Today we have another great post from Brent Carter, Starting Strength Coach extraordinaire!
As I write this, my hip flexor is killing me, my back feels like it was beaten with a baseball bat, and my legs feel like jello. BUT, I have never felt better! This is because I just had the wonderful opportunity to lead a team of lifters at the 2015 Starting Strength Fall Classic to a victorious team win!
Today’s post comes from a very special guest contributor: FPTI Instructor and Focus Starting Strength Coach, Brent Carter.
OK. Let’s talk about the deadlift for a minute and get a few things straight. First, deadlifts are NOT bad for your back. Only BAD deadlifts are bad for your back. Good deadlifts are actually GOOD for your back. As we have discussed on this site several times, the muscles that comprise the “core” (as much as I hate that term) – including the abdominals, the internal and external obliques, and the spinal erectors – are best trained in the specific fashion for which they were designed to be used. And namely, due to their long, thin muscle bellies, these muscles are best equipped to resist movement rather than create it. Well, guess what: That is precisely how they are trained in all of the main barbell lifts (squat, bench press and deadlift), especially the deadlift.
Our students currently taking Advanced Concepts learned all about the influence of scapulo-humeral rhythm on impingement this week. Here is a bit more of what we talked about:
The shoulder is probably the most misunderstood joint in the body, especially among those who don’t have a good foundation in human movement – which, unfortunately, includes the majority of people who work out. This, coupled with its inherently mobile/unstable nature, also makes the shoulder the most commonly injured joint in the body – which is why you see so many people in the gym doing stuff like this:
I ran a version of the post below a while ago, but our Advanced Concepts students just finished up knee anatomy and injuries so I thought I’d run it again. Among many other issues, the topic of strength as pertains to running in order to prevent knee problems came up in their activity yesterday. The class did a great job not only planning a progressive program for a runner with patella-femoral syndrome, but also articulating the plan so that it made sense to the client (AND her running coach). Here is more or less what they discussed:
Running is a plyometric activity. Therefore, your joints have the potential to take a beating. As you may or may not know, plyometrics place a lot of load on your connective tissue (cartilage, bone, fascia, tendons, ligaments and the joint capsule), especially if muscles don’t effectively absorb the force of impact. So, the risk of injury is quite high when sufficient levels of strength are not first established, and/or when hip/knee/ankle alignment is off. As the old adage goes, “You can’t run to get in shape; you have to get in shape to run.”
There seems to be a bit of controversy regarding the best way to do this, however. A lot of people think that since you’re doing endurance work when you run, training for muscle endurance (i.e., 2-3 sets of >12 reps with little rest) is the way to go. And for a new trainee, someone with a pre-existing injury, or as part of a periodized program for an endurance athlete, this may be good advice. But your body adapts pretty quickly to low-load training; and if you’re running regularly, chances are you’re probably getting plenty of that already. So why continue to overuse your muscles and joints?
Enhancing muscular endurance really shouldn’t be the main focus of your program after the first few weeks of training. For most people, the bigger concern is getting strong enough to avoid injury. You see, your connective tissue adheres to what’s called Wolffe’s Law. Much like a muscle, if you systematically overload connective tissue, it will adapt and grow stronger. But it also has a “physiologic limit.” When you exceed this limit, the structure ruptures.
To cut straight to the chase, my answer is NO – at least not the way we typically perform it.
Before you get all excited, hear me out. Let’s start by looking at some of the most common “agility” drills that we do with our athletes and clients.
First, we have side shuffles, purported to improve agility in athletes like basketball players:
But what is agility really? Agility is defined as the ability to start, stop, slow down, speed up or change direction. And I would add that in order to actually improve agility, we’d have to do these things in response to an unpredictable cue, as this is how things work in sport and in life.
Moreover, FPTI alum and Focus trainer Louie Tejadalifted a combined total of over 1,300 lbs. and qualified to compete at the national level! Oh, and he also beat a former WORLD champion…
That’s him (John) in the background. He had to settle for silver.
Louie and John were neck-and-neck until the last lift: The deadlift. John was up for his 3rd and final attempt just before Lou and we had all the math figured out: Even if John made his lift and Louie didn’t, Louie would still win the weight class. But at the last second, John changed his attempt so that if he made it, he’d still have a shot at gold.
John stepped up to the platform and approached the bar. He set up (sumo style!) and the crowd went silent. He attempted the pull…but the bar wouldn’t budge. Great effort though!
Louie stepped up next and pulled 529 lbs. off the floor like it was nothing!
He went upstairs for a drug test and walked away with a gold medal for the most total pounds lifted in his 185-lb. weight class, with the former World Champion just behind him in second place.
Tomorrow, we’ll graduate yet another class here at FPTI. And once again, it’s our biggest graduating Master Course class to date! We’ll be sending 23 extremely educated and skillful new trainers out into the working world to help us on our mission to elevate the personal training field. Many of them have landed jobs at Equinox, Crunch and even here at Focus Integrated Fitness, Inc. (shout out to Pete Keriopoulos!), and are already making us proud with their first real clients.
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