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Why Bodybuilding is the Best General Fitness Training

This post first deserves a disclaimer as to what I mean by bodybuilding training. When I say bodybuilding I am not talking specifically about the physiques most people would associate with bodybuilding. Those such as Arnold and others who seem to possess muscle mass that most don’t think is possible. Because it usually isn’t possible without the aid of performance enhancing substances. Instead, what I am talking about when I use the term “bodybuilding” is a style of training which puts focus on gaining muscle mass and losing body fat. If you polled most people as to what they would like an exercise program to change about their body they would say something along the lines of getting more “defined” or more “toned.” Meaning, more muscle and less body fat. The disconnection comes when people think the best way to achieve this goal of becoming more defined is by doing more cardio. More running, more treadmill work, more minutes spent on the elliptical, etc, etc. There is nothing against these forms of exercise, but they are not the best option to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. I will argue that bodybuilding style training is the best option for that. Bodybuilding style training consists mostly of free weight, barbell, and cable/machine training. That is because these tools allow an individual to best stimulate the muscle in a way to promote an increase in size. That is because you can use a heavy enough load and stimulate specific muscles directly. This would be the different between choosing a leg press over a front squat for instance. The leg press specifically targets the legs and someone can use way more load on a leg press than a front squat. Allowing them to promote more hypertrophy of the legs. The front squat also has a steep learning curve that the leg press doesn’t. Bodybuilding style training has gotten a little bit of a bad rep over the years because people have claimed it isn’t “functional.” Using machines or barbell and dumbbells only will prevent moving in a semi-unathletic way. Arguing these claims would take another article, but I will just say that this type of training won’t if you balance it with other athletic activities, and most people really don’t want to be super athletic at the end of the day. They want to look good. If you are a normal person and by normal I mean someone not trying to train to the absolute extremes in the gym it may to help get a different perception of bodybuilding in your mind. Don’t think of the extremely muscle bound people that are taking steroids, eating only chicken and broccoli, and getting up on stage with a spray tan. Simply think, weight training. And, if you do want to remain a little more athletic with age, you can add some medicine ball plyometric circuits at the end of your bodybuilding workout.

Why Bodybuilding is the Best General Fitness Training

How to Avoid Surgery and Get Back to Living the Life You Want to Live

You injured yourself. This time it’s actually pretty bad. You go to the doctor they tell you to try rehab, but you will likely need surgery. But, you don’t want surgery because you still want to do the things you love to do. Whether that be Jiu-Jitsu, Weightlifting, fishing, etc. Surgery will take away a lot of time from doing these things and in the extreme cases sometimes it will prevent you from ever doing them again. You politely tell the doctor to fuck off. But, what’s next? After I left high school people told me the new wrestling coach power cleaned 300lbs while having no functioning ACL’s. I personally rehabbed someone back from an ACL tear in the gym without having surgery. Many athletes perform at the highest levels while having a crucial ligament torn. You don’t NEED to get surgery to function. How we train in the gym following an injury can be crucial in the rehab process and long-term development of an athlete/client. There are two crucial variables that I think heavily determine how effective your rehab process is. That is load management and exercise selection. The site of an injury is fairly sensitive to load. A 30lbs dumbbell now “aggravates” the shoulder. It is appropriate to only use loads that the site of injury can tolerate and gradually increase the load so the site can gradually adapt to the stressor and send the biological resources necessary to grow “stronger.” Secondly, exercise selection is crucial so as to not place any unnecessary load/force onto the site of injury. This is where a 1-arm cable lat pulldown might be a much better option after a shoulder injury than a pull-up because the pulldown you are getting nothing but muscular tension rather than stress on the joint/ligaments. If you can really dial in these two variables I think you can have massive success in avoiding surgery and getting clients back to living the lives they want to live. The more experience you have the better you are going to be at this process.

How to Avoid Surgery and Get Back to Living the Life You Want to Live

How Much Squatting Do You Need in Olympic Lifting?

