Monday, May 30, 2016

5 Olympic Weightlifting Champions Test Positive from London & Beijing

In more potentially ground-shaking weightlifting news leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Iranian outlet reports that IWF President Tamas Ajan — currently in Iran for the Fajr Grand Prix qualification event — has confirmed five recent Olympic champions have positive samples in the wake of urine retests.

The report has since been picked up on several news outlets worldwide. Last week, we found out two Russian medalists from Beijing have received bans after retests found positive samples. But Ajan has specifically noted it’s five gold medalists — four from London, one from Beijing — with newfound positive tests, which would likely lead to them being prohibited from competing in Rio (and having their Olympic gold medals stripped).

Ajan and the IWF haven’t named names just yet. We’ve assembled the full list of weightlifting gold medalists from Beijing and London below; Ajan’s statement indicates five of the below listers will lose their medals and eligibility for Rio (at least).

Stay tuned for more news as it comes.

Olympic weightlifting champions from Beijing:


Chen Xiexia, 48kg, China

Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon, 53kg, Thailand

Chen Yanqing, 58kg, China

Pak Hyon-suk, 63kg, China

Liu Chunhong, 69kg, China

Cao Lei, 75kg, China

Jang Mi-ran, +75kg, South Korea


Long Qingquan, 56kg, China

Zhang Xiangxiang, 62kg, China

Liao Hui, 69kg, China

Sa Jae-hyouk, 77kg, South Korea

Lu Yong, 85kg, China

Ilya Ilyin, 94kg, Kazakhstan

Andrei Aramnau, 105kg, Belarus

Matthias Steiner, +105kg, Germany

Olympic weightlifting champions from London:


Wang Mingjuan, 48kg, China

Zulfiya Chinshanlo, 53kg, Kazakhstan

Li Xueying, 58kg, China

Maiya Maneza, 63kg, Kazakhstan

Rim Jong-sim, 69kg, North Korea

Svetlana Podobedova, 75kg, Kazakhstan

Zhou Lulu, +75kg, China


Om Yun-chol, 56kg, North Korea

Kim Un-guk, 62kg, North Korea

Lin Qingfeng, 69kg, China

Lu Xioajun, 77kg, China

Adrian Zielinksi, 85kg, Poland

Ilya Ilyin, 94kg, Kazakhstan

Oleksiy (Aleksey) Torokhtiy, 105kg, Ukraine

Behdad Salimi, +105kg, Iran

The post 5 Olympic Weightlifting Champions Test Positive from London & Beijing appeared first on BarBend.

The Heaviest Deadlifts of All Time (Infographic)

Some people say the squat is the king of the lifts, but we’re not sure it deserves the title outright: After all, there’s something just damn impressive — and impressively simple — about picking up really heavy weight off the ground. The deadlift is one of strength’s most straightforward, measurable tests, and while the lift has some significant variations (more on that below), it all ends with the athlete picking up the heaviest possible weight. And whether you’re a powerlifter, strongman, weightlifter, or CrossFitter, a weak pull is going to set you back from the competition.

Below, we’ve assembled the heaviest deadlifts ever made in competition settings, including raw, equipped, strongman, “long bar” strongman, partial, and tire variations. We’ve also outlined how standards and rules varied for each, but no matter the specifics, there are the most impressive pulls in history — and one record has stood since 1983.

Heaviest Deadlifts of All Time

Full text of the infographic is included below.

While the deadlift seems like one of strength sport’s simplest lifts, there are several variations on picking up ridiculously heavy barbells. Different federations and sports (for example, powerlifting versus strongman) have different rules governing which equipment and pulling styles can be used.

Below, we’ve compiled the top verified, competition deadlifts for some of the most common pulling styles. In all of these styles, a weight belt is permitted. Which lift do you find most impressive?

Raw Deadlift
Icelandic strongman and powerlifter Benedikt Magnusson deadlifted 460.4 kg/1,015 lbs at the 2011 Ronnie Coleman Classic in Texas. He completed the lift without the use of straps or a specialized deadlift suit.

Equipped Deadlift
British powerlifter Andy Bolton 457.5 kg/1,009 lbs at the 2009 BPC South East Championships in England. He performed the lift with a deadlift suit (hence “equipped”) but without the use of straps or hitching.

Strongman Deadlift
In strongman, wrist straps are often allowed, which provides a much more secure grip on the barbell (and potentially reduces injury risk from using a mixed, underhand/overhand grip). Hitching the bar above the knees is also generally allowed.

Strongman Eddie Hall deadlifted 463 kg/1,020 lbs at the 2015 World Deadlift Championship on a conventional deadlift bar. Straps were allowed.

Long Bar Strongman Deadlift
Eddie Hall deadlifted 465 kg/1,025 lbs at the 2016 Arnold Classic Strongman using a specially built Rogue Elephant Barbell — longer than a conventional deadlift bar. Straps and hitching were allowed.

Partial Deadlift (18″ off floor)
Canadian powerlifter and strongman Tom Magee deadlifted 535 kg/1180 lbs from 18″ at the 1983 World’s Strongest Man competition. Straps were allowed.

Tire Deadlift
Lithuanian strongman legend Zydrunas Savickas lifted 524 kg/1155 lbs at the 2014 Arnold Classic Strongman. The tire deadlift uses truck tires instead of traditional weight plates, along with a longer barbell to accommodate them. Straps were allowed.

The post The Heaviest Deadlifts of All Time (Infographic) appeared first on BarBend.

