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  1. #101
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    • phoenix arizona seminar date
    • texas seminar date
    We had the kids gathered for a chat. In about two weeks, we’ll be out of the gym, we told them. The group would be splitting into squads and practicing on different days. The major headline, however, was that one of their coaches, one of the young, cool 20-something year-old dudes, would be out for the season as the result of surgery. New coaches would be helping out.
    The kids were immediately concerned. ‘Is it still going to be fun?’ they worried.

    The moment was ripe for interpretation, had any visitors been in the room. It would sound to some like these entitled little darlings, spoiled by a lifetime of participation trophies, are trying to avoid hard work and responsibility. To others, they might have had a perfectly legitimate point: a lot of jerks - ruthless, incompetent, or both - have ruined a lot of sports for a lot of kids.
    This got me to thinking about the art of coaching. A coach is ultimately a teacher, unfolding for his (or her) athletes a sequence of lessons and heightened expectations, all to facilitate growth. Beyond that, the transaction is affected by the coach’s personality, the maturity of the athletes, and the nature of the sport they’re playing.
    Four different coaching stories come to mind as successful approaches, both in terms of preparing players as well as winning in competition:
    - Herb Brooks, the coach of the Gold Medal winning 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team was a dictator who was anything but loved by his players. Movies have been made about this story, but they don’t quite capture what I can recall from a 1980 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED feature. Brooks drove them mercilessly, teaching them a new style of play and conditioning them within an inch of their lives while remaining a distant authority figure. Players admitted to growing so angry at Brooks that they would skate as hard as they could in workouts in the hopes of passing out. That would show him how cruel he was, they felt.
    One of the forgotten elements of that famous 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union was how the Americans, scared to death over losing their lead as the game wound down, tore all over the ice, skating circles around the exhausted Russians. More familiar is how Brooks, once the game ended and Al Michaels cried out, ’Do you believe in miracles?’ turned and left the arena to let the players celebrate amongst themselves. Two days later, the Americans nearly blew the gold medal game. Brooks’ solution between periods, the players later recalled, was the saltiest, most ferocious ass-chewing they ever endured.
    -On the opposite end of the spectrum was my high school weightlifting coach, an Eastern Studies teacher and therefore quite literally a Zen practitioner. He knew (knows) his game as well as Brooks knew his, but his approach was merely to provide an opportunity, an open door to anyone interested. His success was determined mainly by how hard his students worked at putting his knowledge into practice.

    Between those extremes are two more stories with variations on what coaches and players bring to the transaction.
    -In my first teaching job, I was assigned to assist the boys’ middle school lacrosse coach for the Spring season. I could barely throw and catch with a lacrosse stick, but the head coach had played in college. This was at a fancy private school, where every recess as Spring approached, dozens of kids would fetch their sticks from their lockers and dash outside to toss a ball against a concrete wall or back and forth with a friend, cradling the ball and whipping the stick around to the point that it became second nature. They brought no shortage of motivation to the first day of practice.
    The drills went easily enough. We began to figure out who belonged in which position, but in the scrimmages, discipline broke down entirely. In this team of of hotshots, nobody would pass the ball. No matter where on the field a kid scooped up a ball, he’d run with it all the way down to stuff it in the goal. Any friendly suggestions or yelling from the sidelines simply had no effect. The head coach and I had no idea what to do.
    Finally, we just came up with a rule: ‘Even if 10 seconds are left in the game, the score is tied, and the other team’s goalie is lying there DEAD, you guys have to pass the ball three times before anyone is allowed to shoot. Otherwise, you’re out, and you’re taking laps.’
    That’s all we did from then on, shout, ‘ONE! TWO! THREE! . . .’ or if someone blew a pass, ‘Start over! ONE! . . . ‘
    Our job was done. This was probably in the first week; for the remainder of the season, all we ever did was count to three, and the other teams simply didn’t stand a chance. Our kids would whip that ball around the field faster than the other team could see it, and then traumatize their poor goalie.

    -Finally, from an old friend named Jerry, a basketball team where neither the coach nor the players knew what they were doing: ‘We were just a bunch of Jewish kids from Scarsdale . . . ‘ and he wasn’t sure that any of them had ever played basketball before. Their main qualification for being on the team was that they liked basketball. This was the early 70’s, and the coach, knowing he faced an impossible challenge, told everyone they were going to start practice the summer before Jerry’s senior year.
    On the first day, he loaded them all into a van and drove deep into the South Bronx, where they disembarked at a rough set of playground courts. The Scarsdale Varsity and the locals regarded one another with equal astonishment. ‘These guys want to get in,’ the coach announced. He gestured to the team: ‘Sit down along this fence. Be cool.’
    It wasn’t pretty. Jerry and the others were run over, around, and through. They were battered, bloodied, and bruised - but after a few weeks, they got wise to how the game moved, and on the fiery hot asphalt, they got faster and meaner. They started showing up to play.
    You already know how this story is going to go: at their opening game that season, as the team was introduced, they converged to exchange high-fives, a salutation that none of their parents or classmates had ever seen before. Then, from the opening tip-off, they dominated with a run-and-gun that nobody could touch all season long.

    As a largely self-made athlete, I’d fall into the template established by my old coach above, the available resource. Even if the command structure is a little informal, the weights can be as heavy, the swims or runs as hard, or the judo throws as intense as the situation demands. Of course, this approach relies upon self-motivated athletes.
    It can be disastrous. Troy Aikman, for many years a great Dallas Cowboy quarterback, was just about driven up the wall by Coach Barry Switzer’s casual attitude toward focus and intensity. Switzer, previously a college coach, felt (paraphrasing) that ‘these guys were professionals . . who were getting paid . . . and were grown men.’ This didn’t work at all, felt Aikman. They needed to be driven, like a college team. His teammates either grew complacent or never fully grasped the enormity of the task before them, and Aikman remained furious over the resulting losses.

