Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Competition Preparation



Article written by Marshall White.

As a pro strongman I have been competing for a long while now. I've done competitions all over America and in many different countries. I've learned that every competition is going to be different so I have to be ready for any situation. I'd like to tell y'all some of my tips and tricks that can possibly help you out when heading to your future competitions.

First thing to remember is you are going to need all of your gear at the competition. What I have found to be of utmost importance is to carry your gear (lifting shoes, singlet, spandex, etc) on the plane with you if you are flying. In 2009 I traveled to Bucharest, Romania to compete in a World's Strongest Man Super Series, unfortunately I checked all of my gear and it never arrived. I had to go purchase new shoes, underwear, socks, etc etc. I also had to borrow a belt and wrist wraps. After learning this lesson I now carry all my gear in a bag on to the plane with me, inside of the same bag I put all of my supplements as well so I make sure I have my pre workout stuff before the competition. If you don't think you can carry all your gear on with you or if you have kids and need the bag space for toys and all that at a very minimum put your oly shoes in and wrap your belt around the outside of the bag and buckle it.


Assuming you've made it to the competition with all your gear in tow there are some things you can do the day before to help prepare yourself. Staying hydrated is a huge challenge around competition time for most athletes due to getting up early and drinking coffee all day while traveling. A way to combat dehydration is to start drinking tons of pedialyte the day before. Getting at least 2 full liters of pedialyte will go much further to helping hydrate you than water will. Going on a plane and can't carry liquids? You can buy pedialyte powder, and conveniently 2 packets make one LBEB water bottle. Don't forget to sip pedialyte during the actual competition, the sugars in it will also help provide fuel as you go through the day. While you are getting hydrated focus on getting lots of food in, trying to make sure the food is not greasy or too spicy. You want your stomach to be settled and your nerves are going to be doing enough to upset it without throwing a bunch of crap food on top of it. I know some of you like spicy food but have you ever tried to deadlift with a little bit of heartburn? It's terrible. Stick to foods like oatmeal, potatoes, chicken, etc. These will provide good energy without upsetting your stomach. My last meal of the day before competition day is always a big plate of pasta. The last thing to do the day before the competition is to make sure you get good sleep, again your nerves are going to try and prevent this. To ensure that I sleep well I make sure the temperature of where I'm sleeping is around 62 degrees (this is comfortable for me, might be different for you), I also set 2 or 3 alarms so I can rest well knowing I'll get up on time. The last 2 things I do before bed are, I take a supplement called GABA and I make sure I watch something light hearted on t.v. GABA helps relieve anxiety so I can sleep better and I try to watch something on t.v. That helps me "decompress", you can also do this by reading a book or listening to soft music. The whole goal is to not elevate my heart rate at all, this will ensure better, deeper sleep.


So now you're well rested, hydrated and your energy stores are full and your stomach is calm from eating well, it's the day of the competition and you are getting ready to smash it. What can you do to be better prepared this close to competition? First thing is put on any capsaicin, knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, etc on at least an hour before the competition. You never know what can happen so its best to have your joints as warm as you can get them going into the competition. The second thing you can do is what I call a "pre workout ramp up". I don't like to take all my pre workout at once since then tends to make me sick and jittery. What I do is an hour and half out from start time I take half, then 30 minutes prior to start I take another half, then an hour and half into the competition I take the other half. This allows a slow steady few of energy without too much up and down. The last and final thing you can do is, get your mind right. This is the time you want to watch a badass movie, or crank the music, or whatever it is that gets you fired up. I like to put my headphones on with some  DJ Screw playing and sit with my eyes closed and envision everything I'm going to do that day. I go through all the movements in my mind, making sure I envision doing everything perfectly. After you get your mind in the right spot keep it there. This is the time to focus on the task at hand. No need to be a nut job and walk around mean mugging everyone, you can talk and be friendly just make sure you know what your job is that day.

