A Middle Aged Adolescent  (who cannot possibly be the only one) A Middle Aged Adolescent (who cannot possibly be the only one) - Page 21

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Thread: A Middle Aged Adolescent (who cannot possibly be the only one)

  1. #201
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    • wichita falls texas december seminar 2020
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    This is a copy of an e-mail I sent this week to the coach of our local high school football team. My infinitely professional wife considers it anything but, to the point of being aggressive, though I’ve said that’s precisely the point. This coach has three wins over the past two seasons, so this is intended for a guy who’s been slamming his clipboard down on his desk.


    [Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant]
    Varsity Football Coach
    [Riverdale] High School


    Coach,

    As the season winds down and you start planning the Winter training program, I’d like to offer my services as a strength coach. I’m an accomplished strength athlete with experience coaching high school students, adult clients, and 1-AA college football players.

    I came to your game against [Beverly Hills] on October 18th and noticed that you have one pretty powerful player, number 74. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind having more, or an entire offensive line that can knock people backwards. The way to do that is to train your players in the exercises that use the greatest amount of muscle mass to move the greatest weights over the greatest distances possible. This means a focus on the back squat, deadlift, press, and bench press. Players should be working toward double bodyweight lifts and beyond in the squat and dead, and bodyweight and 1.25 to 1.5 times that in the press and bench, respectively. That’s what moves bodies on a football field, not using machines, flouncing around with dumbbells, or opting for one-legged nonsense when you don’t know how to increase the main lifts. Of course, a coach has to understand the mathematics of novice linear progressions and intermediate programming.

    [Here’s a bit of personal background, after which I point out that I . . . ] am looking for a way to get out of the house and contribute to the community. Barbell training played a big part in my growing up, and I’ve always felt that as important as strength might be on the playing field, it’s true value lies in the confidence it builds for all kinds of kids.
    For the past two school years, I was in Cleveland, where I coached beginning high school lifters in a Winter session prior to their Spring [xylophone] season. In just ten weeks, my top boys increased their squats and deads by 100 or 120 pounds, and their upper body lifts by 50.
    At age 54, weighing 210, I have lifts in excess of a 200 pound press, 300 bench, 400 squat, and 500 deadlift.

    I would be happy to volunteer my time between 4 and 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Should you be interested, I can provide the contact information for my old bosses in Cleveland. I have a SafeSport certification, and I’m fine with the background checks that these positions entail.

    Good luck against [Ridgemont] this weekend. Please let me know if I can be of assistance.

    Sincerely,
    [Colonel Warden, Force 316]

    4-Day Split (8&3, 5&2, 2&1 rotation)
    Week of: 11/4/19 8&3 week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x8*) Tom 362.5 JC : 140
    2. Romanian deadlifts: 4 sets of 6 reps Tom 360, 362.5x3 chains JC 160
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) 75 - 95 JC
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485 - 535
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Bench press: Work up to a heavy set of 3* reps Tom 275 JC 120
    2. Bench press - back off sets [5 sets of 4, 75-85%] Tom 265 JC 110
    3. Dips: 4 sets of 8 with red bands (17.5)
    4. Hanging Rows: 5x5 vest, 20 lb db
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5

    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 3* reps Tom 465 JC 240
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 417.5 JC 215
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 4 sets of 6 Tom 327.5 JC 125 BANDS
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Barbell or kettlebell shoulder press (5x8) kb Tom 155 JC 77.5
    2. wide grip bench press 4 sets of 5 Tom 212.5 JC dumbbell flies 30’s
    3. Pull ups (5 sets of 10 reps)
    4. 4 sets 10 triceps work - ROTATING week to week
    -Overhead Extensions, Lying Tricep Extensions, and Band Press downs
    5 Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5 JC
    6. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

  2. #202
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    Here’s a story about a highly placed government official on a secret errand outside the scope of his job.
    In Washington, lots of folks are lawyering up over the topics of secret errands, the scope of official duties - and the scope of federal law, for that matter, whether or not they plan on cooperating with Congressional investigators. DC right now is like that wild house party down the street you’re trying to ignore. The parents aren’t home, the music’s getting louder, and more cars are showing up. This isn’t going to end well, and even the cops are going to be surprised by what they find inside.
    My story isn’t too scandalous. I bring it up mainly because it crossed my mind as I sent my e-mail to that football coach last week. Having received nothing in response, I’m seeing one of its main points proven true.

    Last summer I was at a cocktail party where I found myself talking sports with a former professional hockey player, who had been with the Buffalo Sabres, and a one-time senior government official, whose term spanned parts of the Bush and Obama administrations. Each of these guys had gotten into coaching, of a sort, but it was the government dude who started while he was still in his full-time gig.
    He’s a big bear of a guy, a football lineman in high school and college. ‘You wouldn’t want to watch a game with me,’ he said, ‘because I’m not social. I’m studying the blocking schemes and taking notes, watching a completely different part of the game from everybody else.’
    When I told him that having moved back to Washington, I wanted to help out with a high school team, he said, ‘That’s what I did when I came back.’ He became a scout, which is to say that if the high school near his house, ‘A,’ was playing ‘B,’ he’d be elsewhere on that same Friday night, watching school ‘C,’ the following week’s opponent.
    ‘What did you do,’ I asked, ‘show up at practice one day and tell the coach you knew something about play design?’
    ‘No way,’ he said. ‘Are you kidding? You know how much crap football coaches have to hear? Every guy in the stands thinks he’s an expert. Here’s what I did: I sent him a fully prepared scouting report of the next week’s team, where I diagrammed everything about the offense - and defense - and described the players to watch. He had the report on his desk Monday morning. I did that two weeks in a row, unsolicited and with no name attached. The third time, I added a note, ‘If you’d like to keep getting these, please call this number.’
    He laughed. ‘Oh, that coach called, all right. The reports were right on the money. That’s when I went down to practice one night and told him I’d be happy to keep scouting.’
    ‘Wait a second,’ the coach said as they shook hands. ‘Aren’t you - ‘
    ‘Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry about that. This gives me some time to myself on Friday nights.’

    This conversation, back in July, accurately predicted that I’d not be hearing anything back. ‘You know how much crap football coaches have to hear? Every guy in the stands thinks he’s an expert . . . ‘ My note was one of probably 276 suggestions, threats, or criticisms he got that day alone.

    The hockey player had been in the developmental camp business, but he had just left town and sold his stake over decisions made by his partner that he thought were unethical in terms of business and contrary to the principles of nurturing young talent. He was trying to decide on his next step, and was at the party as the date of a woman who had been invited. ‘What makes money and what’s best for kids are two different things,’ he said.

