Lost In Translation or Babel and the Reinvention of the Wheel

A lot of information is written about varying subjects in the field of athletics and a lot of vocabulary has come out– too often a principal or an idea is renamed.  Sometimes I think it is to create a type of gimmick and expound on old information or to try to shed light on old information.   Often it is an old gift wrapped in new paper.  Kind of like Einstein’s relativity thought experiment, two different people see lightening striking a train. These things are usually a matter of perspective.

Not too long ago I heard about muscles that were referred to as torque converters. Many years back, I was exposed to the idea of stabilizer muscles and their ability to hinder a person’s performance due to their lack of strength.  Prior to this information, appeared the idea of weak decelerators and around the same time something called a strength deficit, which was known as structural balance, and is now talked about as the mobility and stability trade off.

Before circuits there were complexes and after circuits there were WODs.  There was muscular endurance training which turned into met cons. What will replace met cons?

There are also techniques and courses that bare a striking similarity to gua sha therapy.  Another course is similar to cryokinesis, but without the ice.  There are old exercises that have been reinvented with new names.  There are old techniques that have been re-envisioned and marketed under new basturdized versions of the same thing.  I am not saying all the “new” gimmicks or ideas are bad; in some cases they may have subtle differences that make them superior.  After all, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet unless of course it’s not a rose, it’s something someone has redefined as a rose.

Just be careful, keep an eye open, and an ear to the ground, because with new old ideas come neophyte herd behavior and with neophytes dogma.  What can be gained from this rant?  Hopefully, a new-found cynicism for man to embellish old ideas.  Just remember the old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt,” so embellish for this seems to be the zeitgeist we live in.


The Magic Feather or The Power of Placebo

1akusickfeather (1)

If you have ever seen the movie Dumbo you will understand the magic  feather reference.  Ironically Dumbo stumbles upon his powers after binge drinking, but I digress.  There is a major market out there that exploits people due to their ignorance.  There is science and thenthere is pseudo science.  I think the big irony here  is the people

ignorant of science often assume pseudo science is science and
scientists dismiss some science, because it sounds like pseudo science.  After all  science is what we know, but in some instances it is what

we think we know.   I have been duped by both sides the intellectual
thinking they know more than they do, and the neophyte thinking they
have stumbled upon something superior to my current state of knowledge.  At times have been both the neophyte and the intellectual so, please forgive me after all,   “to err is human.”

A couple of studies come to mind.  A group of social scientists explained to some hotel housekeepers that they were part of a very active job and that they burned lots of calories in their job, sufficient to meet the Surgeon Generals guidlines.  (1)  Long  story short, the control
group continued to do their job with no change, but those blessed with the idea that they were involved in an exercise program in their daily life improved their blood  pressure, bf% among other health related
benefits.  Experimenters concluded that by priming the group with a sort of positive qualitative feedback they increased the intrinsic value the house keepers placed on their work as exercise.  Another study demonstrates that certain surgical intervention could
just as well be considered pseudoscience.  (2)

The first citation lists a few more studies on the placebo effect if you happen to be interested.

Long story short if you think you have stumbled upon something that may benefit  you towards your goals by all means engage in a series of experiments, research if there is any data to support your predisposition and findings.  Test and retest to establish reliability.  Remember, after all knowledge is what you know, wisdom is  applying that knowledge.


( 1) http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3196007/Langer_ExcersisePlaceboEffect.pdf?sequence=1

(2) http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/26/health/knee-surgery-study/

Lost in Stagnation or As The Spinning Wheel Turns

Progression is an important topic and progression can often be overlooked as such it is important to have a goal and to set a realistic time line for that goal.  However too often we loose sight of our goal and get lost in reps and sets without a light to guide us.  These are two models I have used in the past that are helpful in setting new rep maximums.

This Model Is a version of similar to the Texas progression.

 Weeks Progression Generic Example 5X3 Weeks Goal
W1 Ramp 100X3 105X3 110X3 115X2 115X2  (Rep Maximum(s))
W2 Static 105X3X3X3X3X3X3X3 (Cumulative Volume)
W3 Ramp 105X3 110X3 115X3 ( Personal Best(s))
W4 Static 110X3X3X3X3X3X3 (Personal Best Cumulative Volume)

The second model is similar but a bit better at increasing cumulative volume.

