Thursday, June 30, 2016

Why the Movie “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” Is More Important Than Ever

It’s been eight years since Chris Bell released his first feature-length film, but “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” remains the best look into the strength athlete’s temptations, challenges, and goals ever caught on film.

And while most documentaries lose their edge over time — often due to change or progress surrounding a controversial issue — Bell’s film has become arguably more potent because so little has changed. The legal framework and social taboos surrounding performance enhancing drugs have held (mostly) steadfast, and though Bell skewers both throughout the film’s 1 hour, 46 minute runtime, it’s tough to say anything has since changed in the public consciousness.

If you haven’t watch the film — or haven’t rewatched since its 2008 release — it’s well worth your time. (“Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” is available on Netflix and Amazon Video.) Bell takes viewers through his personal journey from wide-eyed child to self-doubting adult, and he doesn’t pull punches on himself when it comes to showcasing personal vulnerability.

The core story focuses on Chris and his family as they struggle to find meaning in what they love most. For Bell and brothers Mike (older) and Mark (younger), strength sports and America’s musclebound heroes are THE lens through which they observe and internalize American society. Fractures in that oiled and juiced-up facade don’t just dim their childlike admiration; each disgraced hero and celebrity scandal shakes their base perceptions of reality, and it doesn’t take much in the way of editing gimmicks to make the Bell trio (and their down-to-earth parents) sympathetic characters in the viewer’s eyes.

While the film ostensibly examines America’s relationship with performance enhancers, the Bells’ challenges are even more complex. They’re living, breathing, bench-pressing victims of the double-standard wherein we demand increasingly superhuman feats but chastise the methods that enable their existence. All three have done or are on steroids during filming. Their reasons for doing so are varied, personal, and — gasp — even logical at times. But while pro wrestlers, athletes, movie stars, and bodybuilders-turned-politicians fall from grace only to be quickly forgiven or reelected, it’s the small-town powerlifter on roids who ends up getting vilified.

“I know the governor of California loved the juice, but if the high school football coach does a cycle of winstrol, what on earth will the children think?!”

The narrative works overtime to present multiple voices and present facts — as opposed to assertions — insofar as they’re available. If anything, that attention to perspective makes the film feel a little crowded on top of itself.

But what makes “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” so timely now is how the story progressed since its 2008 release. Mark Bell built an empire on strength apparel, gear, and publishing. Chris Bell continues to make films and recently announced a new documentary about strongman competitors.  

In late 2008, Mark “Mad Dog” Bell passed away in late 2008 from a heart attack following inhalant use. Mark’s struggles with prescription drug abuse were a focus on Chris’ followup documentary in 2015, titled “Prescription Thugs.”

The Bell brothers had three very different relationships with performance enhancing drugs. And all three sought different forms of success. Compared to the effort “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” took to dispel blanket myths around PEDs, their lives illustrate how massively a one-size-fits-all opinion on doping will fail.

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7 Feats of Strength and Balance That Are As Impressive As They Are Head Scratching

Over 700 Youth Lifters Competed in Austin. Here’s What that Means for USA Weightlifting

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An Introduction to Programming for Strongman (Part 1 of 3)

Without a doubt, Strongman is the most difficult weight discipline to program correctly. There are so many variations on a theme that you can never be fully prepared for every event at any given time. The sport is also in it’s infancy with just over 15 years of regulation as an athletic contest, not just a yearly TV entertainment program. I have done athletic programming for Strongman as a stand alone sport for just over a decade now. Through trial, error and established scientific concepts, I have developed a standard template that will improve general full body strength and performance in the sport. This outline is an excellent starting point for novices and is complex enough to guide an athlete to success at the National level.

Keg Loading

The first and most important part of this series (this article) will describe the concepts behind this style of training. Understanding this approach is critical to the execution of a periodized program. In Part 2 I will show you a basic template and how to modify and tailor it to your needs. The conclusion will discuss a group events training day; this is often the most abused and misused part of an athlete’s program. I will clarify how to train events without burn out while maximizing overall performance.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

― Bruce Lee

Far too many Strongman athletes have fallen into the same trap. During their weekly programming they have a leg day, a press day, a back day; fall out from old, often less effective, bodybuilding methods. These workouts apply a large amount of stress to a part of the body at once, then ask for a week of recovery before being trained again. Many athletes do not even know there are other ways to train! Marketing of this training is strong and has been prevalent for over 30 years because it is easy to write and it “feels” effective.

Stone Loading

Feel doesn’t win gold medals though; results do. During the Cold War (1947-91) Communist countries wanted a world stage to display the physical superiority of their athletes and they used weightlifting in the Olympics to prove their prowess. Their scientists and coaches worked off the concept that “The body becomes its function.” This means that to become better at something, do it more often and you will adapt faster. Athletes were asked to squat and press daily and began walking away with more and more medals. At the peak of their Olympic superiority, some top athletes from the Eastern Bloc were doing several (4 or 5) mini sessions a day at maximum poundages.


Now these athletes had the very best in food, massage, rest and other recovery techniques to aid them. The common trainee cannot afford this much time in the gym, but the law of diminishing returns shows us that you only need to hit the sweet spot to reap the bulk of the rewards. For most athletes a single session six days a week is sufficient to reach their goals of being a successful competitor.

Now, a Strongman has a lot more to take on than a weightlifter, but the general concept is the same; become as strong as physically possible in the most efficient way. To do this we focus on the basics: squatting, pressing, and pulling. We use a variety of reps in the strength, power and endurance ranges and combine this with timed rest to put an emphasis on the focus of each session. Each session is carefully planned out and precisely followed with only quality repetitions being performed.

You will notice this program (which I’ll cover in depth in Part 2) has you doing the same things over and over again over 12 weeks. The variety is limited and for good reason; you will get better at doing these very specific things that in turn will make you stronger all around. You will also see that your time in the gym is often reduced to about an hour. Typically, this is sufficient for most athletes with an intense program such as this.

Tire Flip

To be concise, we will use the following glossary for Part 2:

Single (1): This is one quality rep performed at or near maximum. There should be no misses. This is not an attempt to hit some number you would like to see but a single heavy rep performed perfectly.

Example: Your best single on the log is 350 lbs. You must perform 5 sets of 1 today. After warming up you hit 330 two times. You know a third is not likely at that weight so you drop to 320 for the next two sets. Your coach says you are gassed but have one set remaining and take one last quality rep at 300. You worked at about 90 to 95 percent for that set and never failed.

Work Sets (WS): The only sets listed in the program are WS.

Warm Up: Perform your favorite full body warm up for about 10 minutes before training. With squats, presses and deadlifts, most people do a ton of sets on the way up. I believe in doing the minimum on the way up as to not become tired doing your WS. In a contest you often get very little warm up time. You should train to get used to this.