    The important variable is that the athletes buy into the coach’s scheme. In each of the examples above, the kids caught on at some point to what the coaches were doing.
    In the case of the kids I’ve been working with, they’ve bought into the novice strength training progression without hesitation. In fact, about two weeks ago, in a conditioning drill, I had to urge them to slow down. ‘Getting wrecked is not training,’ I had to explain. ‘Pace yourselves. Keep your presence of mind under duress . . .’
    These kids have shown such good faith keeping up their end of the bargain that they’ve earned the right to express their concerns about the coaching change. My hope is that the incoming coaches show a similar level of maturity, that they’re willing to explain the approach they’re taking. Actually, I hope they’ve gone to the trouble of thinking it through. If somebody came stomping into the weight room demanding to know why the kids lift the way they do, I could give them chapter and verse.
    If the coaches have prepared similarly, then the season will be productive and enjoyable. The kids deserve no less.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 3/12/18 3 sets of 3 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x5, 3x3, 3x1) Tom 390 JC : 175
    2. Press three sets of 4 Tom 187.5 JC: 87.5
    3. Deadlift (1x5, 1x3, 1x1) 455 second session JC 215

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Isotonic-Isometrics and partial PRESSES
    Holes (#6 - 9) standing iso-iso 240;
    seated partials (#1 top range ) 167.5x 3-5 (#4 top range) 170x 3-5
    JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of (original 3x5 Monday’s weight) x5, 2 sets Tom: 300 JC: 132.5
    2. Bench Press: 3x3 JC: 125 Tom pyramid (250, 275, 290, 300, 245)
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 230 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5, 3x3, 3x1) Tom: 350 JC: 157.5
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5, 3x3, 3x1) Tom: 170 JC: 80
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5
    Tom 365 JC 140

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 252.5, 277.5, 335
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile
    Last edited by Nunedog; 03-09-2018 at 10:41 AM.

  2. #102
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    Twenty three years ago, when I was living in Guam, I was treated to a very scary trip in a decompression chamber. I had been scuba diving the night before, when, shortly after surfacing from a dive, I was overcome with nausea and vertigo. The first thought was that I was seasick. I skipped the second dive on the charter boat, though I couldn’t quite ‘sit’ it out; I had to lie down on my side with my arms and legs out from under me, like a dog. Calm as the ocean was, I was completely debilitated.
    I couldn’t help my wife carry our gear to the car, and the next morning, when I was no better, we headed for the emergency room. ‘He’s bent,’ the doctors quickly decided, so I was packed into an ambulance and sent down to the Ship Repair Facility back on the base, near our quarters.
    (Navy folks who’ve been to Guam can picture this - and appreciate the fact that the ambulance naturally got lost enroute. As we careened around, I had to lift my throbbing head from the stretcher and shout directions.)
    The Navy divers on call gave me an exam much like a roadside DWI test. I was a rag doll, and they frequently had to catch me from falling. They insisted I had gone too deep. They see it all the time, they said. I was on the TOKAI MARU, a Japanese ship sunk in World War Two that had settled beside the CORMORAN, a German ship sunk in World War One. ‘It’s 130 feet at the bottom there,’ they said.
    ‘I didn’t go to the bottom.’ The TOKAI MARU had my profound respect, as it had trapped and killed reckless divers. I hovered over the rail and could barely make out the dark shape of the CORMORAN below.
    ‘Everybody says that.’
    The chamber itself was the size of a large van. I flopped down on one of two wooden cots inside. Joining me was one of the divers, a corpsman, to monitor my progress and manage any emergencies, since we’d be locked in for five or six hours.
    (‘Lose those running shorts,’ another diver said before I went in. He held up a set of cotton pants.
    ‘How come?’
    ‘The oxygen makes nylon burst into flames when we take you down to depth.’
    You can’t wear underwear in the chamber, either, which quite possibly is the basis for the phrase ‘Going commando.’)

    A ride in the chamber would remind you of an old submarine movie: you’re trapped inside a round, riveted hull, waiting, shirtless, in old cotton drawers, with not much in there beside the jugs provided for pisses.
    I’m getting to the scary part: normally, when the pressure in the chamber is increased, and the patient is ‘taken down to depth,’ they feel better immediately. The corpsman in the chamber told me they’d seen divers that were absolutely shattered, crippled with decompression sickness, even unconscious, suddenly sit up and announce, ‘Thanks, fellas. I’m as good as new.’
    ‘Not so fast,’ the corpsman would reply. ‘You have to ride out the entire profile. All that nitrogen in your bloodstream has to diffuse.’
    When we got down to depth, the doctor, the other divers, and my wife all peered through the portholes. ‘How do you feel?’ the corpsman asked.
    I was the same. They decided to give me more time, but when I was no different, they couldn’t hide their apprehension. My wife had dashed home to get my regulator, on which my depth gauge showed I went no deeper than 90 feet. This made the case all the more mysterious.
    I could hear the murmur of conversation, but then the doctor stated with unmistakable clarity, ‘I don’t know what this is. It could be brain damage.’
    That was the most scared I’ve ever been. My wife and I looked at one another through the porthole. Life was suddenly out of control, a swirl of disbelief and fear. This can’t be happening, I thought.

    This story is infinitely more interesting than the predicament I’ve gotten myself into now, though there are numerous parallels. That important moment in my life provided a very valuable lesson: knowledge is the key to managing any crisis. Fear, despair, or depression is a function of one’s not being able to see past their immediate circumstances. When the going gets tough, simply knowing what’s happening and why is the first step to feeling better.

    Back in Guam, I lay on my side like a dog for a week watching TV, too dizzy to read. When I went in for a follow up appointment, the doctor listened to the entire story, surprised that the other doc couldn’t figure this out. ‘You’re not going to like this’, she said, ‘but sit up on that exam table with your back to me.’ She grabbed me by the chin with one hand, the back of the head with the other, tilted me backward, and waved me back and forth and round and round. ‘Does that feel like it did the other night?’
    ‘Yeah.’
    ‘Labyrinthitis. It’ll clear up.’

    I might be just as lucky this time around. I’ve hosed up my knee squatting. It’s a patellar problem, down at the southwest corner of my right kneecap, probably something acute, which developed during lighter sets in the days after my 460 attempt. After a few workouts of my toughing it through some tightness, the pain’s not going away.
    A casual scan of the internet raises major alarms. Patellar tendonitis, or the more long term tendonosis, is apparently the worst thing ever. It never goes away - or if it does, it never really heals, so even after this round of misery, it will haunt you. For now, pal, you’re going to be off that knee for months.
    If I were to run this by the STARTING STRENGTH gang elsewhere on the Forum, the reaction would be like the Navy divers batting me around the triage room once again. ‘You have knee slide!’
    ‘No, I swear I don’t.’
    My wife would have to rush off to get my phone and show the sets I have on video.
    ‘Well then, who knows? It’s probably brain damage.’

    Really, the scary line that would have me staring wide eyed through the porthole is the idea that I’m out of the squatting business for weeks, and after that, limited to light weights for a long time.

