Monday, October 23, 2017
He may have said he was retiring from World’s Strongest Man, but it looks like Eddie Hall hasn’t retired from smashing world records. The British behemoth recently made a partial deadlift of 536 kilograms (1,181.7 pounds) with wrist straps, breaking the previous record by one kilogram. The bar was 18 inches above the ground, almost twice the height of a bar in your standard gym.
The lift was performed to publicize the release of Hall’s autobiography Strongman, which is now available for purchase.
One interesting aspect of the video is that Hall is given the go ahead to lift after the 2.30 mark, and you get to watch Hall “get psyched” for a minute as he huffs, snarls, and primes his posterior chain with small, explosive thrusts.
After the lift, World’s Strongest Man’s head referee Colin Bryce seemed pretty concerned that Hall should see a medic but after a shaky recovery, Hall quipped, “I’m not bleeding out of my face, am I?” This was a reference to his world record 500kg deadlift, during which blood spurted out of his nose.
[Ever wondered why heavy lifting causes some people to bleed? We’ve got the answer here!]
During the post-lift interview, Hall said,
That was… that was hard. It’s… I mean… Get in a gym and put 500 kilos on a bar and just try and pick it up and people will be shocked. Because to have half a ton in the hands is… there’s no feeling like it. Honestly. I feel like I’m gonna pass out right now. It’s not nice. It’s not nice.
The 18-inch deadlift was originally known as the silver dollar deadlift, because old-timey strongmen used to perform the lift with barrels full of silver dollars. The previous record stood for an astonishing thirty-four years; Canadian athlete Tom Magee deadlifted 535 kilograms (1180 pounds) at the 1983 World’s Strongest Man competition. Straps were allowed then, too.
While some purists may not view the partial deadlift with quite as much reverence as the standard kind, Hall’s new record is thirty-six kilograms (almost 80 pounds) heavier than his 500kg PR, the heaviest deadlift ever made. Hall now has the record for the heaviest strongman deadlift (which allows wrist straps and a specialized deadlift suit), long bar strongman deadlift, and partial deadlift. Time to update our heaviest deadlifts article!
Featured image via International Strong Man on YouTube.
The post Eddie Hall Breaks the Partial Deadlift World Record With 536 Kilograms appeared first on BarBend.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Friday, October 20, 2017
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Monday, October 16, 2017
Professional strongman Brian Shaw recently made an appearance on Dragons’ Den, and to no surprise, he wowed the judges with his size and strength. If you’re new to Dragons’ Den, it’s similar to the hit show “Shark Tank” and is based off the Japanese series that began airing in the mid 2000’s. Entrepreneurs enter the Den with their idea, business, or product and pitch the six weathered investors.
Canada’s Dragons’ Den season premiere featured Pete Czerwinski (Furious Pete), Robert Charleton, and Dr. Anil Makkar. These three founded New Age Performance, which is a company that designs mouthpieces to support strength athlete’s teeth health and performance. The investors looked skeptical at first at their relatively simple idea, but watch how fast the guys and Brian Shaw sway them all over.
[Check out the time Stan Efferding deadlifted 600 lbs on Shark Tank, then made a deal with Daymond John.]
Entering the Den, New Age Performance was asking for $100,000 for a 10% stake in their company. They began their pitch with a balance and resistance exercise with Joe Mimran (Canadian fashion designer & entrepreneur). After peaking their attention with this exercise, they brought out 2016 World’s Strongest Man Brian Shaw. Of course, judges were in complete shock at how massive Shaw really is, and even had to feel his arm to attest that “it’s real.”
[Want more videos of Brian Shaw? Check out his massive 12,000 calorie diet!]
What really got the judge’s attentions was Shaw easily picking up Michele Romano, pressing a Cyr-Dumbbell for multiple reps, and then providing his thoughts into why the mouth piece is so effective. Shaw explains that the mouth piece is essential for him because it not only protects his mouth health during maximal weight, but helps displace pressure in the body.
Intrigued, the judges began all throwing offers at New Age Performance, which you can watch to see all of the offers that were thrown at them. In the end, they had a decision to make with two final offers, but ended up going with a deal that entailed $100,000 for a 5% royalty for seven years.
Feature image screenshot from Furious Pete Vlogs YouTube Channel.
The post Professional Strongman Brian Shaw Lifts an Investor On Dragons’ Den appeared first on BarBend.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Friday, October 13, 2017
Maybe it’s the tiny sliver of hopeless romantic in me, but I really enjoy watching marriage proposals. Everything about them is awesome. The surprised looks, the overly happy cries of joy, and the quick thought that true love might still exist. Then, factor in something like working out and fitness, and you have yourself a killer video that ties in some of the best things in life.
Earlier this October, at 229 CrossFit in Albany, Georgia, Chaz Zenga found himself with a rare opportunity. Him and his soon to be fiancee Dana Kirkland found themselves working out their box like any other day, but today would be slightly different.
Their coach Zach Hood began the workout like normal, and used Zenga and Kirkland as “warm-up” examples. This entailed them matching their feet together in a lunge, while Kirkland performed lunges looking up with a plate overhead. As she did so, Hood subtly passed an engagement ring to Zenga, and you could probably guess the rest. Check out the viral proposal video below.
What started as a sneaky way for two strength athletes to tie the knot has now grown into a massively viral video. The video has accumulated over 14 million views and 14k shares on Facebook alone.
And if you liked this video, then you’re in luck. Marriage proposals in the gym are becoming increasingly more common, at least they seem to be from all the videos out there. If you’re not a fan of corny proposal videos, then viewer be warned.
But if you are, I’ve included two of our (my) favorite gym-themed marriage proposals.
Shakas and Snatches Wedding Proposal
Furious Pete Workout Proposal
Yes, some of these videos are a little over the top, but that’s kind of the point. And whether you love these types of videos, or they make you cringe, there’s no denying that someone else’s pure happiness can bring a little joy to your day.
Hats off and best wishes to Chaz Zenga and Dana Kirkland in their new engagement.
Feature image screenshot from Dana Kirkland Facebook page.