Weeks Progression Generic Example 5X3 Weeks Goal
W1 Ramp 100,105,110,110,115,120,125,130,135,140,145,150X1  (Rep Maximum(s))
W2 Tiered Static




(Cumulative Volume)
W3 Ramp 105,110,110,115,120,125,130,135,140,145,150,155X1  ( Personal Best(s))
W4 Static




(Personal Best Cumulative Volume)


Training Sick

In most case scenarios training while you are sick can exacerbate an already compromised immune system.   It might be a bit hard to find a good study on the topic, but Web Md would suggest that if you have a temperature of 101 it might be best to wait it out.

In the case that you are getting sick one suggestion comes to mind don’t do sets to failure.  However doing 10-12 sets of sub maximal singles will have limited impact on the endocrine system.   I think the best bet is not raising cortisol levels any further than they currently are elevated and getting good sleep.   As far as lifts go I wouldn’t do any much extra outside of a minimal warm up and minimal amounts of ancillary work.  I might also suggest to increasing frequency of training if you are only training 3 times a week.  It may take 2 weeks, but you will be able to hit the ground running and work to rebuild cumulative volume.  Some studies do indicate that time off is beneficial so that is always an option, however age and experience seems to demonstrate too little volume and inadequate nutrition can be a deadly combination when we’re trying to at best maintain gainz.

Another way to look at it is to review previous weeks volume in relationship to tonnage.  Lowering  the volume to about 30-40% of what it was along with decreasing your workout time to about 30-45 minutes will likely not be too taxing and allow you to recover.   Think of training sick as a deload to avoid frustration and stay the course.








Revolving Resolving Door or Failing to Plan, Planning to Fail

So you started a New Year’s resolution and you’re sore in a good/bad way.  Congratulations! You just introduced yourself to critical volume, or the amount of micro-trauma required to tear down the ole contractile fibers known as skeletal muscle. The question is : Will you continue on your journey towards that great light at the end of the tunnel of your  goals, or will you fail like so many have in the past??????????? Only time will tell.

A couple of things to consider.  Do you:

  1. Have an exercise regimen that you will stick to for 6-8 weeks?
  2. Have a routine as part of your plan by waking up 45 minutes early or preplanning meals
  3. Have a progression and sub goals like a handstand, a chin up, or 10 pushups
  4. Have an accountability partner,  gym buddy, or personal trainer?

Will you:

  1. Assess your progress,week to week strength gains, body fat loss?
  2. Get better at counting calories and macro nutrients?
  3. Start hanging out with your healthier friends ?
  4. Go to bed and achieve 7-8hours of quality sleep a night?
  5. Document your routine via training journal, food journal and before/after pictures

*when or if you get sick, stick to the routine but change the plan  **goals are relative to your current capacity for volume and strength level

Soreness will fade when your body adapts to the volume of work.  A better question is when you get  to your goal, what will you do after that?

Where to start-

Running in Circles

The concept of cardio is a common topic in relationship to weight loss and body composition. It is also very common to debate cardio vs interval training along with other callisthenic HITT versions of cardio, but often times distance running is what epitomizes cardio. I used to demonize cardio do to my previous dogmatic stance against distance running. My thought on the idea on distance running/cardio have changed albeit slightly.

To start it is a good idea to create a list of positives and negatives with some slanting to remain slightly dogmatic.
The good and the bad of cardio/ long distance running

The Good The Bad The Ugly
Helps relieve stress May create injury due to gait/posture May cause overuse injury
May help people lose
bodyfat percentage
Weight loss from cardio can be
perceived as BF% when often times it
is more likely water weight
Cardio has never been demonstrated
to be more efficient than interval
training at conditioning the body
for “realistic”(1) work output
Helps people have a goal in
relation to course distance
and time
Once a certain distance/time/course
goal has been demonstrated sooner or later
intensity or volume will need to be added
to progress
Too often people add distance and not
intensity. Interval training tends to
demonstrate greater achievements in
time for distances
Running distance can condition
the body travel at a moderate
pace for a long distance
Distance running tends to make the
higher threshold motor units behave like
slower threshold motor units.
Athletes involved in high levels of
cardio can lose their ability
to demonstrate power in various
activities until they lower
cardio volume
In the correct program you will gain
or maintain functional range of motion
Loss of mobility due to running only Chronic injury due to short range
of running gait
Some people were designed to
run/row/ski far
Some people were designed to lift
or throw heavy objects or run fast
or a little bit of each
Some people lack motivation
because they blame genetics 