A common question in Weightlifting circles is, "how much squatting do you need to get better at the snatch and clean and jerk?” This question can largely depend on the needs of each individual lifter, but I think it also has a largely general answer. The goal of Weightlifting is to have the highest snatch and clean and jerk. These are literally the only two lifts that matter. You never get tested for your squat strength on meet day. The best lifters are the ones who are great at the snatch and clean and jerk—not necessarily the squat. Yes, squatting can give you the increase in leg strength that might allow you to lift more weight on the bar in the snatch and clean and jerk, but I think this has largely been overestimated by coaches. For a newer lifter I don’t think they need to squat very much at all. They may need to front squat to get the mobility and movement of the front rack down, but their limiting factor is largely going to be their technique. No amount of squatting and increasing their strength is going to get them more technically sound. For intermediate and advanced lifters you can make the argument that they need more squatting because they aren’t as limited from a technical perspective. Especially advanced lifters. It all comes down to how you want to spend most of your time in the gym. You only have so much time to train and only a few things you can really focus on getting better at. One thing that squatting a lot will do is increase fatigue, which will allow you to put less energy into the snatch and clean and jerk. We all know the lifters who can barely front squat more than their best clean and jerk. This is because they are extremely technically competent and their is very little energy being lost in unwanted movement during the lifts. We also know the lifters who are insanely strong, but can’t snatch very much because their movement isn’t great. I say this slightly tongue-in-cheek, but there is also a lot of truth in the statement: “the best way to get better at snatch and clean and jerk is to snatch and clean and jerk.” Everyone loves squatting and being able to increase their strength on the squat. I do just as much as anyone else, but don’t forget the only two lifts that matter in Weightlifting are the snatch and clean and jerk. And to truly get better at these lifts we likely need to spend the majority of our time mastering these movements at appropriate levels of difficulty.

How Much Squatting Do You Need in Olympic Lifting?

"Extend," But Not Too Much

There was a time when I first got super into Olympic lifting that I excessively fixated on the “triple extension” of the lift. I thought this was by far the most important part of the lift. Plus, I thought it was the coolest part of the lift as well. There is something I think that is important to note about this extension of the lift. As you see in the picture here the hips and knees are about as fully extended as they can be during the lift. What is important is that in this moment there is virtually no force continuing to be applied into the floor. This position is the result of the lifter’s peak force/velocity, which occurs right before this position, and not the cause of peak force/velocity. When lifters fixate too much on trying to find this extremely extended position what you might find is that they are trying to push into the ground too long and/or are delaying getting under the bar. Usually as a result of trying to extend for too long. You might find that extremely successful lifters might not ever reach full knee extension. This is because they have figured out how to produce maximum or “enough” velocity on the bar while simultaneously accelerating themselves under the bar. Weightlifting isn’t just a sport about velocity, but change of direction as well. Due to this, it is important to get a crucial understanding and experience of the physics of the lift. If your body is continuing to move vertical while peak velocity has already been achieved on the bar, you might be losing a few kilos on your lifts.

"Extend," But Not Too Much

A Case for Bottom-Up Weightlifting

In complex systems theory there is this idea that small stressors to a system magnify over time. While something may not seem catastrophic to a system in the near-term, and perhaps it is even beneficial to the system, over time it can have catastrophic effects. This idea is also called the “law of unintended consequences.” But, what does this have to do with Weightlifting? A lot of Olympic lifting is taught from the top down. Meaning, when a lifter first starts to learn the lifts, they might learn the overhead position first, then they learn the position at the hip, then the knee, and then finally the floor. This is a pretty popular way in which many coaches decide to first teach the Olympic lifts to someone. There is nothing inherently wrong with this way, but I believe an approach from the bottom up is actually better. Just like I mentioned with complex systems, how small mistakes magnify over time, as to with Weightlifting, this same idea applies. If a lifter doesn’t have a good position off the floor, a tiny mistake here can result in an even bigger mistake when the bar gets to the hip. So, at Lift Lab, we decide to first teach the lifter a good starting position, and then a good position bringing the bar off the floor to the knee. The only reason as to why we do this is because we feel it sets the lifter up much better when they start to drill positions at the hip. We believe that lifters might have made a bunch of technical progress at the hip, but then when you move them to the floor they can’t even get into a good position at the hip, because they screwed up in some way off the floor. So, in order to limit this magnitude of mistakes we try to keep mistakes very small or negligible at the beginning of the lift to set the lifter up for success to finish the lift. This might have been a mistake of mine during my first 3-4 years coaching the Olympic lifts. I was so worried about good position and execution at the hip and when the lifter finishes their “pull,” that I was setting the lifter up for optimal success when they had to do the full lift from the floor. I now see and truly believe that learning an ideal start position and push off the floor is extremely crucial in the rest of the lifter’s learning and development as time goes on. Just as something can look sweet early on there may be unintended consequences to this. Cookies taste sweet in the present, but if you eat too many you can quickly gain weight. Dial in a quality position off the floor so you can limit mistakes the rest of the lift. If you have any technical questions in regards to Weightlifting, or how you can get started in the sport, please feel free to contact me at Justin@liftlabco.com. We would love to help in your journey.

