A Middle Aged Adolescent  (who cannot possibly be the only one) A Middle Aged Adolescent (who cannot possibly be the only one) - Page 32

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  1. #311
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    • starting strength seminar june 2021
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    The personal reflections continue, most recently by way of an examination of Shakespeare’s villains as provided by actor Patrick Page, whose one-man show ‘All the Devils Are Here’ is streaming on DC’s Shakespeare Theater website. The idea was to explore the motivations for what people are capable of doing to one another, but this took an unexpected turn toward things modern day and political. Around the same time, I got back in touch with an old Olympic lifting buddy from decades ago. His answer to a training question was similarly surprising, leading me down a rabbit hole of alternative training theories. If Shakespeare has something to tell us about those who would lead people astray, then the strength and conditioning business can teach us a bit about those willing to follow.
    [One note: it was a related podcast that got political. Page’s piece on the Shakespeare Theater site is purely performance and commentary on the material, which I recommend.]

    That Evil, or all human behavior for that matter, is born of a specific context was Shakespeare’s revelation to his audiences, if not Western civilization. In the dramas of the Middle Ages, the bad guys were vices in religiously themed morality plays. Characters such as Anger, Gluttony, Greed, or Lust, barely a step removed from the mustache twirling Snidely Whiplash, would address the audience and reveal their plan to trip up the hero. Virtues would come to the rescue. Audiences were pretty unsophisticated at the time Shakespeare began his career. Like much of society, they judged almost solely by appearances and old assumptions; those who were different - Eastern European looking Jews, the dark skinned, women - were considered suspect or dismissed as inferior.
    Shakespeare made audiences see motivation instead of accepting a character at face value. The deformed, hobbled villain Richard III tells the crowds essentially, If this how I am, how I’m treated, then I’ll have mine in return. In THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, as Shylock the Jew details the endless indignities he’s suffered, the audience can actually sympathize with the guy and understand his anger. Hamlet should be able to solve his problems and deal out some vengeance in no time, folks would think. Kill him, obviously, is the solution when it comes to Claudius, who murdered Hamlet’s father in a play for the crown and Hamlet’s mother. However, just as Hamlet is poised to do so, he comes upon Claudius tearfully confessing his sins to God. A villain torn over the wrongs he’s done surprises the audience as much as it does Hamlet.
    With OTHELLO, the audience members really had to bite their lips and focus on this one: the Black Guy is the good guy? . . . and the handsome, exemplary young White officer is the bad guy? Iago’s entrapment of Othello is a slowly unfolding work of art, a seduction, as seemingly effortless a piece of genius as Othello’s foaming, murderous rage is excessive. Whether Shakespeare provides insight into modern psychology or modern psychology gives us insight into Shakespeare is an open question, but the character of Iago is a template for what is known as a narcissistic personality disorder. A person displaying its traits will (among other things)
    • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
    • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
    • Exaggerate achievements and talents
    • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
    • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
    • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
    • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
    • Take advantage of others to get what they want
    At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:
    • Become impatient or angry when they don't receive special treatment
    • Easily feel slighted
    • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
    • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection

    In a podcast, Page points out that you can absolutely see this in Donald Trump, beginning with his maniacal insistence that his inauguration crowd was greater than that of Barack Obama. It’s been especially dangerous in his denying the results of the 2020 election, attacking officials and contesting results in various states, and sending his followers scrambling over the walls of the Capitol. This is the stuff of Shakespeare: kingdoms suffer the upheavals in the minds of the powerful.
    Since the presidency was largely an exercise in self-aggrandizement, Trump was an empty vessel as a leader. When it came to tax breaks, immigration, or Second Amendment protections, nefarious influences could sway his hand. Otherwise, his numerous untalented yet loyal flunkies throughout the Administration did pretty much nothing. There was no vaccine rollout plan, no response or prevention plans for the pandemic; the State Department had been gutted, Intelligence sidelined, and so on.
    Now, younger and more intelligent Iago-like villains like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are willing to play his game - only better. They’ll sing his praises at CPAC, but prior to 2024, the knifing will take place, and Caesar will lie bleeding. This too is the stuff of Shakespeare.

