PR Friday – 15 Aug 2014

PR Friday — Post your training updates, PR’s, and questions to the comments and the 70′s Big crew will respond. 

Weekly Q&A gives you a chance to ask anyone from the 70′s Big Crew a question in the comments below, on Facebook, or Twitter. Follow 70’s Big on Instagram

Recap: On Monday I posted an article that discussed the benefit of “External Hip Rotation in the Squat” and why a wide stance is not conducive to doing so. Chalk Talk #3 came out Wednesday and was a quick word on the importance of preparation in training, nutrition, and rehab.

In other news:

USAW finally increased the qualifying totals to its two national meets, the American Open and Nationals. This is due to the significant increase in lifters in the past few years (thanks CrossFit) and will allow more efficient meets as well as increased standards for American weightlifting.


Thor AKA The Mountain AKA A Large Man

Thor — AKA Hafþór Julíus AKA the giant man who played Gregor Glegane AKA The Mountain That Rides AKA The Mountain on Game of Thrones AKA the TV show of A Song of Ice and Fire AKA another chance for me to use AKA — won Europe’s strongest man

Benedikt Magnusson set a new World Record with a 461kg (1016 pounds) deadlift (watch the vid below until the end):

Weekend Discussion: What program do you follow or what kind of training method have you found useful?

PR Friday, 14 DEC

PR Friday: Post your training updates and PR’s to the comments.

Weekly Recap: Addressing Spinal Hyper Mobility, Quality > Quantity, Just Because You Can,  and Jacob’s Chili.

I’ve been debating doing Q&As on Fridays — thoughts? They don’t seem to get much of a response. That being said, go ahead and post questions to comments.

I made a video to piggy back off of the post on Monday about spinal hyper mobility. The post was about a Mobility WOD video that stresses the importance of external hip rotation when pulling to engage musculature around the hips. The video I made explains how stance width will effect the ability to externally rotate along with some other tidbits.

And to give you some other stuff to chew on over the weekend, here’s an awesome video with Swedish strongman Magnus Samuelsson. It starts with an emphasis on his arm training, but gets into some other stuff. I thought it was interesting because of how the ‘online training community’ shuns arm training with cited reasons of “vanity” or “functionality”. Well, strong arms serve a practical purpose instead of just looking massive, and strengthening them is vital in strongman. It’s a good lesson to take from strongman training: train your entire body and do not neglect certain body parts.

70’s Big Friends

Tomorrow will be the 70’s Big Thanksgiving Weight Gain Challenge. To clarify, submissions will consist of pre/post weigh-ins (on film) and extra points will be awarded to funny stuff. Be sure to check tomorrow’s post before filming (it’ll post at midnight).

Meanwhile, the friends at 70’s Big are all training well. Chris and Mike are getting ready for another strongman competition and AC is pressing his wang off. The fourth video are outtakes from USAPL Nationals and was fair at best amusing.

AC presses 270×2:

Mike squats 600 for the first time (decides not to double it after starting the second rep):

Chris continental cleans and push-presses 310 and 320:

And outtakes from USAPL Raw nationals:

Koklyaev and Russian Weightlifting

Mikhail “Misha” Koklyaev is one of the coolest and most successful strength athletes ever. In his career he has put up impressive performances in strongman, Olympic weightlifting, and powerlifting (the strongman stuff is recorded here).

I’ve always said that we would get along really well with Misha. Need proof? Watch this video of him comically flexing during photos after he won the super heavyweight class at the Russian nationals in 2005. A simple YouTube search will bring up all kinds of impressive athletic performances — like doing a jerk with people on his bar — combined with his trademarked goofy humor and smile. Need more proof? Here’s a video of him lifting a stone while wearing a speedo with Andrey Chemerkin recording:

You’ll note that in the above video, Misha went 200/250 for a 450kg total. Recently he won the Russian Cup with 200/248 despite tweaking something during warm-ups (video below). This led many of us to think, “Does this mean he’ll be going to the Olympics?”

The answer most of us saw online was that the Russian team was not taking him, and it was because of his public admission of PEDs use. The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) and Olympic committee allegedly only give countries a couple of chances to fail drug tests. The PR storm over allowing a known drug user on the team would have probably made things difficult, and the Russians allegedly were unwilling to risk a positive test since it could remove their weightlifting team from Olympic competition. This seems to be the primary reason, but Russian national team coach David Rigert and Russian Weightlifting Federation president Sergey Syrtsov discuss other points in this translated press conference.

I get the impression that Koklyaev doesn’t get along with the RWF. Perhaps it stems from his admission of drug use? Or maybe it’s that Misha is unwilling to bleed himself dry for the RWF? Misha admits to “quarreling with people” (in the video below), and the Syrtsov says in the press conference that Misha pursued strongman in order to earn more money. If Russian weightlifters fare a quarter as bad as American weightlifters, then you can’t really blame him.

Syrtsov points out that Koklyaev regularly competed internationally as a teen and junior competitor, even besting the 2000 and 2004 gold medal super heavyweight Hossein Rezazadeh as a junior. Yet Syrtsov and Rigert basically come to the point that Misha’s international performance is poor, which effected his Olympic team consideration. They point out that international competition is different than success at home.

