Clarification on this month's program
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Since I was out of town at the beginning of last week, we had a bit of confusion about the intent of this month's program. 

I'm going to write a longer theory post later this week, but for now, just trust me.

I went back and reread last week's intro to the program, and I saw that I wasn't as clear as I wanted to be about the intended intensity of work. It was in my head, but it didn't come out in words.

I want the swings to be the focus of the program. Go heavy, and do good hardstyle swings on the 10 minute interval.

Then, in between the swings, you need to do something to keep busy. For the 2,3,5's that's prescribed in between the swings I want you to go light and fast. Think of it as warm-up weight or a little bit heavier. Move fast and don't struggle.

Take this as time to work on your form and skill. Make every rep perfect. But please don't go heavy. I don't want you to struggle and grind out the lifts. The intent is a fast-and-loose drill.

If you're new to the movement, don't worry about it. You don't need to even do the 2,3,5's. Just practice the movements. Take this as time to learn. Don't feel any pressure to get the required reps - just move. But I do want you back on the swings on the 10 minute interval.

Michael Deskevich
Strength day
 Blue shirt for Jyothi!

Blue shirt for Jyothi!

Usually we do our programs as 2 strength days with an AGT day in between. This month, we're doing it backwards. Were doing 2 AGT days with a strength day (plus a little bonus AGT) in between.

Don't rush the squats today - go heavy!

Michael Deskevich
Crazy Russians and their Kettlebells
 Image stolen from linked article

Image stolen from linked article

In addition to my weird applied-math-weightlifter blogs, I also follow car blogs. I like cars.

This article showed up yesterday that brings together my love of cars and kettlebells. Vlad from Russia has a lot of old soviet cars lying around his garage and he does lots of silly things with them for YouTube. 

His latest video is about strapping kettlebells to the wheels of his car to "see what happens."

I found it funny that some random Russian guy just happened to have 2-32 kilo kettlebells lying around in his garage to play with. I guess they really are popular over there. 

One of the commenters said that he didn't even know they made kettlebells that heavy. Ha! That's our middle weight.

No, you can't take my pretty powder coated kettlebells and do any experiments, so don't ask.

Michael Deskevich
Now, you are not weak
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In my previous post I tried to measure up against Dan John’s strength Standards. In this entry I’ll use the tests prospective StrongFirst instructors must pass and see how I do.

It is fairly safe to say that Pavel Tsatsouline and the team over at StrongFirst have been important to the way I train and teach. I would feel comfortable giving anybody a copy of Power to the People or Simple and Sinister with the instructions “Do this and get strong.” Next year I plan to get certified as a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor (SFG) and eventually I’d like to complete the barbell certification (SFL) as well.

In order to complete these certifications I will have to demonstrate an understanding of the system, the ability to teach it, and the strength required to do the lifts. The strength standards include, but are not limited to, the following:

Deadlift
2x bodyweight rounded up, for 1 rep
1.5x bodyweight rounded up, for 5 reps

Bench Press
1.25x bodyweight rounded up, for 1 rep

Back Squat
1x bodyweight rounded up, for 5 reps

Military Press
.66x bodyweight rounded up, for 5 reps
TGU
24kg, on each side

Front Squat
Double 24kg, for 5 reps

The biggest difference that jumps out at me is that while Pavel’s standards are higher in terms of weight for a single rep, he doesn’t expect you to bang out nearly as much volume as Dan John does. The folks at StrongFirst care about strength and strength-endurance is a much lower priority. Another difference that isn’t clear from the list above is that everything including the 1 rep max is a technique test. Let’s assume that Mr. John cares about technique. I’m sure he does. He just doesn’t make that an explicit part of the test.

Just like last time I want to see how I measure up. I feel good about both of the squats and the TGU is totally doable for me at that weight. In my last article I said I was about 30 pounds short of a double bodyweight deadlift but I think that number has shrunk. A 1.5x bodyweight deadlift is roughly 265 pounds right now and I can knock out those reps without worrying.

Once again the presses are where I get in trouble, I am nowhere near the standards here. I have been working on pushing these numbers up but progress on upper body lifts is slower going. Another confounding factor is that my training right now is centered around preparation for the Tactical Strength Challenge this fall. I’m doing a lot of deadlifting, snatching and pull-ups these days, but not enough pressing to really improve. My focus will have to shift once I’ve achieved my lofty TSC goals.