Example: You are squatting 5×3 today. Your work weight is 450 lbs. After a full body warm up you take a set of 5 at 225, 3 at 365, and 3 at 400. Then begin your work sets.

Press, Clean and Press, Clean: When you have a press exercise you can chose the bar, axle or log. Choose your weakest exercise or one you have in an upcoming contest. You can also work different exercises during the week, but don’t change it up too much. This program relies on consistent repetition. As the name suggests, you will only do the portion of the exercise listed. All presses are overhead; chest work is specifically noted.

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.

Images courtesy Michele Wozniak.

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Brian Shaw Out of World Deadlift Championships, Will Focus on August’s World’s Strongest Man

In an announcement posted on his YouTube channel (below), strongman competitor Brian Shaw has announced that he will no longer be competing in the upcoming World Deadlift Championships in Leeds, England, on July 9th.

In a previous video, Shaw had said his participation in the July 9th event was contingent upon the healthy birth of his first child. After Shaw and his wife welcomed a healthy baby boy earlier this month, all signs pointed to an epic Leeds showdown — Shaw included. Now, Shaw says he won’t be competing in Leeds and gives several reasons for the withdrawal.

First, competing on July 9th would cut into valuable training time for World’s Strongest Man in August, which Shaw says is the most important event on his yearly calendar.

Second, Shaw explains that, after conversations with the World Deadlift Championships organizers, he’s concerned the pre-determined weight jumps leave too much room for the competition to end in a tie. Shaw explains it best in the video (embedded below), but basically, there may come a point where the bar jumps from the mid 460s straight to 500 kilograms. 

Shaw believes 500 kilos will happen for him eventually, but not now. He believes friend and competitor Eddie Hall may be able to — and, in fact, Hall has gone on record claiming he plans on pulling the weight. But more likely than not, the tiered weight jumps would see several competitors pulling world record weights — but the same weight — only to come up short at a 500 kilogram bar.

Shaw also clarified some of his earlier statements regarding deadlift suits and strongman competition. (He’s adamantly opposed.)

We’re sad to see Shaw out of the July competition, but it’s tough to fault him given the above logic. Plus, this could help ensure a healthy Shaw at the peak of his abilities in August, which will be a sight to behold in multiple strongman disciplines.

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Drink Your Vegetables: The Best Green Superfood Powders for Athletes

For the most part, we all agree that adulting is overrated. Being an adult means paying bills, dealing with mind-numbing co-workers, and having to thwart political telemarketers. It also means that you have to take your own health into daily consideration, and do things like feed yourself properly. We’ve all had ice cream for dinner (because I’m a grown up and I can if I want to, damnit!), but we all know that performing well in and out of the gym requires actual nutrition.  To properly adult, we must eat our vegetables.

As athletes, nutrition is even more important. Instagram makes it seem like food prep with a bounty of vegetables is an easy thing, but not all of us have the luxury of a food delivery service or access to high quality produce. Luckily, it’s the 21st century. We’re living in the future! In 2016, we can drink our vegetables!

green superfood powders

These days, vegetables literally come in pouches. These dried superfood blends are a great way to get a few extra vitamins or a pre-workout boost without having to shell out $16 on a salad. However, there are so many dried superfoods on the market that it’s annoying to figure out which one will work for what purpose.

That’s what we’re here for, folks. We scoured the market to find the four best green superfoods to supplement your pre and post workout shakes, sneak into your paleo meatloaf, and even drink straight out of a glass.

Best Greens to Enhance a Paleo(ish) Diet: Vibrant Health Green Vibrance

The Paleo diet works for a lot of people, but it’s easy to use Paleo as an excuse to eat nothing but bacon and sweet potato fries. With a host of nutrients from a wide variety of certified organic vegetables, fruits, juices, and extracts, Green Vibrance claims its superfood blend will aid in digestion, immune support, bone health, and circulation.

Mixed in water, Green Vibrance tastes like a whole lot of nothing, which is actually a huge perk. Its neutral flavor means it can easily be mixed into burgers, dissolved into soups, or sprinkled on your favorite sweet potato fries without adding unpleasant flavor. We’d particularly recommend adding a packet into our Pretty Close to Perfect Protein Bars for an added nutritional boost.

green superfood powders

Best Greens for Pre-Workout: Eboost SPRUCE

For those of you looking for a pre-workout boost without the pre-wod signature tingliness, look no further than Eboost’s SPRUCE. Unlike many other superfood powders, Eboost contains 85 mg of caffeine thanks to whole coffee cherries, approximately the same as one cup of brewed coffee.

Unlike most superfood powders, Spruce doesn’t contain a laundry list of dried vegetables, which means it’s doesn’t have the signature grassy taste. Ginger root extract, stevia, and just five air or freeze dried veggies — asaparagus, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and kale — make for a lovely, bright flavor. Spruce can easily be drank on its own, but it does particularly well in a pre-wod smoothie. Add a few berries and bananas and you’ve got yourself a tasty, high carb treat to fuel your body throughout a long workout.

Best Greens to Get Your Chocolate Fix: Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw Chocolate Cacao

With so many athletes following IIFYM or RP Strength style meal plans, many people find it difficult to get in a chocolate fix without blowing your fat and carb macros for the day. Perfect Food Raw cacao flavored green superfood might be the answer to this conundrum. With less than 1 gram of sugar per packet, we were initially skeptical of a chocolate flavored green powder, but this product is delicious. Mixed with water, raw cacao trumps all of the greens’ grassiness and instead leaves a pleasant, chocolatey flavor. It’s not quite like downing a Nesquik, but for those of you who like the bitterness of dark chocolate, you’ll love this product.

Furthermore, Perfect Food Raw is USDA Organic and Non GMO verified.

green superfood powders

Best Greens for Purists: Amazing Grass Original Green Superfood

Though the Amazing Grass line of powders has a variety of flavors, the most basic, no-extra-anything-added is their Original blend. Certified Organic, Vegan, Kosher, Gluten Free, Raw, and Non GMO, Amazing Grass is the product to go to if you want all the benefits of greens and nothing else.

Flavor wise, Amazing Grass tastes as healthful as well. There is a definite grassy and earthy aftertaste that while not unpleasant, might not be best for people looking to make their healthy food taste like junk food. Paired with a great workout and a squeeze of fresh orange, Amazing Grass makes you feel like you’re vacationing at a swanky health spa.

So, give one of these superfood blends a shot. Your mind, body, and your gains will thank you!

The post Drink Your Vegetables: The Best Green Superfood Powders for Athletes appeared first on BarBend.