After 255kg Clean & Jerk, Ruslan Albegov Looks Strong for Rio Superheavies

International weightlifting’s superheavyweight category has been packed with news the last couple years, from Behdad Salimi‘s knee injury to Aleksey Lovchev‘s clean & jerk World Record (and subsequent sanction for doping). So it’s been fairly easy to overlook some seriously impressive performances from the non-World Record holders still putting up huge numbers. And we’ve been all too quick to forget about the other Russian +105kg World Champion: Ruslan Albegov. But Albegov’s recent win at Russian Nationals should put to rest any doubt as to whether he’s a threat at the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

Albegov is 28 years old and still in the prime of his career, but weightlifting is very much framed around “what have you done for me lately.” So while his back-to-back world championships in 2013 and 2014 are darn impressive, Albegov wasn’t back in the spotlight until this past weekend, where he went 190, 200, 205x in the snatch and 230, 245, 255 in the clean & jerk.

His final clean & jerk is embedded below, video from All Things Gym:

The 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist looks strong and consistent in his clean & jerks, and if it weren’t for 22 year old World Champion Lasha Talakhadze, we’d call Albegov our frontrunner for Rio. And while Albegov’s 455 total is one of the largest we’ve seen in competition the past year, Talakhadze still managed a ridiculously easy looking 463 at the 2016 European Weightlifting Championships — including a European Record 212 kilogram snatch.

If Talakhadze has a good day in the snatch portion of competition, he’ll be tough to catch on the clean & jerk (though we’ve seen crazier things happen in the final session Olympic competition).

With Salimi’s return in time for Rio questionable, and Lovchev’s sanction looking like it will almost certainly be upheld, the 2016 Olympic superheavy battle could come down to Talakhadze v. Albegov for gold. Also notable is Armenia’s Gor Minasyan, who finished with a 442 total at the 2016 Europeans.

The post After 255kg Clean & Jerk, Ruslan Albegov Looks Strong for Rio Superheavies appeared first on BarBend.

Pyrros Dimas Returns to Weightlifting Platform After 12 Years

Pyross Dimas remains the most decorated weightlifter in (modern) Olympics history, and after his fourth-consecutive medal — bronze at Athens in 2004 — the legendary athlete took some well-deserved time off. Of course, that’s not to say Dimas has stepped away from weightlifting entirely, and he actively represents Greece — and lifters around the world — as an IWF Executive Board Member. But on May 29th, Dimas did something we haven’t seen him do in over a decade: Lift, on a platform, in competition.

At a Greek competition honoring famed lifting coach Yiorgos Oikonomou, Dimas snatched an easy-looking 75kg — complete with trademark side-to-side glance and head nod after lockout — and clean & jerked what looks to be something between 80 and 90 kilos (it’s a little hard to tell from the video, embedded below from Dimas’ Facebook page).

Textbook Dimas style, textbook Dimas technique, and great speed for 44 years old.

We know Dimas didn’t stop training entirely after his 2004 competition retirement, though in a recent Q&A at USA Weightlifting Nationals/Olympic Trials, the three-time Olympic Champion/three-time World Champion implied he hadn’t done much training in any form for the past year or so.

No word yet on whether Dimas expects to make competition a regular thing again, though we’d be thrilled to see him make a run at Masters competition. 

The post Pyrros Dimas Returns to Weightlifting Platform After 12 Years appeared first on BarBend.

“How Much Do You Think Baby Jesus Could Squat?” (Bonus Commentary from Chandler Smith)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

High Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Event 7 During 2016 CrossFit Regionals

If you’re looking for evidence that CrossFit HQ and Dave Castro are programing with drama and entertainment in mind, look no further than individual Event 7 from the 2016 CrossFit Regionals. Since 2014, the final event of Regionals weekend has consisted of a two movement, all out sprint designed to be quick and dirty.

Last year’s muscle up and clean ladder was certainly fun to watch and provided a few unforgettable moments, like EZ Muhammad‘s win that clinched him a spot to the Games, and Sheila Barden‘s breakdown that cost her a spot. But those moments were few in comparison to 2016.

This year’s couplet of 21 thrusters (95lb/65lb), 3 legless rope climbs, 15 thrusters, 2 legless rope climbs, 9 thrusters, and 1 legless rope climb was the stuff made of dreams…and nightmares.  We can’t remember a Regional event that was so consistently devastating and exhilarating as this year’s Event 7. The three or so minutes of thrusters and legless rope-climbs literally changed the future of countless athletes, for better or worse.

We knew Event 7 was going to go down in the history books early on, when during the Pacific Regional, Khan Porter needed to win the event in order to make a return trip to Carson. In what can only be described as an epic performance, Porter put on a jaw-dropping show. We recommend watching Porter’s entire performance, from start to finish.

About 16 hours later, Event 7 reared its ugly head for the first time. Just like the year before, EZ Muhammad needed a win in Event 7 to get his ticket to Carson. It looked like he was going to make it happen, when on his last set of rope climbs he was apparently no-repped. We’re not quite sure what happened here, as the judge is offscreen (along with EZ’s long legs), but the end result was a .6 second difference that cost Muhammad a trip to the Games.

One week later, Jeff Evans followed in Muhammad’s unfortunate footsteps, much to the dismay of the arena and the entire internet. According to the rules as they were written, we know Evan’s rep was no good. He clearly closed his legs around the rope just before his hand touched the rope. Even Evans doesn’t dispute that fact.

What is disputed, though, is the consistency of judging across the board. This “technique” seemed to occur across all Regions, but Jeff Evans simply had the head judge’s eyes on him when he was toeing the line. We watched many athletes “get away” with the same split second difference, and it took multiple slow mo replays to make Evan’s no rep clear. It is a standard that was too hard to judge in real time, and Evans was the sacrificial lamb.

