Costa Mesa Seminar Report
Damn! Anyone who picks up iron to get stronger should attend a seminar. The information you got here was invaluable. My first introduction to mechanics and physics was SS:3 and I am terrible at those concepts but thought that I came from the book understanding them better. But not as well as when they get drawn out on the white board and explained and varied incrementally. You get to see the angles change and instinctively you begin to realize just how well thought out this all was. As bad as I am at math I at least passed plane geometry (finally) and if you can visualize triangles you can get the concepts offered at depth of understanding that can leave your eyes in auto-rotation for a little while from time to time.
It was a challenge just getting there for me, and spread out over the last 2+ weeks before the 9th. The knee injury put me in despair and then some things at work from Those Who Shall Remain Nameless nearly forcibly re-prioritized my plans. But I got there and giddy as Hell all the way down the traffic choked artery call The 405 to Costa Mesa. It's called The 405 because it is an evil sentient being and you learn never to speak of it in any way when you are on it. Because it will make you pay.
Challenges are not always self selected but they are usually hard. You want them to be hard because you want to improve. I went to the seminar to learn how get better at one of the favorite things I do, lifting iron. I discovered how little I knew and how listening to the wrong people in the gym and how decades of shitty books and worse magazines leave you with all manner of artifacts of Silly Bullshit.
Rip's lecture leaves you reeling but confident in what will follow. As do Stef's portions of the lecture. You then go and put into practice under the bar.
Ryan made me squat better than I have ever managed to. I have wondered for some time whether I was making depth. I was not and probably never have been. But now I know where that point to reach for it is. I could claim maybe that I was protecting my knee, and there may be some truth to that, but the knee didn't hurt at depth. It was just-so-damn-LOW I had never experienced it before and it spooked me. I may have 2 out of 5 reps in my final set coached by Rip to depth. Humbling, but that's why I went. My hamstrings are still sore this morning from finally doing it right.
Stef got me hammered incrementally into place in the deadlift with a combination of direct eye contact and dry wit that you shine on at your own peril. It reminded me of working one steel buildings and using a bull pin and maul to line up girders before you'd insert the bolt and put it in place.
Tom made me realize just how inflexible I was in the shoulders with the press. I loosened up a little as I progressed, but man am I tight. When I finally got the grip width right and he got my forearms vertical he could barely get my elbows to move inward.
Steve had me doing power snatches instead of cleans. After watching me struggle with grip width and trying to bring my elbows forward he and Rip consulted and went to plan B. Which was also an example to the class with respect to knowing that not all of us are put together in the same way. One size, one plan does not fit all. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Tom Highway would have been proud. So there I was doing an exercise utterly inconceivable to me but finally managing to get a few reps right. Snatches have always been in the AM /FM realm for me. AM=A Miracle/FM=Fucking Magic.
Juli got me right on the one exercise I was reasonably OK at. Even though I neglected bench presses for over 10 years until 2011, my form was more or less where it supposed to be and my flexibility was not a limiting factor. I completely blew my duties as a spotter but learned how deeply "protect the girl" is ingrained in Hurling DNA when I rushed the bench (twice) because it looked like she was struggling. Soo sexist. Sorry Juli. What was worse I finished out the lifting portion of the seminar with the ultimate dudebro move. I benched as much as squatted. But I did it in good form and I managed to overcome decades of solo training by not pushing the bar back to the uprights on the last rep.
The final sections of the lecture draw it all together and you get a chance to look back over the simplicity of how you were taught and how it brought about complex motor changes. Like shrugging when you weren't told to shrug or achieving a double knee bend in the power clean even when neither were mentioned. Just pointed out after the fact when it was already being done. Amazing stuff.
Also some more discussion about leverages that still have germinating ideas and implications for the martial art I practice. Also we learned to coach, and to do it in a way I don't currently do it when I help teach. Short, simple, and direct commands. I have to review what I do on the mat in this context.
The attendees were a varied lot. Young to old, with two different contingents from the UK. Some great people in that group. Dinner was a lot of fun with talk ranging from the feral pigs in Japan and Texas, the price of real estate in Japan, the James Gang, Frank Herbert, and L. Ron Hubbard. It's a damn good thing I kept to one rum and coke because Costa Mesa had a DUI checkpoint only a few blocks away. There must have 15 cops tied up in that exercise.
Thanks to Rip and his crew. It was a great experience, lot of fun, and a pleasure to meet you and the rest.
Nice report. It all sounds...so familiar.
I thought the discussion on the biomechanics and the role of moment arms in lifting weights were invaluable in helping me understand why the five lifts are designed the way they are. Practicing the lifts under the watchful eye of Rip and hs instructors as well as each member of the class were also very helpful in reinforcing correct form and zeroing on mistakes that I wasn't even aware of. Having the opportunity to attend the seminar here in SoCal was definitely money well spent.
Hi Mark EH.
Great write up Mark. It was a real pleasure to meet you and all of the other attendees. You were all a very helpful, friendly and supportive group. A very ecclectic group of all ages and abilities from literally the world over!
The coaches are awesome, every one of them! And Mark EH, please do not be so modest about your abilities. You were a beast!
I also urge everyone to go. I went as a stone cold novice, and now? well I am still a stone cold novice with some decent coaching. FINALLY. If you are on the fence on doing SS because you stuggle with form and cannot find competent coaching, go to a SSS and you WILL lean enough to begin SS. I even got Rip's blessing to begin SS!! Hell Yeah!!!!
The lectures make the book come alive! I am now really getting the concepts from the book.
So, if you are new, read the 3rd ed, leave your pride at the gym door and go for it!!! Even if you are a chubby middle aged beginner.
St. Pete may not let you in if you have a chance to go and do not. He will send you down to birkram yoga for all eternity......
And by far, the hardest part is the coaching. If you think coaching is easy, think again. It is quite challenging. How do those guys and gals see 10,000 things in 1/2 a second????
As an aside, I even got the (random) opportunity to do the last platform set. and even though I only knocked out a very modest set, the nice comments from Rip, and the all other coaches and students made me feel terrific!
Last edited by HiTekLuddite; 03-22-2012 at 02:58 PM.
More pictures are coming but here's a start. This weekend had a higher than usual rate of cool t-shirts. Guess where MEH's are. Heh.
I took a lot of them. I will post them here as soon as I finish the ones from Seattle. I am pretty slow with this stuff, but they should be up before the Brooklyn Seminar.
Originally Posted by Sullydog
Amazing 3 days. Well worth the 4 hour drive to make it 100 miles (thank you 405 Friday). Rip is the authority on Strength Training and it shows. Thanks for everything.
Well worth the 20 min drive (sorry guys)... No but seriously, I was little weary about the coaching we were gonna get, but definitely shouldn't have been. All the coaches were great and knew what they were doing. And I second HiTek, coaching is really an art, and clearly will take a lot of time an effort to get better.
Nice write up MEH. And just like Nacho Libre, don't forget your stretchy pants for squatting!
Get yourself to a seminar!
Seminar attendance is highly recommended… not a minute of time was wasted during lecture, lifting, and coaching. Regarding coaching, I really appreciated the experience – learning and then practicing how to coach gave a great perspective and helped to set cues to memory for my own lifting.
The team was great. The folks I met were great. I’m excited about lifting with better form going forward. I’m excited too to make the cool t-shirt wall twice – the pig and millennium falcon shirts (thanks jp for posting that).