Monday, August 28, 2017

5 Benefits of the Hang Clean

Zahir Khudayarov Makes a 480kg Squat at 125kg Bodyweight for a New World Record

59 Year-Old Dave Barry Does “Murph” for 24-Hours Straight

When you think of tough and working out, what comes to mind? Is it squatting four plates, clean & jerking 300 lbs, or lifting a 400 lb Atlas stone? In their own respects, these could all be classified as tough, but for this article, we’re going to talk doing 24-hours-of-the-Murph-Hero-WOD-tough.

Dave Barry, 59, of CrossFit Truro in Cornwall, United Kingdom, wanted to give something back to the soldiers in his life and around the world. Barry’s end goal for his 24-hour bout with Murph was to shine light and bring attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Barry wasn’t a soldier himself, but he has friends who suffer from PTSD, and understands how much of a silent killer this disorder can be.

Barry was able to complete 11 full rounds of Murph in the 24-hour span, a full round more than the most we’ve seen done in a row. And he had the support of CrossFit Truro’s community by his side. Check out the video below.

Every time he’d go through a round of Murph, another gym member would accompany him. The two of them would go reps for reps, so if Barry did 10 squats, then the other gym member would equal him, and so forth.

History of Murph

Murph is one of CrossFit’s many Hero WODs, which are workouts named after fallen soldiers. The functional fitness community’s support of the soldiers and the loss of 29 year old Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy in 2005 is what led to the creation of the famed Murph workout. The workout is performed with a 20 lb weighted vest and follows the below rep scheme.

  • 1 Mile Run
  • 100 Pull-Ups
  • 200 Push Ups
  • 300 Squats
  • 1 Mile Run

Murph is done for time and if performed every year on Memorial Day. Before passing, Lieutenant Murphy was a CrossFitter himself and called this particular workout “Body Armour”. It was one of his favorites.

Barry performed 11 total rounds, which means he ran a total of 22 miles and completed 1,100 pull-ups, 2,200 push ups, and 3,300 squats. That amount of volume not only requires physical toughness, but mental tenacity to keep pushing. Barry displayed both in an epic display to honor soldiers everywhere.

Feature image screenshot from CrossFit’s YouTube Channel. 

The post 59 Year-Old Dave Barry Does “Murph” for 24-Hours Straight appeared first on BarBend.

Fanny Josefine Ahlfors Is an Insanely Strong Real Life Ninja

Amit Sapir Squats Over 4.3x Bodyweight for a New World Record

MRM BCAA+G Reload Post-Workout Recovery Review – A “Natural” Product?

Dumbbell Shoulder Press – Muscles Worked, Variations, and Benefits

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Optimum Nutrition 1000 BCAA Capsules Review – What’s the Upside of Pills?

Hafthor Bjornsson and Katy Perry Go Head-to-Head in Her New Music Video

In today’s pop music/strongman/basketball/Terry Crews-related news, a brand new music video has been released by one of the bestselling music artists of all time — and it stars one of the strongest men of all time.

Katy Perry’s new video for the sort-of-techno dance tune Swish Swish dropped this morning and while we knew Hafthor Bjornsson was going to be in it, we didn’t know that he was taking a starring role.

The setup is that Katy Perry is captain of a terrible basketball team called The Tigers, populated with short, sweaty, and/or out of shape athletes played by a variety of social media celebrities and coached by Saturday Night Live veteran Molly Shannon.

They have to win a game against the evil team, The Sheep, full of muscular, Monstar-like miscreants captained by none other than a snarling, Lannister-looking Hafthor Bjornsson. Check out the blonde wig, black beard, and prosthetic armpit hair getup they’ve got him sporting.

Image via KatyPerryVEVO on YouTube.

The man better known to the wider public as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane is framed as the ultimate bad guy: obnoxiously talented, indomitably strong, and out for blood. Seemingly made to invite Space Jam analogies, the game appears to be taking place in a universe ruled by cartoon physics: Bjornsson spins two basketballs on the same finger, has midair battles with Perry, and — spoiler alert — is ultimately defeated by Perry’s ability to fly, which she gains after a pep talk from Nicki Minaj.

[Weirdly enough, this is the second strongman music video we’ve written on this week. Take a look at Mikhail Koklyaev’s unusual pop music covers here!]

Before gaining a couple hundred pounds and becoming one of the world’s greatest strongmen, Bjornsson actually used to play professional basketball for his home country of Iceland, so this was actually some pretty appropriate casting and, dare we say it, he probably would beat Katy Perry in a real life basketball game.

Image via KatyPerryVEVO on YouTube.

But I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Featured image via KatyPerryVEVO on YouTube.

The post Hafthor Bjornsson and Katy Perry Go Head-to-Head in Her New Music Video appeared first on BarBend.

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Kuo Hsing-Chun Awarded Over $60,000 USD for Gold Medal and Clean & Jerk World Record

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Best Foam Roller Exercises for Office Workers

Here’s a Preview of Hafthor Bjornsson in Katy Perry’s New Music Video

One of the strongest men on Earth, Hafthor Bjornsson, is continuing his domination of pop culture with a cameo appearance in the latest music video from Katy Perry.

The video for Perry’s new single “Swish Swish” doesn’t drop until tomorrow, but she just released a teaser trailer that reveals a pretty amazing variety of actors.

First up, of course, is Hafthor Bjornsson. He came second in this year’s World’s Strongest Man contest but he’s perhaps best known to the wider public as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on HBO’s Game of Thrones, and indeed that’s how he’s introduced in the clip below. But he’s joined by a curiously blonde Terry Crews, Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon, Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo, and real life NBA announcer Bill Walton and sports journalist Rich Eisen.

You can watch the trailer below.

Is it just us, or does Bjornsson look kind of like a reverse Tyrion Lannister here — blonde hair, dark beard, but 6 foot 9 inches tall?

[Bjornsson has been doing a lot of acting lately — check him out as an evil kickboxer in the latest Van Damme movie!]

