Reads for the Week

Lessons the Shirt Taught Me

category46
category46

Things got real weird on Friday night training with Ryan. What was scheduled to be a regular heavy bench session turned into my first time putting on a bench shirt. I have helped Ryan with his powerlifting gear many times before, but I've never really experienced first-hand how it feels to be in a squat suit or a bench shirt. Lesson #1: It's Not Comfortable

I learned very quickly that it doesn't feel too awesome being in the shirt. Getting it on was a pain, but I knew that was coming. I was used to being the guy on the other side of the shirt trying to force the shirt onto another human being, so I expected some discomfort. Luckily however, it was Ryan's old single-ply shirt and his enormous gunzzz stretched out the sleeves pretty nicely, making it a relatively smooth process to put it on. By the time we got the shirt on and got the sleeves and seams exactly where we wanted them I already wanted to take it off. It's super tight and forces you into a weird mummy-like position with your arms dangling out in front of you. You can't really do much about this situation until the shirt comes off.

I found myself rushing the rest periods between sets because I was more focused on getting the final set over with so I could take the evil thing off.

Lesson #2 I Couldn't Keep My Arch

The arched back seen in bench pressing is often demonized as being a flaw in technique or disadvantageous when trying to target the pecs. Whatever. I use an arch when benching because it helps to keep me tight on the bench, allows for better leg drive and provides better leverage overall to perform the lift. When benching "raw", I feel pretty confident about my arch, and I can keep it tight during the entirety of the lift. When benching in the shirt, however, I found myself losing my arch midway through the descending portion of the lift. This leads me to lesson #3...

Lesson #3 My Upper Back Is WEAK!

The shirt exposed my deep dark secret that my upper back is not up to par. When bench pressing in gear, the bar will not come down to your chest without a fight. You literally have to PULL the bar down while forcing yourself to maintain a proper arch. This takes some serious upper and mid back strength that I just didn't have. I could feel my arch collapsing and my once tightly packed shoulders becoming... not so tightly packed. Even when benching raw I always remember the cues to "row the bar down with the lats" and "keep the upper back tight," and I felt that I understood. The shirt let me know that what I originally thought was "tight enough" was an epic fail waiting to happen.

Although the shirt made me feel like a total n00b I walked away from the session with a lot to think about and a lot learned about my bench technique. I probably got some pretty good "overload" stimulation from the heavier weights that the shirt enabled me to use as well. Until next time, I'll just keep hammering away at heavy rows and pull-ups.

For your entertainment, here are a couple videos from the Friday night bench party.

Stuff You Should Read 8/31/12: Things I've Learned, The Difference Between Coaching Men vs. Women, and Sport Training for Jumpers and Sprinters

Before I get to the list, I have to show you the greatest thing I stumbled across this past month, thanks to Ryan:

If Bane says you should understand good squatting mechanics, then you should probably understand sound squatting mechanics. Case closed.

Alright, moving on to the list:

10 Things I've Learned: Ramblings From a Mathematically Challenged Fitness Coach - Alwyn Cosgrove

This article holds a special place in my heart as it was the FIRST article I ever read that helped bring me away from the stupid with regards to training people.

At the time of stumbling across the article, I was working as a personal trainer down at Virginia Tech. While yes, I was at least preaching the importance of squatting, progressive overload, and good technique, I was still following a very "Muscle & Fitness" approach to training: You know, attacking all the angles of each muscle group, omitting warm-ups, performing at least 40 total work sets during a session, tons of machine and leg press work, along with other equally useful things such as placing screen doors on submarines.

And no, I had no clue what a foam roller was, and yes, #26 and #28 on the list gave me a particularly well-deserved kick to the pants.

Upon reading this article, I immediately thought to myself, "What the....!!! Where have I been for the past couple years; hiding under a rock? What have I been wasting my time with reading?"

For those of you who haven't read it, I highly encourage you to click the link above.

Coaching Women and Coaching Men: Two Different Planets - Kelsey Reed

If you work in the coaching or training sector, in the weightroom or out on the field, it (hopefully) undoubtedly didn't take long for you to realize that teaching a male a skill versus teaching a female a skill can require particularly different approaches.

I thought Kelsey did an excellent job elucidating a few of the not-so-obvious differences between coaching men vs. women, with a few tips to boot.

Progression and Periodization for Elite Sprinters and Jumpers - Sarah Walls

This is an old(er) post from Sarah that I thought provided some awesome insight into training jumpers and sprinters. Considering that she is the strength & conditioning coach for the George Mason team (a consistently top team in America), this is written from someone who actually "walks the walk" of working with high level track athletes.

For those of you who enjoy a bit more of the "geeky" side of training, this will be right up your alley, as well.

Friday Musings: Butt Jump Roping, Pet Peeves, Star Wars A Cappella, Mentoring, etc.

1. The other day I had programmed some low volume jump roping for one of the girls, Paula, at SAPT. Upon watching her first session, it was quite evident that she was no foreigner to jump roping, so Coach Kelsey looks over at her in passing and and says, "You know, you're pretty good at those." To which Paula responds, "Well, I can also jump rope on my butt. So, using my feet isn't really that big a deal."