The Best World Record Squats from the IPF Classic Powerlifting Championships

2016 Junior World Weightlifting Championships Results

The 2016 IWF Junior Worlds are underway in Tbilisi, Georgia, and already the world’s best young weightlifters have produced some outstanding results. In the men’s 69kg category, the USA’s CJ Cummings — who, at 16, still has several years left to compete as a Junior — became the first American male to hold a world record in 46 years with his 180kg clean & jerk. Check out Cummings’ lifts and the impressive list of records he accomplished in his 6/6 performance. It’s also America’s first Junior World Championship since 2000.

(Watch the 2016 Junior Worlds Live — with a handy lifting schedule — HERE.)

The event runs through Saturday, July 2nd, and we’ll update this page regularly with the latest results and highlighted lifts.

(All numbers listed are final totals; we’ll update with full medal lists at the end of the event.)

Women’s 48kg

1. Thunya Sukcharoen (Thailand) — 194kg
2. Huihua Jiang (China) — 193kg
3. Xiaoqun Long (China) — 181kg

Women’s 53kg

1. Linglong Yu (China) — 206kg
2. Rattanaphon Pakkaratha (Thailand) — 201kg
3. Supattra Kaewkhong (Thailand) — 195kg

Women’s 58kg

1. Lingli Ou (China) — 217kg
2. Nawaporn Daengsri (Thailand) — 211kg
3. Muattar Nabieva (Uzbekistan) — 207kg

Women’s 63kg

1. Un Sim Rum (North Korea) — 240kg
2. Ana Lilia Duran Ayon (Mexico) — 216kg
3. Kiana Rose Elliott (Australia) — 204kg

Men’s 56kg

1. Witoon Mingmoon (Thailand) — 265kg
2. Rafael Patricio Ferruzola Alava (Ecuador) — 236kg
3. Yuya Senoo (Japan) — 233kg

Men’s 62kg

1. Yongxiang Mo (China) — 307kg
2. Jong Ju Pak (North Korea) — 291kg
3. Cheng Meng (China) — 288kg

Men’s 69kg

1. CJ Cummings (United States) — 317kg
2. Mitsunori Konnai (Japan) — 305kg
3. Masanori Miyamoto (Japan) — 305kg

Men’s 77kg

1. Yeison Lopez Lopez (Colombia) — 346kg
2. Viacheslav Iarkin (Russia) — 333kg
3. Brayan Santiago Rodallegas Carvajal (Colombia) — 331kg

The post 2016 Junior World Weightlifting Championships Results appeared first on BarBend.

Monday, June 27, 2016

CJ Cummings Sets New World Records, First for an American Man Since 1970

Watch the 2016 Junior World Weightlifting Championships Live!

The 2016 Junior World Championships in weightlifting are underway in Tbilisi, Georgia (“Republic of” as opposed to southern U.S. state, just to clarify). It’s an event poised to witness some big lifts from promising Juniors.

And while the 2018 Junior Worlds — recently awarded to Pyongyang, North Korea — may or may not feature a strong squad of young Americans, this year’s event most certainly does. And the remaining sessions of the event are being streamed live from Tbilisi; we’ve embedded the YouTube live stream below for easy access.

Georgia has a long history of success in weightlifting on the international stage, and Tbilisi has hosted several high profile competitions before. So far, the event seems to be running fairly smoothly, along with a decent live stream.

The schedule of lifting is below. Note that all times listed are in EST (Tbilisi is 8 hours ahead).

If you’re in the United States and want to watch, you’ll have to get up pretty early (or stay up pretty late) to see most sessions. To help, we’ve included which U.S. lifters are on the remaining schedule next to each session.

Monday, June 27th
12pm – Men’s 77kg C (Mason Groehler, Tanner Reichardt)

Tuesday, June 28th
2am – Women’s 58kg B (Erin Amos)
4am – Men’s 77kg B
7am – Women’s 58kg A
9:30am – Men’s 77kg A

Wednesday, June 29th
2am – Women’s 63kg B (Cheyenne Schenk)
4am – Men’s 85kg B (Nathan Damron, Jordan Cantrell)
7am – Women’s 63kg A
9:30am – Men’s 85kg A

Thursday, June 30th
4am – Men’s 94kg B (Tom Summa, Dylan Cooper)
7am – Women’s 69kg A
9:30am – Men’s 94kg A

Friday, July 1st
4am – Women’s 75kg B (Deirdre Lenzsch)
7am — Women’s 75kg A (Jessie Bradley)
9:30am – Men’s 105kg A (Joshua Ji)

Saturday, July 2nd
4am – Women’s +75kg A
7am – Men’s +105kg A

The post Watch the 2016 Junior World Weightlifting Championships Live! appeared first on BarBend.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

IWF Awards 2018 Junior Worlds to North Korea. Don’t Jump to Conclusions Just Yet

On June 23rd, a few days before the kickoff of the 2016 Junior World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced they had awarded the 2018 Juniors to Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

For anyone not familiar with the DPRK acronym, that’s North Korea — a nation isolated like few others on the international level, and one that the United States does not maintain diplomatic ties with. As the State Department puts rather bluntly on their website:

The United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations. The Swedish Embassy in North Korea is the U.S. protecting power and provides limited consular services to U.S. citizens.

It’s a nation rocked by repeated human rights violations, rigged elections, and a political system that uses violence and imprisonment as tools to crush opposition. A limited number of U.S. citizens do travel to North Korea every year — but an envoy of American athletes competing in Pyongyang is a rare occurrence, to say the least.

North Korea has had immense success in international weightlifting in recent years, including four medal winners at the 2012 London Olympics. That makes weightlifting — arguably — the DPRK’s most successful sport on the world stage.

The announcement has some in the international weightlifting community excited for the opportunity to expand weightlifting’s reach and exposure — while others, especially in the United States, have expressed trepidation. Does this mean the United States won’t send athletes — including a crop of promising Juniors — to the competition?

We’re still two years out from the competition, and while it’s easy to speculate on who will or won’t be represented in Pyongyang, U.S. participation hasn’t officially been counted out. For their part, USA Weightlifting has already released a statement reacting to the announcement, and it includes the following level-headed statement by USAW CEO Phil Andrews:

“USA Weightlifting admires the IWF’s ambition to place sport before politics. Together with our coaches, athletes, their parents and relevant authorities, we will evaluate US participation in the 2018 IWF Junior World Championships in Pyongyang.”

Basically: We’re not committing either way yet, this is a much bigger, multifaceted conversation, and we’re going to allow a number of groups to weigh in on the decision. Kudos to Andrews and the USAW leadership for choosing to make a calm statement quickly. It’s a statement without political rhetoric, and if the U.S. or other countries choose not to participate for moral or other reasons, Andrews has made it clear multiple voices will get a say.

And while the 2018 Junior World Championships will almost certainly make or break some international sporting precedents — especially as USA participation is concerned — it won’t be the first time the DPRK has hosted a high-level, multinational weightlifting competition.

