Why women need to lift weights

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

Women need strength training. This may strike you as an overgeneralization, but I really think that all women, of all ages, can benefit from some level of strength training. As we age, women lose bone density. Now you can eat lots of dairy or go on a calcium supplement, or even take some crazy prescription drug to shore up your bone density measures, but these are not true fixes. Weight bearing exercise benefits your bones at all ages, and as you get older, even very small amounts of strength training have big effects on health.

The climate for women and strength training is changing for the better. More and more women are discovering barbells (and kettlebells and medicine balls and push-ups and pull-ups and sleds and tires) and finding that they are taken seriously as students of strength. We have many role models in strength, from women athletes in weightlifting, powerlifting, strongwoman, and all the sports-specific competitors who use strength training to up their game.

Barbell Strategy is proud to offer an atmosphere where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome, regardless of level of experience. We are not a grunting "bro" gym where anyone needs to feel self-conscious. Our focus is on learning, and we expect you to set your own goals and work towards them at your own pace. If you're put off by hyper-intense approaches or concerned about injury but serious about addressing health issues and getting strong, come in and try us out. And if you're already training with us, encourage your friends to let us show them the fun and benefits of strength training.

Amy Santamaria
Coach, How You Stay So Fit and Trim?
mu july.jpg

Back in the 80s when David Letterman was hitting his stride at NBC, he did a bit in one of his monologues about the content of the tabloid papers in grocery store checkout lines; My Wife Left Me for Bigfoot, Martian Babies Ate My Cat, things like that. The example he cited that stuck with me all these years was, Lose Weight Without Diet or Exercise, which he observed, "Well, that leaves disease."


So the title to this post is a question I actually never get asked. (Probably because I am 62 years old, thus largely invisible and nobody cares. Just the facts. ma'am.) Regardless I would like to share what I have been doing for a while now. Because I care. Most of the time.

Due to the evil chronic ailments of vasculitis and osteoarthritis, I am somewhat limited in my choices of exercise, so I rely largely on my nutrition to stay lean(er). The vasculitis makes me tired (unpredictably, off and on) and the hip arthritis makes big, compound movements (like walking, running, deadlifting, squatting etc) not only painful but in some cases impossible to do safely. You don't miss that hip hinge until its gone. So I do what I can with what's left.


I don't have a regular exercise program anymore, but I do try to do a "little something" every day. Over the winter I was getting in on average a half hour a day on the Zero Runner, but it started to tie up my hips, so I've laid off. The last month or so I have taken up Kinstretch at Barbell Strategy and then throughout the week will practice those stretches in the pool and hot tub. The buoyancy helps me get into better, more productive stretching postures. Kinstretch is tough work, but it's good.

Occasionally, when I feel mischievous, I will set up daily goals over a month's time. In the past I've done a minimum of 10 minutes of kettlebell snatches or long cycle clean and jerk everyday without setting the bell down. I mentioned the Zero Runner above, that was a little bit every day (between 20 minutes and 2 hours). Most recently, July, was One Muscle Up Every Day which I was able to pull off for the most part. There were a few days I had to miss because of scheduling, but I did extra muscle ups to make up. So, 31 days and 31 muscle ups. Then I might do some pull-ups, push-ups, evil wheel etc. Maybe I'll do two MUs a day in August. Recently I shortened the stride length on my ElliptiGO and it is less painful to ride now, so maybe hit that on a daily basis now too.

Here is my diet of late (and yes, my medical team is aware and on board):

Breakfast: 2 Cups of Coffee with Heavy Cream

Mid-morning Snack: Coffee, black usually

Lunch (between 11 am and 2 pm): Meat, fish, poultry, organ meats if available, eggs. I eat until I am just a little too full then stop.

Dinner: a glass or two of red wine or a shot or two of tequila

Snack: Before bedtime, if I am super hungry I'll have some chicken breast or boiled shrimp.

