Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Worst Celebrity Diets

Celebrities are no strangers to stupid diets. Some, if not all, the fad or crash diets we hear about today are popularized by your favorite stars trying to get in shape for their next role and the celebrity trainers that are trying to make a quick buck by slapping a catchy name on their eating disorder.

In this article, I will discuss some of the worst celebrity diets out there and why they are if it isn't already obvious by looking at the name. But first, some more gems from celebrity trainer con-artist, Tracy Anderson:

On trying to become a ballet dancer:

"I tried everything short of an eating disorder – which I really wanted to have, actually.”

On women and weight lifting:

"No woman should lift more than 3lbs."

On strength training:

"I don't want to cause the kind of strength building where it creates microfiber tears in the muscles and repairs which creates mass"

Thank you, Tracy. That is the kind of personal trainer I want, someone whose mission statement is making sure clients see zero results. Now on to some of the worst diets being endorsed nowadays...

1. The Baby Food Diet

What it is: Eating limited servings of baby food every day, followed by a "healthy" dinner. 

Why it's stupid: Unless you're 1 foot tall with drool on your bib, this will not satisfy your hunger cravings. With the average jar being 50 calories, 14 jars would only equal the same number of calories as half a bite of my morning meal.

2. The Drunk Diet

What it is: Replacing food with alcohol, exercising daily--even if hungover.

Why it's stupid: According to Lady Gaga's friend, the diet is designed so you take shots and shots until you are wasted, wake up at 5 A.M. for cheeseburgers, then run or cycle long distances, EVERYDAY. Actually, I am sure a few LBEB fan follow this diet, minus the cardio part.

3. The Maple Syrup Diet

What it is: Consuming nothing, but a mixture of maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper for 2 weeks.
Why it's stupid: Pretty much what it sounds like, a diet that is too ridiculous to fathom. It uses the popular taglines of "cleansing" and "detoxify". Here is a pro and con list from their website:

  • Users claim the lemon/maple syrup mixture is pleasant tasting
  • Weight loss is immediate as the user loses pounds of retained fecal material
  • Euphoria and other feelings of serenity are an added bonus as the person becomes almost yogi like in their fasting state
  • Cannot leave the house for up to three days as user rushes to the bathroom for frequent bowel movements
  • No food intake of any kind other than maple syrup mixture means participant will likely develop intense food cravings, making it difficult if there are other people in the home eating solid foods
  • As you detoxify body, intense fatigue and mood swings are reported as "normal" by most users of the Maple Syrup Diet
  • Very low calorie intake, about 500/day

Do you see the problem here?

4. The Sundowner Diet

What it is: No eating after 6pm, started by Oprah.
Why it's stupid: I think the mentality behind this diet is that late night snacks tend to be crap food, but that means the problem is not in the time of day, but in the quality of food you are eating. This diet is based on speculations that if you eat at night, it will make you fat. There is simply no basis in science for this claim. If you have a caloric requirement, it won't matter what time of the day you get it in, not to mention that the thermic effect of food will be no different. 

5. The Cookie Diet

What it is: Replacing two meals with two cookies each to stay under 800 calories a day.
Why it's stupid: This diet claims to help those with slow thyroid issues, by replacing two meals with large cookies and for a dinner eating 6oz of meat with 1 cup of vegetables, totaling less than 800 calories. What's not mentioned publicly is that most of the people on the cookie diet are given appetite suppression pills, and about 25% are prescribed thyroid hormones. Shady.

6. The Ice Cube Diet

What it is: Exercising, low-carb diet, plus healthy snacks throughout the day...of ice cubes.
Why it's stupid: Claimed to contain 97% Hoodia, a rare plant from Africa that is claimed to help suppress the appetite. I see two problems with this claim. The first is: Hoodia is an endangered plant protected by strict environmental laws, how are they able to produce mass quantities of it for ice cubes? Second, there have been no studies showing Hoodia is successful at suppressing appetite, or its effect on the body.

Plus, it's a diet of f*cking ice cubes.

