Wed, 6 August 2014
This week on Barbell Shrugged we are busting training myths with our old college buddy Dr. Andy Galpin, Professor and Researcher at California State University, Fullerton.
This is Andy’s third appearance on the show. We first got together to chat about muscle physiology way back on episode 19. Most recently, he helped us break down the science of mixed martial arts with the one and only Bas Rutten on episode 91 (this is also the show where Mike get’s kicked in the balls by Bas, a classic moment indeed). Those were both awesome shows, but this latest discussion was probably our best so far. Maybe we have the combination of Glenlivet and the bright California sunshine to thank for that.
After a bit of catching up we got right into some training myths, starting with a common misconception in the fighting community. These athletes are a lot like Crossfitters, in that they are very driven. They train very hard, and they generally do everything they can to improve performance. Effort isn’t the problem. The real issue is that they don’t really plan for a rest properly, and they don’t understand fatigue and cumulative stress. For them, more is just better. There is one speed - Train as hard as possible no matter what, “or else you’re a pussy!”
Of course this isn’t true at all. Andy’s currently working closely with MMA athletes to educate, as well as help them to train more effectively and recover more quickly so that they can maximize fight performance and reduce their risk of injury.
A fairly simple scientific tool that Andy has utilized with these fighters is the force plate. In a highly objective way, Andy can point out the data when an athlete produces force at a less than optimal rate. In other words, he can show the athlete exactly when they are moving, “slower than a middle school girl.” Sure, many of these folks are really strong. They are tough, bulletproof with big lungs, but they are slow and it’s killing their performance. If you only did one thing in the gym, you would try and get faster. Speed kills, in just about every sport.
All lifters and competitive fitness athletes should take note of Andy’s advice for fixing this problem. “If you’re getting tired during your speed work, then you’re doing it wrong.” Cut the reps and start performing every repetition with the explicit goal of moving absolutely as fast as you can. In many cases this coaching point was good for a 20% improvement in force production, which amounts to a significantly more damaging strike. Write this little pearl down, friends. Before you do anything else, consider doing less, going faster, and training more often.
Sure, “More is better” and “tired is good” are common misconceptions amongst fighters, but the actual myth busting on this show didn’t really start until we began out chat about nutritional supplements. On the top of that list, as always, is Creatine. Despite huge volumes of research supporting its use, many people still have the wrong idea about it, which is frustrating. First thing’s first, you can think of creatine as if it were the fifth macronutrient right next to carbohydrate, fat, protein and alcohol. Having an abundance of this energy substrate in the muscle does significantly improve performance, there is no doubt about it. Creatine also manages to do that without any known side effects, including the classic fretting over water retention (Myth!).
The simple truth is that you will be a more powerful athlete, for longer, if you take creatine. Also, this is currently one of the most heavily researched supplements for improving overall mental acuity and long term mental health. Just consider the work being done on Parkinson’s disease, which is extraordinary. If you aren’t taking it, you probably should be. Once you start, you probably should;t stop, as cycling on and off is completely unnecessary. Remember, it’s better to think of creatine as a nutrient, not a drug. Nutrients aren’t the sorts of things you cycle off of.
Another classic training myth is the function of lactic acid in muscular fatigue. Andy brought us up to speed with the truth. As it turns out, this particular myth is rooted in a 120 year old hunting journal, where elevated lactate levels were observed in killed, bagged deer stags. The easy observation to make was that these increased levels had to be associated with fatigue. That sounds reasonable, but as Andy will tell you, it’s complete fiction. The truth is that lactate is possibly the single most-preferred fuel source in the human body. It also actively works to hydrate tissue and reduce acidity by capturing and shuttling hydrogen ions down the metabolic pipeline. That’s a very big deal.
No, lactic acid is not your problem. That much Andy is sure of. Now, when it comes to explaining what does actually cause fatigue? Science has some ideas, but the truth is that we still don’t know. I guess Andy still has some work to do to keep him busy around the laboratory.
One of the final, big myths we take on in this episode is all about muscle mass and endurance. You’ve no doubt heard those old time, unfounded concerns that athletes who strength train will only end up muscle bound and immobile. We know that this is silly and untrue. Some of the fittest, most mobile human being's alive train with really heavy barbells, just about all of the time, and they are huge! You just have to make room in your training regimen for some structured mobility work, the fix is that simple. Work at it and you’ll improve. Ignore it and you’ll get worse. Who knew? The same thing can be said of muscular endurance. Metabolism occurs in the muscle tissue, so having more of it can only improve one’s endurance potential. In that light, the classic fighting myth that being too muscled only makes you get tired more quickly…Yep, complete bullshit. That is, unless the athlete in question never works on their endurance. Remember, you get back what you put out.
For more from Dr. Galpin make sure to follow him on Instagram and Twitter. You can also check out his faculty page here if you want to learn more about Andy’s research and academic work. Andy, we’ve got to make this at least a once a year kind of thing, buddy. It was great to see you again.