    Thanks to that ride in the chamber, I knew I’d have to be a bit more discriminating in my search for an intelligent discussion of patellar pathology, specifically one that treats the reader with enough respect to describe what actually takes place on physiological level. All signs began to point to the work of researcher Dr. Jill Cook, who dispenses with terms ending in -itis or -osis and believes that tendiopathy is a spectrum of different phases:
    “A reactive tendinopathy is believed to be an acute, reversible process brought about by a rapid increase in mechanical loading. The tendon swells due to an increase in water retention and is proposed to be a protective response to reduce stress along involved collagen fibers”
    -Tendon dysrepair is suggested to follow if loading exceeds tendon capacity for a substantial period of time.
    -Finally, a tendon reaches a degenerative state, characterized by further collagen disorganization, advanced matrix breakdown, and increased fiber thickness.”
    Squatting with Patellar Tendinopathy • Stronger by Science

    It would seem that I’m in the first category; going for maxes for a few consecutive weeks made the patellar tendon swell. I cannot ignore the second possibility, that I’ve been beating things up for some time. I haven’t felt a thing before this - but this is the deceptive part. Pain is a funny thing. It’s not necessarily an accurate reflection of what’s really taking place.
    What is the pain telling me, merely that my tendon is swollen or that I’ve further irritated a swollen tendon by dragging it over something rep after rep?
    A lack of pain does not necessarily mean that I haven’t done any damage in the months before all this. The rehabilitation is going to be the same in either case.

    When you’re lying in despair in the Great Decompression Chamber of Life, gaining information is the first step in getting out.
    To continue deconstructing this calamity: the What is above. Now for the Why: according to Cook, the combination of tensile and compressive loads is the most likely manner in which tendinopathy is induced (as opposed to just one or the other). 460 accounts for the tensile load; wrapping the patella tendon around my knee in a squat provides the compression.

    All this doesn’t mean you stop squatting.

    “Stress is the language our tendons speak. We must stress the involved structures (through deliberate loading) within our individual envelope of function to facilitate desired adaptations.” (From the same article, summarizing Cook)
    Cook, however, in a presentation with Drs. Khan and Reiman, in California in 2016, goes on to explain that not training would be catastrophic: rest is catabolic to tendon tissue, reducing its mechanical strength in two weeks’ time. The kinetic chain function would deteriorate, and the motor drive would ‘change,’ not likely for the better. ‘The strength of any tissue will only be as great as the load placed upon it,’ they say.

    I have to keep squatting but stop doing the hurtful stuff. The solution is box squats.
    Now, hang on: I’m not going Westside, with the wide stance and the vertical upper body. This box squat makes me more Rippetoe than ever. By keeping my calf muscles in contact with the vertical sides of the box, I can drop into that face-to-the-floor, belly-down-between-my-legs position you’ve seen in photos.
    The vertical shins alleviate the problematic compression.

  3. #103
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    (continued, from above)

    As far as the tensile load is concerned, I first have to stay pretty cool on the weights to be sure that any pain during training is of ‘low intensity,’ and any residual pain in everyday movement is very minor and suitably diminishing over time.
    Otherwise, Cook says, don’t mess around. “ . . . tendons do not express significant mechanical, material, or morphological adaptations when loaded below 70% 1RM. Higher intensity contractions are hypothesized to induce greater strain on the involved tendon, leading to a loss of normal collagen crimp, increased fiber recruitment, and greater cell deformation – a necessary stimulus to evoke the intended consequences. Therefore, it is important to perform your targeted exercises at or above 70% 1RM to elicit desired changes.” (From the same article, summarizing Cook)

    70% of my squat is 315. She’s speaking my language. Interestingly, I’ll begin and end each workout with some Spanish Squats to address pain. YouTube
    This is moderate to high isometric loading, which “will assist in normalizing the neuromuscular control of the involved lower extremity and potentially improve load tolerance and force expression for the duration of your routine.” (from the Stronger by Science article yet again)

    I’m aware of the implicit criticism here of my rapid-peak rep program of the last few months, in which I ‘sailed straight into the heaviest weights I’ve ever handled for reps.’ This might mean, at age 53, I sailed straight in faster than my tendons could adapt. A lifter on a 5-3-1, by contrast, would be in this zone more consistently and therefore possibly better adapted to maximal loads.

    The drama in the decompression chamber story is in what was ultimately NOT happening. I was not bent and did not suffer - so far as I know - brain damage. This would be the case in a lot of training injuries and other crises in life: the worry is worse than the real problem. Stay cool. Find the answers.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 3/19/18 3 sets of 1 rep week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x1) Tom 5’s; 225 - 315? JC : 185
    2. Press (3x1) Tom 205+ JC: 95
    3. Deadlift (1x1) 495 second session JC 235

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Isotonic-Isometrics and partial PRESSES
    Holes (#6 - 9) standing iso-iso 240;
    seated partials (#1 top range ) 170/167.5x 3-5 (#4 top range) 172.5/170x 3-5
    JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of (original 3x5 Monday’s weight) x5, 2 sets Tom: 225 - 315 JC: 132.5
    2. Bench Press: 3x1 JC: 135 Tom pyramid (250, 280, 295, 305, 245)
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 230, probably not JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x1) Tom: 5’s; 225 -315 JC: 167.5
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x1) Tom: 185 JC: 85
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5
    Tom 365 JC 142.5

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 255/252.5, 285, 340
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  4. #104
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    I’ve pressed 210, benched 300, and deadlifted 495 in recent days, so those numbers are up where they belong. The 495 dead, which came off the ground with gratifying speed, was the first foray back into the neighborhood of 500 in a while. Credit goes to the Romanian deadlifts, which feel as good as they are effective.

    Speaking of rehabilitation, the right knee is still bothersome, with whatever patellar tendinopathy I’ve incurred. Voodoo banding has improved the day to day aches of standing up from a chair or climbing up or down steps, but the 315-pound box squats still have a nice little stab of pain at the top of each.
    The success of the voodoo banding, which is tightly wrapping a large elastic band around a limb and then essentially wringing all the muscles through that circle of pressure, had me wondering which was the cause and which was the effect between the sore knee and the tight quadriceps. The Mobility folks and Kelly Starrett, the physical therapist and CrossFit guy who introduced this concept, would have us believe that dysfunctional muscle is what causes joint pain.
    By contrast, if my leg were behaving like a lower back injury, for example, the muscles would be tightening up in an effort to protect something else that’s hurt.

    That would have been great if the problem were entirely muscular. It would mean faster healing than for a damaged tendon. The pain was a little too sharp; tight muscles might have something to do with it, but part of that tendon still feels pretty chewed up. (I guess. Pain is deceptive, experts assure me. Any number of factors influence perceptions. ‘God damn it,’ I think during every squat, ‘this doesn’t feel like a social construct.’ )
    I’ll keep working on the quad muscles in the hope they’re the source of the trouble. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll stoke the fire and start heating an iron for a little pin firing.

