Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mobility For Sitting On Your Ass All Day

Article written by Jay Stadtfeld for
Many of our daily jobs involve sitting down for an extended amount of time, whether we work at a desk all day, or sit around at night watching TV. As one would imagine, this isn’t good for our bodies and can lead to postural decline and deterioration in the range of motion of a joint. Not good things for anyone, much less an athlete who is apt to attempt performing at their best.
Mobility is defined as, “The ease with which a joint or series of joints is able to move before being restricted by the surrounding structures.”

As you should be able to deduce, as our lives become more sedentary, we get tighter. As a functional human, we have three rights: Train heavy, bang often, and go forage for our food. If you can’t squat, you can’t carry your kill home, nor your wife (or husband, though if you can, he needs to eat) to the bedroom, which would complete the second right, “bang often”.

Below, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite mobility exercises to increase your abilities as a functional human, some are dynamic, others are static. If you are one of those people who think static stretching is the worst thing since bread, you’re a moron and see your way out. Side note: Most of these will be for your hips, since we’re focusing on people who sit too often.

I would suggest doing these once a day to combat walking around like you’re wearing a suit of armor while in accordance will local ordinance.

·         Shoulder Tornadoes
o    Grab a band or PVC pipe and rotate your arms around your body. 10 reps apiece. Below is a video.

Thoracic Spine
·         The shoulder tornadoes should loosen you up, but I also like to position my thoracic spine on a PVC pipe while placing my hands behind my head, and arching my back so my hands and butt are the only thing touching the floor while arching and retracting. If this is hard to follow, think about creating a bench arch. That should help.

Hips and Things Attached
·         Hamstrings
o   Assuming a standard seated position and grab a lacrosse ball. Take the ball and place it under your hamstrings. Extend and flex the knee with the ball in various positions. If you find one that’s particularly awful, work that spot out. Below is a video from KStar.

·         Anterior Hip Flexors
o   I’ve yet to find a better stretch that sucks more than simply assuming a lunge position and jamming your rear lower leg into an object. Below, KStar demonstrate a variation of this as well. 

·         Pirormis
o   This is a tough one, and I know plenty of people suffer from issues this muscle likes to cause. The easiest way to combat this is to cross one leg over the other and pull the knee across your midline (bellybutton). That should loosen this up.

Use these stretches and mobility tactics to loosen yourself up after rolling out with both a foam roller and LAX ball. This should help you combat the awful Couchitis. Go forth and conquer, newly coordinated athletes!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The LBEB Hierarchy Of Training

Article written by Jay Stadtfeld for 
There is no easy way to put this, but you’re likely not as advanced of a trainee as you might like to think. That’s fine! Neither am I. So, why are you using chains and bands, rep schemes never progressing past singles to triples, and complicating what should be a fairly simple endeavor: getting strong.

Most programming that I’ve done doesn’t involve the use of bands around a barbell. It usually involves the use of reps, and volume assistance work. Bands and chains are fine to use for assistance work, such as banded good mornings, ab work, triceps, and all that extraneous work. However, when you start adding bands and chains to a beginner or intermediates program, that’s when it’s likely going to get incredibly complicated when it doesn’t need to be.

Beginners and Intermediates will see gains from volume and reps. Period. The more time they spend under an increasing load, the more neurological adaptation and muscle gain they will have. There’s no need to complicate their training with bands and chains and make them figure out what weight they need to do to accommodate 64.7 pounds of band tension.

I’ve tried Westside once before, and I have to admit that I hated it. I didn’t want to feel like I had to figure out band tensions or chain weight while trying to figure out box height. I’m not saying it doesn’t have its place, but it certainly isn’t a necessity to getting strong.

Frankly, it’s frustrating seeing how many people try to complicate this crap. Even at the gym, kids saying they can’t gain weight, can’t get strong, blah blah freakin’ blah. So, I’ve taken the liberty and have written out the Hierarchy. This is not law, but merely suggestions to help your training and life. Take it for what you will.