    4-Day Split (8&3, 5&2, 2&1 rotation)
    Week of: 11/11/19 5&2 week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x5*) Tom 400 JC 160
    2. Romanian deadlifts: 3 sets of 8 reps Tom 362.5 JC 165
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) light JC 75 - 95
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485 - 535
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Bench press: Work up to a heavy set of 2* reps Tom 282.5 JC 122.5
    2. Bench press - back off sets (5 sets of 3) Tom 270 JC 117.5
    3. Dips: 4 sets of 8 with red bands (17.5)
    4. Hanging Rows: 5x5 vest, 25 lb db
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5

    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 2* reps Tom 490 JC 240
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 440 JC 215
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 5 sets, 3 reps Tom 360 bands 5x3 JC 150
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press (5x5) Tom 160 JC 75
    2. Wide grip bench press 3 sets of 5 Tom 215 JC dumbbell flies 30’s
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. 4 sets 10 triceps work - ROTATING week to week
    -Overhead Extensions, Lying Tricep Extensions, and Band Press downs
    5. (JC) Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5
    6. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  3. #203
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    I have a tiny bit to add to a news story that’s been metastasizing for decades: my coach told me 35 years ago that Alberto Salazar was bad news.

    This was during my college years, when I’d spend my school breaks driving hours to Central Falls, Rhode Island, to train with Olympic Weightlifting coach Joe Mills. I was new to the sport; Joe, in his late 70’s, had spent a lifetime in it. The 80’s were a Dark Age for USA weightlifting. Years before, the sport’s guiding institution, (for better or worse) the Bob Hoffman backed York Barbell Club, had all but collapsed - and nothing filled the void. Participation was at an all-time low.
    It’s a long story, but Joe felt that weightlifting deserved to be in its sorry state, after what Hoffman had done to it - which included stealing many of Joe’s great young lifters, including Bednarski and Cameron, and stuffing them to the gills with drugs. Joe had a very dim view of steroids: ‘They don’t make up for lousy technique,’ which was one way of saying that the drug craze would prove a short term solution. The danger, he prophesied correctly, would be that the technical understanding of the sport would be lost. By the 80’s, American weightlifting, when it wasn’t tragically inept, was a criminal freak show. Since I seemed to be a nice young kid naively curious about what was at heart a great athletic endeavor, he was careful to steer me away from the shadier characters I’d be running into.

    That was the context for our discussions about any number of sports. I was a rich kid, and he and Central Falls were pretty rough versions of working class, so he was already opening my eyes to how gas stations and supermarkets colluded to limit access and share territory in poor neighborhoods. When it came to the weightlifting scene in New England, Joe, along with his other lifters, admired some performances and shrugged off others with, ‘Yeah, he’s on stuff.’
    The undertone was always resignation, though occasionally they’d allow themselves to feel the loss: ‘Oh, he was GREAT when he was a kid - nice kid - fast - but then [Frank] started coaching him, and he went on stuff. Bulky, slow, moody bastard, slamming his belt on the ground, swearing at himself on the platform . . . ‘
    I learned how to spot guys on juice - which wasn’t hard in the swollen, grotesque, acne blotched 80’s - by their jawlines, the slow boil in their personalities, or the way their necks would hunch down and forward as though they were backing down the evolutionary chart. I saw guys ‘trip’ during workouts in my hometown gym. They’d pant and pace like caged animals and slam their way through an exercise like leg presses for 20 or 30 sets, allowing themselves hardly any rest, loading more plates after every set and then coming back down, even throwing the plates aside as they pulled them off the machine.

    Alberto Salazar was a household name in the early 80’s, making the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED as he racked up three New York City Marathon victories and one in Boston. Somehow, his name had come up in conversation in Central Falls, during which Joe declared, ‘That guy’s on stuff. It’s as plain as day.’
    ‘I don’t care for that son of a bitch at all,’ he would grouse. This was unusual. Joe was hardly a sensitive soul, having lived down the block from a branch of the mob while in New York in the 30’s, and crawled forward with a grenade to silence a Nazi bunker that had pinned down his platoon in Czecheslovakia. Central Falls, when we spoke, was the cocaine capital of New England. It was one thing to be a druggie in the confederacy of dunces that was Olympic weightlifting, Joe must have felt, but he couldn’t stand that Salazar was the toast of the town in mainstream society, when it was clear to see that there was something suspicious about him.

    On November 7, an editorial by runner Mary Cain in THE NEW YORK TIMES described the harrowing, abusive treatment she suffered at Salazar’s hands while training in Portland at the Nike Oregon Project. Cain, who had been a junior record setter and a world championship runner at age 17, had been pressured relentlessly to lose weight. She withered to 114 pounds and stopped menstruating for three years, the significance there being that her body was producing insufficient estrogen to protect her bones. She suffered five breaks as a result. Emotionally, she had deteriorated to the point of cutting herself and contemplating suicide.
    This got me Googling. I hadn’t thought of Salazar since that day at Central Falls, but Joe’s words rang loud and clear. On October 1, it was announced that Salazar had been banned from the sport of Track and Field for four years, for doping violations. ‘Salazar and Houston-based endocrinologist Jeffrey Brown are accused of possessing and trafficking testosterone while training top runners at the Nike Oregon Project,’ reported OREGON LIVE. A long running U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation had been underway, according to a 2015 report by the BBC and PRO PUBLICA, which also describes an aggressive campaign of doping and medical rule violations through the years.
    Nearly two decades before that, Salazar was coaching runner Mary Decker, who after a long career, marriage, and motherhood had qualified at age 37 for the 5000 meter race in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. However, a urine test came back positive for a testosterone imbalance. As her lawyers argued her case in hearings, she was eliminated during early heats. Her battles with various organizations continued, and in 1997 she was stripped of a silver medal won at the World Indoor Championships.

    Joe Mills used to be able to tell within a split second of the bar’s leaving the ground whether an athlete would make his snatch or clean and jerk. I’ve sat next to him at meets where he’d quickly close his eyes and whisper ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ and be right every time. Even through a TV screen, Joe spotted something about Alberto Salazar that didn’t ring right. He nailed the ‘son of a bitch’ part, if Mary Cain and the numerous former Oregon Project runners who took to social media to corroborate her story are any indication. As far as the appetite for doping goes, he at least predicted that correctly - although he might have been onto something more intriguing.
    It’s very hard to find any mentions of Salazar doping while he was a runner; it would seem no accusations were made at the time. However, in 1992, in her book SWOOSH: THE UNAUTHORIZED STORY OF NIKE AND THE MEN WHO PLAYED THERE, author JB Strasser alleges that many athletes on Nike’s Athletics West running team used steroids. This was between the years 1977 and 1985, when both Alberto Salazar and Mary Decker were members.

    What’s the closest connection to the Joe Mills experience? Better than the mobsters, it’s the gas stations and supermarkets and the notion that money talks and people have no idea they’re being played. Nike would support star athletes so long as they were useful to the brand; Salazar was there to run them like thoroughbreds. I hope Mary Cain will be all right, that she realizes her whole trauma was no reflection on her. Too bad she never got up to Central Falls, where Joe would blow Camel cigarette smoke in her face and tell her how the world really works.