Obviously Kelsey and I had to see this stunt for ourselves, and asked her to perform a few reps. Needless to say, she knocked it out of the park, and it was the first time anyone in SAPT ever did anything like this:

2. Chris Romanow once told me, in a joking-but-not-really-joking tone, that the majority of people's goals (moving better, looking better, athletic performance, fat loss, remaining injury free, ruling the world, etc) could be solved by a healthy, regular dose of goblet squats and spidermans.

And the more I coach people and do these things myself, I'm right there with him. My personal contribution to the list would be loaded carries and kettlebell swings.

davidfarmerwalk
davidfarmerwalk

Do those four movements, multiple times a week and you're set.

3. These need to be posted at every youth sporting event. *Everywhere. I slow clap those that created and posted this sign:

4. A few of my pet peeves, in no particular order:

1. Morning People. More specifically, morning people who insist on talking to you within one hour of your morning awakening.

The morning should be used for three to four things: Enjoying a quality cup of coffee, spending some time on reflection (on what, that is up to you), reading, and perhaps pooping if that's what schedule you're on. Notice that talking is not on the list. Just because you are a morning person doesn't mean that the person that happens to be in the same bedroom/house as you likes to discuss the world's problems first thing in the A.M.

The only exceptions to this rule are A) If you're my wife (I love you, babe), and B) If I wake up past 10AM. People have every right to talk to me if I ever get out of bed that late.

2. When you're (manually) doing dishes and the cup/glass isn't large enough for your hand to reach all the way to the bottom, so you end up standing there, pinching your knuckles and skin into the glass, trying to stretch out your fingers with the sponge to barely reach the bottom.

3. When you're wearing socks and you step in something wet.

4a. People who don't turn right on red. More specifically, when you're driving down a two-lane road, and the person in front of you changes lanes into the right lane before the turn you need to make, but of course the light turns red so they end up blocking you for the next two minutes. Stay in the other lane and be considerate, dang it.

4b. Drivers who don't use their turn signal. I swear you could cut me off in traffic, but if you're using your signal, hey, you're good in my book.

4c. Those who won't get out of the left lane. I don't think I need to explain this any further, do I?

5. Extroverts. Why do you people always need to be around me and talking to me?!? Can't a man get some alone time around here? AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

6. People who squeeze the toothpaste tube in the wrong spot. You know who you are.

7. Overhead kettlebell swings. Wow....just, wow.....please stop.

8. Cracking knuckles. Makes me want to crawl into the fetal position each time I hear it. Never done it, don't plan on it any time soon.

9. When you're at a restaurant, and you finally achieved the perfect water temperate by getting the ice:water ratio just right, and the waiter comes along out of the blue, merrily filling up your glass without asking, completely screwing up everything you've worked so hard for.

10. Country music. 'Nuff said there.

5. I have no idea who this guy is, but can you say awesome? Here he does a a Star Wars themed, four-part a cappella musical tribute set to a few cinematic themes by composer John Williams.

Corey - If you live in the area, I'll give you a free assessment and coaching session for putting this together. Our address is 3831 Pickett Road, Fairfax, Va.

6. Read this article by Jim Wendler:

Mentoring Wendler

Here's a quick preview:

Towards the end of my senior year, I finally asked Darren why he never spoke to me during my first year in the weight room. And it was this lesson that I have taken with me in all areas of my life. His answer:

"Because you hadn't earned it. I've written hundreds of programs and helped so many kids and teachers with their training – and almost all of them quit after the first week. I had to see if you were going to stick with it. I had to see if you were serious. I'm not going to waste my time or my energy."

We all have someone like Darren in our lives. Unfortunately, few people are receptive to it or exhibit the will, heart, and resolve to show them that they deserve their attention.

I know because I see it around me daily. I see kids and lifters that ask questions and think they want to be great and strong, but always fall short of the small amount of commitment it takes to prove themselves. Everyone wants a handout rather than earn it. - Jim Wendler

Such awesome words of truth spoken by Jim Wendler here. I'm not sure if it's just me but it seems that the most recent generation seems to feel, for some odd reason, that they're the center of the universe, and that nothing can ever be their fault. If they didn't accomplish something or if they messed something up, there's an obvious excuse, right?

On top of that, I seem to experience more and more conversations with individuals who do wayyy too much talking, and too little listening.Well spoken, Jim.

7. This article is very cool, and definitely worth scrolling through all the pictures.

21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

I first learned about "The Bystander Effect" in a sociology course in college, and Tony Gentilcore actually wrote a great, quick piece about it HERE. Learning about such incidents always make my heart drop a bit, and question the general tendency that humans learn toward at times.

Scrolling through the pictures in the linked article definitely helped temper the "cynicism" of humanity that occasionally shrouds my thought processes. Ah, there is hope in the world!

That's all for now, have a great weekend everyone.

*Except for the sporting events of my future kids. **They're obviously the exception and need to open up a big can of you-know-what on their opponents.

**That's a joke***.

***Maybe.