The post This CrossFit Themed Marriage Proposal Will Give You All the Feels appeared first on BarBend.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017
A love of the iron is often accompanied by a desire to increase the muscle mass on one’s frame. Ask most new trainees and eye popping muscles are one of the things that attracts them to the weight room. While weight gain is heavily reliant on eating a calorie surplus, exercise selection is just as important for big muscles. Too many beginners spend far too much time lifting light weights and isolating muscle groups. Strongman training focuses on using the entire body together, requiring a coordinated effort of will and muscle to tax the body. This in turn stimulates massive muscle growth uniformly over the body as an adaptive response to the extreme stimulation of full body, odd object training. Use the following suggestions to get started on bodybuilding the strongman way!
No, strongmen don’t “own” this exercise but it is used in daily training. Everything we lift is heavy and starts on the ground making it a deadlift. Many bodybuilders never deadlift, because it uses the entire posterior chain and doesn’t work so well with tradition bodypart splits. There is no better way to build massive erectors and traps then by doing deadlifts and you have a wide variety of styles to choose from:
- Rack pulls
- Side handle
- Car deadlift (lever pulling)
By incorporating pulls of some sort into your program every week, you are commanding the body to grow. Do most of your sets without straps to get the extra benefit of forearm work.
The Log Clean and Press
While most bodybuilders do overhead pressing with a bar or dumbbells they tend to do them seated and neglect to clean the bar. If they were to start with the bar on the ground for each rep, they would receive the additional benefit of bringing the bar to rack position and add some real kick to the exercise. The log clean is much easier to master, natural for most athletes and adds work to hamstrings (picking it up is similar to an RDL) and the lower back. The biceps and grip are also worked due to the curl like motion. In the rack, the lats become engaged and so do the front deltoids.
Additionally, the handles are in the neutral grip position and that is a much more natural position for the shoulders. To get the most out of the exercise you should train it like competitors do; lock it out and hold it for a second. We can’t put it down until we get a signal so we must have a perfect isometric contraction for at least a half second. That lockout will help every single tendon and ligament in your body get stronger and better able to handle stress over time.
Arm Over Arm Pulls
The best way to develop massive arms and back muscle is this exercise. Use a thick rope and drag any object toward you with an arm over arm motion. Despite not really getting a negative connotation of movement involved, you get a wicked pump from doing these. If you do them standing you get the quads and glutes involved as well.
How to Train
Say goodbye to having the traditional chest day, back day, leg day, etc. With strongman training, everything gets used on a daily basis. To recover for the next day we simply do a more intense and dramatically lower volume program. You still get in your 15 sets for squats, but you see them over a few days, not all at once. Since some isolation work can be beneficial (for growth recovery and joint health), we simply add them in as needed. To help you form a training program with new and exciting exercises, I put together a four week sample program that you can run through multiple times just by swapping out a few exercises as desired.
All in all you will welcome the change in exercises and new found mass you will gain from this style of training. Strongman training reaches all the muscles that give the body the pop that most guys desire. You get bigger, become stronger and increase your capacity to add size in the future. Get get lifting old school for new gains!
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video 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 Using Strongman to Build Mass: A 4-Week Hypertrophy Program appeared first on BarBend.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
In July 2017, Kerry Chapman became the strongest female arm wrestler in New York.
Chapman, a 45-year-old caterer from Long Island, unseated the reigning champion — and her longtime training partner — Joyce Boone in a match that had spent five years training for.
It wasn’t a goal she grew up with, but she was always strong. Her day job involves a lot of carrying and lifting and she always put in time lifting weights at the gym. But when Gene Camp, her boyfriend’s uncle and the president of the New York Arm Wrestling Association, asked her to fill in as a receptionist at a few of his matches, she caught the bug.
Even though it’s the go-to method for drunk guys trying to impress each other, and even though it’s the subject of the greatest strength sports movie ever made (Sylvester Stallone’s Over the Top, of course), arm wrestling remains a niche sport. That’s why BarBend sat down with Kerry Chapman to learn more about the hows and whys of women’s arm wrestling.
Image via New York Arm Wrestling Association on Facebook.
BarBend: How do you train to become New York’s best arm wrestler?
Kerry Chapman: I’m constantly lifting all day long when I’m not driving. I also go to the gym, I do a lot of cardio to improve my stamina, which is really important. I also do a lot of push-ups, that keeps everything in check. I try to do 25 nose-to-floor push-ups per set, and I try to change my position so I don’t just keep my hands far out, I’ll do diamond push-ups and other kinds. I really like to do push-ups. I also do seated rows and lat pulldowns to keep my back strong.
Do you do a lot of grip exercises, too?
I have a gripper, but I don’t use it very often. When I visit some competitors, they have so many contraptions for grip strength, stuff that looks like Freddy Krueger’s hand. I’m not really into things like that.
Chapman engaging in an epic, 4-minute long match in 2011.
What’s the most important exercise for arm wrestling in particular?
I use a resistance band that I wrap around a pole to mimic the pulling motion of an arm wrestling match. I do high reps with lighter weight.
But a lot of it is simply practicing arm wrestling, I pull for a couple of hours almost every week. All of that pulling for so many years changed the whole definition of my forearms, my upper arms, my shoulders, my lats, everything.
What are the most important components of form?
There’s all different ways you can do it. As long as one foot’s on the floor, it’s fine. Some people lift one foot, some wrap their leg around the bar or table, some push off against it. I like to have one foot in front of the other: right foot forward, left foot back. I’ve seen people get their arms broken when they get too creative with form, I try to be more traditional. I just move my hand around to try and bring them down.
Image via New York Arm Wrestling Association on Facebook.
Do you only ever wrestle with the same arm?
No, I use both. It annoys me when people are so strong with one arm but they can’t do anything with their left. People like that often won’t even sign up for arm wrestling contests, because you have a much better chance of winning if you can challenge someone with either arm.
