A good way to improve your deadlift lockout…tear your calluses…and old skool video footage to prove it!!!

Today, from the vault I share with you deadlifting against bands.  Staring myself, and two of my old training partners, with musical contributions by the great Earl Simmons aka DMX, the most prominent members of all the Ruff Ryders.

Applications for, and what I like about, pulling against bands:

-Great for improving lockout, or “crushing the walnut” as we say at SAPT.  In retrospect, I’d program these in more of a speed, or dynamic, fashion as opposed to max effort (as seen in the video).  I feel training the speed in which the hip extension occurs will ultimately have a greater carryover.

-You can really overload lockout without having to perform the movement in a shortened ROM (i.e. rack pull).  Additionally, the overload at the top absolutely slams your grip, and promotes the adaptations necessary to handle your 9th max effort attempt of the day (in the case of a powerlifting competition which we were training for at the time).

-They are a great way to rip the calluses right-off your hand!  You’ll notice at the 1:12 mark I do a dainty little skip at the end of my set; ya, that’s where I partially tear the callus, and then at the 1:45 mark is where I finish it off.  Great, thanks for sharing, Chris.

***Note, a great way to keep your calluses at bay is while in the shower gently shave over them with your standard razor.  This removes most of the dead skin while not removing the callus all together.  Thanks, Todd Hamer!***

 What I don’t like about pulling against bands:

 -Kind-of a pain to set-up.

 -They put the bar in a fixed plane which may be detrimental for some trying to find their groove.

-From a programming standpoint I feel that they are more of an advanced progression and therefore aren't appliciable to most.

 -They’ll rip the calluses right-off your hand!

Yes, it should be noted that the lifting form exhibited in the video, by one individual in particular (crappy, fragmented footage used to protect the innocent), should not be used as reference for a “how to” deadlift manual.  Might I suggest you focus on the swarthy young-man in the green t-shirt…

Good times…hard to believe it’s been three years…

Chris AKA Romo

Black Bean Poop…it’s delicious…

Not only is my wife drop-dead gorgeous (points), but she’s a terrific cook (double points…take notes boys).  One of her specialties, and a meal my taste buds and colon love dearly, is her version of “Black Bean Soup,” which I prefer to call Black Bean Poop…I’m sure you can deduce why.  It’s both nutritious and delicious…I mean it’s so good it almost tastes bad for you…plus it’s an extremely versatile meal, and it’ll last you a long time. The recipe: (serves a bunch, you’ll have leftovers which is awesome)

Food prep:

 -Open 3-4 cans of black beans; a standard can, not the Costco barrels

-A generous couple handfuls of chopped carrots

-1/2 of a white onion, chopped into fairly fine bits

 The cooking:

 In a deep soup pan, begin by sautéing your carrots and onions in olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of pan) until soft.  Once soft, add minced garlic (garlic lovers can be generous), and saute for a bit longer; careful not to burn the garlic.

Next, add 1 tbsp of cumin, a few generous shakes of cayenne (good cooks don’t measure, duh, and I like mine spicy), 3/4 tsp coriander, 32 oz. beef broth and the 3-4 cans of black beans (juice included).  Stir it all up and let simmer for 15-20min.

Stroll to television and witness the Sox continuing to choke away the wildcard…make a u-turn back into the kitchen.

We like to serve our black bean poop on a bed of quinoa.  See quinoa label for cooking instructions. 

After the soup has simmered for about 15-20min, take your hand blender and gently blend until you’ve reached your desired soupy consistency; I like mine chunky.  After blending, add ½ cup of dry sherry, and stir it up.

 Take your quinoa off the stove, mix the two together, and enjoy!

 What’s great is that later in the week your leftovers can be used to make bean burritos; add some fresh slices of avocado and a sprinkling of cheese…and now you’re eatin’ gooood.

The cure for the common case of constipation,

 Sous Chef Chris

What you’re not getting from your three easy payments of 19.99…

My main qualm with most “at-home-on-your-own” training protocols is that there really is no “quality control” component.  As you’ve heard us reference countless times on this site, the intended benefit of an exercise is only realized when execution is correct.  Improper execution of a movement will yield less than optimal results, and the potential for injury.  Check-out the two video clips below of one of our distance clients, Frank. 

You’ll notice in the first video he’s significantly more disjointed and off-balanced in comparison to the second (watch again).  Well there’s a reason.  After receiving the following feedback from me he was able to lock-in the form much better: 

Watch your video closely and you’ll notice that every time your back knee touches the ground heavy, your lead leg (the knee) shifts inward slightly, meaning the glute med didn’t quite fire on time to absorb the force.  The reps that are beautiful, you’ll notice there wasn’t the slightest deviation of the knee. Think 'front-knee-out' every repetition.”