A Case for Bottom-Up Weightlifting

A Comprehensive Approach to Nutrition

I am reading Peter Thiel's "Zero to One" right now and he mentions looking for secrets in certain areas as a place for innovation. What is nature keeping a secret and what are people keeping a secret? One place he mentions secrecy is in academia, and believe it or not he points to nutrition. Physics has been around as an established science forever and we know more about the physics of the stars than we do about our own nutrition. Hence, nutrition may be holding some secrets. It seems quite obvious that no one can agree upon a comprehensive approach to nutrition. No one in the sciences can and no one in the public domain can either. Each new week there is a new diet being branded as the best way to do (insert something that can be achieved easily). All of these diets seem to miss the mark. How can people make reasonable nutrition decisions when they get contradictory info everywhere they look? It doesn’t need to be that way. We can take a principled approach to make informed decisions and not leave us victim to the newest set of fraudulent marketing schemes. When it really comes down to it nutrition is all about energy. Consuming energy in the form of food to keep us alive. Thousands of years ago it used to be hard to get food, which is why most humans were skinny relative to today, because they simply couldn’t eat all the time. We have the opposite problem these days. We have no shortage of food and the most easily available forms of food are extremely calorie dense. Nutrition can easily be understood from a simple energy balance equation. If you consume more energy (in the form of food) than you expend (in the form of exercise, regular bodily processes to keep you alive, etc.) then you will store excess energy (in the form of fat, or even muscle in some circumstances). This is your typical weight gain scenario. However, most advice I see in the nutrition sphere seems to distract people from this simple truth. Yes, there is more to healthy nutrition, but to me this seems like the most principled starting point. You have to understand this. When talking about healthy nutrition decisions I think we have to first focus on body weight and composition. Most unwanted effects of poor health can be largely attributed to being overweight and lack of exercise. The focus of this post is the former. Directly influencing your body composition to keep you at a healthy weight (different for each individual) will solve a large portion of health related problems. So, it stands to reason that are biggest focus should be on improving our body composition. A lot of nutrition advice tends to focus on what you are eating. I think this is important, but not as important as how much you are eating. You can still overeat on all the “right” things, and therefore you are still overweight. If you control how much you eat in relation to how much energy you tend to expend you can start to specifically make positive body composition changes. Some will say, "yeah you can lose weight by only eating sugar, but that’s not healthy.” While this is partially true, I am only concerned about calorie consumption as the first order of business. Also, it will likely be super hard to eat the appropriate amount of calories only from sugar, or only from fat, or only from protein for that matter. Your biology and environment are a self-regulating process to this in a sense. Once, and only once you start to find the appropriate energy balance equation to get and keep you at a healthy body composition, can you really start to worry about what you eat. Most people, and no attack on them because they are being conditioned to, focus on the reverse. You can consume all the Vitamin D, CBD oil, or micronutrients you want, but if your energy balance isn’t right you will still be overweight, and still have to face the negative consequences of that. There is a lot more that can be said in regards to nutrition, but that’s where I think our problem begins, and this lets people sell advice that have no business selling advice. What we need is a comprehensive and universal approach that can work for most people most of the time. That is what I attempted to lay out here. Finding and maintaining a healthy body composition is going to do more for your health than any nutrition program telling you what to eat. The biggest part of finding and maintaining a healthy body composition is to find the right balance between how much energy you are consuming to how much you are expending. Most people, because most people are overweight, need to error on the side of consuming less and expending more. The matter of best nutrition practices really comes down to this equation of energy balance. Yes, some other things have their place, but let’s make sure we’re not missing the forest from the trees. Interested in contacting a coach? Click HERE

