Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October book Review

I normally don't read a lot of fiction, but I am a big Dan Brown fan, so I did take on his latest thriller this past weekend. "The Lost Symbol" is the latest in Dan Brown's trilogy featuring Robert Langdon. I wont' give anything away in terms of plot, but one of the things I enjoy about his novels is he weaves modern sayings into his books with historic content. An example of such things are the beginnings of the tie, the origens of "abracadabra" and other things of this nature. He still infuses freemason conspiracy theory and hidden meanings in famous paintings. As a whole, if you like Dan Brown, you will enjoy this book. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as his first two, "Angels & Demons, The Davinci Code," but it's a fun read none the less.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shoulder Prehab w/external Rotation

With a light band, as you strengthen the external rotatores, the opposite shoulders internal rotatores are forced to isometrically contract. Try 3 sets of 15. This is what I consider a filler exercise. In between work sets, throw some of these in to keep your shoulders healthy and stable.

Monday, September 28, 2009

100 Mile Race Report

This past Sunday I finished my first 100 mile road ride. It had been a goal of mine for some time, one thing on the old bucket list. My longest ride to date had been 74 miles earlier in the week. The first snafu came Thursday night when I started to get a cold and by Friday had a fever and chills. By Saturday, the last thing I wanted to do was jump in the car and leave for the ride that would occur early Sunday morning.

They say half the battle in life is just showing up, just show up and good things will happen. I sucked it up and went. By Sunday morning was feeling ok. The first 82 miles were pretty solid, I mean I was tired, but not feeling horrible. The wind was killer and was sapping any type of coasting on the roads. Lesson one, don't mentally think your done, before your done. Those last 18 miles did me in. I have never physically been so miserable doing anything in my life. I'm a natural fast twitch muscle guy, so LSD doesn't come naturally. But I have never been in so much discomfort physically doing anything in my whole athletic life.

My back felt like it would seize up, probably from the tightness in the hip flexors shutting down the glutes. My feet were numb, my butt hurt like crazy and my neck was throbbing. Those last two hours were unbelievably painful. All in all, I spent 8 hours on the bike.

After finishing, I can't imagine the people that do Ironmen Triathlons, the idea of running a marathon seems absurd, after being on the bike for that long. Also, anyone that does this stuff, I give much props for the time that you have to devote to be good at it. Just finding the time to squeeze in a long ride, takes 4-6 hours. I'm glad I did it, it's off the bucket list, but I don't think I will be doing another one in the future.

The idea of doing one every week like my friend Danielle, seems crazy to me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Random Friday

If your looking for something to do this weekend in Grand Rapids, there are several options. If you like rugby, I've been working with the Davenport University Rugby team in a Strength and Conditioning aspect. Its been fun watching the guys learn correct technique and get stronger. It's even been more of a blast watching them play. In three games they have won by a combined score 218-0. This week they play cross town rival Calvin. The match kicks off at 1 pm at Davenport University.

If you like art, there are some really cool stuff all over downtown for the next few weeks. Thanks to the 449,000 dollar prize money, there are over 130 pieces displayed all over the downtown area. Grab a map and some comfortable walking shoes.

At John Ball Zoo, the anuall Octoberfest is going on. It last only Friday and Saturday, so don't miss out. They have some great beer and great atmosphere.

On a side note, I've been thinking about service and my question is how in the world does Blockbuster plan to stay in business? A new release is 4.99 cents. I can go to redbox and get the same movie for 1.00. I can join one of the online services for like ten bucks a month. AT & T cable service allows one to order movies directly on your t.v. There is even the cheap theatre that shows the movies for 3 bucks! I don't see how they will make it.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Your Mom Was Wrong!

Growing up how many of heard, "Sit still!" Whether it was in the back of the car, at the dinner table or at the movies, I'm sure many of heard that reprimand. Well I'm here to tell you, she was wrong. It's good to fidget, it's good to not stay in one position.