(1) What the author defines as realistic work output

Taking the above slanted rubrics one would seem to be left with few alternatives when in actuality there are a myriad of things you can do that are and or can be aerobic and or anaerobic. I think the best way to describe the alternative to the monotony of distance running and or any cyclical activity would be to describe it as skill training most of which I can be describe as anaerobic and can be done by yourself.

Gymnastics Dance Rock Climbing Olympic Weightlifting

In conclusion, the goal of skill mastery can lend itself to a sense of accomplishment that is not seen in steady state cardio. A good time frame would be 30-45 minutes a day, 5-7 times a week. Distance running is not the some evil hobby. Distance running without some goal of getting a better time at said distance is the enemy. Rather than work for volume of an activity work towards mastery of a skill there in.The idea here is rather than to trudge along doing the same thing over and over monotonously is to obtain a skill and to learn something new along with the vocabulary there in. Within each section each group there are various skills boxing has a great variety of combination of punches you can throw at a bag if you buy a membership to a boxing gym you can pay a person to train you in how to throw a punch efficiently and break down the subtle intricacies of said combat vs getting into some version of cardio kickboxing that has no real carry over to real life. Gymnasics and Yoga have similar attributes where you can learn and perfect a new pose or skill all of which have a greater difficulty and a progression to the point where mastery of one skill leads into another. With the advent of the internet there is virtually no limit to the number of skills you can learn that that have various progressions. People want to help, and be recognized for their talent.

The Man Who Cried Wolff’s Law or Adaptation and Plasticity 


A quick overview of Wolff’s law demonstrates that the bodies given the right stimulus (volume and frequency of a load or movement pattern) will grow connective tissue (this includes bone, fascia, and muscle, ligaments, and tendons) to compensate for a load and movement pattern. The body does this to become efficient in a posture or against a repetitive tension. A similar way to look at Wolff’s law is to watch a plant grow near a window. The plant climbs towards the sun, similarly the body constructs it’s matrix to compensate for a load.
“How does this affect me?” as a lifter or athlete or desk jockey one might ask. Looking at Wolff’s law the body constantly receives stimulus via gravity, and impact. If I sit for too long the body conforms to the seated position.  If a person were to exclusively deadlift the body will conform to my repetitive oscillations up down, up down, up down. The greater the number of reps with less than technical the form and the more movement errors/compensation patterns, the more the body will conform. Following the deadlift phase and moving into a front squat phase the posture for the front squat will take some time before it feels natural and upright the volume measured in total tonnage will take a hit because the mechanical disadvantageous aspect of front squat by comparison to deadlift. All that aside your fascia has been aligning itself to be more efficient to stabilize a load in deadlift posture, along with your muscles your traps will likely be tight from the phase of dead and make maintaining low trap in the hole an issue. Slower adaptation is occurring in the bone structure but the osteoblasts are building bone to higher density in positions favorable to the deadlift load and your osteoclasts are breaking down un needed bone where tension is to low to matter. Though given the deadlift load is so high I would doubt osteoclasts are involved in theory.
This is all part of the bodies adaptation, and the bodies plasticity to conform to the demands of gravity and volume/frequency of stimulus. Therefore if you are a teacher and work diligently grading papers over night long enough your body might conform itself to the posture of a person hunched over a paper and sooner or later may develop thoracic outlet syndrome or other epidemiology related to poor posture. All this being said the body conforms to what is done the most. Some studies demonstrate hand dominance with hyperplasia interestingly enough.(1) Multiple studies relate bone mineral density to athletic activity. BMI also has been found to correlate with bone density. (2)
What matters is being cognizant of poor posture, poor form and trying to correct it for the sake of longevity. Who wants to suffer early into retirement? Sometimes it’s best to re establish a new normal in so far as weight on the bar so that you can maintain technical form not only for injury prevention but for application. Consider how much more a deadlift can carry over to a clean, when the movement pattern more closely resembles the first and second pull of a clean.