Heading into Event 7 on the women’s side of the Meridian Regional, the Top 5 ladies were all but guaranteed. The battle for first place was far from decided, though, and Event 7 turned into the ultimate Dottir vs. Dottir  showdown. Annie Thorisdottir and Sara Sigmundsdottir had all but locked up 1st and 2nd place overall, and whoever beat the other would likely take the top spot. We were all focused on Sara and Annie when Samantha Briggs showed up to the party, creating an unforgettable race to the finish.

Event 7 would claim one more dream before the Meridian weekend was over. After watching his long time girlfriend Annie Thorisdottir qualify for the Games, Frederik Aegidius needed to beat Lucas Hogberg to return back to Carson. Getting to the ropes before Hogberg, Aegidius was no-repped on his first rope climb, effectively eliminating the lead he’d gained. The two kept up through the last set of thrusters when Aegidius was no-repped again, after dumping the bar too early, leaving him in 7th place overall.

The post High Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Event 7 During 2016 CrossFit Regionals appeared first on BarBend.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Attention Strongmen: (Split) Jerks Needed!

While weightlifting calls for highly specialized athletes who have narrowed their focus to just two lifts, a Strongman must be a jack of all trades, capable of a multitude of ever changing tasks. This encourages the athlete to use the style they are most comfortable with, even though it may not be the best. A jerk done correctly can take years to master and becomes even more difficult for an already adapted athlete without sufficient flexibility. When someone is “decent” at an event, it can often be difficult to convince them to change.

For decades, the push press dominated the log and axel overhead lifts. A heavy, awkward metal cylinder or two inch thick bar, both lacking any whip, make you want to be out of the rack position as quickly as possible. A push press is easier to perform and learn and requires less athleticism, and most gym guys can teach it.

Rob Kearney

105kg Strongman Competitor Rob Kearney. Photo credit: Michele Wozniak/Strongman Corp

In the late 2000’s, that trend began to change. A pair of brothers (Kevin and Kirk Nowack) with a weightlifting background had become professional Strongmen, competing across the globe in the 105kg division. Curiously (or not so much if you are a fan of efficiency) they began jerking the odd objects in the overhead lifts with great success.

As an athlete and coach, I adopted the style and started teaching my students how to properly move weight. In 2007, my client Kelly Pichone set the women’s lightweight log and axel max lifts records using the jerk. Shortly thereafter, heavyweight professional Jason Krystal set the men’s heavyweight professional log record with a split jerk. It was quickly catching on, and I was certain all athletes would become jerk masters in the near future. I was half wrong.

On May 21, America’s Rob Kearney won the Log Lift World Championships in Uzbekistan with a lift of 202.5kg — as a 105kg bodyweight athlete (his lifts from Uzbekistan are embedded below). Kearney is a master of the log split jerk, hitting 180kg for multiples in the gym.

Rob is the lightest athlete to ever hit this weight. At Strongman Corporation’s America’s Strongest Man in 2015, he edged out push presser Sean Demarinis by 4.5kg for the max log in the 105kg class and was only outdone by a few kgs by one of the best heavies (that means athletes over 105kg, for readers new to the sport). His recent championships came while competing with athletes who tip the scales in the open class, many of them over 140kg. It is be rare to see one of his heavier competitors jerk the log. The push press reigns with mass monsters.

It seems the lighter athletes feel more comfortable with the technique while the bigger guys are having a hard time adapting. At the Arnold Strongman Championships in Columbus, Ohio, the middleweight and lightweight men and women were about 50/50 on push press vs. jerk. The most successful in the log though were jerkers. When we switched to the heavies, not a jerk was to be found. Why are some athletes refusing to adapt? In my opinion it’s simple: coaching.

It took me two years of coaching before I felt competent to jerk in a contest and another year before I attempted to teach the technique. I am a quick learner and take to weight training movements easily. The jerk is complex and requires perfect timing to execute. To teach it, a good coach is a must.

CrossFit has expanded interest in the lifts — weightlifting, powerlifting, and even strongman — and increased the coaching pool. Unfortunately for the rookie Strongman, finding an experienced coach hasn’t been easy, and many feel if their lift can keep them competitive, why change? It’s especially difficult to convince a huge Strongman whose mass can send 170kg skyward with less than perfect technique. But the reason is becoming clearer with every contest: you won’t win the overhead without it if a good jerker is there.

If you are ready to switch from the push press to the jerk for strongman events like the log and axel, here are a few pointers:

  • Seek out a good USAW coach in your area and begin to learn BOTH lifts: snatch and clean & jerk. They will improve all your events and get you more comfortable moving heavy weight explosively.
  • Master the moves on the bar. When you can, snatch bodyweight and jerk more than you push press. Start experimenting with the axle, then log.
  • Experiment between the push jerk and split jerk. I find that push jerking for reps and split jerking maxes is easiest on the lungs.
  • Spend a lot of time on your flexibility. Again, this will make you a better Strongman in general. Holding an axle over your collarbone is much more taxing than letting it cradle in a proper rack position.
  • Enjoy your new personal records.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

The post Attention Strongmen: (Split) Jerks Needed! appeared first on BarBend.

Trading Money for Abs: My Journey from Corporate Banker to CrossFit Trainer

Four o’clock in the morning is an interesting time. For some, it signals the end of an epic if not precarious night. For others, it marks the beginning of a long and grueling day.

Six years ago, I was no stranger to the former. Whether I was trying to make friends with a newly found female acquaintance or finishing a bottle of whiskey with an old buddy, I was undoubtedly dreading the fact that I had to be in a suit and tie less than five hours later.

I attended the University of Pittsburgh on a full academic scholarship and graduated magna cum laude with my BSBA in finance. I interned with a reputable financial institution for two summers and had a full time job waiting for me before I even started my senior year.