It’s actually fitting that the Icelandic strongman is playing a captain of a basketball team in the video, as for a time he was actually a professional basketball player. During his teenage years, he played over forty games for Icelandic junior national basketball teams, including a stint in Division A of the Under 18 European Championship. However, he missed most of the 2006-2007 season (when he was around 18) because he required multiple surgeries on his ankle — he played ten games without realizing it was broken.

The ankle ultimately forced his retirement from the sport at age 20, and not long afterward Magnus Ver Magnusson convinced him to give strongman a try. The move worked out pretty well for him.

Featured image via Katy Perry on YouTube.

The post Here’s a Preview of Hafthor Bjornsson in Katy Perry’s New Music Video appeared first on BarBend.

Breaking Down Famous Back Squat Programs for Weightlifters

5 Benefits of the Push Press

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bodybuilder Dallas McCarver Passes Away at Age 26

Mikhail Koklyaev Made a Full Music Video for His “Stolen Dance” Song Cover

Russian weightlifter/powerlifter/strongman Mikhail Koklyaev has a seriously impressive resume already. He’s a six-time Russian national weightlifting champion, a superheavyweight with a career snatch PR of 210 kilograms (463 pounds) and a clean & jerk of 250 kilograms (551 pounds). We’ve also seen him jerk 270 kilograms and he probably has the heaviest one-arm snatch we’ve ever seen on film at 110 kilograms (242 pounds).

In fact, even calling him a “weightlifter” seems like it’s selling him short. He’s a profoundly impressive cross-sport athlete who has won seven gold medals in the Strongman Champions League and a gold medal in the 2012 World Powerlifting Congress European Championships.

We could go on (and on), but today we want to draw attention to a lesser known talent of Koklyaev: the man loves to sing.

We came across this cover of the hit Milky Chance song, “Stolen Dance,” on his YouTube channel, and knew we had to share it. Importantly, Koklyaev didn’t just post a clip of himself singing into a fuzzy laptop camera — he produced an entire music video to accompany this very Russian, very awesome cover. (Which naturally found a way to include him pulling a broken down car with a harness.)

We know that when the strongman starts singing 15 seconds into the video, you might be a little shocked. Why he decided on such a gravely, throaty singing voice is a mystery to us because to be honest, he’s a really good singer. We know because, of course, we jumped down the rabbit hole of his YouTube channel to find out that he’s pretty darn good at singing while playing the guitar. (He says he composed the song below, but he hasn’t given it a name.)

And he can play piano. (This is an old Soviet song called “The Three Tankers,” or “The March of the Soviet Tankists.”)

And he’s not half bad at the accordion, either. This is one of the few videos he has posted with an English title: “Melody of my soul.”

[Do clips of singing weightlifters scratch you where you itch? Check out Olympic gold medalist Matthias Steiner’s pop ballad here!]

Koklyaev, who has deadlifted 400 kilograms (881 pounds) raw for three reps, has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and tens of millions of views on his YouTube channel, and while it’s almost entirely in Russian, any fan of his definitely has to see this hilarious English language commercial for his mobile game.

Unfortunately, the game isn’t available in the United States. It appears that for English speakers, there’s a lot about Mikhail Koklyaev that will remain a mystery.

Featured image via Михаил Кокляев on YouTube.

The post Mikhail Koklyaev Made a Full Music Video for His “Stolen Dance” Song Cover appeared first on BarBend.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Weightlifter Velichko Cholakov Passes Away at the Age of 35

A truly saddening news story broke this weekend on August 20th, as +105kg Bulgarian/Azerbaijani weightlifter Velichko Cholakov was confirmed to have passed away. The new’s report from Sofia News Agency (an English real-time report of Bulgarian news), stated that Cholakov’s death was sudden and unprecedented with no signs of immediate health complications.

In the report, it states Cholakov fell ill at 10:00 A.M. and his relatives quickly called paramedics. The emergency team reported that Cholakov had died from a heart attack, but that’s the initial analysis, and the full biopsy will provide more details into other possible cardiac and health-related issues that may have been present. Cholakov’s relatives told local media sources that he’d been recently suffering from heart problems.

Cholakov had built a solid list of career accolades. His weightlifting career bests include a 207.5kg snatch, 245kg clean & Jerk, and 447.5kg total.

In 2003, he won a silver medal at the World Championships. Then, in 2004, he took home a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics, and a gold medal at the European Championships.

Unfortunately, Cholakov was among the 11 Bulgarian weightlifters that failed doping tests before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This led the whole Bulgarian team to withdraw from the Olympics, and serve a four year ban.

In the Reuters report, they state that upon completion of his doping ban, Cholakov claimed Azerbaijani citizenship, and set his sights to compete for this country at the 2012 London Olympics. Yet, before official weigh-ins reports came in that Cholakov failed to show up. At the time, there was no official reasoning given as to why he didn’t show, but it was later announced that it was due to health issues.

Before his passing, Cholakov worked as weightlifting coach for multiple athletes in his hometown of Smolyan, Bulgaria. With heavy hearts, we send our condolences to Cholakov’s family, friends, and athletes.

Feature image courtesy of 

The post Weightlifter Velichko Cholakov Passes Away at the Age of 35 appeared first on BarBend.

How I Got Here: Charles Okpoko, 66kg Powerlifter

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Bryce Krawcyzk Deadlifts 388kg In Training (0.5kg Over the Current IPF Record)

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dmitry Klokov Shows What Happens When Your Feet Are Too Narrow

International Powerlifting Federation Releases Stern Warning About Supplements

Chipotle Has a WOD? 3 Brands Jumping on the Functional Fitness Bandwagon

Strength sports like powerlifting, weightlifting, and functional fitness are steadily growing (more so in recent years). Their growth can be attributed to a few different factors, which we’ll save for another article. But strength is becoming a norm, and out of industry companies are making greater attempts at reaching fans of everything from CrossFit® training to powerlifting.

