Can’t We All Get Along

I have worked out, in one way or another, for my entire life. As kids, our parents would fill a couple coffee cans with cement and stick one on each end of a pipe or broom handle making homemade barbells. We eventually graduated to “store bought” weights, and then an actual gym. Since that time I have been involved or tried damn near any sport, semi-sport, or pseudo sport that required picking up something heavy and putting it back down or throwing it as far as I could. I like it, and it just feels good. Always has.

In all these years, and yes it’s a lot of years, there have always been a certain amount of, good-natured rivalry between the various disciplines.

Weightlifting (Olympic lifting) was the obsessive-compulsive nerds that cared more for technique then strength. Powerlifters: uncivilized, slobs that ate too much and only cared about strength. Bodybuilders: Narcissistic sissies that cared more for the mirrors then the weights. Athlete’s who were strength training for their sport felt superior to everyone because they were training for a “real” and a completely separate sport. Eventually Strongmen/women came in and brought barbaric behavior to a whole new level. We’ve all heard the stereotypes, been involved in them, possibly believed some of them, maybe even fit them perfectly.

Every sport attracted the type of individual with the personality that fit its particular required sub set of skills. Even with the rivalry and competition, each discipline also regarded the others with a certain amount of respect for their strength, required skill and discipline. That is until CrossFit came along!

CrossFit, may, very well, be the most hated sport/philosophy/training method to ever be invented. All the other disciplines unite to hate this one. Why is that?

It could be because they have their own language? Or their own diet? Their own workout that they do………. Together………..everyday? They take off their shirts, constantly. That can’t be it. Bodybuilders do that, too. So why is CrossFit so hated and misunderstood? Do they represent that club that we weren’t allowed to join, back in High School? I really do not know the answer. I am not even sure there is a rational answer.

I am willing to bet a lot of you would love to suggest a few of your own ideas, but that is not the reason I am writing this. The reason I am writing this is to try and broker a truce. One of the many reasons I love Brute Strength Gym is that it has introduced me to so many people I, otherwise, would not have met. We are brought together by our love of strength, iron, and everything that goes with it.

Even though I don’t “do” CrossFit. I really like the people that do it, A LOT! They are fun, bright, hard working individuals. Interestingly enough, they also tend to be good looking folks. I am not sure why that is? But I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ugly, CrossFitter.

So why, if I don’t do CrossFit, do I care about mediating peace? Because, like I said, I really like CrossFitians, I like anything that pushes the human body and mind, but most of all I LOVE Brute Strength Gym; and more and more CrossFitterests are joining, as members and I love them!

As I have stated, ad nauseum, Brute Strength Gym was built to promote the strength sports - ALL the strength sports. Along with the advancement of human performance through strength training. Whatever else CrossFit may be, it definitely requires strength: Strength of body and strength of mind.

All of this brings us to my final explanation plea/request/demand. As Biggie once, so eloquently stated: Mo Money, Mo problems! For Brute it is a matter of: Mo members, Mo problems (or more appropriately: a lot less room). Our members are coming from all of the different disciplines with the same desire: get stronger in their chosen endeavor. We all need to respect one another and get along with each other.

As we get busier and become more crowded, especially during the rush hours of 1600hrs to 1700hrs (4pm to 7pm) please bear with us. More importantly, bear with each other. Practice proper gym and human etiquette. If you don’t know what that is, please ask. Ask me, Stella, or any of the staff, we will be glad to inform you. It’s simple things like:

Law #1: Stella is always right!
Law #2: Don’t walk directly in front of others while they lift.
Law #3: Ask before “working in.”
Law #4: Clean up after yourselves – your weights and body fluids (sweat & blood)
Law #5: At Brute, we don’t care how much noise you make, but please try and keep it PG-13. If you are unsure – refer to #1.
Law #6: The lifter owns the platform. If you are not lifting, stay off the platform. (this ones for your benefit, Angela)
Law #7: Report any broken equipment to the staff. We know things will get broken.
We need to know so we can fix them!

Finally, Brute’s Functional Strength Class is currently Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6:30pm to 7:30pm (1830hrs to 1930hrs). During these times the green taped bars, the front -open floor area and, occasionally, the lanes (if the lanes are used by the class, the front will be open) will be reserved for the class only. We are sorry for the inconvenience. If you need these areas for your workout please plan your workout times appropriately.

As always, I consider you family. If you have suggestions or comments please let us know. Just like a family, Big Daddy may say “No” to the request, but you don’t know until you ask.