Sun, 27 July 2014
Wed, 16 July 2014
This week on Barbell Shrugged we are joined once again by the one and only Kendrick Farris, two-time Olympian for USA Weightlifting, tattoo aficionado, part-time comedian and all around amazing dude.
Kendrick always gets us fired up when he speaks, but it’s quite another to actually see Kendrick lift. Imagine, a man his size easily tossing almost 500 pounds overhead, or easily squatting 550 pounds rep after rep. It’s incredible. On the world stage this guy is as strong as any lifter his size, period. The Olympics are always a really tough competition for the United States, sure, but I for one can’t wait to see Kendrick on the Rio platform in 2016. The Barbell Shrugged crew will be right there in the stands, sipping Caipirinha’s and cheering him on as loud as we possibly can.
To get that damn good, you would think Kendrick has sacrificed everything for the sport of weightlifting. It wouldn’t surprise you if he came off as obsessed, hyper-competitive and all that. But the truth is that he lives a remarkably balanced life. Kendrick’s Instagram feed is not just a showcase for his lifting prowess. It’s mostly pictures of friends, family, and more than a few tattoo sessions. He’s the type of guy who loves and shares openly. He wants you to be better than him one day, which is probably exactly why he’s such an amazing lifter. Attitude is everything.
Kendrick doesn’t compete to impress anyone, especially not himself. He’s just interested in learning what works best for weightlifting. Sure, dominating the platform is the ultimate goal, but only because it creates a platform for Kendrick to inspire, teach, and share his remarkable point of view on lifting and living. It also gives him the opportunity to meet the best coaches in the world, to mix and share ideas, and to push the community forward.
Between Kendrick and the lovely Diane Fu there’s never been a better time to learn the sport of weightlifting. They both have such an amazing, open attitude to coaching and sharing information. Their seminars really are some of the best coaching experiences you could hope to have, really.
You can check out dates for Kendrick’s Bless the Gym Tour here. Also, if you want some Diane Fu in your life, check out her event schedule. You’d be silly not to go, especially when they coach together. Do it!
If you want a summary of Kendrick’s wisdom look no further than his attitude towards weight and diet. Lifters often obsess about cutting weight before a big competition. The rationale is clear enough. If you can cut hard, then regain weight after weigh-ins you will have a clear competitive advantage over the other folks in your weight class. And that’s true, but more often than not the cut leaves you feeling like shit. This is what happens when you spend more time thinking about the competition, forgetting what it is that’s best for you. Likewise, diet is cool and all, but there’s no sense in obsessing over it. The details, demands, and strict food limitations aren’t necessary. That’s time and effort that could otherwise be spent with the barbell, which is a far better way to become a great lifter. Does Kendrick eat Paleo? Does he have a personal chef or catering services provide him meals? Hardly. He seems to spend most of his time crushing bags of trail mix in between training sessions. It’s not ideal, but he seems to love it. Maybe that’s the only dietary detail that matters.
Get with a great coach, or two, or three. Move efficiently, but find out works best for you. There are no hard rules. Do your thing. Refine it. Put together a long-term plan and be patient. Train hard, and with a community of great lifters. Eat what you need to eat. Weigh what you’re going to weigh. Be the strongest possible version of yourself.
If you want more Kendrick in your life, make sure to follow him on Instagram. You don’t want to miss any of his pancake sessions or heavy squat workouts, trust me. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Bless the gym!
Mon, 24 February 2014
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42pm EDT
Wed, 4 September 2013
Everything you ever wanted to know about CrossFit's most popular benchmark WOD "Fran". It's 21-15-9 of Thrusters and Pullups. Our guest Max El-Hag programs for many regionals and games athletes, and in this episode dissects Fran to show you where your can make improvements to improve your next Fran time.
Sun, 30 June 2013
Habit formation expert and olympic weightlifter James Clear joins Doug for this episode of the BS Interrogation Series to discuss forming habits that stick.
Sun, 23 June 2013
EP3 w/ Jacob Tsypkin
Wed, 12 June 2013
On this episode of the Barbell Shrugged podcast we got a chance to sit down with the reigning 2nd fittest woman on the planet Julie Foucher. We ask her about her training during her year off from CrossFit competition, and how she balances Med School with training.
Fri, 31 May 2013
Are you a basket case right before a WOD? What about right before or during a competition? Mentality WOD's Dawn Fletcher explains how to improve your workouts and how to perform better during competition by building confidence and learning to relax. Don't miss episode two of the Barbell Shrugged Interview Series!
Direct download: Barbell_Shrugged_Special_Interviews_BS_Interview_Series_Mentality_WOD.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09am EDT
Sat, 25 May 2013
On this episode of the Barbell Shrugged podcast we talked business (while drinking tequila) with Travis Harkey down in West Palm Beach, FL with CrossFit North Atlanta owner Travis Harkey. Also featured on this episode are former Shrugged guests Justin Metts and Matt Hoff. Enjoy!