This is a good thing for strength athletes. This is pushing more companies to work harder to appeal for the strength and workout based mindset, so more products and ads are becoming relatable. Check out these three big companies jumping on the fitness bandwagon below.

1. Chipotle

A fast(ish) food company that’s loved by many strength athletes (usually post-workout) just posted a Chipotle WOD. What does it consist of? Check it out below.

We’re not saying this is the healthiest WOD we’ve ever seen, but it does look tasty. This is only one example of a big company making an attempt to reach strength athletes.

2. Michelob Ultra

On a larger scale, let’s not forget the functional fitness Super Bowl ad Michelob Ultra put out earlier this year. Their ad features a functional functional fitness workout with a handful of Reebok CrossFit Games athletes, and some of the sport’s veterans including Becca Voigt and Dan Bailey.

3. Samsung

Another factor that’s helping push outside industry companies to market fitness based content is the rise in health-related technology. Phones, wearable technology, and a plethora of apps, are all encouraging healthier mindsets and habits on a regular basis.

Companies like Apple and Samsung are only a couple of the bigger named companies striving to spearhead the fitness and technology relationship. Check out the “Working Out Is Crazy” ad Samsung put out at the end of 2016.

Are these ads all a little tongue and cheek, yes, but they do offer some (at least slightly) deeper meaning. As a nation, we’re seeing a growth of the fitness and strength-oriented mindset, and in our view, that’s never a bad thing. Strength is becoming cool(er).

Now our question for the strength athlete is: Do you like when non-fitness companies make fitness-based marketing ploys?

Feature image from Chipotle Mexican Grill Facebook page. 

The post Chipotle Has a WOD? 3 Brands Jumping on the Functional Fitness Bandwagon appeared first on BarBend.

Wall Balls – Exercise Guide, Muscles Worked, and Benefits

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jeison Lopez (Junor 77kg) Snatches 170kg in Training!

Josh Bridges Pushes a 1,000 Pound Sled!

CrossFit Games Athlete Emily Bridgers Shares Her Seven Year Fitness Transformation

Betancourt Nutrition Plus Series BCAA Review — Can Zinc Help a Workout?

6 Elite Strength Athletes Share Their Best Hotel Workouts

Watch Mart Seim Squat 270kg for an Insane 12 Reps

Rogue Fitness Launches New Cerakote Barbells in Multiple Colors

Toes To Bar Ultimate Guide

Monday, August 14, 2017

Medicine Ball Slams Ultimate Guide

Adidas Leistung 16 II Vs. Adidas AdiPower

Dallas Norris’s New All-Time World Record Squat Is Stirring Up Controversy

Tian Tao Pause Squats an Easy 310kg at ~85kg Bodyweight

Josef Eriksson Benches 223kg at 97.5kg for New European Record

Rookie Alec Smith Gives Candid Recap of His First Reebok CrossFit Games

It might seem like a surprise to many fans of the sport, but the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games was Alec Smith’s first time competing on functional fitness’ biggest stage. The athlete out of Virginia Beach, VA, is no stranger to the sport or its fans, though; he’s a multi-time Regionals competitor and the younger brother of 2015 Games Champion Ben Smith.

And while it seems from the outside like Alec Smith basically grew up around CrossFit, his athletic journey has taken some pretty sharp twists and turns. Before he took up CrossFit, the former youth gymnast suffered an accident years ago that left him with two herniated discs and required reconstructive shoulder surgery. While Smith took quickly to CrossFit and weightlifting after recovery, nagging back issues occasionally slowed his progress, and an L4 fracture in 2014 forced him to take six months off from all physical activity.

After battling back from multiple physical challenges, Smith qualified as a Games Individual in 2017 and ultimately finished in 37th place (out of 39 competitors) in Madison.

On August 13th, Smith shared an insightful and candid recap of his Games experience, along with how it fits into his athletic career (so far). From Smith’s post:

I went into the CrossFit Games excited, healthy, and most importantly in the best shape I have ever been in. All of the excitement and build up literally came down to this one weekend, and as expected, it FLEW by. I have been trying to figure out a way to describe my experience without sounding completely negative and down in the dumps… but lets just say the whole weekend was a series of unfortunate events, that were all timed pretty perfectly. Before reading any further, this isn’t an excuse as to why I didn’t place well or me pin pointing it on one thing in particular. Everyone at the games is extremely fit and mentally strong. This is a reflection on my own personal journey and the roller coaster I’ve been on the past few years of my life that I wanted to share with everyone.

The entire post clocks in at nearly 1,800 words, but it’s well worth a read. If you’ve ever struggled with injury or the mental exhaustion that comes from pursuing an athletic endeavor, Smith’s post is a worthwhile read.

Featured image: Alec Smith via Facebook

The post Rookie Alec Smith Gives Candid Recap of His First Reebok CrossFit Games appeared first on BarBend.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

‘Icarus’ Review — An Explosive Look at the Russian Doping Scandal

It’s interesting that the explosive new documentary Icarus — now available to stream on Netflix — is so often described as a tale of a cyclist who decided to beat a doping test. It’s absolutely riveting viewing, but don’t expect something so small-scale. Expect a bombshell.

“Average guy beats a doping test” is a great hook, and that’s how the movie starts out: filmmaker Bryan Fogel wanted to beat his best time in the multi-day cycling event Haute Route, and decides to see if he can get away with using testosterone propionate and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

But like Weiner, The Queen of Versailles, and many of the greatest documentaries, the original premise quickly gives way to a bigger, stranger, unexpected storyline.

Image via Netflix/Alex Productions.

Strength sports, especially weightlifting, have been greatly affected by doping allegations, positive tests, and scandal, including in relation to Russia’s systematic doping program. (It kept their weightlifting team out of the 2016 Rio Olympics.) You may have read some of the coverage from The New York Times when the story broke last year, but Icarus — through sheer, dumb luck — provides a front row seat to the scandal’s leadup and aftermath by way of Fogel’s doping experiment.

