equipment this time. Thanks for the comment!!!

  • Daniel says:

    The article on core and posture is interesting.

    Physical therapy is like bodybuilding. They often want to isolate certain muscles like the core, the rotator cuff or stretch the hamstrings. They think that you can just hold certain muscles tight to prevent pain, but nobody can do that 24 hours a day. It’s like trying to write a complicated research paper in a foreign language that you don’t know with a dictionary and book on grammar on your desk. Proper use of the self is something that has to go fairly automatic.

    A better way to reduce pain is through full body anticipation in the exercise, awareness of posture, awareness of movement of the body in space, using the breath, relaxation and meditation. In a way this resets the body, so that it can function how it was supposed to do with minimal effort. That’s why I think something like yoga is so much more useful in pain management than conventional stretching and core training.

    • Daniel, I agree with you to an extent. Yoga is definitely amazing and may in fact be the best modality out there for maximum mobility/flexibility due to elevated and proper breathing patterns, relaxation, concentration, etc. However, a good physical therapist can identify injury mechanisms and educate the patient as to what postures need to be avoided, in addition to being able to mobilize tissue and joints. The author that wrote the articles you read is in fact in favor of whole-body movement and stretching entire fascial lines. At any rate, great comment and thanks for the post!

  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    some ideas for posts:

    1. Physique differences and implications in exercise selection and performance. What should the short person, tall person or medium person watch out for (and that’s the biggest paramater, but there are other differences).

    2. Stretching. As Aragon is to nutrition, you are to butts, X is to stretching. Seriously, I want to know who X is. Who understands the literature and practice and can translate it for others. Have a simple question about biomechanics of stretching quads while not hurting kneeds and can’t find a good answer on the feasibility of that. And gosh knows, there are a lot of multi muscle areas with muscles going over 1 to 2 joints and making things tricky.

    • It’s funny you say that, I already have your first idea written down as a future blogpost. Great minds think alike!

      As for your second idea, I actually wonder the same thing. I’m not sure who the “stretching expert” is as we all have different ideas and theories. I posted a 45-minute video in a “random” blog a while back by Dr. Doug Richards that dispelled many misconceptions about stretching.

      We have a great thread on http://www.strengthcoach.com that Charlie Weingroff started entitled “How Do We Get Length?” It’s a great thread and there are plenty of good theories about stretching. I will do a future blogpost on stretching but in the meantime, you can try your question here as I’m no slouch or better yet try to email Charlie Weingroff as he certainly has earned my trust, respect, and approval.

  • Hello Bret,

    I really enjoy reading your thoughts and ideas and have done so for the last few months. In regards to point no. 20, I have trained with John Broz a few times and I actually gave him the interview you posted above. We only did that for fun and he was speaking figuratively for most of it. He actually did miss the same weight those times and get his ten kg pr in the process, but he was not advocating missing all the time, but rather demonstrating a point with an anecdote.

    I have actually just come back from training with him again and I put up the first in a four series interview with him earlier today on youtube. Here is a link to my blog where I put up the interview and my impressions of training with him and also with Glenn Pendlay in California Strength.
    http://weightliftingepiphanies.blogspot.com/
    My objective is not to pimp my blog–I simply love weightlifting–but rather to clear up the confusion surrounding John and his training methods.

    Also, in comparison to a heavy Clean and Jerk, a heavy squat is easy, but John and his lifters’ training style and general impressions are not conducive to general agreement and applause with your average lifter. If you have any interest in discussing how John actually trains his lifters rather than what is generally percieved, send me an email on the address I used so I could post this comment.

    Barry

    • Thanks for the comment and link Barry! Of course I would never assume you’re trying to “pimp your blog.” I actually am considering visiting John one of these days as I usually find a way to go to Vegas a couple of times per year. John seems like a really good guy with some interesting and useful ideas. Of course he’ll be criticized by many…his thoughts and ideas are very unorthodox. But he’s certainly got all of our attention. I may email you in the future as well if I have questions. Thanks again!

  • Robert says:

    Bret, how do you feel about kneeling at one’s desk as opposed to sitting?

    • The best posture is a changing posture. Sit one way for a while, sit another way for a while, kneel for a while, stand for a while, get up and stretch and walk, etc. Kneeling could be benefical in some ways but it could be hard on the knees unless of course you had an Airex pad or something.

      • Robert says:

        Other than hard on the knees (I do have an airex pad), any other concerns?

        • Here are my thoughts: Kneeling would keep you more in a neutral position, would prevent lumbar flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation, etc., and would require more postural muscle engagement such as the glutes, erector spinae, obliques, etc.. This would be a good thing. However, there can certainly be “too much of a good thing” as staying in one position for too long is sub-optimal as movement appears to be key for low back health. The benefit of sitting in a chair is that you can alter your posture every five minutes or so and shift around. You can shift around much when kneeling. So even though when kneeling you’re staying in neutral and staying more active from a postural muscle perspective, you’re still subjected to tissue creep and spinal compression. You’d still want to follow the same rules as others…stand up, move around, stretch, walk, etc. every so often.

      • Bret, I second this and it’s especially relevant for me as a very tall guy (6’8″). Just because of logistics, I look down at everything in the most literal sense. My computer, most other people when we converse, etc. It’s so pervasive that I have to constantly remind myself to look up occasionally, just so I don’t become completely inept at the movement.