There is a process called hysteresis or creep. This more simply put, means that after about twenty minutes, your soft tissues take on that new position, and often times takes twice as long to reach there original position. So if your sitting in a car, at a desk, on a bike, your bodies structures are shortening. So you need to stop and break the cycle. Get up from the desk every ten minutes, even if it's just for a quick ten minute stretch. Move around in your seat while driving. Change your hand and head position often while your biking, get up out of the saddle and pound the pedals for a few seconds every ten minutes.

Your body was made to move, it loves motion. When you don't use it, you slowly start to lose it. Fidgeting is a good thing. Go tell your mom she was wrong.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

October Mens Health Magazine

Check out the October issue of Mens Health magazine. Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run, writes a great article called "Everything you know about muscles is wrong." I get a little shout out for a few stretch/activation exercises I like to use. He also gives a great job of explaining the new found growing knowledge and importance of fascia in health and sports. Give it a read!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Morning Motivation

This is one of my favorite athletes, Jonah Lomu. He played wing for the All Blacks New Zealand Rugby squad. If you've never heard or seen him, you tube his highlights, they are amazing. His story is even more incredible.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interview with Cameron Gardner

This is an interview I did with Cameron Gardner. I have known Cam for a few years, going back to our rookie year with the bobsled team, when we were both rookies trying out for the US National team as push athletes. Cam is a firefighter out in New Jersey, but also one of the brightest strength coaches out there. To top it off, he is a class act, always willing to help out or answer a question.

Cam, tell the people who you are:

Hi, I'm Cameron Gardner CSCS
part owner of East Coast West Coast Strength, Speed and Conditioning.  I am a former 105kg Professional Strongman, USA bobsledder and sprinter.  I got interested in strength training when I began sprinting. As a competitive sprinter, I had a tough time finding a coach who knew how to weight train for speed development.  This forced me to learn as much as I could on my own. 

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your training strategy.  People, books..ect.
C-Initially, I have to say Charles Poliquin's early articles in Muscle Media 2000 opened my eyes to the world of sports specific training. Dr. Mel Siff taught me not to trust paradigms, Charlie Francis influenced my speed model, trial and error has been my biggest teacher though. 

I checked out your website  Very cool.  how did it come about.  
C-I've been involved with strength and speed development for over twelve years.  I mostly operated independently.  My training partner for most of those years was Scott Brengel another 105kg Professional Strongman and former football player. He and I studied a lot of the same material, worked with a lot of the top strength and speed coaches out there and tested and experimented with a lot of training methodologies together.
He moved out to the west coast years ago.  He trained some athletes privately out there.  About 6 years ago he trained a few football players who received scholarships from schools here on the east coast.  It would have been a shame to turn these athletes loose on their own.  Being here on the east coast it was only logical for them to continue there training under my guidance.  This was the beginning of the concept of ECWC.  We have recently decided to explore this business jointly by having an East coast operation based in North Jersey and a West coast operation based in Costa Mesa, California.  I focus mostly on football players, track athletes, and people looking to alter body composition.  Scott works with football players and Mixed Martial Artists,  however we can work with any athlete.  We share similar beliefs yet, we always get in to heated debates about training methods!  Anyone who works with us gets the best of both worlds.

What would be your training philosophy if you had to sum it up?

C-Specificity.  I think this principle if applied correctly is the most important factor in developing an athlete correctly.  Another favorite strategy of mine is you need only as much stimulus to elicit a training effect, no more.  Lastly, proper nutrition is the foundation for the rest.
Being a good coach is also an art.  The beauty of what we do is applying methods, means and exercises that are directly correlated to the athlete, energy system and sport.  This could be working weak links in the body, or developing an athlete with sports specific exercises.  I see so many coaches who throw in all kinds of fancy exercises that they see, but really there are only a handful of exercises you really need to adequately work an athlete for his or her sport.
I see football coaches who give all kinds of plyos, line hops, olympic lifts, power lifts, conditioning drills, sprints and exercises and wonder why all his players do not improve or are beat down all the time.  You must remember an athlete's primary goal is to get better at their respective sport not be the best in the weight room or in exercise performance.  Too many kids get caught up in gaining size.  Size may have a part in some sports, but it's not the end all be all.  Lastly, most of the time, the best athlete in a sport isn't also the strongest/fastest guy in the gym. 