The initial experiment kind of fizzles out. While his cycling performance increases dramatically, officials at the Haute Route didn’t wind up testing him for banned substances anyway and, due in part to a broken gearbox, he ultimately places significantly worse than the previous year.

But at the same time, his coconspirator (for want of a better term) finds himself in history-changing hot water. See, to pull off his caper, Fogel worked with the endearing Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Moscow’s Anti-Doping Centre, who cheerfully agreed to break his industry’s code of ethics and help achieve Fogel’s goal.

Pretty quickly, the documentary becomes about Rodchenkov’s desperate struggle to expose an incredibly far-reaching conspiracy within the Russian government. Not long after the bike race, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) releases a report that names Rodchenkov as an actor in widespread, state-sponsored doping among Russian athletes, resulting in him fleeing to Fogel’s home in the United States and going full whistleblower on the scandal.

Image via Netflix/Alex Productions.

Followers of doping-rocked sports will be fascinated by the devastating detail he goes into as he describes the various schemes he employed, which includes an elaborate system of smuggling urine out of Sochi testing centers through holes in walls and fire exits. He claims to have personally ensured that thirty medalists in the Beijing Olympics and more than half of the medalists in London would pass doping tests, and that he and his lab did so with the full authority of the Russian government and Vladimir Putin himself.

As a viewer, you may be skeptical of Rodchenkov’s claims, but the evidence mounts higher and higher as the film continues and scores of “clean” athletes from previous Olympic Games are retested and found dirty. By its end, the head of Russia’s anti-doping agency is telling The New York Times that there has been an “institutional conspiracy” in place to cheat the Olympics for years. (The following day, Russia retracted the claim.)

Image via Netflix/Alex Productions.

This is not a film about steroids, exactly. It’s no Bigger, Faster, Stronger* or Generation Iron 2. There’s not really any talk about the physical effects of steroids or the ethics of using them. Only once does Rodchenkov seem remorseful for having played is part in the conspiracy: when he suspects that the enormous medal count in Sochi emboldened Putin to invade Crimea, which seemed something of a stretch.

At one point during a heated meeting between Fogel (as Rodchenkov’s proxy) and representatives of WADA, an official asks if the former director of Moscow’s Anti-Doping Centre felt “sorry” for what he’d done. Fogel can’t answer and neither can the audience. This isn’t a knock against the film, but it’s a documentary, factual. It’s not particularly thematic — its purpose is to tell the truth and document this tumultuous year in the history of sports.

To that end, the themes of the film are truth, lies, and the post-fact era that some fear we’re living in, themes that are underscored by Snowden allusions and Rodchenkov frequently quoting his favorite book, George Orwell’s 1984. It’s a film about power, conspiracy, and the shadowy interplay of sports and politics.

Featured image via Netflix/Alex Productions. 

The post ‘Icarus’ Review — An Explosive Look at the Russian Doping Scandal appeared first on BarBend.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

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California Strength’s Dave Spitz Breaks Down the Split, Squat, and Power Jerk

California Strength’s Dave Spitz just put up an awesome video breaking down the jerk in weightlifting. He goes over all of the jerk variations, who they work best for, when to use them, and different accessories to assist each.

Before you start to think, “I already know the jerks, and which I’m best at.” That may be true, but it never hurts to learn more, especially from one of the most seasoned American Olympic lifting coaches. Plus, the jerk is often one of most complex movements a lifter can achieve. It’s a combination of speed, coordination, strength, stability, and body awareness.

Check out the video below where Spitz breaks down the three types of jerks.

There were a few key points worth calling out in text and mentioning. First, Spitz uses a cool graphic to illustrate the three jerk types. And within this graphic he breaks down what they all have in common, and then which types have physical overlaps.

The graphic below shows what every jerk variation has in common: Commitment, courage, and timing.

[The clean & jerk offers a ton of benefits, not just improving strength and power.]

After pointing out what every jerk variation has in common, Spitz shows similarities in-between each jerk area where they overlaps with one another. There’s overlap of various physical athletic traits between each jerk variation, check them out below.

Squat + Power

  • Superior Leg Strength
  • Enhanced Shoulder Mobility

Split + Power

  • More Explosive Lower Body Drive
  • More Explosive Punch Into Position

Split + Squat

  • Enhanced Quadricep Function
  • Enhanced Isometric Coreline (Transverse Abdominals)

Image courtesy CaliforniaStrength YouTube channel.

The next part of the video, Spitz goes over which type of athlete benefits best from each jerk style, the dip:drive types, various accessories to assist each, and what type of athlete will often perform/benefit from them.

Split Jerk

  • Athlete Type: Any
  • Dip:Drive: Shallow/Quick OR Deep/Controlled
  • Accessories: Foot Work Drills, Jerk Ladder
  • Application: Any (Useful for late adopter, as it’s the least difficult.)

Image: Jerk Ladder courtesy CaliforniaStrength YouTube channel. 

Squat Jerk

  • Athlete Type: Shorter Limbs and Longer Torso
  • Dip:Drive: Shallow or Deep/Controlled
  • Accessories: Tall Jerk Variation, Overhead Squat Recovery
  • Application: Early Adopter

Power Jerk

  • Athlete Type: Longer Limbs and Shorter Torso
  • Dip:Drive: Deep/Controlled
  • Accessories: Plyo Power Jerk, Behind the Neck Push Press
  • Application: Transitory

No matter what jerk style you use and practice, it’s never a bad idea to have a solid understanding of why you’re doing it, and what it requires.

Feature image screenshot from CaliforniaStrength YouTube channel. 

The post California Strength’s Dave Spitz Breaks Down the Split, Squat, and Power Jerk appeared first on BarBend.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

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Why Saunas Can Build Muscle, Boost Endurance, and Increase Strength

Why do so many people purposely seek out the discomfort of saunas? Think about it. The climate in a sauna is repulsively hot, often over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 percent humidity. Sweat immediately starts pooling at your feet. If you were wearing clothes, they’d be instantly ruined. We pay cash money to use them and then… well, then what?