Rant over. Eat real food, and lots of it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Evolution of the Big Booty

A set of well-proportioned buttocks may be one of the greatest physical results of lifting big, it is certainly something I never get tired of applauding.  But what exactly is it about seeing a superior posterior that leaves us so intoxicated? We can delve into this question by taking a look back at our evolutionary history.

The Steatopygian Booty

This type of booty should be recognizable to most individuals, it has been the inspiration for many different versions of paleolithic figurines. Steatopgyia is the term used to describe a high amount of fat that has accumulated around the region of the buttocks. It also extends to the outside and front of the thighs, give the body that signature shape.

Contrary to popular belief, this body type did not die out, and is still alive and well in parts of Africa. Below is a photo of a Khoisan woman from the early 1900's with steatopygia:

Photo found here
While this body type may look strange to our industrialized eyes, the enlarged buttocks clearly serve a purpose when a child is superimposed onto the photo. For hunter-gatherer societies, gathering food was a crucial task for survival. It would be quite difficult to gather food if you had to hold on to a toddler with one arm. Her body had to adapt to hold the baby on its own, a pretty brilliant design if you ask me. The reserve fat stored in the buttocks may also have come in handy in times of food shortages. While these types of buttocks go away as societies have switched to agricultural instead of hunter-gatherer, there are still places in Africa with examples such as these.

Does She Even Lift?
Females generally have more round and voluptuous buttocks due to higher estrogen that encourages the body to store fat in the buttocks, hips and thighs. The body types pictures above are considered desirable by members of their tribe due to the size of the buttocks. Large booties are desirable in many modern cultures around the world, and have been for countless centuries. Some experts would say it is even hardwired into our brain.

My good friend Steven Platek (AKA The Professor) has published research that discusses how the sight of a woman with optimal an waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) activates the neural reward center in men's brains.  The optimal WHR resembled the shape of an hourglass, which has been linked to an evolutionary markers that suggest fertility and high quality reproductive partners, much like facial symmetry and shoulder-to-hip ratio is the signal of a fertile male (The Professor is doing amazing things, check out his website here).

Optimal WHR have also been suggested as a visual indicator of adequate amount of fat stores necessary for pregnancy and lactation. In the LBEB world, it is an evolutionary marker of someone squatting their fair share, but MOAR is better.

The next time you find yourself admiring a glorious pair of buttocks that look like they have been carved from marble, you can thank your ancestors. They are the ones who hardwired these feelings into our brains, and it would be wrong to let them down suppressing the admiration. All members of Team Lift Big Eat Big strive to possess the most impressive WHR the world has ever seen.

Don't you want to be a member of the team?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Strongman 101

This article was written for by Sam Farris. Sam was nice enough to write a post while the LiftBigEatBig team was in China. Enjoy reading about how you can easily implement strongman training into your daily programming.

Strongman is making a comeback, a real comeback, and not just as far as TV ratings are concerned. It’s coming back into gyms for regular humans and you no longer have be 6’5’’ and 3 bills to play.  With mass produced Crossfit equipment and rise to “celebrity” status of Strongmen like Rob Orlando, Strongman tools are at your fingertips. 

Now that Strongman resources are everywhere, what better idea than to add it into your workouts to fill some holes often missing in regular Crossfit programming. What holes you ask?  How about grip strength, aggression on the Olympic lifts, and spinal erectors that would make a stegosaurus jealous…just to name a few.

Grip Strength and Big Backs
The first point I will discuss is grip strength. Ever felt like you could do more pullups if only it weren’t for your forearms? Or that you could get a faster “Grace” time, but holding on the bar for unbroken reps is not allowed because of your grip strength?  Well, I’m here to tell you that there are strongman apparati cures for those first world problems. Not only will the following exercises dramatically strengthen your grip, it will give you a back that will put Rob Orlando to shame.

         Farmers Walk: Load Farmers Walk bars with 85% of your DL max, pick them up and start walking about 100ft (It will hurt the shit out of your hands, but you are not a child, so you will power through and not complain).  If you absolutely cannot do 85% of your DL without dropping it, then lower the weight (make sure it’s still challenging) and repeat for 3-5 sets. 

      Axle Deadlift: You will take a much lower percentage of your deadlift this time. Instead, start with 70% and try to pull this double overhand.  If you feel like the weight is cemented to the floor, you know you have work to do grip strength wise.

