Monthly Archives: June 2011

Strength, Speed and Athletic Wisdom

In this video you’ll see a trainer coaching a young man in an exercise that, given the way the kid is doing it, potentially presents very high forces to his joints and other structures and provides next to no meaningful load to his muscles. The weight the boy is using is somewhat light for demo purposes but even still, it’s not very safe.

I especially like at 1:38 into the video where the coach says “You gotta watch the lower back on the release.” What the H-E-double toothpicks does that mean? How is this kid supposed to watch his lower back?

Most of what this coach is saying is just meaningless mumbo-jumbo and vagueness. When I see training like this it makes my skin crawl.

The idea behind this type of lifting is that in order to be fast on the playing field, we need to lift weights fast to build fast muscles. I’ve blogged on this issue many times before like this one. The idea is entirely false.

This is the kind of training that one could say is under good control with good form:

Slow controlled high intensity effort by a youngun.’

A Face Book friend presented this article on strength training and athleticism and I thought I’d share it. For those of you who think that athletes, young or old, require explosive movements, put your thinking cap on and read slowly.

The article does a good job of dispelling a lot of the myths that surround the “train fast to be fast” idea. You have no idea how many emails and messages I get from Cross Fit folks and others who proclaim that you need to move rapidly or explosively as you would in real life running away from a hungry tiger or dashing towards a bunny for a late night snack. The one that kills me the most is that training with weights slowly will make you slow. Oy vey.

Yes, it took me 2.6 hours to type that last sentence. The slow rep grip and finger/forearm training I do is really putting a cramp in my blogging skills.

And let us not forget these old adages:

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

“Speed kills.”

Leanness: Activity Has Nothing to Do with It.

Such a punim!

Such a punim!

Max was my wife’s sister’s dog. He was an amazing canine. A boxer by breed and one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. He loved stealing forbidden chocolate and trying to smash his head through all sorts of penetrable and impenetrable objects. I won’t tell you the vet bills. Yes, Max was a lively fellow, but a more loving and protective pooch you never met.

Max after one of his mishaps

Max after one of his mishaps

Unfortunately, Max had to be put to sleep last year after years of hind-quarter paralysis misery. Max and my dog Tilly (who passed a few years ago) were best of friends.

Tilly loved to dig into her raw bones!

Tilly loved to dig into her raw bones!

Max was 12 years old when he went to doggy heaven which is a ripe old age for bull breeds. Tilly joined him at 14. I miss them.

But to the point – here’s a pic of Max before he lost the use of his hind legs. You can see that he is, shall we say, a bit “beefy.” This dog was as active as all get out and would run in the yard and at our farm in upstate NY whenever he visited like there was no tomorrow. Lack of activity was not Max’s problem.



A few months after this pic was taken, Max began to lose his ability to use his hind legs and it wasn’t long before he could not walk at all. So sad.

I had mentioned to my in-laws that Maxy would be a lot happier in his lameness if he was lighter and so would they since they had to carry him outside to do his business.

So I suggested that they ditch the carb-rich kibble (it’s amazing how much carb-crud they stuff into commercial dog food) and instead feed him raw meats, bones, organs, etc. and all of it he could eat in the hopes that along with being lighter, he might regain some function back. So they did.

Here’s the result:

Lean and mean - well, lean and sweet!

Lean and mean - well, lean and sweet!

‘Tis true – he did lose some muscle mass after becoming lame, but prior to the change in diet he remained lame and over fat.

It was a pricey change, but well worth his happiness. He didn’t regain any function, but before he went to that giant grassy field in the sky, full of things to chase and tear to shreds, he ate like a dog should eat and (according to my in-laws) was a lot happier.

My question to all of the Jillian Michaels of the world who preach and proclaim that you need exercise to lose weight: How in the name of all that is holy did dear old Maximillian become so much leaner when he couldn’t move?

So the next time you hear know-it-alls like Jillian Michaels and others of her ilk say that you need to exercise to lose fat, think of good old Max and don’t buy their kibble!

