Friday, February 29, 2008

Deadlift Party Tonight

It was another fun evening at The Press Gym deadlifting. I goofed around trying different shoes with my pulls. I've also been trying to use some visualization to try to straighten out my form. I know I tend to jerk the bar when I pull... I am trying to squeeze the bar up.

~Didn't use a belt tonight. Everything went up pretty easily. The Olympic shoes felt a little weird... the stability feels great on the squat, but odd on the deadlift. Nothing too exciting, but here is a pull for your viewing pleasure.

Deadlift - 225lbs

Deadlift with Olympic shoes - 225lbs

Conventional Deadlift off 2" Platform
~Felt like an ab exercise.

~I was hoping for 5 sets of 5... but I just didn't have it in me tonight.

More about Food

I want to start this message by saying I have no formal education in nutrition. I have, in my former life, cooked professionally for over a decade. Nutrition is a hobby, I read and study different ideas about food and nutrition.

What inspired me to post this message was a conversation I had with my neighbor at the local co-op. With pride, he shows me the box of fish sticks he selected... all readable ingredients, everything recognizable, he really felt like he was doing the right thing. Much better than the conventional brand, he informed me.

Here is the interesting part... I saw the fish sticks in a box and thought processed food. He saw the short ingredients list and saw real food. We were both listening to a Michael Pollan interview on the radio on the way to the grocery store. We took different things away from the interview.

I am a big believer in real food. This is real food to me; Whole, Unpackaged, Recognizable. Michael Pollen says "eat food, not too much and mostly plants". Excellent advice. That is exactly how I try to feed my family. This is what I do...

1. We eat mostly plants, real plants, organic and local when I can find it... not frozen, not caned, not packaged.

2. We eat meat. Not a lot, about 4 oz a day. Mostly pork. We avoid factory farmed meat, I don't believe it could be healthy to consume a tortured creature. Grass fed animals are the best choice.

3. We conservatively consuming grains, seeds and nuts. Corn is not a vegetable, it is a grain. Wheat is not a plant, it is also a grain. Legumes are not plants either... they are seeds. I wrote a message about legumes, yes they are good for you, but like everything else, in moderation. Especially Wheat, Corn and Peanuts.

Foods I try to never eat...

1. Soy. Soy is high in estrogen. Not a good choice if you are interested in getting stronger. Soy, especially tofu, lows your sexual energy by interfering with absorption of zinc. Soy has also been thought to cause early menopause and contribute to other hormonal imbalances. Any food that interferes with reproduction is poison.

3. High Fructose Corn Syrup - mark my words... this is going to be the next "cigarettes". Big tobacco move over... this one is going to make some lawyers very rich.

4. Canola Oil. Most Canola oil comes from Canada, it is extracted from rape seed, which comes from a genetically modified mustard plant. Not food.

This is why I love cooking with Tracy Reifkind. She has developed a relationship with food. She is very thoughtful about what she eats and how she cooks. I have overheard her echoing exactly my feelings about food. I have much more to say food and how we eat... I am going to save it for another time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bench Press

I met up with Maura for bench press training. I am so fortunate to be training with the national bench press champion in the 105lb class. Maura did a bunch of crazy band work. I worked on my form. My arch is good... but I still struggle with consistency with movement. I am still pretty weak off the chest, and I still encounter shoulder trouble. It is still a challenge for me to maintain tension throughout the movement, especially doing reps. Maura gives great feedback... and I will continue to peck away at making some improvements on bench press. Here is how it all went down...

Bench Press
~ I am just trying to nail down an adequate form. I am afraid to do more than 3 reps at a time because I don't want my shoulders to flame up. At 85lbs. I am challenged, but the movement is definitely doable. At 95lbs, two reps was doable, the third rep caused some shoulder contortion.

Face pulls
~Maura likes sets of 4... weird.

~I don't remember what I did... a bunch, but nothing too impressive.

Triceps Push-downs

Pull-overs on a Ball
16kg Kettlebell
8reps, 3 sets
~Maura wanted to do shrugs... I feel like I am already upper trap dominate and don't really need direct work in that area. However, I do think my serratis anterior is a weak spot... so I did some pull-overs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday Squats

Have I mentioned how nice it is to have a training partner? Especially a very talented and successful one who just so happens to not be too much smaller than myself? Maura Shuttleworth and I pounded out another night of fun at The Press Gym. Here is how it all went down...

