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Friday, October 29, 2010

Bench Tip

Is your bench stuck? There are many ways to increase it, but here’s a quick tip. Learn to bench with your legs. Yes, you heard that right. Lie on the flat bench and get set to press, make sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor. As you lower the bar to your chest, keep your abs tight, and when the weight touches your chest, drive your heels into the floor, and push with your legs as you press the bar to lockout. (Make sure your butt stays on the bench). This will take some time to learn, so practice with an empty bar, and progress slowly in weight until you have mastered it. Leg drive is a “secret” of top powerlifters. If it works for them, it will work for you. This will not allow you to “isolate” your chest, that is no the goal. It will allow you to move more weight, and that will stimulate more growth.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More on ART

Another great Dr. Brady article:

Overcoming Scar Tissue Based Injuries: Getting Better, Faster with ART
By: Dr. William F. Brady, D.C.
It can be downright ugly. Walk into any gym that specializes in strength and conditioning, powerlifting, strongman, or even martial arts, and you’ll run across a number of the athletes who have an injury that is making their training difficult and painful, often putting the freeze on their hard earned progress. Most of us have experienced hamstring pulls that return when we train hard or shoulder pulls that prevent us from doing certain lifts, but all too often these injuries become chronic, nagging training partners that repeatedly remind us of our weak spots.
Conventional wisdom tells us to stretch, ice, and rest for a while and things will be fine. That’s great advice, but what do you do when that doesn’t really solve the problem?
Enter Dr. Michael Leahy, a military test pilot turned chiropractor. He has developed Active Release Techniques (ART), a system of locating and treating areas of scar tissue. Since many injuries entail some form of scar tissue, this procedure is revolutionizing the way doctors look at and treat athletic injuries.
‘Muscle pull’, ‘strain’ and ‘tear’ are all terms used to describe damaged muscle or tendon. When a tear occurs, there is a gap between the torn ends. The body creates scar tissue to fill this gap and “glue” the torn parts together. This is why rest and ice are critical first aid in the beginning. Rest allows the scar tissue to form properly with out re-tearing, and ice reduces the inflammation and swelling so the torn parts are in close proximity and heal faster. Problems arise when this advice is not followed or when an injury is so severe and too much scar tissue has built up.
Think of scar tissue as glue; it will not only limit the ability of the affected muscle to fully lengthen but it will also prevent complete muscular contraction, which ultimately limits strength and flexibility. Not a good place for any athlete to be.

Besides damaged tendons, scar tissue can also “glue” muscles together. Muscles lie in layers throughout the body and must be able to slide across each other for efficient, pain free motion. If scar tissue has bound the muscles together, the necessary gliding motion is prevented. This too will limit strength, cause an abrupt limit of motion, and over time, damage joints. Nerves can also get glued to muscles by scar tissue, as well. Trapped nerves cause symptoms of numbness, tingling and burning, and can occur virtually anywhere in the body.

How do you know if you may be suffering from scar tissue damage and how can you treat it? You probably have scar tissue if: (1). You have strained a muscle or had a tear in the past, especially if the area continues to cause you symptoms. (2). You have tightness or pain early in the workout that improves with warm up. Scar tissue will behave kind of like taffy; when it is cold it is not flexible but after a warm-up it is able to stretch. (3). You have a limited range of motion that does not consistently improve with stretching.

Active Release Techniques is the treatment of choice for scar tissue. It utilizes over 300 different procedures to treat the majority of the different muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves in the body.
ART is a type of manual, soft tissue work that is deep and very specific. It works like this. First, the doctor identifies the scarred area by palpating or feeling it. Then, the muscle, tendon, or ligament is shortened by moving the affected body part. The doctor places a contact (thumb or fingers) on the scar, creating tension and the patient moves the body part back to its original position to lengthen the structure. This generates tension that breaks down scar tissue and restores normal movement, texture, tension, and function to the tissues, which reduces pain and improves performance.

ART treatment is unique for two reasons. First, it utilizes the patient motion to generate tension; this is the only way to produce enough force to really break down the scar tissue, and second, the treatment is very specific. It is essential to treat not only the right tissue, but the exact area within the tissue! After all, if you are not on the scar tissue you can’t break it down.