I have to keep in mind that while I can’t improve everything at once, I can’t ignore my weaknesses either.

[Ed. note - I always like Pavel's description of these strength standards: when you meet them, it's not that you are now strong, it's that you are now not weak. Keep working!]

Blake Nelson
What they're saying about us
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We got a wonderful review about us this week. Since it's public on the google, I figure I can repost it here.  I love when you guys just get it. I'm not good at marketing and we don't do the sexy stuff, but it works. 

I've been listening to a bunch of new podcasts the last couple of weeks about training and I'm more convinced we're doing the right thing. 

I'm so happy to read a review like this - when you describe the gym in your own words and understand why we do the things the way we do, I know I'm doing the right thing.

 

This is the anti-hype gym. They offer nothing more than the essentials: barbells, kettlebells, pullup bars, racks, and platforms (there are some rowers). Coaching and programming is simple and effective. There is no push to sell you anything, no fancy marketing, no weird competitive attitudes. It's very pragmatic. The coaches only care about getting you fit. They don't even seem to care too much about what sells, as long as what they do actually works (which it does, sometimes shockingly fast).
 
Michael Deskevich
Functional Range Conditioning
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I've been doing a really poor job of advertising what Traci and Bridget bring to us. Every week they offer Kinstretch classes on Wednesday and Saturday. It's cheap for members - only $20! - so you should check it out. Kinstretch is a great way for you to add more ways for your body to move. Their last post on movement variability got me thinking about antifragility and how Kinstretch can expand the domain where you are convex. But I won't go into another antifragile rant - I'm hoping that you'll continue to read below.

Traci and Bridget also offer more in depth one-on-one work with planned progressive programs. If you are having any movement issues, talk to them and set up a Functional Range Assessment. They'll take you through a whole bunch of tests to figure out what's not working for you and come up with a plan to fix it.

Usually when you come to me with a problem I say "just do more deadlifts" or maybe some heavy swings. And odds are that it will fix just about anything. But there are times when throwing iron at it isn't the solution and you need people smarter than me. If you're struggling with movement, you owe it to yourself to talk to them. They're happy to work with you to solve your problems.

Michael Deskevich
The Laboratory of Strength
 I never got to play with lasers but the rest of my lab did.

I never got to play with lasers but the rest of my lab did.

I've always been a little jealous of the Strong First folks for getting to the tag line "The School of Strength" first. I've always wanted to be the school of strength, but the more I think about it, the more I'm realizing that we are really "The Laboratory of Strength."

I never really liked school. One thing that really bothered me was that in school, you're just told what to know and to follow instructions and pass tests.

In a laboratory you just have a general direction set and it's up to you to experiment and learn and create knowledge, rather than just digest it.

The fitness industry is full of books and websites and podcasts all designed to tell you the one true way to do things. There are thousands of certs and workshops where people tell you their way. I'd rather all of us experiment and learn and add to the knowledge base in the strength community. Right now the industry is saturated with in HIIT classes and gimmicks (various colors of theories and effects...). Rather than following that path, we should be trail-blazing and building on the smart things that are out there - and then contributing it back to the community.

This summer, I had a group of folks experimenting on a test program. We didn't know how it would turn out. We liked it, and I learned something from it on how to inform programming in the future. But more importantly, the folks testing it learned about their own body and how to read their response to training. We had a bunch of individual mini-experiments and we contributed those results back to the Strong First community.

Today we start a new short transition cycle. I've never done this program myself, so there's a bit of experimenting about load, volume, time (will it fit into an hour?). I also require you to do some personal experimenting.

You'll have some fixed rest time where you'll have to complete work. You'll need to be smart about the weights you choose and be sure to get your sets done in the rest time. Pay attention to your body for feedback and use that to inform your future choices.

Give me feedback on how the program worked for you. Without feedback, we can't learn.

We just finished a long term strength cycle - 6 weeks of heavy kettlebell work followed by 7 weeks of heavy barbell work and a 1 week test week. We need a little break. We're going to take 4 weeks to do some heavy A+A work to prime the pump for our run-up to the TSC at the end of October. 

When given the option, prioritize the swings over heavier weights in the barbell work.

