Wednesday, March 30, 2016

European Weightlifting Championships Start List Features Big, Surprising Names

The 2016 European Weightlifting Championships are right around the corner, with lifting running from April 10th through April 16th in Førde, Norway (though meetings and prep begin April 8th).

It’s one of the last Olympic qualifying events where countries can earn spots in Rio, so there are enough team and points implications for most countries to send stacked rosters, even a few months before Rio’s big dance.

Info and schedules for the European Weightlifting Championships available on the European Weightlifting Federation’s site. But the most interesting info is found on the event’s tentative entry list. Highlights and lifters to watch out for below:

In the Women’s 63 kilo category, British lifter Zoe Smith has the highest listed start total at 226 kilos. The 21 year old has moved up from the 58 kilo category, in which she won a bronze medal at the European Championships in 2014. Video of her lifting from Hookgrip:

In the Women’s +75 category, Russian lifter Tatiana Kashirina is listed to start with an entry total of 290, well under her best competition total of 348 kilos (video of that total below) — these are often purposefully conservative, so expect her to do far, far more. Kashirina will be competing for an incredible SEVENTH European Championship title (she has competed and won every year since 2009 with the exception of 2013).

The men’s 85 kilo category should be a highlight, and the highest start total belongs to 34 year old Andrei Rybakou of Belarus. Rybakou is a veteran by anyone’s standard and won silver medals in both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

He still holds the snatch world record in the weight class at an astounding 187 kilos — just one kilogram below the world record in the 94 kilos class. Check it out:

The +105 men’s weight class could be an epic battle between two Georgian lifters — 22 year old Lasha Talakhadze and 31 year old Irakli Turmanidze — and Mart Seim of Estonia. As of Aleksey Lovchev’s retroactive disqualification from the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship for a banned substance, Talakhadze is the reigning World Champion in his weight class.

Seim is perhaps best known as one of the world’s premiere squatters, but his snatch and clean & jerk numbers have been climbing to levels among the world’s best in the superheavyweight category.

Check out this video of his recent 400 kg high bar back squat, straight from the Estonian superheavy’s YouTube page:

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The Full Circle of Strength Sports: An Interview with Jared Enderton

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

One Of These Kids May Win The 2032 CrossFit Games

Is D’Angelo Osorio’s 211kg Clean & Jerk Attempt a Sign of Things to Come?

Behdad Salimi Resumes Training After ACL Surgery

Don’t Miss These Important Powerlifting Dates in 2016

It’s a great year so far for powerlifting, including some World Record performances and the emergence of Blaine Sumner as one of the sport’s greats (and potential all-time greats). But there’s still plenty of lifting yet to go. To stay on top of important national, regional, and international powerlifting meets, we’ve put together some of the highlight dates below. (Text version below the graphic.)

Powerlifting Dates 2016

Powerlifting Dates 2016

(Select dates according to the IPF’s competition calendar.)

The season culminates in November with the IPF’s Powerlifting World Championships, held in Orlando, Florida. (We’re hoping it’s not 90+ degrees by then, but it’ll probably still be on the muggy side.)

Of course, in a sport with seemingly countless federations and governing bodies, it can be tough to keep things straight, and there are certainly events missing from this schedule or overlapping some of these featured dates. So while we’ve tried to highlight some of the sport’s biggest gatherings and stages, this is far from exhaustive.

So if you can’t make these but still want to check out some great lifting, visit your local powerlifting competitions (or better yet, compete!). If you’ve never seen competitive powerlifting, it’s an incredibly exciting and supportive atmosphere where PRs are celebrated like extra paychecks. And the post-match meals get pretty epic.

April 19-24: World Open, Sub-Junior, Junior & Master Equipped Bench Press Championships – IPF
April 30: Pacific Invitational – OPF
May 10-14: European Open Powerlifting Championships – EPF
May 13-15: SELL Games – IPF
May 14-21: World Open, Sub Junior, Junior & Master Bench Press Championships – IPF
May 27-29: Arnold Sports Festival, Africa – SAPF
June 19-26: IPF RAW/Classic World Powerlifting Championships – IPF
July 11-17: University Powerlifting World Cup – IPF
Aug 20: Pacific Invitational 2 – OPF
Aug 29-Sep 3: World Sub Juniors & Juniors Powerlifting Championships – IPF
Sep 23-25: Arnold Sports Festival, Europe – EPF
Oct 2-8: Masters World Powerlifting Championships – IPF
Nov 13-19: Powerlifting World Championships – IPF

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Monday, March 28, 2016

These 2 Cooking Tips Will Perk Up Your Food Prep

We all know you can’t out train a bad diet. Whether you’re a high level athlete or a desk to deadlift fitness rat who, in the words of Give ‘Em Cold Steel athlete and Australian Olympic weightlifting hopeful Pip Malone, works out just to “get ripped and sling chicks,” you’ve probably spent some time figuring out how to get the most out of your food. We know firsthand that giving up doughnuts is hard, but what’s even harder is the mind boggling monotony that comes with eating the same food day in and out, all in the names of gainz and abs.