See you at Brute


Positivity in Powerlifting

Zack Knight

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” – Frank Costello, The Departed

                While the quote above may be from a dramatic film, the words stand true for the real lifter. Everyone wants to make an impact on this life with what they have a passion for. For many, this passion is putting their bodies through hell to prove to others that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. In the world of powerlifting, there has been growth of a cancer of negativity and trash talk, which without a change, will eventually do irreparable damage to the sport as a whole.  The haters are building, a storm is brewing, and from the inside out, the world we have come to know and love is slowly crumbling. Between the people screaming that raw is better than geared lifting and the droves of online tough guys down talking the videos posted of other people’s lifts, there seems to be this divide between those who want the sport to progress and rise to the level of camaraderie and passion that it once had, and those who want to bring others down because other people’s strength makes them uncomfortable and question themselves. What can be done to turn things around? What can we as powerlifters do when the smoke clears to really take this sport and make it better than before, to bring unity to all lifters? The answer lies in positivity.

                We’ve all heard it a million times before. If you look on YouTube for even five minutes, you will ultimately find hundreds of posts on different lifting videos screaming, “That was high! No lift! BS!” or “Take off the gear and let’s see how strong you are!” which leads to a fifteen page fight between internet tough guys  and “experts” over whether gear or raw is better, and essentially having a pissing contest to see who the bigger man is. The answer to that question is neither. Neither man iscaused strife and cracks in the powerlifting world, but when it’s all said and done there’s one question that many people want answered. When the gear is taken off, are the geared lifters just as strong as the raw guys or is there a hugely fundamental difference in strength between the two?

What’s really the answer to all of this? Internet tough guys are running rampant trying to snuff out the dreams of up and comin bigger than the other because they’re sitting behind a computer trash talking another person’s lifts, with probably never having stepped on a platform in their lives. With the internet, everyone with a laptop is a lifting expert or training guru. Anyone can be critical from behind a screen. Anyone can say whatever they want on the internet, but would these people say the same thing to the person’s face? Would someone tell Donnie Thompson to his face that his 3,000lb total isn’t official because he was supposedly “high” on his world record squat? I would venture to say that the internet tough guys wouldn’t dare step up to Donnie and tell him what they’d tell him across a screen because that buffer zone is gone. There’s nothing to hide behind, nowhere to run. There’s nothing but air and words standing between them and the person that completed the lift that they feel was wrong to be given white lights. Without the barrier of the laptop screen, who is the real tough guy?

It was mentioned earlier that these internet tough guys may have never stepped foot on the platform. Even if they had, the raw vs. gear debate is decades old. The thing people forget about that is that, essentially, raw vs. gear is comparing apples to oranges. Of course the raw and geared squats are similar, but that’s because they’re the same lift. They are both a squat. That’s where the resemblance stops. The training is similar, but also uniquely different due to the having to learn the gear and also attacking the muscles somewhat differently when using gear. It’s as though these are two separate entities inside of one sport. Gear started out as supportive suits to help protect lifters from injury, but over time it was figured out that with different alterations, there was a carryover to the lifts. Yes, it has transformed powerlifting in a way in which many feel is negative, and others positive, but it has made an impact that stands today and will ultimately never leave. Geared lifting isn’t going away anytime soon. That’s why there are certain federations that are solely raw, and others that have different categories for raw, single ply, and multi-ply gear. People become so impassioned over this debate that some may come close to blows. It’s a debate that has g lifters, while also attacking established lifters for their accomplishments. The raw vs. geared debate is so heated that many people won’t even talk about it anymore for fear of reprisal from a friend or fellow lifter attacking the way that they choose to lift. As stated before, the answer lies in positivity. It lies in understanding and letting things go.

The way that a person approaches training, competition, or life in general will help dictate the direction in which his/her accomplishments shall go. With taking an analytical and positive approach, more than likely there will be more personal, state, national or even world records set than if someone were to approach powerlifting with a negative outlook. If these people thought “Maybe I should stop because this guy lifts more than me” or “Everyone’s right. I suck at squatting. I’m just going to go do curls”, then nobody would be anywhere in this sport. Letting in negativity will breed negativity. Positivity will breed positivity.

There’s no reason to let people down talk another lifter to the point where they want to quit, be them raw or geared. Strong is strong, and strength should be encouraged and respected. When everyone starts out in the sport, there are always people who tell them that they’re going to get too big or be a “meat head”, but there are others. The others are the people who take the time to teach, the people who encourage the new lifters to practice good form and to never give up. They’re a light of positivity shining through the blackness that is negativity. When looking back, most people can remember that person who encouraged them and helped them get to where they are in this sport. The sense of positivity, the hunger and drive to better one’s personal records, and the feeling of having a mentor want the best for them all comes flooding back at the thought of when they were just starting out and that first person showed they believed in them.  It’s a feeling that only those who approach this life and this sport with a sense of positivity can understand. The negative minds only see the bad, but the positive ones see where they’ve come from and where they’re going.