Rigert then points out that he coached Misha three times and he lifted up to 30kg lower in the total. Then he weirdly points out how Misha’s wife stopped working for Rigert once she and Misha got together — bitter much, Rigert?

This is a well produced video of Misha’s 2011 Russian Cup victory:

Rigert talks about how Misha was invited and attended training at the national facility. In Rigert’s words, after two weeks Misha just left. Obviously there’s more to the story, and there seems to be an obvious friction between Misha and Rigert, but this was what Rigert told reporters. He then went on to lambaste Misha by saying his eight national championships were all earned when his real competitors were busy preparing for bigger competitions. He’s basically saying, “It’s not that impressive because the real competition wasn’t there.”

Despite all of this, his victory in the Russian Cup made him a candidate for the team. Yet Syrtsov says that the documents they sent Misha were returned in the mail because Misha no longer lived at the address. Then Rigert candidly points out that all of the relevant information — about protocol and what Misha was expected to do — was explained to him. He was subject to a medical examination (i.e. a drug test). Rigert cannot put him on the team if he doesn’t pass this test, and Misha was not present for his test. Rigert then points out that they have two strikes regarding drug tests, implying that if they fail, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, they will be removed from Olympic competition. He finishes by basically saying, “Of course I’d want a strong athlete on the team, but not if he can only compete in Russia.”

I’m sure there is more to the story, but it all seems to stem from Misha’s drug use. It must be frustrating for him to go from strongman, a sport that inherently has athletes using PEDs, to a sport like weightlifting where the official committees pretend to stamp out PEDs while most of the athletes use them and don’t get caught. Perhaps Misha has a problem with authority, but he seems to be in good humor in all of his videos. It’s unfortunately clear that politics can decide a guy’s fate. Nevertheless, Misha is still one of the most impressive strength athletes of all time at 34 years old.


Guest Post: Charles Staley

I recently hung out with Charles when he came to the WFAC for an interview for the Starting Strength website. I was very amused by his demeanor, his wit, and his almost kid-like playfulness. He’s a successful coach and has an emphasis on training like an athlete instead of a stereotypical fitness “exerciser”. You can get a feel for his style on his website, Staley Training Systems, but this anti-exerciser approach is prevalent in the following article that he wrote.

Cheating To Win: Why You Should Take The Path Of Least Resistance

by Charles Staley

Cheating is perhaps the most maligned and least appreciated tactic in the weight room. It’s so important in fact, that I consider cheating to be the calling card of skilled lifters.

When we examine the three primary strength sports (weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman), it’s clear that cheating is an absolute prerequisite for success. Of the three disciplines, I’d argue that weightlifters have elevated the art of cheating to a sweet science. In fact, during the performance of the two competitive events (the snatch and clean & jerk), lifters violate almost every dearly-held notion in the personal training industry:

• During the “catch” phase of both the snatch and clean, lifters allow their knees to drift significantly in front of the toes.

• During the support phase of the snatch and the jerk, lifters aggressively lock their elbow joints against heavy loads.

• Both the snatch and clean start with what amounts to an accelerative deadlift with a heavy weight.

• In training, weightlifters rarely if ever use spotters— if they get into trouble with a lift, they simply drop the barbell on the floor.

• Both weightlifting events, as well as most of the assistance exercises they use, employ the use of maximum speed against the bar.

• Rather than use common set/rep brackets such as 3×10, 5×8, etc., weightlifters typically use many sets of 1-3 reps per set. Additionally, weightlifters avoid “failure” like Brittney avoids panties.

• Your weightlifting coach will never ask “How did that feeeel?” If your lift looked great, there’s no need to ask how it felt. If it sucked, there’s still no reason to ask.

• Weightlifters don’t do “cardio.” Try a clean & jerking a heavy triple and you’ll find out why.

• Weightlifters don’t lift in front of a mirror.

• Weightlifters, by definition, compete. Few weightlifting clubs will tolerate a lifter who won’t lift in meets. At least, not for long

• Weightlifters squat deep. So deep in fact, that there is a competition rule that forbids the lifter from touching his/her butt to the floor at the bottom of a snatch or clean.

• (Along the lines of the last point) weightlifters often round their low backs at the bottom of their squats. What’s that? You can keep your arch when your butt’s an inch from the floor? Send me the video.

• Weightlifters hold their breath during long portions of most lifts. They never “inhale on the lowering phase” or “exhale on the lifting phase.”

• Both the snatch and the jerk, as well as several assistance exercises for these two lifts) involve putting a barbell over your head.

And finally…

• As a global point, weightlifters seek the easiest way to lift a weight, not the hardest way.

It’s possible that I missed a few points, but I think my central point has been made. Now here’s what’s kinda interesting about all of this…

Most people who lift for the sake of improving their appearance typically try to avoid every one of these maneuvers. Yet, not only do weightlifters violate all of these sacred cows, they actually get better aesthetic results than their “exerciser” counterparts do, despite the fact that they don’t really lift for aesthetic purposes!

Recently I noticed a question on an internet forum from a 24-year old man who wanted to look like a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, in less than one year, starting from scratch as it were. He got plenty of advice, most of it relating to exercise choices, meal timing, set/rep brackets, and goal setting. My suggestion: if you want to look like an MMA athlete, why not become an (MMA) athlete?

Which of course, is the take-home point of this article. Any takers?