Trap Cut Friday.

September 30, 2012

A quick anecdote for you.

A few years ago, Jon North and I were pumping iron at a local 24 hour fitness.  Yes, this included doing curls in the squat rack.  During our 4th set of preacher curls, he gave me some advice; and for some reason, it’s stuck with me to this day.  He told me:

“If you look big, you feel big.  And if you feel big, you lift big.”

Friday night was our second “themed” workout for our heavy day.  Trap Cut Friday.  Yes, as head coach, I required every member underneath my influence to wear a trap cut shirt to the workout.  And if they didn’t already have one, I showed them how to make one.  Life skills.

Team building at it’s finest.  The one kid with sleeves still intact is my brother.

John Tai was the first person to ask me how to properly trap cut a shirt (that day.  It happens more often than you think).  Naturally, I decided to film the process.

Here is the finished product.

John lifted with a little extra pepper on this night. It can only be attributed to the newly exposed traps.

At the end of the video, I briefly explained that cutting out the neck hole from the shirt is also beneficial.  I guarantee you, the comfort experienced by this extra effort takes your trap cut to a different level.  It also adds to the aesthetic appeal of your yoke.


But enough fashion.  The energy in the gym that night was electric.  This led to a few PR’s.  Here is one.

Rhino Dyno.

September 25, 2012

Stan “Rhino” Efferding is a big dude.  I’ve seen this guy crush some serious weights too.  Here’s a video of him going through a warm-up routine for his squats.  It’s pretty similar to one that I have CC, Em and a one of my personal training clients do as well.  I think it’s helped out CC a lot, especially while snatching.  She used catch one every now and then that would throw one of her legs into what I call a “stanky leg” snatch.  But those have since decreased in frequency and I attribute that in part to our variation of this warm-up.

Stan will be at the SPF powerlifting meet at my gym in November.  Should be quite the show.

United Barbell Open.

September 24, 2012

I had 2 lifters compete this weekend at the United barbell Open in Oakland.  Cecily went had a pretty good day.  Missed a couple snatches behind her and ended up making only her opener at 73.  I gotta say though, all her weights looked approximately HELLA light.  A few snatch balances and some heavy snatch sessions should clear that right up and she’ll be crushing 80kg on a regular basis.  She also went pretty big on her cleans too.  Opened up at 96 and from there we went straight to 101.  Both were excellent lifts.  We’ve been working a lot on her footwork with her jerks.  You can hear me in the background yelling at her “EVEN SPLIT” meaning to punch her front foot equidistant from her starting position and to not shoot her back leg way out there, making for a lunging style save.  She went for 104 next.  Made the clean but missed the jerk.  Everything was technically correct.  104 just happens to be approximately HELLA heavy so she wasn’t able to recover from the jerk.

Cam also had a pretty good day.  He only made his opener at 105 snatch.  But 105 was a weight that he would finish at a few months ago.  A stronger, more fit Cameron is looking for bigger numbers.  We just widened his grip out a bit to make the turnover a bit easier which is leading to a greater effort needed to keep the bar stable overhead.  But I think it should payoff after another month or so.  He clean and jerked the piss out of 140.  Went for a PR at 146 and missed the clean out front.  I was joking around with him after, saying that he was too busy posing like the Milo poster of Chigishev at the top of his extension to bother with getting underneath the bar.  I mean seriously, it was like quadruple extension.

It’s all about that quadruple extension, bro.

All in all, it was another good showing for the team and we had an awesome time.  Literally every person I spoke to at the meet asked if I had gotten bigger, including Brian Wilhelm.  And when Brian Wilhelm says that you’ve gotten a bigger then you KNOW you’ve gotten bigger.


September 20, 2012

This week is what I would classify as a deload week.  I’ve got two lifters competing in Oakland this weekend (CC and Cam), but the rest of the team still gets a week off from heavy squatting and variation gets taken out of the major work days during the week (Mondays and Wednesdays).  The goal is to get everyone as healthy as possible and to practice consistency at weights that we would consider “openers.”

Totally unrelated.  HERE is a promo video for UFC 152.  Joe B works out at our gym and is an all around nice guy.  He also share’s my team’s enthusiasm for In-N-Out and froyo.  We’ll all be rooting for him on Saturday.