What do saunas do? They originated in Europe in the Middle Ages — probably a good thousand years ago — when people would pour water over heated stones in pits dug into hillsides. But they also appeared in Korea in the 15th century, where they were touted for their health benefits.

But what are the health benefits? Most people will say the sweat helps clean your pores and improve your mood. In the last few decades, modern science has uncovered an astonishing variety of other benefits that can have serious implications for strength athletes.

Do Saunas Really Improve Endurance?

It stands to reason (and science) that a sauna habit helps your body get more acclimated to heat. That doesn’t just mean you might enjoy tropical vacations more than sauna shunners, it means the body may become better at handling stressful, sweaty workouts.

There are a few studies that support the notion of heat acclimation improving endurance. One that was published in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that among six male distance runners, time to exhaustion increased by a whopping 32 percent after three weeks and twelve half-hour sauna sessions compared to a control group. Since the sauna users’ blood volume and plasma volume significantly increased too, they suggested there might be a correlation.

“For heavy lifters, like powerlifters or weightlifters, the improvement in stress resilience is still good,” says Ben Greenfield, a human performance consultant based in Spokane. “It improves your cardiovascular system and capillarization, which improves blood flow to muscles and improves oxygen delivery.”

Can Saunas Increase Muscle Mass (Hypertrophy)?

If you’ve spent much time reading about the physiological benefits of lifting weights, you’ve probably heard about growth hormone (GH). It’s crucial for the growth and repair of muscles, and there’s evidence that it can also help reduce body fat.

Strength training and good sleep do an awesome job of naturally increasing GH. But there’s a lot of evidence that saunas can take it to a whole new level, with some research suggesting that two 20-minute sauna sessions in a week can elevate GH levels two-fold over baseline, and that increasing the heat can result in even bigger jumps. In one study, subjects who endured two one-hour sauna sessions in a week temporarily increased their GH levels by 1600 percent — of course, an hour in an extra hot sauna might be a big ask.

“Saunas have the positive benefits of growth hormone and not the problems associated with superphysiological GH,” says Greenfield, referring to the fact that regularly injecting very high amounts of exogenous growth hormone has been linked to nerve and joint pain and a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

“It’s an endogenous boost of your natural levels of growth hormone, unlike GH injection or excessive use of some sort of GH precursor like colostrum or lots and lots of dairy,” he says. “It’s kind of like comparing natural methods of increasing testosterone, like getting lots of sunlight and having lots of sex, to exogenous testosterone, which can sometimes shut down your natural production.”

So What About Saunas and Strength Gains?

It certainly looks like there’s an effect. As mentioned above, the improved blood flow and blood volume can help to shuttle nutrients to muscles and improve recovery from tough workouts. The growth hormone is also linked to strength gains, better sleep quality, and pain relief, but there’s also a lot to talk about with regard to heat shock proteins.

In rodent studies, hyperthermic conditioning appears to induce the production of heat shock proteins, which can prevent damage caused by free radicals and support antioxidant capacity. They also appear to repair damaged proteins, ensuring proteins have their proper structure and function.

There’s evidence that heat shock proteins also help you retain muscle if you’re not training very much. One study showed that following a week of inactivity, heat-acclimated rodents retained 30 percent more muscle than a control group. We know that rodent studies don’t always transfer to humans, but these studies have a good sample size and the biological mechanism functions very similarly in humans.

Wrapping Up

While some experts recommend twenty minutes five times a week, there’s evidence that sticking to sessions of fifteen to twenty minutes two or three times a week will still have an effect on your growth hormone, endurance, and production of heat shock proteins. It’s possible that drinking some caffeine before heading into the sauna will improve fat mobilization; just be sure you also drink plenty of mineral water.

Finally, if you’re sweating it alone, be certain that someone knows you’re in the sauna just in case you get overwhelmed by the heat. It happens, and nothing is one hundred percent safe. Be smart, be safe, and talk with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your fitness routine.

The post Why Saunas Can Build Muscle, Boost Endurance, and Increase Strength appeared first on BarBend.

Jon Call (Jujimufu) Tries Weightlifting at Mash Elite Performance

Jon Call, or Jujimufu, is the self-proclaimed ‘anabolic acrobat’ that I can almost guarantee you’ve seen on Instagram at some point in your lift. He’s one of the few strength athletes who can pull off holding a splits on top of chairs, while holding a barbell over his head.

In fact, he was on America’s Got Talent back in 2016 for his crazy acrobatic strength. Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh I have seen him, wait, that’s Jon Call?” Yup. If you’re still lost, check out the video below, and you’ll quickly gain an understanding of who Call, or Jujimufu is.

Recently, Call has been pumping out some awesome YouTube videos. And we thought one of his last videos was deserving of an article. It features Call training and learning Olympic lifting at Mash Elite Performance with some of the most renowned weightlifting coaches in the United States, including Travis Mash and Don McCauley.

Personally, I think this video is great because it shows Call, a weathered strength athlete, starting from ground zero. Olympic lifting can be intimidating to start, so seeing someone like himself with his experience learning from scratch is humanizing. But that’s not all, here a few other aspects that made this video great.

  • Awesome coaching with feedback from Travis Mash & Don McCauley.
  • Clips of Nathon Damron, Morgan McCullough, and others in the background.
  • A pretty cool BarBend banner in the background *cough cough*.
  • Movement walk-through commentary from the coaches and Call, along with what Call had previously thought before being corrected.
  • Hints of Clarence Kennedy coming in the next couple of months to lift with Call and at Mash.

Besides the coaching in the video, the last point is pretty dang exciting. Not to mention, Mash talks about having him and Damron go head to head with squats. Now that would be an epic squat battle.

Feature image screenshot from Jujimufu YouTube Channel. 

The post Jon Call (Jujimufu) Tries Weightlifting at Mash Elite Performance appeared first on BarBend.

New Girl’s Max Greenfield Is Obsessed With the Reebok CrossFit Games

There aren’t many celebrities as obsessed with CrossFit as Max Greenfield.