    Who will follow these guys? It occurs to me that most of the folks storming the Capitol had not read OTHELLO or taken an Intro Psych class.
    I’m getting ahead of myself. I fell down another rabbit hole after an exchange with that old weightlifting friend. After he got out of lifting, he got back into throwing - hammer, javelin, and discus, which he had done in college. As a Masters athlete, he had trouble with his feet, however, so he had to learn how to strengthen them.
    That’s been happening to me. On Tuesdays, after my sled pull, I’ll hit a few runs up the hill of my driveway. Between the sled work, squats and deads, and some focus on sprint mechanics, I can generate horsepower enough to feel strain in my weakest link, the arches of my feet. Come Wednesday morning, I’m limping around with plantar fasciitis. ‘What’s your source on the foot strengthening?’ I e-mailed.
    The link he sent was a YouTube video of a guy doing safety bar split squats. Facing the rack and bracing with his hands on pins at waist level, and a safety bar bearing a few hundred pounds on his shoulders, he’s in a fore and aft stance, lunging into a quarter squat on his front leg - while keeping that heel in the air. That would put quite the isometric load on the arch of that foot, and I’m sure it works madly for strength.
    That particular lift is probably what my friend wanted me to see. (We’re going to speak this weekend.) However, the video, by a coach named Cal Dietz, goes on to claim that supra-maximal sets of this exercise enabled a number of 600-pound squatters to gain about 10 percent more squat strength in only a few weeks - without training full squats.
    Wow. It’s enough to make you start clicking on the other videos.
    Cal Dietz is a University of Minnesota strength coach who has created a training system called TriPhasic Training, based on periods of extended, specific focus on each phase of a lift, the eccentric, isometric, and concentric contractions. The subtitle to his book TRIPHASIC TRAINING is, ‘A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Performance.’ He has numerous videos on YouTube that are full of compelling anecdotes, summaries of studies, and miraculous demonstrations, all of which roll right off the top of his head. Comments for the videos or on Amazon read, ‘This is the future of training,’ and ‘Can’t get enough of this guy.’

    It might be awesome. It might be hogwash. It is seductive, nonetheless. This guy is as smooth as any Iago.
    In old Forum discussions, both Rip and Jordan Feigenbaum dismiss Triphasic training as nonsense without bothering to address its claims. From my standpoint, I’ve done supra-maximal training as a high school junior, a skinny little 150-pounder quarter squatting 800 pounds for reps. True, you have to bull your chest and stack your vertebrae perfectly to move the bar, but that didn’t enhance our ability to do so generally. We still had to practice and develop that skill in our regular squats.
    A few years ago, I also went through an extensive isotonic-isometric program. It did not . . not work, though it was a great deal of trouble, while pin presses are probably more effective, anyway. I should point out one thing: in the deadlift, I did work up to some tremendous numbers in various positions, but the process beat me up so badly that I was too injured to combine these pieces into a single big lift.

    (continued below)

  2. #312
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    (from above)

    If nobody’s gone to the trouble of debunking Triphasic Training, then no one has proven its superiority, either. Most surprising on the net is the willingness of multiple websites to reprint descriptions and articles provided by Dietz. Could it be that coaches are gushing over novice level gains that would have happened with practically any barbell program? One advantage Dietz’s program offers is templates that spell everything out. Coaches follow the plan, and no wonder they gush.

    This is starting to say more about Othello than it does Iago. These folks are susceptible. If they don’t know how strength progressions work, then they’re easily led.
    You want to bench 315? Then do 5’s with 275. That’s the reality.
    I can’t, you say. I’m more in the league of 245 for 5.
    Then another coach comes along and says, Don’t worry. For a reasonable price, we’re going to take light weights and do all kinds of tempo lifts, isometric holds, and oscillations, while making videos full of promising conversations about stimulating our tendons and hormones. In optimizing our reflexes, we can exceed the well established speed limits of strength development.
    Pretty soon we’ve never gotten back to the original question: Did the guy ever bench 315?

    That’s today’s therapy session. If there are those willing to weave wicked spells, then there have to be others waiting to fall under them.

    (8,5, & 2 and 3, 2, 1 rotation)
    Week of: 3/8/21 5 and 2 week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat: 3 sets of 5 Tom 370, 415x1
    2. Romanian deadlifts 325 hangs
    3. Power Cleans (3x3) light JC 75 - 95
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Inclined bench press: 3 sets of 5 Tom 220
    2. Bench press: 255 4 sets of 5
    3. 5 sets of 10 Hanging rows
    4. Hammer curls: 40-50-60’s
    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 475
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 425
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 3 sets of 5 330 chains
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: 175-195, reps 147.5
    2. Floor press 225 4 sets of 5
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. Hammer curls: 4 sets, 40, 55’s
    5. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile or row 6000 meters

  3. #313
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    On just about every Summer night in 1982, I had to make a half-hour drive home from my girlfriend’s house. She lived in the town where I had been sent to a Catholic prep school, which was where my circle of friends and social activity had shifted, up a 20 mile stretch of dangerous interstate, where as a young driver I logged a great many miles and saw more than my share of bloody wrecks. Those late trips called for an open cockpit, the windows down and radio blasting, to keep me awake and alert as I flew solo through the dark.
    At some point I started hearing this mysterious but amazing song that never came up in the regular rotation or especially in daylight hours. On it would come at a night, though; my guess is that the nighttime DJ simply liked it - for good reason. It lent itself to getting cranked immediately: fast, pulsing guitars getting faster and a wailing saxophone solo, the first of two, unleashed after only seconds, followed by a passionate lover’s plea: the sound of youth, like lightning trapped in a bottle.