I hope that some of these tips can help you in your competitions. Of course every athlete will be different and you are going to have to find our for yourself precisely what works for you but these can start you in the right direction. Give us feedback and let us know if these have helped you. Good luck and crush it!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Importance of Spandex


Right now, as we speak, the world is suffering from a pandemic: Not enough men and women are training in spandex. I am not making this up, you can check with the CDC. Many men would agree that spandex is one of the greatest inventions anywhere, ever. But they only relate this to women. Men need to realize that not only do most women want to see men training in spandex, spandex can also offer benefits to your training. Let's check out a few of the benefits.




   One of the most obvious benefits of training in spandex is apparatus containment. The problem with training in basketball or gym shorts is apparatus hangin' and swangin'. This can interfere with bar paths, and cause undue pain to the individual. Spandex solves this problem and will keep your goods from swangin' lane to lane. No longer will you have to tuck it back, or have massive amounts of chalk on your crotch from constantly having to readjust yourself. Now isn't that nice?



Shorts can catch on your knee when squatting or worse, have the inseam interfere with your depth because they are too small due to your massive gluteus booteus. Spandex solves both of these issues. By conforming to the shape of your lower body, no longer will you have to worry about depth and knee position being called into question. Is there anything worse on the planet than having your buttcrack hang out because your shorts are caught on your knee? I think not, good sir.



Finally, the most important part about wearing spandex is: it drives the ladies (or gents) completely wild. Men, think about how you feel when you see this. That is roughly how your opposite sex feels when they see your giant glutes in spandex, or quads so large they are about to spill over your knees. There is an old Chinese proverb, 如果你已經有了它,炫耀它, which translates to "If you've got it, flaunt it ". This quote holds true here, if you have some tree trunks, why wouldn't you want to help out a fellow lifter by allowing them to stare at them for an awkwardly long amount of time? Don't be one of those little fellas' who gets uncomfortable at the sight of a man in spandex: what are you, homeschooled? Do the world a favor and drop trou for some spandex today.*


*This message brought to you by the LBEB Coalition For Spandex Awareness.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A History of The Food Pyramid & Corporate Influence






I recently wrote this paper for my Liberation Theology class. I felt that it was relevant enough to post here.

          The U.S. dietary guidelines are something that can be seen multiple times on a daily basis. They are posted in restaurants, magazines, discussed on TV shows, and used by the majority of America’s dieticians. The dietary guidelines (referred to as the “food pyramid” in this paper) are a source of almost daily discussion in my career as an Olympic and Weightlifting coach. Based on the connections made between food lobbyists, private interests, and their connection to the food pyramid, the food pyramid can be seen as problematic on multiple levels. This paper will attempt to dissect the history of the food pyramid, how private interests have influenced its recommendations, and the possible repercussions of following its recommendations.
          The origins of the food pyramid can be traced to the beginning of the 20th Century. As compounds like vitamins and minerals were being discovered, foods were separated into groups based on their vitamin and mineral content. The earliest recommendations were rooted in agricultural chemistry, a burgeoning science in the late 1800’s. (1. Harvard) This is where calories were first emphasized as a legitimate way to efficiently measure the varying amounts of energy that were present in different types of food, and a special emphasis was put on foods that were cheap yet high in nutritional density. As these dietary recommendations were being established, it became apparent that there were special interests at work behind various government dietary recommendations. One example is “Eat the Carp!” (2) from the early 1900’s. This campaign was put into motion after European carp were introduced to American waters and began to pose a threat to native species. Another example is the “Signs of Good Nutrition” flyer from 1931. (3) This campaign was in response to the prevalence of rickets in young children. The problem was solved by artificially fortifying milk with Vitamin D and giving it to schoolchildren. Along with lobbying, this is partly the reason why the dairy industry was able to get such a strong foothold in public schools that persists to this day.


