Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Movement Food - Gray Cook

Gray Cook put up a long article on his website. It's well worth reading.

Movement Food

In short, if supplements are basically patching holes in our diet, what is exercise? Is it the basis of our movement, or is it a supplement used to patch holes in our daily movement patterns?

Not to spoil the surprise, but it's the latter.

If you're familiar with the work of Gray Cook, Pete Egoscue, mobility and corrective exercises espoused by Bill Hartmann, Mike Roberston, and Eric Cressey, or the Mobility WOD of Kelly Starrett, you'll understand where he is going with this. It's a plea to look holistically, as the body as a whole piece, and address movement and pain as part of a whole.

Take the time to sit and read that, you won't regret it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Conditioning for Longevity

Joel Jamieson put up an excellent article on his website, 8 Weeks Out, called Conditioning for Strength Athletes.

Basically, what conditioning is useful and effective for athletes whose sport involves demonstrating strength - think of sports like strongman, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting.

But it has an excellent point about longevity and conditioning, all people in all walks of life:

"Let’s look at what the research has to say about whether or not conditioning is all that important:

A number of prospective studies have demonstrated that VO2max, which is directly related to aerobic fitness, is the most important predictor all-cause mortality.

Research conducted by Johnathan Myers showed that study participants who were categorized as having the lowest VO2max value were 4.5 times more likely to die from anything, particularly cardiovascular disease, than those with the highest VO2max levels (Myers, 2003).

Another article reviewing 11 different studies showed that regular physical activity increased life expectancy anywhere from 0.4-4.2 years, but aerobic endurance athletes showed an increased life expectancy of 4.3-8.0 years (Reimers et al, 2012).

So regular activity is +0.4 to +4.2 years on your lifespan. Training for aerobic endurance is +4.3 to +8.0 years. That's a tenfold increase in the base, and nearly double the top end.

And before that, "the lowest VO2Max value" is associated with being 4.5 times higher mortality from all causes.


Train for cardiovascular endurance, gain lifespan.

It doesn't only do that. Cardio training can improve recovery between workouts, increase recovery during workouts, and give you overall increased work capacity. In other words, get better faster, get more from your rest between sets, and get more done period.

That's what cardio is good for.

Monday, September 5, 2016

TrueNutrition Labor Day Sale

Over at True Nutrition, they're having a 10% off Labor Day sale.

Coupled with $7.99 flat shipping, this is a pretty good deal - and they rarely run discounts this big or bigger, so you may want to take advantage.

TrueNutrition's products are good. In my experience, they have good product, true to the description, and they have excellent packaging. I've used them since they days of their rudimentary website and giant plastic bags of protein - these days, they have the website cleaned up and the shipping bags are much improved. The protein, supplements, and so on are excellent and well priced.

The sale continues until midnight tonight, so if you're looking for bulk protein priced appropriately, take a look at TrueNutrition.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Traps article on T-Nation

I read a good article recently over on T-Nation by Tony Gentilcore:

Strong Traps, Healthy Shoulders

Your trapezius muscle, aka the traps, is a large muscle in your upper back/neck area. A lot of people will train it with upright pulling motions and shrugs, but Tony Gentilcore breaks down a lot of ways to strengthen the entire muscle more effectively.

This features some very effective and useful lifts:

- the landmine press (especially for people with shoulder issues)

- the vertical Pallof Press

- overhead shrugs (something I first encountered maybe 20 years back, and it's still underutilized)

- a variant of the Y using suspension trainers

It's a good article and very useful if you have either an over-active trap or under-active and need to get it all firing and working correctly.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Military Fitness

There was an interesting article in the Military Times about fitness rating in the military.

Spooked by obesity trends, the U.S. military is redefining its basic fitness standards

The US armed forces are attempting to put together a standard that:

- effectively measures health and fitness

- doesn't unfairly penalize the muscular

- doesn't unfairly pass the slender but unfit

- deals with body fat vs. actual physical fitness

- doesn't weaken standards of health and fitness

This is tougher than it sounds. Most of the previous methods - such as the taping method - inaccurately rated body fat. Some common standards, like BMI, fail to deal with people on the extreme ends and don't really give useful information about those in the middle, either.

“We are taking a slightly different perspective on this, focusing on the health: What determinants can we identify that would relate to predispositions for injury or illness?” the defense official said.

So, health and predisposition to injury. Two key issues they want to be able to understand on an individual basis.

And BMI?

"'BMI is absolutely useless'"

The problem is determining what health is, what predisposition to injury and illness actual means in terms of measurements and markers, and then measuring that. This is not a small problem.

Especially interesting to me is the idea of a fitness military specialty. Expect that if that happens, you'll see a lot more military-derived fitness programs and former military fitness specialists touting that experience as the basis for their programs. It's just natural if such a specialty exists.

The article is long but well worth the read.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Congratulations to Miyake Hiromi

I have a soft spot for 48kg Women's Weighlifting competitor Miyake Hiromi. One reason is that when I lived in Japan I chanced to see a TV program showing her rigorous training regime under her Bronze-medal winning father.

The program was extremely illuminating for me. I really got to see the relationship between high pulls, snatches, the judging standards of the snatch, and see the split jerk in action. I'd seen the lifts performed but I got a really clear idea of how they were used together in a training program.

I'm currently on vacation in Japan, so I was able to catch Miyake-san's deep knee-bending snatch at 81 kg, and then all three of her clean and jerk attempts - including a 107 kg jerk, enough to earn her the bronze medal (her third medal - she took bronze in 2008, silver in 2012).

You can see her here, holding the bar overhead as she knows she's gotten the three white lights signalling a good lift.

So congratulations, Miyake-san, and thanks for the lessons on weightlifting training.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Article Review: Hips Don’t Lie: 4 Drills to Unlock Your Stiff Hips

I love mobility drills and stretching exercises for the value they bring to your health. They unlocked performance, reduce pain, and increase overall freedom of movement. Hip drills, especially, as often back and knee pain are tied to hip issues. Plus, with all of the sitting we do, I'm as likely as not to just give people hip mobility drills to counteract that. The hips are the new core.

Hips Don’t Lie: 4 Drills to Unlock Your Stiff Hips

This article has several excellent drills you can use to improve your hip health. The wall hinge is one I use often to teach deadlifts and hip hinging in general. "Touch the wall with your butt" beats "break at the hips" in terms of coaching cues. And the kneeling hip rotations (which I learned at DeFranco's gym as "fire hydrants") are excellent pieces to the hip-health puzzle.

I can't help but feel that there are a lot of veiled references to Kelly Starrett in this article. It puts down "couch stretching" - something Kelly Starrett has at least popularized - and has a "chair smash" where you smash your chair. Not a coincidence, in my mind anyway, that Kelly Starrett uses the term "smash" a lot when describing some tissue and mobility work. It's something I don't like to see, because I have had clients and friends and family make great strides in hip health with the couch stretch and "smash" techniques using an Alpha Ball.

I like what it adds, though. Circular hip movements, especially slow ones to ensure you get in the time and technique needed, are key to overall hip health. Making sure you add them in can make a huge difference for knee, hip, and back pain. Never mind improving performance.

I really recommend this article overall.
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