Massive Spinal Erectors
The second thing that can be improved using Strongman would be your spine. Aside from awesome form, what else can help keep your back injury free? Massive spinal erectors.  You want to lay down and have your back look like a fucking mountain range.  If you are a CFFB disciple, you know that Welbourne always says you that can tell someone’s an athlete when they walk away by looking for big traps, big back, big ass, big hammys.  The spinal erectors are the key piece in that *buzzword alert* posterior chain. 

Here, I’ve outlines more strongman tools that can help strengthen and grow the erectors:

·         Stone: We all know you want a nice flat back when deadlifting, but most real world shit won’t allow you to get that perfect deadlift setup.  Instead, you have to do rounded back deadlifts in most real world situations--for example, helping friends move furniture because you are stronger than them, carrying drunk friends to the car, etc.  Stones are a perfect way to do this. By lapping then shouldering a giant cement circle you can barely fit your arms around, you will put yourself in an imperfect position which will really tax your whole body.  Not to mention getting your fingers deep down under the stone will again help that forearm strength.  

·         Zercher Yoke and Conan’s Wheel: Chances are you will not run across a yoke unless you have a real Strongman nearby, but this following idea is the same.  Take a super heavy load (1.5-2x bw), set it about even with where you wear your lifting belt on your stomach, pick it off the ground, make your belly “fat” against it and lean slightly back and get to walking for some distance. 


No, not like being angry all the time.  I mean aggression as in Coach B junkyard dog aggression, as in Olympic lifting.  Most CrossFitters, and those just learning the lifts, are just not aggressive when pulling under the bar.  Yes, we all know it is heavy and intimidating to get under heavy weights for the first time, but this isn’t a post about the snatch or clean and jerk.  Here are several Strongman tools to help you become faster and more aggressive.
      Log clean and push press/jerk: Although the clean is drastically different with a rotating barbell, learning to go overhead with a log will certainly teach you to stay solid when getting under a heavy load.  How thick the log is and where it sits on your chest in the rack position, will teach you to keep your chest up in heavy jerks.  How awkward it is, will teach you to really step through and stack the bones to be stable in the recovery of the jerk. 

         Stones: Lifting stones will help teach you the aggressive 1st and 2nd pulls you need in the Olympic lifts. Although not *buzzword alert* biomechanically the same, go ahead and lap a 250lb plus stone and try to get it up to your shoulder or on a platform without some “speed though the middle”.  Normal folks aren’t gonna be able to do this without that learned aggression and speed.

Programming Strongman Assistance Work

Here are some ways to incorporate the Strongman exercises into your workouts.
           Log Clean Anyway Overhead: Use this as a replacement for shoulder or push press on days after squat and bench

          Axle DL/Zercher Yoke/Conan’s Wheel/Stones/Farmers: Use on days after DL depending your personal DL weaknesses (grip strength, weak erectors, weak upper back)


Before you go all Level 1 Syndrome and program a 45 min chipper with this shit, look at the way Strongmen use it.  3 minutes is about the longest they are going to go on any one event.  So be smart, and use a similar load for some CF benchmarks. For example, substitute regular Fran for “Log Fran”, or regular Diane for “Axel Diane”.  Or how about “Grace”,  “The Chief”, or “The Ensign” using stones?

 Sam is head coach at Southern Maryland CrossFit.  He has been in the fitness industry cutting out garbage while soaking up and applying real knowledge since 2004.  He is a competitive olympic weightlifter and CrossFitter.  Follow him on twitter @Crabcakes_N_CF.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fight or Flight

 Why Train in Fighting or Self Defense?

