Monday, October 31, 2016

How Coffee Naturally Boosts Your Workout Performance

Andrey Malanichev Squats 1,069 Pounds for a New World Record (in Wraps)

Russian powerlifter Andrey Malanichev is arguably one of the greatest athletes his sport has ever seen. Malanichev generally competes raw with wraps and in federations that utilize a monolift rack, so while his accomplishments are difficult to compare directly to those of IPF lifters like Ray Williams, it’s easy to see Malanichev is clearly one of the world’s strongest men.

Heading into the BigDogs Pro this past weekend in Australia, Malanichev held the WRPF World Record raw squat with 1,058 pounds and the total world record with 2,502 pounds. And while other top names struggled a bit at the Big Dogs meet, Malanichev was in fine form, building on his own massive numbers to increase both his records and take home first place.

First, he hit a massive 485kg/1,069 pound squat to establish a new best mark. Video embedded below.

Another angle of the record lift is embedded below.

The big Russian followed that up with a relatively conservative 255kg/562 pound bench press and then pulled 400kg/880 pounds in the deadlift to set a new World Record total at 1140kg/2,513 pounds.

Malanichev made eight lifts on the day, missing only his first bench press attempt at 240kg.

Malanichev absolutely demolished the competition and ended over 90 kilograms ahead of his next closest competitor. American Shawn Doyle — relatively unknown to many due to his lack of social media presence and reserved demeanor — finished in second place with a 1047.5kg total.

Chad Wesley Smith finished in third place with a 1,030kg total.

The post Andrey Malanichev Squats 1,069 Pounds for a New World Record (in Wraps) appeared first on BarBend.

Samantha Coleman Deadlifts 600 Pounds, Joins Handful of Women to Do So

Going Old School: Inside the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongman Banquet

On Saturday, October 29th, I attended the 33rd annual reunion dinner for the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongman (AOBS) at the Marriott Hotel on the grounds of the Newark/Liberty Airport. This was my third year in a row attending the event, however I was joined by first time attendees Nick English (a BarBend writer) and David Tao (BarBend’s co-founder), strength sports enthusiasts who I had convinced to check this event off their bucket list.


The AOBS is a group of people, very similar to Nick, David, and myself. They have an appreciation for strength, fitness, and training. Whether their favorite sport is Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, or Strongman, everyone has an appreciation and mutual respect for the hard work that goes into that sport. More recently, functional fitness has become a craze the world over; if that is your sport, you also would be welcome, because that takes a lot of hard work and training to have success as well.

Strongman Clubs

Shane Herzog performing with strongman clubs at pre-dinner demonstrations

The main portion of the event was a dinner and awards ceremony that honored two men for their lifetime achievements in strength sports. This year the honorees were legendary Strength Coach and 2004 USA Olympic Weightlifting Coach Gayle Hatch and boxing legend Evander Holyfield, the Cruiserweight and Five-time Heavyweight Champion of the world.

Prior to the reception, there were demonstrations performed by stars of oldetime strength. The master of ceremonies for this spectacle of strength was Chris Rider of Coney Island Strongman; he is an internationally-known performing strongman who holds world records in license plate, phonebook, & tennis ball tearing. Other performers came from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

Oldetime strength consists of many exhibits that originated in tourist resort areas, such as Coney Island or the Jersey shore. These events included:

  • Tearing a deck of playing cards in half
  • Tearing a phone book in half
  • Bending a horseshoe
  • Bending an American penny (which is thicker than a Canadian penny)
  • Bending a 10 inch wrench into a bracelet
  • Twirling clubs and sledgehammers with their wrists

I was fortunate to talk with Professional Strongman Sonny Barry, who at 71 years old bent a 10 inch wrench into a bracelet in less than two minutes. He informed me that a lot of the work is performed with your hands, wrists, and forearms; if you do not practice the exercises regularly, you are going to lose the ability. At his age, he is still bending iron several times a week.

The main portion of the evening consisted of the awards ceremony. Artie Dreshler, AOBS President and former World Record holder in the press, presented Coach Gayle Hatch. Coach Hatch is a pioneer in the world of Collegiate and Professional Strength Coaching. His weightlifters have represented the USA on three Olympic Teams and 12 World Championship teams.

In collegiate football, his protégés have helped produce 8 BCS National Championships football teams. He is a member of multiple Halls of Fame, including the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame, USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame, and the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. Over his career, he has been a leading advocate for the abolition of drug use in the sport of Weightlifting in the US – and he got results.

Evander Holyfield introduced by AOBS President Artie Drechsler

The second honoree of the evening was Five Time Boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield. His presenter was Tim Hallmark, Holyfield’s long time strength and conditioning trainer. During Holyfield’s prestigious career in the ring, he won a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California. In 1986 he became the World Boxing Association (WBA) Cruiserweight World Champion, then moved up to heavyweight in 1988.