    4-Day Split (8&3, 5&2, 2&1 rotation)
    Week of: 11/18/19 2&1 week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x2*) Tom 435 JC 172.5
    2. Romanian deadlifts: 4 sets of 6 reps Tom 362.5x3, 365 chains JC 165
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) light JC 75 - 95
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485 - 535
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Bench press: Work up to a heavy set of 1* rep Tom 297.5 JC 142.5
    2. Bench press - back off sets 5 sets of 5 with 250 JC 110
    3. Dips: 4 sets of 8 with red bands (17.5)
    4. Hanging Rows: 5x5 vest, 25 lb db
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5
    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 1* rep Tom 515 JC 247.5
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 462.5 chains JC 220
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 3x2* reps Tom 392.5 bands JC 155
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press (5x5) Tom 162.5 JC 77.5
    2. Wide grip bench press 3 sets of 5 Tom 217.5
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. 4 sets 10 triceps work - ROTATING week to week
    -Overhead Extensions, Lying Tricep Extensions, and Band Press downs
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5
    6. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

  4. #204
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    Early in the Spring of 2014, as I was coming out from under the anesthesia for oral surgery, my dentist had instructions for me. He opened a plastic pill bottle with two tablets inside.
    ‘Just two?’ I asked.
    ‘Oh, yeah. You don’t want to screw with these.’ (They were probably Vicodin.) ‘Take one late this afternoon or tonight, and the other tomorrow morning, if you need it. After that, you should be fine.’
    I spent the rest of that day sleeping off the whole ordeal, but the next morning, I was up and ready to go. Still, the stitches were throbbing, so I popped the second pill. The plan that day was to mow the lawn. This was when we were in Virginia, with a three acre spread and a backyard the size of a football field.
    I had a riding mower, and it was soon apparent that if I turned too sharply, I was going to fall right off. Any time my head tilted, it wanted to keep going, which made for a dizzying, sleepy battle to stay upright. The straight lines up and down the lawn weren’t so bad, and maybe weren’t so straight, but I have no memory of how many times I sailed back and forth or at what point I staggered in to pass out on the couch.

    On Memorial Day weekend that same year, I did a number on my right knee. It was deep, in the joint, and I was worried that as with my left knee years before, I had ruptured a meniscus. I hit the doctor’s first thing on Tuesday.
    He twisted my knee one way and another, and had a x-ray taken. ‘I don’t think you hurt the meniscus,’ he said, ‘but I do see some arthritis.’
    It was at this moment, in the context of fairly casual conversation, that he made two important life decisions for me. ‘No more lower body stuff.’ I had explained that I was CrossFitting at the time, that it was while doing double-unders with a jumprope that the pain struck. Runs had been hurting a bit in the weeks prior. I also lifted weights, I told him.
    ‘No more leg work.’ He gave an empathetic shake of the head. ‘You can swim; do some upper body.’
    So that was it - for the rest of my life. The die was cast.
    ‘I’m also going to give you a prescription. One pill a day will take care of the pain.’ This was a bottle of 90 pills, with three refills authorized, a year’s worth of Verdrocet, (if I recall correctly.) They were physically smaller than the tablets from the dentist, and my knee was still killing me, so I didn’t think much of taking one.
    Once more, my head started floating off in one direction or another. ‘Not again,’ I thought. I never took another one. I threw the 89 pills away.
    That second life decision would have meant a robust addiction, every day a haze, with all opioids I’d need.

    It was the Health and Science section in this past Tuesday’s WASHINGTON POST that got me thinking about self fulfilling prophecies, or the kinds of trends that bear themselves out in life. Specifically, the articles were on the effect of hearing loss on brain health, as well as people who’ve managed to avoid knee surgery. The evidence is in: science is proving what common sense has told us for a long time.
    About a year ago, I wrote with equal parts cruelty and frustration over a relative I called ‘Uncle,’ who has steadily deteriorated into the classic ‘sick, aging phenotype’ described by STARTING STRENGTH’s Dr. Jonathan Sullivan. Uncle and ‘Auntie’ spend days every week shuttling between doctors’ offices as a result of ignoring earlier advice regarding diet and exercise. Among the things the family begged was that Uncle wear his hearing aids. He was embarrassed by them, evidently, yet saw no problem in slumping like a toad on the margins of family gatherings, not catching what was going on.
    Now, according to THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN GERIATRICS SOCIETY, a growing body of research has linked hearing loss to cognitive decline. Conversely, the use of hearing aids - among those who need them - is associated with reduced rates of dementia. They haven’t established causality - etc., etc., but Hell yes, use ‘Uncle’ as a case study: if you shut off input to your brain, it will then, for lack of use, turn to shite.

    The same is true with your knees. Dr. Sullivan, speaking in DC on his book tour a few years ago, made a passing reference to studies showing that heavy resistance training can spur the body into producing greater amounts of synovial fluid.
    ‘A ha,’ I thought, ‘that’s why my knees have been so much better than in the Spring of ’14. It’s the squats.’
    THE WASHINGTON POST’s article on knees is a far dimmer light shone into the darkness than the other one (above), but it’s a start, laying out for ordinary mortals the risks of surgery, importance of weight loss, and then finally, as counterintuitive as it may sound, the benefits of weight bearing exercise.
    Should anyone look more deeply into the science of joints, they’d see that synovial fluid and hyaluronic acid are vital for reducing friction, absorbing shocks, and transporting nutrients, the last one being VERY important, as cartilage tissues are avascular. Synovial fluid, with its egg-like consistency, also has the capacity to become more viscous under pressure, in order to protect the joint.
    As far as maintaining joint health is concerned, movement and compression are essential. Joints that are denied movement and compression, for whatever reason: pain, fear, - doctor’s recommendation - lose synovial fluid, hyaluronic acid, and consequently articular cartilage health. As time goes on, an underused joint becomes adapted to creating little or no synovial fluid, and damage can be permanent.
    (information from Dr. Bahram Jam, PT; Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute)

    Considering the sheer number of articles on the web featuring little old ladies flapping their wings with dumbbells and ‘crushing arthritis pain,’ I’m amazed at how far behind the times some people can be, especially those reading the paper shocked that surgery is not the only answer to being crippled. Of course, that ignorance could be the fault of their doctor, who, like mine, would have them sporting muscles, joints, and a mind wasted beyond repair.
    All of you, put your friggin’ hearing aids in. Wake up to the world around you.

    4-Day Split (8&3, 5&2, 2&1 rotation)
    Week of: 11/25/19 8&3 week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x8*) Tom 365 JC : 142.5 - 145
    2. Romanian deadlifts: 4 sets of 6 reps Tom 362.5x2, 365x2 chains JC 165
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) 75 - 95 JC
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485 - 535
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Bench press: Work up to a heavy set of 3* reps Tom 277.5 JC 122.5
    2. Bench press - back off sets [5 sets of 3, 75-85%] Tom 272.5 JC 112.5
    3. Dips: 4 sets of 8 with red bands (18.75)
    4. Hanging Rows: 5x5 vest, 25 lb db
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5

    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 3* reps Tom 467.5 JC 245
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 420 JC 220
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 4 sets of 6 Tom 327.5 JC 130 BANDS
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press (5x5) Tom 165 JC 80
    2. wide grip bench press 4 sets of 5 Tom 220 JC 80
    3. Pull ups (5 sets of 10 reps)
    4. 4 sets 10 triceps work - ROTATING week to week
    -Overhead Extensions, Lying Tricep Extensions, and Band Press downs
    5 Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5 JC
    6. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  5. #205
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    Dec 2015
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    Washington, DC
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    (Thanksgiving - part 1)

    It was a dark and stormy night.