I’m predominantly strong on my left side, so I did a lot better against women who are predominantly right handed. I’m right handed, but my left hand has unbelievable strength. When I started training, I decided I didn’t want to have a Popeye arm, with one big arm and one frail one, so right from the beginning I’ve been going back and forth between the two. I’m stronger on my left, but even if I lose against a right handed opponent, it’ll make me a better puller in the long run. That’s my strategy. Losing makes me better.
Featured image via New York Arm Wrestling Association on Facebook.
The post How Kerry Chapman Became New York’s Strongest Female Arm Wrestler appeared first on BarBend.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Friday, October 6, 2017
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
If you’re going to purposely block someone’s driveway, make sure they don’t have a strongman on speed dial.
Abi Mustafa lives in Luton, a town about 30 miles north of London, and she had a problem. According to The Daily Mail, she lives on a public road and had been parking her car in front of her neighbor’s house. Her neighbors don’t have a driveway so she thought it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it turned into a month-long feud that culminated in her neighbors parking their car over Mustafa’s driveway, purposely blocking the entrance.
That’s when she called her nephew, Hakan Acar, better known in local strongman circles as The Tulk. That’s short for “The Turkish Hulk.”
Acar turned up and was unable to resolve the dispute. Then he had an idea. He later said, “I’ve pulled eight and a half tonne trucks before so a one-tonne Corsa wasn’t going to be a problem.”
You can guess what happened next.
Note that he quickly realized that Crocs aren’t great footwear for pushing cars. (Climbing shoes are a more common choice.)
Acar was quoted as saying,
I was worried that the hand brake might have been on – and I was trying to work out whether it was front or rear wheel drive. Then it just started moving.”
I’m quite a calm person – I’m not an angry person at all but hearing the way he spoke to my auntie just upset me a bit.
To be honest I didn’t go over with the intention of actually pushing the car in the first place. I just wanted to see how heavy it was but then I realised I could move it.
Unfortunately for Acar, local police have confirmed that he’s being investigated for criminal damage to their vehicle. He called this “a shame,” saying that,
I know the car is not damaged. I moved it out of the way but it is fine, so this just feels childish.
At least he got in a good workout.
Featured image via Caters Clips on YouTube.
The post Strongman Pushes a Car That Was Deliberately Blocking His Driveway appeared first on BarBend.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Once a niche athletic supplement, branched chain amino acids (BCAA) have exploded in popularity as a means to improve muscle retention, fat loss, endurance, and focus during workouts. Today there are hundreds of different BCAAs on the market many of which include stimulants, adaptogens, micronutrients, and extracts to make them stand out from the crowd. It can be hard to know which is the best BCAA.
That’s why we did the work for you. Of course, there are a lot of different criteria by which people judge the best anything. So we tried dozens and dozens of them, from the biggest brands to the up and comers, to land on our favorites in the following nine categories.
- Best BCAA Powder: Scivation Xtend
- Best BCAA for Men: Betancourt Plus Series BCAA
- Best BCAA for Women: Ideallean
- Best BCAA for Keto: Cellucor Alpha Amino
- Best BCAA for CrossFit®-Style Training: KAGED MUSCLE IN-KAGED
- Best BCAA for Weight Loss: Ideallean
- Best BCAA Powder for the Money: Scivation Xtend
- Best BCAA for Muscle Growth: Betancourt Plus Series BCAA
- Best BCAA Pills: Dymatize BCAA Complex 2200
Keep reading for some more detailed breakdowns of our top choices per category.
What Are the Benefits of BCAAs?
You might have heard that amino acids are the building blocks of protein, but they’re not all alike. The three proteinogenic branched chain amino acids, meaning BCAAs that are incorporated into proteins during translation, are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Some evidence suggests that supplementing with pure BCAAs can have a positive effect on workouts. They may promote muscle protein synthesis, increase muscle growth over time, and by preventing a serum decline in BCAAs (which occurs during exercise), they can help prevent fatigue. They’ve even been linked to increased fat loss and quicker reaction times.
They’re not necessary if you have a sufficient protein intake, but they’re often used as supplements to boost muscle protein synthesis between meals or to enhance performance and retain muscle when exercising on an empty stomach.
It’s not uncommon to see BCAAs packaged with other supplements like caffeine, glutamine, taurine, beta alanine, citrulline malate, and other ingredients that may also benefit workout performance. In this article, we’ve taken the BCAAs, the extra ingredients, the price, and the taste into account when deciding the best brand depending on your goal.
Best BCAA Powder
Scivation Xtend was our favorite all-around BCAA supplement. At 11 cents per gram of BCAA it’s one of the most inexpensive BCAAs you can find, but it also delivers lots of Vitamin B6 (which may help with muscle retention), electrolytes, glutamine, and citrulline malate, which might help you crank out a few more reps. It’s also available in over a dozen different flavors and if you don’t like artificial sweeteners, there’s even a “natural” option. Bonus: it has no caffeine or stimulants, so it can be taken any time of day.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA was our second favorite overall. It has a dose of Vitamin C, which may reduce cellular damage caused by exercise, and a decent serving of magnesium, sodium, and potassium. The real highlight is the rhodiola extract, an adaptogenic root that can reduce stress and improve alertness and focus, but there’s also baker’s yeast, which is strongly linked to improved immunity.
KAGED MUSCLE IN-KAGED Intra-Workout Fuel was our third favorite. This is especially great as a workout supplement since it contains a hit of serious hit of caffeine and l-tyrosine along with some taurine, which may reduce jitteriness associated with caffeine. But at 24 cents per gram of BCAAs, it’s about twice as expensive as Scivation and some other popular brands.
Best BCAA for Men
Betancourt Plus Series BCAA came out on top as the best BCAA for men. This is actually a great all-rounder as far as BCAAs go, but we found it particularly useful to men because it contains a very high amount of zinc. One serving contains almost 150 percent of your daily intake, and adequate zinc intake has been linked to optimal testosterone production. It also has a large amount of Vitamin B6 and B12, too.