    Pin firing (and provoking large scale disruptions in a specific area) has me thinking a bit. Really, I’m thinking about Romanian deadlifts as well as some calf raises I do every morning as I warm up. The Romanian deads on Fridays stretch and engage every possible muscle in my posterior chain that could be kinked up from all the squats and deads during the week. The calf raises are stretches as well; I stand with the ball of my foot on an edge. As I drop my heel, I flex my anterior tibialis to draw my toes upward, making the Achilles and calf stretch as active a muscular and neurological process as possible.
    Rippetoe has written about how a great many pull ups can sort out elbow tendinitis.
    There has to be a similar approach to stimulating and stretching the quad muscles - and as I write, I realize I’ve just discovered the leg extension. Of course, squatters chuckle at the idea: leg extensions are a ridiculous leverage for the knee, and a single-track exercise done while seated takes all the balance and central nervous system involvement out of the process.
    I don’t mean I’m going to train them for strength, but I do . . . hope . . . that a little active stretching and engagement create a cascade of reactions, perhaps recruiting the quads were squats do not, lengthening them a bit, so they’re not tugging unduly on the tendons at the knee, and stimulating a little circulation and repair throughout the area.

    This idea might not be completely wacko. The knee felt great after a 6000 meter row the other day, so circulation is indeed a good thing. However, I don’t have a leg extension machine in my garage. I’ll have to devise something with a light resistance band, and that could be a little wacko.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 3/26/18 3 sets of 5 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x5, ) Tom 335 JC : 167.5
    2. Press (3x5, ) Tom 187.5; 210+ single JC: 87.5
    3. Deadlift (1x5) 425 second session JC 190

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Isotonic-Isometrics and partial PRESSES
    Holes (#6 - 9) standing iso-iso 235;
    seated partials (#1 top range ) 175/172.5x 3-5 (#4 top range) 172.5/170x 3-5
    JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of [original 3x5 Monday’s] weight) x5, 2 sets Tom: 275 JC: 132.5
    2. Bench Press: (3x5) Tom: 255 JC: 122.5
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 230 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 305 JC: 150
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 172.5 JC: 80
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5
    Tom 365, 367.5x2 JC 140

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 255/252.5, 2287.5/285, 345
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters
    Last edited by Nunedog; 03-23-2018 at 09:51 AM.

  5. #105
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    I’ll be out of town for a few days, probably working out madly, though I’m not sure how. I’m off to Beverly Hills, California for a special April 1 STARTING STRENGTH seminar at the invitation of none other than Mark Rippetoe himself. We’ll be high in an office tower on Wilshire Boulevard, with a handful of venture capitalists, plastic surgeons, and fitness trainers.
    As you might imagine, this was a very surprising phone call to get the other day. Rip and I met two years ago at a seminar in Maryland. In the time since, I’ve always wondered if he paid any attention to the training blogs on his own website.
    ‘Hey, nice job on figuring out that you had to do leg extensions,’ he said. ‘How’s the knee?’
    ‘Much better, thanks. That was the answer.’
    ‘Leg extensions,’ he mused. ‘Fantastic exercise. Things’ll raise the dead. Of course, if anyone found out, I’d be ruined.’ He cleared his throat. ‘Listen, you’re the kind of guy we need.’ He went on to explain that this would be an investor meeting in Beverly Hills. ‘It’s pretty much like a regular seminar; we’ll explain the whole approach - but here’s the catch: this is a very targeted business model. It’s a potential Hollywood celebrity workout fad. We’re going to inject your quadriceps with botulinum toxin - you know, Botox - to disable them. The idea is to show how an athlete should focus their squats in their hamstrings.’
    ‘People do that?’
    ‘They’re going to. This is money in the bank. It’s a big West Coast trend thing: ‘Hamstrings are the New Ass,’ or something like that. All the new fashion is going to showcase hamstrings.’
    I needed to be convinced.
    ‘Call around. Check it out.’ He gave me some names and numbers. ‘Here’s what’s in it for you. We’re in a target rich environment. You know what a lumbersexual is?’
    ‘I do.’
    ‘Rugged and masculine, yet ironically manicured,’ Rip said. ‘We’re throwing together an LLC to move some flannel shirts and beard oil. The ad campaign, which will be all glossy magazine shots and TV-video, is going to be centered completely on isotonic-isometric rack work.’

    ‘OK, think of it this way,’ one of the contacts said on the phone. (The names Rip gave me would be familiar to many of you, although our conversations were very different from the videos or podcasts you’re used to, with terms like ‘smurfing’ and ‘nudging the LIBOR’ flying past.) ‘Jimmy Buffett, for example, is not the laid-back Parrot-head everyone thinks he is. The guy has an empire. The same thing’s going on with Rip. The Carhartts, mustache, bourbon sipping: that’s all a carefully cultivated image. You know, Rip holds the rights to the Squatty Potty.’
    ‘He does?’
    ‘He won ‘em. This was at another one of those investor meetings, for a pension fund down in Florida. They hosted a debate between Rip and Louie Simmons from Westside. It’s on YouTube. Louie thought he had it in the bag, but Rip won the day with the whole inclined torso concept and saying there was no need for a suit, belt, and wraps.’

    ‘Hang on a second,’ I said. Rip compartmentalizes. ‘He alludes to all this once in a while, doesn’t he? He calls it narrow-casting.’
    ‘Exactly. If you know how to spot a target market, it’s easy. It’s predatory. It’s like being a shark in the ocean deciding which fish you want to gobble up. I’ll give you a great example: Intermediates who don’t know what they’re doing. That’s a HUGE market, so you get the Bridge and its Rate of Perceived Exertion.’
    ‘OK . . . . ’
    ‘God, that was drop-the-mike level genius. Two medical guys staple together chapters from the US Women’s Olympic Field Hockey Team Training Manual and Sigmund Freud’s 1926 INHIBITIONS, SYMPTOMS, AND ANXIETY. Folks snapped it up like it was the secret to the universe. The rest of us in the racket stopped and applauded. Rip wanted a piece of the action at first, but then he decided to steer clear of the liability when all the lawsuits start.’
    ‘So a partnership between STARTING STRENGTH and the cosmetic surgery industry is something that absolutely nobody expects, right? I asked.
    ‘Right. Pretty wild, huh? I’ll tell you what: the hardest thing is going to be when you walk into that office building and see Rip rocking the Eremenegildo Zegna suit.’

