Archive for exercise instruction, sports, strength training

Weightlifter, Powerlifter or Meathead?

by admin posted April 30, 2010

Ah, the difference between weightlifting and powerlifting…

A lot of meatheads like to say that they are powerlifters or that they are weightlifters; but are they really? Let’s take a quick look at what weightlifting and powerlifting actually entail…


This is what you see in the Olympics; hence, sometimes referred to as “Olympic Weightlifting” or “Olympic-Style Weightlifting.”

The sport consists of only TWO movements: The snatch, and the clean and jerk.




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Product Review: Kangoo Jumps

by Meaghan posted April 28, 2010



The ignorant media is giving the Kangoo Jumps rave reviews for their fun and safety, but I would have to disagree for the following reasons:

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by admin posted April 26, 2010

I’ve been an animal person pretty much all my life. As a kid, I’d wake up every morning to feed a squirrel that would come to our house. Chikapoo. That was his (or her?) name. (Don’t judge! I was a kid, damn it!) Anyway…I now volunteer at the  Barc Shelter  just to play with the dogs and cats, mainly because I don’t have time to take care of one of my own. But this story is making me rethink having a dog!

Buddy led police to his burning home in Alaska and helped save his owners. Here’s the police cam video:

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by Meaghan posted April 25, 2010

Unlike these, you can’t eat the Core Bar. But you can use it to improve your core strength in a more functional manner through what’s called Reciprocal Movement Training, or RMT.

In life, one side of your body moves in opposition with the other, and your core  is called upon to react and stabilize in order to transmit force. The Core Bar allows you to apply this concept  to your training.

Check out this video for some good examples:

You can also check out Core Bar creator Nick Tumminello’s blog here.

You Can Build Your Own Protein Bars at!

by Meaghan posted

These days, there are about a million and one different protein bars on the market. Some taste like crap, others are hard to digest and the majority are just candy bars in disguise. You really have to read and understand the labels to know what you’re getting, and it isn’t often that you’ll find a good combination of quality, taste and digestive-friendliness.

Good news: I have a solution (thanks to Leigh Peele and Episode 176 of The Fitcast). A company called You Bars makes customized protein bars just for – you guessed it – YOU! You pick everything from the base ingredients and type of protein to the level of sweetness and size of your bar. What’s even better is that the site tells you the nutritional information of each ingredient as you select it, so you can make healthy choices that fit your needs and goals.

I haven’t built my own box of You Bars yet, but I totally trust Leigh when it comes to nutrition. Like Alan Aragon, she’s one of the few who takes a good, hard look at the research and applies it to real life. Plus, she loves to eat! I highly recommend you check out Leigh’s site and listen to The FitCast podcast with host Kevin Larrabee for more advice on training and nutrition. 

But listen CAREFULLY, especially (Note: Kevin, it is not pronounced eXpecially 🙂 ) to Episode 176, or you’ll end up at a Chinese website called… I guess I didn’t pay close enough attention the first time around because I made the same mistake as Kevin!

On second thought, here’s that link again:

Build a better bar for you!

And let me know how it tastes.

EFFECTIVE EXERCISES: Barbell Suitcase Deadlift

by Meaghan posted April 23, 2010

I’ve been busy writing a research paper the past couple days, so today’s post is short and sweet.

Here’s a good exercise; go try it.

OK, I’ll give you a little more than that…

Any deadlift variation is great for working the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings and back) in a functional manner. (And a little bird told me Jennifer Lopez did them for her role in The Back-up Plan.) But because the suitcase deadlift is a unilateral version of the lift, your core is called upon to resist both flexion AND rotation. You’ll get these benefits with the dumbbell and kettlebell versions too, but here’s why I think using a barbell is better:

1. I can work on my grip strength differently by trying to keep the wobbly bar from tipping.

2. Even when fatigued, I can still hold on to the 45-lb. bar for a full set instead of only up to 35-lbs. with a thicker-handled dumbbell or kettlebell.