The 36-year-old actor, who has earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for playing the uptight fitness nut Schmidt on Fox’s New Girl, made an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers to promote his new movie Glass Castle.

Having just returned from this weekend’s Reebok CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, the actor was clearly still on a high from watching the sport’s most elite athletes compete for the titles of Fittest Man and Woman on Earth,™ and Meyers decided to poke a little fun at him.

They spend several full minutes discussing CrossFit (when has this ever happened on a late night talk show!?) so there’s a lot to unpack here, but here are some of our favorite quotes.

Meyers: Do you do CrossFit?

Greenfield: I do, yeah.

SM: But you did not go to compete, you just went to watch.

MG: Watch people work out, man!

SM: That’s really it! See now, that’s interesting you framed it that way because that’s how I would have framed it, and that’s why I wouldn’t have gone.

But look, I don’t want to disparage the hard work that CrossFit people do, there are a lot of sports that I watch that I’m sure other people wouldn’t watch, but this is sort of the gist of what you were watching?

Image via Late Night with Seth Meyers on YouTube.

Meyers then proceeds to hold up pictures of Alethea Boon pulling a sledMat Fraser doing double unders, and Tia-Clair Toomey finishing a snatch. Greenfield gushes about their performances and likens third place finisher Ricky Garard to Mad Max.

“Here’s the thing,” says an incredulous Meyers. “When I’m in the gym, every now and then I’ll be doing something and there’ll be like a dude, like a creep just staring at other people working out, that’s what you did for a weekend.”

“No, no, no, no, no. It’s sports.”

“It’s not a sport. You watch people exercise. You’re a weirdo at the gym. You’re a weirdo at the gym.”

[Check out how Max Greenfield’s Open Score compared against other celebrity CrossFit athletes!]

Meyers is clearly just having some fun, and remember, he did emphasize that he respects the hard work that CrossFit athletes do. Honestly, we were a little surprised that he doesn’t do CrossFit himself, since the last time the sport was mentioned on the show it was when Meyers took Jon Snow to a dinner party, where they say they met each other at their local box.

Snow: The high-intensity interval training keeps me in shape for fighting Wildlings, while the increased muscle mass helps me defend the Seven Kingdoms against 55-foot giants.

Meyers: And I just wanna look good for TV.

Image via Late Night with Seth Meyers on YouTube.

In all seriousness, it’s pretty wild that such a popular talk show spent so long discussing the pros and cons of CrossFit. While the video’s description describes it as an “obscure sport,” it looks like it’s become pretty darn mainstream.

Featured image via Late Night with Seth Meyers on YouTube.

The post New Girl’s Max Greenfield Is Obsessed With the Reebok CrossFit Games appeared first on BarBend.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

5 Ways a Major Knee Injury Changed My Squat

Check Out Rogue’s New Dumbbell Bumpers

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Dumbbells are great alternatives to barbells, but I wish they were more like barbells,” well, your ship has come into port.

Not content to merely sell old-fashioned dumbbell plates, Rogue has released bumpers to be used with their loadable dumbbells. The result kind of makes one think of a car-sized bus or a mini hot dog, but somehow it works.

Image via Rogue

So, why dumbbell bumpers? What do they offer that regular old plates don’t do? If your first thought was, “You can slam them into the ground after finishing a round of DB snatches,” you’d be wrong. Even though their site says that they’re “essentially condensed versions of (their) standard full-size Rogue Color Training Plates,” they nonetheless tell the user that, in no uncertain terms, “Dumbbell Bumpers are NOT meant to be dropped from overhead.”

Instead, the point is that they let you load more weight and quickly swap/adjust weight increments using the same dumbbell handle — you can now load up to 110 pounds onto the dumbbell, which itself weighs ten or fifteen pounds depending on the model.

Image via Rogue

The bumper plates — soon to be sold in sets and pairs — come in 10-, 15-, 25-, 35-, 45-, and 55-pound versions, and the three heaviest plates are all 5 7/8 inches thick. Having these heavier weights could also potentially save money, since you don’t need to load on as many plates to reach a heavy weight for dumbbell movements that require them.

These bumper plates are very, very new, and although the indication that they shouldn’t be dropped seems a little counterintuitive a first, we bet their bright design will be lighting up gym Instagram feeds before too long.

Featured image via Rogue Fitness

The post Check Out Rogue’s New Dumbbell Bumpers appeared first on BarBend.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

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Transitioning from Powerlifting to Strongman: Tips and Considerations

I wanted to address a fairly well discussed topic in my circle for quite some time now. It is a deeply personal issue that people either embrace as the choice of someone to make on their own, or harass them for going against the grain. Often, the first person an athlete will discuss their decision with is their coach because we know them so well. I’ve had much experience with this so I’ve decided to give you my thoughts on making the transition from powerlifting to strongman.

While both sports focus on whole body strength and have some underlying similarities, they are two deeply different attempts at expression of those abilities. Both rely on the squat and deadlift as training and competition exercises but the implementation of them could not be any more different. In the same vein, they also both feature a press but they couldn’t be more different. Firstly, we will examine where you will most likely do well then by  what you should expect to be difficult and how we can change your game to become who you really are inside.

Where You Will Have Much Success Transitioning

The king of all exercises makes up the base of almost all strongman training. Using a heavy rotation of front and back squats you know you can’t beat the power created here. Don’t count on seeing the squat directly tested in any event you are likely to compete in right away though. It is more of an indirect exercise aiding in the performance aspect of many other events. Chain drags, carries, truck pulls and nearly everything in strongman will require the strongest legs you can muster. Having a great raw squat will give you much of the base new trainees will have to work years to achieve.

It is common to stick with what you are the most comfortable at but don’t be afraid of the new territory here. Learn the front squat and even the Zercher squat. Bringing the squat upfront will work the quads more and bring more balance to your strength. This is great for every movement, especially the press.