Back Squats
Working Sets - 75%
175lbs x 3 reps, 7 sets
~Challenging but doable. Here is a video for your viewing pleasure... nothing exciting, but videos always make blogs more interesting.

Set 4 of 7

Pause Squats
115 x 8 reps, 2 sets

Weighted Pull-ups
15 x 2 reps, 3 sets

Bulgarian Split Squats
16/16kg KBs - 5L/5RX5

Monday, February 25, 2008

Recipes from my Cooking Demo

Here is a photo of the awesome group of people who kindly hosted my cooking demo last weekend during my visit to California. We really had a great time. Here is what we made. Loose direction and recipes... feel free to ask for specifics. Please look at Tracy Reifkind's blog for more about the cooking demo...


Warm Spinach Salad with Chick Peas, Cashal Blue Cheese and Radicchio Dressed in Citrus-Mustard Vinaigrette

In a bowl large enough to toss a salad - Spinach, Blue Cheese lightly dressed
In a screaming hot pan - Grape Seed Oil, followed immediately with soft cooked Chick Peas. Sautee on high heat until lightly browned, add to spinach. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, heat the pan to screaming hot, add more Grape seed oil and roughly chopped Radicchio. Retoss the salad, adjust seasoning (maybe salt and fresh ground pepper) and vinaigrette (maybe more).

Bone-in Pork Loin Roast with Oven Roasted Sweet Potato, Brussel Sprouts and Shiitake Mushroom with Myer Lemon Aioli and Fennel Slaw
Generously salt then brown the Pork Loin Roast stove top - Finish in the oven at 350 degrees until internal temp is 160 degrees.
Preheat sheet pans in your 350 degree oven. Slice Sweet Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts and Shiitake to about the same size. Toss in just enough Grape seed oil to lightly coat the vegetables. Salt to taste. On your hot sheet tray, add veggies. Do not allow the veggies to overlap, single layer only. Roast until light brown and tender.
Aioli - 3 egg yolks, 1Tbl Spoon Mustard, 2 cloves garlic, salt, 2 Myer lemon zest and juice. In a food processor puree while slowly adding oil until it looks like mayo. About 3 cups. I like a combo of 1 part olive oil and 2 parts sunflower oil or grapeseed oil.
Fennel Slaw - Shaved Fennel bulb, Rice Vinegar, Salt, Fennel fronds, Orange supremes.

Pulled Pork, Chick Pea, Vegetable Soup with Mussels, Shrimp and Grilled Chard

In your pressure cooker brown your pork shoulder roast. Remove roast when browned add in onion, carrots, celery and fennel. Sweat veggies with salt and dried sage. Add in presoaked (see something about beans) Chick Peas, cover with water, or if you are lucky enough to have it, chicken or vegetable stock. Add in Shoulder Roast. Pressure cook at 10lbs for 40 minutes. Remove the shoulder roast and separate flesh from fat and bone. Add in raw shrimp and muscles and Chard stems. When the muscles pop open, soup is done. Grill or pan flash chard with salt, then squeeze a half a lemon for your soup garnish.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Something about Beans

When Tracy asked me to do a cooking demonstration for her friends in California, I knew I would have to use some sort of legume. I love cooking with beans, lentils and peas. They are high in protein, vitamin B and minerals. I typically use beans more in the winter because they are a warming and buildup food. Beans offer the benefits of the protein needed for tissue building and repair without loading our systems with cholesterol, fat and toxic nitrogen by-products of meat. Plus, beans are very beneficial to your prostate...

So, why do beans get such a bad rap in regards to digestion? Well, they ARE difficult to digest, but the good news is there are ways of preparing beans that will avoid the funny smells and sounds that they are associated with.

1. Quick Soak your beans before you cook them. A quick soak is starting your beans in a pot of cold water. Use at least 5 parts water to 1 part beans. Add nothing to your water. Bring your beans to a boil, then let them boil full tilt boogie for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let your beans stand for one hour. This kills the germination process that can cause intestinal gas.

2. Drain and Rinse your beans. You will be discarding some minerals and vitamins... but what good are minerals and vitamins if they make you feel like a hot air balloon?