If you had asked me 20 years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up, I might have said fireman, chef, or construction worker. I don’t even think I knew what a corporate banker was.

Andre Crews Before and After

(On a side note, I still don’t think most people know what a corporate banker does. The most common question I would get from new acquaintances and distant family members was, “So what branch do you work at?”)

Regardless, I was 21 years old and on my way to making more money than I knew what to do with. Aside from endless days of staring at financial statements and excel spreadsheets, I had some decent perks. Corporate expense account, travel, and high end client entertainment kept me somewhat entertained. But after the initial excitement wore off, I realized I hated my job. I looked at my colleagues and saw a bleak future. Unhappy 40 year olds whose eating and drinking habits made them look like 60 year olds with pear shaped bodies and ugly mustaches.

By 2010, I had enough and left without a backup plan. I liked drinking, so I figured why not become a certified mixologist and start bartending? I loved the high energy human interaction! Every night was a party, and I was the catalyst for a kick ass time. And I actually got into pretty decent shape. I started drinking less and doing circuit training based on the workouts the guys did for the movie “300.” But once again, after the initial excitement wore off, I found myself surrounded by colleagues and patrons whose eating and drinking habits had them on a path to pear shaped misery.

My flexible schedule and improved physique allowed me to dabble in some fitness modeling and movie background work. To name drop, I got to play a soldier in a with Will Smith movie and stand-in for a detective in a Tom Cruise movie. Pretty cool right? More like pretty boring and unfulfilling. Most days on film and photo shoots involved 30 minutes of makeup and wardrobe, 30-90 minutes of actual work, and 10-12 hours of sitting around.

Andre Crews Snatch

I enjoyed working out, so my girlfriend’s mom (now my mother-in-law) recommended I become a personal trainer. I didn’t think I would like it, as I hated working out with my out of shape friends. Ten times out of 10, I would get frustrated and annoyed with their fitness level (or lack thereof). But I decided to give it a shot and got certified through AAAI-ISMA. I started working at an LA Fitness where I made $9 per 30 minute session and made nothing if I wasn’t training clients. This was the lowest income I’d made since I was a busboy at a golf club in high school. Quite the jump from my banker days of being paid a six figure salary to do shots with corporate clients!

But one advantage of only getting paid when I had clients was that it forced me to hustle! I soon had a 40-45 hour schedule filled with clients from a wide array of fitness levels. From morbidly obese to former athletes, from retired grandmothers to SWAT team members, I got really good at programming for people with different goals and abilities. And there is an indescribably rewarding feeling when you help someone with chronic knee progress to no pain to squatting with a barbell below parallel. Income aside, I fell in love with the practice of transforming lives through health and fitness! And after six months, I reinvested in my career and became a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. I started incorporating constantly varied functional movement into my clients’ and my own programming. And we loved it!

Andre Crews Celebrating

A year later, a client referral gave me the opportunity to “upgrade” my workplace to an Equinox in Manhattan. After working my way up from a minimum wage earning floor trainer to a Tier 3+ trainer, I was making a pretty decent living while enhancing my education and knowledge base. But after a while I realized there was still something missing. In a corporate culture obsessed with image over performance, I regularly felt like a leper when encouraging my clients to lift heavy and breathe hard. Even in my own workouts people looked at me like an escaped mental patient for doing the CrossFit main site workout of the day.

In late 2014, I discovered CrossFit Union Square, and as the philosopher Plato once said (probably), shit got real! For the first time in my life, I felt at home in the gym. I could be silly or serious, climb things, drop heavy barbells, and most importantly, workout shirtless! I started seeing drastic improvements in my strength, Olympic lifting technique, gymnastic abilities, and conditioning. And did I mention I got jacked?! I was reasonably aesthetic when I did fitness modeling. But I NEVER dreamed I would look like a character from the X Men or DragonBall Z!

Anyway, a few months later, the head coach Chris Espinal offered me a part time coaching job. I leapt at the opportunity and soon started plotting how to turn this into a full time position. I wasn’t sure if any of my clients would come with me, but I didn’t leave a high paying corporate job I hated just to do the same thing in a different industry. Thankfully, I have the best clients in the world and an overwhelming amount of them agreed to make the journey to Union Square with me!

Andre Crews Marriage

Since being full time at CrossFit Union Square, I’ve become a better coach, athlete, and programmer! I also married my best friend, Sinead, and we recently added Hawley (a beautiful golden retriever) to our family. Remember when I said 4am was a dreadful time? I wake up at or before 4am everyday now. And I love it! I kiss my wife good morning, take Hawley for a walk, make breakfast, then commute into the city for work. My clients and the community of members make it a pleasure to come to work everyday!

And now I’m ready to create a community of my own a little closer to home. When I left the bank six years ago my mom openly chastised me for leaving a stable, high paying job. My friends were less vocal but many looked at me with eyes that said “What the fuck are you doing, man?”

I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew that life was too short to spend it doing something I hated. And now I know. I was put on this earth to share my journey, and motivate, challenge, and inspire as many people as possible. I have been truly fortunate to find my passion and discover a means to make a great living doing it. I am beyond thrilled and excited to start the next chapter of my journey by opening 150 Bay Fitness (which I’m actively raising money for here). No matter where you are in life or what you’re passionate about, I hope my story has given you a bit of hope and inspiration to be the best version of you possible! Thank you so much for reading.

Now get after it!

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

The post Trading Money for Abs: My Journey from Corporate Banker to CrossFit Trainer appeared first on BarBend.

Anthropology 101: A Cultural Anthropologist Walks into a Gym

Editors note: Katie Hejtmanek, Ph.D. is a cultural anthropologist conducting research on the culture of strength sports in the United States. This is the first of an in-depth series introducing readers to her research and preliminary findings. All observations, data, and photos come from her own research.