A Comprehensive Approach to Nutrition

Transferring From Crossfit to Olympic Lifting

At Lift Lab, we have been lucky enough to work with a lot of Crossfitters that wanted to get a deeper taste of the sport of Weightlifting. Honestly, Crossfit gets somewhat of a bad reputation in the Weightlifting community, but there are a lot of benefits in having a background in Crossfit. Today I want to discuss where Crossfitters tend to have some strengths that will help them in Weightlifting, and where some of their weaknesses tend to lie. Hopefully, if you are someone with a Crossfit background that wants to make the switch to Weightlifting, this will help you. Disclaimer: I will use "Weightlifting and Olympic lifting here interchangeably, but I am talking about the same thing. Strengths So, what are some strengths that Crossfitters tend to have? One thing is for certain is that most of them have incredible work capacity. Crossfit is centered around getting a ton of work done in as little amount of time as possible. This capacity helps a lot from an Olympic lifting standpoint because it will prepare them to handle a lot of training volume. Being able to handle a lot of training volume means more time to practice technique and get a lot of reps in. A Crossfit background also gives a lot of people a decent base of strength to start with. I don't think anyone would compare Crossfitters to very strong Powerlifters, but they do have a good foundation of strength. This means when they start a Weightlifting program not as much time needs to be spent on developing strength, and that excess time can be spent on developing technique related to the Olympic lifts. I will branch off and be a bit more specific about the last quality, and say that a lot of Crossfitters have pretty good overhead strength. A lot of movements in Crossfit are overhead movements so they have pretty good strength developed in this area. This is huge in Weightlifting because the snatch and clean and jerk are overhead movements, and you need to be competent in that area. Again, that is just one less thing that has to be developed when starting a Weightlifting program. Weaknesses Now for the weaknesses, which I am sure everyones loves... While Crossfitters have very good work capacity, this actually limits them in some areas. A lot of training in Crossfit is around the 60-80% range for higher reps. Not a whole lot of training gets done at heavier weights and less reps. This is great if you want to get bigger muscles and good conditioning, but not the best if you want to get strong at specific lifts. We find that a lot of technique from Crossfitters really breaks down once they get above this 75-80% threshold. I'm sure I am not the first one to say this, but Crossfitters don't typically have the best Olympic lifting technique. And, they don't really have to. A lot of Crossfit is done under fatigue and how fast you can muster up a bunch of reps. They need to just be efficient as they need to be to complete a certain amount of reps in a given amount of time. However, this doesn't help them much if they want to get stronger Olympic lifts. Lastly, I will get a bit more specific on the technique part. We tend to see a trend in technique weaknesses when we assess many athletes from a Crossfit background. Most of them like to shift the weight and pressure to the front of their foot throughout the lift, which results in swinging the bar forward, and they also tend to not be the best split jerkers. I think this is because the former allows them to complete reps a bit faster in a WOD, and the latter is simply that they don't practice split jerks that much. One could say that you can just get really good at power or push jerks, but I come from the opinion that one will almost always be stronger in a split. Which is why most of the best Olympic lifters in the world split jerk. What to work on? So, how does one take this information and make it practical? Well, first of all you have to decide if you want to really get better at Olympic lifting or not. If you don't, then keep doing Crossfit, and most of what I say next won't apply to you. If you want to get better at Olympic lifting then below are some things I think you may benefit from working on. I don't necessarily think you have to stop doing Crossfit, but depending on how much you do it, one less day/week might be beneficial. I think Crossfitters will benefit from doing less reps. Yes, you read that right....less reps. This doesn't necessarily mean less reps totally, but less reps in a given set. If you want to get better at snatch and clean and jerk I think it would be wise to work on them at heavier weights than you might in a Crossfit WOD, with a lot more rest built in. This will give you more practice at heavier weights, and will give you more time to work on technique when you aren't tired. No matter how hard you want to or try, you simply can't really focus on technique if you are exhausted. Crossfitters will also benefit from general strength work at higher percentages and less reps. I think this is the area that generally gets neglected in Crossfit. Like I said, a lot of work is done from 60-80%. I think they should work on developing at higher percentages. Like I mentioned above, many would also be better served to work on split jerk a lot more as over time you will be able to do more weight this way. Lastly, it is probably a good idea to find a good Weightlifting coach and start getting some coaching a couple days a week. This is the only way you can really fine-tune your technique over time. I know a lot of people think they can coach themselves, but it simply isn't the best long-term solution. Fortunately, we can definitely help you out with that last part. If you are interested in bettering you Olympic lifting technique, please reach out to me at Justin@liftlabco.com and I would love to get you set up for an assessment!