3. Cook your beans until they are soft. You should be able to crush a bean on the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Crunchy is not a word that should cross your mind when you eat a bean. I like to cook my beans in a pressure cooker. It shortens the cooking time. I also add onion, carrot, celery and kombu to cooking water.

4. Cook your beans with Kombu. Kombu is a variety of seaweed that helps to break down the proteins that cause gas.

5. Chew your food well. Not chewing well can cause gas, especially with beans.

6. Small beans digest easier. Lentils and split peas digest easier that whole Garbanzo Beans. You can also puree your beans for better digestibility. Hummus is much easier to digest than whole Garbanzo Beans.

7. Go easy at first. It may take a few months before your body is used to beans. Start with a small hand full in your soup or salad and build up from there. Deciding tomorrow you are going to include beans with every meal may cause some discomfort for yourself and those around you.

*Addition - One more way cool thing about beans... when they are combined with a grain they are a perfect protein! That means together beans and grains will provide you will all eight amino acids that your body does not manufacture on it's own. Grains and beans are basic food in almost every culture... beans and rice, lentils and barley, couscous and chickpeas, cornbread and black eyed peas, aduki beans and rice or millet, white beans and pasta... you get the idea! Plus, the proteins in both the grain and legume are more usable by your body than simply eaten alone. How cool is that? Macrobiotic diets suggest 1 part legume to 5 parts grain. More traditional preparation of legumes and grains are 1 part beans to 2 parts grain.

I am by no means advocating for a flesh-free diet. I am suggesting an additional source of protein that has qualities meat lacks. Good news for strength-driven individuals. If news headlines like the Hallmark/Westland fiasco leave a bad taste in your mouth... consider fortifying your diet with beans!

Sunday Training

Vinyasa Yoga with Lisa at Neti-Neti - 1.5 Hours

Snatches on the minute with Aaron
8L/8R - 10 minutes
5L/5R - 15 minutes
~I had to stop 5 minutes short of my goal, I was developing blisters on my palms.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Cycle, Deadlift Day

After getting some scolding from Mark Reifkind for guestimating my percentages for my next lifting cycle, I carfully calculated the REAL percentages... I am starting at 75%. I also got a little bit of coaching as to my form. I can intellectualize what I am supposed to do... I can even see it in my head, however I am having a difficult time nailing down my form. I focused on "squeezing" the weight up and working to eliminate the "jerking" that seams to accompany my deadlifts. I thought deadlift was my strongest lift, now I know that is where I have the most work to do. LOL! Here is how it all went down...

~No movie this week, I forgot the camera at home. Rats.

Romanian Deadlift

~The first five sets were regular pull-ups. Then I goofed around with neutral grip. I was feeling really gassed-out by the time we got to this part of the workout.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You Lucky!

This is what my lifting partner Maura Shuttleworth said when she saw my new shoes for squatting! During my visit to the Rifstonian Institute last weekend, Mark gave me a pair of lifting shoes to use for squatting. How lucky am I? Mark Reifkind just so happened to have a pair of shoes that fit me, just hanging around 'Stone's Gym!

Monday is squat day... so here is my first workout training with my new shoes. What a difference good lifting shoes make! I felt like my feet were nailed to the platform. Pretty cool.... Anyway, here is how it all went down...

Back Squats


165X3 for 8 sets
~I knew shoes would make a difference... but... wow, holy stabilization Batman! Rif also gave me some homework for my training, so here is a video at 70% of my 1RM

Front Squats
115X5 for 4 sets

~I was really grooving the new shoes!

Weighted Pull-ups
3 sets of 2 with 10lbs
2 sets of 2 with 15lbs

~Some of these pull-ups were more like tooth-ups. LOL!

Then Maura joined my kettlebell class for swings, snatches, front squats, single leg deadlifts and abs. Fun stuff!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend with the Reifkinds

Well, it was a weekend with Tracy really. I just got home last night from spending a weekend with my best bud Tracy Reifkind. Here are just a few things we did...

We had a lot of fun paling around California while her husband, Mark Reifkind was busy teaching at the very first RKC in San Jose.
We ran around taking pictures of all the RKC candidates. The San Jose venue was really nice. It was held at San Jose University.

Going to the RKC dinner was so much fun! I got to visit with some of my favorite instructors, like Brett Jones.
I FINALLY got to meet Yoana and Franz Snideman! I have been reading both of their blogs for months... it was way cool to finally meet them both in person. What a very nice, upbeat couple! They are just what I imagined them to be, only better. Here is Yoana, Tracy and myself... unfortunately Franz was stuck behind the camera.