    He Can't Love You - Michael Stanley Band / MSB - YouTube

    ‘Have you heard this song?’ I’d ask my girlfriend or others we were with. ‘Michael Stanley Band, ‘He Can’t Love You.’
    They’d be surprised by the question, thinking I was referring to an old, familiar Tony Orlando and Dawn song, ‘He Don’t Love You,’ which anyone could sing. ‘That one?’
    ‘No, no, no. This is totally different. It’s fast. It’s great - but I only hear it at night.’
    I never convinced them this song existed, and I couldn’t find the album, HEARTLAND, in any record stores. ‘Come on, buddy,’ I’d say to the DJ once I was alone, rolling past dark houses on sleepy neighborhood streets. ‘It’s that time of night.’
    He’d rarely let me down. To this day, I picture a certain stretch of highway whenever I hear it.

    Michael Stanley died this past week, news that has staggered his hometown of Cleveland. All over social media and local news sites, folks are posting their remembrances of concerts and the role Stanley played in special moments in their lives. ‘He Can’t Love You’ came out in the era of big hair, half shirts, short track shorts, and knee high socks, according to a great many Facebook pictures, and that song was championship material for sorting out the best air guitar bands of the day.
    The song did crack the BILLBOARD Top 40, reaching number 33 in 1981. It was also one of the first 50 videos ever played on MTV, that same year. According to an article by Cleveland’s WKYC, “Stanley was part of what would become known as the genre of "heartland rock," emphasizing the values of blue-collar middle America, along with such artists as Bob Seger and John Cougar Mellencamp. But as popular as MSB was locally, they just couldn’t quite ascend to national stardom.
    "We couldn’t get arrested in Columbus,” Stanley said in an interview. "We were big in San Francisco, but we didn’t do much in LA. We were big in Denver, we were big in Texas and Florida, but we couldn’t get into Indianapolis."
    This would explain why they barely penetrated New England. I was in on a secret. Having just graduated high school, those long drives at night were when I was beginning to realize that all of life is a solo flight.

    “Anyway, that you want to
    Anytime, that I can show you
    Listen to me
    And you won't be regrettin'
    And the
    Time we spend, well you won't be
    Forgetting, baby
    'Cause when I hold you
    I'm gonna show you why
    It's like I told you
    I'm no ordinary guy, and...

    [Stacy Patton] was a classic beauty, a strawberry blonde and a cheerleader whose brothers were football legends. She dated star athletes and was the kind of girl most of us worshipped from afar. She was way out of my league.
    Still, around Christmas I wound up face to face with her at a party at her house, in her giant, crowded basement with its pool and ping-pong tables, couches, and stereo. I could scarcely believe she was willing to talk to me, let alone laugh through a few minutes of beer pong. This was utterly thrilling, though I had to play it cool for the remainder of the night and the following few days in school. In a crowded hallway I caught a snatch of conversation between two other seniors, one of whom proudly declared that at some other party he was at a table ‘playing quarters with Stacy Patton.’ Dropping her name was both a claim to status and an expression of awe. I was instantly jealous.
    That I was even at that party and in a position to entertain thoughts of a long-shot romance was testament to strength training, of course. As senior year began, I was already squatting 400 and gaining notoriety for guzzling a quart of milk from a cardboard carton on the train every morning. Socially, my horizons were thrown wide open by having cred in the eyes of the football players. Physically I was transformed; mentally, too - my confidence had increased with all my lifts.
    It was basketball season, so the general plan was to chat up the cheerleaders at halftime. The clock would wind down, they would do some kind of routine out on the court, and a bunch of the lads would wander down to the floor. For the first few times, I’d run into Stacy just casually, completely by accident, and take the chance to say hello, but then I began to notice that other guys weren’t coming around. Score one for the squats. I could head for her right off the bat.
    Then came the night I had to ask her to the Valentine’s dance. I could hardly watch the game. My eyes kept going to the scoreboard as the first half ticked away. They’d do their cheer, and I’d slip down to the floor and go for it.
    ‘You have to give me a sign. Let me know how it goes,’ a friend said - which I did. The deed was done; other cheerleaders swirled around where we stood, and when Stacy looked away for a second, I pumped my fist so that high in the stands, he could see. When Stacy looked back, I was back to normal.
    Soon after, we were inseparable. Life had blessed me with quite the love affair, and every night Michael Stanley reminded me how lucky I was.

    35 years later, assigned to Cleveland, I was rolling down a highway, fooling with the stereo when the afternoon DJ identified himself as none other than Michael Stanley.
    I shouted in spite of myself, ‘Hey! How’ve you been?’ like it was a back slapping bear hug with an old friend.
    Stanley was Cleveland born and bred. After his touring career was done, he hosted local TV shows and began DJ’ing, which continued for 30 years. His song ‘My Town’ is a Cleveland anthem, which teams like the Browns, Cavaliers, and - [the Indians no longer] - the baseball team, along with numerous sports journalists, have confirmed will remain THE theme during games and shows.
    Even without the isolation of a pandemic, or when in fact there is a good showing at the church, funerals are lonely experiences, as families turn inward. I can only hope his children and grandchildren can read all the stories people are posting. In some of life’s most awesome moments, it was Michael Stanley laying down the soundtrack.