Transferring From Crossfit to Olympic Lifting

Heavy Practice

Any session over 90% is a roll of the dice . High performance is a physical, mental, and technical combination. Some days go better than others. This lift by lift progression shows a heavy session finishing in a PR for both lifts! During warm up larger jumps are made. Above 90% decreasing incremental jumps are made to and beyond 100%. Remember. Above 100% the athlete is going to a place they have never been. If you hit PR, move on. Contact a Coach HERE! #liftlab #liftlabathlete #weightlifting #olympiclifting #olympicweightlifting #indy #indydowntown #indiana #cleanandjerk #nikeweightlifting #usaweightlifting #usaw #indyfitness #rogue #ryourogue #snatch #indianaweightlifting

Heavy Practice

Plyometrics for Olympic Weightlifting

Weightlifting is a very technical sport. Much like golf, if you want to get better at snatch and clean and jerk, you have to do both of those things more to master proficiency. However, there are some other qualities that can help us express our technical proficiency to lift more weight on the bar. One of those qualities is power output. Weightlifting, aside from being a technical sport, is a very explosive sport. It stands to reason that if an athlete can become more explosive, their Olympic lifts will improve, all else being equal. The one way we improve power output in our programming is through plyometrics. Another word for jumps, throws, and even sprints. Whatever the drill or exercise, the main objective is to produce as much force as possible in the shortest amount of time as possible. Below are a few reasons how plyometrics can be beneficial to a Weightlifter. Increased Power This one might seem a bit obvious. The more you do plyometrics the more likely you are to see increases in power output. That is, if you are programming them intelligently. If you take someone's vertical jump, and put them on a properly periodized and progressive jump program you will see that vertical jump go up in at least two months. This doesn't have to be an extensive jump program, but 10 minutes during your warm-up before your Olympic lifting training session will do. I would bet a decent amount of dollars that you will see increases in vertical jump height for someone that hasn't added the plyometrics into their program previously. Now, everyone is different and has a certain genetic potential they can reach when it comes to speed and power output. Some people are just born with an ability to jump high while others are born without that ability. However, everyone has a window of potential that they can increase by training. You can be someone who is nothing but slow-twitch, but you can still make increases in power if you train hard and smart. You just might not be that someone who gets from a 30" vertical to a 40." Lastly, it stands to reason if you can increase a measure like vertical jump height, this increased quality is likely to transfer over, even if it is a little, to the sport of Weightlifting. Increased Elasticity There is a little bit more to gain from plyometrics than just raw power output. Power output really only tests whether you can produce a lot of force in a short period of time in one direction. But, something like a vertical jump doesn't tell you how well you can change direction. When I am talking about elasticity here, I am talking about the ability to change direction, or the ability for your muscles to go from a state of contraction (or force output), to a state one might call "relaxation" (no force output), and then be able to contract again. An example would be a hurdle hop. You have to produce force to jump over the hurdle, but then you have to be able to relax so when you hit the ground again your muscles can contract and spring you back up over the next hurdle. In this example, if you didn't possess the ability to "relax" your muscles after the first jump you wouldn't be able to spring back up, and you would continue to move towards the floor. Muscles have to relax, or yield a little bit in order for the force to be able to be distributed through the muscles and therefore the entire system. This has some relation to getting under the bar in Weightlifting. If someone doesn't have the ability to yield or relax after producing high force, they might not be one who can get under the bar fast. Driving the bar up on Olympic lifts is about producing force, but getting under is about how fast you can stop this production of force to propel yourself back under the bar. A good example is a Powerlifter who can produce a lot of force, but they don't have the elasticity to drop themselves under the bar. You can see this quite easily at the beginning stages of a Powerlifter that transitions to Weightlifting. Increased Coordination Jumps, throws and all of their variations take quite a bit of motor coordination. That is, your nervous system's ability to synchronously recruit all the appropriate motor units needed to perform a specific task. The more complex the task, like jumping, throwing, and sprinting, the harder that is to do. Which is why it's probably a bit easier to develop a very strong squatter, but much harder to take an average joe and make them a decent sprinter. The motor coordination involved in sprinting happens at a much higher rate, and is therefore likely harder to develop. Anyways, Olympic lifting is another task that is fairly complex and takes quite a bit of coordination to complete both lifts. Just watch anyone who tries to snatch for the first time. If someone already has decent coordination or general athletic ability, they tend to catch on to the Olympic lifts quite a bit quicker than someone with no athletic background. If we incorporate some plyometrics in an athlete's program this should develop some decent overall motor coordination, which should transfer to the main Olympic lifts. These can be a great added benefit to someone new to the sport that doesn't have a previous athletic background. At the end of the day, nothing is going to get you better at Olympic lifting more than practicing the Olympic lifts very consistently. However, adding plyometrics for 10-15 minutes at the beginning of one's training sessions can give them some great added benefits complementary to the Olympic lifts.