If you have a nagging injury and are interested in ART treatment and live in the Boston area, please feel free to contact me at the Soft Tissue Diagnostic & Treatment Center, 617-367-3110 or visit us at

For those of you outside Metro-Boston, you can find a provider in your area by going to

Dr. William F. Brady, D.C.

Active Release Treatment-FYI

Here is an old post form the TPS newsletter on ART. It's good!

Ask Dr. Brady
We premiered the ‘Ask Dr. Brady' column in February and many of you have commented on your own battles with scar tissue and the relief ART (Active Release Therapy) has brought you.
This month, Dr. Bill Brady and his colleague, Dr. T. Grace Steinley, of the Soft Tissue & Diagnostic Treatment Center here in Boston , ( . ) have been kind enough to help us out with some information on tendonitis.
If you'd like to consult with Dr. Brady, he does come here to TPS on Wednesday afternoons in addition to his normal office hours at his Downtown Boston location. For an appointment at either location, please call his office at 617-367-3110.
Q: My shoulder's been hurting for months. I've been diagnosed with tendinitis, but the pain isn't going away. What's the deal?
A: To lead you in the proper treatment direction, we need to determine if tendinitis is what's actually going on. If the problem is has been present for several months, the chances you are suffering from tendinitis is low. Tendin osis is likely the culprit for your aching shoulder. Semantics aside, this distinction is important for finding effective treatment.
Tendons, structures that connect muscle to bone, become inflamed and painful when injured. The body responds to injury with inflammation. Various cells are sent to an area to destroy injured tissue and set the stage for healing. Standard treatments include rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication to combat excess inflammation. The catch – inflammation is rarely present in cases of chronic tendon pain. In fact, tendinitis is a relatively rare condition.
Tendinosis, on the other hand, is common. In 1979, surgeons Robert P. Nirschl and Frank A. Pettrone removed sections of injured elbow tendons from patients and examined them under a microscope. Remarkably, they found no inflammation. Instead, they found that the tendons were degenerated, swollen, grayish rather than white, and soft. Tendinosis is the correct name for this condition, which has for years been mislabeled as tendinitis.
What causes these tendons to degenerate, you might ask? Repeated or sustained muscular contraction associated with activities such as lifting weights, playing tennis, and keyboarding causes a decrease in blood flow to the working muscles and tendons. This lack of blood flow then causes an accumulation of waste products. These waste products are very similar to those produced when a muscle is torn. The waste products in turn attract the cells that produce scar tissue. This is helpful if indeed you have torn a muscle, but in the case of overuse injuries, the body is signaled to repair muscles that are not really damaged. The body is thus fooled into thinking there has been an injury and tries to repair it. The result is an accumulation of scar tissue in otherwise healthy muscles and tendons. The scar tissue increases stress on the tendons and they begin to degenerate.
Visualize pouring glue on a healthy tendon; this is the effect that scar tissue creates. It prevents normal stretching and limits muscle contraction. This can cause a decreased range of motion, pain with use, decreased strength, and early fatigue. In fact, pain is often the last symptom to show up. Overuse injuries usually start with one muscle or tendon developing scar tissue. The involved muscle is then weakened, requiring neighboring muscles to become overworked. With continued use and the passage of time, the neighboring muscles begin to develop scar tissue. This cycle of increasing stress, buildup of scar tissue, and degeneration continues until the body can no longer compensate. At this point, the system has broken down and chronic pain sets in.
Creating scar tissue is the only mechanism that muscles have for healing. The development of scar tissue, therefore, is the body's fairly universal response to stress and injury. If you are experiencing pain from overuse, there is a high probability that scar tissue and degeneration are occurring. Scar tissue does not go away by itself. If you take time off and feel better but find that pain returns to the affected area once you resume activity, it is likely that scar tissue is present. In contrast, an inflammatory problem resolves with rest and does not return.
With the understanding that overuse injuries are most often degenerative-scar-tissue problems rather than inflammatory problems, treatment strategies must change accordingly. Over- prescribed rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and electrical stimulation are no longer the treatments of choice. Active Release Techniques (ART) is the best treatment for the reduction of scar tissue and reversing degeneration. The procedure is as revolutionary as the realization that overuse injuries are not the result of inflammation. As an article in the June 1999 issue of the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation reported: "Results [with ART] demonstrated a 71 percent success rate, which, when compared to similar studies in the literature, was superior." Doctors trained in ART are able to locate scar tissue by touch. The characteristics they look for include increased tension, abnormal texture, and restricted movement. The treatment involves soft-tissue manipulation done exclusively with a doctor's hands.
Although tendinitis and tendinosis sound similar, they are two very different problems with two very different treatment strategies. The first step to finding effective treatment is finding an accurate diagnosis.
Dr. Bill Brady