LOL check out this kick to the chest. That must have felt terrible.


The Enderton Complex.

September 14, 2012

A few days ago, Jared Enderton, 94kg. lifter and overall really cool dude unveiled what could become the most functional barbell complex known to man.  The athleticism, determination and work capacity needed to successfully complete this exercise are at near super-human levels.  Watch and be amazed.

Are you awestruck?

But wait, a new challenger wishes to conquer the Enderton complex and in the process set a new world record of 41kg.  Watch and be motivated.

Count your blessings because you are witnessing next-level human adaptation so extreme that I would only be more impressed if I saw a lifter sprout a new pair of wings and fly to his next weightlifting contest.


September 13, 2012

My friend/training partner Alex “The General” Lee and I used to poke fun at our training, saying that “it’s a long road to the top of the mountain” and then proceed to list off our progress (or lack thereof) in our journey.  “Bro, I’m still at the liquor store picking up CLIFF Bars.  Or “Bro, I haven’t even pumped air into my tires yet.”  Presumably the mountain trail was accessible by bicycle?  “Bro, I’m still at REI picking up my windbreaker and hiking boots.”  Keep in mind all of this was said as we were taking sets of hang snatch at 130 or 140.

“Bro, I can’t leave yet. I still gotta pick up some trail mix!”

That seems like a long time ago, especially given what I’m able to do right now.  I’ve been rehabbing over the last 3 weeks, slowly taking out some of the general strengthening and bodybuilding that I’ve been doing and shifting my focus back to what I know and love.  The process has been slow.  It’s been humbling.  But at the same time, I’m just as pissed off and motivated as I was when I wrote my last rant.  Last Friday I was actually able to hit a 135/160, which is like a bad day when I’m healthy.  I was happy.  That Saturday I followed up with my normal routine adding in heavy back squats for the first time in a month and a half.  It wasn’t even really heavy (3×5 at 180).  But it was the most weight I’ve handled since my injury.  That Saturday, I felt fine.  That Sunday, I felt fine.  Monday morning I woke up to my back spasming as bad as it was 5 weeks ago.  I took the day off.  Monday night seemed like it was the longest night in recent memory. It was pretty much exactly like the scene in The Last Samurai where Tom Cruise is like, “SAKE!!” except I could watch weightlifting videos on Youtube to pass the time.

Feeling the need to try a different approach, I went to see a chiropractor.  He tested me and after a few minutes he concluded that it was possible that I had a disk injury, the severity not yet known.  He said that I should be able to rehab it myself just as I have been doing and that surgery shouldn’t be required.  This was relieving; as I didn’t even consider that my injury was that serious to begin with.  He gave me an adjustment and electro-therapy.  I see him again tomorrow.  More than anything it’s helpful to have another opinion on the matter.  I still feel hopeful that I should be back up to speed (like 135/160 status) within 3-4 weeks, especially considering that this time around there was no acute phase of injury.  I suspect that whatever I did on Saturday (probably back squats) pissed off my old injury and caused some inflammation which created pressure on whatever nerve was being fucked to begin with.  In any case, we both agreed that I should take the rest of the week off and begin the process over again on Monday.  When I do transition back to lifting everyday, I’ll probably leave out back squats for the first month or so.  He did say that I have an advantage over other patients with the same injury: I am strong.  And as we all know, stronger is better than weaker.  Also, I won’t be starting from scratch.  I’ve done a pretty good job of rehabbing the injury so far and have regained about 70% of my strength.  As long as I’m careful this time around, I should be up to full strength within a couple months.

A couple of considerations for those that ever find themselves in a similar situation:

1)      First restore function.  Then Improve it.  Reverse hypers are great, but isolating the injured body part on week one would be a mistake in my opinion, especially with a load.  Begin with just your own bodyweight.  And start with exercises that don’t specifically stress the injured site.

2)      Discipline.  I have discipline when it comes to training.  I never miss a day.  And I never skip my primary lifts.  Unfortunately, training (especially while injured) requires a different kind of discipline.  It requires you to accurately prescribe how much of a stress you want to induce to your body.  While injured, you may feel perfectly fine while training.  But it is imperative that you acknowledge that you are not the same person that you were before.  The injured you might only be able to handle so much stress at a given time.  Pace yourself so you do not relapse.  It will come back.  Give it time.