Plyometrics for Olympic Weightlifting

Why Muscle Sensation Isn't the Best Indicator of Movement Competency

A lot of times we might hear a client ask, "where should I be feeling this?" This is an appropriate question as the client wants to make sure they are performing the movement correctly, or at least, what they think is correctly. However, I think we should be thinking a bit differently about movement to optimize our time in the gym, and to have a better understanding of what is truly going on. We've sort of been indoctrinated to only think about muscles when it comes to lifting. That's because, we've all seen the great bodybuilders, and when we lift weight, we grow muscle so it only makes sense that we should mostly think about muscles. But, if we want a better understanding of movement as a whole, we need to think about the human system altogether. So, here's a model we can work with... Our skeletal structure matters. The orientation of muscle fibers and their interactions with joints, tendons, and bones matter, and the way the fluid moves in all of these structures is going to determine how we move. Additionally, we have brains that influence movement. I look at these things as being interconnected and they sort of all give feedback to each other in the way that we move. You can't just squeeze your glutes harder to activate them or to feel them work more. You may have to change the position of your skeleton to change the orientation of your glutes so more force and tension is placed upon them. You'd be amazed at how many people feel a glute bridge in their back until you tell them to not arch their back, and simply slowly push with the legs. Your nervous system will also dictate how much sympathetic tone is placed in a given muscle. You may feel that certain muscles simply can't "relax." The lower back is typically an area where this occurs. This can be due to a lot of heavy training where your nervous system implements the good ole "fight or flight" response to allow you to lift heavy weight but may be sucky at shutting this response "off." However, we can also use other interventions, one being changing structural position, to give feedback to the nervous system to reduce this sympathetic tone, but it still seems to me like a two-way street. So, what does all this mean on the training floor? We shouldn’t only be thinking about muscles when observing or coaching a movement. Muscle sensation can be useful in guiding our approach, but it isn’t the best indicator that the movement is meeting the desired outcome, and we have to respect how the system operates as a whole. Feeling the lower back on fire on an RDL probably tells you that they aren’t performing the movement with as much efficiency as they can, or it tells you that it might not be the right exercise for the job. This is all contextually dependent on the goals. Someone can also be performing a movement that looks quite perfect, but they don’t seem to be feeling it in the muscles you would like them to feel them in. I have seen countless RDL’s that look quite competent, but once asked if they feel it in their hamstrings, there’s a look of “no, all lower back.” This can give us feedback from a coaching perspective to adjust or coach the movement in a subtle way that leads to the outcome you want. Again, we can’t be too glued to specific exercises and as coaches we need to put our ego aside and pick a better exercise if one isn’t meeting the criteria we need. Instead of overcoaching to the point of confusion and exhaustion, pick something that the client can manage. As coaches, we obviously have some boxes we need to check when someone is completing a movement. We can’t just prescribe a heels elevated goblet squat and let the client go about the movement willy-nilly. I know there are coaches who do this, but those I don’t find the need to address. What is the goal of the movement, and what are some good indicators that the movement or exercise is meeting the goal? This is where our understanding of the human movement system as a whole becomes crucial. If we only take the limited perspective of muscles, we are likely going to miss some things. I think sensation is a good indicator, but not muscles specifically. For example, if I prescribe a front rack front foot elevated split squat to achieve the desired outcome of quad hypertrophy and movement adaptability/variability I want a few things to be happening. I want the medial arch on the ground, and I want the space between the shoulder blades and backside of the rib cage to feel expanded. I know these sorts of cues and sensations are synonymous with increased relative motion throughout the system. I don’t have to put someone on the table and measure their hip flexion to see this. Through experience and observation, I know these positions are usually (not ALL the time) synonymous with increased motion. I would guess that if you put someone on the table and measured you will find a favorable increase in motion, but it is important to remember table tests aren’t completely objective either. If I am only looking at the sensation at the quad I could easily be fooled. You can make someone work hard enough at anything and you will eventually achieve the desired muscle sensation. Muscles are part of the human body and therefore should always be considered when looking at movement outcomes. I just think we need to respect everything else. Neurological factors, connective tissue, fluid, and even the pressure of the air inside our bodies effect the way we move. Muscles can fool us quite easily if that’s the only thing we are looking at. I have seen many programs with the intent of prescribed exercises to target specific muscles or muscle groups. I think a better idea is to program based on biomechanical patterns. This way you are less likely to be fooled and have a few better indicators if the movement is achieving the desired outcome. Load and velocity are also important but outside the scope of this article. If there is one thing to take away from this, I hope it is that you have to have to be very intentional in how and why you prescribe certain exercises and have clearly defined criteria to see if the movement is meeting the desired outcome. Muscle sensation is important, but it’s not the only dog in the fight.