In fact, Pyongyang played host to the 2013 Asian Cup, a competition where South Korea participated; the two countries share a heavily militarized border, not to mention some of the world’s most contentious relations for neighboring nations. The competition marked the first time since the Korean War that athletes from the South competed in an international sports even in the DPRK.

The event also marked the first time the South Korean national anthem was publicly played in the DPRK, and Kim Jong Un actually attended the women’s 63kg and 69kg competitions — where North and South Korean flags rose side-by-side during the medal ceremony.

North Korea’s complex history, international isolation, poor human rights track record, and cold relationship with it’s southern neighbor and the U.S. make it easy to jump to conclusions when an international weightlifting competition is announced for its capital city. But if the 2013 Asian Cup is any indication, there’s a possibility the 2018 Junior Worlds is not automatically destined to be a divisive, boycotted competition.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Strongman Is Getting a Movie: Chris Bell Announces “Stronger” Documentary

Strength Myths: “Weightlifting Is Bad For Your Knees”

IWF Votes on Olympic Reallocation, Redistributes Spots to These Countries

In another update from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Executive Board meetings in Tblisi, Georgia, the Olympic spots rescinded from countries with multiple doping violations have been redistributed (pending IOC approval).

In the wake of doping violations, spots for weightlifters in Rio have been removed from Azerbaijan (2), Belarus (1), Kazakhstan (2), Moldova (2), North Korea (2), Russia (2), Romania (1), and Uzbekistan (1).

The full list of countries receiving new Olympic spots is below. Notably for our American readers, no country from North America — including the U.S. — received additional spots for athletes. The IWF concentrated their efforts on awarding spots to countries that were previously underrepresented or did not have existing athlete/gender spots awarded.

Also discussed at the meeting was the location of the 2018 Junior World Championships, which ultimately were awarded the to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Pyongyang beat out other candidate host cities including Anaheim, California and Tashkent, Uzbekistan (the site of the 2016 Asian Weightlifting Championships).

Argentina — 1 woman

Chile — 1 man

Finland — 1 woman

Greece — 1 man

Guatamala — 1 man

Iraq — 1 woman

Israel — 1 man

Kenya — 1 man

Latvia — 1 woman

Morocco — 1 woman

Mauritius — 1 woman

Nauru — 1 man

Peru — 1 woman

Qatar — 1 man

Solomon Islands — 1 woman

Sri Lanka — 1 man

Sweden — 1 woman

United Arab Emirates — 1 woman

Uruguay — 1 woman

There had been some speculation among fans that one or more redistributed spots could go to USA Weightlifting; as of now, that appears very unlikely, though the IWF has not officially ruled out the possibility.

In addition, the IWF officially announced their intention to introduce an 8th women’s weight class to establish further gender parity in the sport of weightlifting.

The post IWF Votes on Olympic Reallocation, Redistributes Spots to These Countries appeared first on BarBend.

Training with Intent: CrossFit Games Rookie Tasia Percevecz

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

IWF Moves to Suspend Three Federations, Keep Suspended Lifters Out of Rio Olympics

In a statement published on their website, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has detailed a summary of their Executive Board’s actions during meetings in Tblisi, Georgia, in the days before the Junior World Weightlifting Championships. The full text of the statements can be found here, and they include multiple points and plans relating to recent doping allegations and retests from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games.

We encourage interested readers to check out the full IWF statement, but several points from the announcement are highlighted below.

Namely, the IWF has announced their intention to block provisionally suspended lifters — including Olympic champions Ilya Ilyin, Svetlana Podobedova, and Zulfiya Chinshanlo — from competing in Rio, pending IOC disqualification. From their announcement:

The IWF will take appropriate measures to make sure that the athletes potentially implicated in the reanalysis process of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games – once disqualified by the IOC – shall not participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The IWF has also rescinded Olympic qualification spots from eight countries (six previously unannounced) and proposed 1-year suspensions for the national weightlifting federations from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus:

The IWF Executive Board has decided that National Federations confirmed to have produced 3 or more Anti-Doping Rule Violations in the combined re-analysis process of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games shall be suspended for 1 year. Countries thus subject to suspension are: KAZ, RUS, BLR.

A Russian Weightlifting Federation ban is in line with comments IOC Vice President John Coates made earlier this month.

In addition, the IWF announced 2016 Olympic spots have been withdrawn from the following countries:

Azerbaijan (1 man, 1 woman)

Belarus (1 man)

Kazakhstan (1 man, 1 woman)

Moldova (2 men)

North Korea (1 man, 1 woman)

Russian (1 man, 1 woman)

Romania (1 man, this was previously announced in late 2015)

Uzbekistan (1 woman, this was previously announced in late 2015)

Right now, it’s unclear if or how rescinding these quotas could affect Olympic spots for other countries; BarBend contributor Mike Graber has written previously that doping results could impact Olympic spots for United States men (read here) and women (read here). This week, one French news outlet reported that nation’s team would received an additional men’s spot in Rio as a result of doping-related suspensions.

The post IWF Moves to Suspend Three Federations, Keep Suspended Lifters Out of Rio Olympics appeared first on BarBend.

This CrossFit Trainer Has Done 100 Hero WODs in the Past Year (and Counting)

CrossFit Trainer Jeff Yan is no newcomer to fitness, and he’s been a part of NYC’s functional fitness scene for going on ten years. Around a year ago, Yan — who trains out of CrossFit Concrete Jungle — decided to start tackling as many Hero WODs as possible.

As listed on CrossFit’s FAQ, Hero WODs are workouts named in honor of service men and women — mostly military and first responders — who gave their lives in the line of duty. The workouts are famed for tending to be particularly long, heavy, or otherwise taxing, and some — like “Murph” — have become fitness rites of passage in and of themselves.

Yan’s not the first to start working his way down the list of all Hero WODs — which number into the hundreds — but he’s certainly completed the most of anyone we’ve ever talked to. We caught up with Yan to talk about the journey, his changing motivation, and how focusing on Hero WODs as his primary workouts has impacted his fitness.

Jeff Yan

1. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing?

I’m trying to complete as many hero WODs as possible, as close to RX as possible. If I can do them all, great, but I’m aware that I might not, due to limitations in my strength, available equipment, or injury. I’m also hoping to finish them as soon as possible too, but I didn’t set any hard time frame because I wanted this to be a journey, not an obsession.

2. What inspired you to do this?

When I first started doing CrossFit around 10 years ago, because it was comparably underground, it attracted the most highly motivated fitness enthusiasts who actively sought to separate themselves from what the mainstream was doing. Nowadays, CrossFit’s popularity has skyrocketed to the point where it seems like everyone and their grandmothers are doing it, thereby raising the bar for casual fitness. Checking off these hero WODs has been a way for me to return to my CrossFit roots while staying connected to the ever-growing and ever-evolving community.