    A chance encounter helped turn our two years in Guam into a fantastic adventure. It also led to a big Thanksgiving Day event for me, the Foxtrot Turkey Trot, a long run-swim-run with the Foxtrot platoon of SEAL Team One, a privilege, a defining moment 25 years ago this week.

    Jeff’s Pirates Cove is away from the rest of the action in Guam. It’s down to the southeast from the Navy base, which sits on the island’s western side. 25 years ago, a narrow road across the island wound through mountains, jungle, and tall grasses, past countless hidden caves and valleys - where Yokoi, the Japanese soldier, was found 27 years after the war ended. Jeff’s, on the shore in Talofofo, wasn’t much at the time, a one-story roadside, beachside bar where the restaurant out back consisted of picnic tables on a cement floor, beneath a corrugated metal roof.
    You had to be careful at night at Jeff’s, as crabs would wander onto the porch from their holes in the grassy flat near the sand. If you hold the heels of your hands together and wiggle your fingers, that was the size of the land crabs that would scuttle along beneath the tables looking for fallen morsels. Folks propped their feet on the opposite benches as they sat, or if they had short legs, like my wife, sat Indian style. Still, every so often people would lean away and glance under the table to make sure there were no surprise visitors - and you definitely didn’t want to have a coconut crab crawl over your bare foot and flip-flop, since they’re tarantula-shaped monsters that can spread out as wide as a manhole cover.
    The Toohey’s Draught and the seafood were always worth the trip, so my wife and I rolled out on a rainy, lousy Saturday night. Jeff’s was pretty dead; from what we could tell, only one person was running the place, a woman who left the bar to take our order and then headed into the kitchen to do the cooking. The lights weren’t even on in the front lobby. My wife and I were the only ones in the darkened dining area, aside of a crab here or there, but at the bar, forearms firmly planted and with bottles and glasses steadily piling up, three SEAL’s were hunkered over, hard at work getting hammered.
    We had to pass by them on the way out, which was when they slid off their barstools and stood in our way. The leader was an inch or two shorter than me, but he bowed up chest to chest, with his eyes barely open. ‘I bet you’re getting laid tonight,’ he ventured.
    Not showing any reaction is the whole ballgame. I agreed, ‘It’s looking pretty good.’
    One of the other guys let it be known that they had just started a six month forward deployment. They would not be capping off a Saturday night with their wives for a long time.
    The guy in front tried another tack. ‘You look like a college boy.’
    ‘Yeah, I’m a college boy.’
    ‘What college?’
    ‘[Trump University.]’
    His eyes popped open while his brows dropped. ‘Did you know [Billy Morgan]?’
    ‘I did radio shows with Billy Morgan.’
    ‘I played baseball with Billy Morgan.’
    Soon, we were all bellied up to the bar like old friends. This was my introduction to [Sluggo, or The Slug] legendary wild man, de facto social affairs chair for the organization. I had been to Billy Morgan’s house in their hometown of Annandale, Virginia, I told the Slug. This was before a trip to some fancy club in Georgetown. (Billy Morgan was handsome to the point of being pretty, like the singer George Michael. He was at once massively tuned into pop culture and a gifted impressionist who could sing like Bono from U2 or nail just about any other 80’s celebrity, singing or speaking. We took big advantage of this, clowning around on a weekly comedy show on the campus radio station. To this day, Billy has no idea he saved my bacon in a bar on the other side of the world.)
    I also told the guys that if they were new to the island, they should check out our Masters’ swim team on base, where a couple of Frogs trained on the side, along with EOD guys and various other doctors, lawyers, and so on.

    In the following weeks, we saw Sluggo at the pool quite a bit, or on some early mornings, while running out to the end of Orote Peninsula on base, I’d see much of the SEAL command headed out to do the same. This was when they were around. Every so often they’d head off to Thailand (‘to stock up on some Mekhong,’ the Slug would always say) or the Philippines or Brunei, presumably for training exercises, if not the arts and entertainment.
    As Thanksgiving approached, Sluggo asked one day whether I’d be interested in joining his platoon ‘on a nice little evolution,’ a big run-swim-run after which the command was letting everyone have the weekend off. This was quite the honor, to be invited to a legitimate training event. None of the EOD guys or anyone else was part of this, so I had to keep it on the down-low, and play things as cool as possible once again.
    We gathered in the parking lot just outside the Frogs’ barracks, which was where we’d start, but first we piled into a white Navy school bus to stage our equipment. The Slug had left a message on my answering machine the night before about what to bring: two sets of running shoes, as well as fins, mask and snorkel - if you want - but otherwise, goggles. ‘Hydrate, brother,’ he advised, (which was pronounced HAH-drate) and then, for emphasis, he added, ‘HAH-drate, HAH-drate, HAH-drate.’
    My wife and I still say this to one another when a big event approaches: ‘HAH-drate, broth-uh, HAH-drate.’
    In the bus, we headed to Gab Gab Beach, where on the deck of the big pool that opens into Apra Harbor, we dropped our fins and goggles into little piles all in a row. From there, we headed to the end of Sumay Cove, where we stashed our packs, with the second set of shoes and any water we had, at the stone wall at the very end of the channel.
    Guys started waking up during the bus ride. ‘Hey, Slug,’ they’d call. ‘Did you invite the Men in Gray Suits?’
    ‘Yes, I did, as a matter of fact,’ Slug answered. ‘They were asking about you. They were hoping to see you today.’ Guys laughed.
    This went back to when Slug skipped a Masters’ workout a few weeks before. ‘Where were you?’ I asked when I saw him.
    ‘We had a Boogey Man Swim.’
    ‘What’s that?’
    ‘A night swim. It’s just you out there, with the Boogey Man. That’s when you start thinking about the Men in Gray Suits, circling below, who’d like to have a word with you.’

    In two years of training and triathlon-ing, I never ran into one of the Men in Gray Suits. Other folks saw hammerheads or grays once in a while. At night, people said, big tigers came close to the reefs. Every so often, some poor soul spearfishing with a flashlight would be gobbled up. On my very last ocean swim in July 1996, as I was coming back in to Gab Gab from one of the mooring buoys, I said to God, ‘Dude, I appreciate your listening to all those frantic prayers way back when, but if you want to let things slide and allow just one shark to cruise by - you know, nothing major - this would be the time.’
    This would also justify the tattoo I’d get on my calf muscle, like every other guy on the island. No man in a gray suit came by, so I never got the tattoo.