I think RFD, is the key to improving most sports performance.  If you could only do things , what would they be for an athlete to do to develop better rate of force development.
C-Plyometrics, speed work, increasing strength will, by default, improve RFD up to a point.
Monitor body composition it has an effect on RFD.  Its about moving loads plyometrically, explosively, you can change the load and that will alter the rate.  You should look to move loads specific to your sport and at speeds related to your sport. 
For example, Having a sprinter drag a tire or sled out of the blocks will upset/alter his form and speed qualities too much to be of a benefit specifically, but if you have that same sprinter drag a 400lb sled, while not being specific,  he will still develop a general strength training effect without disrupting motor patterns related to sprinting. 

What do you do now, they you wouldn't have done a few years ago, and what do you don't do now that you used to do.  
C- I overtrained for years.  Not in the sense of being ill, but by not recovering fully to maximize my efforts. There is a concept in Supertraining, called transformation,  It's the time needed to realize complete recovery and gains associated with that.  It can be a few days to a few weeks.   During my sprinting days I never raced fully recovered and fresh.  Speed is the most temperamental quality, you have to be delicate with it.

Your able to travel back and tell the cameron of ten years ago something about training, what would it be?  
C- I would focus on doing the least amount or work needed to elicit a response.  I would also be smarter and think about longevity.  A joint is composed of materials that can degradate.  You are only going to get so much life out of them.  The less you can do while still improving the better.  If you are a sprinter who is doing 8-10 100m, what for?  You will never need that much repeatability in a real meet.  Perhaps, a heat, semi's and finals.  Why do some many repeats.  Focus on the quality of them.  The same holds true for weight training.  If you are a powerlifter looking to raise a max attempt.  Why do 20-30 sets of 1-5 reps?  The law of repeated efforts will not improve strength in that manner. 

How can readers learn more about your services and get in touch with you.

Thanks man!

Quadratus Lumborum

The quadratus lumborum or (ql) for short is a muscle that runs from the last rib to the iliac crest. Some of the ql's fibers merge with the diaphragm, so if the ql is short, respiratory dysfunction must be considered. There are two distinct bands of ql fibers, medial and lateral. Trigger points in the medial portion of the ql can produce pain in the SI joint and into the buttock. Trigger points in the lateral portion of the ql can produce pain in the lower ribs and around the iliac crest.

A quick test to evaluate the overall dysfunction of the ql is to have the patient/athlete lay sideways. With one hand feel the glute med and the other the ql. Have the athlete perform hip ABduction. The correct pattern is glute med and at around 25 degrees the ql should kick in. If the ql is significantly short, the ql will kick in right away.

So now you have one more muscle to evaluate when back or glute pain is involved.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Morning Motivation

I'm up in Calgary for the week as it's the US's Push Championships for bobsled. Today was a big testing day for the athletes. It reminds me of this quote from Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland. To be an athlete you have to have this mindset, it may be your most powerful tool.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chin ups w/Swiss ball

I learned this little trick from reading Alwyn Cosgroves material. The swiss ball forces you to keep your glutes/hamstrings contracted. This help stabilizes your spine. If this makes your chin ups easier it may point to a need for stronger lower abs. Either way, it teaches full body tension. Always a good thing when your lifting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cyclist Palsy

I've signed myself up to do a 100 mile road ride this fall, so naturally my thoughts on these long training rides center on what can go wrong with the human machine while training for this endeavour.

Cyclist Palsy is essentially a numbness that occurs in the ring and pinky fingers. Most of the time it comes from cocking the wrist and putting pressure on the ulnar nerve. If you get numbness in the index and middle finger that is true carpal tunnel and your putting pressure on the median nerve. On a road bike this occurs when you cock your wrist and angle it towards the pinky. The pinky numbness and ulnar irritation will come when cock your wrist and bend toward the thumb.

To keep this from happening a few easy things should be done. Make sure your bar tap isn't old. Wear gloves. Change your hand position every few minutes, even standing up every now and then to vary pressure on your hands. Another very important thing to check is your saddle position. Make sure your seat isn't pointed down, as this will transfer your body weight forward allowing more pressure to come through your hands.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Explaining the Thomas Test

The Thomas Test is an orthopedic test that can show some pretty good clues in assessing your self or an athlete/patient. I like it because in a matter of seconds you can find out relatively a lot of information.