    Really, I had a couple of surprises to get over. I said, ‘I always figured that STARTING STRENGTH was one of the last few square deals in life. Ordinary folks put in the time and effort and reap the rewards.’
    ‘It’s absolutely a square deal - if you’re into that sort of thing - but it’s a niche. The rest of the world is a big place.’
    ‘Guys who make it to this level of the business . . . ‘ I was piecing my thoughts together. ‘Do they go through what I’m feeling right now?’
    ‘Oh, yeah. About two years ago our analytics firm gave us a big shocker: the fact that nobody can comprehend intermediate programming - which we could never understand - is the result of a massive Russian disinformation campaign. We were all pretty freaked out.’
    ‘You’re kidding.’
    ‘Think about it. You can tell; at least half of the questions on Facebook or in the Forum’s Programming section are from Russian Intelligence officers. They’re ridiculous.’

    He suddenly asked, ‘You’re not a liberal, are you? Losing your composure over everything, all the time?’
    ‘No, no. Not at all.’
    ‘The modern conservative movement is about tempering one’s patriotism with the opportunities of the moment. PPST3 is on Amazon for 20 bucks. If people just read the damned thing, we wouldn’t have a problem. Otherwise, the Russians are doing us a favor. People would rather spend money for fancy programs or to attend clinics. We can handle that.’

    I called Rip back. ‘I’m in.’
    We went over the details, and at the end of the call, I said, ‘All right. I’ll book a flight.’
    ‘Don’t worry about that. I’ll send the plane. It’s a G-Fahve.’

  6. #106
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    Vacation was lovely, especially the part about not lifting weights for a week. In the two weeks prior, I was pretty beaten up and burnt out. That unhappy knee and then a raging sinus infection were all part of the toll of that giant rep and rack work progression - or, really, continuing to train when it was time to rest.
    About halfway through the week, I did what everybody does on vacation, which is flex the muscles in a mirror to make sure they’re still there. Everything looked better; I’m sure I was walking around stronger from not lifting than I would have been had I kept gutting it out.

    Now that my mind - and my lungs - are clear, it’s time to move on. I need a set-and-rep rotation that is up closer to my strength threshold than so much of that long progression was, but I do want to capitalize upon one very positive outcome from that whole experience. The answer would seem to be an 8-5-2 version of the Heavy-Light-Medium routine I’ve done before.
    I just said that I was ready to resume the 5-3-1’s. This is the same idea, but while roaming around the net I was struck by a piece by Andy Baker, the author and coach closely affiliated with everyone in STARTING STRENGTH. My original HLM was based on one of his routines.
    Baker makes a number of interesting points about this rep scheme: the loads will vary more between 8’s, 5’s, and 2’s than they would for 5’s, 3’s, and 1’s, which would allow for more physical and mental variety over time. These higher rep-counts are not quite so neurologically taxing, especially at the heavy end of the spectrum, and when things get rough they allow more room for error; you can notch your way upward with a 7, 4, or 1, if necessary, and still consider a session a success.

    While Baker says the 8’s lend themselves to hypertrophy and endurance, I am interested in the 8’s because I made such fantastic progress on higher rep sets in my 10-8-6-4 progression this Fall and Winter. My only complaint about that program was that my record setting 8’s did not boost my 4’s and maxes as much as I expected. The problem was probably in the long span of time between these two phases. My hope now is that with the 8’s, 5’s, and 2’s running week to week, they’ll all be more mutually reinforcing.

    The other change is that I’m going to alternate my bench and press workouts in a more classic STARTING STRENGTH ‘A-B-A-B’ fashion. I used to bench only on Wednesdays and press Mondays and Fridays. That mindset was a carryover from an old frustration; I used to bench press madly and go nowhere, so I began to fear that bench was a little like deadlifts, too much of a stress on the old nervous system to train extravagantly. However, much of the literature in our orbit says the opposite, and it’s only been increased volume, in the form of heavy partials on the rack, that got me up over 300. I’m past the mental block.
    We’ll see what physical blocks lie ahead, but I’m glad to be back at it.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 4/9/18 3 sets of 8 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x8) Tom 290 JC : 135
    2. Bench Press (3x8) Tom 205 JC: 105
    3. Deadlift (1x8) 365 second session JC 175

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 155 (#1 top range ) 175/172.5x 3-5
    (#4 top range) 172.5/170x 3-5 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 232.5 JC: 107.5
    2. Press: (3x8) Tom: 140 JC: 75
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 230 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x8) Tom: 260 JC: 122.5
    2. Bench Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x8) Tom: 185 JC: 95
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5 Tom 365, JC 140

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 255/252.5, 2287.5/285, 345
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

  7. #107
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    He’s not going to get any stronger, and he probably knows that. If that’s true, then I’m the one who’s been slow to catch on to what’s happening.

    Every so often, that young neighbor of mine will hit me with a text to see if he can come over. I’ve mentioned him before; he’s a high school sophomore, a young football and basketball player, and the son of some friends we’ve made since moving to town. He absolutely lives for the power snatch, which he wants me to coach, and which is part of the elaborate exercise program at his Jesuit boys’ high school. Their gigantic weight room can handle as many as 90 kids at a time, and their coach is a full time employee who runs sessions from early in the morning before school until dinner time.
    The kid’s come a long way in his snatches. His hips are high, his backbone straight. He does exactly what I tell him and then goes and nails down the skill on his own. Recently, though, he’s been trying to slip under the bar without finishing the job of boosting it sufficiently. He’s seen a video where ‘this is the guy’s move.’ The upshot, however - or lack thereof, is that he’s only getting the bar to forehead height, which can result in a snatch in two parts, a heave and a press out. Sometimes he’s fast enough that his arms finish the job relatively smoothly. Sometimes things get ugly.
    The topic for the day became launching the bar unreservedly, unleashing the full jump and catching the bar on a fully extended skeleton. The arms do not propel the weight - and so on; he got the idea pretty quickly, but to put it into practice, we fooled around with some one-armed cleans with the bar and some kettlebells, and eventually some one armed kettlebell snatches. I told him that the great Vasiliy Alexeyev (so the story goes) often used to take an old 100-kilo bar and fling it into the air as high as he could as a means of warming up. I used to do the same thing with a kettlebell, like in that Scottish Games event, when my gym was in a barn and I had a backyard I was willing to destroy.

    For his part, he had news. At his school, they hit maxes at the end of a recent cycle. Weighing 145, he benched 165. That’s about par for a sophomore, plus-20, for a kid at that level of hormonal maturity, I recall from my own sophomore year. (In fact, what I recall is that high school friend of mine who went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys hitting a max and then rising from the bench and pumping a fist: ‘Yes! 20 pounds over bodyweight.’)
    His (the neighbor’s) deadlift max was 265, but in the course of conversation, it emerged that this was with a hex bar.
    ‘That’s not a deadlift,’ I said. I’ve become a great deal more honest with him in his last few visits.