    (8, 5, & 2 and 3, 2, 1 rotation)
    Week of: 3/15/21 2 and 1 week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat: 3 sets of 2 390 single 425
    2. Romanians; 3x5, 327.5
    3. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 485
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Inclined bench press: 3 sets of 2 Tom 242.5
    2. Bench press: 255 - 237.5
    3. 5 sets of 10 Hanging rows
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 8
    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: work up to a set of 1* reps Tom 502.5
    2. Deadlift: back off sets - 90% of top set; 2 sets of same* reps Tom 452.5
    3. Squats: (90% of Monday’s weight) 3x5 350; chains
    4. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: range 175-200, 147.5 reps
    2. Floor press 230; 4x5
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5
    5. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile or row 6000 meters

  4. #314
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    In a stunning development, to coin a phrase, and a case of fantastic timing, my biceps are getting bigger as the warm weather approaches. The secret has been dumbbell hammer curls, after happening upon the following explanation: beneath the bicep is the brachialis, ‘which has a larger cross sectional area than the bicep and therefore contributes more to upper arm thickness than any other muscle.’ The way to engage it is with dumbbell curls, the weight held vertically - which also does something for your brachioradialis, a forearm muscle.
    To my great surprise, this actually works on arms that have been impervious to straight bar curls. I’m moving more weight with more muscle mass than before, and anyone who says they don’t want better looking arms is lying - or they don’t know how to get them.

    ‘Guess what I just figured out,’ I sent in an e-mail to my old high school coach a week or two ago, going into the story about the floor press and learning to brace my upper body. For all the talk about strained pecs or sore shoulders, I said, properly setting one’s shoulder blades does not seem to be offered as a solution.
    He pulled an example right out of memory. ‘Well, it used to be. Pat Casey described exactly that in STRENGTH AND HEALTH about 55 years ago.’
    Shoulder blades pinned together make for efficient motion in the shoulder joints. Pec muscles that are more involved - drawn like bowstrings as far back as possible - mean that more muscle is moving [hopefully] more weight. So far, the floor presses are flying up, and in particular the first reps in bench sets are flying up, not with amazing weights but with better than I’ve done recently.
    Wow, if I can sport some bigger pipes and bench 315, that would make me . . . seriously cool.

    Programming will be the trick. For the first time, I’ve dared to venture into Chapter 8 of Rippetoe and Baker’s PPST3. If I’m not an advanced lifter, then I’m as advanced as I’m going to be, and I have to find the most effective way possible to push my limits at this age and weight.
    Having run out the last dwindling reps of a long 8-5-2 progression, I first figured I’d reset the whole thing and back up for another charge. However, it was in doing 5’s a week ago that I realized this would simply bring misery. 5’s with 370 were rough and slow, which would mean that three weeks later, 372.5 would be the same - and every rotation would be hideous as I tried to get up to 400 and beyond. In fact, more than a year ago, I got up to 407.5 before I had to ditch 5’s. In this latest cycle, I only got to 400. Last time, I maxed 465, most recently, 445 - a few times in one workout, but I wasn’t going any further. This probably means I was beating myself up with too many reps with very heavy weight.
    I did try something different about a year ago, Andy Baker’s Conjugate program, but I bailed out, fearing I was regressing. I was doing all kinds of deadlifts: deficit, snatch grip, etc., and when it came time for a conventional pull, I struggled with 455, on a lift where I had hit 525. To Hell with this, I thought.
    Did I quit too early? Probably, but loss aversion is a powerful psychological reflex. Strength is all about specificity, I figured, as in the neurological specificity of handling heavy weights, which meant my usual 3-2-1 progression bringing my dead back up to 527.5. Conversely, my inclines, which became the focus as I guarded that shoulder in my benches, went from something I’d never done to a reasonable 250, by way of an 8-5-2.
    So what works, the blast furnace of intensity or a well calibrated series of adaptive steps?

    The way to delineate between novice, intermediate, and advanced lifters is by the rest intervals required between full-tilt training sessions. A novice, especially in the example of a young high school athlete, can work through their best 5’s and be ready once again 48 hours later. Really, this is an interaction between two other variables, the capacity for total tonnage versus the capacity for recovery. As long as that teenager’s modest numbers do not overwhelm the growth empowering hormonal Perfect Storm inside his body, he can train hard three times a week.
    By the time this kid gets to college, he’s sporting a 200-300-400-500, but his rate of progress has slowed, which means that his 275-pound bench and 365-pound squat sets are heavy enough to demand significant recovery. Now he needs a few days between workouts, and he’s an intermediate.
    Don’t be fooled by the term ‘Advanced.’ Flattering as it may be, those of us in the category are simply further along the curve of our strength potential. We’re hardly superior to these other athletes. In fact, even if our numbers are decent, we need a lot more time to recover after performing our magnificent feats.