It doesn’t matter how much you lift, if you’re geared or raw, or even what others think of you. You’re not what others say you are, and you don’t have to be broken down by how internet tough guys or lifters in different divisions talk about you. At the end of the day, there’s only one thing that can tell you straight up where you’re at and what needs to be done to get to where you want to be. That thing is the iron. It’s the weight on that bar, sitting in front of you as though to say “Pick me up. Show everyone that anything is possible.”

There will always be haters. There will always be people talking negatively about others. Those facts will never change. What can change though is how we as lifters approach the sport and training. The acknowledgement of strength being universal and respected as a whole, regardless of federation or raw vs. geared. Strong is strong no matter what we compete in. That is one of the things that need to come from within. A sense of community and positivity as we move forward to bigger and better things within the sport is something we all strive for. It’s something that we all have in us, but like with taking a 3rd attempt that we’ve never tried in the gym, yet now we have to go for it to get the win, the strength to make it happen has to come from within. Remember, no matter what anyone has to say, there’s always more weight to be lifted. It all comes down to how we approach that bar. So, are you going to walk up to it all slouched over with the thought that you’re not going to get it, and that all the haters are right about you? Or are you going to be different? Are you going to flip the switch and attack that bar with the conviction that you’re going to move the weight no matter what and prove to yourself that no weight is too much to be moved? It all comes down to outlook. It all comes down to positivity.


Is Deficit Deadlifting Causing A Deficit In You Totals


 I noticed a few years back, some strength athletes had started to do something they called “deficit” dead

lifting.  Or Dead lifting from a block.  When I asked, “what’s that about?”  the answer was always the same.

                                              "I want to get more explosion from the floor.”

While I understand the thought process in this.  I disagree that the conclusion is correct.  To my understanding, the thought process goes something like this: If my body is accustomed to pulling from point A (the floor) to point B (full extension) then I will get even more powerful from point A to B if, during my training, I actually pull from a point lower then point A.  The lifter then raises himself up on “blocks” to exaggerate the starting point of his/her deadlift.  Since the lifters body is used to pulling from a point lower then the starting point, theoretically, his/her deadlift should fly off the ground during their conventional deadlift.

In reality that is not how the body works.  Skeletal muscle is capable of only contracting in one direction.  While deficit deadlifting may make one stronger in a broader range of motion (Which may benefit certain sports), it is very questionable if that translates into a stronger pull in the shorter range that is required in the actual conventional deadlift.  In fact, it may actually hurt you.  It is my suggestion that just the opposite may occur: Lets say one’s body is accustomed to pulling 30 to 36 cm from floor to full extension.  They then start training off a 10 to 15 cm block, almost 50% further distance.  Soon their receptors become accustomed to firing maximally from a hyper-flexed position.  When the lifter then prepares to lift from his/her regular stance the body feels it is not in that same hyperextended postion and doesn’t fire as powerfully as it would have. Many Soviet studies about flexibility have shown that an athlete should only be flexible enough to perform the required movement.  Anything more then this actually hinders the movement by decreasing the “stretch reflex.”  This is a protective mechanism that stops the muscle from contracting in the case of a sudden jerk.  While I know Power lifters would NEVER jerk a deadlift ; ) If it were to happen, this protective reflex is deadened, which could result in a muscle strain or worse: a complete tear from its anchor.  So what do I do if I need more explosion from the floor: I would recommend moving the blocks to the weights, instead of under your feet: starting with the bar below the knees and overloading that portion of the movement.  Then, over time, lower the height of the blocks until the, once overloaded bar, is exploding off the floor.  This is very similar to what many people do with, “boards and benching.”  Overload the lockout and then slowly decrease the number of boards until the same weight is exploding off the chest.  Very few people recommend using a cambered bar for the bench to increase the explosion from ones chest.  That would be a receipt for disaster and shoulder injury!  Yet that is exactly what you are doing when you do deficit pulls.              One could also do rack pulls, which work great in a pinch.  The problem with the rack is that the stress (bend) on the bar is different then it would be from a pull to that same height from the floor.  So it may not translate as closely as a pull from blocks.    You want to work directly on your explosiveness?  Consider Clean grip pulls.  You cannot get any more explosive then the Olympic lifters!  They actually move over double their body weight off the ground high enough to get it to shoulder level.  You don’t have to fully clean the bar.  Just load and explode.  Better use bumper plates or your gym owner will hate you.   Finally, I know you are going to say, “but my favorite lifters are doing it.”  That may be true.  But is there any scientific data that shows it is helping their lifts?  No.  The question isn’t whether great lifters are doing them.  The questions are: 1. Is it really helping them? (probably not!).  2.  Is it putting them at greater risk for injury? (probably YES).  3.  Is there something that they could do that would work as well (probably better) but not put them at as much risk?(absolutely)