BSN Amino X was our second choice for men. One of the first things we liked about it is that it’s rather high in sodium, which is an important nutrient to replace when you’ve been training hard. But the best feature for men is that one . scoop contains 125 percent of the RDI of Vitamin D, which is linked to healthy testosterone levels.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA is also a potentially great BCAA for men. We already liked it because of the stress-busing rhodiola and the immunity-boosting baker’s yeast, but it’s especially good for men because it has more magnesium than any other branched chain amino acid supplement we tried. In addition to improving recovery and sleep, and magnesium is linked to healthy testosterone levels.
Best BCAA for Women
Ideallean BCAAs for Women came in first. Ideallean is the only BCAA we’ve seen that’s aimed squarely at female athletes. According to their website, the big draw the product has for women is its focus on fat loss, and indeed it contains a wide variety of ingredients, from evodiamine extract to green tea catechins, that have been linked to fat loss in some studies. It’s also very high in certain B-vitamins that are important for women, particularly during childbearing years.
Allmax Aminocore was our second favorite for this category. While not quite as potent in this regard as Ideallean, Aminocore is remarkably high in B-vitamins and contains over 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamins B3, B6, B9, and B12 in each scoop. Also of note, it has a nice, large serving size of over 8 grams of BCAAs, but it’s just 5 calories per scoop.
Ghost Amino is another good pick for women. Ghost has a lot of unusual ingredients, perhaps more than any of the other branched chain amino acid supplements we reviewed and while it’s free from B-vitamins, it was the highest in calcium of all the BCAAs we looked at. Calcium is a mineral that’s especially important for women as they have a greater risk of bone loss later in life.
Best BCAA for Keto
Cellucor Alpha Amino is our top choice for people on a ketogenic diet. It has no calories so there’s little risk of it kicking you out of ketosis, and it’s also pretty high in magnesium, sodium, and potassium, minerals that are usually recommended as important supplements for people following the high fat diet.
Optimum Nutrition Pro BCAA was our second pick for ketogenic diets, even though it has 1 gram of carbs per serving. This is because with 100 milligrams per serving, it’s quite high in sodium. Since the body excretes sodium and water when on a low carb diet, it may be smart to supplement. Pro BCAA also has a considerable 5 grams of glutamine, which could help glucose production.
Ghost Amino is another good pick for keto folks. It does have two grams of carbohydrate per serving but it’s pretty high in sodium and potassium, plus it has one gram of taurine per scoop. Taurine may amplify the effect of insulin, so it’s sometimes recommended on low carb diets.
Best BCAA for CrossFit®-Style Training
KAGED MUSCLE IN-KAGED Intra-Workout Fuel was our favorite for functional fitness style workouts (such as CrossFit workouts). This is because it has a good hit of caffeine, plus there’s taurine and tyrosine to help with jitteriness and improve cognition and focus. There’s also beta alanine and l-citrulline, which have been linked to endurance.
MusclePharm 3:1:2 is another good pick for lengthy, intense workouts. This is because unlike most BCAA supplements it contains a relatively high amount of valine, which is the branched chain amino acid most closely linked with endurance and focus.
Best BCAA for Weight Loss
Ideallean BCAAs for Women had the most dedicated weight loss ingredients. This includes evodiamine, a berry extract that’s been linked to fat loss in rodent studies; green tea extract; and CLA, a type of fat that may help with weight management. Note that these ingredients are present in relatively small amounts, but there may be some effect.
Ghost Amino was another good pick. It contains a few unusual ingredients that may help with weight loss like Alpha-GPC, which is linked to healthy production of growth hormone, and 5-HTP, which may affect appetite control.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA was our third favorite for weight loss. We picked it because it contains beta glucans from baker’s yeast, which are strongly linked to improved immunity. Avoiding sickness is an extremely underrated component of effective fat loss and one that doesn’t get enough attention.
Best BCAA Powder for the Money
Allmax Aminocore was our choice for the best value branched chain amino acid supplement. It’s about 8.8 cents per gram of BCAAs, plus it delivers a lot of B-vitamins and it has nice, big serving size of 8 grams of BCAAs per scoop.
MRM BCAA+G Reload is another inexpensive, high quality option. It’s 9.6 cents per gram of BCAAs and it has a hefty dose of Vitamin B6, beta alanine, and glutamine. It’s also naturally sweetened with stevia and monkfruit — which means it doesn’t taste as good as some of its competitors but it’s free from a lot of chemicals.
Scivation Xtend is our third favorite for the money. Roughly 11 cents per gram of BCAA makes this on par with a lot of popular BCAAs but with extra glutamine, citrulline malate, and Vitamin B6, it’s our favorite in that price range.
Best BCAA for Muscle Growth
Betancourt Plus Series BCAA was our favorite for stimulating muscle growth. This isn’t just because it contains a lot of zinc, which is linked to healthy testosterone production. It also contains not one, but two kinds of leucine, the amino acid that’s most closely linked with muscle protein synthesis.
KAGED MUSCLE IN-KAGED is another one of our favorites for gaining muscle. This is because out of all the BCAAs we tried, IN-KAGED has the most citrulline malate (3 grams), which has been linked to hypertrophy. (Probably because it may improve endurance, thereby helping you complete more reps.)
Reign BCAA Elite+ was our third choice for muscle growth. It has the second highest amount of citrulline malate of all the BCAAs we tried and it also contains betaine anhydrous, which may improve power output. We also liked that it contained black pepper extract, which can improve the absorption of the nutrients.
Best BCAA Pills
Dymatize Nutrition BCAA Complex 2200 were our favorite branched chain amino acid pills. At 13 cents per gram of BCAA they’re not that cheap, but they come with a dose of Vitamin C, which can reduce cellular damage during exercise, and Vitamin B6, which can help with muscle retention. There’s also a host of ingredients, like crospovidone and croscarmellose, that help with product to absorb as efficiently as possible.
MyProtein BCAA 4:1:1 was our second favorite pill. These deliver about 1.5 grams of branched chain amino acids per pill and while there aren’t a lot of extra ingredients to improve your workout, there’s still 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B6 per serving. This product also costs 9.1 cents per gram of BCAA, so it’s cheaper than Dymatize.