    The program he’s in would seem to be geared toward firing up teenagers’ psyches but little else. Only seniors who have proven their dedication and seem destined for major college football programs are ‘allowed’ to deadlift with a bar and do back squats. Deadlifts for ordinary folk are otherwise considered unsafe. The students are grouped by age and experience and at the beginning of a cycle find out which exercises they will be performing.
    Front squats are a big favorite. A common drill would be ‘7-times-7’s,’ where, in a giant room with squat racks lining each side as far as the eye can see, at the coach’s command kids would unrack a weight and commence a set of seven reps. Only when the stragglers were finished would everyone be allowed to re-rack the weights, which makes for some misery among those lucky enough to finish the reps quickly. An ordeal for everyone, in one form or another, is the whole idea. This would go on for seven sets - if it were not 10-times-10 or the far more rare 5-times-5.
    This kid is short-legged, so he folds pretty efficiently into a vertical front squat.
    ‘Tell me this,’ I said. ‘Do you see taller kids struggling, pitching forward?’
    ‘Yeah.’
    ‘That’s not their fault. That’s not even a bad thing, in a way. That’s their brains trying to find a leverage and their hamstrings trying to kick on and help. It’s just that the front squat is a friggin’ stupid exercise.’
    This was the moment to convey a little logic. ‘When your back is flat and your butt is high, what muscles are reeling that snatch off the floor?’
    ‘The hamstrings.’
    ‘Right. So hit that position - and put your hands on the backs of your legs. You feel how tight your hams are? They’re ready to engage. Now, drop your butt and run your knees forward. You feel how they go slack? The front squat does not train your hamstrings. Neither does the hex bar deadlift. Do you get that?’
    ‘Yes.’
    ‘You can work on snatch technique all you want, but you’re not going to lift more until you train your hamstrings with back squats and real deadlifts.’ He had also recently maxed in the power snatch, hitting 100 but missing 105, which was probably why he wanted to come over.
    ‘Also, you want to hit jump shots and get rebounds, right? You want to be able to blast off the line of scrimmage? You have to have hamstring strength.’

    Earlier, when he said he had watched a guy’s snatch move on video, I realized I’d have to proceed very carefully. Any case I’d make would have to compete with an Internet full of videos and all the nonsense he was hearing at practice. I even told him, “I’m sorry to fill your head with subversive material, but I can’t not tell you things that are important. You’ll have to decide what to do.’
    We got to talking about the upcoming summer. It promises to be hardcore, with two-hour sessions that feature an hour of lifting and an hour of conditioning.
    ‘You’re not going to get any stronger,’ I said. I should point out that he’s not any kind of victim. He’s not complaining. He’s actually loving every minute of this ‘7-times-7’ and so on, for its group dynamic. ‘The team is bonding.’
    He did want to know why he wouldn’t get any stronger. I tried to explain that the body’s chemical adaptations in strength and endurance are very different, and that endurance work robs the body’s ability to gather the chemical potential it needs for strength.
    I tried a different tack. A strength progression between now and football season would mean an increase of 150 or more pounds in his squat and deadlift. That comes from a progression of increasing the weights five pounds every workout. Too much conditioning would make the body unable to recover and increase the weight 48 hours after the previous workout . . . .
    That wasn’t working, either. The idea of increasing weight five pounds every time around was inconceivable.
    ‘No conditioning?’ he wondered. ‘That’s what makes you ready for the practices. Last year, kids puked on the first day.’
    ’So what? If you puke on the first day, you’ll be fine on the second. You’ll be in lung sucking shape in a week, anyway. The first day doesn’t have a bearing on weeks’ worth of drills - and in a lot of cases, conditioning that’s just meant to be psycho doesn’t have any bearing on the sport you’re playing.’

    Of all the things I said, that was the one that made him stare dumbfounded. Drills don’t have any bearing on the sport?
    I had him. ‘Consider this . . . ‘ I told him the story (that I’ve written here) about the kid who quit the wrestling team, only to go back weeks later and thrash the entire squad in one match after another - without any conditioning. In that case, the coach’s training program had reduced the entire team to shadows of their former selves.
    ‘How about JJ Watt?’ I asked, about whom I’ve written here as well. He hasn’t played in three seasons, yet he’s famous for his ruthless conditioning routines. His sack totals have steadily decreased, and for years - plural - he’s been too injured to play. Not only have all his drills had no bearing on his sport, they’ve ruined him as an athlete.

    It turns out that other factors are in play. He loves being on the team and hanging out with all the guys. The problem is that he’s small. His Dad is 6’1” or so, but Mom is five-foot-not-much, and he’s caught her gene. The kid knows he’s not going to play varsity ball. If he’s not in the running for a skill position, then he’ll be shipped off to football limbo, the defensive backfield, where I wound up once upon a time, among the other charity cases in the shadow of the starters.
    He wants to be a quarterback. He can actually throw, but his real talent, and even his parents have attested to this, is that he understands the theory of the game. Apparently, he coaches his own basketball team; he’s the kind of kid who can gather everyone in a circle and diagram a play on a white board during a time out. In the long term, his parents have said, he wants to study coaching and sports management.
    He’s perfectly fine with being a third string quarterback. His real aim is to run the scout team in practices, where he feels he can make a real contribution. ‘I have to talk to the coach,’ he told me. Spring practice starts in a month. He wants to stay in the system to maximize his opportunities. I can only hope the coach is as rational as he is.

  8. #108
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    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 4/16/18 3 sets of 5 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x5) Tom 335 JC : 155
    2. Press (3x5) Tom 160 JC: 85
    3. Deadlift (1x5) 415 second session JC 200

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 157.5
    (#1 top range ) 157.5 (#4 top range) 157.5 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 267.5 JC: 125
    2. Bench Press: (3x5) Tom: 235 JC: 120
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 195 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 302.5 JC: 140
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 145 JC: 77.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts 3x5 Tom 365, 367.5, 365 JC 140, 142.5, 140

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 245, 275, 315
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  9. #109
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    ‘You absolutely will not write THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER and ruin this for everyone,’ my wife said. ‘People bought tickets, and they want to enjoy the evening.’
    ‘They’ll enjoy their evening if they scalp their tickets,’ I argued. ‘The reviews are misleading. Someone has to speak up, or they’ll keep inflicting this kind of crap on us.’
    ‘I don’t want you talking to Mike about this,’ she said, referring to a coworker who’s going next weekend.
    ‘I’m going to tell Mike about it the moment I see him. Otherwise, he’s going to sit through that misery wondering why we didn’t warn him.’