        I spend about 8 hours a day at a desk. I try to get up and move at least every 10 minutes. I also kneel, stand, twist, and do whatever I can think of. If I don’t, I find that when I stand back up, I feel “locked in” to whatever position I was holding.

        thanks for a great article.

  • Good stuff man!

    I do use some HRV and I am in the process of getting a portable unit to measure it with more people (i athlete). The downside is that I need to find a cheap used itouch to run it.

    I am in the process of writing up 2 papers on HRV, so anything I can do to help, let me know. Landon Evans and Carl Valle are two are awesome resources on it too as they have tested many athletes.

    I don’t think adaptation should be FORCED, I don’t think we can stop it.

    Look at the old studies on rats were they cut the tendons in the lower leg to overload the calf muscle—they did all sorts of bad things to the little buggers from low protein, low calorie, castration, etc and the muscle still got bigger!

    The key is overload which can be done by 1) volume, 2) % 1RM and 3) density. Do just enough to trigger a positive adaptation.

    I agree that lifters will miss lifts during the year–it will happen, but the goal is to keep it to a minimum and if you miss on that day, don’t keep trying. Try another day.

    I am not an Oly coach, but, I think the same idea applies. If a lifter is missing say a 100kg lift, drop down to 90 or 95 or even 98kg and do sets of singles there. Enough volume is still overload and you are teaching success. Over time, it will positively transfer to a max lift.

    I look forward to your post on static stretching too! I have not used it in one case for over 3 years now, so I think it is a bit over-rated at best. Taking a limb, putting it at an end ROM and holding it there until it gets weaker is a bad idea. I want STRENGTH at an END ROM, not weakness.

    Keep up the great work!!
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
    http://extremehumanperformance.com/

    • Thanks Mike! Great stuff as always. Very interesting regarding the rat studies. Obviously adaptations become more influenced by other factors once a lifter approaches his asymptote of “genetic limit” if there is such thing. For example, there are plenty of us guys (Bret Contreras, Matt Perryman, and Tony Gentilcore) who sometimes write about reaching the coveted 600 lb deadlift, but to my knowledge none of us has reached it. We’ve all gotten close but it appears that something always happens when you start getting really close that knocks you back a step. In fact, you could say that “life” happens. For me to reach the 600 lb deadlift I would need to be spot-on with my sleep, nutrition, stress levels, and training for probably 3-4 straight months which is very difficult if not impossible for those who work (and are suffering the effects of the current economy). So the rats’ calf muscles will adapt regardless of protein, calories, and testosterone levels up to a point, upon which further gains become highly unlikely and dependent on other factors (protein, calories, testosterone, etc.).

      If I were an Olympic coach, I would probably have my lifters follow a similar methodology where they avoid failure, work up to a daily max, back off if they miss, etc. However, one could argue that another method of progressive overload is speed of execution. Theoretically in the Olympic lifts one could stick with a certain weight (say 180 kilos) and keep trying to pull it faster (and therefore higher) over time until one day he can get under the bar to front squat (or overhead squat in the case of the snatch) the weight up. Of course, I’m assuming that the height of the second pull is the individual’s limiting factor and that the lifter has the requisite strength to front squat and jerk (or overhead squat in the case of the snatch) the weight to complete the lift. So although I’m inclined to agree with you, I guess I’m sort of playing “devil’s advocate” since I try to see value in various types of methods (rather than knock them down like many of our colleagues often do).

      As far as stretching goes, I would agree with you; the best way to add length is with accompanied strength and stability. Thanks always for the excellent comments!

  • Good discussion man! Love it.

    Yes, I agree. The rat study is not OPTIMAL by any means, but it shows that if you have the right stimulus, you can screw up a whole bunch of stuff and still get a positive adaptation.

    If I were to ONLY pick one thing, I would pick an ideal stimulus over everything else.

    Ah, the 600 lb deadlift. I have a love/hate relationship with the deadlift due to some visual and spinal issues that I am working through. Some times I can pull 3- 5 days a week and most times it is only 2xs a week, again depending on what I have going on (PhD writing, business, training others, family, etc)

    The goal is the same though, it is to be a bit better each day, thus moving in the right direction. Time is the only limiting factor. I KNOW I (and others doing it correctly) will reach their goals, the time course however is unknown.

    I think if you can make more linear progress towards your goal, you will get their faster too. A couple of the guys I lift with (Dave and Adam T Glass) can make more linear progress towards their goals and Dave recently added about 50 lbs to his deadlift from March until June of this year to pull about 3xs bodyweight with a 525 lb raw deadlift using this method. He can also deadlift 2-4 times a week too, that lucky bastard! hahah.

    True, as we get closer to our “genetic potential” gains will slow, but we will never truly know what that point is.

    Brad Gillingham worked for a full year to just add a few more pounds to his deadlift, but he is also pulling 881 pounds in competition!

    Cool that we agree on stretching and look forward to more posts! Always appreciate the intelligent discussion.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    Donald Rumsfeld had a “stand at” desk. In his office. 🙂

  • yogesh says:

    True, as we get closer to our “genetic potential” gains will slow, but we will never truly know what that point is.

    Brad Gillingham worked for a full year to just add a few more pounds to his deadlift, but he is also pulling 881 pounds in competition!

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