First and foremost it's 2012 and whether you like it or not, all humans are NOT great people. Sorry to break the news to you. I live in Columbus, OH. In 2010 in the state of Ohio there were 476 murders and 3,699 rapes. That means on average everyday at least one person was murdered and 10 were raped. As an overall, there were over 36,399 violent crimes. Every day in 2010 in the state of Ohio roughly 100 people experienced some form of violent crime. Phew that sucks! Luckily for my man Brandon in Washington, only 7 people get raped each day and every other day someone gets killed. Defending yourself isn't important though right? Interested to check out your own states crime rate? Visit

Now I know what you are thinking. We on this website dedicate our lives to getting big and lifting heavy stuff, so in turn I should be able to easily beat the snot out of a would be attacker, correct?!? Unfortunately that is not exactly true. Strong hips from MOAR SQUATZ will without a doubt give you the ability to develop more power on your hitting, and being the size of our man Frank Burton will surely scare off a good percentage of those violent offenders, but unfortunately size isn't all that matters.

Bad guys are smarter than the general population gives them credit for. They aren't going to go out of their way to attack someone they feel threatened by. They will always stack the deck in their favor. They will go after the men and women who look like they lack confidence, are alone, and are unaware of their surroundings: The people that are smaller or weaker than them. In most cases they will attack in pairs or groups and if they are going to attack a larger individual it will be at gun or knife point. I don't care how many times you've seen Rambo, Enter the Dragon, or Bad Boyz, knives and guns are scary as HELL and they are a reality. If you have never trained for any of these scenarios, or any type of attack in general then you are going to be at a severe disadvantage if you are ever the target of these crimes.

I train people in defensive tactics everyday and I travel around the country putting on seminars and trainings for the United States Krav Maga Association, alongside a brilliant man named Mark Slane. Both of us will tell you truthfully that no amount of training can guarantee your safety, but training can sure raise your chances of avoiding those scenarios or getting out safely if you can't. 

Finding a good self defense gym should be just as important to you as finding that right Coach who will get you that 800# deadlift. I don't ever say that I have all of the answers, but I will say if you can find a Krav Maga gym in your area, it will be the closest thing to realistic training you can get without joining the CIA (who also train in Krav Maga). I took Karate when I was younger and it was great, but it's not practical in real life by any means. I have yet to see a crane kick in a knife fight on YouTube, so let's be real. You're looking for someone who will train you how to punch, throw kicks to the groin, gouge eyes, bite, headbutt, stab with pens, etc... The real fighting style. If you can't find a Krav Maga gym, look for gyms that legitimately specialize in defensive tactics, NOT MARTIAL ARTS! If you still can't find one, you're next best bet is to find a good Muay Thai gym and learn to hit and hit hard. It may not be geared directly at defensive scenarios, but being able to kick hard enough to tear a large human being’s ACL is a good tool to have in your back pocket. 

If anyone ever tells you to wait for the first punch to be thrown or says something "always happens this way", immediately leave. Fighting in real life sucks, it really does. Things can go terribly wrong in a heartbeat; you need to be prepared for the unknown and the unknowable not only in the gym but outside. (Think I owe Glassman for copyright infringement?!) Things don't go the way you plan, if you are attacked, it will undoubtedly be when you weren't prepared for it. If you've never trained under these stresses, I highly suggest it.

I know it isn't feasible for everyone to find amazing training and dedicate themselves to that program, so in closing here are a few immediate tips/strategies to help make yourself safer:

- If you can't afford training, splurge for a heavy bag and start beating the piss out of it. Think hips. If you punch, power comes from the hips, if you kick, power comes from the hips. Good thing we do all of those squats, deadlifts, and Oly lifts eh?

- Remember this order of operations to survive....

1) Don't be there

2) If you are there, RUN!

3) If you can't run, pick up something to use as a weapon

4) If you have no weapons THEN you are stuck with hand-to-hand fighting

5) Get aggressive and primal and beat that person until you see the opportunity to get to safety, but run as soon as possible

- Small weapons are great, but only if you mean to use them. Ladies: pepper spray does you NO GOOD if it's in your purse. Have it in your hand when you walk places and point it the right direction (yes, people have sprayed themselves in the face under stress!). If you're looking for a great weapon that is legal to use and carry without a license, buy a small, heavy, metal flashlight that sticks out roughly one inch on either end of your hand when you grip it with a fist. Preferably one with a bright light and a push button on the end. Use it to see around dark corners or in/under your car. If you get attacked, shine it in their eyes then bash them in the face with it!