Of course, inspiration is also drawn from the namesakes themselves. Admittedly, at the beginning, for me it wasn’t about the heroes at all, but when you do enough of these workouts, you can’t forget the fact that they’re more than just a collection of movements. Each of these WODs is a commemoration to a life cut short while in the service of others. Their stories are worth learning, remembering, and honoring, and they enrich the experience.

Short answer: I originally only planned to do one Hero WOD on a whim, and it just escalated from there.

3. Which have you done so far? Which ones do you have yet to do that you’d like to tackle?

By the time this is published I’ll probably have done over a hundred. I’m looking forward to trying “Robbie.” Ones I’ve done:



























Matt 16


War Frank


































The Don































Jag 28




4. Of the Hero WOD’s you’ve done, which has been the:


Keeping in mind that I still have yet to attempt several of the heaviest workouts, “Ship” and “Walsh” were challenging for me. I expect some of the remaining WODs to exceed those two in difficulty.



Most surprising?

I was extremely frustrated with “Thompson.”

5. How do you think doing all these Hero WODs has impacted your overall fitness?

I haven’t taken any measurements, so this would be purely subjective and based off my feelings. Working at lower intensity and higher volume has probably been restorative, allowing more time for some of my nagging training injuries to gradually heal up. Unfortunately, it’s come at a cost to my maximal lifting and power, since I’ve had less time for dedicated strength work. From a body composition standpoint, I’ve stripped body fat and increased definition, according to comments from colleagues who have had to endure me being shirtless at the box.

The post This CrossFit Trainer Has Done 100 Hero WODs in the Past Year (and Counting) appeared first on BarBend.

Why I Turn to Strength Training for Comfort and Clarity

A week ago I cried. A senseless act 40 miles from my house took the life of 49 people. My home is a beach town that most families from Orlando use as their weekend retreat. Central Florida is the United States’ collective backyard. It is the place we all go to play, relax, to escape our jobs and stress, to enjoy beautiful weather and beaches.

The local news has been saturated with footage of not only the violence but with pictures and stories of the people, that for no good reason, are no longer with us. I have friends who could have been one of those faces on TV and feel grateful that they were not.

As with many of us who lift, I was bullied as a child. When I was old enough, I turned to weights to become bigger, stronger and faster. It was my solution to control the hate and anger directed my way and to not be a victim.

Strength Training

This has now given me over thirty years of weight training, with rarely a break, and for good reason. When you want to get good at something so demanding and difficult, you must develop a deep passion. This passion, when invested correctly, has dividends that you will reap, that you could not have known about before you started. Weight training has become not only my discipline but my teacher, therapist, and love.

So as I have done before in many times of stress or uncertainty, I looked inward during my training this week as a way to process the world around me and hopefully come to a clearer perspective. When you train for as long as I have, just picking up the weight sets off a series of chemicals in my brain that begin to instantly provide comfort and clarity. The decades of heavy lifting have hardened my bones, toughened my tendons and made my muscles dense. I use the vehicle of the body to help sharpen my mind and emotions.

Stone Load

I no longer attempt to lift heavy. That is a young man’s game or maybe older men with a few less miles on them. I now focus on perfect form and see each rep as a zen garden that I create and immediately try and replicate until I am exhausted and lose ability to perform them ideally. In that time the noise of the world becomes quiet and distant and outside distractions disappear.

Michael Gill

This has become trainings greatest gift; the absence of hate, pain or lies. The execution of a perfect jerk or tire flip requires the athlete to leave the noise of the world and enter a special part of the brain that exists only under a specific state of being. Developed by evolutionary processes that increased our ability to survive under life or death situations it can now be used to deal with circumstances when you are overwhelmed. To understand the power of this process and to apply it to your life will forever change you. It is why you see the same people day in and day out for years at hardcore gyms. Some of them no longer compete but push harder than those seeking the medals and adulation of the crowd.

As this new week begins, life has started to become conventional here again. Programming is back to normal on television and radio. My Twitter and Facebook have returned to the usual pictures of families, friends and political bickering. There has been no additional need to see if my friends have checked in as safe. I found no solutions to my questions about the senseless violence but I did find refuge from being reminded about it.

As the families of these people deal with their emotions in the coming weeks and years I hope some of them can find solace somehow. Often in these situations people turn to alcohol or drugs (recreational or prescription) to find escape from the pain. I wrote this in hopes that people who are having trouble coping with what their lives have given them might somehow stumble across it and try and find the peace that is found through exercise. It can heal like no other process and help to cope like nothing else.

We are America’s playground. We are Orlando strong.

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 Why I Turn to Strength Training for Comfort and Clarity appeared first on BarBend.

Every American Olympic Medalist in Weightlifting (Infographic)

The United States has a long history of success in international weightlifting, and during the mid-20th century, America was one of the most successful nations in the sport. American legends like Tommy Kono, Norb Schemansky, Charles Vinci, and Isaac Berger (to name a few) participated in and medaled at multiple consecutive Olympic Games. In fact, Schemansky (whose accomplishments you can read more about here) was the first person to medal in weightlifting in four separate Olympic Games — a feat which he accomplished despite missing the 1956 Games due to injury.

While women’s weightlifting didn’t become an official Olympic sport until 2000, U.S. female lifters also have a long history of success. American Karyn Marshall — who would later become the first woman to clean & jerk 300 pounds in competition — won the heavyweight category at the 1987 Women’s World Weightlifting Championships, the first year the competition was held. At the 2000 Sydney Games, American Tara Nott became the first-ever female Olympic Champion in weightlifting after finishing first overall in the 48kg weight class.

Despite America’s previous success in weightlifting, the past few decades have seen a noticeable and significant dropoff in US performances on weightlifting’s biggest stages. The United States failed to medal in either men’s or women’s categories at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Games. The last American men to medal at the Olympics did so in 1984, the year the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games.

Below, we’ve listed every Olympic medal in weightlifting the United States has won during the modern Olympic era. With a promising crop of Youth and Junior lifters — and increased visibility, popularity, and membership — the future is looking up for USA Weightlifting and American weightlifters in general. But there’s still plenty of work to do before the country is back to its mid-century form.

American Olympic Weightlifting Medalists

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Sharing & Performance: Why the Strength Community Is Obsessed with Instagram

Monday, June 20, 2016

How Mr. Royal H. Burpee Invented the Most Despised Movement in Fitness

You know those times when you’re just going through life happy, bouncing along to the theme song you’ve made up in your head, when all of a sudden some jerk comes along and accidentally ruins your day?

