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The Fall is blowing right past us and winter will set in, shortly. I have my ski passes and am looking forward, greatly, to getting out on the slopes with my rug rats. If anyone is interested in an Athletes Unleashed Ski Day shoot us an email.

Deadlift Clinic

We enjoyed putting on the Squat Clinic and appreciated the effort you made to make it. This Monday 25 Nov is the Dead Lift Clinic. Starting at 1815, it will run for 1:15-1:30 min. During this hands on, interactive clinic we will go over the fundamentals of the DL, how to get ready to DL, injury prevention, and bullet proofing the back. We will finish with some lifts.

Kettlebell Clinic

Don’t forget about the upcoming KB clinic, being held 9 Dec @ 1815. This will be a great opportunity to tune ourselves up on the hard style KBS. I’m not sure the reason that our technique seems to be digressing, but I want to turn that around, post-haste. I put two short videos on our blog for your review. You will find them at the top of our blog page. In the first video, labeled, “Improper KBS Tech”, I am swinging INCORRECTLY demonstrating the two most prevalent faults we are seeing: the “stiff leg hip bend”, and the “scoop”. In the first half of that video, I am swinging with a stiff knee. My hips are not thrusting forcefully backwards and this results in an inability to achieve a dynamic hip hinge. Because my knees are never able to extend and my hips are not able to powerfully snap open, the overwhelming majority of the work is being done by my lower back. In the second half of the first video I am, “scooping”. My hips get thrust backwards and my knees are flexed appropriately. The problem occurs in my (lack of) speed going into the swing, and on the return when I flex at my ankles allowing my knees to move forward (of the ankle). This results in a very slow and weak knee and hip extension. I end up using my hips to “flick” the KB up into the air because the entire swing is happening too slowly. In both instances I am swinging with a “soft knee”.

There should be little to no ankle flexion, powerful but moderate knee flexion/extension and powerful and dynamic hip flexion/extension. When you review the second video, labeled, “Proper KBS Tech”, take note of my shin angle throughout the entire swing cycle – there is little to no movement. My knees moderately flex in order to allow my hips to be thrust powerfully backwards. I allow the KB to fall to the groin well ahead of my torso that is moving along its vertical arc toward the floor. This provides dynamic loading of the entire posterior chain. Next I powerfully and violently extend my knees which immediately provides the energy to violently extend my hips in order to swing the bell. There is minimal contact time between my arms (the KB) and my hips. This is a hard style swing. The dynamic, hard style KBS is very useful in that it develops our ability to increase force production over a long period of time. Doing it slowly and with soft knees will result in zero increases in force production and a very tired and sore lumbar spine, only.

Christmas Pahr-tay

21 December @ 1900 is X-Rated Christmas Pahr-tay. It is time to start RSVP’ing. Please do so by 1 Dec. The holidays are a busy time for everyone. We are having it catered. The last thing anyone needs is to have to cook more food or bake more sugar-free, gluten-free, fun-free, taste-free paleo desserts. All you need to do is show up with your “White Elephant” gift and your libation of choice. What is a “White Elephant” gift? We are going to make this X-rated pahr-tay even more fun by making it a White Elephant party. Everyone brings a new gift (there is a strict spending limit of $15) or you can re-gift a gift that you were given in the past, but never opened. Imagine the possibilities here – you can give someone that really ugly coaster set your great aunt gave you for your anniversary, or the annoying tie given to you by your kids for your birthday. But wait, it gets better. Everyone receives a number when they arrive. The number is the order in which you pick your gift. If someone, who has still not picked a gift, likes the gift you selected, they can take it from you and give you their number in return. You would then pick another gift, which of course can be stolen again by someone else down the line. Get creative with your gifts.

Maximizing Your Training

As the overall skill level, strength, and metabolic conditioning increase in a greater percentage of our athletes, there has been increased interest in participating in competitions and more questions about training and programing. That is exciting. Allow me to give you some insight into our programming and some advice to those that want increase their general physical preparedness (GPP), and to those that want to be competitive in local or regional competitions.

How I program:

I program strength work based on 6 lifts (or a variation of one of the 6) on a 5-day rotation. First, I use a 5-day rotation (3 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off) with 6 lifts because it provides an adequate work to recovery ratio and it prevents the same lift from being done on the same day of the week, week after week. It also ensures that for those that have a rigid training schedule, i.e. those that only train on the same days of the week but less than 5 days, will be ensured to hit all 6 lifts with a degree of regularity given enough time.

I repeat lifts often because, quite simply, that is the way we get better. Repetition is a necessity if one is going to improve their technique. Remember – mechanics, mechanics, mechanics, and then more mechanics. We have plenty of time to get strong once we have the mechanics down.

On days we have a more dynamic and complex lift, e.g. the Snatch, I program a shorter met-con of 7-10 minutes. The central nervous system (CNS) takes a big hit on complex, multi joint power movements. After something like Snatches we are better served with a short, but intense couplet or triplet.

On days we have a less complex and less dynamic lift, e.g. the Dead Lift (where we are really working only the concentric portion of the lift) the CNS doesn’t take as much of a hit. We can benefit from a more robust met-con, one of a longer duration and additional, or more complex follow on movements.

