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Category: Powerlifting

Posted on November 11, 2007 in Powerlifting

slow squat

The squat is the key to strength and conditioning. It is the sine qua non of barbell exercises. I usually go so far as to tell new trainees that if they are not going to squat, they should not even bother to train. No other exercise changes so many things about the body in so short a time as the squat. To omit squats because some uninformed fool said they were "bad for your knees" indicates that you probably didn’t want to do them anyway, so it's just as well.

The next time some quasi-professional health-industry type repeats this hoary old silliness, ask them how they know. If they say that the bulk of their professional practice is generated by athletes who regularly and correctly performed full barbell squats and consequently "blew out" their knees, call me and I will be there within thirty minutes with $80 million in cash.

My money is safe, of course. The truth is that the bulk of their professional practice—insofar as athletic/sports injuries are concerned (never mind the myriad injuries and conditions resulting from inactivity)—is composed of soccer, basketball, and football players with knee injuries, none of whom are ever counseled that their chosen activity will "hurt your knees." That advice is always saved for athletes participating in a structured strength program that includes squats.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

Posted on October 14, 2007 in Exercises | Powerlifting

olddl

The deadlift is unrivaled in its simplicity and impact while unique in its capacity for increasing head to toe strength.

Regardless of whether your fitness goals are to "rev up" your metabolism, increase strength or lean body mass, decrease body fat, rehabilitate your back, improve athletic performance, or maintain functional independence as a senior, the deadlift is a marked shortcut to that end.

To the detriment of millions, the deadlift is infrequently used and seldom seen either by most of the exercising public and/or, believe it or not, by athletes.

It might be that the deadlift' name has scared away the masses; its older name, "the healthlift," was a better choice for this perfect movement.

In its most advanced application the deadlift is prerequisite to, and a component of, "the world’s fastest lift," the snatch, and "the world’s most powerful lift," the clean; but it is also, quite simply, no more than the safe and sound approach by which any object should be lifted from the ground.

The deadlift, being no more than picking a thing off the ground, keeps company with standing, running, jumping, and throwing for functionality but imparts quick and prominent athletic advantage like no other exercise.

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Posted on September 19, 2007 in Powerlifting

deadlift

I know of no better example of functional strength than a 600-pound deadlift. Except a 700-pound deadlift. That's what strength is: the ability to generate force, and the "functional" part is really just a qualifier. Because when you're that strong, it's functional. That's the part that has the modern "academic" wing of the fitness industry in such a fog just now.

It is currently fashionable to characterize certain types of training as "functional" and other types of training as something else, maybe "non-functional" or "training that lacks function" or "functionless" training. I have no idea why this has received such attention recently, except that there are several equipment manufacturers that make stuff that is supposed to add "function" to our training. And damned if it doesn't always involve some sort of instability that the overcoming of provides the benefit.

But more than involving instability (and expensive proprietary devices), it also always seems to involve very light weights. Look, if a guy wants to do his alternate dumbbell presses while seated on a stability ball, that's fine with me. But my god, you have to use more than the 15-pound dumbbells! Because if you want functional strength, you have to at some point get strong enough to lift more than the 15s. You just do. But this point often gets lost on stability ball day.

And I swear that I actually saw a guy doing 50-pound behind-the-neck lat pulldowns while seated on a Swiss ball. I was out of town, by the way, in a state that begins with a C.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

Posted on June 20, 2007 in Powerlifting

popmech

The most useful theories are those that simplify our understanding of apparently complicated things. The theory of evolution explains the rather interesting fact that frogs and humans both have two forearm bones, that grasshoppers and catfish share the common pattern of repeated trunk segmentation, and that all of us, including bacteria, use pretty much the same high-energy phosphate system to move things around inside our cells. My observations will never be this profound, interesting, or important. They will not even be that original. But since you apparently have nothing better to read right now, let’s just enjoy these next few minutes together as though they will be useful.

Barbell training has been the focus of my attention for the last couple of decades. I am not bored with it yet. Whenever I have the opportunity to train a group of interested, motivated, bright people, I learn as much as they do. It has recently come to my attention that there are objective ways to describe proper form for the basic barbell exercises that are valid for everybody who does them, regardless of their anthropometry. For example, it doesn’t matter how long your femurs or how short your back, the bar is going to come off the ground in a deadlift when the bar is directly under the shoulder blades. (For a detailed discussion of the deadlift, see my CrossFit Journal article "A New, Rather Long Analysis of the Deadlift.") This position will place the shoulders slightly forward of the bar and the arms at a slight angle back to it. This is a function of the mechanics of the skeleton, and is true even when form is bad: if the bar is too far away from the shins, and not right against them in a position that minimizes the torque against the hip joint, the bar still leaves the ground from a position plumb to the scapulas.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

Posted on February 10, 2007 in Powerlifting

powerlifting.jpg

Over the past six years our school’s powerlifting team has been quite successful. We have had about thirty athletes advance to state championship contests and eight have won first or second place. Three have gone on to win national championships, and two of those have made this year’s U.S. World Team and will represent the United States at the IPF Sub-Junior (18 years or less) World Championships in September.

Several months ago I came across a link to CrossFit.com, and, after sifting through the site for a while, I was hooked. As someone who appreciates the value of hard work, I knew I had to find a way to incorporate this type of training and conditioning into my team’s regimen. I will first describe our existing strength training system and then show how we have incorporated CrossFit methodologies to take the program to an even higher level.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

Posted on November 5, 2006 in Powerlifting

The force that is transferred from the back to the bar doesn’t just leap over to the arms through the air. It is transferred to the arms through the shoulder blades, and it just so happens that when the correct deadlift position is assumed, the shoulder blades—not the front of the deltoids—are in fact directly over the bar in a line perfectly plumb and vertical to the bar. Let’s review the basic force-generation mechanics of the deadlift and see if this makes any sense.

lift angles

The force that makes the bar go up is generated by the muscles that extend the knees and the hips, and this force is transferred up the rigid spine, across the scapulas to the arms and down to the bar. The weight leaves the floor when the quadriceps extend the knees, but for this to happen the hamstrings and glutes must anchor the hip angle in its position. The hamstrings pull down on the pelvis from below, and the glutes hold it from the top of the iliac crest; if the back stays flat this allows the force to travel up the rigid back held at a constant angle while the quads push the floor.

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