 Besides alterations being made for rationings involved with the 1st and 2nd World War, the dietary recommendations remained more or less the same until the late 1960’s. For the first time in history, the role of dietary recommendations was reversed. Rather than recommending food as a way to keep people alive, the recommendations now reflected a worry that too much food was being consumed; certain foods were advised to be avoided to prevent obesity. This serves as a prime example of the “loss of innocence referred in the Zerzan text. (4. Zerzan) By adopting the practices of agriculture, humans lost their innocence with the world they were connected to. Rather than being a part of the ecosystem, agriculture allowed them to rise above the ecosystem and exert dominion over the rest of the world. This rise of obesity can be viewed as a direct repercussion of this dominance: A disease of affluence.
This disease of affluence did not go unnoticed by the government and private agricultural interests, whose power was increased tenfold after the mini-agricultural revolution that followed WWII. (5. Baker) This new agricultural revolution was brought about by a combination of factors, including a surplus of chemicals used for pesticide left over from WWII, an unusually optimal climate period for agriculture to thrive, and a high sense of optimism from the public regarding agriculture. When the Second World War finished, America found itself with an immense surplus of ammonia nitrate, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of explosives. It was later discovered that ammonia nitrate excelled as a nitrogen source for plants. This is the birth of the chemical fertilizer industry, a “product of the government’s effort to convert its war machine to peacetime purposes”. (6. Pollan) According the Indian food activist Vandana Shiva’s speeches, “We’re still eating the leftovers of World War II.”
It was these leftovers that allowed commodity crops to be planted, and allowed for a great yield per acre of crops. As the yields increased, so did the availability of food for American citizens. The increased availability of grains allowed for a greater range of processed products to be made available to customers, even to the point that hunger was no longer a concern for most. This brings us back to the topic of the diseases of affluence. As climate conditions allowed agriculture to reach heights it had never before achieved, obesity, heart disease, and cholesterol issues began to skyrocket.

 Ancel Keys was not the only scientist to notice this, and after years of study, published his hypothesis saturated fat & cholesterol, and their relationship to heart disease and atherosclerosis. (7. Hoffman) In his Infamous “Seven Countries Study”, Keys found correlative properties between seven nations that had high intake of meat and animal fat products, and high incidents of heart disease. Keys also greatly researched the effects of feeding rabbits high amounts of cholesterol, and noticing the atherosclerosis that the rabbits experienced. By combining his experience of the Seven Countries Study, and the research of the lipid hypothesis, Keys began to promote what became known as a “Mediterranean diet”, a diet that focused on low amounts of fat, protein and cholesterol, with a higher amount of grain and vegetable. The U.S. Government was quick to jump on the low-fat, high-carb bandwagon, making it an official part of their guidelines, despite seeming to criticize it less than a decade earlier. (8. Ottoboni)
Although the lipid hypothesis has become nutritional dogma since it was published, it still possesses a laundry list of criticisms. For example, rabbits are herbivores, and do not require cholesterol like humans do, therefore it is unsurprising that the rabbits experienced atherosclerosis. Cholesterol has been shown time and time again to not have a negative impact on a human’s serum cholesterol levels. In fact, the opposite is true. (9. Dawber) Another criticism of Keys was his choice of the seven nations in his Seven Nations Study. Keys was accused of “cherry-picking” evidence, because even though seven nations with high meat and fat intake were linked to heart disease, Keys omitted the fact that many nations who had low meat and fat consumption also were linked to heart disease, suggesting that there was in fact another culprit for heart disease and atherosclerosis.
More and more in the recent decades, research has shown that in fact, cholesterol, clean animal proteins and fat have been shown to improve serum cholesterol levels, as well as the presence of adipose tissue, when combined with lowered amounts of nutrient-void processed grain products. This can be attributed to the glycemic load of all carbohydrates: even whole grain bread possesses a higher glycemic load than table sugar. (11. Gnolls) This scientific research is diametrically opposed to the interests of agricultural corporations, whose largest sales derive from packaged products that take years to expire on the shelf. 
Nowhere is the presence of lobbying more apparent on the food pyramid than the dairy food group. Forgetting the fact that a large percentage of Americans (and the world) are lactose intolerant, the milk on grocery store shelves has become so processed that it barely resembles the original milk product. Combine that with the fact that most milk available is low-fat or fat-free, it has turned into a vitamin-fortified white substance that is pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. To get a clear example of the grasp that lobbyists have over the food pyramid guidelines, one simply has to look at the situation in the early 1990’s. The first draft of the 90’s guidelines included the text to “consume less red meat and less dairy”. The beef and dairy corporations naturally responded poorly to this, and after lobbying, the advice was to “consume 2-3 servings” of meat and dairy. (12. Nestle)
How can we as individuals and community members respond to this clearly compromised set of nutritional guidelines? As discussed in class, “why does a heavily processed box of cheerios cost less than a quality loaf of bread or a head of lettuce?” Perhaps most importantly, where is God in all of this, how does God play a part in this nutritional mask that is being pulled over our eyes? Theological reflection and pastoral planning will give us our answer.
While as a nation, we many not all be economically poor, as the Boffs are referring to, we certainly are a nation that is nutritionally poor and destitute. In their text, the Boffs refer “aid” as something that should be avoided. “Aid remains a strategy for helping the poor, but treating them as (collective) objects of charity, not as subjects of their own liberation.” (13. Boff) Rather than the government trying to educate the masses from the top down on the proper way to eat, I feel that nutritional guidelines should be established on a community level, based on the ecological surroundings and the availability of food based on the season. I think the Beacon Food Forest we discussed in class is a prime example of what a community can do when faced with deficiencies of quality nutrition. It is not simply a lack of quality food in a store; it is a lack of stores themselves in some areas, creating urban food deserts.