Another great post form Alwyn Cosgrove

Here's a study that might be of interest to you...
Supervised exercise versus non-supervised exercise for reducing weight in obese adults.
Nicolaï SP et al
J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2009 Mar;49(1):85-90.
This research study looked at the effects of training with supervision/instruction (ie a qualified trainer) versus "advice"
Two groups - Group one met a trainer twice a week for 4 months (as a group).
Group two received basic advice to increase physical activity and access to a fully equipped gym (any exercise they did was unsupervised).
The group with supervision lost on average 362% more fat over a 4-month period. (Total fat loss of 13.4lbs in the coached group - and only 3.7lbs in the advice only group)
Interesting side note -they made these improvements without ANY dietary advice given.
This is not a new finding, nor is it that surprising as a good coach or training partner/team can really help with your results. The fact that the group exercised together only served to improve those results further (as social support is one of the key variables in fat loss success) so I'm not sure that the supervision and instruction alone was entirely responsible for the enhanced results - or the social support was part of it. However, it's clear that together it's an unbeatable combination. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why semi-private training seems to get better results than one-on-one training.
You'd also have to assume that there was more instruction in the supervised group as there was more contact with instructors.
Another study came out a few years ago showing that a participant would exercise 30% harder or more (can't remember the exact number) with someone just watching them (i.e. not offering any instruction or encouragement). You can imagine how that could translate into much greater results, when added with a good program, great coaching, great social support and great instruction.
If you are serious about changing your body - hire a coach, or get a great training partner or team to help you. If you're serious about increasing your client's results if you are a trainer or coach - consider running some small group or semi-private options.
PS - To pick up our newest DVD - a recorded seminar on "Designing Successful Semi-Private Training Programs" - click here

24420 Walnut street
Newhall, CA

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just a short rant relating to intensity and being a quitter

So today I was deadlifitng with some chains and on a warmup set at 315 with 80 pounds of chain, something BAD happened. After I completed the rep I almost blacked out and felt a pain in my lower back that was UNBEARABLE.
What did I do? Quit.
Nope, I set about rolling, doing trigger point work, a bunch of Reverse Hypers, Back Attack with a band, more rolling, and a long time in band traction.  Then some ab work and lots of ice and stretching.
As I was getting changed a member came up to me and told me we need to call 911 because someone was really hurt bad in the gym.
We went out to the gym and saw a guy laying on the floor writhing in AGONY. He was being attended to by Johnnie on the Spot (Chuck).
I asked what happened , he told me that there was a BAD laceration to the guys leg.
I looked at it and saw what could only be described as a boo. It wasn't even a boo-boo.
I tried talking to the guy, but he was really hamming it up saying how bad it was. I am terrible in these situations.
Heartless when it comes to someone who has no tolerance for even the least amount of pain (and I am a baby most of the time). Sometimes you just have to man up and do another set.
I advised the guy to let us clean it and cover it and offered to call 911.
Obviously he said no. We cleaned it anyway as he whined about flushing it with saline. SALINE!

I told hm if it was me, I'd try another set, get right back on the horse (after determining he wasn't really hurt).
He was having none of it. Turns out he was a Doctor. You think he'd know it wasn't that bad.
I know that you can never guage how much pain someone else is really in, but this guy was miking it good.
He laid on the floor while his two training
partners finished their workout. It really couldn't have been that bad for all the histrionincs he was exhibiting.
What is the moral of the story?
I don't really know. Maybe it's that  I'm an idiot and should have laid on the floor and cried after my injury, which btw was diagnosed as a partial tear by the MD I was training right after I was done.
Maybe it's the fact that I should have some sympathy for people.
Maybe it's the fact that some people are just not cut out for hard training and giving 100%.
Comments anyone?

Bring the intensity back!

Are your workouts getting stale?

How about some friendly competition with your training partner or even yourself? Most people will never enter a bodybuilding contest or a powerlifting contest, but contest training is a great motivator.

Pick a date, 8-12 weeks away and set a goal. It could be squat “x” amount of weight, most fat lost/most muscle gained, it doesn’t matter. The date you picked is the deadline for the contest.

What’s the prize? If you have a training partner, each of you will put $1 a day into a fund for the ‘contest’ prize.

If there are two of you that can be almost $200 after twelve weeks. At the end of your selected time, have your contest. Whoever wins gets the prize.

If you train alone, do the same thing, but if you don’t succeed, the money stays put in the ‘fund’ until the next contest with yourself.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Max muscle, minimum time

Sets, reps, what is the best?

 There is no best, but here is one way to stimulate more muscle fiber, add intensity to your training, and get stronger.
 Let’s use the incline dumbbell press for example. Select a medium to heavy weight, something you can do 10-12 reps with for a standard set.
You’ll need a stop watch or clock for this. Give yourself 60 seconds, and do as many reps as you can in that time. The reps should be dome explosively, but with perfect form. It’s okay to take a second or two rest between reps as time clicks away, but remember, you’re going against the clock, so do as many as you can. Try a wager with your training partner.

This guy knows how to build muscle.

Whoever does the most reps in 60 seconds gets a free protein shake after your training. Doing max reps for time with heavier weights stimulates different types of muscle fiber too!
Your type 2 fibers are required to move the heavy weight, but as they fatigue, your type 1 fibers will kick in to keep you going.
Maximum muscle, minimum time.

Quick Grip Strength Tip

Grip Strength is often forgotten when training, but who couldn’t use stronger hands?

Here’s an easy way to improve one aspect of your grip, and requires no special equipment, it’s called a plate pinch. One of the old-time test of strength was to put 2-45 pound plats, smooth side out, and lift them by pinching the plates between your thumb and four fingers. Not too many men can do this.

To begin, take two 5 pound or 10 pound plates, place them together, smooth side out, take the grip described above, and lift the plates with your arms straight. Hold the weights for up to 30 seconds.

Jedd Johnson of the Diesel Crew with a World Class Pich.

When you can hold them for 30 seconds, add weight, go to 3, or 4 ten pound plates stacked smooth side out, and continue working up to 30 seconds.
Doing this with a pair of 25’s is impressive, 35’s is quite an accomplishment, and pinch gripping a pair of 45’s is world class.

Watch your toes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Build a big V.

 Everyone loves a V-taper, adding size to your lats makes your waist appear smaller too!
Try adding the “scapular depression” to your next set of pulldowns. To do this, take a slightly wider than shoulder width grip on the Pulldown bar, and set the weight to something you can do 8-10 reps of pulldowns with.

Instead of doing a Pulldown, lock your elbows, and pull your shoulder blades down by squeezing your lats hard. (This is a short range movement, only a few inches, and can be difficult to master, so don’t get discouraged) When the lats are fully contracted, and the shoulder blades are down as far as you can, hold the contraction for a second, and then raise the weight to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps, and then continue with a set of pulldowns using the same technique to start the movement. Do not go to failure. Stop 1 rep before you think you will hit failure. This is very taxing on your lats, but will product great results.

The scapular depression can be used as part of your back training as a stand alone exercise too. If you choose to do this, use as heavy a weight as possible, without swinging your body. The lats are very strong once you learn to use them, and can handle tremendous weight on this exercise.
Add this in, and watch the lats grow.

Get a bigger squat right now.

 Want to squat more, and do it safer?
Use your belt! Most people use a weight belt as a fashion accessory, but it is a powerful tool to aid your lifts.