My Hierarchy of Training is as follows:

·         Reps will get you strong.
o   Reps lead to muscle, muscle leads to strength.  
     - When I mean reps, I mean taking weights anywhere from the 75 to 90% range. Leave the heavier weights for singles as you get closer to a meet. This should set you up well, as you can get a good estimate for what you're good for as you hit 90% weights. Hit 405 for 5? Good work. You should expect to be good for 470. The singles will allow you to get accustomed to heavier weight.
o   Example: I pressed 170 for 7 recently (nothing impressive, and no, I’m not looking for a pat on the ass telling me congrats), but I then put up 200 for a relatively easy single even more recently, completing a long term goal.

·         Training shouldn’t be complicated.
o   Most of us train for fun, and thus it isn’t a full time career. Even Phil Pfister is a fireman. Marshall was a mortician. Derek Poundstone is a police officer. See a trend? So, why make it more complicated than your career? Make it fun for you instead of having to plot out the hypotenuse of the square root of 12,614,850.

·         If recovery is poor, eat more food.
o   If you can’t gain weight, refer to the above.
o   If you can’t lose weight, eat less food.

·         Get explosive.
o   Olympic lifts, plyometrics, sprints, whatever the case. Learn it, get fast. It’ll benefit you as an athlete in every endeavor.

·         Get the most out of assistance work.
o   Pick a few exercises that will benefit your main work. They should shore up muscles used during that particular session, and make them worth your while. GHR’s, Good Morning’s, RDL’s, Close Grip Bench, Pullups, etc.


 Maybe my Hierarchy doesn’t jive with yours. That’s cool, too! Even though I’d be surprised if the above doesn’t work for you, the idea is to find something, anything that works for you. If you like bands and chains, fine. I just, personally don’t like to program them for myself or clients.
Develop your own hierarchy, learn what works for you, and get out there and do it. Period.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Continental Clean

Article written by Marshall White for
Lately you've been seeing a few LBEB athletes doing "axle cleans" using a continental technique. There has been a lot of questioning of this style of cleaning as well as some skepticism as to whether it is a valid technique to use and implement into a training program. The skepticism and questioning is completely understandable, sometimes an axle continental clean can look like a monkey humping a football. That being said, even though it may at times be an ugly movement, using a continental clean will create an upper back and mid section thickness and strength that will be unrivaled by your non-continental using peers.

Let me clarify what I mean when I say "axle". In the sport of strongman we call any fat bar an "axle". We term it this since often times the weights may actually be in the form of wheels. The axles we use are typically a 2 inch diameter bar, but they can be up to a 3 inch diameter. Given the much larger diameter of the bar this limits the athlete’s ability to maintain a strong grip on the bar when getting near max effort weights. This is where a continental clean will come into play.

Using the same foot and hand placement as a regular clean you should grip the bar. The difference in this case will be that your dominant hand will be flipped under, just like a reverse grip deadlift. Once the grip is set you should pull exactly like a regular clean making sure you have a big shrug and finish your pull. 

The weight should be near max effort so the bar will not reach the same height as your standard power clean. At this point the bar should be guided and set "on top" of your abs right at about solar plexus level. It's extremely important to stay tight and keep a big breath otherwise the bar will knock your breath out and you'll be in a bad way. Once the bar is set on the abs and you are comfortable you should very quickly flip the hand that is supinated on the bar. This might make you feel unstable but if you flip quick enough it shouldn't affect the movement.

At this point you should have the bar still sitting at solar plexus level with a double overhand grip. An axle does not have revolving bar ends, it is one solid piece so the pop from stomach to shoulder requires a bit of grip strength. Take a deep breath and using your hips explode into the bar and "pop" it from your stomach to your rack position. The end of the continental clean should finish exactly as a regular clean. You will be completely upright with the bar sitting in a comfortable rack position. At this point get comfy and put that bar overhead in whichever manner you use. We at LBEB use a jerk but that's cause we like to bitch-slap axles, you can use a strict or push press if you like.