Most people do not know that he credits much of his outstanding success in boxing, and his amazing longevity in the sport, to weight training. He was an active competing professional up until a few years ago, and well into his 40s. Weight training was a frowned upon activity by many uninformed boxing trainers. However, the evidence Evander amassed may well help to turn the tide in boxing.


Honoree Gayle Hatch with renowned weightlifting coach, administrator, photographer, and announcer Denis Reno

The evening was finished off with another exhibit of strongman displays. A platform was set up in the rear of the ball room, and athletes took turns with feats of strength, different than what had been performed earlier in the day.

Strongman Steven Weiner performs a “Frankenstein Lift” with over 700 pounds

Coach Hatch had brought some of the athletes he coaches in strongman and they performed log presses, farmer’s carries, and deadlifts. A group of longtime strongmen from Eastern Pennsylvania proceeded to take the festivities to another level. They wheeled out car engines, large stones and even fire hydrants and proceeded to lift them up and show off their strength.

Weiner performs a one-handed lift with a fellow strength enthusiast across his back

Needless to say, if you are a strength enthusiast, this is an event you need to attend next year.

The post Going Old School: Inside the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongman Banquet appeared first on BarBend.

Programming Corrective Exercise in Weightlifting and Functional Fitness: A Coach’s Perspective

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fight Bad Driving Posture with This Car Mobility Routine

Disclaimer: Always prioritize the safety of the road and follow all local laws related to driving. These exercises are intended to be performed prior to driving as well as at the conclusion of a trip, not while the car is on, in motion, or in traffic.

Do you commute by car?

Then chances are you are doing your body some harm.

In working with clients who commute by car, we always ensure a bit of extra prep work based on the crushing effects of sitting in a vehicle, such as tight hip flexors, rounded forward shoulders, low backs, and neck stress.

Any trip over 45 minutes should warrant a break, if possible, to get your body moving and healthy.

The one piece of advice I have to encourage while you drive is to set your seat up in an ergonomically ideal position (rule of 90s – 90 degrees at your non driving knee, 90 degrees at your hip/torso angle); this should allow for the freedom to maximize safety as a driver but minimize the forward head posture that many of us fall into when driving. Remember that head rest piece on your chair can be used as a piece of feedback to facilitate improved posture.

Bad car posture:


Good car posture:


Here are a few basic stretches you can perform to minimize the negative effects of driving a car.


1. Open up your shoulders and get your head through to get that blood flowing and stretch out your spine and shoulders


2. To undo some of that forward head posture and rounded forward shoulders, open them up with this stretch for the chest and fronts of shoulders.


3. Rotate to the side with this arm stretch by giving yourself a big half hug!


4. Rotate the other way to open up that tight shoulder and get a little spine twist for a bonus stretch.

The post Fight Bad Driving Posture with This Car Mobility Routine appeared first on BarBend.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

10 Lessons Learned from a College Strength Coach

When it comes to high school, collegiate, and professional level strength and conditioning, there’s always a constant goal in mind; improve athletes in the best, safest, and quickest means possible. One of the hardest parts of becoming a strength and conditioning professional at these levels is developing your training style and voice. In most cases, the only only way to do this is by experience and lessons you learn along the way.

To help provide guidance, I reached out to a young strength professional who’s worked with college and professional level teams. John Larson is an M.S. Candidate, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and USAW Level 5 Sports Performance Coach.


Image from @newyork_citystrong Instagram page 

Larson attended Hofstra to finish his M.S. in Sports Sceince while working as a volunteer intern coach at West Point. After Army, Larson went to The University of Alabama to work as a  volunteer graduate assistant coach and finish his Master’s. Post Alabama, Larson got hired as an assistant Sports Performance Coach for The St. Louis Cardinals. Larson left the Cardinals and worked as Manhattan College’s Director of Sports Performance for a year. Currently, Larson is working as a Strength Coach for LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds.

Clearing Up Misconceptions

Jake Boly: Before diving into the lessons you’ve learned as a coach; I have a quick question about college strength coaches. Do you feel as though college level strength coaches get somewhat looked down upon in the strength industry?

John Larson: I can certainly see that. I think there might be a few reasons for this and one of them has to do with time constraint. We (college coaches) only have a finite amount of minutes in a week to actually train and coach movements at a team oriented standpoint, so any type of individual attention to imbalances, weaknesses, and asymmetries can sometimes get overlooked. Secondly, especially in college football, from what I’ve noticed, a lot of programs bring on football players or former players to their staff. While this isn’t always a bad thing, if someone isn’t properly trained to coach athletes at this caliber, there can be a learning gap, especially with an increase in future injuries from lack of fundamentals.