Like the guy who invented bubble gum, for example. He invented this great thing and never thought that one day, other jerks would spit it out on the street, and then some poor human would step in it, and then step in poop, and then be stuck with a gum/poop sandwich on their shoe. The bubblegum inventor becomes a jerk by default, just for inventing something that lead to the gum/poop sandwich.

This is how I feel about the burpee, and the burpee’s inventor, Mr. Royal H. Burpee. I’ll be cruising along in a workout, not a care in the world, and then Mr. Burpee’s sadistic invention comes along. It’s pretty much the equivalent of fitness gum/poop.

It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t his intention. He’s still kind of a jerk. A burpee jerk.


Much like when Christmas Abbott named her bulldog Fran in order to come to love the workout “Fran,” I decided I should get to know Mr. Burpee a little better before continuing to curse his name throughout workouts. He was probably a lovely person, after all.

Burpee created the burpee in 1939 while a student at Columbia Teacher’s College, as part of his PhD thesis in Applied Physiology. Burpee’s burpee, though, hardly resembles the burpee and burpee variations we see in the average CrossFit class. We are conditioned to squat down into the prone position, complete a full push up — often with a hand release requirement — and then stand up and jump to touch a target or to clap our hands above our head. Movement standards, they say!

Burpee’s original movement standards, though, were what we now consider a “scaled” version of the burpee. Burpee’s invention included the same squat to prone position, but did not require a push up or a jump to target. Instead, you hopped into the prone position, hopped right back to the squat, stood straight up, and repeated the process.

Burpee History

The burpee was initially used to calculate the fitness level of non-athletic, average people. During his tenure as the executive director at the New York City YMCA, Burpee was looking for a way to measure new members’ fitness levels. According to Burpee, his movement tested the heart’s ability to pump blood to the entire body, while the body itself was moving through horizontal and vertical planes. Measure the speed and repetitions completed during certain period of time, and you have a solid benchmark for general physical fitness.

Soon after Burpee published his thesis, the U.S. entered World War II. The army needed a way of measuring new recruits fitness levels, as the current crop of recruits were, as a February 1944 issue of Popular Science claims, a “sad commentary on the machine age, easy schooling, easy living. They’re softies, compared to their fathers of a generation ago.” So, they adopted the burpee to combat these “softies.”


At the time, a good recruit was expected to perform 12 burpees in 20 seconds. Any less than 8 was considered poor, any more than 13 considered excellent. By 1946, recruits were expected to perform burpees for a full one minute.

Mr. Royal H. Burpee never even intended for his movements to be done at this intensity. In his 1946 revised edition, Burpee indicated that the “military modification is strenuous” and believed that repetitive movement could be bad for the knees or back, especially for anyone lacking core strength.

What is unclear, though, is at what point the push up and jump snuck in and redefined the burpee. As we all know after completing 7 minutes of burpees during Open workout 12.1, hitting those standards makes the movement ten times worse. Therefore, I shall shift my “jerk” mutterings from Mr. Burpee himself, to whatever bastard threw in that push up and jump. Thanks for making me fitter…(jerk).

The post How Mr. Royal H. Burpee Invented the Most Despised Movement in Fitness appeared first on BarBend.

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Get Stronger Single-Handedly: Starting with the Strongman Circus Dumbbell

Weightlifters are the kings of the overhead lifts. A lifetime dedicated to moving a barbell from floor to overhead looks effortless through perfect technique and practice. It becomes second nature to the athlete, just like walking down the street.

This highly specialized skill is performed with the barbell; often one that is perfectly balanced and designed to work with the energy of the lifter. Elite lifters often only work with the bar. Dumbbells, machines and kettlebells are often left in the corner to gather dust.

I find that to be a shame because excitement about a new challenge can often reinvigorate stale training. I spoke in my last article about adding in strongman exercises to improve your weightlifting. Today I’ll introduce you to one that has not only physical benefits but can add a great bit of fun to your training. Without further ado may I present to you, the Circus Dumbbell or CDB for short.

A comically exaggerated piece of equipment, the CDB gets it’s name from where it was born; the traveling Vaudeville and circus shows of the turn of the century. The promoters understood the power of visual impact. A traditional dumbbell is too compact to be impressive from the stands, so they blew up the ends and widened the handle. The ringmaster would pull an Average Joe from the audience and he would struggle to pick it up from the ground. The Strongman, draped in a Leopard skin (that he killed with his bare hands), would then effortlessly lift the bell from the ground and jerk or bent press it over his head.

Fast forward to today, where the event is a staple of Strongman contests and an excellent way to develop shoulder stability in the overhead position. While it can be performed with a standard gym dumbbell, plate loaded models are offered by nearly every equipment manufacturer and the awkward size makes a huge difference in the way the implement feels. You will quickly notice how the deltoids, triceps and scapula feel overloaded at the rack and the top of the lift. You may even be able to lift more than 50 percent of your  two handed maximum with just one arm. This will obviously translate to better overhead lockouts.

Circus Dumbbell

Start with a CDB that you know you can control. Most of them unloaded weight 50 to 75 pounds and provide a good jumping off point. Don’t increase the weight until you can perform an easy 5 reps with each arm. Stand over the implement with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend down at the hips with soft knees like you are performing a Romanian Deadlift. Grab the CDB with two hands. You are allowed to perform the clean with both hands but before you start the press you must have only one hand on the Bell.

Circus Dumbbell

The rack position for the CDB can be slightly tricky. Place the head of the bell on the back of your shoulder behind your head. Point your elbow up. The top head of the dumbbell will  be close to the eleven o’clock position.  There is a bit of “feel” needed here to find your balance point. It will vary from lifter to lifter.

Before you begin your dip it is important to remember to have only one hand on the CDB. Your other hand should be completely free of the weight. Most athletes will have the non-pressing arm straight out to the side as to balance your uneven position.  At this point, I will describe the lift from the dumbbell loaded in the right hand.

Circus Dumbbell

You will begin your dip with your feet planted in the same way you would for a traditional jerk. Begin your dip slowly by pushing your hips back, but, instead of going straight down you will load your left hip with 60% or more of the weight as you go down. This will allow you to keep the CDB closer to your center of gravity. This movement should also be performed slightly slower than you would with a traditional jerk. The weight in much more difficult to control and a quick down will cause the bell to be difficult to control.

In traditional weightlifting the plates on the ends of the bar will cause bar bend (or whip) that will aid you in the jerk. This is not true in this movement. Coming quickly from the rack to reversing the dip will make you unstable. Often, You will see a Strongman pause at the bottom of the dip then begin the jerk. This allows the CDB to remain level and not tip when the “up” is started.


When stable, begin your jerk. Come straight up with violent force and begin to extend your pressing arm. Your left leg will stay in it’s current position but your right leg should move slightly out and forward. This allows you to slide your hip under the dumbbell for the catch at the top. It is imperative that your press the CDB straight up. Most beginners will have control issues and the bell will commonly float out to the side of the body. You will instantly lose control of the weight and it will be impossible to correct (and maybe even a bit dangerous).