Pretty much just carnivore since January. I like the organic avocado mayo and cooking oil, so I use that from time to time. No cheese, no vegetables, no grains, no bread, no cereals, etc. Salt is about the only spice I use. So you could say I am carnivore, keto, and intermittent fasting. I am trying to stay between 66 and 68 kgs body weight and this strategy works. (5 years ago I was 91kg)

This is partly an experiment in "lazy" weight management (to go along with our "Lazy Strength" training philosophy at Barbell Strategy) but I am also thinking of the one meal a day side effect-calorie restriction - as a lazy way to create more mitochondria, lower free radical production, increase autophagy and improve cellular stress resistance. Since inflammation of the blood vessels is the hallmark of vascultis, besides being consistent with my medication, I am thinking about my current eating as a way to keep that inflammation tamped down.

So far, so good.

Randy Hauer
Central authority or distributed systems?

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

What is better? An efficient central plan that takes everything into account, or distributed actors working in their own small domain? As a computer scientist trying to design complex systems, I run into this problem every day. Should I strive for a perfect system where we have everything planned, or should we just make some dumb independent components that do their own thing? It turns out in every system I've worked on for the last 20 years, dumb independent components always wins out (c.f. the Internet).

No one ever believe this, and I fight about it all the time. A business likes to have a plan and the appearance of efficiency - it's better to design efficiency rather than hope it emerges (at least that's what I always hear). But a centrally planned system always fails, and it fails because something somewhere wasn't accounted for or there was a bug somewhere or something wasn't perfectly designed. If you knew everything up front, and you did everything correctly, then yes, central planning is good. But you're not perfect, and central planning is terribly fragile.

Computer science isn't special, it's just one view into the world. Making computers work together to do something is just like making people work together to do something. This shows up at all levels of organizing (and controlling) people, with the government being the best example (oh no, not another libertarian rant...)

I've been beating the corruption-and-incompetance-in-the-government-is-killing-you drum for a long time. I love that this week a real New York Times article hit the mainstream media about how the sugar industry controlled the narrative for the last 50 years to shift the obesity, heart disease, and diabetes discussion away from sugar and onto fat.

But that's private industry, how is that a problem? We need more regulation right? Keep those evil corporations under control.

I'll quote from the article:

"...the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat."

Ok, just bad (fraudulent) science right?

"One of the scientists who was paid by the sugar industry was D. Mark Hegsted, who went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where in 1977 he helped draft the forerunner to the federal government’s dietary guidelines."

Which leads to...

"Dr. Hegsted used his research to influence the government’s dietary recommendations, which emphasized saturated fat as a driver of heart disease while largely characterizing sugar as empty calories linked to tooth decay. Today, the saturated fat warnings remain a cornerstone of the government’s dietary guidelines, though in recent years the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization and other health authorities have also begun to warn that too much added sugar may increase cardiovascular disease risk."

So we have the sugar industry pay some scientists to write some review articles in a prestigious journal and then those same folks directly influence what the Government says you should eat. Most people want to do the right thing, they want to trust the government. Doctors will get sued for not following standard of care. All of that central control has turned us into an overweight, weak, sick population.

Fine, don't listen to the government, eat what you want. Except that SNAP (food stamps), federal cafeterias (e.g., NCAR), schools (what your kids eat!), and now even corporate wellness programs have to listen to these recommendations. The sugar industry bribes 50 years ago directly affect the food available to you and your kids today!

What's the solution? Take this level of control away from the government. Don't let the government be in control of regulating and recommending what you eat. Allow distributed systems of organizations find the right answer. The easily-corrupted central control is fragile. Any time you defer authority to a smaller and smaller group people, the easier it is for cracks to form in the system, the easier it is for a bug (innocent or nefarious) to destroy the system. What is harder to bribe, thousands of small municipal governments, 50 state governments, or one large Federal government?

Michael Deskevich
Fitness Industry Rant #37

Randy sent me this article from The Failing New York Times a while ago. I had so much to rant about, I didn’t even know where to start. I still don’t know where to start, but I don’t want the unfinished blog post sitting in my draft folder any more.