    (continued below)

  6. #206
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    (Thanksgiving - part 2 - from above)

    The Special Warfare Unit hosted four deployed platoons at a time, two from Team One and two from Team Five. The event involved only the Foxtrot platoon from One, though there seemed to be a handful of visiting SDV, Swimmer Delivery Vehicle, guys who came along - so far as I could tell from the introductions on the bus. There’d be 20 or so of us making the Trot.
    The lieutenant described the course: the run around the base, out to the point and ending at Gab Gab was about five miles. Hit the water, and swim to the first mooring buoy.
    Mooring buoys, about a half mile out in the harbor, were so visiting ships could anchor. They were massive, white hockey puck shapes, with a giant shackle on top for a ship to attach a line, and a giant chain that led to anchors 150 feet below.
    After the mooring buoy, cut right and head for the Sumay Cove Marina channel. ‘Now, be careful, ‘ he said. ‘There are two channels. Go to the FAR one. The first one is a dead end.’
    That first channel was for the old Pan Am Clipper. You’ve seen this - in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, as Indiana Jones travels the world. The screen would show the enormous Boeing flying boat superimposed over a map depicting the stops along the way. A trip from from San Francisco to Hong Kong would take six days, with Guam being one of the islands used for an overnight stay. Between the Clipper and marina channels was the old Sumay Landing, a restaurant straight out of a Humphrey Bogart movie, open aired with lazy ceiling fans and bamboo shades and furniture.
    ‘You go all the way to the end of the SECOND channel,’ the lieutenant instructed. At the stone wall, you’d throw on your other set of shoes, stash your fins in your pack, throw it on, and run one last half-mile back to the barracks.

    I can remember squinting through the run. We all were. It was about 10 in the morning, and the sun was already bright, but nobody wanted to leave their Oakley’s unprotected with their running shoes. I was near the front of the pack; doubling back from Orote Point I passed the Slug, who gave me an encouraging, ‘Yeah!’ as he was still headed out. I got to Gab Gab and pulled off my T-shirt and shoes as the first splashes sounded.
    The Slug had shown me a trick they used for keeping their cool in the water. The danger is that in the excitement of a race - or a real life situation - you go out too hard and don’t regulate your breathing. Soon, you’re sucking air, which can create a sense of panic. The answer was to sidestroke, not freestyle: glide . . . slack off . . . and be sure you have breath and energy to spare before you pick up the pace. The sidestroke also lets you slice through waves that would tangle up your arms in a freestyle.
    I went out too hard, and as the sandy bottom of the pool fell away to the reef at 20, then 30 feet, I had to tell myself, Stop. Roll sideways. Slow down. Get your breath back.
    The reef disappears at 40 or 50 feet, and from then on the view is just a deep blue or purple penetrated by shafts of light. Apra Harbor is 120 or 150 feet deep out in the middle of things, and it is kind of crazy just being a speck out in the open between infinite spaces above and below, but the real safety feature, the secret hiding in plain view, is in the fins we were wearing. If you ever got in trouble, the trick would be to roll over on your back. With fins on, you barely have to kick to stay afloat. You’re not even treading water.
    With fins, you could be either an upper body swimmer or lower, but not both. I was an upper body freestyler getting a 10 or 20 percent boost in speed from what little I did with my fins. Some guys could really motor by using their legs primarily, in the sidestroke or combat crawl. An SDV guy who had sat across the aisle in the school bus passed by, sidestroking, after we had rounded the buoy and headed for the marina.
    Since there were no reference points below us, we had to pop our heads out of the water every eight or ten strokes to make sure we were headed the right way. Above water, I could see sets of arms stroking and splashing at intervals of 10 or 20 feet apart. At one point, I caught a glimpse of the lieutenant out in front lifting his head to scan the horizon. Below the water, only feet away from each of us, were barracuda. Everyone generally had one gliding alongside, eyeing them. They were three- or four-foot guided missiles with giant underbites and teeth like long needles, probably attracted by the glints of light from our watches or other bits of metal, but what they really wanted to see was whether any pilotfish would try to hitch a ride.
    The swim, at two or two and a half miles, took more than an hour. Upon rounding the mooring buoy, there was no way to spot the channels at Sumay, but I did recognize the spit of land between them, so I knew to head for that. We got to the spit, and I do remember a few moments of guys treading water and calling out, ‘This way?’ and, ‘Yeah, keep going.’
    The marina channel was warm, muddy, and shallow. This made for fast swimming, and I can remember catching glimpses during breaths of about three of us stroking in tandem through the calm water. We hit the sand and pulled ourselves up on our hands and knees to the water’s edge. Your balance can be shot after a long swim, and your arms are pretty fried, so you just roll over onto your rear end and pull your fins off. Here, it was pretty much over. I was exhilarated - and exhausted - but it felt glorious stuffing my fins in my pack and running that last three or four minutes up the hill.

    The guys were gathering in the shade of a tree outside the barracks. I had finished in the top third of the pack. The lieutenant was counting bodies, of course, but the others started cracking jokes as they drained their water bottles and looked down the hill at the guys coming up from Sumay. One big guy didn’t have a pack. He labored along with a fin in each hand and his goggles around his neck.
    ‘Yeah, he’s hung over,’ was the consensus.
    For a while, nobody appeared. ‘Where the Hell is [so-and-so] - who should be a lot faster,’ someone would ask.
    ‘He’s down shaking hands with Davy Jones,’ someone said, to general laughter. This was another one of their catchphrases.
    The SDV guy who had passed me at one point came in. ‘Swam down the wrong friggin’ canal,’ he gasped.
    ‘Who did?’ asked the lieutenant.
    ’Slug; a couple guys. Slug lost a fin somewhere - did pretty much the whole thing with one.’
    Nobody cared that some guys were slow; they had made it, after all. The Slug ran in and hadn’t said anything until the lieutenant asked, ‘You lost a fin?’
    He nodded as he sucked air and drank water.
    That was significant. Slug was a freestyle puller, not a lower body guy, but still he had lost a considerable boost to his speed. That was a long hour and a half in the water. ‘Nice swim, Sluggo,’ they all acknowledged. ‘Good job.’

    My wife and I hosted Sluggo and another guy for Thanksgiving dinner that night. Between the Foxtrot Turkey Trot and the beers, all of our eyes were barely open before long. I realized something that day that these guys might not have thought about: the ocean swims, lifting, rock climbing, martial arts, or diving they do - especially outside of their usual training - went a long way in convincing them they could do anything. That’s an important mindset in a very dangerous line of work.
    Those were good times. Thanks, Sluggo; fellas. It went a long way for my mindset as well.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Watch out for the Men in Gray Suits.

    4-Day Split (8, 5, & 2 and TM rotation)
    Week of: 12/2/19 5’s week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x5*) Tom 402.5 JC 162.5 - 165
    2. Romanian deadlifts: 4 sets of 6 reps Tom 362.5, 365x3 JC 165
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) light JC 75 - 95
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485 - 535
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Strict press: (5x5) Tom 145 JC 70
    2. Bench press: 1 set of 5 (intensity) Tom 250 JC 110
    3. Dips: 4 sets of 8 (20) or 4 sets of 5 wide grip bench Tom 222.5 JC 80
    4. Hanging Rows: 5x5 vest, 25 lb db
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5

    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 2* reps Tom 492.5 JC 250
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 442.5 JC 225
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 5 sets, 3 reps Tom 362.5 bands 5x3 JC 150
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: (10 sets of 1) Tom 175 JC 85
    2. Bench Press: (5x5) Tom 245 JC 110
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. 4 sets Lying Tricep Extensions or Band Press downs
    5. (JC) Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5
    6. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

  7. #207
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    Once again, Rip and the folks in management have shown us that it is indeed a diverse bunch who make up the STARTING STRENGTH community. This past week, they presented a video featuring John and Elise Glaze, an older couple who have found this brand of training vital for the lives they’re living now as well as the plans they have for the future. John’s a police officer who must be durable enough for his tangles with the riffraff, and they’re both hikers who want to travel after his retirement.
    These two join a wide variety of people we’ve met already: golfers, military members, special needs lifters, cancer patients, mixed martial artists, Orthodox Jewish women, teachers, Jiu Jitsu competitors, research scientists, Olympic lifters, pastors, basketball players, significantly elderly folks, powerlifters, college strength coaches, heart patients, swimmers, - doctors, lawyers, Indian Chiefs, etc.
    Such a group would seem to have nothing in common when it comes to all the typical variables: age, income, race, education, politics, and so on. That they - we - all follow STARTING STRENGTH brings us together accidentally, it would seem.
    However, that can’t be true. We must all share some set of hidden characteristics that made us choose this methodology in particular - and not others, and despite our differences. The gang in Wichita Falls probably wishes they knew the secret, but all they can do is try to make the books and website as broadly appealing as possible.