It is important to remember, however, that simply putting fruit and vegetable stores in a deprived urban area will not magically turn all of its community members into health-minded beings overnight. When one or two generations have subsisted on heat-and-serve or pre-packaged meals, it will take empowerment through education in order to understand how to shop for fresh produce and meat, what to look for and what to avoid, and how to best prepare these items. Partnering an empowering food preparation education system with something like the Beacon food forest can empower nutritionally poor communities to not only have access to quality food, but also to know what to do with it. Community gardens and community ecosystems can be the answer to urban food deserts, to sum it up Norman Wirzba says it perfectly: “Eating, both literally and figuratively, has roots in the soil. Gardens are the practical sites in terms of which people begin to see, smell, hear, touch, and taste the breadth and depth of human membership and responsibility.” (14. Wirzba) By doing something as simple as maintaining a garden for subsistence, humans can reconnect with the ecosystem on a personal level, in a way that puts humans back in a role of the ecosystem, rather than treating the ecosystem as a commodity.
Expanding on the subject of roles in the ecosystem, it is nigh impossible to discuss nutrition and theology without discussing the future of meat as a source of food on a conscious consumer’s table. A growing movement of vegetarians feels that animal farming in general should be stopped. “While the authors do not advocate for identical measures, all seek to at least reduce if not outright end animal suffering and/or usage because of its patent immorality. They also believe continuing to raise animals for meat is morally unjustifiable because of its monopoly on resources that could feed the world's hungry.” (15. Fields) While I do not agree that eating meat is morally unjustifiable, I do agree that the way in which CAFO’s operate is detestable in every sense. However, there are other options besides banning all meat consumption. For example, there is a growing movement of local pastured farms where animals serve as a part of the ecosystem of the farm. Rather than feeding cows corn and antibiotics with their waste being transported to manure lagoons, cows on pastured farms are fed grass and vegetable scraps, with their healthier waste being used as fertilizer for the very vegetables they eat, forming a beautiful ecosystem. This can not only heal humans who are nutritionally poor, it can also heal the land that the farm dwells on.

 Humans are caring for the animals, and the animals in turn care for the humans with their lives. There is a caveat to this, however. I feel that something is lost when humans no longer see or kill the animal that they are eating, and I think many fellow hunters would agree with me. There is a deeper level of appreciation for the meat you are consuming when it comes from an animal you have killed yourself. Perhaps a system could be locally implemented, where in order to purchase an entire animal’s worth of meat for your family, you had to personally take part in the kill. This would not only increase the appreciation on a personal level for the meat being consumed, it would help cull the amount of meat consumption on a whole, as many individuals would be unable to complete this task.