- If you own a gun, do you really know how to use it? Are you willing to use it? You don't learn how to shoot bad people in your CCW or NRA class, you learn to shoot paper. If you own a gun, find a defensive firearms instructor who specializes in personal self defense. Seriously!! It will keep you out of lots of trouble. Look up I.C.E Training, they have top of the line instructors.

- Mindsetting: everywhere you go take 5-10 seconds. Look around; find all of the exits, all of the things that could easily be used as weapons and all of the shady looking people.

Knowing these things and being aware of them will be huge when things get stressful. Make a plan in your head. "If someone busts through that door, I'm going to grab my chair, throw it then bolt out the back hallway." YOU CANNOT FORMULATE GOOD PLANS UNDER STRESS. Attacks happen in a split second, don't think you're going to be MacGruber under stress. In the same respect, don't become paranoid! Look around, find the exits, weapons and bad people and then go about your business, just be aware, not scared.

If you have any questions, concerns, or anything else pertaining to defensive tactics please feel free to contact me at

Aaron Jannetti is the head of the USKMA's curriculum and instructor development. He earned his Krav Maga Black Belt in January of 2011. Over his time training he has had the opportunity to learn and study under many of Krav Maga’s greatest instructors and black belts across the nation: Mark Slane, Yaron Lichtenstein, Ryan Hoover, John Whitman, Eyal Yanilov, Kelly Campbell, Jarrett Waldman and many more. In October of 2008, he helped to open the Hilliard location for Ohio Krav Maga and Fitness where he is currently the Program Director and Head Instructor of both Krav Maga and CrossFit as well as affiliate owner of Crossfit OKM. Aaron is also a certified Crossfit Instructor, USAW Sport Club coach, Certified Defensive Firearms Instructor and avid eater and lifter of big things. Outside of Krav Maga he also studies and teaches in the arts of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and Kali. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Your Health Is Not Profitable

While I was walking down the street of a busy city in China, I thought to myself: "There is an unbelievable amount of flashing advertisements here". Just blatant, in-your-face ads for every product you can imagine. It seemed obnoxious at the moment, but I began to appreciate the fact that the advertisement was so blatant, as opposed to our country where the advertisements can be so subtle and deceitful.

Nowhere is this more prevalent for me than in the health and fitness industry. It is an industry where health problems are invented for the sake of a dollar, and where nutritional recommendations fly in the face of logic and fact. 

To put it simply: Corporations want you to remain unhealthy.

If everyone was fit and healthy, pharmaceutical corporations would have no one to sell cholesterol-lowering pills to. These companies need you to remain unhealthy. It's why they tell you to avoid eggs because it will "kill your heart", and instead eat a "healthy breakfast" of complex carbohydrates.

An immediate conflict of interest can be seen when look at the nation's current nutritional recommendations. For starters, the project is funded and ran by the USDA (that stands for United States Department of Agriculture). Now you should be asking yourself: "Doesn't it seem strange that the Department of Agriculture is telling me what to eat? How is the organization that helps produce the nation's supply of corn able to tell me what I shouldn't be eating?"

Another example of this is the dairy industry. We are told that we must drink milk because it contains calcium, and our bones also contain calcium, therefore milk is good for our bones. That would be great information, except it isn't true. About 100 years ago, many children in America were suffering from a bone disease known as rickets, a bone disease caused by low levels of Vitamin D in the body. Dairy farmers put synthetic Vitamin D into milk and fed it to children at schools. This fixed the rickets problem, but Big Dairy became pretty comfortable with all of the business that the schools brought them, and devised ways to stay in schools. This is why we are told to have our 3 glasses a day, and why dairy is its own food group.

Don't get me wrong, I do love milk from grass-fed cows, but I don't do it for calcium, I do it to get big. If you are worried about your bones, high-impact weightlifting, Vitamin D rich vegetables, and plenty of sun will take care of you.