Why Muscle Sensation Isn't the Best Indicator of Movement Competency

How to Supplement Strength Training With Your Primary Training

Contrary to some, strength training isn’t the only type of training involved in someone’s life. Some train for Jiu-Jitsu, some have a sport they play where strength training is just supplementation, or some even have hobbies that require a decent amount of physical or skill-based effort. The questions then becomes, when should I add strength training? Should I strength train before or after I go to the batting cage? Should I strength train before or after Jiu-Jitsu practice? Should I strength train before or after I go work with my pitching coach? Should I do my strength training before or after cardio? I have a very simple answer to this, at least, I think I do. At the end of the day everyone only has so much physical effort they can exert. It is beneficial to think of this like a gas tank. Some people have a bigger or smaller tank than others. The tank represents the relative amount of physical resources you can exert on physical stuff. The more well trained you are, the bigger the tank, and vice versa. So, whatever your goals are, I believe it is important to train the most important thing first. There becomes an important distinction here. Some training is based on general physical effort. Other training is more skill-based. Batting practice is way more skill-based than running 4 miles for your cardio. Because skill-based training takes quite a bit more overall motor coordination, I think it is important to always do your skill practice first. The last thing you want to do when you practice pitching is to have super fatigued legs from squatting right before because you are likely to not get much out of it. If you have two practices that are equal in the skill work involved, I would train whatever is most important first. You have to be able to make the distinction between what is skill-based and what is not. I would say any sort of training or practice you are doing for sport is likely to be more skill-based than your strength training, and therefore it should be first. Ideally, I would try to spread out all of the training into their own days unless it is not possible. If someone has to have two different training days on the same day, the skill-based training comes first unless unless they can get adequate rest during the day before the next training session. I think it is important to build up your gas tank as much as possible so you can accumulate more work in a given day. The more work and training you can accumulate, the better the athlete you will be. There becomes a downside if you try to build up your gas tank too fast and your body can't recover so you end up just beating it down more and more. This would be an example of training on "E," as opposed to actually making your gas tank bigger. You only have so much physical effort you can give in a day. If you want to be a great marathon runner, and strength training is taking up 60-70% of your overall training volume, I would say that you are doing it wrong. You are going to adapt to specific stressors and the intensity of those stressors. If you can only go at about 50% on your cardio because you are so tired from strength training you won't get much out of that cardio except more fatigue. The same is applied for sport. Strength training can be a great supplemental tool to help you in other endeavors. Just make sure it doesn’t become the thorn in your side that is actually preventing you from making progress at what is most important. Email me at Justin@liftlabco.com if you have any additional questions!