Resources:

1.    Harvard: Food Pyramids and Plates: What Should You Really Eat?

2.    Eat The Carp! 1911- Department of Commerce. Bureau of Fisheries. (1913 - 1939)

3.    Signs of Good Nutrition, 1931 Department of the Interior. Office of Education. Service Division. (07/01/1930 - 1935)

4.    Zerzan, John. Elements of Refusal p. 81: Left Bank Books, Seattle, WA 1988.

5.    A BRIEF EXCURSION INTO THREE AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTIONS: Baker, Donald G. University of Minnesota

6.    Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals p. 41. New York: Penguin, 2006.

7.    Meet Monsieur Cholesterol: William Hoffman University of Minnesota Update, Winter 1979
8.    The Food Guide Pyramid: Will the defects be corrected? Ottoboni, Alice & Fred, Ph.D. 2004
9.    Eggs, Serum Cholesterol, and Coronary Heart Disease. Dawber, Thomas R. MD MPH
10.  The Truth About Ancel Keys. Minger, Denise 2011
13.  Boff, Leonardo, and Clodovis Boff. Introducing Liberation Theology. New York: Orbis Books,           1987.
14. Wirzba, Norman. Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011.


 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

LBEB Programming & Weight Jumps



Article written by Marshall and Brandon


 I'm about to drop some super secret LBEB knowledge on your ass. We here at LBEB have been writing a lot of programs lately and we keep running into an issue with the athletes we write for. We keep hearing "LBEB programming is such low volume how can this possibly work?". When we hear this we instantly recognize an athlete that is not following the program we wrote exactly as it was written. Why you ask? Because we make small jumps in LBEB programming and if the jumps are made properly the volume is actually very high.

When I say jumps I mean the increments in which weight is added to the bar. In our programming we are firm believers in not "double training" movements or putting in movements that are just added for the sake of adding more work. Confused? Here's an example: if you are interested in making your overhead press get bigger we believe that to effectively do so we must TRAIN YOUR OVERHEAD PRESS. Not your triceps, not your bench, your overhead press. So what we do is we choose an overhead movement, lets say push press on an Olympic bar, then we train the hell out of that movement by recommending that the athlete increase the weights by very small increments. So we might say "doing doubles and making no more than 10lb jumps work up to a heavy double". At this point the athlete may think "only a double, that's not very much", but if she/he does it correctly it will look like this (all in pounds) 45x2, 55x2, 65x2, 75x2, 85x2, 95x2, 105x2, 115x2,125x2, 135x2, 145x2, 155x2, 165x2, 175x2, 185x2, 195x2, 205x2.....etc. At this point the athlete has done 17 doubles to reach a solid double at the end of that much work, and if 205 is the top set roughly 7-8 of these sets have been working sets. That's a lot of volume.

We do this because we believe that rather than waste energy on another movement we should focus it on the movement we want to increase. Do we stop there? No. Do we add accessory work? Yes. For accessories we feel again that we should train the movement we want to increase. After our initial or "main" movement we will usually switch to a partial of that movement we just trained. For an Olympic bar push press our accessories might include lockouts from the forehead using a similar set rep scheme as our main movement, or seated lockouts with no back support, etc etc. The accessory movement matches up to our main movement to keep focus on what we are trying to increase. We don't immediately go to bench, we're not trying to increase our bench, we keep our focus and energy where it needs to be.

Our final movement or movements that we add are usually a high rep low set scheme of a movement that will help the main movement by keeping the body healthy. Using the push press as an example again our final movements might be high rep close grip bench press and high rep push downs. The high rep cg bench is chosen because it adds muscle mass to the chest and triceps which will help round out the shoulder girdle thereby reducing risk of injury and the high rep push downs are chosen because they do the same thing for the elbow/triceps area. Our set/rep scheme for cg bench might be sets of 10 to warm up then hit one set of max reps with "x" weight. Then with push downs we might use a 3 sets of 25 reps scheme.