Boly: That all makes complete sense, now let’s dive in; what are 10 lessons you’ve learned thus far in your training career?

1. Show You Care

Larson: No athlete cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. A strength coach is different than a sport coach, getting to know your athletes on a personal, professional level helps bring out their best. The trust they instill in you will help bring positive results.

2. Less Is More

Larson: There’s only so much time in the day you get with your athletes. Focus on developing the fundamentals and quality movement patterns to provide the best result and avoid long-term injury.

3. Create a Why

Larson: Anyone can put kids through a workout, but know why you’re doing every aspect. When you can demonstrate the carry over from your training and their sports, this creates a synergistic effect in the effort they give.

4. Communication Is Key

Larson: Communication in the gym setting is key to optimal performance. You need seamless communication between the head coach, athletes, and athletic trainers, doing so will bring about the best results.

5. Reach Out and Follow The Best

Larson: It’s important you constantly research and become well versed in your practices. Watch and learn from the best in the industry and create your own personal touch. For example, some professionals I follow are, Senior International Coach Marc Vasnov for weightlifting, Scott Cochran for gym culture, and Richard James for sprint tech. Never stop learning, complacency is lack of care.

6. Create The Culture You Want

Larson: It’s essential to build a culture that wants to come in, build each other up, and reach new levels. A lot of coaches don’t realize that they’re not only the coach, but the gym leader as well. If you come in and display that pushing each other is cool and fun, then that culture will carry over to your athlete’s work ethic.


Image from @newyork_citystrong Instagram page 

7. Practice What You Preach

Larson: There’s no shame in admitting when you’re not perfect or well versed at something, that’s okay. Although, don’t put something you’re shaky in yourself into a program. This can not only lose some trust in the athletes, but put you in a bad position. If you want to use something, learn and become an expert first!

8. Olympics Weightlifting is a Skill/Technique Movement Pattern

Larson: When applicable try to avoid haphazardly programming Olympic movements. You need to fully understand the movement patterns before teaching them. Seek guidance from real weightlifting coaches and learn every aspect of the lift. An explosive jumping jack while yelling, “jump and shrug,” is not how Olympic weightlifting should be used or cued.

9. Take Care of Yourself

Larson: This job is going to mentally and physically push you. We work long days, are underpaid, and often don’t have a social life out of work, but we do it for the love – not the money. However, it’s important you take care of yourself. When you’re off your game or strung out, this can carry over to your athletes. Know when to say when and take some personal stock in yourself.

10. They’re Not Your Athletes

Larson: This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned thus far. We’re an annex to the head coaching staff. Every piece of information head coaches provide, along with Athletic Trainers should be fully acknowledged and taken into account for your training. You’re a bridge, not an end all be all.

Feature image from @newyork_citystrong Instagram page

The post 10 Lessons Learned from a College Strength Coach appeared first on BarBend.

Friday, October 28, 2016

USA Weightlifting Announces Reno to Host First American Open Series Event

In an announcement posted on October 28th, USA Weightlifting (USAW) announced the inaugural event of the American Open Series will take place next March 16-19 Reno, Nevada.

Earlier this month, USAW released qualifying totals and details on the points scoring system for the 2017 American Open Series; the 2017 season will be the first under the new system and competition schedule, which culminates in the 2017 American Open Finals (previously referred to as the American Open).


Two more Series-level events will take place leading up to the American Open Finals, though exact locations and dates have yet to be announced for those competitions.

From the announcement:

The American Open Series I will be held at the Reno Sparks Convention Center while the attached Atlantis Resort will serve as the competition hotel. Reno’s StoneAgeFuel Barbell will assist athletes attending the event.

The deadline to register is 2PM Mountain Time on February 22, 2017. The qualifying period is February 19, 2016-February 19, 2017. This information along with qualifying totals can be found by clicking here.

Reno, hosts of the 2015 American Open Championships, is the first host of USA Weightlifting’s new American Open Series. The American Open Series is designed to provide an opportunity for all age and weight categories to gain more platform experience across the year and an opportunity for those who no longer meet raised totals on our traditional competitions to still compete at the national level. There are three American Open Series events leading up to the 2017 American Open Championships in Anaheim.

The post USA Weightlifting Announces Reno to Host First American Open Series Event appeared first on BarBend.

Lifters Rejoice: Strength Training Does The Brain Good

We’re well aware of the physical benefits exercise offers us. Strength training improves our muscular base, enhances our posture, creates stronger bones, and improves joint health. Cardiovascular training improves our ability to use oxygen effectively, promotes better circulation, and improves our energy levels. Although, what about strength training and brain health? A recent study published discussed the positives resistance training has on brain health.