3. I don’t bang the crap out of my legs.

But don’t go by me. You may have different limitations of your own, so try all three versions and see which one works best for you.

Happy training!

7 Reasons Your Back Still Hurts

by Meaghan posted April 22, 2010

Statistics show about 80% of people experience low back pain at some point in their lives.

While a weak back is sometimes the culprit, the cause often stems from somewhere else. Remember: Pain site does not always equal pain source. More importantly, not all back pain is the same, and the exercise prescription can vary widely. If you have chronic back pain, don’t assume you know why. You really should be evaluated by a qualified physical therapist or orthopedist who can determine the cause once and for all. But in the meantime, here are 7 common ones that could be to blame:

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Q&A: Does Milk Really Do Your Body Good?

by Meaghan posted April 20, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been confused as hell lately about this issue. If it’s possible, I think there may be even more controversy surrounding milk than there is about the back squat! And I’m not just referring to the recent Face On The Milk Carton phenomenon.

After reading this article from Brian St. Pierre last year, I’ve been seriously rethinking the benefits of dairy products. Basically, Brian highlights a lot of the problems caused by modern industrial dairy practices, cancer being the big one. Some research also links heart disease to homogenization, a process which involves splicing the fat molecules down to a size small enough that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. You can read more about that here.

Carl Lanore has also been brainwashing me into thinking I should only be drinking raw milk… Like Brian, he thinks the high temperatures of pasteurization destroy nutritional compounds, while also decreasing the bioavailability of amino acids and denaturing enzymes – which accounts for the large incidence of lactose intolerance seen in today’s society.

I actually stopped drinking milk for a while after college (not for any good reason, really, other than that it was no longer conveniently at my disposal in the dining hall). When I tried to drink it again, I found I had trouble digesting it and had to get the lactose-free version. But I recently switched to Sky Top Farms organic, unhomogenized skim milk from grass-fed cows. Not gonna lie; it doesn’t taste good. But it works in coffee and oatmeal, and that’s all I really use it for. In any case, I haven’t had any problems digesting it, so maybe there’s really something to what these guys are saying.

Then again, you can’t believe everything you read (or hear). The research definitely has its shortcomings, and the specific protocols and populations used can make a world of difference in the outcomes. So, for example, I don’t get too excited when I flip open my newest issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and see “Vibration Training Increases Arm Strength In… Elite Powerlifting Rats.”   ???????? 

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Vitamin D is Really a Hormone

by Meaghan posted April 18, 2010

That’s right: Vitamin D3 is not your typical vitamin. In truth, it’s also a hormone. Actually, it’s a prohormone. While it’s true that most of us don’t get enough from food – and this can cause problems when it comes to things like calcium absorption – our most abundant source of Vitamin D is the sun.

Our bodies can produce up to 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 after just a half hour in the sun. But DON’T shower immediately after being outside; you can actually wash away up to 70% of your Vitamin D: Our bodies synthesize it in the outer layer of the skin before it gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

But since Vitamin D is a hormone, its levels must be carefully monitored. We have no negative feedback loop for supplemental Vitamin D, and too much can also cause problems (like Vitamin A deficiency). So don’t take Vitamin D supplements haphazardly; get your levels continuously tested by your doctor or with this new at-home testing device.

You may need to up your Vitamin D3 dosage in the winter and back off in the summer, depending on how much time you spend in the sun. But remember: Vitamin D levels also vary widely from person to person and even depending on the latitude of where you live. So do yourself a favor and test your levels regularly.


by Meaghan posted

Jamie Oliver joins Michelle Obama in the fight against childhood obesity, and his Food Revolution campaign is spreading wider than Iceland’s volcanic ash. Jamie has authored several books on how to cook healthier meals, and the England native is now in America trying to change the way children in West Virginia view food:

Go here to sign Jamie’s petition.

You can also follow his campaign on ABC Friday nights at 9/8 central. But if you can’t catch the show, here are the 5 main things he wants us all to understand about his mission: