Category Archives for "Barbell Life"

Your Questions Answered – The Barbell Life 247

On this podcast, we answer listener questions – and these are always some of my favorite podcasts.

You put out content that you hope benefits people, but you’re never really sure. But with these podcasts, we know we’re answering your direct questions.

So join us as we discuss powerlifting, weightlifting, athletic performance, programming, and tons more.

Seven of the Greatest Minds in Strength & Conditioning in One Book

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PROGRAM SAMPLER VOLUME IV

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Featuring insight and programs from Coach Cal Dietz, Dr. Mike Israetel, Dr. Stu McGill, Coach Dan John, Dr. Bryan Mann, Matt Vincent, and Coach Danny Camargo

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • How to get your chest to grow
  • Getting a faster first pull
  • Dealing with “butt wink”
  • Increasing your deadlift by not working on your deadlift
  • Programming for a tactical athlete or super total athlete
  • and more…

The Strength Coach’s Guide to Understanding Pain

About the Author: Eric Bowman is a Registered Physiotherapist in Ontario, Canada who works in the areas of orthopedic physical therapy and exercise for people with chronic diseases. He’s also intermittently involved with the University of Waterloo Kinesiology program and the Western University Physical Therapy program. He also competes as a powerlifter in the Canadian Powerlifting Union and has completed the CPU Coaching Workshop and Seminar.

Disclaimer: This is a combination of an article I wrote in 2015 for EliteFTS, an article I wrote on my own site in 2017, and my own updated views and concepts.

If you are involved with the Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, or CrossFit communities – either as an athlete or coach – you and/or your clients have likely had to deal with pain at some point in your career. Competing at a higher level comes with a high risk of developing pain due to the highly repetitive nature of strength sports, the volume and intensity of weights lifted, and the higher body weights required to be successful at some (but not all) strength sports.

Unfortunately, many strength coaches and athletes fail to understand the complex nature of pain. If you scroll down social media it’s not uncommon to see fellow lifters asking their comrades “I have pain – what should I do?” Subsequent recommendations can range all the way from ice and heat to soft tissue to inversion tables to snake oils to completely stopping lifting. It’s concerning to watch as a physiotherapist as these recommendations are made with minimal to zero knowledge of the individual’s pain presentation, medical history, psychosocial status, baseline functional capacity, and goals. As such these recommendations can range from effective to ineffective or even harmful.

Over the decades, and especially in the last seven years, the popularity and awareness of pain science has risen – even to the point where it got discussed on Joe Rogan’s podcast recently. In this article I share what the strength coach and strength athlete should know about pain. As a disclaimer this is not intended to be specific medical advice but rather general education and information.

Pain does not always indicate tissue damage

The old Descartes’ model of pain stated that an injury caused a signal to go up to the brain that caused pain. This in many ways is still how people view pain.

However – a large body of research shows many individuals with no signs or symptoms (within scientific literature this is referred to as “asymptomatic”) have abnormal imaging findings in their knees, hips, back and shoulders. For example:

  • 85% of adults without knee pain have knee arthritis on X-Ray
  • 35% of adults without shoulder pain have full or partial thickness rotator cuff tears on MRI
  • Even 40% of professional baseball players have rotator cuff tears yet have no pain while playing!!!
  • Approximately 20-40% of adults aged 20-40 show some form of disc herniation on CT or MRI but walk around without pain

Now to be fair

  • Some research does show a correlation between X-ray findings and symptoms in knee osteoarthritis – although this research is very conflicting
  • Some research shows patellar and achilles tendon changes on imaging can predict future tendinopathy
  • Some research shows some MRI findings are more common in people with back pain than in people without back pain

This means tissue injury can still be relevant but it certainly isn’t the sole predictor of pain. Pain is an output of the nervous system in response to threat and can be influenced by many factors (see below).

Protocols for Aches and Pains, Muscular Imbalances & Recovery

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Posture, structure, and biomechanics are relevant and important but don’t solely explain pain

We know from the scientific literature certain biomechanical movement variables can be risk factors and/or mechanisms of certain injuries, such as

Biomechanics are also important when under high loads – when certain movements, postures, and/or loads are painful – and when the body hasn’t been given sufficient opportunity to adapt to the load that’s been placed on it.

The things you have to keep in mind when looking at biomechanics are …

We know now pain can be modulated by various biological and psychosocial factors.

Biological factors can include

  • Tissue injury and tissue stress (see above)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Neurological factors such as decreased or increased pain modulation by the nervous system, or changes in the nervous system can make it more sensitive to inputs

Psychosocial factors can include

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear avoidance (avoidance of activity due to fear of pain or injury)
  • Kinesiophobia (fear of movement not fear of Kinesiologists 😊 )
  • Passive coping strategies
  • Poor social support
  • PTSD

Psychosocial factors don’t mean “the pain is in your head” but they are big risk factors for chronic pain. The theory is they make the nervous system more sensitive and increase activity of areas of the nervous system that are also involved in pain.