It seems that Randy and I are allergic to making money in the gym industry. I generally feel bad about that, because when I view myself as as a business man, I’m not doing well. But when I view myself as doing the right thing for people (who actually want to be healthy), I know we’re doing the right thing. So I can’t get too sad. I have my software job that makes enough money that I can have a business that doesn’t support my family - and because of that, I’m not doing stupid things just to make money.

This article show the many things that are wrong in the fitness industry: the use of GIS and big data to locate where gyms should go to maximize the attendance of rich white people who you can up-sell. All of the useless or actively bad (e.g., shakes) that they do up-sell to folks. And the technique of getting people to just go to classes rather than programs (my ClassPass rant will be coming up soon too!).

That last one really bothers me. You shouldn’t be picking and choosing your workout each day. Maybe some spinning today? A little Pilates tomorrow? You should be following a program that actually makes you a better person. Random doesn’t cut it! Feeling like you got a good workout (being hot and sweaty) is not the same as getting a good workout (AGT).

Your gym should have a consistent philosophy (I hope you see that we have one) and smart progressive programming to help you reach your goals. Adding yoga and wine tasting is not about your well-being, it’s about making money.

Michael Deskevich
The intolerant minority

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

I'm feeling hopeful again about the state of the food system. Earlier this month, I wrote a post about the corruption in the Federal government regarding purposely hiding information from you about what you eat.

tl;dr: The feds are preempting state and local laws that may in the future require GMO and other labels.

With corruption at this high of a level, how can I suddenly feel more hopeful? It's because of a term I read about last week: the intolerant minority.

The intolerant minority is a small group of the population that cannot choose one option that the rest of the population doesn't care about. For example, the eggs I buy at the supermarket have this U symbol.

That symbol means that they're kosher. Once you start looking for it, you'll see it everywhere. Buy why? Folks who eat kosher are a small percentage of the population, why spend all that manufacturing effort to satisfy a small population? It's because that those who eat kosher foods will only eat kosher foods, but those who don't eat kosher foods don't care and will eat anything.

If a minority population is sufficiently spread out geographically and the marginal cost of complying with the minority is sufficiently small, it's simply easier for the manufacturers to satisfy the minority than it is to keep two separate things in stock. The proliferation of organic and gluten-free foods also shows how the intolerant minority can affect the choices you see at the grocery store.

The same effect goes for manual transmissions going extinct. People who can only drive automatics (at one time) were an intolerant minority - they couldn't drive manuals. So rather than complicating the supply chain, most car manufacturers chose to make only automatics - because anyone can drive them.

It turns out that for geographically diverse populations, if 3% or so are the intolerant minority (you have to wait for Taleb's new book to come out for a real reference), then that minority can determine the available selections for the entire population.

So why am I hopeful? Even if the Federal government preempts state laws to prevent GMO and other labeling laws, the intolerant minority can still drive change. If you refuse to eat anything that is not labeled (all we need is 3% of the population) then the market will adjust and start labeling. It will be a more useful label too! No government agency is demanding U's in a circle, the market is!

So I'm asking everyone who reads this to make a conscious effort to eat only the best quality food that you can verify is the best. Because if we get enough people to only choose good foods, we can change the quality of the food for everyone!

Michael Deskevich
The gym isn't causing your aches and pains

The evening folks all know Margaret - she’s the one that lifts more than anyone else in the gym! I always like to judge if I’m using the right kettlebell by making sure I’m using what she’s lifting. If you haven’t met her, yet, she’s super cool and smart, and both a great athlete and coach. She offered to supply some rants for the blog, and since I’m all pro rant, here’s her first one. More to come…

I began weightlifting seriously for over a decade now now, and I would swear that I haven’t gone a day since when I’ve been to the gym and haven’t heard someone complaining about knee pain. If I did it was because I was the only one there… and even that wasn’t a guarantee. I’ve been hearing it more frequently at the gym, so I asked Mike if he would indulge me and let me address my thoughts on the blog.

For those of you who don’t know, I played NCAA D1 and USA national level hockey until I tore both of my ACLs – at the same time, in the same game, during my first college career game. For a variety of reasons, I chose not to get surgery which meant I needed to figure out another way to be able to function again. This actually meant I didn’t function at all for about a year and just complained and felt sorry for myself a lot. In chronic pain, I finally came across a guy who turned my life around in more ways than one. He was in a lot worse shape than me physically at a recent point in his life, having literally been blown up by an IED, and so he taught me two important things that I still remind myself of every time I wake up:

1) Stop complaining so damn much about general aches and pains – those can [normally] be fixed and I still have both of my legs and arms.

2) The gym is not my life. In fact, it’s a very small fraction of my life.

So where am I going with this? Where was he going with this? The points he was really trying to make, although being young and dense it took a while for some of them to sink in, is that I need to slow down and fix my life and thinking as a whole. He was an anomaly the CrossFit world and a lot of people didn’t like him very much because of it (because what’s the point if you’re not going as fast and heavy as possible?!). That said, he taught those that would listen to really focus on movement in every part of your life. If you go to the gym for an hour, that’s still less than 5% (1/24th to be precise) of your day. Your knee pain, aside from acute injury, is more than likely not coming from that time. It will be exacerbated by sh***y lifting, yes, but I can say after working with thousands of athletes, first responders, and military personnel by this point my life that if we make the core movements habit all of the time, that is how we fix chronic pain, knees included. As a bonus, we’ll also become much strong and more proficient in the gym. This takes thought, though, and breaking down bad habits that we’ve developed our entire lives.

For example, wearing flip flops all of the time (e.g. more than going in and out of the car to the gym or preventing fungus foot in locker room showers) makes us clench our toes and will cause extreme tightening in out plantar fascia (bottom of our feet) which will translate to tightness in our calves and will ultimately translate to knee pain. Traditional cushy heeled running shoes will cause us to be more anterior chain reliant (i.e. we dip our knees forward and turn them in causing us to use our quads more dominantly) which will tighten our patellar tendon and… causing knee pain. These things we do become muscle memory. We begin to dip forward with our weight towards our toes naturally, running shoes or not, while standing in line at the grocery store or standing while cooking dinner. This adds up more than any stress in 5+ hours in the gym a week, and these same habits will follow us into the gym.

I’m going to write another piece describing some of the really basic habits we can break that will significantly improve hip/knee/back problems, but my takeaway is that next time you’re asking the coach why you have knee pain, it’s probably not really just from movement in the gym… but lifting really heavy s**t and putting it back down, often with the same bad habits, will make it present much more noticeably than standing in line. You’ve been accumulating these problems every since you put on your first pair of Sketchers when you were three. The best thing we can do now is fix the root issue in the other 23 hours of your life.

Margaret Gruca
How can you take control of your own health when the government does this?

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

Warning: libertarian rant below, but it deals with your health so read it anyway.

At the direction of the agricultural-industrial complex, the U.S. Government is going out of its way to prevent you from having information that may be relevant to your health.

Let's take a step back, it's the early 1900s and you have deplorable, unsafe, unhealthy conditions in your meat packing factories. Does the government step in to protect you? Not at first. A private citizen has to write a book that gets the public into an outrage, then government begrudgingly takes action. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle created the public force that urged Teddy Roosevelt to create the Pure Food and Drug Act that eventually led to the FDA.

So the FDA has your best interests in mind, right? They're out there to protect us. Do you know the difference between having no trans-fats and "0g trans-fats"? Well the FDA hopes you're confused, because they only use "0g trans-fats" which means less than 0.5g of trans-fat per serving. With small serving sizes, you can actually get a lot of trans-fat in your trans-fat-free food.

An aside: years ago when I was in grad school, I was sitting in the Walrus Saloon downtown (yes, a high-class joint), talking to a fellow chemist about the work she was doing for a drug company. She was horrified that she was being told to sign off on some research that the drug met an FDA requirement. This was over a decade ago, so I don't remember what the requirement was, but I do remember the numbers: Her research reported a number of 0.447.  Her colleagues told her to round that to 0.45 which could then be rounded to 0.5 which then could be rounded to 1.0 that satisfied the FDA. And this was all legal. She told me this quote which stuck with me for the last 15 years: "The FDA is the department of legalized rounding."

Okay, back to the story. The FDA is one of the many Square Deal and New Deal programs commonly thought to protect us from the evils of the corporations. But when the FDA doesn't step up, someone has to. Vermont decided they had enough of the whole GMO-factory farming scene and wanted anyone who sold food in their state to have some labeling about the quality of the sourcing of the ingredients. Score one for states rights!

Well it turns out that in the century since the trust-busting anti-corporate government of the first Roosevelt, the agriculture-industrial complex has figured out how to use the government to help them. And what better way to help the factory food production system than to prevent you from getting information about what you're eating.

That's right - the federal government, probably under the guise of the commerce clause, decided that it is illegal for a state or local government to mandate any type of food labeling outside of federal guidelines. It's so much easier to buy control of one big government than 50 smaller ones (or thousands of even smaller local governments).

This bill has bipartisan support, and it was designed to be opaque - seriously, go read the linked article. The establishment (both sides!) is corrupt and going out of their way to keep you from getting information that you may want.

So should we get rid of the FDA (and all the other agencies)? Probably yes, but I won't go there today. However, I will point out that the FDA has decided not to define what gluten-free means (and that's actually good, since they would probably do something like "contains 0g gluten" and it would be meaningless). In the absence of our benevolent government stepping up to save us, private industry has filled the void, and it has done a better job.  Below are 4 different gluten-free certifications - I think there's a 5th that I've seen, but I didn't find the image for it.


Note that each certification authority has their definitions clearly stated, and you can choose the one you like. If they get it wrong and people start getting sick, they will be out of business. The market protects you. On the other hand, the FDA can't go out of business.

The scariest thing about this new bill, the "National Sea Grant College Program Act" (what?), is not that the government is not mandating any labeling, it's that it's actively mandating not labeling. This is a clear power play to prevent you from having information.

We need to take back the right to report facts. It is critical that you pay attention to what the government it doing. Your freedom to take control of your health may rely on it.

Note: this article is about the evils of a powerful two-party federal government; I'm not debating the health and safety of trans-fats, GMOs, or gluten. I'm just terrified about our ability to talk about these issues and communicate facts when the link between the corporations and the federal government is so close and so hidden from the public.

Michael Deskevich
Listen to Randy rant in the comfort of your own home

Shawn Baker, my favorite carnivore (well at least the most popular and one) and Zach Bitter (a carnivorous ultramarathoner) host a postcast about exploring the limits of human performance and some diet and nutrition in there too. They invited Randy to be on their podcast and it’s great - it’s just like listening to Randy rant at the gym but for a full 90 minutes! I’m always happy when other folks pick up on Randy’s expertise and invite him to talk. You should listen to it - you never know what you’ll learn from The Maestro.

Listen Here

Michael Deskevich
How to become Antifragile

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

You may know that we named our gym Barbell Strategy for an idea that was raised in one of our favorite books, Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. But we haven't discussed the idea of antifragility lately. I'll share with you some recent thoughts I've had about it.

First, what does it mean to be antifragile, and why would you care about it? Antifragile is a term Taleb coined to mean the opposite of fragile. Something that is fragile is something that is harmed by volatility, stressors, disorder, etc. Something that is antifragile is not just resilient but actually benefits from volatility (is more successful, capable, healthy, etc.). You should care because this concept applies to everything, from countries to economies to businesses to people. You should want antifragile systems around you, you should want to BE antifragile, because volatility is an inescapable part of life. Think about it - when life throws you a curveball (which it will eventually), do you want to fall apart, hold it together, or grow stronger and thrive? What do you want for your kids, if you have them?

I've been thinking about this a lot because I spend a lot of time with my kids. I'm homeschooling them and I let them run a bit wild and get dirty, we don't follow a strict daily schedule, they don't eat grains or dairy, and they don't wear supportive shoes or sunscreen, and okay, go ahead and send the hate mail. But what I'm trying to build for them, for our whole family, is antifragility. I let them hit all the small bumps so that they know how to recover when a big bump hits. There are 3 things that I've identified that make us antifragile: simplicityquality, and variability. And I think these are the very things that are missing from our and our kids' modern, super-structured, high-stress life.