    In Chapter 8, Rippetoe and Baker reason by analogy to explain Advanced programming. ‘For the intermediate,’ they say, ‘the cycle is the week, while for the advanced lifter the cycle is the 8 [or 12] week period.’ They spell out different programs.
    For example, in the intermediate Texas Method, the 5x5 rep scheme on a Monday is a volume workout to spur adaptation, which will then yield a 1x5 performance PR on Friday. In between, on Wednesday, is a light ‘deload’ day. Advanced level schemes are this same idea, just on a larger scale: a few weeks for each phase - ramping up, recovering, and then peaking. If recovery takes more time, then so does adaptation.
    If those 5’s with 370 last week felt way worse than they should have, then the lesson for me is that I need more recovery - some right now and more in general. However, since I hung in fairly well while facing blast furnace intensity, the template I’ve chosen for the next 12-plus weeks is the STRONG Gym program detailed on pp. 203 - 207. Within its Accumulation, Transition, and Peaking phases are three week ascents, each followed by a deload week. Other templates with more frequent deloads are available.

    In the meantime, I’ll take the hint on recovery, which means this already planned quarterly de-load week won’t even have one of those ‘neurological stim’ workouts. (Talk about your loss aversion psychology.)
    I should be in a hammock somewhere, sipping from drinks with little umbrellas in them, making grand plans for my bigger arms, stronger chest, and the numbers that drive progress.

    Week of: 3/22/21 Week of Slacketude

    TUESDAY
    Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 20lbs (and six 50-yard runs)


    FRIDAY or SATURDAY
    Conditioning
    swim 1 mile (That’s another story: people are using bots to snap up all the online lane reservations.)
    or row 6000 meters

  5. #315
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    You can see it in the videos, that moment when one of the guys cuts a quick glance at a friend. They’re in unfamiliar territory, a bunch of football players in a ballet class, a special training session set up by their coach.
    ‘Listen, you lunkheads,’ these coaches must say. ‘Take this seriously.’ They are then at the mercy of an instructor who puts them through many of the same paces her dancers face everyday. The players klutz along as best they can, every one of them lacking the grace and self assurance of the girls in leotards and tights. This is when one of them sneaks a look at a buddy, as if to ask, ‘Are you seeing this? These girls are BEAUTIFUL.’
    The real lessons their coach hopes they’ll learn - if they can quit licking their chops - is that football is hardly the be-all and end-all of athleticism, and they have a long way to go compared to many of their peers. In some videos, a male dancer will be on hand to demonstrate some of the men’s fancy progressions. This is somebody they know from school, who would’ve caught flak if the football team knew he did ballet, but instead they watch him with begrudging respect. With that kind of vertical leap and the way he can shift directions in a split second, he could probably smoke any defensive back in the state - if he can catch.

    A big engine does you no good if you have lousy suspension, a fact that’s not been lost on athletes through the ages. The great Steeler receiver and classically trained Lynn Swann made a career out of getting to the ball above the defensive backs surrounding him, and some of his most spectacular leaping catches have become all-time highlights. Herschel Walker, Eddie George, and Willie Gault trained in ballet, as did the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan era, working with the Joffrey Ballet. The Dallas Cowboys have installed barres in their training facility.
    The aim is to make athletes’ feet and ankles as capable as possible of transmitting bodily force to the ground, in all possible leverages. Every step or leap in a football or basketball game has already been catalogued by ballet’s centuries of choreography and engineered for optimal strength, flexibility, and precision.

    This is the source I’ve turned to upon discovering in my hill runs that I need some re-engineering. I follow a dancer’s workout on YouTube, a 13-minute primer on the basics that has slowly become less excruciating over the past two weeks. Her fantastic legs are just about enough to keep me struggling along, clutching at my desk for support, but the real news is that the last round of sprints produced less pain.
    All the rising, flexing, and pointing are developing two ranges of motion and their corresponding sets of muscles, one in the ankle and the other in the arch of the foot. The ankle work is essentially a calf raise but way up into the topmost end of the motion, ‘demi-pointe,’ as they call it. If ‘en-pointe’ is when a ballerina is on the very ends of her toes, in specially cupped shoes, then demi-pointe is halfway there, with your weight on the metatarsals, the next segment of your foot. Training the calf muscles to reach and hold that position can be murderous. If you’re not shaking, you’re not doing it right, they say.
    If you’re up on the ends of your metatarsals, then your phalanges - your toes - are making a hard 90-degree turn as they rest on the floor. The comparatively big and strong muscles that run through your arch to the big toe do not necessarily want to cooperate. They’re like any other muscles we’ve rehabbed, who have to be reminded how to run through their full range of motion before being conditioned to provide force. If the lines to the big toes stay stiff and weak, then in a calf raise the feet fall outward to the lesser resistance of the smaller toes. The feet take on a sickled shape, which is utterly forbidden, the sign of a poorly trained dancer.