All in all our style of training is actually pretty high volume. Remember though our focus is not hypertrophy training nor is it endurance training, it is strength. We at LBEB have had great success using this style of training and it shows in our lifts. Hit us up if you want us to apply this to your training and I promise you will see great success with it as well. Peace out sauerkraut!*


*This protocol applies to the personalized LBEB programming. For the Olympic programming on the website, larger jumps should be made as the working sets are the meat n taters of the workout.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Deloads For Powerlifters




 Article written by Jay Stadtfeld for LiftBigEatBig.com
 
At some point in your training career, you’re going to notice that you feel particularly beat up after weeks of consistent heavy training. This usually insinuates a decrease in both intensity and volume; something that we call a “deload”, where both mind and body are given a break from heavy training. This will allow your mind to be fresh to attack with vigor, and for your CNS (Central Nervous System) to be fully prepped to handle heavier, hopefully increasingly, loads. 

There really is no set “time” one should deload, as we’re all a bunch of unique snowflakes and should learn by doing. Many programs have them built in, but for some newer athletes, they may occur before you even have a moment to hit your stride and see what you’re worth. 

A few signs you may need to deload are:
·         Constant, nagging injuries.
o   These may not be large injuries (torn tendons or the like), but more joint aches that, no matter the amount of mobility you do, won’t go away.
·         Tiredness
o   No matter the amount of caffeine you intake, nor the sleep you get seems to get you ready for anything, let alone training.
·         Irritability
o   You seem to get pissed off at the most mundane things. Someone asked you to toss them a pen, and you act like WWIII is going to erupt.
§  This and the injuries are the tell all signs I need to deload.
·         Lack of Motivation
o   This is self-explanatory, but it also goes for not only training, but sex life, too. And let’s face it. If you don’t feel like gettin’ down, something is probably wrong.

Typically, the signs are going to arrive in couplets, triplets, or even quadruplets.  I wouldn’t rely solely on one factor, just because I experience one of these any given day. Testosterone is an evil minion at times, regardless of what anyone says. That said, a general, consistent feeling of “my shit feels fucked up” will be a pretty good sign.
Knowing how to approach a deload week once you figured out you need one can be a process. Especially because people like to over-think things (myself included at times). I’ve experimented with many different approaches, including a “to the book” deload where I plugged weights in and just did the bare knuckles approach. But, I’ve also experimented with other ideas, such as a week off totally.
The best two approaches I’ve found are:

1.       Take a couple doubles or even a triple at 70% for whatever lift would be on that day.
a.       I also lessen the load on any accessory work, either not doing it, or doing bodyweight stuff to stay fresh.
b.      Working up to 70% or so allows you to maintain a semi-heavy load, without ruining your recovery that’s supposed to be happening. While, a decrease in load on accessory work allows you to work some kinks out through taking the joints through a full range and pumping some blood into the regions that may need it. A few good accessory moves are listed below this.
                        i.      Band Pull-Aparts
                        ii.      Face Pulls
                        iii.      Un-weighted Lunges
                        iv.      Back Extensions
                        v.      Reverse Hyper-Extension
                        vi.      Pushups



2.       The second method of deloading I’ve found that works well isn’t as good as the first, but still pretty decent, and that is to simply not touch a barbell. Find some dumbbells and use those for your lifts. A reduction in weight is necessary; however the sets and reps don’t necessarily need to be lessened to find desirable results. 

a.       This will do the same as the accessory work I detailed in option number one, this time without the barbell. It will increase blood flow to various parts of your body where it’s necessary in effort to recover.

I prefer option one because it allows you to maintain biomechanics necessary for the big lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift), whereas number two (heh, number two) will not.
The big idea is that it’s important to remember that deloads are there to help you recover. If you aren’t meeting that one, simple goal, then perhaps you need to look into your programming and figure it out. Hopefully this gave you some ideas on how to approach a “not so heavy” week. After all, 500 pounds is heavy, but is a lot heavier when your CNS is fried and you’re beat to hell.