Watch the videos again, did you catch it?

Frank’s, reply:

Wow! I never would have seen that!  It seems so clear now!  I never understood why some reps seemed so hard…excellent feedback!

This is something that would have gone unnoticed by most, and certainly in a scenario where the only coaching feedback you receive is your dog incessantly barking at you while your knee slips into valgus…and the tape just keeps on rolling…

Start receiving the attention to detail you deserve by clicking HERE…


Hyena Butt?

Today, one of the Mason interns was troubled and confused as to why he couldn't achieve a below parallel squat without his pelvis slipping into posterior tilt, and lumbar spine into flexion . I describe this squatting mistake as "hyena butt."  Come on, you've seen a hyena run…Their butt is always tucked in toward their front haunches…Or maybe it looks more like a scared dog tucking its tail…Whatever you want to call it, it’s not good.  Here’s what’s happening or not happening when you see it, and some techniques to help remedy the situation. Weak psoai are the primary culprit of hyena butt.  Because few actively achieve hip flexion above 90 degrees (psoai aren’t activated below 90 degrees) during their weekly routines, the psoai become dormant.  In situations requiring a significant amount of hip flexion, such as a below parallel squat, weak psoai will limit one’s ability to maintain proper pelvic anterior tilt, causing one to draw ROM from the lumbar spine.  This compensation leads to the hyena butt. 

Being able to maintain proper lumbar spine alignment during hip flexion is significant for a couple reasons.  First, without proper lumbar spine alignment, hamstring and glute function will be compensated significantly limiting the generation and transmission of force. Second, lazy posai will often cause the other flexors of the hip to become tight and overactive.  Frequent knee and back pain can be experienced with imbalances in this area.  Lastly, the shear stress imposed on the spine during lumbar flexion is tremendous.  Slap a couple hundred pounds on your back, as you would during a below parallel squat, then round that lower back (hyena butt), and by god you’ve mixed yourself a delicious cocktail called disc herniation…best if enjoyed supine.  

But, there is still hope for all my hyena butt friends.  There are a variety of drills to strengthen the psoai.  They require quite a bit of precision, careful progression and typically the watchful eye of coach.  Here's one taken from our online database of exercises used to coach our distance clients.  It's called the "seated psoas march."  Coaching cues include, sitting with the knees just above 90 degrees; point toes-up; lift foot off of ground while maintaining a neutral spine (lower back shouldn't move!).

So come see us at, SAPT!


Happy Labor Day

A quick perspective on coaching…

My contribution this week delves more into the delivery aspect of my job as a strength coach. Yesterday, marked the start of my first full year with the university I coach at and it got me thinking about all the intangibles of coaching that oddly enough, I’m as equally cognizant of/concerned with than the actual programming that I provide the student-athletes under my watch. Here’s the simple fact, maintaining my status as “leader” of a group of 30 alphas, is the most important, and exhausting, part of my job. How do I maintain rapport? Here’s what works for me:

Consistency: In no circumstance do I deviate from the expectations I place on my student-athletes. And it doesn’t matter if you’re the guy that hit 20 bombs last year, or the utility guy that had 20 pinch-hit appearances, they’re both the same in my book. If I’m going to lift with perfect form, they’re going to lift with perfect form, everyday; I don’t care if that means their preconceived strength prowess takes a hit. Overtime, the garnered respect, and the athletes realized improvements, will speak for themselves.

Civil: The coaches I had who got all hot and bothered, enjoyed tossing around profanities, never did much for me (thankfully this was extremely infrequent!). In fact, I found it kind of humorous that they couldn’t come-up with more intelligent ways to voice their displeasure with a certain individual or situation. Even if their “constructive criticism” was delivered with a smattering of “bombs,” it always felt weird. It's like listening to a friend attempting to share some guidance after a couple too many, kind-of intelligible but the frequent burping is all you really remember. I always try to get my point across without all the theatrics so my message isn’t muddled as it passes through oftentimes still maturing-thick-skulls and short attention spans. They’ll respect the civil delivery, and the line separating friend, and authority figure will remain clearly intact. Plus high-blood pressure runs in my family.

Belief: I don’t care how little, or how much, you know about developing a plan of best practice, any doubt you have in what you’re imposing will be quickly exposed. I encourage questioning from my student-athletes as it’s a way for them to learn and recognize all the considerations that go into the plan I provide them. This dialogue also proves to them that each and every movement on the sheet has a purpose. But, whether my approach today will be the same as it is tomorrow, I have to believe in what’s on the sheet. Because sometimes looking a kid in the eye and saying, “because based on my current understanding, I believe it’ll make you a better person and athlete,” is reason enough. Believe in yourself, believe in your capabilities, and they’ll have no choice but to believe in you.

Maybe this made sense,