Think about a typical school or work day. It's very complex, shifting from activity to activity or subject to subject, following the clock rigidly, cramming in lots of meaningless activities. There's nothing about it that organically unfolds because a school or an office needs to take care of large groups of people, not individuals. It's also low-quality, without the flexibility to take into account individual needs, with rampant standardized tests or employee evaluations and subsequent performance anxiety, with focus on memorization or answering emails and sitting in meetings rather than meaningful learning and work. Finally, it lacks variability, with days that are much the same, shielded from the natural world's variation in artificially lit, climate-controlled buildings and binding schedules.

How does this apply to the things we concern ourselves with at the gym? Think about simplicity, quality, and variability when it comes to training and movement. We try to keep our workouts simple, based on foundational movements rather than tricks or machines; we take our time to develop high-quality skills and functional strength, and we insert a fair amount of variability (on both long and short time scales) in the ways that we move and train, rather than doing the same prescribed workout each day. Think about nutrition. Simple, whole foods. Sourced for quality - no additives or fake foods, sourced responsibly. Eat a variety of foods to get all your micronutrients.

It's not easy to choose simplicity, quality, and variability in our lives when we are drowning in complexity, cheap substitutes, and repetition. But seek these things out, and I think that you will become more antifragile, and when bad stuff happens, you will only rise from the ashes, stronger.

Michael Deskevich
Open gym is a bad idea

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

I read an ad today for a local gym that was bragging about the vast number of hours of open gym that they offer, and I thought, why would you brag about that? We don't offer open gym because you come to train with us, with coaches, to learn and to receive feedback. If you simply want to train on your own, there are large, inexpensive facilities without coaches that you can choose. We think most people can benefit from the programming in our classes, but if you need something more customized, we can do that too. But we're not fans of letting people come in and try random stuff on their own because we care too much about your safety and your progress.

Amy Santamaria
New Program for Advanced Athletes Only

I have a new program starting today. Normally, I don’t like to segregate people and say that only certain folks can do a program, but this one is different.

I’ve been toying with the idea of a Strong Endurance type program, but I didn’t know how I wanted to integrate it into our normal programming. Then Pavel came out with the “Quick and Dead” book last week and it helped me organize my thoughts. One thing he discusses is that the Q&D program really only works for advanced athletes. So that’s why we’re going to have a little testing to progress into the Q&D programs.

But don’t worry, I’m giving you S&S as a stepping stone into Q&D.

Once you have a good 1A swing, you can choose to do the S&S program. I think that’s everyone in all of my classes. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have a good 1A swing right now. Once you reach the “Simple” standard, you may progress into Q&D I, and then once you can pass a 5:00 snatch test you can do Q&D II.

I’m purposely being a little vague in what all of this means because I want to respect Pavel’s IP and not repost everything here. But we can talk about it in class. The posted program below may not make perfect sense, but that’s okay, you’ll know what it all means when we chat.

I have 3 months of this written up, I’m going to do it and I hope a bunch of my advanced athletes will do it - particularly my masters athletes who could use the mitochondrial biogenesis to stave off aging. If the popularity drops off, I’ll quit posting it. If everyone loves it, I’ll keep it up indefinitely.

Michael Deskevich
I guess I'm finally turning into a hippie

Today marks my 19th anniversary of living in Boulder. Now I listen to jam bands (thanks Mark), meditate, and make my own yogurt. I guess all I need to do now is get a Volkswagen Type 2 and brew some kombucha and I’ll fit right in. I’ll never do yoga though!

Don’t worry though, I still belong to the rifle club.

Seriously though, that meditation thing is pretty darn cool. The book I linked to is really the lazystrong version of meditation, that’s why I probably bought into it. Buy it and make your live better!