(1) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00634963#page-(2) http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/8918078


OCD and Thanksgiving

For many people, Thanksgiving has become a day programmed into a diet, and is increasingly becoming more and more exclusive.

Some individuals might try to avoid gluten from the wheat rolls. Others may be concerned about the plastic leaching into the turkey from the bag and the button it’s been marinating in. Some will worry about the gravy containing mono sodium glutamate along with trans fats.  Still others are probably wondering how many parts per billions of cesium 137 is in the crab dip and or oyster dressing from Fukishima, among other heavy metals.  Some will be worried about pcbs from the canned yams, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin disturbing endocrine function.

In these instances I often use an age old smokers philosophy, I learned years back.  You’re going to die anyway.  So whenever you start stressing about all of the above possibilities just make to remember that wisdom, make sure to have gravy in case the turkey is dry, and remember to be thankful for family and friends.  Hope you have a great thanksgiving.  #enjoy

Desk Jockey 1.0

In many instances the body tends to adopt certain postures in order to become more efficient in a posture. An example of this is the body accommodating to an internally rotated posture behind a desk.  Individuals often demonstrate a dominant lower body side and a non-dominant side. In my experience in sport it is not uncommon to see the non-dominant side to develop certain proclivities towards injury. Although this observation is anecdotal, injury seems to chose the path or least resistance where a certain number of my injuries creep up. The skeletal structure tries to reinforce these postures that we adopt to compensate for muscular deficiencies and asymmetry. In my case My dominant leg is my right leg and and all the injuries tend to occur on my left side.

Below is a video that deals with an asymmetry of the SI joint.  Dr Jo’s instruction are helpful demonstrating a protocol to reset the joint.  In my opinion there is a relationship to the side of knee and or, hip, and back discomfort that is demonstrated from an asymmetric anterior hip rotation.  In my case it is more prominent on my non dominant side.  Following the video I have a modification of my own as far as a routine.  She reference posterior hip rotation, anterior hip rotation or lordosis is often what you will see in people that chronically  slouch a their desk.  This often comes about from the shortened range of the hipflexor and other muscle length conformities to posture.  In the case of anterior hip rotation it would be beneficial to push the anteriorly rotated side into the ground and the posteriorly rotated side into your hand.

Below is a routine to help address this specific asymmetry

O Exercise Sets Reps R I Tempo
A1 Glute Bridge 3 10-12 60sec 2011
B1  Push/Pull 3 1(3-5 sec) 30sec 5
C1 Ball Adduction 3 1(3-5 sec) 30sec 5
D1 Split Squat 3 6-8 60 sec  3110
D2 Single Glute Bridge 3 6-8 60 sec 2011
E1 Compound Movement Squat Variations or Deadlift 3 10-12 90 sec 4010



When Static Stretches Stop Working.

My sister introduced me to the term barbell yoga.  I think it is a pretty good term that relates to the idea of increasing range of motion within the area of weightlifting.  What I think can be gained from yoga is the idea of maintaining a static stretch position in an isometrically contracted posture.

In college I was introduced to the concept of cardinal planes of movement (sagittal, frontal, and transverse).  In algebra Descartes helped express these planes in X,Y, and Z .   All that being said there is a sort of symmetry that is promoted and in athletic movement patterns.  In yoga there are poses called the warrior pose along with Anjaneyasana, in Karate there is Zenkutsu Daschi  in  weightlifting there is  the lift called the split jerk, a less dynamic movement called the split squat along with variations of lunges.  Each of these types of movements promote hip flexor range of motion.   All of these similar patterns create muscular integrity at length or within the end range of motion of the hip flexor.

In weightlifting an isometric hold would be added to demonstrate the length to the target muscle along with demonstrating postural length globally.  A time frame of 1-5 second would suffice when using a weight.  In addition to strengthening the body in the position a certain amount of muscular endurance can be gained.  Acquiring strength at length can help to maintain the postural integrity along with relieving minor issues provided an individual works to correct and balance both sides. In conclusion opening a range of motion through static stretching can help provide range, but will likely not sustain it.  However training a range of motion provides the best of both worlds.

A special thanks to Coach Banda for allowing me to use his archive of videos.