There you go, how to continental clean an axle, or fat bar if that's what you want to call it. These take tons of practice to truly master them but they are a great addition to a training program if you're looking for a bit more upper back work. In addition if you do these regularly you will notice your mid-section starting to get almost bullet proof. Keep in mind that because one of your hands will be supinated and you are being explosive it is of vital importance that you very thoroughly warm up your biceps prior to continental cleaning. Give the continental clean a try and enjoy getting cockdiesel strong!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Eating Bigger On A Budget

This was larger than an infant. True story.

At least once a day, someone will write in and ask how to get huge without spending their entire paycheck on meals. Roughly one year ago, I wrote an article detailing 3 ways to eat big on a budget .  I am going to expand on that article and discuss a few ways to eat big that aren't exactly perfect in the eyes of the paleo gods, but still fairly decent meals nonetheless. Getting big is hard and uncomfortable enough without breaking the bank along with it, wouldn't you say?

The first thing you will want to do on your gaining journey is increase your water intake to 150-200% of your normal intake. This is a mistake I made two years ago by not having enough water. Water will actually help decrease some of the feelings of bloat you will encounter, as well as flushing your system of excess junk that will inevitably accumulate.

The next thing you will need to do is get yourself a 5-8 quart crockpot. This is your crockpot, there are many like it, but this one is yours. Without your crockpot, you are nothing. Obviously, the greatest thing about a crockpot is you can throw in all the ingredients, go about your day, and come back to a crockpot that will contain at least 2-3 meals worth of food.

Loco moco

A couple of my favorite crockpot dishes are loco moco and crockpot lasagna. These ingredients can be found reasonably cheap, especially if you live in an area with an ethnic grocery store.  These stores don't usually look as crisp and pristine as your local grocery store, but the food is the same, so get over it, ya freaking snob.

If preparing food isn't your style, you can go to Costco and get prepared meals that you just have to stick in the oven. No, these meals aren't technically "paleo", but none of the world's biggest/strongest people are paleo, so that is something to chew on. One of my favorite Costco meals is their Kirkland Signature Lasagna (yea you know the one I'm talking about). The label says it feeds a family of twelve, but I just ate half of one for dinner. Nevertheless, for the low price of 13 dollars with ingredients you can actually pronounce, that is incredibly cheap. In my opinion, lasagna is one of the greatest meals to get big on: It contains numerous meat and protein sources (beef, sausage, ricotta cheese) fats (swiss and cheddar cheese) and carbs (noodles, tomato sauce).

Crockpot lasagna
At LBEB, we are all about eating out of giant bowls, it makes easier to finish a large meal when you don't have to keep going back to fill your plate because it's a small plate. I like to take this one step further and eat/prepare meals that are what I like to call: "all-inclusive". Casseroles, meat and rice dishes (rice should be your best friend by now), and any meal that is cooked with equals parts of all macronutrients. Grilling steaks is delicious, but when time is a factor, making 3 separate parts of the meal can be a pain in the ass. Try to start cooking more all-inclusive meals to save yourself some time.

Getting big isn't always pretty
Another way that you can eat big without spending big is to buy a few staple ingredients like beans, white rice, ground beef, chicken, avocados, and various vegetables. Then, buy a butt-ton of spices. A few different spices can change the same macronutrients from a Mexican meal to an Asian meal.

Again, I advocate buying yourself a 1/4 or 1/2 a cow from a local butcher who specializes in grass-fed beef. It will cost a good chunk of change up front, but when you can buy high-quality beef for less than $5 for EVERY CUT on the cow, it makes the offer hard to turn down.

A lot of people want to get big with minimal fat gain. This is possible, but it can take a very long time, and honestly a little fat never hurt anyone. Are you a bodybuilder? Do you need less than 10% body fat? How much time do you really spend with your shirt off in anterior trunk flexion? Getting big is about getting strong, you can lose the fat later. It is better to gain strength quickly, with 5-10lbs of fat gain. You can easily lose the fat after you have gained strength and muscle size. If you are afraid of a little temporary chub, I really question your desire to get huge.

Now, get out there and bury your face in a lasagna.