I always felt that meditation was some silly thing that hipsters and wanna-be tech nerds in the valley did. To quote Taleb: “Meditation is a way to be narcissistic without hurting anyone.” But, I heard about the Stress Less book from Robb Wolf who also felt the same way about meditation and he said it was life changing, so I gave it a try.

The book follows the typical self-help ghost-written formula, but it’s still good. As an added bonus, the neuroscience is solid - remember Amy’s a brain doctor, and she vetted it.

Outside of having better sleep and being more calm, which are good on their own, I also noticed that the quick lifts are going so much better for me. I feel like I’m better connected with my body. Kind of weird.

The lazystrong way of meditation is super simple - just like the lazystrong way of lifting is super simple. I don’t want to steal her copyright, so I won’t reproduce it here. I could though, it’s quick and easy. You only need two 15 minute blocks of time to do it. It makes the rest of the day go better, and you end up making up for those 15 minutes plus more- it’s just like compound interest! Go get the book (I have no affiliation, so I get nothing for recommending this) and implement it. You’ll be a better person.

Michael Deskevich
Stop Rolling Coal with your workouts.
Maybe it's because I grew up in central PA, but this just feels right to me.

Maybe it's because I grew up in central PA, but this just feels right to me.

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

This was one of my first AGT posts before I knew the term AGT

You may have noticed in the last couple of years that diesel trucks don't smoke very much. That's likely because of the EPA's 2007 heavy-duty diesel requirements. But when a diesel does smoke, what's happening? A diesel engine is designed to run lean (unlike a gasoline engine which always runs at a 14.7:1 air:fuel ratio no matter what), there's always enough air in the engine to burn all of the diesel fuel injected into the cylinder. In the old days, when hard acceleration was needed, it was easy to set up the injectors to dump fuel into the engine. Since there wasn't enough air to burn all of the fuel, lots of unburned fuel (soot) came out the stacks. You got maximum power - all the air was burned - but wasted tons of extra fuel. That doesn't happen anymore because of all of the computers on the engines.

Basically, the old, easy way to get maximum power out of the engine was just to dump in more fuel than could be used. Even ignoring the environmental impact, this is bad: running like this for a long time isn't good for the longevity of the engine. Exhaust temperatures soar, potentially melting important components like the turbo. Soot can clog things. It's generally not a good idea to run a smoking diesel.

Mitochondria are the power generators in your body. They gently chug along burning fuel, generating energy for your cells to use. What happens when you need extra power? Your body dumps more fuel (sugar) into the mitochondria and tries to burn fuel faster than what they were designed for.

What happens when mitochondria burn sugar in high quantities? They leave behind large quantities of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and can't clean up after themselves because it's too much volume. Ever hear of anti-oxidants? The reason they're good is they help clean up the ROS which are very reactive and cause lots of bad downstream effects.

How much fuel is too much to push through the mitochondria? Well, it turns out that "fat burning zone" that's on all the fancy cardio equipment is the exact wrong level of effort.

If you follow the conventional wisdom on how to do your cardio, you're at a rate that's too low to get stronger and better, but too high to recover from, and it causes you to burn too much low-quality fuel way too fast.

If you're training for strength you need to go hard enough to get stronger, and we do that by programming heavy weights and lots of rest. If you're training for endurance, you need to go low enough that you're not spending hours burning too much low-quality fuel. By going really slow, you'll be actually stimulating mitochondria growth in your cells - increasing the power density - it's like building a bigger motor so that when you dump fuel in, there's enough air to not cause it to create soot.

Michael Deskevich
Schedule update - pay attention!

Starting next week, I’m going to have to adjust the Advanced S&C class: instead of starting at 4:30, we’ll start at 5:00. Don’t show up early. Well, I guess you can show up early, the door will just be locked. I have a schedule change that makes is hard for me to get there before 5:00 for the foreseeable future.

Also, starting in August, Blake’s TTh 10:00 class is going to go away. But don’t worry, as soon as Illy is back in preschool, Amy will be starting a GS Kettlebell class at that time. More to come once we get that schedule figured out.