Here is Mark Reifkind with the next generation of Kettlebell elite... baby Mariana Snideman. My prediction is little Mariana may go through a phase of rebellion with marathon running.

One of the coolest things about going to an RKC event is meeting amazing and inspirational coaches. Dan John is someone I have admired since I have started training. His messages are always enlightening. He is the type of coach who inspires me to do better and train harder as well as be a better coach to my students. Meeting him in person was a real treat.

Of course the Evil Russian, Pavel was there. What a truly generous guy. Always a pleasure to see him. Tracy and I got a quick photo before I had to dash off to catch my plane back to Minnesota. I really had a great time in California.

There is so much more to tell about my weekend with Tracy in California... I will have to save it for another time. It's overwhelming really; Tracy and I are so like minded and we are making some interesting discoveries!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yoga and Bench Press

Yoga with William today, awesome like always. I sent William my blog message about the Powerlifting Competition with the videos of my performance. To my pleasant surprise, William was very supportive of my effort and quite congratulatory of the out come. Causing me to experience ego inflation.

Yoga class today was filled with what I call "Character Building Postures". Those are the difficult postures I don't usually practice and am not very good at. LOL! So, we worked on arm balances... there are a few I visit regularly, those are easy. Then there are some others that make a rare appearance, those were challenging. Funny how that works, asana I do not practice regularly is more difficult. Plus, my skin was smooth and slippery, which wasn't very helpful in my efforts. Class with William is always inspiring. His classes give me tapas.

Maura and I trained bench press today. We planned our next cycle of squats and DL's for the TSC. We also talked a little about what to do about my bench as we banged out our sets and reps. Here is how it all went down.

Bench Press

Face Pulls
~I was feeling a little nervous about face pulls because of my shoulders... no problems today. In fact, shoulders have been feeling very healthy lately.

Then Maura did some shrugs with my kettlebells and I did some snatches. Maura threw a few snatches in at the end. I am determined to get a respectable number on the bench press. A good lifting partner is worth her weight in gold... have I said that before?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday Night Squats

Maura and I met up for our squat workout tonight. Here is how it went down...

Back Squats

Front Squats

Weighted Pull-ups

Friday, February 8, 2008

Back to Training...

Aaron, Shawn, Sean and I showed up at The Press Gym for some deadlifts tonight. I was planning on going pretty light as that I pretty much maxed out a week ago. No Maura tonight... she is off in Boston on family business. No Mike Nelson either... he is back in school, studying hard. I know I need to wait at least a week before diving back into training... but I really felt ready to go tonight. Plus, Shawn Friday and Sean Schniederjan had planned this already. Plus, next week I will be in California visiting Tracy Reifkind next week. Well, here is how my training went down for Friday....

2 Hours Vinyasa Yoga at Neti-Neti with Lisa
~Yoga felt great! Especially after the meet.

Then latter at The Press Gym

135X5 - Conventional
185X3 - Sumo
~my plan was to go to 15... but it just wasn't in me

Bench Press


Aaron, Shawn, Sean and I all goofed around with KB's after our DL's. I wanted to see Schniederjan in action, it was just as I expected... he is a solid, strong, snatch machine. No joke.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lessons from Competition

Aaron pretty much summed up all the thanks to the people who helped me out preparing for the Powerlifting Meet. I am going to say it one more time, because it is so important.

Having a supportive spouse, partner, whatever is very important. Getting encouragement from the person you spend most of your time with is invaluable. Plus Aaron is very much movement talented. He was great at giving feedback. Plus he ran my numbers at the meet, allowing me to focus on moving the weight. Thank you Aaron.

Long distance coaching from Mark Reifkind was just what I needed. I make plans for my clients every day. Having someone else plan my workouts is such a luxury! Plus I have never trained for a competition before. Getting a program from a true veteran of the world of competitive lifting was exactly what I needed. Plus Mark looked over my videos and gave very helpful feed back. What a good eye to be able to pick out a weakness from a You Tube video! Thank you Mark.

I have to thank Tracy Reifkind... she is actually the one who got me thinking about participating in a PL meet in the first place. She gave me her weight belt. It is really nice; a custom color thick competition belt. It was so nice, my lifting partner ordered one for herself after using Tracy's belt for our training and competition.