Optimum Nutrition 1000 BCAA Capsules was our third favorite BCAA pill. It’s the cheapest of these three options at just 7.8 cents per gram of BCAA — the cheapest of any source of BCAAs that we’ve tried — but it pretty much only contains the three branched chain amino acids themselves. Note that it’s also packaged in gelatin caplets made from beef and pork, so avoid these if you keep kosher, halal, vegan, etc.
We tried dozens of branched chain amino acid supplements to land on this list, weighing price, taste, ingredients, and effectiveness. Plenty of people have different ideas as to what constitutes a “quality” supplement, but we think we’ve put together the best darn guide to picking a BCAA on the internet. For more information on each of the products, just make sure to click through to the full review. Enjoy!
Nearly everyone who has been bitten by the weightlifting bug has had the dream of making a living from it. Strongman athletes are no different. The desire to wake up and train, eat right and train some more is almost too good to be true. The reality is that while it is a difficult path, it can happen and there is more than one way to skin that cat. If you love the iron, and want to get a paycheck for your efforts, you may find your next career in this article.
Personal Trainer and Strongman Coach
You may already work in the industry but not directly with strongman athletes. Many commercial gyms lack the equipment you may need to perform the movements, but you can change that. A sandbag is under $100 and allows you to do loads and carries. Tires are free in most places, and I put together a guide for low cost training equipment here.
Explain to the owner or manager of the facility that you can open up strongman to a whole new class of people and add value to their gym by offering something unique. I personally believe that when conducted properly, Strongman training will be the most effective workout for your members.
Open Your Own Gym
It is expensive, you may never get rich, and it requires long hours, but in the long run I believe it is worth it. I’ve owned five fitness centers and two of them had sections exclusively for strongman. My last venture was almost exclusively strongman and by far my favorite club to run. Hit Matt Mills or Scott Brengal if you have questions. I’m certain they can give you some help (offer to pay them a consulting fee) because they are both successful owners. If you have no experience running a gym you should seek a business advisor to help you but here are some key points:
- Rent will kill your business. Find warehouse space near high visibility areas you can save 50% or more every month. See if you can start out small and expand into more areas if needed. You can most likely start with 2,000 square feet.
- Learn how to market via social media and understand the power of referral business. Keep your costs low but keep bringing in members.
- Love being there. You will need to spend 10 or more hours a day there to oversee everything. You may not be able to afford any employees, but you are the face of the place and the heart and soul.
- Hire an accountant. You want to live and teach strongman not manage numbers. Let a pro keep you on track.
Get a Job At a High School or University
Small schools will usually give you plenty of autonomy to run your weight room. While machines were all the rage for a while, they just can’t match the diversity of a great free weight program. Borrowing from the idea above you can bring in some low cost equipment for your students (but many schools will have an equipment improvement budget in place).
Become a Promoter
Though usually a part time gig, it’s a nice compliment to owning a gym or being a strongman coach. Lynn Morehouse has moved from doing local shows to running this year’s Masters, Women’s, and 105KG World’s Strongest Man contest. If you live in a populated area and there are many festivals and street fairs, you may actually get paid to put on the contest to provide entertainment for the attendees. Develop a system and a reputation for quality run events and the sky’s the limit.
The hardest and least likely path to getting a regular check is to be the best in the game. A talented few like Big Z and Brian Shaw can live well off prize money and sponsorships. Guys Like Oberst and Thor also get a check from TV and Movies to help them get by. If you are consistently able to compete at the top level you can do seminars, podcasts, and print advertisements.
Making a living in a way that makes you happy is the true meaning of success. All you need is a plan, work ethic and a little bit of luck. Set up your process to make it happen and enjoy working your plan as you would your training protocol. A more rewarding lifestyle can be in the gym.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Monday, October 2, 2017
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Editor’s Note: This article is intended to provide an objective view behind using cannabis and lifting weights. We’re not endorsing the use or promoting marijuana’s use, especially since it’s still illegal in many countries globally and in many states across the U.S. Please abide by all local and federal laws, as well as the rules of any sporting bodies where you compete.
There are currently twenty nine states that have legalized marijuana, or cannabis use in some form, whether it be medically or recreationally. Of these twenty nine, eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. In 2016, it was reported that the number of adults who say they regularly use marijuana has doubled since 2013. Gallup News illustrated this stat in their 2016 survey that showed 13% of adults admitting to regular marijuana use.
The use of marijuana — or at least the discussion surrounding it — is becoming less of a taboo topic across the U.S. We’re seeing states become much more liberal with how they view the use of cannabis. In addition, we’re seeing more athletes admitting to anecdotally using marijuana to improve performance, support recovery, and even help consume their goal calories.
This got us thinking, does marijuana help in the way some athletes have purported? This article will dive into what cannabis actually is and how it effects the body, where it currently stands with the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), and what science says about its use and lifting weights.
Background of Cannabis or Marijuana
What Is It?
Cannabis, also known as marijuana (among other names), is a psychoactive drug, which comes from the cannabis plant. There are three types of cannabis plants, which include: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Each of these plants are grown and used for different purposes, which we won’t dive into for this article.
This psychoactive parts of cannabis variations produce both mental and physical effects on the body, often known as the feelings of being high or stoned. After the use of marijuana, many report feeling an altered perception, heightened mood, increased appetite, and sometimes a euphoric feeling. Remember, these will vary pending on the marijuana strand, and type.
Brief History of Cannabis
The cannabis plant originates from Central and South Asia, and its first use dates way before Western Society began using this psychoactive drug. To provide a brief history of cannabis, its first documented use was in 2727 B.C. with Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. Since then, there have been multiple accounts and suggestions of Egyptian mummies having cannabis fragments buried with them. In addition, some historians believe that the ancient drug ‘soma’ was actually cannabis as we know it today.
It wasn’t until the mid 1500’s when cannabis made its way to Western Society as the Spanish began to import hemp from Chile. Hemp is a variation of the cannabis sativa plant and is often used for commercial industrial purposes. At the time, hemp was used to create rope and fiber.
What Causes Marijuana’s Effects On the Body?