    Our last Friday evening was a dud, thanks to the Stephen Karam play THE HUMANS, a touring Broadway production that has arrived to lay siege. Remarkably, it’s won Tony Awards, yet it never rises to the level of a story. Rather, it’s a depiction of a Thanksgiving gathering for a family with more than its share of modern crises, some of which are distorted into clumsily staged, generally loud and dark existential climaxes - as if we were too dim to grasp the play’s larger implications, or the director anticipated (correctly) we’d all be checking our watches or cell phones for how soon we could escape.
    Thankfully, we eventually did. Heading for the parking lot in the cold air became the highlight of the night. If, later, anyone chose to dwell on how the evening was a failure, they’d be amazed, the way I was, that giving up on life can sell so many tickets.

    I should tackle the connection to strength training sooner rather than later. Be they young or old - and I’ve pushed this message in various contexts - a great many people can find meaning and purpose in barbell training. It’s both art and science, chock full of mysteries to solve and nearly infinite potential for self improvement. I highly recommend it for reasons that run deeply. Weights can have a centering effect in one’s life.
    I was recently asked by a younger person what I’m training for. ‘Not a competition or anything like that,’ I fumbled at first. ‘Really, my life is so easy that I don’t have any other way to provide myself with challenges, excitement, and risk. Once you know what you’re doing, you can dial up the intensity and create a decently strenuous life.’
    My older, college aged daughter has a friend who’s beset by crippling anxiety. He’s accomplished next to nothing in life, which has sapped his confidence to try anything new.
    ‘Get him to lift weights,’ I’ve told her. ‘The symbolism in the numbers will help.’
    ‘Yeah, but he wouldn’t know how . . . ‘ Initiative dies away in a whimper.

    The problem with contemporary plays like THE HUMANS, and a great many others we saw recently at Washington, DC’s once impressive Woolly Mammoth Theater, is that this sense of hopeless dysfunction has taken on an increasingly prominent role in popular culture. I’m no prude - and once upon a time Woolly took on all kinds of wild sexual, cultural, or racial dysfunction, but they presented works in which human values transcend insane circumstances.
    (We rotated out of Washington for seven years but came back and rejoined Woolly for an abominable 2015-16 season. That had to be an off year, we figured. It wasn’t.)
    This latest generation of dramatists, and the young people they would seem to represent, have given up in the face of difficulty. If the 1950’s had their Angry Young Men revolutionizing the stage, then this is the era of the Whiny Young Playwrights. They fling reality at our feet as if to complain, ‘Look at this world you’ve created,’ but their revolution is to curl up and do nothing.

    Strength training is ultimately a process of problem solving. When people train to become stronger or faster or improve their long term health, they’re addressing shortcomings they’ve come to recognize. Sometimes, more immediate problems spring up: a person has to figure out how to overcome an injury or rearrange their programming if their lifts are stalling. There’s the ‘voluntary hardship’ of getting underneath the bar a number of times every week, as well as organizing the rest of life to foster success. It’s a mindset, a template for sowing and reaping that doesn’t seem to come so clearly in everyday life.

    This means I have to yield the point to the playwrights: the modern world doesn’t impart any compelling sense of meaning and purpose. THE HUMANS depicts the horror show that results from sleepwalking through life without them. However, this is MY saying so; the play isn’t good enough to make this point on its own.
    This is the hot, steaming pile audiences behold: suffering that begins in the very first moments as the Blake family gathers in the New York City apartment of the younger daughter. She and her boyfriend haven’t quite unpacked yet, and the entire event, an embarrassment with paper plates and plastic forks, is a strain for everyone involved. The parents are each physically ailing. Dad (played by THE WALTONS’ Richard Thomas) sports a gut and a bad back and shows signs of the hazy thinking that comes from a lifetime of beers in front of the TV. If Mom’s arthritis, which has locked up a knee, wasn’t bad enough, she must care for wheelchair bound Grandma, who is medicated into a corpse-like state most of the time. Any time Grandma can rally further than zombie, her fits are violent and profane.
    Older sister, a lawyer who’s lost her job and been jilted in a relationship, is there to join the fun. We see her pleading at one point in a call to her former lover; this is when she’s not in the bathroom struggling with the effects of colitis. Later, it’s revealed that soon much of her colon will have to be removed - this is not a comedy - and she’ll have to wear a colostomy bag for life.
    No, it’s not a comedy. It’s a beatdown. Yeah, we get it: she’s rotting from within - and that’s the message for the evening. Suffering will end only in oblivion; just look at Grandma. Even the younger daughter, presumably a promising musician, is bartending to make ends meet. Her boyfriend, 15 years senior, is in school vying for an entry level job as a social worker. What he’s been doing is not entirely clear; for years, his life was in the limbo of a crushing depression.
    By the way, it’s Thanksgiving dinner. That’s dramatic irony.

    That’s it; that’s the show essentially, aside of the fact that everyone is actually enduring a great deal more than I’ve described. Their further miseries are revealed in the course of conversation in this hour and 40 minute dirge. These are the relatives you would never visit again, and from whom the audience fled just as you would on Thanksgiving.
    I see what this is, you might be saying. It’s some kind of new transaction between artist and audience. It’s a delayed effect; the audience members go home and brood about it. After all, you could say, I’m going to the trouble of writing.
    That has to be the answer, as self-defeating as it seems to be. However, the play is so alienating that I imagine they’ve botched the experiment. Any sane person would put the experience out of their mind.

    I would have, if I already had something to write about this week. This has proven mainly an opportunity to deepen my contempt for those - unlike the weight lifters of this world - who cannot get off their asses to solve their own problems. It’s occurred to me also that these artists might be really, really clever, that the medium in this case is the message. A play that lacks a plot, protagonist, and any clear purpose is itself a metaphor for the intellectual laziness and spiritual emptiness of the society it depicts.
    If that’s true, it’s a hell of an accomplishment. They’ve convinced me. I don’t want to see these contemporary plays anymore. I won’t support things lazy or hollow or indulge those who only want to whine and quit.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 4/23/18 3 sets of 2 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x2) Tom 380 JC : 170
    2. Bench Press (3x2) Tom 265 JC: 125
    3. Deadlift (1x2) 465 second session JC 235

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 160
    (#1 top range ) 160 (#4 top range) 160 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 305 JC: 135
    2. Press: (3x2) Tom: 180 JC: 85
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 205 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 342.5 JC: 152.5
    2. Bench Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 237.5 JC: 112.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5 Tom 365, 367.5x2 JC 140, 142.5, 140

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 250, 280, 320
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  10. #110
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    starting strength nutrition camp
    Among all those vivid experiences I recall from my days at prep school, the meaning of one remarkable moment has eluded me until very recently. Of course, I couldn’t possibly grasp this at the time, but it would seem that a subject of the Mueller investigation landed quite literally at my feet one day. This was complete with agonized howls and splintered bones, which might just prove prophetic.

