Great Technique Videos: Overhead Press & Pelvic Tilt


I’m a big fan of the deadlift and the overhead press. Both exercises train movements that are vital for all of us who live on a planet with gravity.  With the deadlift we pick up something heavy off of the ground. The press has us putting something heavy overhead. Both exercises feature minimal equipment (typically a barbell), they train the whole body and they require all sorts of balance, stability, mobility and coordination. While we could argue all over the place about this, I tend to think these two exercises give the most bang for your workout buck. If I were condemned to an eternity of being able to do only two exercises, I’d pick these.

Sometimes these movements are performed in a less-than-optimal way. These two videos do a great job of showing how to correct problems with each exercise.

3/26/14 Workout


I got in another bike ride yesterday of about 10 miles.  Felt good! Seems to help loosen up the knee. I walked my dog along a trail next to a creek. I managed to successfully navigate various rocks, roots and other things that typically appear near trails. More evidence of success. Here’s my workout for today:

  • Rower: 1000m
  • Warm-up circuit: 3 x
    • Band walks
    • 3D lunge: Can’t really do this full bore but did what I could.
    • 1 – leg squat: Can’t go very deep on right
  • Deadlift: 135 lbs. x 5 – 155 lbs. x 5 – 185 lbs. x 5 – 205 lbs. x 5 – 245 lbs. x 5 reps x 2 sets
    • by far the heaviest weight lifted since the ACL tear
    • felt good!
  • Super set
    • Stability ball leg curl: 12 reps x 4 sets
    • kettlebell windmill: 35 lbs. x 5 reps x 4 sets
  • Step-ups: no weight x 12 reps x 3 sets

I love deadlifting and today it was very enjoyable to lift something moderately heavy. Tomorrow is pull-ups and push-ups.

New Developments: Changing Exercises & Squat/Deadlift Reading


The New Workout

A couple of posts ago I outlined my new strength program which I adapted from a Mike Mahler program. I stayed with those exercises for six weeks. Now I’m rotating most of those exercises out for new exercises that are as Pavel Tsatsouline says, the “same but different.” This means that the new exercises should look like and require similar movement patterns as the previous exercises.  Here are my changes:

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I’m still doing barbell cleans but now each week I’m either doing cleans 2x/week and barbell snatches 1x/week or vice versa. I’m trying to learn to snatch the barbell and I’m pretty new to it. I’m still doing Renegade Rows and I’m trying to find time to do Turkish Get-ups 2x/week instead of just once. The TGU is very difficult so I figure I need to work on it more. (If you’re not good at something, you don’t like doing it and it’s real hard–then you should probably do a lot of it.)  Similarly, I’m keeping the kettlebell windmills.

I plan to stay with this new scheme for four weeks and change it up again. I’ve also added weighted 45 degree back extensions 1x/week. I believe this plus the good morning will help my deadlift and squat numbers go up.

Why have I rotated the exercises? I’ll let powerlifting expert Louie Simmons of the Westside Barbell Club explain:

“Science has proven that training at a 90% or above for 3 weeks will cause physical and mental fatigue. With the Westside conjugate method we switch a core barbell exercise each week to avoid accommodation. “

Further, from a mental viewpoint, changing exercises keeps things interesting.  I like doing new things.  There are a ton of useful exercises out there.  By cycling the exercises I get to stimulate the mind.

(BTW, Louie also says they at Westside “live on the good morning.” Seems that it’s essential for improving the squat and deadlift. Thus I’ll likely do some version of it for a long time to come.)

My sets & reps scheme is a variation  on the Windler 5-3-1 protocol.  It looks like this:

Week 1: 3 sets x 5 reps.  I work up to a 5RM and do three sets

Week 2: 3 sets x 3 reps done in similar to the 3×5

Week 3: 5 reps – 3 reps – 1 rep

Week 4: Back off.  I may skip lifting altogether or do something alone the lines of 1×10 reps at 50% of my 1 RM.  The point is to take it easy and RECOVER.

Westside Barbell Squat & Deadlift Manual

Speaking of Louie Simmons and Westside, I recently got the Westside Barbell Squat & Deadlift Manual. There’s a wealth of fantastic info in there from literally the strongest group of people on the planet. (I look forward to reading the Westside Barbell Book of Methods and the Bench Press Manual as well.)