This study followed 100 subjects, age 55 and over, through a resistance training program that required 80 percent of their peak strength. These 100 subjects were classified to have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – which is classified as: Noticeable daily mental difficulties, but not large enough difficulties to prevent regular functioning. While further research is needed on this topic, this is one of the first studies to specifically look at heavy resistance training and cognitive benefits.

To give context on MCI, around 80 percent of subjects with positive MCI diagnosis develop Alzheimer’s approximately 6 years after original diagnosis. That’s a scary stat, especially for folks like myself with Alzheimer’s running in their family.


Family photo from 2005 of my grandpa (who passed in 2009 from Alzheimer’s), my little brother, & myself. 

Researchers split the 100 subjects into four groups: resistance training, placebo resistance (stretching), cognitive training, and a placebo equivalent. Resistance training was performed twice a week for 6-months, weights used were increased to 80 percent of subject’s peak strength as muscle increased. They found that the resistance training group had a positive relationship with global cognition. Previous research has found that exercise helps preserve, and enlarge areas of the brain often related to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This is promising data suggesting the benefit of resistance training and healthy aging of the brain. Researchers also pointed out – to receive the strength training brain benefit – there has to be consistency in training, along with the intensity to match the demands of 80 percent of peak strength.

The Bigger Picture

Yes, this study looked at an older population, but it also gave us valuable insight we can implicate in our training right now. Consistency and progression are key. All of the time you spend training has a pay off; it’s creating a healthier future you. And training goes so much deeper than physical benefits.

1. It creates relationships around you. Your training partners and competitors become a community around you that can offer support.

2. Training creates mental toughness. You learn to set goals, be patient, have discipline, and much more.

3. We learn about ourselves and build self-esteem. When we strength train consistently we’re constantly breaking barriers and reaching new emotional, mental, and physical levels we wouldn’t have found otherwise.

So the next time you’re in the gym – even if your mind isn’t fully there – be grateful for your health and the people around you.

The post Lifters Rejoice: Strength Training Does The Brain Good appeared first on BarBend.

7 Performance Enhancing Behaviors for Weightlifting WODs

Thursday, October 27, 2016

4 More London Olympic Weightlifters Ordered to Return Medals

In an October 27th announcement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced official sanctions for eight athletes implicated in doping retests following the 2012 London Olympics. Six of the named athletes are weightlifters, and four are weightlifting medalists. They are:

Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan, gold medalist in the women’s 53kg category

Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan, gold medalist in the women’s 63kg category

Svetlana Podobedova of Kazakhstan, gold medalist in the women’s 75kg category

Dzina Sazanavets of Belarus, 4th place in the women’s 69kg category

Marina Shkermankova of Belarus, 3rd place in the women’s 69kg category

Yauheni Zharnasek of Belarus, 9th place in the men’s +105kg category


Svetlana Podobedova at the 2012 London Olympics. Image by Simon Q, licensed under CC By 2.0

The six athletes above will have their names removed from the London Olympics official results, and prizes including medals have been ordered to be returned.

An excerpt from the sanction concerning Kazakhstan’s Chinshanlo is embedded below for reference:

The Athlete, Zulfiya Chinshanlo:

is found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation pursuant to the IOC Anti-Doping Rules applicable to the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London in 2012 (presence and/or use of Prohibited Substances or its Metabolites or Markers in an athlete’s bodily specimen),

is disqualified from the event in which she participated upon the occasion of the Olympic Games London 2012, namely the women’s 53kg weightlifting event, in which she ranked 1st and for which she was awarded the gold medal,

has the medal, the medallist pin and the diploma obtained in the women’s 53kg weightlifting event withdrawn and is ordered to return the same.

Though other athletes from London have been implicated in doping retests, several have yet to receive official IOC sanctions. A full list of athletes (thus far) to test positive in retests from the Beijing and London Olympic Games can be found here.

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The 3 Most Common Types of Training Periodization (and When to Use Them)

Very rarely is anything truly new in the strength training world, especially when it comes to programming. Yes, methods change and the industry perpetually matures, but the fundamental programming pillars that started in the strength world still hold it up today. (After all, the concept of linear progressive overload may go back to ancient times.)

The progression within these pillars is what most deem as new, there will always be tweaking to match niches, demands, and needs – and that’s a good thing. The constant evolution of training styles and methods is what keeps the industry from stagnation.

At times it can be overwhelming with all of the different strength training methods out there, but if you sit back and research, you’ll realize that has some real benefits. First, it gives us options to choose from; options allow us to try and find the optimal program for our training needs. Second, it allows us to understand why different professionals program the way they do.

The next time you read something like 5/3/1, think about why Jim Wendler may have chosen the sets, exercises, and reps the way he did. Lastly, it makes us learn, and although this task can be a big ask, the payoff is always personal growth. My guess is, if you’re looking for a specific training adaptation, it’s been tried and tested before.