    It’s been eye opening to learn the extent to which I lack these capacities, though I suppose it explains all the aches and pains. For a football or basketball payer, this could be alarming, the news that despite all the hours in the weight room, they remain untrained in a significant part of their game - everything below the knees. They would have to weigh the no-joke body hardening and athleticism of ballet against the typical off-season, sport based agility drills. Some coaches might be influencing their players’ decisions, presenting them with an opportunity they wish they had at that age. They can only hope these guys are sensible enough to look around. The girls are beautiful.

    (STRONG Gym Advanced template - PPST3)
    Week of: 3/29/21 Week 1
    MONDAY
    1. Squat: single - 82% max; 5x5 73% Tom 365, 325
    2. Romanians; 4x6, 275
    3. 4 sets of shrugs 400
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Bench press: single 82% max; 5x5 73% Tom 225, 200
    2. Incline bench: 4x6 200
    3. 5 sets of 10 Hanging rows
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 8
    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: single - 82% max; 5 sets of 4 - 73% Tom 432.5, 385
    2. Front squats: 4x6 190
    3. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    4. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: single - 82% max; 5x5 73% Tom 165, 145
    2. Floor press 235; 4x5
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5-8
    5. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile or row 6000 meters

  6. #316
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    302

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    The big news is that yesterday, the first of the month, marked the first training session in my coaching certification, the bold choice I’ve made to become a . . . Historian . . . Interlocutor; to weave past, present, and future into an eternal interval, by becoming a licensed Psychic Conduit to the Great Strongmen of the Past.

    Imagine my surprise when in my first online contact session I learned that the great Steeler Mike Webster and the legendary Paul Anderson both heartily endorsed my discovery of the floor press as an important training aid in bench press development. ‘They are very, very much pleased,’ May, my intermediary, informed me. In fact, Anderson was particularly enthusiastic. ‘If you have a fixed weight, like a train axle you can’t lift, dig a hole underneath it and press it at the top of your range of motion. Bit by bit, as that gets easier, you fill more dirt in the hole until it becomes a regular floor press.’
    That was the best 75 bucks I ever spent. In my typical fashion, I’ve stumbled upon incredible luck, a website documenting a hidden, centuries old enclave of paranormal and psychic activities in Taiwan’s snowy southern mountains. Rooted in animism and influenced by Dutch Traders’ importation of Calvinism, the region was resistant to Japanese occupation and is now thriving, driven by the economic engine of internet call centers.
    As great as the online readings can be, the seers are eager that their clients learn the skills of clairvoyance themselves. The first steps involve the purchase of a 129 dollar sandalwood frame and a 49 dollar scented candle set. In a darkened gym space, you place a framed picture of a famous strongman and the two candles on the ground 6 to 8 feet in front of you - perfect for squats - and focus on it as you lift.
    ‘I would suggest Milo Steinborn,’ May said.
    ‘Really?’
    ‘He’s spiritually quite active - so we have a special,’ she said, ‘The frame, picture, and candles all for 135 dollars.’
    ‘Perfect.’

    I’ve always been a little dubious of those stories in which the apprentice must show the Master that he is pure of heart and capable of enormous sacrifice. I didn’t know if I could be that earnest - but as it turns out, your squats take care of all of that.
    ‘It might not be on your first set, or even in your first workout, but at some point, when you least expect it, Milo will come along and help you gut out a rep you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,’ May assured me.
    For deadlifts, the frame goes 6 to 8 feet out in front - Eugene Caouette in the picture - but the candles go on the barbell. You need at least 315 or bumper plates, but after lighting the candles, you dribble bits of melted wax onto the plates in order to anchor the candles on each side as you lift. (You definitely cannot roll the bar.) With the lights out, the ascending and descending twin flames always compel a reverent silence on the part of my neighbors, whose back porch has a view of my garage. Sooner or later in the flickering light, otherworldly help arrives during a critical rep.