The wording you use with your clients can make a big impact on their recovery

Going hand-in-hand with the above points – the way your clients feel about themselves and their pain (if applicable) can have a big impact on

  • Whether or not they experience pain and
  • How well they manage and/or recover from pain

When professionals use negative wording with their clients it can create a “nocebo” effect. Nocebo, the opposite of placebo, is when the expectation of harm causes pain even though nothing physical has happened.

Some examples of nocebo-like wording can include

  • “You have the knees of a 70 year old”
  • “You’re in pain because of poor posture”
  • “Your (insert muscle here) isn’t firing”
  • “Your movement is dysfunctional”
  • … and so on

The key takeaway here is to use positive wording as much as possible with your clients to get the desired training/rehab effect while avoiding nocebos.

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So to summarize this article

  • Tissue injury may be relevant to pain in some cases but pain doesn’t always mean injury
  • Pain is a lot more complex than biomechanics and is more related to a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors
  • Use positive wording with your clients to empower them and avoid creating nocebos

I hope this gives you a better understanding of the complex experience that is pain. If you are interested in further reading I recommend the book Explain Pain by Lorimer Moseley and David Butler. As always – thanks for reading.

Tony Gentilcore – The Barbell Life 244

I finally had the chance to sit down and talk with Tony Gentilcore.

It seems we know so many of the same people, so it was great to pick his brain and hear about his many years as a strength coach.

In particular, Tony really had some great insights on business – not only his current business model (which had me taking notes) but also lessons he’s learned from his past with Eric Cressey.

If you’re someone who is interested in growing a platform, growing a gym, or growing a coaching practice – this one will be worth a listen.

Short on time in the gym? Here's the blueprint you need to follow.

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If your schedule is packed but you still want to smash weight, if you want a reliable method to break through plateaus, if you want to build a strength program that works for YOU, grab the Blueprint.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Having Eric Cressey as a roommate (and what he learned)
  • Why growing a business is sometimes the worst thing
  • How he’s working now based on his plan for the future
  • Why he started a gym even though he said he never wanted to
  • How a good workout should make you feel like Mario
  • and more…

The Controversial Beauty of Female Athletes with Sarah Davies – The Barbell Life 242

I’ll go out on a limb and say Sarah Davies is the only person to compete internationally in both Olympic weightlifting and also beauty pageants.

And during a recent international competition, the organizers tried to prevent her from participating in the swimsuit portion… because they said she was too muscular.

Are we serious?

That just got my blood boiling, so I had to talk with Sarah about it.

So if you want a wild look at the inside of beauty pageants – both the good and the bad – then give this podcast a listen.

And also, if you know me, OF COURSE we talked about Sarah’s weightlifting.

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LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • The controversy about her being “too muscular”… and how she handled it
  • How she brilliantly structured her training and nutrition to minimize any impact from her trip
  • Working through childhood bullying to learn to accept and love her body
  • How she has mastered the mental aspect of competition
  • Setting goals so big that people laugh at you
  • and more…

Jim Wendler on Training High Schoolers (Part 2) – The Barbell Life 241

With the financial success of 5/3/1, Jim Wendler has been able to live his dream.

He’s now a strength coach at his local high school – and he has totally transformed the program. They’ve gone from being mediocre to now being a dominant force.

And the interesting thing is that Jim’s approach is the exact opposite of what many people would think a high school strength program should look like. He doesn’t max out. He doesn’t pound the kids into the ground. His kids are the only ones around who don’t even know their bench press max.

So to hear how he’s had such stellar results, listen in and get ready to take notes.

The Mash Elite Video Curriculum: Coming Soon

We're in the process of creating a massive video curriculum series on technique for the main lifts, programming, mobility, and coaching. Thanks to those who pre-ordered... and get ready for the full resource to be released soon!

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Kids don’t need to go heavy. Here’s what they do need.
  • Turning around his local high school football team in record time
  • The dumbbell exercise that has made the biggest difference in the team
  • The challenges of managing 50 kids at the same time
  • Making average players into winners
  • and more…

A Reminder Why We Coach

Sometimes in life I find myself in what feels like a hamster wheel.

I get up, write a bit, answer emails, train, coach, hang with my family, and go to bed. This goes on day after day, and week after week. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder if I am really making a difference. If I am just collecting a paycheck, there are easier ways.

I coach because I want to help young men and women reach their goals. I want to see them become better humans, and I want to see them living a healthier lifestyle after they leave me as a coach. If this isn’t happening, I’m going to open a different business or just get a job.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

This morning, I was training at one of my original gyms, Jack King’s Gym in Winston-Salem, NC. Number one, I love this gym because everyone leaves me alone to crush my grind, and it’s the most hardcore gym in America. You know – the kind of place that’s dirty with chalk-filled air. Man, I love it!

Toward the end of my grind, in walked one of my former athletes, Grayson Alberty. I didn’t even recognize him. Now he is tall, lean, and muscular. He also runs his father’s plumbing business, and he’s only 19 years old. He trained with me about six years ago. If I remember right, he was having a tough time in school, so he would come hang out with me right after school. He was into training for a bit, but then – like many people – he stopped coming. I remember being pretty sad because I invested a lot into this kid and had wanted to see his life improve.