To help you out, we’ve taken the 3 most commonly used forms of strength training periodization and broken down the what, whys, and whens. Chances are, you’ve been doing these your whole strength training career — you may just not have realized it.

History of Periodization

Our general understanding of periodization is largely built upon Hans Selye’s general adaptation syndrome (GAS) theory from roughly 1950. This theory points out the three phases the body undergoes when experiencing a new stimulus. These phases are: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.

  • Alarm: The initial shock of a stimulus; an example would be the excessive soreness you feel at the beginning of new programs.
  • Resistance: The adaptation to the stimulus; this is where we begin to get better at handling the workload and progress in a program.
  • Exhaustion: The decrease from overstimulation; an example of this would be overtraining, or overreaching.

The whole point is to remain in the resistance stage; in this stage, the body performs optimally (or closer to it). Every form of periodization is a different method to prolong the resistance stage. How we choose to go about this is dependent on our training history, activity, and goals.

Periodization Feature

Another contributor to periodization theory was an army physician named Thomas L. Delorne. In 1945, Delorne found himself in a dilemma: he needed to create a means to properly rehab soldiers’ injured from the Second World War. In the 1940s, physical rehab methods were lengthy and had a tough time accounting for the needs of injured soldiers, thus leading Delorne to experiment with a progressive load method. By 1948, Delorne had refined his methods and found success in doing so. His patients rehabbed quicker and more efficiently.

Time Frames in Periodization

Periodization has various cycles that are classified by amounts of time: macro (annual), meso (weeks to months), and mico (workouts, days, weekly). Below is a diagram that illustrates an example timeline of different training cycles in relation to one another.

Periodization Timeline

1. Linear Periodization

What is linear periodization?

Linear periodization is the most commonly used style of training, and it’s probably the style you did naturally when you first started lifting. This form of periodization is described as a training plan that gradually increases volume, intensity, and work by mesocycles in an annual training plan. Progressive overload is a major key to the success of this training stylel think about 5×5 programs. Every workout, you’re adding weight and gaining strength at a slow, steady rate. 

Why should I use it?

Linear periodization is a great for building a strong foundation, progressing in one variable, and working towards a peaking point. This programming style is useful for those who are newer to training, and while that point can be argued, it’s definitely the easiest periodization style to understand, thus my reasoning.

When should I use linear periodization?

1. Peaking point: Since linear periodization is written for an annual training plan, it’s easy to cater this training style to a slow progressive peak. For example, if you have a marathon in February, you’d start your program around April-May and slowly work towards peaking in February while avoiding burnout.

2. Beginner: Most beginners need to build a strong foundation before they can try advanced training styles. Linear periodization is a great way to slowly build a base without losing focus on what’s important – building your foundation.

3. Short seasons: Athletes with short seasons who have one or very few competitions close to each other benefit with linear training. This allows a slow buildup to their peak or competition. 

2. Non-Linear/Undulated Periodization

What is non-linear/undulated periodization?

Non-linear and undulated periodization rely on constant change in stimuli throughout training cycles. As opposed to a linear periodization that focuses on gradual increase of one variable, this style manipulates multiple variables like exercises, volume, intensity, and training adaptation on a frequent basis. The time frame for these manipulations can be daily, weekly, or even bi-weekly. Non-linear periodization is more advanced than linear and incorporates multiple types of stimuli into a training program.

Why should I use it?

Non-linear periodization is an excellent way of individually training one variable and secondarily training others at the same time. It’s often used for those with advanced training backgrounds and longer sport seasons. For example, think about a program that has you train strength one day, then power two days later – this is non-linear.

When should I use it?

1. Advanced trainees: Someone who has a mature training age (2+> years) can benefit from the constant manipulation of variables for various training adaptations. For example, focusing on hypertrophy one day, then aiming for strength the next. The reason we say advanced is because an advanced trainee will have an existing strength base to build upon. 

2. Longer sport seasons: Athletes who have longer seasons will benefit by changing up variables more frequently. For example, an athlete in the peak of their season has multiple needs to perform optimally. By changing the focuses from something like hypertrophy to power, you can help prevent burnout within one variable, such as CNS fatigue from too much power training.

3. Block Periodization

What is block periodization?

Block periodization is arguably the “newest” periodization style. The concept of block periodization focuses on breaking down specific training periods into 2-4 week periods. Each block encompasses three different stages: accumulation (50-75% intensity), transmutation (75-90% intensity), and realization (90%> intensity). The goal behind these smaller, specific blocks is to allow an athlete to stay at their peak level longer. Since most sports have longer durations and call for multiple peaks, block periodization is often prescribed. Within the training season, athletes will only focus on adaptations they need specifically for their sport, if an athlete doesn’t need endurance, they won’t train for it.