Michael Deskevich
Getting points for good behavior doesn't change your lifestyle

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

So far, we have not done any challenges. You'll notice that other gyms run challenges on a regular basis, and even charge for them. From nutrition to lifestyle and health behaviors to gym attendance, challenges run the gamut. They may work for some people, but there's a reason we don't do them.

Our philosophy is that you, and you alone, are responsible for making healthy and lasting changes. Let's say you want to eat better, or sleep better, or lose some weight, or making training a higher priority. Probably one of these is true - we all have something we can improve on! But if you're serious about making changes, if you want them to last beyond a month (or 6 weeks, or whatever the challenge duration is), then you need to be accountable to yourself, not some outside source. A gym challenge might provide you with motivation to get started, and that's great. But if it takes us pushing you and keeping score to get you to make an improvement, then you haven't figured it out on your own, and chances are, you will slip back into your old ways before long.

Have you been waiting for a gym challenge to show up? Something to get you on your game nutrition-wise, or health-wise, or training-wise? Well, stop waiting and forge ahead on your own. Pick something that's hard to do (run a race, compete in a weightlifting competition, hike a difficult trail, learn a new sport), and use your behavioral changes to help you achieve that goal. When it's on you, it's meaningful and you will be more likely to commit. If you want to hold yourself accountable, tell us your plans! If you need some guidance, we're happy to help. But we won't be telling you what to do, keeping score, or setting your goals for you, because we know that real change comes from within.

Amy Santamaria
Masters version of Three Phase Power

We’re well into the first cycle of the Three Phase Power program and it seems to be working really well for everyone. People are getting stronger faster than the program is progressing. That’s always exciting to see!

Everyone doesn’t have the same goals, so it makes sense to be able to make smart modifications to the program. Here are some ideas based on what I do. You can use it as inspiration for your modifications.

I’m approaching the Three Phase Power program much like I did the original Kettlebell Triple Wave that inspired it. In fact, I have the whole thing up here as program for masters athletes. I approach the squat as therapy for my hips, so instead of 70/80/90 percent lifts, I tend to be around 55/65/75 percent and often double the volume. Since I’m cutting the weight, I still need something to stimulate muscle growth and the positive hormone cascade of goodness that lifting weights gives you, so I use the deadlift (you know, the best exercise) for that.

I like the way Josh described it: the deadlift is the huge catastrophic event that your body reacts to. So I do the deadlifts at 80/85/90 instead of 70/80/90. That’s sufficient for me to get full body strength and muscle growth (or really, delay age-related sarcopenia) with maybe a dozen lifts a week. It works really well.

Likewise, on the AGT days, I keep the swings light (24 kilo, which for me is really light) and fast. That keeps me powerful, and then on the snatch days, I go super heavy (40+kg) and cut the reps.

Both of those modifications are a way for me to increase the variance in the program, use certain movements as maintenance, and then play to my strengths on the other lifts.

I think for most people, this program is working as intended, but if you feel the need to switch things up, come talk to me and we’ll figure out the best way to fit it into your schedule.

Michael Deskevich
Enjoy the Colorado summer without overtraining

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

I had a couple of conversations yesterday about how to balance the strength work at the gym with the activities that you guys are adding now that we're heading into the spring and summer.

The most important thing is to not overtrain. But how do you know if you're overtraining? Randy often says that you should be excited to go to the gym. You should be looking forward to your workout. If it's a chore to drag yourself to the gym or any other activity, that's a good sign that you're probably overtraining. Keep an eye on your mood, and don't let your ego get in the way of a good rest day.

Coming to the gym consistently is necessary to making progress and getting stronger, but enjoying nature and playing outside is also important for your health - physical and mental. Try to schedule your week so that you're enjoying the Colorado sun while getting enough strength work to keep improving.

It's a fine line to walk. We want you to make the gym a priority and make it part of your schedule - it's not good if "something always comes up" and gets in the way of your workout - but you also need to listen to your body and not wear yourself down.

As much as I want you in the gym (I get lonely), I want you outside and enjoying nature more.

Michael Deskevich
Happy Moon Landing Day

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

That’s also why we deadlift. Doing hard things makes you better!

Michael Deskevich