Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Workout

Knowing I had a huge feast ahead of me, I wanted to turn in a really good workout. So what better than to deadlift?

For 60 minutes I did nothing but pull. 350lbs for 100 singles. That's about 1 rep every 40 seconds.

It wasn't until almost halfway through when I thought to wear a HR monitor. The final 37 minutes of the workout I averaged 166bpm and maxed at 190. That's 100% of my age predicted maximum heart rate.

Great workout! My hands are blistered and I'm crazy sore right now but if you're going to eat like I did last night (and today) then you better be training hard!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Strongman Wedding

strong·man (strĂ´ngmn) noun- 1. a person who performs remarkable feats of strength.

Luke Whippo and Tina Wilderson got married yesterday and I had the honor to be the best man at their wedding. Luke and I have been training strongman together for the past 5 or 6 years. Luke is of the quiet type and his family and friends outside of strength training don't know much about what he does. It's not like him to talk about his own abilities, so I figured the best man speech was the perfect opportunity to talk about his abilities for him!

Giving a "best man speech" is a new experience for me. I paid careful attention to keep the focus on the groom. I named a few of his PR's using the most lay terms so even the oldest of grandmothers could understand what I was talking about. But talking about feats of strength does not communicate nearly as well as demonstrating them...

This is part of what I said:

"Perhaps one of his most impressive feats of strength though, is bending steel. I could tell you what Luke can do with a piece of 1/2" rebar, but you would have to see it to believe it. That's why I brought some 1/2" rebar with me.

*reveals rebar from behind the curtain*

Who wants to see what Luke can do with 1/2" rebar?!

Luke, would you please show your guests what you can do with 1/2" rebar?"

I then helped him out of his jacket and led him out to the middle of the dance floor!

I did not tell Luke I was going to do that. :)

I did however ask the bride beforehand to make sure she was alright that her soon to-be husband bent steel over the bridge of his nose at their wedding reception.

But Luke and I had no talk about this. :)

I found out later that Tina did say something to him, like a caring wife would, I suppose. Luke knew something was coming but he didn't know what kind of steel I was bringing or what I was going to ask him to do. The audience of course had no idea they had walked strait into a Strongman Wedding!

Luke proceeded to bend the bar over the bridge of his nose and scroll it into a pretzel! It was awesome! I doubt there was ever a man in a tuxedo who bent rebar over his nose at his own wedding!

The whole thing lasted under a minute... a few seconds for us to make our way to the dance floor, a few seconds for Luke to kill some steel, and a few seconds for us to get back to the head table so I could finish my speech.

We toasted some champaign and celebrated what was a great wedding!

I wish Luke and Tina all the best!

Speech and feat video...

High resolution feat-only video...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chris Rider Red Nail Certification

Ironmind contacted me a couple weeks ago to ask me if I would serve as the witness for Chris Rider's red nail certification. For those unfamiliar with nail bending, the red nail is a 7" piece of cold rolled steel that is 5/16" diameter. If you can "U" this piece of metal you are among the elite in short steel bending.

Chris bent the nail and "cheesed" for the picture within 10 seconds. It was impressive, I can't even kink the damn thing!

After business was taken care of, Chris was kind enough to bring me a few horseshoes and show me how to bend. Thanks to his coaching, I was able to bend my first shoe today! I'm pretty excited about that and totally cool with the bruise on my leg!

Chris then proceeded to put on a mini strongman show for us; tearing decks of cards, license plates, driving nails... everything done with the ease in which he bent the red nail in. Don't get me wrong, none of these things are actually easy, he just made them look that way. This guy is seriously strong!

Check out his website at -

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hormonal Effects of Heavy Deadlifting

If you search around, you will find both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence that suggests certain hormones are released during heavy lifting. Testosterone and human growth hormone in particular have been linked to squatting and deadlifting by powerlifters and muscle physiologists alike. I have always just taken their word for it. I suppose testing for free testosterone in the blood is relatively simple procedure but since I personally have never participated in such tests, I've never really put much stock into the science behind this phenomenon.

Ok, deadlifts increase my testosterone. Now what?

You see, there's little I can do to prove this theory and even if I could, how could I measure it? I don't have access to such lab equipment. If I cannot measure it, how is any additional information useful to me?