Why should I use it?

When trying to maintain a high level of athleticism for competition over an extended amount of time, block can be a great tool. By frequently training specific training adaptations you work towards progressing in your sport with the variable you need, and avoid burning out.

When should I use block periodization?

Multiple peaks: Sports that require an athlete to peak multiple times during a season – aka multiple competitions/games a year – can benefit from block training. The most important variable is accounting for the athlete’s needs and the rotation of blocks to allow optimal performance.

The post The 3 Most Common Types of Training Periodization (and When to Use Them) appeared first on BarBend.

CrossFit Games Athlete Sam Briggs Sets World Record in 1,000 Meter Row

Use the Deadstop Squat to Overhaul Your Strength: An 8 Week Program

Progressive overload is as old as Milo himself. If you don’t know the story of the mighty Greek, everyday he would carry a baby bull up to the top of mountain. There it would drink and eat, growing bigger each day. As the bull matured Milo got stronger, but never struggled as the bull only got a little heavier each day. After years of walking that mountain path, the bull was fully grown and Milo was strong as hell, or at least that’s how the story goes.


Outside of legend, progressive overload is used in weight rooms around the world with great success. Typically the variable you’re aiming to progress though is weight as Milo did, add a kilo each week and watch the personal bests roll in.

But there is another less discussed way — instead of adding weight each week, why not increase the range of motion?

This isn’t a new idea, but it seems to have died along with it’s progenitor, strength legend Paul Anderson. Anderson was famed for digging a hole in his garden and squatting in that. Each week he’d add a little dirt to the hole, thus increasing the range of motion.

To revive this method, though, you don’t need a shovel. Instead all you need to revive this method is an adjustable squat rack and a lot of discipline to stick it through. The weight does not change throughout the entire 8 week program, the only variable is the starting position of the squat.

The Deadstop  Squat

Normally the squat starts with an eccentric phase, you lowering yourself down to parallel or below and then the concentric phase as you stand the weights up. Like with the bench press, the eccentric phase allows you to use the elastic energy you generated from the descent to power yourself up out of the hole.

For this program, though, we turn that notion on its head, starting with the bar in the bottom position of the lift, instead of the top. Removing that ‘bounce’ not only allows you to push hard at a lighter weight but also will build incredible static strength. (If you’re a strongman, these types of squat need to become a staple, as you’ll often squat to boxes in competition.)


Start each rep explosively as possible, with the aim to get the bar off those blocks as quickly as possible. The descent, however, wants to be the polar opposite, slow and controlled to the very end. Think of every rep as a deadstop — not only will this save the equipment a battering but will also provide the best results.

If your gym has jerk blocks or an adjustable power rack, then these squats are a dream to set up. Set the pins or blocks to the required height and squat away. If however you find yourself training without either of those then you need a little imagination and a combination of boxes and plates.

The Program

During the eight week program below, you’ll be squatting twice a week, one heavy and one light. The heavy session will focus around the Deadstop squat, with the range of motion increasing by 10 degrees each week.


The second session is centered around speed work, moving through a full range of motion with lighter weights to ensure that you stay both explosive and comfortable hitting depth.   

You’ll notice that I haven’t written in any upper body work; this is to be done in separate sessions. If time allows, I’d recommend one upper pressing session and another working on pulling, if pressed for time this could be condensed into one session.

Week One

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 5 sets of 3 @ 110% to 20°
  • Trap Bar Deadlifts 8 sets of 2 @ Heavy
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 8 sets of 2 @ 50%
  • Pause squats 5 sets of 3 @ 40% (5 second pause)
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Two

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 8 sets of 3 @ 110% to 30°
  • Deadlifts 8 sets of 5 @ Moderate (Double overhand no straps)
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 8 sets of 3 @ 50%
  • Pause squats 6 sets of 3 @ 40% (5 second pause)
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Three

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 8 sets of 3 @ 110% to 40°
  • Trap Bar Deadlift 3 sets of 10 @ Moderate
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 5 sets of 3 @ 60%
  • Front squats 5 sets of 5 @ 70%
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Four

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 8 sets of 3 @ 110% to 50°
  • Deadlifts 3 sets of 3 @ Heavy
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 8 sets of 3 @ 60%
  • Below parallel box squats 5 sets of 3 @ 50% (2 second pause)
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Five

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 8 sets of 3 @ 110% to 60°
  • Trap Bar Deadlift (Low Handles) 5 sets of 12 @ Moderate
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 5 sets of 3 @ 65%
  • Front squats 10 sets of 2 @ 75%
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Six