    What if it were possible to get our hands on these hidden characteristics and play to them on social media with tailor made messages? This would be purposely engineering that accidental gathering above. We could sift out the likely followers from the general population and build a coalition, customer base, or even a political movement.
    That ability exists. It’s not well understood by the general public, but it’s the subject of a handful of books that are just now coming out, including one I’ve just happened upon in the library, and which has proven to be be one of the best written and most important things I’ve read in a long time. It pertains to the giant, angry standoff that is American politics nowadays, but the author’s focus is the sophisticated chess match that’s taking place behind the scenes, the game of psychological profiling and infinitely complex targeted messaging, all made possible by data mining, supercomputing, and big money. This is the kind of book that delivers one revelation after another, the sense that now you get it; now you’re on the inside, and strange moments that have flown past in the news make a lot more sense.

    If computer programs are giant exercises in developmental logic, then author Christopher Wylie’s experience serves him well in the clarity with which he builds his case in MINDF*CK: CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA AND THE PLOT TO BREAK AMERICA. This is the kid who was instrumental in the creation of Cambridge Analytica and the roles it played in the Brexit referendum and the 2016 presidential election. He turned whistleblower, first alerting Parliament and Congress, and now the general public, to the danger he helped create. People of all political stripes will have to get wise to this brave new world of information warfare.
    Targeted messaging is nothing new, as generations of media planners fresh out of college and working for sweatshop wages in advertising agencies can attest. I followed my father into the television racket briefly - and I still have the occasional nightmare 30 years later - but I can provide these compelling insights: advertisers don’t simply want to reach as many people as possible by way of massive attractions like the Super Bowl or the most popular prime time shows. You can actually get a better bang for your buck by focusing on the market for your product. For example, drug commercials are on the news because older folks, who are the most likely to need medication, make up most of the news audience. Beer commercials are on sports, since that’s where male drinkers are tuned in. I worked on the Moet champagne account, and they ran their commercials on tennis matches - because champagne drinkers are not watching NASCAR. NASCAR is for the Craftsman Tool ads.

    Thanks to the power of computing, matching the right people with the right messages can be all the more specific and effective. A social media campaign does not have to send out singular, broad messages to huge numbers of people. Instead, computers can instantly send out dozens or hundreds of tailor made messages, each reaching the specific people they would be most likely to influence.
    This is the science that a young and enthusiastic Christopher Wylie was teaching himself. When he was working for political campaigns, he tried to explain this idea to party leaders, but they could not grasp it, or they interpreted this as criticism and continued with their monolithic clumsiness. Soon, he found work with a British defense contractor, using these techniques to disrupt terror networks and criminal enterprises. The potential for this discipline as psychological warfare had already been recognized.
    The genius in Wylie’s book is the story of how all of this evolved as well as his explanation of the basic mechanics involved. Essentially, two things are needed:
    1. a basis by which to quantify people’s beliefs and preferences, and
    2. a huge amount of data to apply to these metrics
    Wylie met a psychologist who introduced him to the Five Factor Model of Personality, which rests on the following traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. This was exactly what he was looking for, Wylie realized, and he and his colleagues began work on determining how best to quantify these traits - and to do so electronically, by observing people’s online habits.
    This requires huge amounts of data that has to be compiled and cross referenced. It means observing people’s buying and browsing habits in infinite detail, but the real bonanza came along when they were able to tap into Facebook. Facebook quite literally tells the tale on who you are and what you do and do not like. Remember those quizzes you used to take: ‘Which GAME OF THRONES character are you?’ You filled out a few multiple choice questions on how you’d handle this or that, and as you were rewarded with an image of yourself sitting on a dragon, research firms were rewarded with an increased accuracy in your - yes, individual - personality profile. That was a small but effective part of the data mining taking place. Studies began to show that computer modeling could predict a person’s behavior more accurately than their spouse could.
    By the 2016 election, Cambridge Analytica knew 87 million Americans better than their own spouses did.
    The potential benefit to mankind is enormous. Imagine sociologists or economists running simulations in which certain policies are tried out and fine tuned before being introduced.
    Imagine the mischief possible if this were to fall into the wrong hands. The book takes a dark turn as people like Steve Bannon and Russian ‘oil executives’ come calling.

    This is where I lose you, when things get political, so let’s turn back to STARTING STRENGTH. In the not too distant future, when all this data manipulation is a lot cheaper, Mark Rippetoe could one day pick up the phone and call a media company, saying, ‘I want to know what those hidden characteristics are that make up a STARTING STRENGTH customer.’
    They’d have the breakdown in a day or two. ‘They seem to have four dominant traits,’ they’d explain, ‘so you’ll need four types of messages to reach similar kinds of people. We’ll help you draw up some videos or articles.’ Then, they’d say that out of a database of 87 million - or maybe 150 million by this point - you’re looking at a target of about 5 million. Of that 5, 1.5 or 2 will start tracking you online. Half a million will buy the book STARTING STRENGTH right away. The media company knows this because they have the data to predict this behavior.
    That’s a Hell of a deal. Who knows what it would cost? They’d probably base the fee on a piece of Rip’s action on the book.

    Now, suppose I don’t like Rip. I’m a disgruntled coach trying to sell my own program. If I went on somebody’s podcast nowadays and said, ‘Rip’s a jerk; people shouldn’t deadlift,’ Rip could respond in kind. He could go on the same show and make his case.
    Imagine instead that I decide to conduct a little investigation. I call the media company: ‘Who are the people out there who don’t like STARTING STRENGTH, and what are they saying?’
    They come back with a report.
    ‘OK, Step Two: let’s stir the hornets’ nest, make these ideas echo around this group and see what they start posting.’
    After a few weeks, they present new findings, many of them absolutely false, but that’s what’s flying around the web.
    ‘Perfect. Step Three: Let’s spoon feed this to the STARTING STRENGTH customer base, the whole 5 million, those he already has and those who might be a match. Let’s sow a little doubt.’
    Rip starts losing followers, and by the time he catches on to what’s happening, he faces the prospect of running all over the web, trying to take on false allegations coming out of who-knows-where.

    I would suggest that one of the reasons we follow STARTING STRENGTH is that it’s one of the few endeavors in life we can control completely. It’s up to us to get the form down and keep track of the numbers, but then we own our progress. As the political season approaches, we’re going to have to show that same independence of mind.