The feeling of being high or stoned, along with their secondary attributes mentioned above, can be contributed to a few different factors. Marijuana contains multiple active compounds, but one of the major compounds is what we know as THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol. This compound is the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, and what we’ve come to know as the ingredient to make us feel ‘high’.
Cannabinoids, in short, are chemical compounds that interact with our body’s cannabinoid receptors. These cannabinoid receptors are located throughout our body along the central nervous system, and are heavily located in the brain. Along with the receptors, come their respective ligands, which function as triggering molecules for protein binding. Together, these make the Endocannabinoid System. The Endocannabinoid System plays a role in our brain’s reward system that is linked to drug use. Additionally, this system is often linked to causing psychiatric disorders, but also improving them with carefully planned manipulation.
Long story short, THC plays a role in our body by interacting with our Endocannabinoid System and producing various effects (feeling high). It’s hard to provide a definitive description of what feeling high is. Different strands of marijuana will produce different effects on the body, along with nervous system responses varying. This is why research has difficulty providing a consistent description.
Another factor that can contribute to the “high” feeling that comes with cannabis use is dopamine. This neurotransmitter plays a role in our body’s reward system, which cannabis has been seen to influence to an extent. Cannabinoids have been suggested to increase dopamine concentrations in the body, and varies depending on strand and one’s nervous system.
These are only two pieces of the puzzle of what marijuana does to the body. There are many other factors that have a role in this drug’s use and our body’s response, but for the most part, these two are among the most commonly known.
Suggested Side Effects
There have been many suggested side effects of both short-term and long-term cannabis use. Granted, keep in mind that like all side effects, they’re completely dependent on an individual, and may not ring true for every single person. A few of the short-term effects listed in the above literature are: Import short-term memory, altered judgement, and impaired motor functions. Some of the long-term potential effects include: Addiction, altering of the brain’s make-up, and a decrease in learning capabilities.
Marijuana and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)
If you compete in drug tested strength sports, then chances are you’re well aware of WADA and their policies. This is the organization that creates the standards for fair play rules, and coordinates guidelines for athlete’s and banned substance use.
In the recent past, WADA actually loosened up the threshold for cannabis use pre-competition. WADA changed the threshold of a positive cannabis tests from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150ng/ml. These new limits are designed to only catch athletes who are using during the time of competition, and testing positive at this threshold would suggest that the athlete is a fairly heavy consumer.
Previously, the rules were more strict, as marijuana in many provinces is an illegal drug. But in recent years, as marijuana continues to become more legalized and remains linked to relatively few performance enhancing effects, it seems WADA decided to become a little more relaxed with their positive testing threshold.
Cannabis and Weight Lifting
Unfortunately, there haven’t been a ton of studies done on cannabis and its direct effects on exercise. This is partly due to how the drug is still listed as an illegal substance in many states, so funding and studies become increasingly more tough to perform. Although there have been a few studies that have provided some insight into cannabis/THC’s effects on sport performance.
Cannabis and Sport Performance
Many study have addressed that there hasn’t been enough research to claim any performance enhancing effects cannabis may have. In fact, of the few studies done, they usually result in slightly decreased performance, or no effect whatsoever. For example, this older study from 1986 looked at marijuana’s effects on subjects who performed maximal exercise testing to exhaustion on an ergocycle. Researchers had 12-healthy individuals split into two groups: Non-smoking, then a group that performed 10-minutes after smoking a marijuana cigarette.
Researchers found that the group who smoked the marijuana cigarette experienced a slight decrease in performance duration. The marijuana group had a cumulative performance time of 15-minute, while the non-smoking group had 16-minutes. But at peak performance, researchers found no significant differences between the VO2 (oxygen uptake), VCO2 (carbon dioxide output), heart rate, and VE (minute ventilation).
Possibly the best review published on the topic of cannabis and sports performance was released in September 2017. This review analyzed 15 studies published.
In terms of strength, one study from 1979 had six males ages 21-27 partake in a sub-maximal biking and grip strength test. They were split into two groups: THC and placebo. The authors found that there was no effect on a subject’s grip strength, but there was a slight decrease in peak work capacity.
Another study that looked at THC and strength was performed in 1968. This study looked at 16 males aged 21-44. They performed 6-10 minute bouts on the treadmill and finger ergograph (a tool to assess a muscle’s work output). The authors didn’t publish the finger ergograph’s results, but noted within their study that, “Weakness was clearly demonstrated on the finger ergograph”.
The final study worth mentioning from the review followed 10-healthy males who were split into a control group and THC cigarette group. Subjects performed a bicycle ergometer test that started at 150 kg/min and increased by 150 kg/min on 5 min intervals until exhaustion. Researchers recorded multiple attributes including heart rate, VO2, VCO2, blood pressure, tidal volume, and a few other factors. The authors noted that the THC group all had their total work output decreased in comparison to the control group (who averaged 29.9-minutes), and one subject in the THC group became “stoned” and dropped out at 9.9 minutes.
Of the studies and reviews analyzed for this article, we couldn’t find one that conclusively suggested cannabis could be a performance enhancing drug. In fact, from what we analyzed, there was a consistent slight decrease in a subject’s total work output from the use of cannabis. Yet, it’s still nearly impossible to make any definitive claims on cannabis’s impacts on strength training and sport performance for a few reasons.
First, all of the studies were slightly older, so their methods for conducting research may differ from what researchers may currently use. Second, all of the studies had VERY small populations, which could create a bias in their results. Thirdly, none of the studies compared cannabis use with strength training programs. Fourth and lastly, of the studies in the review, none of them looked at a prolonged use of cannabis and strength training.
The use of cannabis in 41 states is still listed as illegal for recreational use. For athletes who regularly partake in tested strength sports and use marijuana regularly, then they should take the WADA’s thresholds into special consideration. It’s difficult to definitely say what marijuana will do to strength training and sports performance due to limited research.
In the future, we hope to see more studies done on the impact of marijuana use on strength training.
The post Marijuana and Lifting Weights: What the Science Suggests appeared first on BarBend.
“Women weaken legs.” — Micky, from the original Rocky movie
The above quote comes from the original Rocky movie. I was watching it last night, and it got me thinking: Is Micky right? Could sex impact my gains? And I’m not talking from a long-term point of view, but from a case by case basis, aka closely before or after lifting.