Most interestingly, I learned that those guys change their main exercises every week–but they very rarely do the standard issue competition powerlifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift.  They do variations on those exercises: box squats, board bench presses, good mornings and a billion other variations on the competition lifts.  They use bands and chains to vary the nature of the resistance on the bar.  Different bars are used and different speeds are used when lifting.  Why? It goes to the concept Louie mentioned up above.  All these variables are changed in order to prevent accommodation. If you’ve accommodated to the exercise then you’ve essentially gotten used to it and progress will slow.


Stuff You Should Know About


Here are several things from food, books, exercises and blogs of which you should be aware.  This is information and exercise that will improve your health and performance.

Look at this blog: MobilityWOD or Mobility Workout of the Day is a blog from Dr. Kelly Starrett.  Kelly is a San Francisco-based physical therapist and Crossfit affiliate.  His blog is chock full of how-to videos designed to improve your movement and fend off or overcome injury.  Just the other day I watched Tight Ankles = Bad Squatting.  I tried the drill and my years-long on-again-off-again right ankle pain was gone!  Gotta love instantaneous results!

Read this book: Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes by Shirley Sahrmann

Okay, read this book only if you’re a fitness or injury rehab professional.  Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes is a tremendously detailed text on how to identify and fix movement problems.  I’m wading through it right now and it’s a challenge but the information is amazing. If you’re in the fitness/rehab industry, definitely get this book.  Dr. Sahrmann’s second book is Movement System Impairment Syndromes of the Extremities, Cervical and Thoracic Spines.  I’m looking forward to that one too.

The author, Shirley Sahrmann, DPT is a pioneering, award-winning physical therapist.  She’s a professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Take this supplement: Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for a wide range of healthy human functions.  Vitamin D is a key component of calcium absorption and thus bone health.  Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with asthma and some cancers.  It seems to offer a protective effect against multiple sclerosis and it boosts immune function. Unfortunately Vitamin D doesn’t show up naturally in too many foods.  Some foods are fortified with Vitamin D but supplementation may be the best way to ensure adequate Vitamin D intake.

Humans with sufficient sun exposure have the ability to manufacture Vitamin D.  It’s still cold in much of the country so that means minimal sun exposure–so there’s a good reason to supplement.  (Interestingly, using to much sun screen too often may be problematic in Vitamin D production.  Like many things, eliminating sun exposure may be unhealthy.  Don’t be terrified of the sun.)  Further, people with dark skin and older folks have a tougher time manufacturing Vitamin D.

Recommendations vary but it’s from 2,000 and 5,000 IU per day from supplements and sun is a good idea.  Big men need more Vitamin D than small women.

Do this exercise: the deadlift

Picking up heavy things off of the ground is something homo sapiens have been doing since… well… before we were actually homo sapiens.  As long as there’s  gravity we’ll keep doing it.  That’s what the deadlift is: pulling a weight off of the ground from a dead stop.  The deadlift isn’t just for powerlifters either.  It’s a tremendous total-body strengthening exercise that anyone can do with proper coaching. If you learn to deadlift then you’ve learned to use good body mechanics to lift an object.

Here’s a good instructional article on the deadlift from  And here’s a rather poetic video on the deadlift from Crossfit.

Eat this: coconut oil

Coconut oil seems to carry a whole raft of health benefits.  Weight loss, improved immune function, better digestion, favorable cholesterol profile are a few of the likely benefits of coconut oil consumption.  You can cook with it, put it in smoothies, rub in on you skin and put it in your hair.  What other product is so versatile?

Congrats to Linda Purcell: 135 lb. Deadlift


Quickly I want to congratulate my client Linda Purcell on very successfully deadlifting 135 lbs. for two sets of three reps this evening during our workout.  (That’s the barbell with a 45 lb. plate on each side.)  Linda is very enthusiastic about lifting and she always enjoys the deadlift–which may be my favorite lift too.  Her form was perfect.  The lifts were crisp and I think we’re still a long way away from her true maximum lift.  Nice job.

Wanna See Something Cool?


Icelandic powerlifter Benedikt Magnússon (You’ve GOT to be strong with a name like that) recently recorded a world-record deadlift 1015 lbs!  He did this “raw,” meaning he wasn’t wearing a powerlifting suit. (In a nutshell, these suits are incredibly tight things that actually aid the effort of the lifter.  Lifting raw means someone is wearing something like a t-shirt and shorts.)