If you’re a fan of strength sports and want to look at their growth from a cultural, anthropological, and/or analytical perspective, we highly recommend this series. The articles go in-depth on Dr. Hejtmanek’s work, and they’re well worth your time.

Workout Notebook

Have you heard this one? A new play on an old joke. That’s what we cultural anthropologists do: We make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. We look for meaning in the mundane, we ask questions about everyday life, and we seek to understand why people do what they do. We analyze human behavior, not to understand individual motivations, but large, cultural patterns.

Unlike psychologists, we don’t end our analysis on why individuals do what they do, the “in here” reasons for individual behavior. No, we keep digging. We investigate what “out there” in the world supports what people (more than one) are doing, what challenges these behaviors, and why people are doing this now, as opposed to, say, before. We are interested in cultural phenomena, the shared meanings, ideas, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people, and taught and learned by members of a group. 

(Although “culture” is still hotly debated in the field of anthropology, this is a composite of many of the definitions.)


Sometimes these beliefs, ideals, and meanings are taught explicitly – mission statements, official pronouncements of a company’s “culture.” However, if you’ve taken Anthropology 101, you’d know that most of the stuff of culture is taught implicitly; it’s tacit. A cultural anthropologist’s ears perk up when she hears someone say something is “common sense,” or “natural.” Pay dirt. “Common sense” or “natural” are culturally specific beliefs and behaviors masquerading as human universals. If you decide to keep reading (here or any of my articles), you’ll see what I mean.

I am interested in the explicit culture of strength sports – how athletes talk about their sport and their motivations, how organizations brand themselves, what people are actually doing (weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, etc.), who is joining, where did they come from, and all of the other ways that strength sports and athletes make their voices heard.

For example, Union Square CrossFit and Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave each has a specific page dedicated to its Culture. Something new is always happening, and a new friend is on the other side of the platform (they claim). I wonder if this is actually true…. And it’s the job of the anthropologist to find out!


I am also interested in the implicit, the tacit. I tack between individuals and their expressed motivations for joining, say, a CrossFit box and the larger social forces in America that support this endeavor. For example, it is a new phenomenon that women are seeking out fitness activities that actively promote muscular bodies. We’ve been taught that the ideal female body is skinny. It is not “natural” or universal to idealize a skinny female body, rather it has been an American cultural ideal.

But as I read on one of my female student’s t-shirt recently: Strong is the New Skinny (also the title of book written by Jennifer Cohen and Stacey Colino, Harmony Books, 2014). And this is not just a pithy saying. Women are joining powerlifting groups, CrossFit boxes, and weightlifting clubs in droves. It is the job of the anthropologist to find out why!

What happened? How did strong become the new skinny? What are the larger forces at play to encourage this cultural shift? How do women talk about it, besides by wearing a t-shirt? Why do we have shirts that state this? As a cultural anthropologist, it’s my job to find out.


How do I find out? Well, I conduct research. We call it ethnography. Anthropologists live with a group of people and learn the cultural norms, beliefs, and meanings of the group. We listen to what people say about their culture (the emic perspective). We also notice what people don’t talk about, what is assumed, and the differences between what people say they do or believe and what they actually do or say (for example, is something new always happening!?). We then analyze what is happening, finding patterns in speech and behavior, and we interpret what the culture is about.

Kettlebell Swing

I treat strength sports in America as its own “tribe.” I join them; I hang out in gyms, boxes, and sports clubs. I talk to people, I ask them questions, and I listen for how they talk, what they talk about, and I watch what they do. I observe the athletes, trainers, coaches, spectators, family members, and enthusiasts. I don’t do this for a weekend event, or to ferret out a story in the journalistic sense. Rather, I am interested in the everyday, the mundane of strength sports.

And I am interested not just in what people say they do, but what they actually do. I am interested in making the strangeness of strength sports mundane and in making the mundane of strength sports strange. The point is to take the time to systematically analyze this unique cultural phenomenon – the surge in strength sports in the United States – and to share the findings with you. That’s what happens when a cultural anthropologist walks into a gym.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

The post Anthropology 101: A Cultural Anthropologist Walks into a Gym appeared first on BarBend.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

CrossFit Regionals Week 3: Experts Predict Top Women (& James Hobart’s Games Picks)

Some Guy Just Created an Ultimate Database for WODs

We may be a little bit biased, but there seems to be a higher percentage of awesome people in the fitness community than in everyday life. Someone is always coming out with some new piece of equipment or program designed to make our lives easier and our gainz bigger — often for free.

In the latest contribution, Reddit user chadbaud created to make sure you’re never without a workout of the day, ever again. And, he appears to have done it for no reason other than to be a nice person and solve all our problems.

With Hero WODs, Open workouts, the Girls, and over 900 additional workouts, FindAWod is just 9 days old and is already a great source for workouts. Much like the guy who created a website to help you correctly add up bumper plate weights, was originally created just because there wasn’t a better alternative. According to chadbaud’s website blurb, “ ‘Find A WOD’ is a thing. I’m not sure what it is yet, but it’s fun to make stuff. Making stuff makes you feel alive.”  

Good guy chadbaud. is being continually tweaked and updated as needed, and has already seen significant updates in the week or so since it’s been around. Recent developments include filters for movement type, length, and WOD type, as well as the ability to “save for later.” chadbaud says equipment filters are next, so whether you’re working in a rackety home gym or a massive globo gym, you’ll be able to find a WOD that fits the equipment at hand.

Our favorite feature, though, is that lists the sources for all of its workouts, so you know the workouts are legit. Invictus, CrossFit Mayhem, — it’s all there, in one place.  