How this will work:

Do a quick warm-up on your own so that you're ready for the first set of swings*.  
Start a timer (or really, just look at the clock).
At T=0:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, there will be some prescribed barbell work, pick the weights intelligently because you need to be done by T=10:00
At T=10:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, you'll have some other work to complete before T=20:00
At T=20:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, you'll have some other work to complete before T=30:00
At T=30:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, you'll have some other work to complete before T=40:00
At T=40:00 perform 10 light TGUs as active recovery.

There should be lots of down time in this program - I don't want you rushing or being in a panic to get ready for the next set.

We always have questions about my notation, so here's what today's program actually means. Most days will follow this template except for our traditional every-third-day AGT work which will be a heavy barbell lift followed by some fun relaxing AGT work - you already know the drill on those days.

T=0:00 25 swings then
barbell press 2 reps
barbell press 3 reps
barbell press 5 reps
barbell press 2 reps
barbell press 3 reps
barbell press 5 reps
T=10:00 25 swings then
2 pull-ups
2 goblet squats
3 pull-ups
3 goblet squats
5 pull-ups
5 goblet squts
T=20:00 25 swings then
2 pull-ups
2 goblet squats
3 pull-ups
3 goblet squats
5 pull-ups
5 goblet squts
T=30:00 25 swings then
2 pull-ups
2 goblet squats
3 pull-ups
3 goblet squats
5 pull-ups
5 goblet squts
T=40:00 10 TGUs - light

*Here's an great warm-up that I discovered this summer. It's an easy way to get your body warm and ready for work. I was able to move directly from this warmup into A+A work, glycolytic days, and even heavy days:

Grab a rower, and row for 500m at a pace that you only need to breath through your nose. Let that constraint keep you nice and slow.
At the 500m mark, do 10 really hard strokes (no longer nose-breathing)
After the 10 strokes, paddle gently until you can go back to nose-breathing
Once you're back to nose-only breathing, row easily for another 100m.

For me that's about 4 minutes and 850m of work. You'll be warm and primed for work without lots of wasted time.

Michael Deskevich
Food really is the problem
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I have the weirdest twitter feed ever. Though, the AI that decides what I see is pretty accurate. My feed really only consists of the intersection of libertarian applied mathematicians who are also weightlifters. No matter how small your tribe is, the internet can bring you together.

Recently the threads have devolved into a discussions on the evils of ultra-processed foods that are the staple of the western diet. I was surprised to see those threads because that's old news to me. I've not eaten any standard food for years. I'm so used to being the weird guy that it's not even weird to me. 

The other thread that shows up in my feeds is the constant discussion about the explosion of anxiety in the population. Some folks think it's always been there and we're just now talking about it. Others are on the side of "it's much worse now than it ever was."

I don't know the right answer, but I've I had an interesting experience with it this week. I'm super clean with my diet. I mean, why would you voluntarily put something bad into your body? But a few days ago I got ravenous at work. I never have that feeling - I'm usually pretty close to keto all the time and I routinely skip lunch. But for some reason I was just super hungry.

I started rooting around the snack box looking for stuff that I could eat and the only thing that didn't have gluten or other bad oils in it was a Snickers bar. I figured, sure, that's high in sugar but it's just chocolate, nuts, and sugar. How bad can it really be?

About 5 minutes after eating it, I started feeling super anxious and jumpy. I couldn't calm down all evening and had a hard time going to bed. I'm sure the effect was extra pronounced because I don't eat that stuff regularly.

It wasn't a hyper feeling that you would expect from having too much sugar. It was more deep in my brain than that, I was actually anxious. 

It got me thinking about those twitter posts I've been seeing. Your diet has much more of an affect on your body than just those love handles you want to get rid of. Since you are what you eat, literally! - the molecules that make up your cells are the foods you eat.

What is all of the ultra processed western food really doing to us? If you're eating it all the time, then what's your baseline? Would you know how sick you were if you didn't know what feeling good was?

There's really nothing more important than putting high quality, unprocessed foods into our bodies.

Michael Deskevich
Playing is hard work
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I know I've ranted about this before, but it's something that really bothers me. In the last couple of weeks I've been out with the boys doing different activities and I'm shocked by the number of parents and grandparents who are unable to actually play with their kids and grandkids. And by "play", I mean "be active with", not sit on the couch and watch videos.

Yes, as a parent you're energy is sucked away by your hyperactive demon hellspawn, er, I mean little angels. I know that very well, but I'm still capable of keeping up with them. 