Circus Dumbbell

When your arm is locked out securely overhead you must demonstrate control and bring your your feet together as you would on the Jerk. In a contest you would receive a down signal to then deliver the CDB to the floor. DO NOT DROP THIS WEIGHT. A number of things can happen if you do, including breaking the weight or it taking a funny hop and crashing into you or anything nearby. This implement can break an ankle like a twig so please treat it with respect.

Before lowering the weight, widen your stance slightly. Push the weight slightly forward and momentum will begin to pull it to the ground. Use your balance hand to help guide it down between your feet. You should only be controlling direction and balance; attempting to land the bell flat and controlled. As the weight makes contact with the ground make certain your feet and fingers are free and clear of any damage. (If something goes wrong at any point with this lift, let go of the object and move quickly away. Allow for a bounce or ricochet and yell CLEAR! to make others aware.)

Now that you understand the basics this movement can be a supplement to your current program or a fun side project. The visual impact will impress friends and family while adding to your stability and balance. As always, have fun and enjoy your training!

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.

All images courtesy of Michele Wozniak, Strongman Corporation.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Farce of Drug Retesting in Olympic Weightlifting

On Wednesday of this week, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced athletes from the 2012 Olympics who have failed a re-analysis of their drug test from that competition. In the past month, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that “reanalysis of the ‘A’ samples from 23 athletes in five sports who competed at the Olympic Games in London 2012, as well as 31 athletes in six sports who competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008have returned Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs).”

In layman’s terms: they went back and re-tested urine and/or blood samples of the athletes who were drug tested at two previous iterations of the Olympic Games. Utilizing new technology, they were able to determine that there were Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in the samples of some athletes that were previously not found.

Most who read this article will probably agree utilizing PEDs to cheat towards victory is wrong. I share that belief, and believe more testing and more stringent testing of athletes from every country is needed to help solve the problem. However, I also believe it is naive to think that if the IOC, WADA, and the IWF are going to have a plethora of failed drug tests less than two months before the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games, that is not fixing the problem. At the bare minimum, it is grandstanding, an attempt to make up for years of not being seen as accountable to the equality of all athletes. Without transparency of these organizations and their leadership, we can only take guesses as to what is really happening behind the scenes.

I contacted the IWF, WADA, and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for comments about the re-testing. The IWF and WADA never replied to my request, however the IWF did publish a statement on their website regarding the reanalysis. USADA directed me to a story that the Associated Press recently published about the testing system as a whole to gain a better understanding of how it works. However, they said they could not provide commentary about the strategic initiatives behind certain policy and advised me to contact WADA.

At the end of the day, I believe it is the system as a whole that is flawed and needs revamping, not a parade of athletes who are retroactively labeled as cheaters.

What Is the Current System for Testing?

The Associated Press recently released a fairly comprehensive story on how the current drug testing system works. At the end of an Olympics, IOC testers have over 5,000 urine samples for testing. They are divided into A and B samples, where the A sample from an athlete is what is tested. The B sample is used to confirm or deny if the A sample tests positive for a banned substance.

The initial tests occur in the Olympic city. Due to the huge number of samples and tests that need to be conducted, not every sample is tested for all possible drugs. The testers will estimate which athletes are more likely to use certain drugs and run the according tests. The remaining urine tests are placed into a refrigerated cargo container, which will be flown to Lausanne, Switzerland (where the IOC anti-doping laboratory resides). The samples are stored in a large vault, in a locked freezer at either minus 20 or minus 80 Celsius.

Under the updated WADA code of 2015, the IOC can hold the samples for 10 years and can retest them at any time in that decade. The previous statute of limitations was eight years. The rationalization for an extended window is that it gives scientists more time to identify new drugs, then develop new tests to identify these drugs. More time allows the scientists’ time to develop more sensitive tests for the residue of known drugs that are found in urine samples.

As per the The Associated Press article, “Chain of custody” is an integral part of the this process:

…every time the bottles change hands, or locations, forms must be filled out to acknowledge who has been in contact with the bottles. A missing link in that process can invalidate a positive test.

I believe it is possible for every change of possession to be documented, however I also believe it would be easy to forge the document, or it would be easy to pay off a scientist or researcher to switch out samples or just accidentally lose one sample in a collection of thousands. In the past, there have been athletes who have failed an A sample, only for there to be an issue with the “chain of custody,” and due to a loophole, they were cleared of any doping violation.

Drugs Are Everywhere

There are over 25,000 members of USA Weightlifting and easily millions of people around the world participate in strength training in some capacity. The only person who I can say that is completely free of PEDs, without a doubt, is myself. Everyone else, I have no idea. Even without PEDs, I still took several supplements today including Minoxidil, a multi-vitamin, and a protein shake after I worked out. Forbes Magazine says that the supplement industry globally has revenue of over $30 billion dollars annually. Needless to say, that is big business.

This week I had the chance to talk on the phone about the Olympic Re-testing with Dane Miller, who happens to hold dual roles as the coach of the Garage Strength Weightlifting Team, and as a founder of the Earth Fed Muscle supplement company. I started the conversation by asking him his thoughts on drug testing, specifically as it deals with his daily duties as a supplement maker:

“We are actively involved in every step of the way from creating a recipe to working in the lab, we do an extremely good job at quality control because it is important to us. Our product is clean and we have over 30 athletes who have been tested by WADA or USADA to prove it.”

Miller’s athletes are incentivized for setting national records, winning championships, and qualifying for world teams. When asked if he felt incentivizing athletes (monetarily or otherwise) added a level of pressure for athletes to cheat, he said, “Our incentivization is nothing compared to what USAW has been able to provide athletes, it has improved over the last three years and will continue to improve. With that, USADA provides a check system for athletes to be tested for drugs. After the Houston competition (2015 World Championships) – WADA has been pressured to rise to the level of USADA with international testing. Today international drug testing is poorly run and has too many inefficiencies for the system to work.”

Follow the Money

One of the key discussion points with re-testing today is that the money has not always been present to have the technology needed to keep up with the drugs. The current IWF policy is that if an athlete fails a WADA drug test at an IWF event, that athlete’s federation pays a fine of $5,000. If that federation has three or more failed drug tests in a calendar year, then the penalties become more severe — or the federation is suspended from international competition for up to 4 years:


These monetary penalties are in addition to the $5,000 fine per athlete (meaning a federation would owe $65,000 if 3 athletes fail a WADA drug test at an IWF event in 1 calendar year). This does not include drug tests done by the countries themselves, such as USADA in the USA or CCES in Canada.