    ‘That was fast,’ May had to admit. ‘You must have a gift for this.’
    I told her that Milo Steinborn had spoken to me. During squats, I’d been getting a shooting pain through one of my glutes. ‘Your foot is splaying,’ Steinborn said. ‘Yes, your knees go out, but don’t let your toes go with them.’
    I concentrated on keeping things in place. Problem solved: no wonder these guys are legends.
    Her superiors don’t usually allow this, May confided, but they were willing to make an exception. Verbal communication with the departed can take months or even years for some lifters, but I was ready to begin my 1500 dollar coaching certification course. Yesterday’s first session was a little wild, a free wheeling panel discussion, with May rapidly channeling a shifting set of luminaries that included Siegmund Klein, W.G. Underwood, David Prowse, Yuri Vardanian, and Jack LaLanne.
    ‘What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since . . . crossing over to the next level?’ I didn’t quite know how to put it.
    ‘Well,’ LaLanne offered, ‘it does broaden your horizons.’
    ‘That’s what I want to do as a coach,’ I said. ‘My hope is that someday, if I’m working with young athletes and a technical or programming question comes up, I can immediately contact one of you for a solution.’
    ’That would be the perfect approach,’ they agreed. ‘It takes the ego out of coaching.’ May is always saying that wisdom is borne of a childlike innocence.
    ‘I want to learn how all of you worked up to those incredible lifts that today our best athletes can’t match.’
    ‘You have to be willing to lose strength to gain strength,’ they said. 'There’s a natural cycle. The leaves fall off the trees, but they grow back.’
    ‘The bear retires fat for the Winter but emerges thin in the Spring.’
    ‘It’s like waves on a beach, or the tides - so don’t always grind, grind, grind.’
    ‘Are you going to monetize this?’ Bob Hoffman asked.

    ‘OK, got it,’ I said, trying to process it all. ‘Right now, I follow an outfit called Starting Strength. I thought of their coaching certification, but - ‘
    ‘Rats trapped in a maze.’
    ‘You have to be careful with that bunch - always taking credit for everything, as if they’re the ones who invented it.’
    ‘The coaching is like being tormented by demons.’
    ‘For Christ’s sake,’ Bill Starr suddenly said, ‘don’t end up like Rippetoe.’

    (STRONG Gym Advanced template - PPST3)
    Week of: 4/5/21 Week 2
    MONDAY
    1. Squat: single - 85% max; 5x5 76% Tom 377.5, 337.5
    2. back extensions 4x6
    3. 4 sets of shrugs 400
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Bench press: single 85% max; 5x5 76% Tom 235, 210
    2. Incline bench: 4x6 202.5
    3. 5 sets of 10 Hanging rows
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 8
    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: single - 85% max; 5 sets of 4 - 76% Tom 450, 400
    2. Front squats: 4x6 195
    3. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    4`. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: single - 85% max; 5x5 76% Tom 170, 152.5
    2. Floor press 240; 4x5
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5-8
    5. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile or row 6000 meters
    Last edited by Nunedog; 04-02-2021 at 06:59 AM.

  7. #317
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    302

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    On a cold night in Cleveland a few years ago, I pulled into the parking lot at a sports complex to pick up my kid after a practice. This was where I was working, but it was a night off in our schedule. Other teams were training. After pushing my bumper into a spot as far as the plowed snow would allow, I hopped out and noticed a guy at the next car over reaching way into his trunk and struggling to heave something out.
    It seemed to be a little much. He gave one last effort, and a spare tire came into view, but it hit the inside of the trunk as he tried to bring it out. This made the car lurch suddenly and collapse downward. He went around the far side and pulled at something which didn’t move.
    ‘Pinned your jack?’ I said.
    ‘Yeah. Damn it.’
    ‘Hang on.’ I texted the kid, said Come outside, and opened the back of my car.
    He had not broken the seals on the flat tire’s lug nuts, so I suggested that with my jack we pop the car up just enough to get his out of its cockeyed position. We’d break the seals with a big four way 90-degree tire iron I had and then start over.
    This was not his night. He barely knew what he was doing - and it was not his car. It was his high school aged daughter’s. She pulled into the parking lot, noticed the tire was flat, called ‘Daddy . . . ‘ on the cell phone, and went inside for a rowing team practice without a second thought. He was the one struggling with a wimpy little emergency kit in an icy, dark parking lot.
    When it came time to jack the car up again, he was straining to the point that I quickly said, ‘Hey - I got that.’
    For me, dropping to one knee and turning the little crankshaft was as easy as tying my shoe. He had been sucking air. I then stayed down, pulling off the flat, lifting the spare into place, and threading the nuts. We tightened them up, and he was willing to crank the car back down.

    I was seriously worried that he’d have a heart attack. A few thoughts raced through my mind: a memory of my mother and the fact that people have heart attacks shoveling snow, the science of which I once tried to ponder: Rippetoe has explained that lifting a heavy weight means that blood flow is constricted by muscles under tension. The heart must still pump blood despite the slowdown, and this capacity falls in the category of strength, providing force against resistance.
    That’s a very different type of cardiac training from simply getting the heart to beat faster by way of elliptical training or a bike ride - right? In those cases, the heart is not facing any great increase in resistance; it’s moving more blood by pumping faster, which I think is a different adaptation.
    For someone with an untrained heart, constricting their blood flow with the muscles lifting a loaded shovel subjects them to a stress for which they are truly not prepared. The heart’s timing and function can be disrupted, with fatal effect.
    (That’s my rough understanding. I should probably look it up.)