Roasted Tomato

Roasted Tomato

With all of the diet and lifestyle hullabaloo and drastic before & after pics circling Instagram these days, it’s tempting and worthwhile to give one of these programs a shot. Going into a program like RP Strength or If It Fits Your Macros takes solid dedication, and if you’re shelling out the money for a template or a nutrition coach, you’re likely pretty committed. The future is full of Sunday prep, that elusive six pack, and tupperware refrigerator Tetris.

Alas, you are human, and if the food doesn’t taste good, you’re going to lose the six pack battle. Here are a two easy adjustments to make to your Sunday food prep ritual to bring even more flavor and deliciousness to your usual fare.  

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

1. More onion, please.

The biggest difference between the food you make and what you get in a restaurant is how flavor is developed over time, and one of the most important ingredients for developing flavor is the humble onion. Elevate your usual beef patties or chicken by adding fresh, sauteed, or caramelized onions. Fresh onions will give you a spicy bite, sauteed will give you a roasty depth, and our favorite, caramelized, will add an incomparable sweetness.

We like to caramelize big batches of onions on Sunday and then throw a spoonful or two into the week’s food to deepen flavor and add texture. Simply slice, chop, or dice a large onion and throw it into a pot with some salt and a teaspoon or two of oil. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are sweet and golden brown. Add to your morning spinach, and you’ll never never go back to plain old greens again.

Seared Beef Shank

Seared Beef Shank

2. Can I have some more Maillard?

What do the crispy crust on a seared steak, a golden brown hue on a hamburger bun, and a roasted carrot all have in common? Chemistry! Specifically the Maillard reaction, which occurs when a food’s amino acids recombine with simple sugar to create browning and flavor. That seared crust, brown bubbly spots of goodness on a carrot, and evenly colored bun is all thanks to the Maillard reaction. The thing to keep in mind is that the Maillard reaction generally only happens above 285 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you’re throwing your veggies and cubed chicken in a pan over a low heat, it’s not going to happen, and you’re going end up with bland chicken.

To get that browned flavor, add a touch of oil to a pan over medium-high heat, add your meat or veg, and then don’t touch anything. Constantly moving your food around in the hot pan will inhibit the Maillard reaction. Turn the contents of the pan over every minute or so, but resist the urge to move everything about!


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Motivate Your Training Partner with This World Record Tandem Clean & Jerk

Mondays are hard, so a little motivation can go a long way. And if you want to get your training partner hyped as well, show them this video of German superheavy weightlifters Almir Velagic and Matthias Steiner setting the tandem clean & jerk world record — a whopping 333.3 kilos (that’s somewhere north of 730 pounds for us standard unit folks).

(Note: The lift begins at around 0:57; video from Kanal von dynaglobe.)

Tandem clean & jerks take a unique combination of timing, strength, and teamwork, not to mention a bit of compromise due to different heights and limb lengths. It’s also a gutsy move all around — as the two lifters are coming out of the squat, you can see their different speeds almost result in a missed lift. When there’s 700+ pounds potentially crashing down on someone in a front rack, the margin for error in this lift is razor thin.

A little more context on the video: The profile documents Almir Velagic’s training. The Bosnian-German weightlifter came in 8th place at both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics. It’s a great video for weightlifting fans, especially those who speak German.

Almir’s partner in the record clean & jerk is a bit more well known. Matthias Steiner, of course, is famed in weightlifting circles for winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a memorable display just months after his wife’s death. A dark horse heading into the competition, Steiner pulled out a personal record clean & jerk for the ages in order to seal his victory.

If you’ve never had the goosebumps after watching someone lift weight, this video is sure to change that.

Though Steiner never matched is Beijing performance again, it’s a video and story that ranks among the best human interest segments in modern strength sport.

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Fire Breaks Out at Eleiko, But Production and Headquarters Remain Operational

Over the weekend, Swedish news outlet Hallandsposten reported a large fire broke out in an industrial area of Halmstad, destroying an Eleiko warehouse in addition to several other properties from area businesses. For awhile, it was unclear to English speaking audiences exactly how much of the famed Swedish barbell manufacturer and their operations were effected.

After speculation in online forums, company representatives have begun to shed some light on the situation. In a Weightlifting Forums post on March 26th, Eleiko USA President Rickard Blomberg (or someone posting under his name) posted that no one was injured during the fire, and the company’s manufacturing and headquarters were unaffected. The post also pointed out that Eleiko has a separate distribution center for the United States, which is located in Chicago.

