Greetings blogreaders! I wanted to give you some quick updates and a few random thoughts for the week.
1. Biceps Tendon Tear
Five weeks ago I was doing conventional deadlifts with a mixed grip. I was having the workout of my life. I felt like the old Bishop in Caddyshack who was having the golfing performance of his life, only to get struck by lightning at the end of his game. I can always sumo deadlift around 20-25 lbs more than I can conventional deadlift, and the most I’d ever pulled conventionally was 545 (and 565 sumo). I was doing heavy singles, and started with 500. It went up easy. Then I moved up to 525. Cupcakes. Then 540, which seemed easier than 525. I moved up to 550 and right when I pulled it off the floor I heard a crunching noise and then a slight pop in my right elbow of the hand I had supinated.
I haven’t been able to really contract my right biceps since then, and an MRI confirmed that I have a major tear with barely any tendon fibers still connected to the bone. I’m awaiting surgery which should happen in the next few days. I’ll be in a sling for a couple of weeks, and apparently it takes six months to be back to normal.
- If you have a strong grip, consider using solely a double overhand deadlifts or even learn the hook grip.
- If you’re an athlete, consider using the trap bar as it doesn’t require a mixed grip. If you insist on pulling conventional or sumo and using a mixed grip, consider pulling with double overhands on warm up sets and only resorting to mixed grip when the weight gets too heavy for a double overhand grip. Consider using wrist straps on final heavy sets of deads and sticking with the double overhand style.
- Consider other stresses you’re putting on your biceps tendon. During the week the injury occurred, I had done supinated chinups, barbell curls, Zercher squats, mixed grip static barbell holds, and mixed grip deadlifts. That’s a lot of stress on the biceps tendon! No wonder it snapped!
- Once you start approaching your “genetic limit,” all strength training involves risk. You’re simply trying to take your body to places it doesn’t want to go. When athletes start huring themselves through heavy strength training consider moving to explosive work and heavy unilateral work.
Many Deadlifters Pull Mixed Grip Year in, Year Out With No Problems. Just Know the Risks and Don’t Underestimate the Stress on the Supinated Arm During a Mixed Grip Deadlift!
2. Computer Trouble
In the past couple of months my computer troubles have been a nightmare. First, my computer started shutting down and restarting continuously. I took it in and they’ve returned it twice saying that it’s fixed, but it’s not. The same problem keeps happening. My laptop hasn’t been working for over two months and I’ve been having to use my computer at the University to get work done.
Second, I received a loaner computer from the University, but I haven’t been able to use it much as it took three weeks to get the internet installed at my new apartment. Then it took another few days to get the modem working properly as the unit kept restarting itself continuously. Finally technical support was able to help me fix the issue, and I have a reliable internet connection (but still no laptop – I had to give the University their loaner computer back and the computer company issued me a loaner but it doesn’t have MS Word on it!).
Third, I dropped my external hard drive and the data is unretrievable. Well, that is, unless I pony up $900 per hour for a forensics team to look (with no guarantee). So everything I’ve worked on for the past month is gone, and I did a ton of research!
- Always back up your work in several locations. You never know when things are going to crash.
- Go the extra mile and dish out whatever money is necessary in order to be productive. In the past couple of months it’s been a struggle as I hate feeling unproductive. Set yourself up to get work done. Had I known what would transpire I would have just bought a new computer!
- External hard drives are very fragile. Don’t drop them!
3. TNation Articles and Musclemag Articles
I have two TNation articles awaiting publishing. One of them I wrote with my friend Brad Schoenfeld and it’s about why bodybuilders are more jacked than powerlifters. The other I wrote with my friend Elsbeth Vaino and it contains everything you ever wanted to know about pushups.
I’ve written two articles for Musclemag – one on arm hypertrophy and the other on mass movements. I just saw a PDF of the article that will appear in July’s issue and it’s awesome! They go all out on these articles…the formatting and design work is incredible, and they have a professional photographer shoot pictures of a professional bodybuilder (in this case Jonnie Jackson). I love it!