The Emporers New Diet


Why Modern Cavemen (and Women) Are Idiots


Now that I have your attention; let me start by saying that if one chooses to eat in the “paleo” fashion, they will be very healthy, and I actually think it is a fine nutrition plan.  Having said that, the reason it is a fine nutrition plan has nothing to do with the reasons the author and advocates suggest.  Nor did caveman even eat as the author suggests that you eat.  If you really want to eat like a caveman or woman; you would eat bugs, grubs, only seasonal greens and fruit, and the occasional road kill you find (caveman would occasionally get carrion left over from the predators of the day) get fat in spring and summer and starve in late fall and winter.    The reason it is a healthy way to eat?  Simple: it is a low calorie diet consisting of nutrient dense, calorie sparse “REAL” food.  As much as the followers of this “religion” would like us to believe they are doing something “new.”  They are simply finding a “new” old way of eating to decrease calories while suggesting exercise, which will increase calories burned.  So as much as you Paleo-tians hate to admit it.  It comes down to simple: “Calories in – Calorie out” formula.  I don’t mind individuals following an ideology, but they should follow it for the correct, scientific reasons.  Not some fanciful, fairy tale caveman story that makes others rich at your expense.   Go a head start screaming about wheat allergies, glutin and blah, blah, blah.  If you have a TRUE wheat allergy.? You shouldn’t eat wheat.  Wow, that was a tough one.  If you are allergic to penicillin you should take that either.  Should I continue?   Only about 1% of the population actually has this problem.  Only around 10% of people paying huge sums for “Glutin Free” food actually have celiac disease.  The rest have just drunk the “paleo” Kool-Aid and are wasting their money.  Sure certain grains have a “defensive poison” or phytates, but just as the “Honey Badger” can take the bite of the poisonous cobra and keep kick’n (and eating the cobra) so can the human being eat grains and take care of the resulting inflammation.  Life is inflammation, get used to it or stay in bed.   If I am going to talk about poison, lets talk about alcohol.  Holy shit! Alcohol is LITERALLY POISON!  It kills cells and causes an immense “inflammatory” response.  Yet the author actually recommends a margarita recipe. UGH!?!?!  Throughout history the human animal has shown incredible ability to adapt to ANY whole food diet.  With the exception of the processed, “western” diet.  That one is what is killing us.  Not wheat and grains.    INSULIN!!! You Scream.  Insulin does exactly what it is meant to do.  It brings the body back to homeostasis.  If one abuses this system for long enough problems occur: Obesity, diabetes, etc… The problem isn’t grains, however.  The problem is over eating processed, calorie/sugar/carb dense foods.  Although if one ate 8000 cal/day of “paleo” food I am sure they would have the exact same problems as any other obese person.   “But I feel so good on it.”  “It makes me lose weight.” That is great! Congratulations.  Don’t try to suggest a eating program that works for you will work for everyone.  I know tons of healthy happy vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, whatever-tarians that are doing very well on their own, thank you.    I could go on and on.  In fact I could fill a book on why the “Paleo Diet” is pseudo science.  I won’t.  I have said my piece.  If you choose this diet please do so for the simple reason that it is a healthy choice.  Which, if followed, will allow you to eat large quantities of low calorie/high nutrition food while avoiding processed calorie dense/nutrition sparse food.  If you enjoy good healthy meals of rich green veggies, fruits, nuts and meat.  You may be eating “paleo” but you are just being intelligent in your food choices.  If you argue with your friends  (or on message boards) “what is paleo” or if you find yourself shopping for “paleo” cookies and other processed “caveman foods” online; you have crossed the line and really need to get a life.  Remember the people that brought you “paleo” are the same ones that brought you Blood Type Diet, Low Fat Diet, High Fat Diet, Low Carb Diet, Zone Diet, Hollywood Diet, and… every other diet and exercise fad out there, and they just want your money.  

                                                            Are you really that anxious to give it to them?