Happy Father’s Day



I miss you dad.

Knee surgery update

2011-06-08_11-42-51_362 (640x361)

Well today is week three out of the hospital and thus far the recovery is going well. Swelling is minimal and on a scale of 1-10 my pain is a 2 or even less.

I am going to physical therapy now to get my range of motion back but I’ll tell you, PT might as well stand for pansy treatment. I co-founded and ran a sports PT clinic from 1994 to 1996 called MetroSportsmed at NY Methodist Hospital where we treated people with conventional valid PT techniques and included a Slow Burn total body training session. People got incredible results from this approach but I guess word never got around.

As an example of pansy PT, Savannah (my PT at the clinic who is a total sweetheart by the way), after wrapping a hot pack around my knee and then giving me a deep tissue massage (that’s the good part), put a bolster under my knee and asked me to extend my lower leg for – drum roll please – three sets of ten. This is known as the DeLorme/Watkins protocol. (DWP). Unfortunately the DWP is widely misused and misunderstood by virtually all PT’s.

In the DWP, the first two sets are supposed to be a “warm up” for the third set. The third set was supposed to be an all out, to complete fatigue set – the one that did the job of sparking a strength/growth response. Thomas DeLorme admitted that the first two sets were just to get the patient’s mind into the third set and that the first two sets were essentially useless. You might like to read Dr. Ralph Carpinelli’s article MORE IS BETTER: A QUESTIONABLE CONCEPT if you are interested in or a supporter of using multiple sets of the same exercise for building strength and muscle.

Physical therapists rarely if ever ask you to work to the point of complete muscle fatigue in a single set. It’s one of the reasons why most people never get much out of conventional sports PT.

Anyhow, the leg extensions are used, of course, to strengthen the quads and get them “reactivated.” I told her that extending my leg using the weight of just my lower leg was extremely simple for me. So, she reluctantly reached under the table and wrapped a one pound ankle weight around my skinny ankle.

ONE pound.

“Savannah,” I said, “Don’t you have anything a little more challenging? This isn’t going to do much to strengthen me.” She looked at me with an eensy bit of disdain and very reluctantly changed it to a whopping three pounder. I said “Savannah, you know I can do a lot more than this. Let’s try a ten.” She refused and told me she never puts more than a five pound weight on anyone.

As I pumped out the reps as easily as can be, I noticed that a few beds down from me lie an elderly woman who was doing the same exercises as I was and who also sported the hefty three pound ankle weight on her ankle (their color coded so I could tell). C’mon now Savannah!

One thing that has really helped my knee heal is what’s called a Cryocuff. It’s a sleeve that fits tightly over the injured joint (in my case the knee). You attach a tube to the end of the sleeve which is attached to a thermos filled with ice water.

You raise the thermos above the sleeve and the ice water flows in providing both cold and compressive therapy. It feels good!

2011-06-08_11-40-52_40 (640x361)

It’s a little pricey ($120), but well worth the investment.

The good news is that the knee pain that brought me to my knees without taking serious painkillers is now gone.

Good riddance!

Don’t sweat the scale

Fred 159

Last night before I went to bed, I took a tinkle, stripped down to my skivies, and weighed in at a trim 159 pounds.

The next morning I got up, took a tinkle and weighed myself again.

I was 153.5 pounds. Yes that’s right. I weighed 5.5 pounds less.

When I went to bed that night after a tinkle and a number two, I weighed 161.

Don’t sweat the scale.

A few pounds up or down is meaningless. Water loss, heat dissipation, internal goings on all cost energy. And the replacement of water, building muscle, etc. can all cause sudden gain. No one’s weight is stable and no one loses weight, specifically fat, on a linear basis.

If you’re eating real food that is high in healthy fats, adequate in protein and sprinkled with some colorful plant matter along with hitting the weight room twice a week, you’re on the right track.

Oh – and swap those cardio sessions for naps.


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