Initially you will shine on the deadlift. With the aid of straps and a double belt (you can have a support belt on under your power belt) blowing past your previous PR’s will be a breeze.

Read here for an in depth look at the differences and what you can expect.

Many contests feature a max deadlift, and you should enjoy that very common ground. It shouldn’t even take long to adapt to the side handle or thick bar pulls. Most likely you will adapt to lapping the stone, keg, picking the farmers walks and flipping the tire very quickly. For a Powerlifter, the heavier on these events the better. When you start out don’t over spend your time here on these events. See them as ones that will come more naturally and leave yourself time to focus on your three main weaknesses.

Where You Will Be Challenged in Transition

The first struggle will be overhead. It will likely frustrate you to no end. Getting the weight over your head will be tough without the stabilization of the bench, but the biggest issue that I have seen athletes struggle with is the clean. Getting the weight from the floor to the rack (the position under your chin) takes some very explosive movement and coordination that must be learned. This is where you should seek out a good coach. I would highly recommend finding someone to teach you both the push press and the jerk. 

A bencher will want to rely on their triceps to just push the weight up (and you will crush your lockouts for sure) but getting your body behind the weight will make the numbers pressed much more amazing. In the mid 2000’s contests, would still have an incline log press, very similar to the bench, but I have not personally seen one in a decade now.

You must get very comfortable with being able to clean, press, and then stand under a weight without any outside forces. A key exercise for you to insert in your programming is going to be an overhead squat. If you can master this you will hit huge numbers and not be worried about the weight crashing down on your head. It is also a great full body warm-up and shouldn’t tire out the muscles for the rest of the session. As soon as you are able, get comfortable with these keep them in until you have the strength of a support beam.

Secondly, your muscular endurance will be low. Most powerlifters never do more than five reps, with the bulk of the training being three or less. Strongman training requires muscular endurance as well as high limit strength. Getting used to rep ranges of 10, 15 or even 20 is not uncommon. A weight may be easy for you in a contest but you have to be able to work through all those reps.  Your weekly training sessions must account for this. While it may be similar to bodybuilding you must teach your fibers to be comfortable at working longer and not hitting failure as quickly. A smart coach will program in some rep work for their athletes to keep them used to those increased demands.

The biggest hurdle though (and this means you are going all in) is bringing your anaerobic system up to the demands of the sport. Very few athletes like going at 100 percent for 60 seconds but if you really want to be competitive here you must do this repeatedly to be a champion. I have had promising powerlifters show up do well and a few events like log press and car deadlift but after just a few sets of tire flips or farmers walks they quit and never showed back up. I hate to see this! Just a few weeks of sled work or sprints can make a huge impact on your performance levels in this sport.

Get used to feeling the burn in your chest and accept it as being a more well rounded athlete. The reward of out walking someone with a sandbag or out flipping them on the tire is a great feeling. You have the raw materials already, just some hard work will provide a great shine.

You don’t have to get nuts and remember you can always go back to your old sport if you find that this is not for you. The ultimate test of strength and athleticism is an entirely different world. The best part is you can probably still powerlift on the side. By adding in strongman you will most likely actually add to your total due to the increased core stability and better recovery abilities. Nothing like living between two worlds and being your own athlete.


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 Transitioning from Powerlifting to Strongman: Tips and Considerations appeared first on BarBend.

All Teen and Masters Podium Finishers at the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games

The Dumbbell Goblet Squat – Technique and Benefits

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey Win 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games

2017 CrossFit Games Masters (60+) Athlete Saves Drowning Fellow Competitor

Robert Caslin may not have come out on top at the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games, but he’s definitely left a lasting impact. CrossFit HQ recently released a story on Caslin, a Masters 60+ athlete, who saved the life of a fellow competitor during the Run, Swim, Run event on Thursday, August 3rd.

It’s a great article, and we highly recommend taking a second to read the whole thing.

Here’s the recap: Will Powell, 57, was about 20 meters behind Caslin when he found himself struggling to stay afloat and yelling for help. Caslin told CrossFit HQ that he heard, “Help! Help! I’m Drowning!” coming from behind him in the middle of the swimming portion of the event.

Photo courtesy 

Caslin had to make a decision. With roughly 120 meters to go in the swim, Powell, a four-times Games athlete, found himself in trouble, gasping for air with panic beginning to set in. Luckily, Caslin, a two-time Games athlete and Powell’s friend, wasn’t too far off and made the gut decision to go back for his friend.

Foreshadowing this event, when the Run, Swim, Run event was first announced, Powell and Caslin both had a concern for Powell’s ability to fair in long distance swim. Powell told CrossFit HQ he’s not the strongest swimmer, and also said he hosts a 12-cm tumor growing in the outside lining of the lower lobe of his right lung. Powell told CrossFit HQ,

“Basically I have a lung and a half.”

During the saving, Caslin was also helped by rookie CrossFit Games Masters (55-59) athlete Gus VanDerVoort. Both of them helped Powell stay afloat and waited for the assisting kayak to arrive.

Powell reportedly told Caslin to continue on and that he’d be fine, but Caslin wasn’t leaving his friend until he knew he was safe. Caslin told Powell, “Not finishing this is not gonna ruin my race; what’s gonna ruin it is if you die. I’m not going anywhere until we make sure you’re safe.”

As the kayak finally arrived, they gave Caslin the option to return to his previous point, but he declined to take a ride in with Powell and finish out the race with his friend. Caslin told CrossFit HQ:

“At the end of the day, it’s CrossFit, and we’re all in this together. It’s not about one event, it’s not about one weekend—it’s a community.”

Caslin ended up coming in 14th over the weekend for the Masters 60+ division, while Powell finished in 13th. in the 55-59 age group.

Featured image:

The post 2017 CrossFit Games Masters (60+) Athlete Saves Drowning Fellow Competitor appeared first on BarBend.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

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Brent Fikowski Edges Out Mat Fraser By .09 Seconds on “Strongman’s Fear”; Davidsdottir Dominates Event

“Strongman’s Fear” was one of the most-hyped and hotly anticipated events of the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games — at least as far as events announced ahead of time. And the event lived up to its top billing, featuring a final Men’s heat where the winners were separated by just 0.09 seconds.