I try to introduce a, “new skill”, 1-2 per month. I try to review a previously learned skill 1-2 per month.

One-day per week I program something that is not only physically challenging, but also mentally challenging. My goal in doing so is to bridge the mind/body continuum. I believe toughing up the mind is just as important as toughening up the body. Hell, I can write a 20 page thesis paper on that topic alone….I will save that for another day.

For those of you that are interested in increasing your GPP, but are not on a 3-1-2-1 rotation, “keep on keepin’ on”. There are going to be times when the percentages are not perfect. That is OK; we will adjust them for you. You will still accomplish your goals of increasing your overall fitness level and making yourselves Hard To Kill.

For those that are interested in increasing your GPP and also have some specific strength goals you want to achieve, you will need to follow the percentages more closely. It is OK if you are not able to come in on a strict 3-1-2-1 rotation. What is required is that you keep track of your lifts, closely. Using your training logs, you will need to be able to look back to the previous day that you executed the lift and note the percentage used. Using my 5-block rotation (4/4/4/4/4@.75, 3/3/3/3/3@.8, 3/3/3@.85, 1/1/1/1/1@.9, or establish 1RM), you would use the next appropriate rep scheme. Understand that your gains are going to come at a reduced pace.

For those of you that are hungry for strength, speed, and power gains, you need to become extremely consistent in your training. Attend every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Take off Thursdays and Sundays. Simply faithfully attend those days and follow the training. You will see continued gains.

For those that want to compete AND want become competitive at the local and regional level, you need to do the following:

  1. Start entering local competitions.

  2. Attend M-T-W-F-S training. Change what ever you need to change in your schedule to make your training the priority.

  3. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

  4. Attack each training day with 100% intensity and focus.

  5. Do not accept substandard movement patterns and ROM for quick weight gains and time reductions. Reality is cruel and harsh to those that lack the proper foundation. Each movement must become a masterpiece.

  6. Get your nutrition plan squared away. (I just gave a talk about the zone diet. Did you make it a priority to attend?)

  7. We have two open gyms times every week. Attend them weekly; use each one to work on your weaknesses.

Once you have done that for 6 months it is time to pick a competition for which you are going to focus your training. 10 weeks out it will be time to get serious. Plan on doing 2 training sessions per day. As the competition gets closer you will have to plan on some days having as many as 3 training sessions. Plan on sacrificing many of the things you may currently enjoy – nothing can get in the way of your training. You will miss out on family gathering and visits with friends. You will give up the majority of your television shows, and much of the food/alcohol you previously enjoyed. This takes discipline and it is mentally taxing. You will need the support of your family and friends. I can show you a copy of my training log from my most recent competition if you would like to more firmly grasp the enormity of the commitment necessary to become more competitive against higher-level athletes.

My programming and training protocols have been tested. There is no easy path to becoming a contender, only hard work, discipline, motivation, and asceticism.

Speaking of competing, SJ will be competing at the 2013 Niagara District Weightlifting Championship this Sunday 1 Dec. Starting at noon and located in the Spring Creek Gym in Springville, NY, admission is free. You will see some great lifters making big lifts and watch SJ in her first Olympic Weightlifting completion. I am very proud of how hard she has been working. She is going to do well. If anyone is interested in volunteering, they could use a couple of guys/girls to help out as plate changers (changing weights on the bar).

Olympic Weight Lifting Training Package

Jenny and I are excited to announce that Mark Solomon will be putting on a 6 week Olympic weightlifting training program in 2014. Mark Solomon has been involved in Olympic weightlifting for over 30 years as a competitive athlete and a USA Weightlifting official. Just a few weeks ago he set the National Masters record in the Snatch with a 111kg (244.1 lbs) lift. He currently serves as the USA Weightlifting Niagara Region Director and runs the Buffalo Barbell Club. Details of the package follow:

  • Open to 10 athletes, only.

  • 6 sessions. Every Sunday from 10-1100 on 12, 19, 26 Jan, 2, 9, 16 Feb.

  • The classic Olympic lifts will be covered.

  • The focus will be on technique development.

  • This training is for the beginner to novice lifter comfortable with the snatch and clean and jerk. Your qualification to attend has NOTHING to do with how much weight you can lift and everything to do with your understanding of the positions (load pos, pos 1, and pos 2) and what is SUPPOSED to be happening in each lift. If you have questions as to your qualifications please bring them to me.

  • Price is $90. Make arraignments to register by sending an email to Registration closes when the 10 spots are filled. Payment is due at time of registration.

Based on the feedback we receive from this first course we will offer additional courses in the future. I have first-hand experience with Mark as a coach. He is currently coaching me in my Olympic lifts – he is outstanding.

If you made it this far I applaud your persistence! This one was a mouthful, for sure. We greatly appreciate you all being so dedicated to improving your physical and mental toughness. Jenny and I love making you HARD TO KILL and will continue to deliver. Thanks for choosing to train with us.

Don’t forget to RSVP for the pahr-tay.

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