We know that sex can improve one’s confidence, naturally boost testosterone, and improve quality of life. So is it possible that for sexual activity to negatively impact gym performance? Let’s think about the Olympics, and a news report by USA Today that came out last year that highlighted the 450,000 condoms delivered to the athlete’s village (consisting of 10,000+ athletes, aka 42 condoms a day per athlete).
These athletes are at the peak of their career, and in possibly the most elite setting of competition, yet there’s a clear indication that competing isn’t the only thing going on. This makes me wonder, can sex really be considered bad for athletic performance?
A Review of the Research
Abstinence and Testosterone
Before diving into studies that have looked at how sex can impact an athlete’s performance, I want to cover the idea of abstinence and performance (aka Micky’s quote). The theory behind abstaining from sex before sport can be linked to the logic of the slight testosterone increase that comes with abstinence.
The two studies highlighted below focus on the effects abstaining from sex has on the male population’s testosterone.
One study from 2003 analyzed the relationship between masturbation induced ejaculation and serum testosterone in men. The authors had 28 volunteers abstain from sexual activity, and ejaculation for two periods of time. They noted that testosterone rose minimally from day two to day five, while hitting a peak of 145% at day seven. Following the seven day peak, the authors noted that testosterone didn’t increase any higher.
Then, a study from 2000 went a step further, and compared testosterone levels, along with endocrine responses over a 3-week abstinence period of masturbation-induced orgasm. Authors looked at multiple factors, which include: Adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, prolactin, luteinizing hormone and testosterone concentrations. Authors reported that there were no changes in the endocrine responses, but there was a slight elevation of testosterone.
But wait, it’s not that simple. Yes, these studies have suggested abstinence can increase testosterone levels slightly, but there’s no mention of other life factors at play. Plus, these studies don’t consider sports, lifting, and competition on one’s testosterone levels. They only look at relationship between abstaining from masturbation induced orgasm and testosterone levels/endocrine responses.
Sex and Sport
There have been a few studies that suggest sexual activity can influence sports performance for both men and women. In 2016, researchers performed a meta-analysis (research roundup) of the current research covering sex and sports. There are a few studies within the analysis that are more relevant to this article than others.
One of these studies comes from 1968 (very old), where study authors compared how sexual intercourse impacted their strength training in 14-healthy female athletes. They performed two different strength training sessions. One session was done the morning following a night of sexual intercourse, then the other session was six days after sexual intercourse. Authors noted no difference in strength levels or performance between the two sessions.
Another study from 2000 analyzed how sexual intercourse impacted a cycle ergometer stress tests and concentration levels in elite male athletes. Fifteen elite male athletes consisting of eight team players, five endurance athletes, and two weightlifters volunteered. There were two testing days (one with sex, the other without), and athletes performed a cycle ergometer test, followed by a one hour exercise stress test matched with a rhythmic concentration beep test.
Athletes performed these tests two hours and ten hours following sexual activity. The authors noted that the only significant difference found between the testing days was after the 2-hour test on the sexual activity day. Athletes had a higher post-effort heart rate up to ten minutes following the test (at ten hours there was no difference). This led authors to suggest that sexual activity doesn’t have detrimental impacts on performance, but may influence recovery rates for exercise bouts quickly following sexual activity.
Within the meta-analysis, researchers discuss the possible negatives that come with sexual activity and performance are more psychological. They discuss that some research indicated that sexual frustration provided athletes with an edge. Yet, other research indicated that sexual activity increases quality of life, which positive influence performance. In this scenario, it’s most going to come down to an individual, their sport, and mentality.
So Before Or After?
There’s limited research analyzing sexual activity in direct comparison with lifting, but we can draw a few tentative conclusions. And like most studies in this field of research, a lot is going to come down to an individual. If you find that sex drains you of concentration and energy before the gym, then it may be worth waiting until after. Conversely, if sex gives you energy, confidence, and improves the quality of your life, then it may be wise to do so before a lift.
Also, what you’re doing in the workout may play a role in this question. For example, if you’re doing a very heavy and intense workout, then you’ll have to gauge how sex impacts your energy and concentration levels. The goal should be to not have sex negatively impact performance.
Sexual activity pre- and post-lifting, or sport, will come down to the individual and how they respond to and view sex. From the research we reviewed, abstaining from orgasms may slightly increase testosterone, but there should also be the consideration of other life factors and stressors, which weren’t accounted for in the research. On that note, in most cases, sexual activity improves one’s quality of life and positively influence psychological aspects, which could also influence testosterone levels.
In reality, sex doesn’t appear to play a major role in performance in sport, or the gym independently by itself.
The post Can Sex Impact Your Lifting, Sports Performance, and Gains? appeared first on BarBend.
Friday, September 29, 2017
Thursday, September 28, 2017
At BarBend, we’re constantly on the quest to improve our bodies, strength, and knowledge of strength sports. Unfortunately, much of what we do is spent sitting behind computers, so like many, we’re constantly experimenting with new ways to spend our work days without losing progress in the gym.
Sitting for long periods of time isn’t only unhealthy, but it can do a number on our posture. Poor posture can negatively impact an athlete’s performance in the gym in more ways than getting into proper positioning for compound movements. And not every company has the resources to give employees stand up desks, which makes maintaining healthy posture even tougher.
If you sit for long periods of time, and don’t have access to a stand up desk, then check out these seated posture tips below to better your desk ergonomics.
Health Posture Tips for Desk Workers
Eye Gaze and Space From Screen
The way we fixate our eyes can play a big part in our head’s position and posture. When a screen is lower than our line of vision, then we’re forced to arch and flex the neck, which can result in a craning neck position. A forward head posture can lead to neck pain, tight traps, and weak neck muscles. All of these can negatively impact an athlete’s performance.
- Eye Gaze Path: Fixate your eyes on a screens that sit directly in front of your eyes, or at a slightly downward/upward position. This will decrease the time you spend looking down with a forward, or flexed neck posture.