Finally, we come to the topic of celebrity nutritional experts. Dr. Oz is the first one that comes to mind. Interesting to note that Dr. Oz is a cardiologist, not a nutritionist. Maybe that is why a list of his diet foods looks like this:

Now, I am not claiming to be an expert on the subject, but I do know bullshit when I see it. Now, whether Dr. Oz actually believes this or not is irrelevant, the simple fact is that if he were to tell his audience what is actually good for them (red meat, saturated fat, cholesterol) on live TV, his show would immediately be cancelled due to lack of funding. This is the same reason why so many researchers choose to publish information that is in line with the corporations who fund the research want. If they were to publish material that didn't agree with the corporation, they would lose funding and therefore be out of a job. It's the same reason why good, honest material is squelched and hidden from public view.

When in doubt, follow the money.

This is why a product like Honey Nut Cherrios can be branded "heart healthy", even though it contains less than 1 gram of fiber, and 3x the amount of sugar as protein. But, because it has paid the American Heart Association and because it is low cholesterol, it is branded as heart healthy.

You don't have to look very hard to find information on why you are being recommended to eat certain things. Permanent weight loss is not economically viable for the corporations who make these recommendations. They need you to stay sick and weak so you keep coming back to suck on the teat. Pull the wool off of your eyes and stop following recommendations that don't have your best interest at heart.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sex, Testosterone, and Iron

Brian Crilly

The readers of Lift Big Eat Big are no strangers to the surge of testosterone that comes from heavy compound movements in training. Testosterone is the powerful hormone release from the testicles in males, the ovaries in females, with small amount also being released by the adrenal glands. Testosterone is directly linked to health status in men and low levels lead to a host of problems, including decreased insulin sensitivity and diabetes risk, kidney disease, fat gain and muscle loss, anemia, and overall poor health. Additionally, low testosterone has been shown to lead to feelings of greater aggression, lower mood, and depression in men.

What has not been made clear, however, is the link between lifting heavy ass iron objects, our sex drive, and the testosterone that is released from both of these actions. So lock up your daughters and lock up your wives, because this is the sex and iron issue of Lift Big Eat Big.

Sex drive at full speed, Captain.

Although testosterone is usually thought of as a male hormone, it is also present in women's bodies, at about 1/10th of the levels. Testosterone is directly linked to the sex drive of both males and females. Low levels have been called the "male version of menopause" contributing directly to a lack of sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

How do we manipulate our testosterone levels to get our sex drive back? By lifting heavy iron objects, of course! As well as eating large amounts of animal flesh. Heavy compound lifts and animal protein consumption are both directly linked to as much as a 50% increase in testosterone secretion, this in turn has an immense impact on the sex lives of both men and women. Cholesterol is a steroid that also helps the body secrete testosterone, so you are doing yourself a disservice by sticking to an egg white-only diet and avoiding the cholesterol-rich yolks. While it may take more than just testosterone to desire sex (being attracted to your partner helps too), without it, you may be experiencing a sex life that is at half-mast.

Watching Donny lift is associated with high levels of testosterone secretion

Sexual stimulation in both females and males is known to cause an increase of testosterone to be secreted, as well as an increase of proestrogen in females. Females involved with testosterone & HGH therapy reported increased levels of sexual thoughts, fantasies, and satisfaction. Whether or not this high level of sexuality can be replicated  with an increase of animal protein and heavy lifting has not been tested as of yet.

Contrary to what the latest bodybuilding forum will tell you, ejaculation prior to training has not been linked to a decrease in training performance. Ancient military leaders would forbid their troops to have sex the night before battle because they felt it would take their men's focus off of the task at hand the next day.  Even in relatively current times, Muhammed Ali would abstain from sex for 6 weeks before a fight, while Sugar Ray Leonard on the opposite end would have sex up to the day of his fight, with no ill effects reported. 

Some researchers believed that sex before training would result in lowered energy levels, this has since been disproven. In fact, the testosterone boost that is secreted during sex can actually increase performance, whether it is in the squat cage or the fighting ring. The claim that sex can affect psychological performance has yet to be tested, although I am sure there are plenty of my readers who would be willing to put this claim to the test.

As competitive athletes, fighters, and general lifters in search of recreational hugeness, it is in our best interest to have as high of testosterone levels as possible. Engaging in progressively heavier lifting, maintaining an active sex life (giggity), and consuming a diet high in animal protein, cholesterol and vegetables will help us maintain muscle mass, bone density, and lifelong health.