4. Journal Articles
By this time next year I should be listed on around five different journal articles. I’ve been collaborating like crazy with colleagues and we will have some excellent stuff to share with you in the future.
5. Trainer Trash Talk
Sometimes I get a kick out of our industry. There seems to be a lot of trainers jostling for position, with some trainers talking much more smack than other trainers.
In my first TNation article entitled “Dispelling the Glute Myth,” I talked a lot of trash and was overtly cocky. Since then I’ve tried to be more humble as the more I learn the more I realize that I don’t know jack shit! Sadly, most humans are simply too stupid to realize how little they know. I wrote a blog about this last year. Cockiness will win you fans, but these fans will abandon you when they learn that you don’t know it all and are overly confident about your intelligence.
6. “In the Trenches” Trainers
One of the common complaints I see from trainers is that trainers who are always “In the Trenches” are superior to trainers who are not always in the trenches. This is a pretty poor argument in my opinion.
Most of the “in the trenches” trainers suck. Go to any local gym and you’ll find a bunch of trainers who work around the clock and still don’t really know what they’re doing.
I got good at being a trainer by reading and watching videos. If I only learned from working with other clients, I’d suck as a trainer. If you shut out the rest of the world and spend your entire day as a trainer working with other clients, you don’t progress much. You spin your wheels. Sure, you learn from them, but at a very slow pace.
I choose to read and learn from experts from a variety of fields and this is what makes me a great trainer. I get to glean expertise that took them many years to develop.
You definitely need to be “in the trenches” and work with real people throughout your work week, but I venture to guess that many individuals who regularly read sites like TNation, Elitefts, Strengthcoach, and blogs of guys like Eric Cressey, Brad Schoenfeld, and Nick Tumminello, are much more educated than the typical personal trainer.
In addition to training others, you have to keep reading, watching videos, attending seminars, and talking to colleagues. Do you really think that Mel Siff accumulated all of his knowledge through training other people? Did Eric Cressey learn everything he knows about the shoulder joint by working with clients? Did Brad Schoenfeld learn about hypertrophy just through training people “in the trenches?” Did Nick Tumminello master the art of “joint-friendly training” without reading Physical Therapy books? Did I learn all I know about the glutes solely through training other individuals?
The answer to these questions are hell no! We learned through reading and studying and then applying the knowledge gained to our training. Some of the best fat loss, hypertrophy, and body composition gurus don’t work with that many real clients and have tons of online clients. This doesn’t mean that they’re less effective.
Don’t be one of those trainers or coaches who brags about being solely “in the trenches.” These types seem proud of the fact that they don’t read journal articles or other expert’s blogs, and their clients suffer as a result of their hubris. If you want to be the best trainer or coach possible, then you need to find ways to free up time so you can read more. As to what the optimal blend is – I’m not sure. An ideal day for me would be to train others for 4 hours per day, train myself for 1 hour per day, and study and read for 3 hours per day. Then of course there’s running errands, writing blogs, articles, and programs, and of course having a social life and spending time with family!
As an extension from last point, if you want to be the best trainer or coach possible you’re going to have to sacrifice. In the past year I flew to Rode Island to attend the Perform Better 3-day seminar, took a graduate level Biomechanics course at ASU, visited with spinal expert Carl DeRosa in Flagstaff, visited with Olympic coach John Broz in Las Vegas, and sold my house and moved to New Zealand to get my PhD and be surrounded with other intelligent coaches. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and sacrified heavily to advance my career, and it’s become a way of life. Eventually it will pay off handsomely!
Some of my PhD buddies recently turned me onto a show called Sparticus.
To say that this show is badass is an understatement! Fight scenes, breasts, vulgarity, and gore, wrapped into a one hour show. I’ve only watched two episodes so far but I’m hooked! I’m starting to exclude pronouns from my vernacular in efforts to speak more like the Gladiator.
Peace out homies!