Last week I was out with Alek at a climbing gym. Normally when I take him climbing, I don't get to participate since I need to belay him, but this was a different gym where the activities were geared towards being comfortable climbing and not needing to be belayed - very kid-friendly stuff. So I followed him up the wall, through the secret passages, on the zip line. All kinds of stuff. It was fun (and very tiring), but I participated. All the other parents? Sitting on the sidelines looking at their iPhones and drinking coffee. I even had to spot some of the smaller kids because their parents didn't even want to walk behind while they were on the wall. 

Playing at the climbing gym was a ridiculous amount of work. I was sore that evening and into the next day. I can't imagine what it would have been like for someone not as well trained as me. And that's the problem. Our sedentary culture has made it totally acceptable to be a tired, weak adult staring at their phones while the kids play. Or worse, we keep simplifying our kids' play time to the point that it just becomes going out to eat and look at things - not do things. Think about the cultural implications of that! Those kids will grow up not even being active, so their kids will be even less active!

Every time I go to the park, I'm the only dad out there running and climbing on stuff (and Amy's the only mom doing pull-ups on the monkey bars). It makes me sad that no one has the strength to play. Play is hard work. But just because it's hard doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it.

This is why I really care about making folks stronger. I don't care how much you lift, I care that you lift weights so that you become stronger and you can go do things.

Michael Deskevich
Using Strength Standards to Focus Your Training
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This article originally appeared on Wild Goose Fitness

In my previous post, I discussed why the typical gym-goer benefits from having an answer to the question “How strong should I be?” Today I’ll try to answer that question for myself using Dan John’s Strength Standards.

We can all agree that strength is important. I want to get stronger but I don’t have unlimited time and energy to put into training. The same is probably true for most people reading this. We can all clearly benefit from knowing how much is enough and how to get there as efficiently as possible.

Whenever I have big questions about anything training related I have a handful of go-to resources. Right at the top of this list are Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline. If you’ve worked with me in the gym you have undoubtedly heard their wisdom repeated countless times. Fortunately for me Pavel and Dan have both attempted to answer this “how strong?” question themselves. 

In his book Intervention, and in seminars, Dan John has laid out what he calls his Strength Standards. Each standard is divided into male and female categories and is based on an individual’s body weight. The standards are further divided into “expected” and “game changer” and the meaning of these categories is pretty self-explanatory.

For the purposes of this article I’ll leave the full list out and just refer to how I stack up to a couple of the movements we perform regularly in the gym. For the full list and a lot of really great resources see his website.

Push
Expected = Bodyweight bench press
Game-changer = Bodyweight bench press for 15 reps

Pull
Expected = 5 pullups
Game-changer = 15 pullups

Hinge
Expected = Bodyweight to 150% bodyweight deadlift
Game-changer = Double-bodyweight deadlift

Squat
Expected = Bodyweight squat
Game-changer = Bodyweight squat for 15 reps

So how do I measure up? First the good news: I comfortably exceed the expected
standards for the pull, hinge and squat. In fact I’m within spitting distance of the Game Changer standard on each of those. I’m about 3 reps short of both the pullups and squats and about 30 pounds short of a double bodyweight deadlift. My current plan should get me to these numbers by the end of the summer.

Now the not so good: My bench press falls way short. The truth is that the bench is my least favorite of the lifts and I’ve neglected training it for this reason. One nice thing about standards like this is that they force you to acknowledge your weaknesses, something that rarely happens outside of a competitive environment. I could ignore these numbers and still get a lot out of my training. Instead I’ll use them as a helpful reminder to keep myself in balance. 

In the next article I’ll see how I stand up against Pavel’s standards.
 

Blake Nelson
Glycolitic training as a tail event
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My last set of rants - count 'em: one, twothree - focused on why we spend most of our time doing A+A (aerobic + alactic) work. It just makes sense to put your time in the gym in the places that will improve your life and lower your risk of injury.

But what if you do glycolytic events, how do you train for that?

I'm thinking of 800m runners, fighters, and even CrossFit competitors. How to you tune up the engine safely?

It works best if your sport has a competition season and an off season. If you're competing all year, then you have other problems. The Strong Endurance literature suggests that all you need is about 6 weeks to build up the enzymes to take advantage of the glycolytic power. So you can train most of the year A+A style building up your mitochondria and your base strength and then go glycolytic a few weeks before you need to be at peak performance. Randy did this with the track gals this spring and they kept setting PRs in every race!