- Space Between the Screen: An easy way to gauge the appropriate distance between yourself and the computer screen is by extending your arm. This is often 20-30″ and will help you avoid eye strain and leaning forward to get closer to your screen.
- 20-20-20 Rule: This rule requires you to stare at something away from your screen 20′ feet away for 20-seconds every 20-minutes. Research has suggested this to be a viable tactic to combat eye strain and asthenopia.
- Screen Brightness: A screen should be adequately bright with ambient light, so your time spent squinting is reduced.
- Try Palming: This is a method that requires you to turn away from your screen and place both of your palms over your eyes with the fingers crossed for a minute. Doing so is supposed to aid in eye strain.
Chair Position & Joint Angles
Your chair should have a few adjustments to support joint angles that won’t continually put you in compromising postures. For example, a chair shouldn’t be too high where the legs are hanging downward, or too low where the hips are overly flexed. There are a couple chair checkpoints and joint angles to perform to ensure you’re sitting in the best way possible.
- Height: An adjustable chair can be a great way to alter heights slightly to avoid putting the hips in the same positioning for extended periods. Ideally, you want your thighs to sit parallel with the floor.
- Arm Rests: Your arm rests should support the arms and create a 90 degree angle with the arms. If your chair doesn’t have arm rests, then position the arms so they’re laying at the height of the desk.
- Back of the Chair: Stagger out times when you sit erect with tall posture using no support. For situations when you’re using the back of the chair, sit all the way back in the seat and ensure the lumbar curvature is supported.
- Feet Flat: Maintain a flat foot posture on the ground, or angle them slightly up, while remaining flat.
- Shoulders Back: Keep the shoulders relaxed and back, while thinking tall chest. Try to avoid tensing up or tightening the upper back for extended amounts of time.
Kinesiology Taping for Posture
Another easy way to promote good posture is with the light use of kinesiology tape. The easiest way to tape the body for better posture is by placing one piece over the scapulas. Doing this will provide the mind with a stimulus to pull the scapulas back and maintain an upright chest throughout the day, aka a healthy posture.
Sometimes sitting for extended periods of time is inevitable, especially for those working sedentary jobs. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the negatives that come with sitting and poor postures. The above tips are only a few ways you can work with equipment at your desk to support proper posture.
The post Here’s How You Should Sit At Your Desk for Bigger Lifts appeared first on BarBend.
Brandon Tucker is a CrossFit® athlete and coach who doesn’t let the fact that he’s blind get in the way of a good workout.
This footage was taken at July’s Summer Partner Throwdown in Denham Springs. This was a fitness competition designed for two person teams, which made for a great environment for Tucker to crush his workout.
He was born with Usher syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leads to not only vision loss but also hearing loss — he has about 77 percent hearing loss in both ears. In an interview with CrossFit.com he said,
I never really felt like it held me back (…) In a weird way, it actually made me more competitive.
My family has always been competitive so I knew I would have to be a little bit better on my game than others who could see. I saw it as more of an exciting challenge than something that would hold me back.
Despite his disability, he became a successful entrepreneur in Louisiana, and when he encountered the sport of CrossFit in his late 30s, he said he was “hooked,” finding that it fed his competitive nature.
Before starting his own gym, CrossFit Feliciana, he attended CrossFit Geaux in Baton Rouge. His coach described how he taught Tucker to perform kipping pull-ups:
“Whenever he was on the kipping pull-up, having him put one hand on my chest, one hand on my lower back, feeling everything stay tight, the forward and back motion, cueing the pulling motion, and then when it came to the hip extension I cued him to think as if he was jumping on a box, so his knees would come up, he would shoot his feet down, and finally he would feel the sensation as if he was performing the pull-up.”
This week, CrossFit Feliciana announced that Tucker will be participating in a medical trial that may restore his vision. (Because of this he’s been forbidden to work out for the next three months, so he’s getting in a lot of WODs this week.)
But taking part in the trial is pricy. The first treatment costs $19,600, and if it’s successful there will be many more treatments to follow, so he’s raising funds with a Go Fund Me campaign. Check it out if it’s something you’d be interested in supporting.
Featured image via Marshall Courtney on YouTube.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Yeah, you read that title correctly. Some gym-goers (both male & female) at a rate of about 50 out of 100,000, actually have a legitimate excuse to be conscious of their exercise rates and abilities. Granted, it’s not exercise alone that they’re allergic to, but the act of exercise in addition with an allergen trigger.
In this case, exercise is a trigger that projects the body into an allergic reaction. The condition is called Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis, and it’s somewhat of an anomaly in the world of medicine. Anaphylaxis is a severe (sometimes life threatening) reaction to an allergen trigger that needs to be treated right away. These are cases when you hear about epinephrine pens (EpiPens) being used, or constantly held by those with allergies.
Allergists, doctors, and researchers are aware of the condition, but are still unsure of the exact biological mechanisms that cause the reactions. Researchers have known of this condition for over 35 years, and have made only some progress in figuring out what may stimulate the exercise induced reaction. What’s most strange about this form of allergic reaction is how the cases vary from person to person. This is why it’s so difficult for researchers to nail down exact mechanisms.
Researchers have said that roughly 30-50% of those who suffer from this condition find the reaction due to certain foods combined with exercise; others have had reactions caused by the combination of exercise and drugs like Aspirin. And there are even some women who have reactions when they’re in the peak of their menstrual cycle (possibly due to very high estrogen levels). To top it off, the intensity trigger of exercise varies from person to person. So while you have different triggers, you also have different activities/intensities to account for.
There have been a few theories made behind what may cause Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis: Increased blood flow pushing sensitive immune cells through the body, and gut bacteria changing behavior due to exercise. But these are only a couple theories, and it’s a difficult condition to test due to the varying conditions.
Fortunately, those who suffer from this condition usually find out right away, and medical professionals can help provide a clear cut game plan for combating the condition. It’s a rare, but pretty severe condition that should be taken seriously like any normal allergy, especially when you account for all factors involved.
The post Did You Know Some People Are Allergic to Exercise? appeared first on BarBend.