  8. #208
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    4-Day Split (8&3, 5&2, 2&1 rotation)
    Week of: 12/9/19 2&1 week & TM
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x2*) Tom 437.5 JC 175
    2. Romanian deadlifts: 4 sets of 6 reps Tom 365 chains JC 165, 170
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) light JC 75 - 95
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485 - 535
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Strict press: (5x5) Tom 147.5 JC 72.5
    2. Bench press: 1 set of 5 (intensity) Tom 250 JC 112.5
    3. Dips: 4 sets of 8 (20) or 4 sets of 5 wide grip bench Tom 225 JC 80
    4. Hanging Rows: 5x5 vest, 25 lb db
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5
    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 1* rep Tom 517.5 JC 250
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 465 chains JC 220
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 3x2* reps Tom 395 bands JC 155
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: (10 sets of 1) Tom 180 JC 87.5
    2. Bench Press: (5x5) Tom 247.5 JC 112.5
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. 4 sets Lying Tricep Extensions or Band Press downs
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5
    6. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  9. #209
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    The big headline coming out of our detached single-car garage, built as a smokehouse a century ago, and which now has been fashioned into the Nunedog Center for Excellence, is that I squatted 460 pounds for a single the other day. That’s a number that’s been rattling around the back of my mind for nearly 40 years, from the time I was a precocious young lifter who nailed it for a max at the end of senior year in high school. For years I never matched it, either while training as an Olympic lifter in college, or recently, taking up strength once more at the age of 50. The moment I re-racked the bar, I waited for some kind of profound message to reveal itself, perhaps a sense of sharing the moment with that cocky, young Prep kid from May 1982. That didn’t happen. Instead, it’s taken a little effort to come up with an insight.
    I’ve been creeping toward 460 for some time. I’m in the neighborhood every three weeks, based on my 8-5-2 rep rotation, and having taken the occasional shot without success, I’ve figured it would be most prudent to keep edging upward until I felt good and ready. Three weeks ago, my 2’s with 435 were tough, so I decided I’d stay where I was and be glad to get the reps. The other day, the first round with 437.5 had a little zip to it, which got me thinking: in three more weeks, Christmas break is going to hose up the rotation, so now’s the time. Who Dares Wins.
    I actually had a bit left in the tank - and I had to hit a third round, 2 more with 437.5 again, which was both rough and a little anti-climactic, but important nonetheless. I don’t think I’m done by any means.

    For a long time, I thought I was. I couldn’t replicate the lift. This was despite training madly during freshman year of college. In two peaking cycles, I got 455 once, and maybe not even that the second time around. Soon after, a guy who had noticed me front squatting 405 asked if I wanted to try Olympic lifting. That became the new quest, wildly promising at first, but ultimately frustrating - because I didn’t train for strength.
    I’ve written about this before, but the point remains: it was as crazy as it sounds. Speed and technique were everything in the 80’s - until you couldn’t contain the bar you just cleaned when it clobbered you in the collarbones. Long story short: it made perfect sense to get the Hell out of the weight room and get on with life.
    As 460 faded into history, my explanation would have been that I was simply changing as a person, getting into new things. What I didn’t know was that my life changed for purely technical reasons, concepts I had no way of grasping at the time: the science of rest intervals and the differences between novice progressions and intermediate programming. A 175-pound kid can’t keep cranking out sets with well in excess of double bodyweight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, no matter how driven he is.

    460 became one of those wild stories I’d tell about my background, if it ever came up among Judo guys, runners, or CrossFitters. ‘In college I was a competitive weightlifter.’
    ‘Really?’
    ‘Yeah. You know, I once squatted 460 pounds.’
    ‘Seriously? 460?’
    Nine years ago, getting back into the weights by way of CrossFit, I tore up my lower back one day squatting with 245 pounds. That’s dangerous territory, I can remember thinking. I was a completely different human being.

    I’ve tried to imagine the conversation that would take place, were I - in present form - to stroll into that basement weight room in May 1982. I’d have to find a break in the activity.
    My Coach was on his way out to the track to work with the shot putters and discus throwers. ‘Hey, why don’t you try one last max?’ he asked 17-year-old me. ‘What’s the next weight?’
    ‘460.’ I was at the end of a peak and thought I was done at 450.
    ‘I think you have a pretty good chance,’ he ventured.
    He watched from the doorway as I hit it surprisingly well. Then he was out of there, headed to the track, leaving me in charge of the underclassmen who had just witnessed this.
    I - 2019 me - can’t mess with this kid, I’d realize as I also stand in the doorway beholding the scene. By this point he’s goofing off. The 460 is cause for celebration. Oh, I remember: his girlfriend is about to come downstairs to pick him up. (This might not have been that very same day . . . ) but now his shirt is off, and he’s wearing it as a headpiece, like Yul Brenner in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. When his cheerleader girlfriend shows up, he’s going to hit a one-armed clean with 135 for her benefit and make himself even more of a god in the eyes of the younger guys.

    ’37 and a half years, and you’re still at the same weight?’ he’d no doubt ask if I revealed myself.
    ‘The path has not exactly been a straight line,’ I’d have to point out. ‘Look, there’s something I have to tell you. You’re about to have some fantastic opportunities as an athlete in college - BUT there are some scientific principles you have to know. If you get these down, you’ll be a champion.’
    Then it hits me: this would be a huge mistake - and this is the lesson from that 460 on Monday: a lot of great things happened in life because I never got any stronger.
    I’ll stick around that basement and watch for a few more minutes, but then I’ll whisper toward all the racket, ‘Hey - in another 37 years, let’s squat it again.’

    4-Day Split (8&3, 5&2, 2&1 rotation)
    Week of: 11/25/19 8&3 TM week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x8*) Tom 367.5 JC : 145
    2. Romanian deadlifts: 4 sets of 6 reps Tom 365x3, 367.5 chains JC 170
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) 75 - 95 JC
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485 - 535
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Strict press: (5x5) Tom 150 JC 75
    2. Bench press: 1 set of 5 (intensity) Tom 252.5 JC 112.5
    3. Dips: 4 sets of 8 (20) or 4 sets of 5 wide grip bench Tom 227.5 JC 85
    4. Hanging Rows: 5x5 vest, 25 lb db
    5. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5

    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 3* reps Tom 470 JC 245
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 422.5 JC 220
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 4 sets of 6 Tom 330 JC 130 BANDS
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: (10 sets of 1) Tom 182.5 JC 87.5
    2. Bench Press: (5x5) Tom 250 JC 112.5
    3. Pull ups (5 sets of 10 reps)
    4. 4 sets Lying Tricep Extensions or Band Press downs
    5 Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5 JC
    6. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

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  10. #210
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    Dec 2015
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    starting strength coach development program
    I can’t decide between two topics that have caught my attention, so I might as well cover them both, since I can see a connection. The first is a WASHINGTON POST Education column by Jay Mathews, where the main idea is captured in its title, ‘Algebra II doesn’t add up when you figure how little it means to most students.’ Mathews discusses how experts want to discard the class, a graduation requirement in 20 states, ‘in favor of something more fashionable.’ He describes a University of Chicago economist who’s apparently discovered that the vast majority of people don’t use trigonometry in their daily lives. ‘It’s embarrassing,’ the economist concluded, ‘that we teach a math curriculum that nobody, pretty much, is using.’
    Other experts feel Algebra II is ‘more trouble than it’s worth,’ frustrating students and ‘erecting irrelevant hurdles for students with other interests.’ Better would be classes in data science and quantitative reasoning, particularly in light of the jobs that are shaping the workforce nowadays. In dumping a hard course like Algebra II, one expert wants to develop a ‘positive mathematics identity and agency’ among students. The idea is to ‘transform learning from mindless manipulations . . . toward . . . conceptual understanding.’ Statistics would get a big boost in this initiative, at the expense of Calculus, for example, which is deemed unnecessary for most students’ success.