Founded in 1957, Eleiko is headquarters in Halmstad, Sweden. They’re one of the world’s most recognizable fitness equipment brands, and while they’re known especially well for their Olympic barbells, Eleiko has started diversifying their offerings into everything from dumbbells and kettlebells to pull-up rigs. Since 2014, they have also served as the official equipment partner of the National Pro Grid League.

Blomberg’s attributed quote from that forum was backed up in a press release issued from Eleiko’s website, clarifying that the fire resulted in no injuries and that the company hopes any effects on consumers will be temporary and short-lived. The release also gives a contact number for the company and an email for CEO Erik Blomberg for any questions or concerns.

Beyond “short term implications on our lead times,” it’s still unclear exactly how the fire will affect Eleiko — and indeed, the world’s barbell supply — in the near future. Hallandsposten’s article quotes Gunnila Blomberg — a member of the family that primarily owns and operates Eleiko — as saying the warehouse was full of goods in preparation for shipment, which could mean extra products will need to be made to fulfill outstanding orders

As of now, the company hasn’t announced any pauses in ordering capabilities or price changes resulting from a stop in supply. We’ll keep our eyes on the situation and report back as more updates come in.

Interested in learning more about Eleiko? Check out this company video from 2013, featuring some great shots of lifts on their equipment.

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Capturing the World’s Fittest: An Interview with Photographer Preston Smith

You might not know him personally, but we can almost guarantee you’ve seen his work. In the past two years, Preston Smith has become one of the most prolific go-to photographers for competitive fitness, capturing the world’s top competitors in their most epic moments.

Preston Smith

Preston Smith. Image credit Anthony Tom/Barbell Militia.

But it’s not all glitz, glamor, and headshots. Smith’s line of work can be a dangerous one, and the best shots often come with the most risk as hundreds of pounds of weight and bodies move at high speeds on the arena floor. Shooting fitness competitions hasn’t just sharpened Preston Smith’s eye for movement; it’s given him a striking awareness of how to capture people moving through space while staying out of the line of fire.

Wodapalooza 2016 Snatch

We caught up with Preston to chat photography, CrossFit, and what he sees as the next great arena in fitness media. Read below to get the inside scoop from behind the lens, including some eye-popping samples of his recent work.

Briggs and Brigders

How did you get started in photography?

I had ADD as a kid, I had a short attention span. Doctors tried to prescribe medication but my parents were like, “Nope, he gets good grades, we can find other ways to keep him occupied.” So because of the way I’m wired, I’ve always been a very visual person. We had National Geographic subscriptions when I grew up, I love thumbing through the photos though I hated reading it. The landscape and animal photography was amazing, I was constantly looking through them to get a feel for the photos.

Alex Anderson Wodapalooza

Alex Anderson Wodapalooza

As I kid, I didn’t play any instruments, I wasn’t particularly good at drawing, I never had an artistic outlet, I just had sports. So what was a catalyst for my photography, about two years into my marriage with my wife, we got a dog, and I wanted to document how the dog grew up and have photos of that and married life. Then I got a basic D3000 Nikon with a kit lens. And because I was doing jiu jitsu at the time, I was always going to competitions. So shooting pictures for my friends and of matches, I’d load those up on social media, and I started getting good responses, people liked the content.

So a year down the road, I started taking more photos of competitions, and people offered to start paying me to shoot their matches, it just snowballed from there. I started shooting matches, got better equipment and a better camera.

Eventually I had to sit down with my wife and have a conversation to say this is something I’m good at, this is something I want to do. I had to convince her to let me drop a couple grand on photography equipment, and I finally got myself some pro equipment and jumped in to see what I could do with it.

Wodapalooza 2016

How’d you get exposed to competitive fitness beyond jiu jitsu?

When I was training in jiu jitsu really heavily, CrossFit had really started to take off, this was back in 2010 and 2011. So among the guys I trained with, one of them owned a CrossFit gym, and a bunch of guys were doing it. I wasn’t a full time athlete by any means, I had a full time job, and jiu jitsu was plenty of training for me, though I had an awareness of what it was.

Camile Leblanc-Bazinet Wodapalooza

Camile Leblanc-Bazinet Wodapalooza

Then a buddy of mine I trained with, GW, who’s one of the original founders of Kill Cliff and a very talented jiu jitsu athlete, he exposed me to the scale of CrossFit and the amount of business that was in there. I hit him up in January of 2014, and I said, “You’re sponsoring this competition up in boston, the East Coast Championship, can I shoot for you guys?”

And he was into it, I got my ticket, and the East Coast Championships were the first thing I ever shot. I got into the fitness side of photography wanting to shoot for Reebok. I thought by going to Boston, I could achieve one of my goals, which was to shoot for Reebok. I figured I could make connections there, there were a bunch of heavy hitters competing. At the time, I only knew of a few top athletes, but they were there.

Preston Smith Hurley

Sure enough, got some great pictures at that event, and I was able to find out who I needed to talk to at Reebok. I was able to pester that person for a year, and I got a gig with them! And I do mean pester.

What are some of the biggest challenges in photographing fitness competitions that people don’t expect?

The one that really comes to mind, especially now because of where competitions are going and how big they’re becoming, is access. It’s getting much more difficult to have access to the immediate floor, to get the good photos. You can shoot from the stands and get great stuff, but to shoot at Regionals, first of all you’d be shooting for one of the Tier 1 sponsors or you can only shoot with a certain size camera and lens from the stands.

That’s really becoming a challenge, getting access to the floor so you can have a better chance of getting those photos. Now access isn’t absolutely everything, but for some of the bigger competitions – Wodapalooza, the East Coast Championships — it really is a big, big factor.

How do you stay out of the way during competitions? You have weights flying everywhere, you have bodies flying everywhere, how do you avoid taking a barbell to the lens?

Photo by Preston Smith Photography

Yeah! Some events allow you to roam the floor, that’s the case at Wodapalooza, but you do have to be hyper vigilant. I’ve had a few cases where a barbell drops behind me, and I realize I need to be more careful of where I’m standing. Sometimes an athlete will run behind or try and get you out of the way. I try and avoid that, but sometimes it does end up happening.

Once you shoot a couple competitions on a regular basis, you build friendships with a lot of the athletes, you build relationships, and they get much more comfortable with you being around.

But you do have to be careful, it can be dangerous. A barbell dropping on your back or on your leg can injure you for life. It comes down to being smart and weighing the risk/reward of getting the shot.

Have you shot any other strength sports?

Yeah, the only other one I’ve shot is a strongman competition in Atlanta, and that was pretty interesting. Guys picking up the big Atlas stones and doing the heavy farmer’s carries. I would like to get into more of the Olympic lifting. That to me is fun to watch, and you see guys like Hookgrip doing a really great job.

Again, at those competitions it comes down to access, can you get a media credential to get in. That’s the main barrier to entry, but there definitely is a desire to do more of that, whether it be video or stills.

GHD Situps

Let’s talk a little about video. Where do you see fitness photography and video going over the next few years?

Look at what CrossFit HQ does. They’re almost a media company, more than anything else. You look at their partnership with Western Digital, that partnership makes sense, because they have such a massive, massive amount of storage needs, they’re doing all that live streaming on a regular basis for Regionals and the Open. If you look at where they put most of their time into Regionals, it’s video, telling those stories and keeping people engaged.

Facebook rewards people for video content, so there’s that benefit, outlets want to drive video content. People have a short attention span, and Instagram has those short clips. You get a lot of engagement from video, and companies want that.

Jeff Evans Clean and Jerk

Jeff Evans Clean and Jerk

It seems like a natural progression, how things are evolving. I shoot a lot of weddings, and I like telling those stories, and video lets you tell those stories more fully. You get that emotion, even if no words are spoken.

There’s also that learning curve. You can shoot video, but how do you do it well? How do you get the technical, post-production skill set? It’s a lot to learn, and you learn as you go. After every shoot, there’s something you realize you could have done better, or prepared better for, or planned better. But people, we have a short attention span, especially on social media. Video can capture those things and emotions in digestible portions.

For more from Preston, visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

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Here Are Some Must-Know Dates for Fitness Competition in 2016

The 2016 fitness competition season is well underway, and chances are you’ve already missed a few big highlights. (Wodapalooza in the rain? Cooler than you think.) But there’s no reason to miss another rep; schedules for the CrossFit Games (including ticket availability and volunteer registration) are available on the CrossFit Games site.

In addition, we’ve put together the handy graphic below to highlight the must-know dates (well, what we know so far — dates for events like the CrossFit Invitational have yet to be announced).

Fitness Competition Dates in 2016

Fitness Competition Dates in 2016

While the Open is behind us, Regionals tickets are slated to go live this week, and we’re less than a month away from the beginning of the Masters Qualifiers for the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games.

Volunteer registration for Regionals is well underway — to apply, head to the CrossFit Games site, locate the Volunteer widget in the right hand column, select your region, and follow the prompts from there. According to their schedule, registration to volunteer at the CrossFit Games in Carson, California will begin on April 29th.

The post-Games season will also include qualifiers for other high-profile fitness competitions, likely including Wodapalooza and the Kill Cliff East Coast Championships. While those date ranges have yet to be announced, the Granite Games has already publicized their qualifier and competition dates, which are included on the graphic above.

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