I suggest you go raise your testosterone levels right now.


-Shifren JL (2004). The role of androgens in female sexual dysfunction. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 79(Suppl): S19-S24.


-Aeron Life Cycles Clinical Laboratory. (2007). Bodies in Motion, Hormones in Action, Hormonal Update, Volume 3 Number 4 (Online).


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Putting Objects Overhead

The overhead press is a lift that has fallen in and out of vogue with people in the gym. Could be a multitude of reasons. It’s hard, you may not be able to use as much weight as when benching, and (going back to number one) people tend to avoid things that are difficult.

It mostly has fallen out of line because of the bench press, which is a shame. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t have to bench because of sport, I wouldn’t, and would solely do overhead presses instead.  Putting your bodyweight or more overhead is just… well, it’s just damn strong. There’s really no other way about it.

But, because the OHP (I abbreviate because I can) is rarely used in any Powerlifting competition and the bench press is, the OHP is a great assistance lift to benching. Quite possibly the best accessory there is, honestly.

To those who don’t press, my buddy Ken sent me a text today citing his OHP and Bench Press maxes from the beginning of 5/3/1 until today, and both have gone up significantly. He made certain to include this quote, “I’m fairly certain these correlate”.
  • OHP: 135 to 250
  • Bench: 250 to 350
The point is, if you’re not pressing, it’d be wise to start. The press will strengthen your triceps, shoulders, the clavicular portion of your chest, and a slew of musculature that supports various structures that make you strong as an ox.
Per usual, if something’s tough, chances are it’s worth doing. So, hop to it and get some shit above your head.

Written by Jay Stadtfeld for

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Back Pain? Do Your Squats & Eat Your Fish Oil

If you can't fix it with squats or fish oil, you are probably going to die

Rapid and early return to exercise and physical activity is one of the most important aspects in the self-management of simple mechanical low back pain, which about 80% of individuals experience sometime throughout their life. Unfortunately, conventional medicine and conventional wisdom perpetuate the belief that when someone is experiencing pain, they must rest and thus avoid all of the activities that cause their pain or discomfort. 

In a sense, that statement is true. That is, of course, if the pain is arising from the viscera (i.e. stomach, kidneys, colon, gallbladder, etc), if there are any red flags upon a doctors initial history or examination, or if there is a pathology that requires medical or surgical intervention.  The assessment of “red flags” will identify the small number of patients who need referral to a specialist, special testing/imaging (MRI, X-ray, CT, etc.) or for an urgent medical procedure. In the event of moderate-severe trauma, which isn’t too common in the gym as it pertains to back pain, imaging is most certainly warranted before advising to return to exercise. For the common complaint of back pain [or neck pain] in the absence of red flags and trauma, the best advice I can give an athlete is to get up, move around and get back to hitting those weights. You certainly might have to modify specific movements or technique but go lift something. Squat something. Overdose on some Vitamin D and fish oil. Rub fish oil on your back. Sprinkle several thousand International Units of Vitamin D over the problematic area to increase tissue healing and thus reduce pain. I’m lying on the latter part. Don’t sprinkle. Eat it.  Eat it with fat since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. I digress.

Rapidly returning to physical activity decreases the likelihood of the athlete developing long-term or chronic issues. In many cases, getting back into the gym is the wisest decision one can make since bed rest and avoidance of activities quite often perpetuates the pain experience. Typically, the longer an injured athlete keeps from engaging in activity due to their back pain, the longer they will experience such pain. In other words, the amount of time an athlete stays away from activity is directly related to the success he or she will have in overcoming their spinal [low back] pain issues. 

When someone is experiencing low back pain in the absence of trauma, and no red-flags have been established, there are typically four (4) tissues to where the pain is arising from. These tissues, also known as pain generators, are the disc, nerve, muscle, or joint. Most people always assume their low back pain is muscular in origin.  Primary muscle pain is not as common as we all like to think. Throughout the body, our joints- including the facet joints in the vertebrae- contain a high number of pain receptors and often times are the contributing factor behind low back pain. On a side note, the lumbar vertebral joints also have pain referral patterns that are known to manifest as flank pain, buttock pain, and/or posterior leg pain. Intervertebral discs can also exhibit this same pattern. This phenomenon of referred pain is similar to an individual experiencing jaw pain or left arm pain while having a heart attack. Pain does not always arise from the specific area where the individual experiences it. It is thus a complex mechanism that is still not fully understood. Again, I digress.