Your body treats a glycolytic stressor as a tail event and only needs to see rare events to get the signal to take advantage of (and buffer against) the glycolitic pathway. 

We just finished up the StrongFirst Plan996 S&S A+A experimental program. Without giving away the details of the program, here's the big picture: we spend 4 weeks solidly in the A+A regime never going glycolitic at all. Then in the last two weeks before we retest, we have 3 very hard glycolitc workouts that we hope will build that part of the engine.

I am shocked at how quickly the my body responded to the glycolytic training!

The template of the workout is "Do rounds of evil glycolytic work every 0:30 until failure, rest a set amount of time and then do it again until failure".  Since the weights and times are fixed, the number of rounds completed is a good proxy for performance.

On Day #1, I got 4+4 rounds. I was really disappointed. When rehearsing the workout I thought somewhere in the 8+8 would be the right amount for my level of fitness. I was a bit down about it thinking that maybe this A+A work wasn't really for me, I had high hopes that the fitness would be there.

Five days later when glycolytic Day #2 shows up, I got 7+5. A 50% improvement! In 5 days! Insane. I did it at the same time of day (tired after work). 

Four days later on glycolytic Day #3, I got 7+7 and if I were really being honest with myself, I should have gotten 8+8, I kinda gave up early, if someone were there watching me, I would have gone farther.  

Day 1: 8 rounds
Day 5: 12 rounds
Day 9: 14 rounds

After 6 weeks of this program (plus all of my other long-term kettlebell skill and strength development), I was definitely not getting any stronger over those 9 days. That improvement had to be all biochemical (and maybe a little mental in being able to deal with the suck). And that's only three days of hard workouts (and still not hard by CrossFit standards) in 6 weeks of a program too! Not bad.

This is proof that you don't need to spend your whole year going glycolytic just to complete the CrossFit open! Don't burn yourself out and create permanent mitochondrial damage by always tapping into the glycolytic pathway - spend your year doing A+A work and then peak just before you need to. And you'll still have great performance!

You'll be doing great if you can do the activities you love while keeping A+A all the time. If you do have a need for more exposure to the glycolytic pathway, then be really smart about it and just peak when you need to. First responders and military may need to be prepared for glycolytic work all year, but we can still do it smart. It doesn't need to be a HIIT acid bath every day of the week. Once a week max, maybe once every two weeks is probably enough of an exposure to the tail event for your body to stay conditioned.

Michael Deskevich
Test Week
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It's been a while since we've had a real test week. I thought we might have been doing them too often last year, and this year, I swung the pendulum a little bit too far the other way and haven't scheduled a chance for you to see what your 1RM is on the big lifts.

A refresher on the rules of test week;

1 - Don't participate if you're just getting started. Unless you've been lifting with us for about 6 months (or have significant pre-Barbell Strategy experience), it's not going to do you any good to test this time. Don't worry you'll have a chance later

2 - This isn't a eyes-bulging, nose-bleeding 1RM max out test. We're not competitive powerlifters here, and even if we were, this week isn't a competition. This is a chance to see how much we can lift so that we can track progress.

3 - Don't judge your self worth on your numbers this week. The last time we did test week, it was right after a focused powerlifting cycle. We've taken a break from that for some more kettlebell work. So while you are probably a better person now, you may not be as strong in the specific powerlifts we're testing. That's fine. It's still a good idea to know your numbers

4 - Keep a log. And make it easy to find! After you've had a real honest test week (probably after you've been here 2 years or so), then the percentages you calculate for programs actually mean something. So that means you need to know what your maxes are. I don't remember everyone's maxes (though I am pretty good and know more than you think I know), so it's up to you to know your numbers and be able to calculate your percentages.

5 - Don't get hurt. I hate test weeks because it's one fewer week of training, and it's a good opportunity for your ego to be stronger than your body. I think everyone should have an idea of their maxes but we need to have common sense here.

How do you warm up? You'll get different answers depending on who you ask. I never warm up that much because warming up makes me tired and takes away from my max lifts. Other people like to do tons of singles and sneak up on it. If you know how you respond, do what makes sense for you. If you don't know let's experiment a little.

I like Randy's approach: do a sets of about 5, 3, 2 all below 70%.  Once you're at 70%, just do singles with long rest. I like to start out with somewhere around 2-3 minutes rest and then as I approach 90% it's more like 5-6 minutes. Make jumps that are big enough that you don't waste too much energy below your max, but small enough that the weight is never so heavy that it freaks your brain out. We'll be there to help you.