Okay, so I find this effort simply astonishing.  I love to deadlift so watching this is fun for me personally.  But what else do we see?  This large lad is graceful.  Elegant!  Look at the ease with which he performs the lift.  He makes it look easy.  He even gives a big grin to the crowd while he’s locked out at the top of the lift.  If you’re a Z-Health person, then this is exactly the sort of thing we want to strive for whether it’s during our joint mobility drills or our conventional “workout.”  Or for that matter, during your golf swing, tennis serve, swim stroke–whatever activity we’re doing.  To become excellent at something, we must establish precise command of all of our joints in every position at all speeds.

For further reading on creating excellent movement, I suggest you have a look at this article, Making the Hard Possible and the Easy Elegant from Todd Hargrove’s blog Better Movement.  He does a superb job at explaining concepts of movement, central nervous system function, proprioception and lots of other similar stuff.

New Personal Record on the Deadlift: 425 lbs.


I’m a big fan of the deadlift.  For some reason I’m fascinated by plucking very heavy objects off of the earth.  I my goal is 500 lbs. I’m hoping to hit it in the not-too-distant future.  My prior PR on the deadlift was 420 lbs.  Today, despite dealing with the remnants of a cold, I pulled 425 lbs. — AND THAT MAKES ME HAPPY!  It’s a good way to start the weekend.  That’s it.  Nothing of much importance to add.

Back from DC, Rested & Ready


I had a great time in the DC/NoVA area this past week.  (Though the traffic there was bad enough to cause a desperate sort of insanity that simply doesn’t exist here–unless you’re caught up coming back from the slopes I suppose.)  I laid off the weights but got in a couple of runs including an excellent track workout with a former client.  We went 2×800, 3×200, and 2×100.  Running at sea level was nice and wearing the Vibrams on a track was incredible.  Can’t wait for further track workouts in those things.

New Eating Pattern

I also finished Marty Gallagher’s Purposeful Primitive and it’s given me some good ideas to play with.  I’m going to take some ideas from the Warrior Diet and change up my eating just a bit.  I’ll focus my eating on one large main meal in the evening, instead of consuming several small equal-sized meals throughout the day.  I may have some fruit in the morning, a salad with protein for lunch, then post-workout I’ll consume a protein/carb drink, and for dinner, it’ll be a massive bunch of clean food: raw vegetables, more fruit, protein and plenty of healthy fats.  I want to get stronger and get lean, so I don’t plan on cutting calories, but I’ll consume them in a different pattern.  This is similar to changing up a workout.  This method of eating is actually ideally suited to holiday feasting.   I won’t go into all the hows and whys of the Warrior Diet but I’ll just say it’s an interesting concept and I’m curious to see what happens.  I’m not following the Warrior Diet to the T but I’m adapting the general ideas.

New Workout

I’m on a quest to deadlift 500 lbs. at some point in the next few months.  I also want to be fully prepared to ski and I want to keep some portion of a running base in place for more spring running.  I’m doing a 4-week block.  I’ll build in intensity for three weeks then back off the fourth week.  I’ll lift three days and probably run twice.  Sprint work on the track will be my main running workout.  One day of skiing may replace a run day or lifting.  It should look something like this:

  • Day 1: 3 working sets of 3-6 reps; add weight each week
    • barbell clean & jerkbarbell high pulls
    • barbell deadlift or kettlebell swings
    • Romanian deadlift
    • one-arm dumbbell row
  • Day 2: mid-distance run or rest
  • Day 3: Sprints in the morning then lift later in the day
    • Sprints: I’ll start with 1x800m, 2x400m, 2x200m, 4x100m
    • Lifting: 4 working sets of 3-6 reps; add weight once I complete 4×6 sets; execute lifts in different order each workout
      • bench press
      • back squat
      • pull-ups
      • hanging knee ups
  • Day 4: off
  • Day 5: 5-8 working sets or 1-3 reps
    • Deadlift HEAVY: I’ll work up to heavy single sets using 90% or more of my max
    • Hanging knee ups

I may need to play around with the sprint day.  I want to be fresh and soreness free for sprints.  I won’t run them all out.  I’ll treat the sprints like my lifts in that I won’t max out every workout but I’ll still work at a high intensity.

Other Info

Post-workout nutrition will be vital.  I’ll drink a big protein drink made with organic whole milk and I’ll probably eat an orange or banana.  We’ll see what happens.  I’m also using creatine daily.  Z-Health joint mobility and nerve glides are indispensable daily tools for feeling and moving my best.  My old running injuries are 99% gone.  Finally, I’ve been making use of my health club’s hot tub after workouts and I’m loving it!