 When squatting, don’t use the belt until you get to your heavier weights. When you get up to your heavier weights, put your belt on. (A 3 “powerlifting belt is best)
Put the belt on a little higher than you think you should. Right around your belly, over the bellybutton is usually the best spot.
Before you unrack the bar, inhale as much air as you can get into your stomach (not the chest) and force your abs and sides into the belt. This will increase intra-abdominal pressure, allowing you to transmit power more effectively.
As you squat back, hold your breath throughout the entire rep, forcing your abs into the belt the whole time. At the completion of each rep, exhale, and then reset the abs again for the next rep.
 Try this and watch your squat increase.
An OLD article for Zach Evan-Esch .

Get Out Of The Box – Nontraditional Training For MMA/Combat Sports
By CJ Murpy, MFS Total Performance Sports©

I can’t tell you how many times I have had the same conversation with athletes and coaches regarding weight training for MMA. It usually goes something like this:
Coach: Hey, won’t weight training bulk my fighters up and slow them down?

Me: No, not if done properly.

Coach: I don’t want my guys lifting weights.

Me: Nothing said in reply and usually I walk away in disgust!

Let’s explore this for a moment. Martial arts have a strong history of tradition. That’s great – I’m all for tradition but what if tradition isn’t always best? Historically, martial artists have stayed away from weight training, boxing is included in this, but thankfully the tide is slowly changing for the better.

Many coaches fear weight training will lead to useless bulk, becoming slower and less flexible. This is not entirely untrue. If your athlete follows a muscle magazine, bodybuilding style routine of isolation movements, feeling the ‘pump & burn’, there might be some validity to this!

No one here is saying to train athletes in this fashion. I want you to think on your own, think outside the box. Think about what attributes MMA athletes need.

MMA athletes need a high anaerobic threshold, the ability to deliver multiple bursts of power, anaerobic strength endurance, dynamic flexibility and more. So with this in mind, will traditional bodybuilding exercises accomplish this? I don’t think so, although some form of weight training is better than none. It’s like pizza: bad pizza is better than no pizza.

What you need is to implement a training program that addresses the needs of your athlete.

Another factor to consider is: Does your athlete fight in 1, 2, 3, or 5 minute rounds or longer? If they fight in rounds we need to condition them to get their heart rate back to normal in the allotted rest period. If your fighter has a 3 minute round and a 1 minute rest period, their heart rate needs to return to normal within that time so they can start the next round fresh. Many coaches often overlook this.

The best way to accomplish this is with a mixture of nontraditional strength and conditioning methods, paired with some traditional methods. Implementation of strongman style training, odd-object lifting, circuit and interval training, sprinting, agility, and bodyweight training will accomplish this.

In this article we will look at strongman/odd-object lifting for MMA.

Strongman events use the whole body dynamically, focusing on torso, grip, and posterior chain strength for the most part. They can be loaded/implemented in countless ways to ensure success for your athlete.

As far as strongman goes, a few events stand out as best for MMA. They are: Tire Flipping, Atlas Stones, Farmer’s Walk, Sled Sprinting, Log Clean and Press and Sandbag (odd-object lifting). These events can be paired with traditional lifts like squats, pulls, rows, dips, overhead pressing, and more, to come up with a well rounded plan.

I’ll list a sample 3-day per week program for MMA that is geared towards increasing strength, speed, and anaerobic threshold.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Log Clean & Press
Atlas Stones
Dips with weight
Barbell Rows & Shrugs
Walking Lunges
Tire Flip
Farmer’s Walk
Suspended Push-ups
Sandbag Clean
Sled Sprints

No Ab Training
Sit-ups w/ Weight
Hanging Leg Raises

Side Bends
Twisting Medicine Ball Throws

A 5-10 minute warm-up, Agility Ladder work or dynamic style warm-up, should be done before beginning the working out.
Note: No sets or reps are listed because it will vary depending on the strength/skill level and proximity to a competition. In later articles, I’ll give you templates that are more specific.

The most important thing is to work hard! These sessions should take 40-50 minutes. It’ll also help to set up the strongman equipment before the workout begins so you don’t waste time during the session. Breaking the equipment down and putting it all away is a great cool-down when paired with stretching.

If you need the best Strongman equipment made in the USA, check out my website.
Train Hard!
C.J. Murphy, MFS
Total Performance Sports©