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 8 sets of 3 @ 110% to 70°
  • Deadlifts 3 sets of 3 @ Heavy
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 8 sets of 3 @ 60%
  • Below parallel box squats 5 sets of 3 @ 50% (2 second pause)
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Seven

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 8 sets of 3 @ 110% to 800°
  • Trap Bar Deadlifts 10 sets of 2 @ Moderate
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 5 sets of 3 @ 70%
  • Front squats 5 sets of 5 @ 80%
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Eight

Session One

  • Deadstop Squat 8 sets of 3 @ 110% to 90°
  • Deadlifts 3 sets of 5 @ Moderate
  • Weighted Carries and Accessory work

Session Two

  • Speed squats 10 sets of 3 @ 40%
  • Pause squats 5 sets of 3 @ 40% (5 second pause)
  • Walking Lunges and Accessory Work

Week Nine

  • Rest and retest squat 1 rep max.

You can learn a lot from the lessons of the past, and this program is absolutely no different. The combination of deadstop squats and speed work will leave infinitely more comfortable in the bottom of the squat and stronger throughout the entire movement.

This may leave you tempted to run the program again with your new max, but I’d strongly advise against it. There’s an old adage that goes, “Everything works but only for so long,” and this is no different. By all means, though, keep the deadstop squat as one of many tools at your disposal.

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 Use the Deadstop Squat to Overhaul Your Strength: An 8 Week Program appeared first on BarBend.

WWE Will Scout Athletes at Strongman Nationals

In an announcement on their website, Strongman Corporation — the governing body and organizer for many of the top strongman events in North America and beyond — posted that pro wrestling scouts will be at this weekend’s Nationals competition to look for up and coming crossover talent.

The 2016 Strongman Corporation National Championship takes place October 28th and 29th in Davenport, Iowa. The competition — which features divisions for men and women — will test athletes in the Dumbbell Clean & Press for Reps, Yoke Walk, Axle Tire Deadlift for Reps, Husafell Carry for Distance, and the Bartos Keg and Stone of Steel Carry and Load Medley.

Scouts from the WWE will be on site to look for athletes to potentially invite into their own training ranks. From the Strongman Corporation post:

During the event, WWE will be on the lookout for up-and-coming athletes to be the next WWE superstar.

This isn’t the first time that WWE has turned to Strongman Corporation and its athletes. The organization has been scouting Strongman athletes since 2013 and the induction of Pro Strongman Adam Scherr as Braun Stroman into the WWE.

Stay tuned for the 2016 Strongman Corporation National Championship this weekend, and you may see one or more of the competing athletes take the WWE stage.

Who are you most excited about watching this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image: Strongman Corporation

The post WWE Will Scout Athletes at Strongman Nationals appeared first on BarBend.

6 Things Only People Who Train Legs Will Understand

8 Mobility Exercises and Stretches to Improve Clean

As a coach and competitive weightlifter I often struggle with mobility (either the lack of or the constant battle to maintain it) and the effects of hard training. In my weightlifting club, many CrossFitters, beginner weightlifters, AND competitive athletes struggle with heavier loads in the clean, front squat, and pressing exercises, often due to mobility limitation/movement flaws that are hindering their performance.

When asked how to combat particular issues concerning the clean, and more specifically the catch positioning, the solutions are often derived from a combination of the following mobility exercises and stretches.

Below are 8 of my go-to mobility exercises/stretches to assist athletes in achieving a more stable, mobile, and stronger positioning in the front squat and clean.

Lower Body Mobility/Stretches

The following mobility exercises and stretches target common issues at the ankles, knees, and hips.

Squat to Stand Stretch

This dynamic mobility exercise works to improve movement in the hamstrings, lower back, inner groin (adductors), ankles, and calves. The dynamic movement also mimics the squatting pattern, making it a great proprioceptive warm up technique before training sessions.

Psoas Release on Ball

The psoas is responsible for assisting in pelvic stability. With overactive psoas and hip flexors, the pelvis goes into anterior tilt, creating additional stress at the lumbar and limiting hip mobility. Releasing the psoas through trigger point and soft tissue therapy will allow the pelvis to sit neutrally, increase pelvis and core stabilization, allow for better diaphragmatic breathing, and ultimately, save your squat.

Upper Body Mobility/Stretches

The following mobility exercises and stretches target common issues at the thoracic cavity, shoulders, and elbows.

Banded Lat/Triceps/Pec Opener

Increase lat/pec/triceps mobility places a large role in your ability to get the elbows under the barbell and maintain a secure and stable front rack positioning. Additionally, this is a great mobility exercise to assist in securing a better overhead positioning.

Triceps Barbell Smash

This is a fast and effective mobility exercise to increase elbow and shoulder movement, both vital for catching in the clean. This is a great exercise to do in between warm up sets with the empty barbell.