Michael Deskevich
The WTF effect...again
 Probably not the best image to choose for a Boulder-based business, but hey, a Glock is simple and sinister too.

Probably not the best image to choose for a Boulder-based business, but hey, a Glock is simple and sinister too.

You may have noticed a couple of folks doing a different program the last couple of weeks. We were testing an antiglycolytic A+A program for the Strong First group. Even though I do this stuff every day, and I totally believe in the strange success that kettlebells bring, I have another WTF effect story to bring you.

You may not recognize it, but at least once a month, more like once every three weeks or so, you guys do the Simple and Sinister workout:

10x10 1-arm swings / 0:30
rest 1:00
10x1 TGU / 1:00

It's a great workout, there's a whole book dedicated to it and it is always known for the WTF effect. We used S&S as a proxy for fitness.

We started with a pre-test of a heavy S&S routine, but instead of the timed S&S that you guys do, it was simply to complete each round of work and not start the next round until you were recovered. That is, the sooner you'd recover the quicker you'd get the work done. When we were done with the 6 weeks of work, we retested the recovery-based S&S to see how we recovered.

Here are some results:

Student #1 20:29 -> 12:14
Student #2 24:00 -> 15:41
Student #3 16:23 -> 11:05
Student #4 21:00 -> 16:00

I'll even quote my body comp numbers (I won't share anyone else's since that's private) - 201 lbs to 194 lbs and, even more crazy, 38" waist to 35"!

I'm shocked by the improvements here. I would totally expect to see changes that big in an untrained population, but everyone who did this program was an advanced student who was already well trained. To see that kind of an effect from a 6-week super easy program is crazy. 

The program we were on was definitely an AGT long-rest program. Short bouts of intense work and long rests until recovery. No workout was longer than 30 minutes. It seemed too easy.

I'll write up the whole summary later after I get clearance from Strong First to share it all, but in the mean time if you are proficient at the swing, goblet squat, and TGU and are looking for a really boring and easy program that improves your body comp - come find me!

A little SEO:
Lose weight in 6 weeks
Lost 3" inches in 6 weeks
Use kettlebells to melt that belly fat
6 week kettlebell weight loss program

Michael Deskevich
Unlocking Movement Potential
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Plateaus are the worst...Stagnancy can do a number on your energy and performance. Even though you might feel frustrated and weak, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are. Sure, you can do extra strength and accessory work or take some time off but if you don’t have sufficient mobility, chances are those plateaus are gonna hang around.

A New Perspective

Have you ever considered your lifts aren’t going up, not because your technique sucks or you aren’t quick enough, but because your joints don’t have the space and capacity to support the lift?

Maybe you don’t have a sufficient amount of shoulder flexion and external rotation to catch the bar in a snatch in the first place, or maybe your active hip flexion isn’t quite as deep or strong as you thought it was. Maybe your spine moves more like a log than a wave.

Maybe you need to slow the f*ck down and tune in. 

As far as plateaus are concerned, we offer a different approach to overcome them. The human body is incredibly efficient at adapting to new stimuli. But what happens when progress stalls, despite our best and most concerted efforts? It calls for a time to take a step back and consider all the variables that impact our performance that we are reticent to give credit to. We will talk about diet, sleep, and nervous system down-regulation in another post, but the point we really want to drive home here is movement variability.

Movement variability does not mean varying movements, like changing up your back squat to a front squat. Movement variability is your ability to vary your movement to complete a task. Consider the question, how many ways could there be to complete a task? For example, if I have only trained my squat position to have my knees tracking directly over my toes and my hips just below parallel then that is the only position I am strong to complete a squat in. This is called the principle of specificity: you are prepared for what you have trained for. 

If I vary up my approach to complete a squat: feet together, knees in, knees out, max internal rotation torque, max external rotation torque, etc. then I am going to be much more efficient in completing the task of a squat because I have more tools in my toolbox to recruit. However, if you are lacking in the prerequisites needed to complete the varied options, e.g. ankle dorsiflexion, tibial internal/external rotation, hip internal/external rotation, hip and knee flexion and extension, then these options are unavailable to you. That’s where we come in... By introducing a training regimen to increase your movement variability, we continuously challenge the nervous system to adapt to new demands, which then widens our scope of movement while reprogramming the nervous system to “turn on” areas that have been “turned off,” which then allows us to recruit more muscles and joint power to complete the task, thereby mowing down plateaus and riding on our merry way, shirtless on horseback to the cloud 9 of gains. 