How to Supplement Strength Training With Your Primary Training

What Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Olympic Weightlifting Have in Common

"Justin, are pull-ups good for Weightlifting?" Someone asked me this at the gym the other day. At first, I wasn't quite sure how to answer. On one hand, yes, of course. Getting a bigger and stronger upper back will of course help your Weightlifting ability. However, on the other hand, I thought, the only thing that is going to get you better at Weightlifting is more Weightlifting. So, don't be too concerned wasting your time over doing the pull ups. It has to be some sort of bias of the human brain that makes us want to focus on the things that don't matter in order to avoid the things that do matter, because we don't want to do them. You could give someone the best advice in the world, tell them an exact plan they need to follow to achieve their goals, and they will find a way to focus on the unimportant stuff. I think this is mainly because the stuff that we know we need to do becomes mundane and boring so we start to focus on other things in order to add some variety and spice back into our training routine. This post isn't about the next best scientifically researched strength and conditioning program, or the "top 5 exercises to get you strong." This is simply a post about skill development. Which is something Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Weightlifting have in common. I think it is in our nature as strength and conditioning coaches to place a bit too much value on strength training and not enough value on sport play. I think this is simply because most of us are meatheads, most of us saw a bunch of self-improvement from strength training, and in a way, our job is to get people strong. But, I think this way of thinking can lead us to become ineffective at our job. If our job is to develop athletes to help them improve performance in their sport, we have to remember that at the end of the day, they are sport athletes and not strength athletes. They want to get better at their sport. One of those most fundamental principles in skill development is that whatever it is you want to get better at, you have to do that thing a lot. Like, A LOT. You can never replace taking a million swings to get better at hitting a baseball. Or, throwing a million routes in a game like simulation to be a better quarterback. You can improve weight room numbers all day, but if you aren't specifically practicing your skill in a deep and meaningful way, don't plan on getting better at your sport. This is where as strength coaches we have to focus on how we can prepare an athlete for the demands of the sport. How we can develop qualities that are likely to make them better but not take away from the skills of their sport. It might be wise to push heavy numbers on a back squat for an offensive lineman, because a lineman doesn't want to get moved. They need to be big and strong and not be able to turn, because if they get turned a defensive lineman is behind them sacking the quarterback. The same methods might not be wise for a receiver who needs to be able to move more freely. A receiver needs to be fast and powerful and make a cut on a dime. Heavy back squatting all the time may limit this. These are the sort of conversations we have to have with ourselves that will influence our programming. What adaptations can we chase that will have no negative consequences for an athlete in their sport. I know the title of the article specifically mentions Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Olympic Weightlifting and I have yet to really mention either. The point is, that both sports, much like most others are heavily dependent on skill acquisition. You may be strong and have a good wrestling background and be able to beat a bunch of white belts when you first start Jiu-Jitsu, but a brown belt will beat you 10x/10. Much like in Weightlifting where you may have a good athletic background, can jump high, are pretty strong, and this will help make you a better Weightlifter than most other beginners, you aren't going to snatch 120kg+ unless you have years of specific Weightlifting practice at your disposal. There are certain qualities that will set you up for success in certain sports, but at the end of the day, practicing the sport A LOT is what is ultimately going to make you better. Alabama just won the College Football National Championship and there is a picture of their star quarterback, Mac Jones, after the game with his shirt off. He has the epitome of the "dad bod." A bunch of coaches committed on it saying how it was a body of "peak performance." In reality, they aren't wrong. Mac Jones can throw the football damn well. Sure, a few extra pounds of muscle and less fat likely won't hurt, but most of his time was spent getting better at football, and that is why he was third in the final Heisman standings. As strength coaches we need to always keep this fact in mind. We can't get lost in "strength is never a weakness," and need to prepare athletes for the skills of their sport. Ultimately, our influence isn't as great as we may have been told. We certainly can make an impact, but strength training should never be a substitute for sport training. They can both work very well when used synergistically in the appropriate way, and it is our job as strength coaches to find the right dosage and recipe for strength and conditioning training.

What Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Olympic Weightlifting Have in Common