    By the time I was 12 years old, my mother would point out the window any time a heavy snow fell. ‘Get out there.’
    ‘How come?’
    ‘Because I don’t want your father dying of a heart attack.’
    ‘What if I die?’
    ‘We’ll get a snow blower.’

    Last week, I got myself into a predicament where once again my training to prevent immediate death came in handy. I was slinging railroad ties around to repair a retaining wall as a hillside threatened to collapse in the rain and darkness approached.
    It was my own fault. A big load of railroad ties had been delivered to my driveway; these are the real McCoy, by the way, not fake little gardening 4x4’s. They’re creosote coated, nine by seven inches and eight and a half feet long, honest-to-God 200-pound railroad ties bearing scars from the spikes and metal plates on which rails had been mounted. I had also just bought a big DeWalt drill and an augur bit which made for a rig the size of a machine gun, so I was eager to try it out. The weather had been threatening, but I’d have time for a quick bit of fun, I figured. The retaining wall at the bottom of the property needed two top pieces replaced, so I’d just knock out one.
    I should have known I was in trouble from the moment the first tie crushed my fake little gardening wheelbarrow. Plan B was my kid’s skateboard, which rolled the beam down the driveway like a plucky little airplane with humongous wings. At the bottom of the yard, I flipped the tie end over end across the grass to where I’d measure and drill the rebar holes. I also had to pull up the hollow tatters of wood that had been a solid 200 pounds decades ago.
    Once I did and stepped on the beam below, my foot went right through. The whole section of wall was rotten - and just then, the rain began to pour.
    This began a mad, muddy rush to replace not one but three railroad ties, the point of which is again to say that in a crisis, it helps to be a beefy lad. I had to tear out two more ties. That bottom rotten one had to be dug out in pieces as rainwater oozed down the hill. Over the years, the wood had either turned into soil, or it vanished and mud from the hillside settled into the empty spaces. It was also of a nonstandard length, so I had to chop off about four inches from the new one using a handsaw - which made for a brutal 20 minutes of stop and start intervals while keeping an eye on the straight edge I carved into the hillside. Two more trips with the skateboard followed, along with rapid rounds of flips across the yard, and I would swing the ties into place with a length of rope, knowing I didn’t want my fingers anywhere in there. Finally, after the last lengths of rebar had been pounded into place, I could hop up on the wall, and it wouldn’t move.

    My wife and I knew this wall and a pair of planters further up our hilly yard were falling to pieces. An estimate from a landscaping company came in at 7,000 dollars.
    The job was maybe worth 3,000. The rest was purely a gamble that for ordinary mortals, working with railroad ties promised indignities and dangers too awful to contemplate. The sheer amount of dough they had to shell out would reinforce the idea that this was a job they wanted no part of. Around here, that bold play probably pays off more often than not. The locals don’t get their hands dirty. They’d have heart attacks.
    Still, I had a big pile of railroad ties in the driveway - which I bought and had delivered for 300 bucks. The next morning I headed to the hardware store for a hand truck and a big Sawzall, because as Nimitz knew, based on Clausewitz, you have to bring mass to a battle. Heroics will only get you so far.

    You know how these home projects go: by the time you really know what you’re doing, the job is done. Otherwise, I’ll get my hands dirty under the bar and stay ready for action in the ice, mud, or wherever I find myself.

    (STRONG Gym Advanced template - PPST3)
    Week of: 4/12/21 Week 3
    MONDAY
    1. Squat: single - 88% max; 4 sets of 5 - 79% Tom 390, 350
    2. back extensions 4x10
    3. 4 sets of shrugs 400
    4. reverse hypers (3x10)
    5. abs; banded pulldowns

    TUESDAY
    1. Bench press: single 88% max; 4x5 79% Tom 242.5, 217.5
    2. Incline bench: 4x5 205
    3. 5 sets of 10 Hanging rows
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 8
    Conditioning (second session)
    sled pull 2 miles; 20, 0 (and six 50-yard runs)

    THURSDAY
    1. Deadlift: single - 88% max; 4 sets of 4 - 79% Tom 465, 417.5
    2. Front squats: 4x5 195
    3. Reverse Hypers (3x10)
    4`. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Press: single - 88% max; 4x5 79% Tom 175, 157.5
    2. Floor press 240; 4x5
    3. Pull ups (5x10)
    4. Barbell curls: 4 sets of 5-8
    5. 3 sets kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile or row 6000 meters

  8. #318
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    302

    Default

    starting strength coach development program
    Thank you to Mark Rippetoe and Stef Bradford for the great websites they have run, startingstrength.com, which has complemented the books so well, and this forum, which among other things has provided me a little corner of the internet in which to indulge my creativity.

    I wish them the best of luck in their new endeavor, the Starting Strength Network, where they will no doubt provide excellent technical information as well as strengthen their philosophical messaging.

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