Having a good training partner is worth her weight in gold. Maura Shuttleworth is the other reason I chose to compete. Maura is a national Bench Press champion. Maura taught me that bench press is not some horribly painful lift... She has years of Powerlifting experience, she has a great upbeat attitude and she makes our training time fun! I am looking forward to lots of improvement as Maura and I continue to train together! Plus she is the one who talked me into committing to competing. Thanks Maura!

Shawn Friday is my brother-in-law. He is an awesome technician. He has been a competitive powerlifter since he was a teenager. He made regular trips to The Press Gym to give me feed back on my deadlift form. He also gave me other little bits of advice... like don't let the crowd freak you out. Good to know. I have never lifted in front of a group of people.

Mike Nelson; Z-Health specialist, scientist and athlete. Mike has been working with me on joint mobility and strength as well as showing up for the Friday night deadlift party. He gave me on the fly Z adjustment ensuring I pulled that next attempt at 281. Thanks Mike.

I also want to thank everyone at The Press Gym... Dan and Kim Stock owners of The Press. They have never been anything other than completely supportive of me, from training for the competition to my kettlebell classes. In fact pretty much everyone who trains at The Press Gym has been extremely supportive, offering loads of helpful advise. The Press Gym is an awesome environment for training.

So, a lot of people told me I did really well for my first meet. Well, of course I did! I had a huge advantage, I had tons of help... I should have done better! I guess that is the addictive part of powerlifting, knowing you can do better.

I can't wait to work on the bench press and get a more respectable number... especially now that I have finally learned how to lift without hurting my shoulders.

Now that I know what a maximum effort lift feels like, I won't freak out when the weight doesn't just fly. I know this sounds ridiculous... but I am used to moving the weight pretty fast. This may have been part of the reason I missed that deadlift. Like Mark says... maximum effort lifts take around 5 seconds to move. In competition this feels like an eternity. This is an important thing to know. You need stick-with-it-ness.

Total body tension... easier said than done, especially keeping that tension throughout the entire lift. Learning this technique will make a huge difference in my squat. Plus lack of bottom position tension earned me red lights on my second attempt at bench press. Moving the weight was no problem... pausing without movement was.

In competition, pick reasonable numbers. Maura, Shawn and Mark all told me this. Excellent advice. I saw several lifters bomb the meet because they picked the wrong weight to open with.

I'm sure I have lots more to learn. These are the main points that stuck out to me.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Minnesota State Open PL Meet

I have been spending the past 10 weeks training for a full powerlifting meet. Today was the day of the competition. There is so much I learned in the past weeks, it is hard to put into words. I will save that for another day. I will post my results with a little commentary.

Weigh in was at 7:30 am lifting started at 9am. My plan was to get there right away. I did have skip dinner the night before. I wanted to get in and get weighed right away so I could get a little something to eat before lifting.

The meet was at The Press Gym, it was pretty nice to have a home advantage. My lifting partner Maura Shuttleworth was lifting, she and I met up and warmed up together. Here is how it all went down...

Opened at 198lbs
Second attempt 220lbs
Third attempt 231lbs - PR - 105 kilos
~All lifts were good. 198 was cake... 231lbs went up easy. Other than my legs shaking from nerves, all lifts felt great! The head judge did tell me after the meet I carry the bar too low on my back... he never gave me a red for it, but told me I had better move it up if I plan on doing a future meet.

This is my third attempt at squat. PR at 231lbs

Bench Press
Opened at 77lbs
Second - 95lbs
Third - 95lbs - 45.5 kilos
~I missed my second for not being able to hold the bar steady... tried again and hit it on my last attempt. Shawn Friday handed off to me, reminding me to stay tight.

Nothing I am too proud of... but shows how crowded the meet was! Great turnout!

Opened with 257lbs
Second - 281lbs
Third - 281lbs - PR - 127.5 kilos
~I missed 281lbs the first time. Don't know what happened... maybe I gave up too soon. Lucky for me Mike Nelson was there, I got a Z adjustment on the fly. Out side toe pulls eyes up and lateral ankle tilts eye up. Good to go! I came back to hit 281lbs!

This was a tough break off the ground...

What an intense day! Overwhelming really...