It's not. I'll just take their word for it - heavy lifitng increases testosterone production.

Personally, I have always been attracted to common sense reasoning. It seems to me, that if I can lift more weight in an exercise (like a deadlift), then I am using more muscle compared to an exercise I can lift less weight in (like a curl). More weight = more muscle. So I get more "bang for my buck" with an exercise that I can lift the most weight.

Common sense analogies have always worked good for me too... Arthur Jones, creator of Nautilus, related compound movements and heavy lifting to throwing a stone in a pond. If you throw a small pebble into a pond you'll get no splash and only slight ripples. If you throw a large rock into the pond you'll get a big splash with larger ripples that radiate further. The same goes for a light exercise versus a heavy one; the heavy exercise radiates further throughout the body. This is known as the "indirect effect".

More importantly, the deadlift is a basic human movement that you use every single day. You pick things up off the floor in real life, so you might as well train yourself to pick up really, really heavy things! I deadlift because having a strong back is a necessity.

Do your deadlifts regardless of hormone production.

An interesting thing happened to me today while I was deadlifting, which is what got me thinking about hormones. After working up to a max single and hitting it for a couple sets, I attempted another rep and failed. I barely got it to knee height and couldn't get it any higher, I had to sit it down. When I stood up, I got a feeling of euphoria. (If you have not experienced exercise induced euphoria, you are missing out!) It felt like I was walking on a cloud. It felt good. I felt good. Even though I had failed the lift, I put out a maximum effort just the same as if I had locked it out.

Similar to the theory of testosterone and HGH being released during exercise, it is widely recognized that endorphins are released through exercise as well. These endorphins are known as the "feel good chemicals" that are prevalent in the brain during exercise, excitement and orgasm. I believe the euphoric feeling I got while deadlifting was a very concentrated endorphin rush. Now we have a hormonal response we can "prove"... kinda.

Okay, so we're not measuring dopamine levels in the brain but nevertheless these "feel good chemicals" is something that you will undoubtedly experience with strenuous exercise. Ever hear of "runners high"? Well, I got high from deadlifting this afternoon and it was more intense than any runners high I've ever experienced!

The point is, there is a certain sensation that comes with heavy lifting. It's undeniable - clinical testing equipment need not apply. Whether the actual cause is testosterone, adrenaline or endorphin; it doesn't matter, you know you're doing something good for your body.

There's a lot theories out there about the benefits of exercise that are either difficult or impossible to prove. Don't waste your time mulling over the "what if's" of these theories because proving the answers will yield nothing to the end result. Just know that it feels good to deadlift, and that deadlifting is good for you! So keep on deadlifting!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


This is why you should train your grip...

Read more about the homunculi here...

I've been telling people for years that stronger hands will make for a stronger body but I think these guys serve as a great visual aid. I'd like to get one of these to display in my gym as a constant reminder of the importance of grip training.

Under the weather

I got a flu shot last week and I've been feeling sick ever since. Staying out late doing the Halloween party thing didn't help either. If I didn't have any clients, a to-do list as long as my arm, a daughter and a life, I would have stayed in bed all weekend.

On a brighter note, I did manage to put in a few good workouts just before my immune system was compromised. Early last week I ran a mile in 7:45, which broke a long standing PR of 7:52. I feel like I could get it down to under 7 minutes with a little bit of specific training.

My bodyweight has been pretty consistent at about 223-225, although loafing around all weekend eating large quantities off chicken noodle soup will have probably bumped me up when I weigh in tomorrow.

I also started deadlifting again after a few weeks off and although I'm not at peak numbers, progress is coming along nicely. I've changed my technique drastically and am now pulling with a narrow stance and arched back, very different from what I am used to. The goal here is to ingrain the new style and build on the motor pattern, I think this may be a more efficient pulling technique that will eventually lead to me lifting more weight.

The other thing that has been on my mind again lately is grip training. I don't believe I mentioned this before but I strained my left wrist a few months back bending nails at a hotel bar with a few RKC's at the CK-FMS certification in St. Paul. Nothing serious, but enough to make me stop training grip for a few weeks. Anyway, the wrist is fine now and regular grip training has commenced once again.