Indeed, it is a long road to the top of the mountain, especially if you have fallen as I have.  But here is a piece of advice from my friend/mentor, Jasha.

“To get to the top of the mountain, you must shoot for the fucking moon.” 

So for now I wait.  But even if I’m reduced to handling 50kg for the next week and a half, I’m going to do so guns a’ blazin.’  The American Opens are coming up and there is still a chance that I will be healthy enough to compete.  We will see.  But regardless if I make it or not, I’m still a weightlifter and weightlifters train year-fucking-round.

Night of the Bandandits.

September 11, 2012

Way back in the day (like 2007-2008), a few of my lifting buddies and I did a meet in Venice Beach.  That’s right, ON Muscle Beach.  I mean, that’s a no brainer right? Pilgrimage to Muscle Beach to lift weights.  Mandatory.

The meet itself was pretty anti-climactic. Although, it was the first meet where I clean and jerked over 140 in competition and a few of the guys from American Weightlifting (Moser, Max, Dave and a Bulgarian dude) destroyed some pretty huge weights.  The real fun was before and after the contest.  The old gated work-out area was pretty much abandoned except for a creepy, boyish looking 90’s small dude who oiled himself up and paced around energetically in between sets of dumbbell step-ups. Kyle and I decided to cruise around the boardwalk area to see the sights.  After entering a few shops, I picked up a pre-cut half sweatshirt, a string-cut tank top and a headband.  Also mandatory.  Needless to say, I wore those items for the rest of the trip (and years later) and Kyle did the same.  Realizing that we were both wearing matching headbands, we decided to unite and start a super-secret sub-team known as “The Bandandits.”  And so, from that day forward, Kyle and I would don our decorative headbands or bandannas for every contest or heavy day for years to come.

But as we know, nothing lasts forever.  Eventually Kyle and I had to part ways and the era of the Bandandit was over . . . Until last Friday . . .

Bandanna on, 80kg. snatched.  Coincidence?

Young Emelie fights for PR’s with her camo bandanna.  Shut up about my voice cracking.

Rae jerks 86 with relative ease.  She always wears matching Lulu headbands so the only reasonable answer for her stellar performance was my frantic yelling.

United underneath a new banner, the spirit of The Bandandit lives on.  Wear yours today and feel the earth quiver ‘neath your Adidas.

This was the first of many themed Friday night workouts.  I honestly feel like it helped.  Other possible ideas: teams (like Cal Strength and Muscledriver), Red vs. Blue, 80’s, Gangngam Style, team tug-of-war, metal, Star Wars and The Avengers.

Friday. Funday.

September 7, 2012

Friday nights have been pretty poppin’ at our heavy sessions at Midtown.  Big weights.  Big PR’s. And BIG misses.  A lot of encouragement and playful jabbing going on.  That’s why I love this sport.

Here’s Derek making a third snatch PR for the day last Friday.  He’s been stuck at 100 for about a month now and every time he’s loaded 102 it’s been a train wreck.  On this day, he kept his composure, kept his head up (for the most part) and walked away with an overall 10kg. improvement in the snatch.  Now all we need to do is keep his damn heels on the ground.

Here’s a video of our friend, Ariel, making a sweet 93kg. clean and jerk PR.

Friends.  Weights.  PR’s.  That’s a great way to spend a Friday.

Student Athletes.

September 5, 2012

A few words of advice from a notoriously bad student:

Be realistic about what goals you want to reach during the semester.

Be on time.  For both training and school.

Get some sleep.  Better to study until midnight and then get a few hours of rest then to study through the night and spoil both school and training.

Do your best.  It will be over soon enough.

At times, multi-tasking is appropriate.

Also, just because Thursday is College night, doesn’t mean you need to partake.

Labor Day Open.

September 4, 2012

The gang and I went to SF this weekend for a small meet held at a high school.  I only had 2 athletes competing but my group is so supportive that pretty much everybody decided to go for emotional support.

Us being cute.

Rae and Em both set PR’s in the clean and jerk and gained some platform experience.  Here’s a vid of Rae making her final attempt at 85.

The next meet coming up for us is the United Barbell Open.  If all goes well, it will be the triumphant return of Coach Ben to the competition platform.