To perform the Thomas Test. Find a relatively tall table, such as massage table. Start out with your lower back against the edge of the table. Lean back and grab one knee. So now your on your back, holding your knee to the chest, with the other leg dangling free. Now this is what were looking for.

Is your free leg off the table? It should be at a minimum of 180 degrees or parallel to the table. A little below parallel would be even better. If it's raised off the table, greater then parallel. You have a tight psoas muscle on your hands.

Next, check your knee to hip angle. It should be around ninety degrees. If it's greater then ninety, you have a tight rectus femoris.

Finally, check your hip alignment. Is the free leg off to the side, not directly in line with your pelvis? If it's abducted slightly, you have a tight Tensor fascis lata (TFL).

In the above picture, the psoas looks to be in good shape, but the rectus femoris looks tight and there is not way to tell from this angle if the TFL is healthy.

So in a matter of 30 seconds, you've assessed 3 muscles important for runners and cyclists. Remember if your not assessing your guessing.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

NSAIDS before competition?

A friend of mine turned me onto this study. There was an article in the NY times I believe just recently about this as well. Reasons and consequences of Ibuprofen use prophylacticly. I've had many people, both patients and teammates in the past, pop good old Vitamin I (ibuprofen) before competitions, races and matches. Well this research shows that unless there is an acute injury, ibuprofen could be doing more harm then help.

This study compared the blood work after races of those runners that did and did not take ibuprofen. Those that did, had more elevated inflammation. Read that again, the athletes that were taking it to lessen inflammation, had more! So leave ibuprofen alone unless you have an acute injury. The perils of this have been written before about the possible GI disturbance and damage, but now a little bit more information and reason to keep the use down even more.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review: September

The first book came recommended by strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove, who if your into training, need to know. His program design is topnotch. But he recommends you read some management/business books on top of all the training type books and manuals. It's called The Starbucks Experience, by Joseph Michelli. Basically if your in any type of service industry, whether it be coffee, training or delivering flowers, anything where a customer is choosing you or your service over someone else, this is a good read. It gives some tangible principles to start putting into practice. It talks about how people have a "third place." They have there home, there work and then usually one more place where they chose to spend there time. If your a gym owner I think this is a good idea to try to get people to feel that it's there place.

For myself and many of my friends, our local rock climbing gym, HIGHER GROUND, in downtown Grand Rapids, is our "third place." It's as much social as it is fun climbing.

The second book I'm going to talk about is called, The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. I feel a little like I cheated as I listened to this book on cd in my car. Amazingly, I didn't really drive anywhere to far this week, but still managed to listen to the whole book. Which goes to show you how much time you spend in your car without realizing it. Those ten to twenty minute trips add up quick.

This book is along the lines of Talent is Overated and Outliers. It was still highly interesting to me though. I am fascinated why some people keep improving, while others fall short. The easy explanation of, he was just born good, doesn't hold water anymore. This book is the book that opened my eyes on the importance of myelin. I would give the nod to Starbucks Experience if your in the service industry and the Talent Code if your coaching or parenting.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Fish Oil Study

In case you didn't figure it out, I'm a huge believer and advocate for the use of fish oil in the diet. I was reading Dr. Johnny Bowdens blog the other day and came across this outstanding study, that I will link at the bottom.

To sum them up, fish oil was just as good as Prozac and Paxil. This was only for those with unipolor depression, not bipolar. It did not help those that have an anxiety disorder that went along with depression. But, those that had major depression without an anxiety disorder showed as much improvement as those on medication.

So spread the word!

*Lesperance F et al. The efficacy of eicosapentaenoic acid for major depression: Results of the OMEGA-3D trial. 9th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry: Abstract FC-25-005. Presented July 1, 2009. Accessed at

*Stein J. WCBP 2009: Omega-3 Supplements Provide Mixed Results as Antidepressant. Medscape Medical News, July 4, 20009. Accessed at