Most importantly, works wonderfully — and looks beautiful — on mobile, so you will literally always have a workout on hand!

The post Some Guy Just Created an Ultimate Database for WODs appeared first on BarBend.

Strike Movement Chill Pill 2 Review: A New Athletic Standard?

Attention around movement has been growing as more people become interested in understanding the human body, health, performance, and physical expression. Many influencers of this culture — like Ido Portal — propose the idea that athletes of different disciplines have their own approach and methodologies, yet there are many similarities through the purity of movement.

We can agree that for most, feet are primarily what allow us to complete certain tasks and movements such as running, jumping, climbing, flipping, lifting etc. It’s safe to say the condition of your foot is quite important.

Chill Pill 2 Phantom

As a person who loves to participate in various disciplines of strength and fitness (excluding running), I wanted a shoe that allowed me to move freely and naturally, without much of the shoe tech. After intense Googling, I stumbled upon STR/KE MVMNT. The name itself seemed pretty straight forward. The brand is an athletic footwear and apparel company that combines performance with a casual design.

What Is Str/ke MVMNT?

Founded in 2010, Str/ke MVMNT branded itself as the “Original movement brand” with support from many athletes, trainers, and movement enthusiasts like Carl Paoli, Brian Mackenzie, and Sean Pettit, to name a few.

After spotting a 20% discount code on their Facebook page, I immediately took advantage and purchases a pair of Chill Pill 2 Phantoms. Here are the details

  • Stable Platform technology (trademarked)
  • 3.9mm heel drop
  • Wide forefoot allows foot to expand on strike (super important feature in my opinion)
  • Honed rubber inlays provide predictable all weather grip

Shoe Review

Chill Pill 2

Below are my thoughts on the Strike Movement Chill Pill 2s after several months of use — including pros and cons.

It’s rare to find a tasteful performance shoe that doesn’t scream sporty gym rat, that can be worn in multiple settings, and is unisex. The company’s Interval shoes are the “sportiest” looking but still discrete compared to some. A clever feature that I personally love in the Chill Pill is that within the tongue, there’s a little pocket to tuck your shoelaces in so they don’t get in your way or untangle. It’s the little things that can make the difference between buying a shoe once and becoming a brand’s biggest fan.

To be safe, I ordered the Chill Pill 2 Phantoms in the same size as I have with other cross trainers. At first I was worried that I ordered them a tad small, because the front of the the shoe didn’t have a solid tip or defined space. It wrapped around my toes sort of like a sock, something I have never felt from a sneaker. This could be problematic for some, however within a few days I adjusted, and I have to say they feel incredible.

Chill Pill

Comfortable, ridiculously light, and flexible. The insoles are so thin that it almost makes no sense that they could be this comfortable. The wide forefoot was the game changer for me because our toes were meant to spread and root to the ground which creates stability and balance and maintains a natural foot arc. This feature alone may increase natural stability and activation of several muscles needed for lifting.

Performance and Functionality
As a brand that celebrates motion and mobility, two things they certainly provide in my opinion, my feet never felt restricted in the Chill Pills. Their light, flexible, and breathable build managed to still provide stable support. The heel drop provides natural foot positioning and promotes forefoot striking. I can feel every step, wrap my toes around awkward surfaces and edges like stones, stairs and tree logs. I can see how this can be helpful for free runners and…ninjas?

While these will probably not replace your lifters, they are great for overall movement, and are a solid alternative for people who are interested in barefoot training and for those who don’t want to depend on a heel rise to help with squat depth. However, there are some who prefer and even need extra support from their footwear due to flat feet and other conditions that may cause pain; this may not be the shoe for them.

Strike Movement Chill Pill 2 Phantom


I have had the Chill Pill 2 Phantoms for a few months now with no significant sign of wear and tear other than the small plastic logos falling off the tongue surface. I wear them everyday for all daily and extra curricular activities, and they seem to hold up just fine for now. Although I have yet to try rope climbs.

All designs are unisex and available with both male and female sizes. While Strike Movement has many variations of the Chill Pills, the early designs are practically sold out and only available in very few small sizes. However, they do have ample availability in their latest trainers. Just recently, they have added a new line of Chill Pills with a new “Cross Platform Outsole” and other tweaks. STR/KE MVMNT footwear ranges anywhere between 69-$125 depending on the design. The Chill Pill 2 cost $95.

Strike Movement Chill Pill 2 Weights

Points Rating (Out of 5)

Fit: 4 (needs a little getting used to at first)
Style: 5
Running: 4 (running makes me tired)
Squatting: 5
Durability: 4
Cost: 4

Strike Movement Chill Pill 2

STR/KE MVMNT Chill Pill 2 Summary

Though the Chill Pills may not be for everyone — as we all have unique structures and preference regarding comfort and support — I highly recommend the brand and look forward to purchasing other designs and color options for everyday wear. We spend a lot of time on our feet, and it’s important to find a shoe that compliments the function of our foot without restricting it’s full potential. For me, Str/ke Mvmnt has delivered. 

The post Strike Movement Chill Pill 2 Review: A New Athletic Standard? appeared first on BarBend.

Developing Pre-Weightlifters: How to Build a Foundation

What sports give us the biggest advantage for weightlifting?

From 2010 to 2011 I was the coach of Innercity Weightlifting (ICW) in Boston. Our group’s mission was to help at-risk youth get away from gangs, DYS centers, and bad domestic situations. Our tool was weightlifting. We taught the snatch, clean & jerk, squats, and presses. The goal was to give these kids the strength, confidence, and discipline to walk away from all types of bad situations (or at the very least, wear them out so they’d be too damn tired to go out with their friends after training).