In our Kinstretch classes, you will learn how to assess your own joint function and find out where you are lacking so that you can train it appropriately. We start every class with CARs (controlled articular rotations) to assess how our joints are feeling. CARs are key. They can be used as an assessment tool, to warm up for your workout, or strength training to keep the range of motion you do own strong and safe. You’d be surprised how differently they can feel day to day! The great thing about CARs is that there is always something new to learn or discover, including the illumination of the limitations that might be holding you back from reaching your optimal performance goals or enjoying a healthy range of motion. 

After completing CARs, we hop right in to training. Depending on the class, we might be looking to expand a range that is limited like hip internal rotation (most people are limited here) or we might look to strengthen the ranges we already have with holds and hovers. Either way, plan to work up a sweat and be surprised how you can be working so hard without actually moving at all. Strange.

Once you hone in on where you need work, it’s just a matter of getting in there and doing the work every. damn. day. Like any other facet of fitness, it takes time, dedication, and focus on your goals. Mobility training is likely the missing piece of your overall performance optimization. Come try us out every Wednesday at 7:30 am, and Saturday at 9:00 am and 10:15 am.

You can be anything you you want...but you must be strong first
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This article originally appeared on Wild Goose Fitness

In my personal training and at Barbell Strategy I like to prioritize strength over the other attributes. Power, endurance and muscle size are all desirable, sure, but they follow from strength. As Pavel Tsatsouline says “You can be anything you you want...but you must be strong first”. 

So we focus on the basics: technique and form, setting up for the lifts and creating tension, focus and consistency. Pretty soon people have learned the movements and start making real progress. The old limiting factor was a lack of knowledge and technique. Now it is a lack of strength.
This is where things start to get interesting. The lifter at can say to themselves “I used to be weak, I know I’m not weak anymore but am I strong? How strong should I be?” And this is a tricky question to answer. If they want to get drafted in the NFL or pass a military special forces assessment there are are hard numbers they can use. But most of us are civilians and it simply isn’t useful to compare ourselves to these elite standards. 

There is also the question of time and effort investment. We want to get the most of our workouts and not struggle in the face of diminishing returns. Elite powerlifters start to train in the hopes of adding five pounds to their deadlift in the same amount of time that a brand new lifter might double their max. Identifying this tipping point is vital to the busy civilian who is training for health. For them, working past that point is a waste of time.

So how do we know how strong is strong enough? Next time, I’ll try to answer that question for myself using two sources I think are very credible: Dan John’s Strength Standards from his book Intervention and the tests to become a StrongFirst certified Barbell and Kettlebell instructor.

Blake Nelson
Look at those pretty people in blue shirts
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We got the first round of blue shirts out this weekend at the party. Plus Vaidy got his yesterday in class. With summer vacations, it's hard to get everyone in one place at the same time. We're so glad that you guys have stuck with us for so long!

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Michael Deskevich
Goal setting, the TSC, and Strength Club
 photo stolen from  lane1photos.com

photo stolen from lane1photos.com

Did you participate in the Tactical Strength Challenge this past spring? Are you driven to improve your performance in the snatch, deadlift and pull-up?  If you are already proficient in the basic movements we teach at Barbell Strategy and want to get stronger than ever you should join the Barbell Strategy Strength Club.

Strength Club is a new option available to Barbell Strategy members beginning July 30th.  We will focus on building strength and power through powerlifting training and a lot of hardstyle kettlebell work. Members can complete their workouts - available in 3 or 5 day per week templates - during normal S&C class times. An additional Strength Club practice session will be available on Saturdays for members who miss a day during the week or need additional instruction.  Our main goal will be performance in the TSC which occurs every fall and spring. The next event is only a few months away so join the club and start getting ready now!

See Blake for more information.

Blake Nelson
Party Tomorrow!
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Reminder: the 3-year anniversary party will be at Harlow Platts park near Viele lake tomorrow at 11:00.  No grilling because of the fire ban. We'll bring a roast or whatever we can cook and transport. Bring a side - more meat counts as a side!

Blake is meeting at 10:30 at the gym if you guys want to ruck to the party.

We'll be giving out the first of the anniversary shirts - you know you don't want to miss that.

Michael Deskevich