Some coaches can just shrug it off when an athlete leaves. I am not wired that way. I connect very personally with each and every athlete. That’s why I am a good coach, but it’s also why I feel crushed when they stop.

GOALS AS A COACH

As a coach, I have a few goals with each of my athletes.

  • I want to help them reach whatever goals they have on their hearts. (Notice I said ‘their’ and not ‘their parents’ goals.)
  • I want to be a catalyst for the athletes becoming better human beings. I want them to be exceptional spouses, fathers, mothers, business owners, doctors, and lawyers. (We have an exceptional record in this department.)
  • I want them to take the gift of fitness and continue it for the rest of their lives – while sharing it with the people they love.

That’s it! These are my goals for all of my athletes. It’s got to be about more than just their athletic development.

INFLUENCE AS A COACH

Sport coaches are important to athletes for sure. My high school football coach was very inspirational in my life. Like most high school coaches, he also doubled as the strength coach. It was in the weight room we developed our relationship. In college I was way closer with my strength and conditioning coach, Coach Mike Kent, than any other coach.

As strength and conditioning coaches we have to keep this in mind. We will be with these athletes a bigger part of the year than their sport coach. We will also be with them in smaller groups, allowing us to form stronger bonds. Several of my athletes have thanked me at their senior banquets and senior games before their sport coach, which every time was a massive honor. However with honor comes great responsibility, or at least it should. Of course if you are a weightlifting or powerlifting coach, you will probably be even closer with your athletes. You are their strength coach and sport coach, and that’s a big responsibility.

Grayson is an example of planting a seed only to see the seed blossom years later. Our job is to plant as many seeds as possible, but ultimately it is up to the athlete to let the seed sprout and bloom. Today I got to see one of my seeds in full bloom, and it totally rejuvenated my desire to coach and help young people.

The Mash Elite Video Curriculum: Coming Soon

We're in the process of creating a massive video curriculum series on technique for the main lifts, programming, mobility, and coaching. Thanks to those who pre-ordered... and get ready for the full resource to be released soon!

DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUCCESS STORIES

Everyone knows us for our first goal because we have helped several athletes reach their incredible goals like:

  • Tommy Bohanon to the NFL
  • Cade Carney to starting running back for Division I Wake Forest University
  • Landon Harris making the Division I High Point University basketball team (after not making the team during the prior two years)
  • Multiple World Team members to Team USA in weightlifting (including four in 2018: Hunter Elam, Nathan Damron, Jordan Cantrell, and Meredith Alwine)
  • Multiple Junior World Team members (with two sitting on the team right now)
  • Multiple Youth Pan Am Team members to Team USA in weightlifting (including three in 2018: Morgan McCullough, Ryan Grimsland, and Jared Flaming)
  • Morgan McCullough taking the gold medal at the 2018 Youth Pan Am championships

That’s awesome, and of course I am proud of all my athletes. However, I am just as proud of my athletes who have gone on to become incredible humans.

  • Adee Cazayoux is the CEO of Working Against Gravity – a multi-million dollar business that pretty much owns the nutrition world.
  • Jared Enderton is now a social media celebrity and the head weightlifting coach for Invictus Weightlifting.
  • Malcolm Moses-Hampton is a doctor in Chicago.
  • Michael Waters, former Penn State Wrestler, is now in the Special Forces.
  • Hayden Bowe is one of the founders of Hybrid Performance Method and Gym.
  • Greg Nuckols and his amazing wife, Lyndsey Nuckols, are the owners of Stronger by Science. They’ve been featured in Forbes Magazine.
  • Landon Harris, the same guy who made the basketball team for High Point University, is now a banker applying to MBA Schools. I actually wrote a recommendation for his Harvard application.

RESPONSIBILITY AS A COACH

We have a big responsibility as strength and conditioning coaches. Our responsibilities go way past helping our athletes reach their goals. Our goal should never be to glamorize ourselves as coaches. We become popular by the results of our athletes, and by the recommendation of our athletes. Our legacy is our athletes. It’s what our athletes do in their sport, and throughout their lives. It’s in the information we share with the world.

Becoming a coach is much like becoming a pastor. Being a pastor is hard work. If you are contemplating going into the ministry, most pastors will tell you that if you feel in your heart that you can do anything else, you probably should. But if you can’t imagine a life where you’re not a pastor, then pursue it.

It’s the same with being a strength coach. Don’t do it for the money, and definitely don’t do it for the fame. Do it for the love of others. I have never written anything more true, and I hope all of you men and women out there considering becoming a coach will read this before making a decision.

Today was a great day seeing Grayson Alberty. It’s days like today that encourage me to push on. However, there are a lot of hard days you will have to endure as a strength coach. With all of this being said, the beautiful days are simply amazing, and I can’t imagine anything else outside of my family and my God bringing me so much joy.

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