The event finish — embedded below — features Mat Fraser and Brent Fikowski at the very end of the strongman-inspired medley, with Fraser finishing the sled drag and Fikowski finishing the yoke walk. (In the event, athletes could pick the order they carried one of three implements across the field; returning to pick up the others required them to handstand walk that distance.)

While it looks at first like Fraser has a several foot lead, looks are a bit deceiving, as the sled he’s dragging must cross into the drop area, not just his body. And Fikowski ultimately gets his foot onto the finish area by the narrowest of margins at 4:13.22 to Fraser’s 4:13.31, making this one of the closest Reebok CrossFit Games event finishes we’ve ever seen.

Fraser currently sits in first place overall, 86 points ahead of Fikowski.

(Check out pro strongman competitor Robert Oberst put his own spin on the “Strongman’s Fear” event here.)

One the Women’s side, two-time defending champion Katrin Davidsdottir won “Strongman’s Fear” in 3:55.53, well ahead of second place finisher (and current Women’s overall leader) Tennil Reed-Beuerlein, who finished the event in 4:17.14. Davidsdottir currently sits in sixth place overall.

There’s plenty of action left to go in Madison, but so far, “Strongman’s Fear” proved to be one of the most exciting workouts yet.

Featured image: The CrossFit Games on Facebook

The post Brent Fikowski Edges Out Mat Fraser By .09 Seconds on “Strongman’s Fear”; Davidsdottir Dominates Event appeared first on BarBend.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pro Strongman Robert Oberst Takes on 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games Event

So far the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games has brought plenty of interesting events and some impressive performances. One of the most talked about events this year — along with “Cyclocross” — is Strongman’s Fear, a strongman-inspired event that requires athletes to walk a yoke, drag a sled, and carry farmer’s handles across a field in the order of their choosing. When returning to grab more implements, competitor must walk on their hands.

Pro strongman Robert Oberst decided to take on this workout with his own special twist. Considering the toughest part of the workout for the 6’8″, 400+ pound strongman might be the handstand walks, Oberst chose to take all the equipment in one go. Check it out for yourself below.

Okay, we’re guessing Oberst didn’t actually finish the walk unbroken — the video cuts off early, and there’s no measure as to how far exactly he’s walking — but we like his humorous take on the whole thing. Not that we’d make it far moving a 420 lb Yoke, 170 lb Logs, and 265 lb Sled all at once…

“Strongman’s Fear” kicks off at the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games on Saturday morning, and we’re interested to see what strategies competitors use to get the required work done in the minimum amount of time. Will Games judges allow athletes to walk the yoke and drag the sled at the same time?

Featured image: Robert Oberst on YouTube

The post Pro Strongman Robert Oberst Takes on 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games Event appeared first on BarBend.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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The Hyperextension: How To Target Your Glutes And Hamstrings

The hyperextension is an appropriate assistance movement to aid in building posterior chain strength for the squat and deadlift. The hyperextension can be used in virtually any program that has a focus on strength, hypertrophy, or a mix of both. It can also be used to properly teach someone how to activate the glutes during movements such as the good morning, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, and virtually any other hip hinging movements.

Why It’s Useful:

The hyperextension serves a handful of purposes:

  • It strengthens the posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings).
  • It can be used as an assistance movement to improve the squat and deadlift totals.
  • It can be used as a primary glute or hamstring movement for bodybuilding purposes.
  • It can be used as a secondary glute or hamstring movement to add more volume.
  • It’s also beneficial for lower back health as some lower back pain can stem from weak glutes and tight hamstrings.

Muscles Involved:

While the movement looks to predominantly target the lower erector spinae, it’s also targeting the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and hip adductors. And the way you perform the movement will dictate which muscles are targeted.

How to Do the Movement:

There are two ways I’m demonstrating the movement. The first method is to target the hamstrings, and the second method is to target the glutes. Instructions for each variation are below.

NOTE: For the starting position, you want to make sure your ankles are comfortably under the pads, and that the top of your thighs are against the padded area (also known as the prone, or face-down position). Make note that your waist is beyond the pad and that your upper thighs are against the pad. A quick example is if you were wearing a belt buckle, it should not be touching the pad, and should be hanging over it.

The reason for this is because you want to be able to get a stretch in your hamstrings on the descent, so as your body spills forward, you want to initiate the movement at your hips, not your lower back.

Hamstring Focused Instruction:

  1. Start in the prone position with weights held to your chest (cross your arms if you’re doing bodyweight only).
  2. You want to stick your chest out, and keep your shoulders pulled back to keep your back neutral. As you descend, you’ll feel most of the tension in your hamstrings. Go to a range of motion that gives you a good stretch in your hamstrings without releasing tension in your lower back. This range of motion will vary depending on your individual mobility and flexibility.
  3. Pause for a second at the bottom, and initiate the movement by contracting your hamstrings back to the starting position.

Glute Focused Instruction:

  1. Start in the prone position with weights held to your chest (cross your arms if you’re doing bodyweight only).
  2. You want to internally rotate your shoulders and deliberately round your upper back. You want to make sure the majority of the tension is in your glutes on the contraction. As you descend, you’ll feel most of the tension in your hamstrings, but some will be in your glutes. Go to a range of motion that gives you a good stretch in your hamstrings but if you don’t feel a massive stretch here, it’s okay because of the starting position. This range of motion will vary depending on your individual mobility and flexibility.
  3. Pause for a second at the bottom, and initiate the movement by contracting your glutes as hard as possible, back to the starting position. Try to imagine initiating the movement by squeezing your butt cheeks together. Remember to keep your upper back rounded so you don’t begin to rely solely on your lower back for the movement.

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 The Hyperextension: How To Target Your Glutes And Hamstrings appeared first on BarBend.

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