Weighted Thoracic Extension on Foam Roller

Thoracic extension is vital to maintaining a rigid and upright torso in the front squat positioning. Additionally, increases thoracic mobility will allow a better packing of the back in the pulls and alignment in the jerk.

Front Rack Specific Mobility/Stretches

The following mobility exercises and stretches can be used to develop improvements in movement specific (front squat and clean) enhancement in mobility and postural stability.

Front Rack Partner Stretch

Partner assisted stretching in the squat and/or standing position can greatly enhance your ability to achieve a proper catch position in the clean. By performing this partner stretch, you can develop greater postural awareness, mobility, and balance in the front rack position to allow for faster elbows and a more upright torso in the catch.

Front Squat with Straps

This gem is brought to us by Aleksey Torokhtiy and his coach, which entails using lifting straps to better develop a front rack positioning. Often, lifters fingertip the barbell, allowing the elbows and posterior to sag, which results in missed cleans and thoracic flexion.

Pause Squat Breathing

Chris Duffin, elite powerlifter, discusses the importance of breathing in the squat position to increase stability throughout the core. You can apply the same principles in a front squat position, as well as using front squat walk outs to increase core stability under loads. The more stable and comfortable you are under loads, the less the barbell will move around, which can negatively impact your bar patterning and performance.

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: @thej2fit on Instagram

The post 8 Mobility Exercises and Stretches to Improve Clean appeared first on BarBend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

“Generation Iron 2” Is In Production, No Theatrical Release Date Announced

How to Find a Routine and Control Your Mind on Competition Days

It can happen at your first contest or fiftieth; anxiety that wrecks your first event or blows the whole day. It’s unfortunate and seems like it is completely out of your control. There are a few steps you can do to minimize this situational uneasiness and get your focus on where it should be. Be aware of multiple ways that it can strike and different tools to deal with it when it happens.

After you have made weight and had dinner it’s time to get a good night’s rest, except for the life of you, you can not sleep. The weight of the contest begins playing on your mind and you lie there tossing and turning. A lack of sleep on a big night never helps performance the next day. Many people swear by the supplements valerian root and melatonin to help the mind relax and allow you to fall asleep. Both over the counter herbs have been studied, and melatonin may help provide a restful night’s sleep; valerian has been shown to help some people fall asleep faster. Most folks I know recommend you only take one or the other.

Game Day

Images courtesy Michele Wozniak, Strongman Corporation

Another helpful way is to follow a similar routine that you would when are home. Being on the road tends to disrupt your schedule. Try to follow a similar bedtime ritual that you are are used to. You bodies rhythm often tells you that you are getting ready to sleep; try not and disturb that.

If you lying there not sleeping after the normal amount of time it usually takes, try getting up and going for a walk or reading for 20 minutes. This can help distract the mind and change your focus. Try to not turning on the TV or using your phone at this now, they can actually cause too much stimulation and make it even harder to get your rest.

The next morning is when most people have the hardest time with pre contest anxiety. They get ”nervy” or hyper-stimulated when they arrive at the venue. If this is you, do not show up earlier than necessary. A long period of anxiety can drain your adrenaline.

When warm-ups begin, try going through your normal routine as you would for any other events day. If you are a social person start conversations with your friends and invest in more listening than talking. Focus on the words they are saying to keep off your own thoughts. Again, bring a book to sit and read if you aren’t a conversationalist. Allow the words to take you mind away to a better calmer place and not on what you are about to do.

Pre Lift

If you are a regular practitioner of meditation or breathing relaxation, now would be the time to take a five minute break and work on that. Visualize the success that you have had in other contests or in training. See yourself winning while becoming more and more relaxed.

Associate pre-contest time with positive relaxed feelings and the nervousness will melt away.

The worst situation is when you are having a great meet and you need to perform on the last event to win. Avoiding the choke is a skill the champions have developed. Often this is a last second feeling that strikes just before you are set and ready to go. The mind may begin to focus on fear or what can go wrong or the body can start and adrenaline dump and you my begin to hyperventilate.

A combination of the above techniques are typically what the Dr./Coach would order here. Speak with your coach about the game plan until the last minute and then walk to the start when only absolutely necessary. Never line up too early and began pacing back and forth. That’s a surefire way to kickstart too much adrenaline, especially if there is delayed start for equipment failure or injury. While walking to the start, see yourself winning with the last repetition.

It’s okay to imagine your arm raised in victory; it puts a smile on your face instead of grinding the teeth.


Remember, win or lose you are still the person many people admire and aspire to be. Doing things to stay confident and relaxed will help you to cruise to victory or set your personal bests. Your mind is going to work against you if you let it, but you are stronger than that and are ready to take on the challenge ahead of you!

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 How to Find a Routine and Control Your Mind on Competition Days appeared first on BarBend.