    The other topic is a YouTube profile of Maral Javadifar, ‘The Most Unique Strength Coach in the NFL,’ a young woman working for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We see her on the sidelines and in the gym, and we hear from players and other coaches about the adjustments people had to make when she joined the team - not over her being a woman but to the ‘physical therapy and performance based mindset’ she brought with her. They agree, however, that she’s the real deal.
    Javadifar was a collegiate basketball player and originally an accounting major who switched to molecular biology and became a Doctor of Physical Therapy. She is of Iranian descent, the daughter of parents who fled the Islamic Revolution for a new life in the States. She’s very appreciative of the all the opportunities this has provided and hopes that someday she’ll be a role model for other young women.
    It’s a nice little feature story - and I’m all in favor of women filling these roles - but it’s a little hard to tell what she’s up to. The session in the weight room appears to be an in-season workout, a bench press day with 4 sets of 2-3 reps with 75 or 80 percent [of max], which sounds pretty low key.
    It’s the warm ups that seem a little strange. Players are instructed to wrap a mini-band around their forearms, with a foot of gap between the two, and make a pushing motion forward into the open air for 20 reps. They also lift their banded arms overhead for a set and make a clapping and spreading motion against the band for yet another. 20 shrugs while standing on a band are part of the plan, as are 20 knee locks - not even leg extensions, but the locking of a slightly flexed knee against band tension pulling from the front.
    Here and more so in an interview posted on the Buccaneers’ website, Javadifar frequently mentions ‘movement screenings,’ and using ‘objective measures’ geared toward developing ‘individual protocols’ to ‘optimize performance.’

    I am suspicious of a parallel between a watered down, alternative math curriculum lauded for its fostering a ‘positive mathematics identity’ and what might be straight-faced quackery in all these movement assessments and performance optimizations.
    How’s that for an understatement? Yes, I know a lot of folks have checked out on this debate already - but really, I’m not in a position to know one way or another. The woman in the story has a doctorate; there must be textbooks full of principles by which performances are optimized, right? I suppose this piece is all about my wanting to see some proof behind all the fanciness shaping the industry nowadays.
    They’re not off to a good start. In the first section above, I had to edit the remarks of an educational expert, of all people, for clarity. Also, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ‘unique’ means one of a kind. In the video title, a coach cannot be the most ‘one of a kind.’

    Every few years, a college like mine, which has both a business school and a liberal arts program, hosts a debate about Training vs. Education. The respective deans pull ancient, frayed speeches out of their desk drawers, and if they’re lucky they can whip their supporters into roaring factions and make a rowdy evening of it. Nothing is settled; no one is won over. The business types are off happily making money, and the liberal arts folks are fulfilled by exploring the heights of human achievement.
    Making a life decision where the path diverges is fine for college students, but it presumes the existence of some basic thinking skills that got them there in the first place, some of which are found in the content of Algebra II. To the expert from Chicago above, I would submit that in addition to trigonometry, most people do not add fractions or do long division in their daily lives, unless they’re helping their Fifth Graders with homework. The kids hate it, so the grown-ups try to explain that still they have to do it. The basic mental skills are important.
    They’re no less important five years later, when young minds still need to expand their capacity for sticking to principle in the face of complexity. By its nature Algebra II is supposed to be tough, its material foreign, the manipulations abstract. Someday, though, the kids who survive will be able to parse meaning or divine hidden value in any number of contexts in life. They’d be even better able to do so after a semester or two of Calculus. The experts seeking to give up on Algebra II must be weak in math to begin with: they don’t recognize the proportionality between adding fractions for Fifth Graders and trigonometry and logarithms for Sophomores and Juniors. They’re abandoning principle in the face of adversity.

    Getting stronger is just about as logical a progression as a student’s mathematics career. Plenty of coaches understand the stress-recovery-adaptation cycle and can draw up novice and intermediate progressions which, like the math curriculum that’s been the standard for decades, will provide an athlete with years of progress. The lifter just has to put in the hard work, gutting out their sets with 135, say, as a beginner and doing exactly the same down the line with 435.
    This is a great analogy when it comes to the idea of not giving up in the face of adversity. However, you can’t quite make the same comparison between mathematics and programming on a historical basis. The math kids are studying has been known for centuries. The programming lifters use is a pretty recent development and not universally understood. Rip’s first ‘Practical Programming’ was published in 2006. His source material, I presume, was wide ranging and not well known.
    With this flaw in the analogy, that our grasp of training science is all a little new and probably not complete, let’s allow for the possibility that the doctors of physical therapy and sports medicine know something we do not.

    Javadifar does not explain the reason for the band work we see in the video or define the terms she uses in her description of optimizing athletes’ performances. I quickly ran into trouble when I did a little investigating.

    ‘Movement Screening’ - Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen is the topic that dominates the returns in a Google inquiry. ‘Developed in 1997 to help clinicians and health care professions screen individuals for risk of injury [or] a dysfunctional or performance-limiting movement pattern,’ according to Physiopedia.com, it examines the following seven tasks:
    -Deep Squat
    -Hurdle Step
    -In-line Lunge
    -Active Straight-leg Raise
    -Trunk Stability Push-up
    -Rotary Stability
    -Shoulder Mobility

    This has become very popular in the commercial fitness industry and very profitable for Cook and his colleagues, who have gone on to develop the more advanced Selective Functional Movement Assessment, the Fundamental Capacity Screen, and the Y Balance test.
    It’s a swindle. Worse than these guys blowing their own con with lines like ‘Asymmetries are a factor in increased injury risk,’ and, ‘Having control of your limbs requires a stable core,’ are the assessments from publications like THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPORTS PHYSICAL THERAPY, SPORTS MEDICINE, and THE JOURNAL OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING RESEARCH, among others, which report that . . .
    -the FMS could not be recommended as a screening tool for injury by those working with junior level hockey players or premier league soccer teams
    -there were NO significant correlations between higher FMS scores and on field performance
    -there was little correlation between FMS scores and multidirectional speed and jumping tests in healthy male subjects
    -in tests involving sprinting, jumping, throwing, and agility, most have found no relationship between any measure of athletic performance and FMS scores
    -In the course of FMS tests on firefighters, every subject improved their score from one test to another, within a few minutes, after being told what movement patterns were required. The changes did not reflect improvements in mobility, stability, or coordination, but ‘rather a knowledge of what the task requires.’

    (continued below)

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