Yasha Kahn Innercity Weightlifting

Some kids learned quickly, others struggled with technique. Some increased their strength steadily, while others barely improved. Their rate of improvement seemed random at first, until I started asking what sports they played before starting weightlifting.

There is always carryover from past athletic experiences to how fast people are able to pick up a new sport. The attributes that kids gain from whatever sports they play stay with them forever – body-position awareness, speed, strength, work ethic, etc.

For this post, I wanted to explore which sports give people (especially young athletes) a competitive advantage in weightlifting.


Weightlifting is demanding. To be successful in weightlifting, an athlete must have strength, speed, coordination, and endurance.

At Innercity Weightlifting, we worked mostly with track athletes, baseball, basketball, soccer or football players, wrestlers, and kids who’ve never really played any sports.

The following chart shows the observations I made of the pros and cons kids had coming from different athletic backgrounds into weightlifting:

Sports vs Physical Attributes

The ones who learned technique and gained strength the quickest were the baseball players and wrestlers.

Baseball players

1) Great coordination – allowed them to pick up technique quickly.
2) Well-rounded strength – allowed them to have good control over the bar.
3) Good rigidity – allowed them to stand strong in every position.
4) Endurance was lacking – because of which they couldn’t work hard for more than an hour.
5) Flexibility wasn’t great – because of which they couldn’t get into correct weightlifting positions.


1) Good coordination – allowed them to pick up technique quickly
2) Well-rounded strength – allowed them to have good control over the bar
3) Flexibility and mobility – allowed them to get into every correct weightlifting position.
4) Great endurance – allowed them to train intensely for 2+ hours per session.
5) Poor rigidity – because of which they were unable to stop themselves and the bar quickly.


Most weightlifting coaches recommend that kids start weightlifting when they are 11-13 years old (exposure to weightlifting, not specificity). However, coaches do want to recruit kids who already have the physical and mental abilities required for weightlifting. I had the chance to ask several professional weightlifting coaches what sports they recommend kids do before going into weightlifting. Here’s what they said:

Boris Sheiko Honored coach of Kazakhstan in Weightlifting. Honored coach of Russia in Powerlifting.

1. Ball games (any) – to develop coordination and quickness.
2. Swimming – as it develops well-rounded strength throughout the body without impact.

Arnold Khalfin Soviet Union Weightlifting Champion. Professional weightlifting coach, with over 50 years of coaching experience and who has developed hundreds of ‘Masters of Sport.’

1. CrossFit – develops well-rounded athletes (as long as strength is not emphasized, and proper technique is used in everything).
2. Volleyball – builds speed, coordination, and endurance (volleyball players are the highest jumpers (power) which is very beneficial for weightlifting).

Vladimir Safonov – Professional weightlifting coach. Developed Olympic medalists and World Champions.

1. Wrestling – develops coordination, speed, strength, endurance, and mobility.
2. Gymnastics – develops coordination, speed, strength, endurance, and mobility.

Sean Waxman,  Professional weightlifting coach. Developed National Champions and world team members. Head coach of Waxman’s Gym.

1. Gymnastics – develops muscular endurance, mobility, power, a good strength-to-body-weight ratio, and kinesthetic awareness (ability to sense where the body is positioned).
2. Diving – develops mobility, power, a good strength-to-body-weight ratio, and kinesthetic awareness.

Kevin Doherty, Professional weightlifting coach. Developed National Champions and world team members. Head coach of Hassle Free Barbell.

1. Track and field – develops explosive and directional power.
2. Football – develops explosive and directional power.

5 coaches, 5 differing opinions. Some sports are better at developing the specific characteristics required for weightlifting, but every sport has something to offer.   


All of this applies to pre-weightlifters. So, how does this apply to you, the seasoned weightlifter?

Well, to become better at weightlifting, the snatch and clean & jerk are not enough. When an athlete starts weightlifting, they shouldn’t stop other physical activities all together.

In the Soviet Weightlifting System, young weightlifters devote up to 80% of their time to General Physical Preparation, playing ball games, running, jumping, and doing gymnastics. As they progress, even though they reduce the focus on general physical preparation, it still remains an important part of their training (you can read much more on that in Roadmap for Training, Part 2).

These same principles apply to adult weightlifters.

All weightlifters should use powerlifting (such as squats, pulls, presses) to get stronger, and light athletics (such as running and jumping) to get faster and more explosive.

Ilya Ilyin swims for active recovery, which helps him with mobility and endurance without adding major stresses to his body. Vasily Polovnikov runs and plays soccer for endurance and speed. I try a new physical activity or sport once a week to build coordination, speed, and to distract myself from the daily grind of training.

Playing other sports to supplement general athletic development can make you a better lifter.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

The post Developing Pre-Weightlifters: How to Build a Foundation appeared first on BarBend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

CrossFit Bans Laura Phelps-Sweatt, Disqualifies Westside Conjugate from Competition

In a post published on the Games website, CrossFit has announced that Laura Phelps-Sweatt is banned from sanctioned competition for one year. Her team — Westside Conjugate, which was scheduled to compete at this weekend’s Central Regional — is also disqualified from the upcoming competition.

An excerpt of CrossFit’s reason for the ban is quoted below:

Collection agents from Drug Free Sport, at CrossFit’s request, recently contacted Phelps-Sweatt for the purpose of conducting an out-of-competition drug test. She did not meet with agents to provide a sample. Phelps-Sweatt’s failure to submit to the drug test constitutes a violation of the CrossFit Games Drug Testing Policy and carries similar sanctions as a positive drug test.

Phelps-Sweatt is also a member of the CrossFit Powerlifting seminar staff, and it’s unclear whether her ban from official CrossFit competition will have any impact on that position.