Drug tests done in-house that catch athletes cheating have to be more cost effective, when you think about some of these penalties. For example, take the United States: When USADA catches an athlete who has tested positive for a banned substance, the only penalty is to the athlete. The athlete will receive a loss or their result from the competition, along with a definitive suspension from competition. However, the federation is not penalized other than they cannot use the athlete in international competition. There is no financial penalty to the federation if they catch their own athletes testing positive for a banned substance. This is money that can be reinvested into the athletes or into the federation as a whole.

IWF Fines

In the eight years between 2008 and 2015, 417 weightlifters were caught and punished by WADA for using a banned substance. That alone is almost $2.1 million dollars in penalty fees. When you add the penalty for 3+ athletes in a calendar year by a federation, that adds another $5.7 million dollars (assuming all fines were paid). Based on my calculations from weightlifting alone, that would mean over $7.8 million dollars were levied by the IWF in fines between 2008 and 2015.

If you are curious how this 8 year history breaks down by country (which countries are the worst offenders), the top 10 may surprise you:

Country Breakdown

Bulgaria, which had 11 athletes sanctioned in 2015, has been handed the highest amount of penalties since 2008 by almost $400,000. The Bulgarians are instead taking a ban, and the IWF eliminated Bulgaria from the ranking list and recalculated all scores towards the Olympics accordingly, as if Bulgarian athletes had not been present at all in the 2014 World Championships. In 4th place is Greece, which had 11 athletes test positive as well back in 2008. The big difference between Greece and Bulgaria or Kazakhstan is that they have apparently not been able to rebound from this. At the 2015 World Championships (as of June 11th, 2016), Kazakhstan had a champion in the 77KG weight class in Nijat Rahimov. Greece did not even send a team to this event that would help determine 2016 Olympic qualification and spots.

This approach to calculating the money that has been collected may even be a conservative number. In my conversation earlier this month with Dragomir Cioroslan, a Director of International Strategies and Development with the USOC, and former Vice President within the IWF, he estimated numbers are as high as over $13 million dollars in this time period.

This begs the question, where did the money go?

The IWF is in charge of collecting the money on penalties distributed from failed drug tests in international Olympic Weightlifting events. I emailed the IWF for commentary on this process several weeks before finishing this article, and they have not responded. I am guessing part of the money is utilized towards paying the costs associated with the tests themselves, however I do not have a definitive answer.

On the record, this money did not go to WADA. In their 2014 annual report, WADA collected over $26 million in revenue. Half of which came from the IOC, the other half came from governments. Canada, the home of WADA, gave close to $10 million with the requirement they keep jobs in the country.

Meanwhile, the IWF financials are not posted online. By not posting any financial information online, the IWF does not inform us where the money is being utilized that was paid for failed drug test. Maybe it is going to help underfunded countries or athletes, but I do not know anything definitive.

How Can the Playing Field Be Leveled?

In my discussions with Coach Miller, we both feel the best way to vet out potential cheating is through greater levels of transparency. All testing should be done by blood, not urine, at significant international events. Blood is harder to hide unapproved substances in.

Finances need to take a back seat to transparency, as I believe the money to improve testing protocols is there. The money needs to be spent on more athletes being tested, the top 10 or 15, and all at the same time. Money should be invested in the personnel who conduct the tests, so the potential for bribery is limited or voided all together. There should be more testing officials present, from multiple countries, to ease out any bias that may exist. And finally, the testing should be done in view of representatives from other countries.

Just like everyone else, I wish to see a day when international weightlifting is based solely on the strongest and fastest athletes. However, until political factors, money, greed, and corruption are neutralized, that is still just a wish. Tougher regulation needs to be set in place to catch cheating, and it needs to be enforced from by the leadership of the sports world — the IOC, WADA, and the IWF. While the United States is pressing the issue and we have had athletes fail drug tests administered by USADA and WADA, this is a world matter, and the world community as a whole needs to step up and say “we have had enough.” Until that happens, penalizing athletes eight years after the fact is just a farce.

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.

Featured image: Ilya Ilyin’s Instagram

The post The Farce of Drug Retesting in Olympic Weightlifting appeared first on BarBend.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Upcoming “WEIGHT” Documentary Is About More than Just Powerlifting

Weight Documentary

Weight is a powerlifting documentary, but Weight is not about powerlifting.

Sure, there are lots of big lifts, training tips to be learned, and and burly red faced men. But much like Sideways, where wine country provides the necessary backdrop for character development, or Gravity, where the bleak nothingness of outer space is the only real supporting actor, powerlifting serves primarily as the framework to tell the story of South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club founders Paulie and Becca Steinman.

But Weight is not a fictional tale. What happened to Paulie and Becca during the 86 minute film actually happened to them in real life. Filmmaker Andrew Fillippone Jr., who was initially trying to make a documentary about the culture of the bench press, just happened to get in touch with Paulie and Becca during a particularly rough time in their lives. For whatever reason, perhaps just to distract themselves from the crappy situation, Paulie and Becca agreed to let Fillippone turn on his camera and capture the day to day.

The story, as you know it, is that Paulie and Becca were running a screen printing shop in Red Hook when they decided to close the printing shop and open a gym. They had unintentionally acquired clients over the years, so why not turn casual training into a big boy business? Find a space, sign the lease, open an old school gym with old school weights…profit.

The story, as we learn during Weight, bears little resemblance to that timeline. The facts are the same, but the decisions that lead to the opening and operation of SBWC came out of a dreadful and deeply personal situation.

Weight Documentary

I know I’m being intentionally vague about what actually happens in the film, but the best way to enjoy Weight is to stay in the dark until Fillippone starts showing you the light. Fillippone’s story arc is so subtle, that when the good stuff actually starts happening, you’re not entirely sure what you’re watching.

There’s sort of a “does not compute” reaction that happens about 15 minutes into the film, where your brain doesn’t quite understand how these two people, who you know are good people, got themselves into this situation. Fifteen minutes later, you’ve drawn parallels between your life and theirs, and the question becomes: how in the hell did they manage to get out of this mess? How in the hell am I going to get out of my mess?

The glaring, obvious metaphor has to be drawn: when the weight of your decisions rests literally and figuratively on your shoulders, there are only three options — let it pin you to the ground, bail, or get out of the hole and stand up. In the year’s worth of footage condensed down into an hour and a half, we see Paulie and Becca take all three routes. The romantic notion of digging yourself out of a hole does not always apply. Many times, you have to admit defeat and bail.

In those moments, there’s only one thing to keep in mind. As Paulie says, “Try not to think too much. There’s always another squat. You’re going to do thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of squats. Just do one, and work it through. Take a minute, and try it again.”

Watch the full trailer below.

Weight is distributed by First Run Features and will be available on DVD and on iTunes on July 12. 

Cover photo by Shaun Roberts.

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