Disc pain is also quite a common occurrence and often times a substrate for low back pain. Without getting too deep into the pathophysiology, when a disc is injured, specific blood cells flood the area, essentially creating inflammation and releasing specific compounds that increase pain.

Rapid return to physical activity following an injury and/or spinal pain is not always an easy process. Athletes are often fearful about returning to activity or to the same environment in which they were injured. Also, many individuals are under the impression that if they have pain, they must have damaged tissues, and they assume any form of activity can cause further damage and/or prolong the healing process. This impression is typically reinforced by their physician, friends, or conventional wisdom which, as stated above, usually recommends rest and avoidance of painful activities as part of the recovery.
Among the most important factors in returning to physical activity are fear of re-injury, catastrophizing (Oh my, I have back pain and I can’t do deadlifts or squats ever again), general psychological distress due to current lack of exercise or taking time off (Oh my, I haven’t squatted or deadlifted in days and I am getting fat and weak), and the athletes’ low expectations of recovery or hindrance of improvement.  After an injury, it is quite typical for an athlete to become fearful about further injury which results in avoidance behavior. Pain-related fear is associated with increased bodily awareness and hypersensitivity to pain, which can lead to an increase in time needed to return back to the gym. As a result, this causes the injured athlete to lose confidence and self-efficacy in his or her ability to recover and return to normal activities. The simple remedy for this would be returning to physical activity. 

Back pain does not have to be a serious disease; in fact it is quite common. Almost all of us will experience back pain throughout our life and it is often recurring. It should not cripple you nor really interfere with your ability to perform unless you let it. The important thing is for you to get on with your life. How your backache affects you depends on how you react to the pain and what you do about it yourself. Acute low back pain is best treated with minimal rest and rapid return to exercise and normal activities. There are no instant answers. You will have your ups and downs for a while—that is normal. But look at it this way. There are two types of sufferers: The avoider and the coper. Which one are you?

- The avoider gets frightened by the pain, refrains from any physical activity, and worries about the future. Their perception of health change as a result of the injury is usually negative.
- The avoider is afraid that pain always means further damage—it doesn't. They do not “challenge” their pain. In their mind they have a serious condition.
- The avoider rests a lot, harps on their pain, uses it as an excuse, and waits for the pain to get better.
- The coper knows that the pain will get better, deals with it accordingly, and does not fear the future.     They “get it”.
- The coper carries on as normally as possible, goes about their daily activities, and wants to get back to   the gym as quickly as possible.
- The coper deals with the pain by being positive, “challenging” the pain, and staying active.

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Dr. Wayne J. Broth earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science, pre-veterinary medicine, from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, and is a graduate from Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida. He was a recipient of the Clinical Excellence Award, Clinical Service Award, nominated for the Virgil Strang Philosophy Award, and also served as a Clinical Teaching Assistant at the Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida outpatient clinic. He obtained certification in electrodiagnosis and acupuncture and completed his clinical internship at the Rhode Island Spine Center under the guidance of renowned physician, Donald R. Murphy, DC, DACAN.

  Dr. Broth’s clinical focus is the diagnosis and treatment of spine pain including headache, neck pain, and back pain. He has a keen interest particularly in low back pain, active rehabilitation, nutrition, and exercise. He utilizes the most current evidence-based approach to treat patients non-surgically. Dr. Broth currently maintains his practice, Florida Spine and Rehab, in North Palm Beach. He is also the co-owner of Gardens CrossFit, a CrossFit affiliate located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. When he is not at his Chiropractic office he is coaching many of the athletes at Gardens CrossFit in nutrition and its implications for improved health, disease prevention, and increased performance both inside and outside of the gym. He has taken the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer course and the CrossFit Endurance course. In April, 2012, Dr. Broth will be starting coursework for his masters degree in nutrition and functional medicine through University of Western States.

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