    Naturally, this begins with a weight lifting story. It was sophomore year. I had just finished a disastrous football season in which I was pathetically weak and undersized, so I was one of a number of kids who commenced training in the basement of our school building. Everybody who was serious about their football career showed up, at least for some length of time. The core group I’ve described so many times were the ones who stuck it out.
    One set of brothers had their own plans. They joined a commercial place in town, the Herculaneum, which was apparently a pretty hardcore bodybuilding joint. One older brother was already a monster, but it was the youngest, Brian, who took on legendary status. He was a beefy kid, and I have no idea how these rumors got started, but the awestruck whispers that followed him in the hallway were that he was getting incredibly, unbelievably strong.
    Every so often, some news bulletin would break: ‘Brian just benched 240,’ and, ‘Brian just benched 280,’ which was astronomical, at least 100 pounds beyond where we were. ‘He does curls with, like, 135, you know.’
    We bought this all without question. We were all inching along pathetically compared to Brian. If in a month we pushed a lift upward by ten pounds, he progressed 30 or 40. Brian and his brothers were so elite that the true extent of their greatness was shrouded in mystery. Nobody quite knew what they were up to; we all supposed that besides their five-star gym and superior program, Brian approached the bar everyday with a purer heart and greater confidence than those of us struggling with our inadequacies.

    This is not to say Brian wasn’t a nice guy. He was great - absolutely approachable, cracking jokes or laughing at those from others, very good looking, and comfortable in his own skin, that most masculine of qualities, which sounds crazy for a kid at 15 but was absolutely true. This was my first chance to bask in the presence of greatness, hoping that some of his Biblical strength or self assurance would rub off.
    The beginning of May brought Spring football practices. On very near the first day, I was beside Brian as we stood in line for Nutcracker drills. This is where two big blocking dummies are laid six or eight feet apart, creating a narrow lane in which opposing players must battle for control of the space. In some versions, the ‘defender’ must shuck the blocker aside and tackle a ball carrier who will also charge through.
    We were in the defenders’ line. Brian was right ahead of me, so as he dropped into a stance for his turn, I thought, ‘This ought to be good.’
    He and his opponent collided hard and then froze in place, straining for a second. Suddenly then, Brian collapsed on one side and went down screaming in pain, his hands clutching a thigh as he rolled onto his back. This was a yard from where I stood. Coaches rushed in from every direction.

    I have very little recollection of what happened next, which means we were all hustled away and kept occupied as an ambulance arrived. Days later, Brian was back at school with a solid plaster cast from his toes to his rear end. He had suffered a spiral fracture - or two of them, if I’m not mistaken, of both the upper and lower leg bones. Amazingly enough, he was in his usual good humor.
    In the following years, he resumed football and working out, and was a big, perfectly capable player. Interestingly though, and this has just occurred to me, we never heard any more mention of incredible feats, and he never visited our weight room.

    Brian’s name shows up immediately in a Google search. I haven’t seen him since the day I left 36 years ago, and having lived in a number of places very far from home, I apparently missed quite a bit. A decade ago, he was involved in a significant financial scandal. Though not a central figure, he had a conspicuous connection.

    Among the central figures who narrowly avoided jail time for that scandal was Elliot Broidy, who has attracted increasing attention for running yet again with a pretty dangerous pack. On the American side, this would include Rick Gates, deputy Trump campaign manager, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements, as well as former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn, who has also pleaded guilty to making false statements, in his case about contacts with the Russian government. Both are cooperating with the Mueller investigation as part of their plea deals.
    Broidy, active in Republican fundraising for years, was named a deputy finance chairman of the Republican Party. In March, he hosted a 35,000 dollar-a-plate fundraiser which President Trump attended during his first trip to California. His connection to Trump would also seem to run through personal attorney Michael Cohen, who arranged a 1.6 million dollar hush money payment to a PLAYBOY model whom Broidy impregnated. When this story was broken by THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Broidy resigned from his Republican Party post.
    Cohen is presently under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations.

    Hang on - I haven’t lost track of Brian yet.
    Elliot Broidy’s entanglements overseas are similarly ‘fraught with legal peril’ and certainly too complicated and interconnected to describe fully. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports that Broidy had been trying to use his influence to lobby the U.S. Justice Department to drop its investigation of the plundering of a Malaysian investment fund, some of the proceeds of which went to fund the Leonardo DiCaprio movie THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, ironically enough.
    The Prosecutor General of Ukraine is investigating whether Broidy is under contract to provide advice and political advocacy for VTB, a Kremlin backed bank that was blacklisted by the US and Europe after Russia’s invasion of Crimea. This story was broken by Qatar’s Al Jazeera news outlet. Qatar certainly has an axe to grind; they’ve suffered a months-long air, land, and sea blockade at the hands of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain.
    Broidy’s ties to the United Arab Emirates are defense contracts and pending investment agreements, which came after the UAE dangled a billion dollars worth of prospects to entice him to guide White House decisions toward favoring them and Saudi Arabia. The offer came by way of George Nader, a convicted child-porn enthusiast and UAE representative who’s become a household name for attending that intriguing meeting between Trump associate Erik Prince and a Russian banker in the Seychelle Islands. Leaked e-mails show Broidy providing Nader with a summary of a meeting with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, and they are also said to allude to his direct access to the President.
    Nader, confronted by FBI agents and questioned in an airport holding room, has decided that his best course of action is to cooperate with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.

    Broidy’s early support of Trump has practically made him a member of the administration, giving him significant leverage with which to conduct his own brand of diplomacy. He’s offered VIP Trump Inauguration tickets to a Congolese strongman and a Mar-a-Lago trip to an Angolan politician. After inviting a Romanian politician to the inauguration and introducing him to President Trump, Broidy opened a branch of his defense contracting company in that country.
    He provided Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a list of prospective federal prosecutors and also has had plenty of suggestions for ambassadorships and key posts in Washington.

    Brian is working for Elliot Broidy in one of the schemes I’ve described above. He’s a bit more of a central figure than last time around, so his name comes up in a new round of search results. This would quite possibly put his picture on the bulletin board in the Office of Special Counsel.

    Even the simplest lesson in Brian’s story didn’t hit me until recently: it was all nonsense. The myth of his Biblical strength collapsed in a heap on that Spring day in 1980. We all figured it was just bad luck and treated him as reverently as ever, but now it’s completely obvious: the reason he never set foot in our weight room or that we never heard any max lift numbers pass his lips was that he didn’t have any. He was at a fancy bodybuilding gym mucking around on machines. Had he actually been doing real lifts, he wouldn’t have cracked like a statue.

    (Continued below)

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