Earlier this year, Phelps-Sweatt turned heads with her (apparently) world record time on Isabel, which is 30 snatches for time at 95 pounds. CrossFit Games mainstays like Samantha Briggs and Margaux Alvarez gave her some public props on Facebook, and the performance seemed impressive and completed with legitimate reps.

Now, her ban casts a shadow over Phelps-Sweatt’s impressive body of work in both CrossFit and powerlifting. She’s an accomplished athlete in both, though Phelps-Sweatt is perhaps better known for her work in powerlifting. A video of her 510 pound equipped bench press is embedded below:

She joins Natalie Newhart and Charis Chan as high-profile CrossFit competitors to receive a ban applying to the 2016 season.

In 2015, the CrossFit Games site published an article that referenced Phelps-Sweatt as one of Newhart’s strength coaches. 

The post CrossFit Bans Laura Phelps-Sweatt, Disqualifies Westside Conjugate from Competition appeared first on BarBend.

Can Eddie Hall Become the First Man to Deadlift 500 kg (1,100 pounds)?

In a Facebook post on May 21st, pro strongman Eddie Hall made a bold claim: At a new, heavier bodyweight and with the aid of a deadlift suit (which he’d previously never used), he would become the first human to pull 500kg in a strongman-style deadlift (with a normal length bar, straps and hitching allowed, off the ground and at standard height).

It’s a bold claim, especially since the heaviest we’ve seen Hall pull in competition was 465kg/1,025lbs at the 2016 Arnold Strongman Classic.

That lift, of course, was on Rogue’s special Elephant Bar, longer than the standard deadlift bar — which theoretically gives lifters an advantage, as the bar remains in contact with the ground for longer due to exaggerated bend. However, some fans argue the longer bar actually made it tougher for Hall, who tends to pull off the floor quickly and has a sticking point pretty high up on his thigh.

Hall has been chipping away at his own strongman-style deadlift records for years, and if anyone is positioned to close the gap between 465kg and 500kg, it’s Hall (though other pullers like Jerry Pritchett and Brain Shaw don’t look all that far behind).

We doubt we’ll see Hall make a real run at 500kg in 2016, but assuming he stays healthy for more than a year, it’s not out of the question to think he’ll get it off the ground in 2017 or beyond. But as far as full lockout, in competition? That’s the big question, though Hall insists he’s good for it (eventually).

It’s worth noting Hall’s strongman record pull is currently only 10 pounds above Benedikt Magnusson’s raw record of 1,015, set back in 2011. Magnusson pulled his unbelievable lift without the aid of a deadlift suit, straps, or hitching, and his record is actually above the equipped record set by Andy Bolton in the mid-2000s.

Magnusson’s lift is embedded below, because we just can’t get enough videos of Icelandic giants picking up heavy things.

The post Can Eddie Hall Become the First Man to Deadlift 500 kg (1,100 pounds)? appeared first on BarBend.

Zeke Grove Is Australia’s Next CrossFit Games Star

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to Watch the 2016 Russian Weightlifting Championships

If you want to watch one of the world’s top weightlifting federations hold a stacked national championships, you’re in luck: The Russian Weightlifting Championships are streaming for free on YouTube. The stream is embedded below:

The event runs from May 24th through May 29th in Vladikavkaz. According to the Russian Weightlifting Federation’s website, lifting will follow the schedule below. 156 lifters are scheduled to participate:

Tuesday, May 24th

W48kg — 12:00
M56kg — 15:00
M62kg — 18:00

Wednesday, May 25th

W53kg — 11:00
W58kg — 14:00
M69kg — 17:00

Thursday, May 26th

W63kg — 11:00
W69kg — 14:00
M77kg — 17:00

Friday, May 27th

W75kg — 11:00
W+75kg — 14:00
M85kg — 17:00

Saturday, May 28th

M94kg — 14:00
M105kg — 17:00

Sunday, May 29th

M+105kg — 12:00




The post How to Watch the 2016 Russian Weightlifting Championships appeared first on BarBend.

Report: Nadezhda Evstyukhina Tests Positive from Beijing Olympics, Banned from Rio

On May 17th, news broke that several Russian weightlifters — including reigning World Champion and clean & jerk World Record holder Aleksey Lovchev — had received competition bans between four and eight years due to positive doping tests. Around the time of that announcement, the International Olympic Committee released a statement saying they’d be retesting samples from the 2008 Beijing, 2014 Sochi, and 2012 London Olympics; any returning athletes found to have used banned substances in those samples would be barred from competition in Rio.

The IOC’s initial statement retested 454 samples and said up to 31 athletes could be banned from the 2016 Olympic Games. Now, Ren.TV is reporting 14 Russian athletes from Beijing have tested positive, including 10 medal winners — two in the sport of weightlifting. 

The weightlifters who tested positive are reportedly Marina Shainova (58kg silver medalist) and Nadezhda Evstyukhina (75kg bronze medalist). Shainova was banned by the IWF in 2013 for two years following a positive test, and it appears she’s since retired from the sport. Now, it looks like her Beijing medal will be rescinded.

Evstyukhina is still an active lifter, most recently winning the 2014 World Weightlifting Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan. (She also competed at the 2012 London Games but bombed out in the snatch.) Evstyukhina — who posts regularly on Instagram — is listed to participate in the 2016 Russian Weightlifting Championships, where the 75kg women are scheduled to lift on Friday, May 27th. It’s unclear if she’ll still compete in that competition.

It also sounds like her medal from Beijing will be rescinded, though it’s unclear what length ban she may receive as a result of the positive test.

The post Report: Nadezhda Evstyukhina Tests Positive from Beijing Olympics, Banned from Rio appeared first on BarBend.